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Saturday, September 05, 2009
Lewis Hamilton - Italian Grand Prix
Image: © 2009 Daimler AG

Lewis Hamilton & Heikki Kovalainen Discuss The 2009 Italian Grand Prix

MONZA, ITALY - F1 drivers Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen recently discussed the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team's race preparations for next weekend's 2009 Italian Grand Prix at Italy's Monza race circuit (14:00 CET, Sunday September 13, 2009). Both drivers referred to Monza as being a great circuit to race on, and that it requires a very particular aerodynamic car set-up in order to be fastest on race day and qualifying.

Lewis Hamilton (shown in a photo from the recent 2009 Belgian GP) said, "It's a real challenge to get the set-up right (at Monza) because there's never an ideal compromise between speed along the straight and through the corners. It's never easy to keep the car on the track because it slides all the time: at most tracks you feel like the downforce is sticking you to the track at high speeds - but not at Monza, it's like you are skating across the surface."

At Monza, the average lap speed is very high at around 250 km/h (156.3 mph) and Norbert Haug, Vice-president Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, says the top speed in the dry this year is expected to reach over 350 km/h (218.8 mph) this year at the circuit. All F1 teams design a very special high-speed bodywork package to bring to Monza - one that optimizes high speed while retaining the needed down force for the corners.

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes F1 driver Heikki Kovalainen, Lewis Hamilton's teammate, discussed the technology impact that KERS is giving the sport of Formula 1 and specifically the deployment of KERS next weekend at Monza. Kovalainen said, "we'll be running a special low-downforce aero package in Italy - but we'll also have the benefit of using KERS along the straights, which should give us a greater advantage over a single lap, especially in qualifying, where it will be extremely valuable."

Lewis Hamilton is currently 7th in the Driver's Championship standings with 27 points, while his teammate Heikki Kovalainen is 10th with 17 points. Brawn Mercedes Formula 1 driver Jenson Button currently leads the 2009 Driver's Championship with 70 points after winning six races in the first half of the season. 

During the 2009 season, KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) integration into the power delivery of an F1 race car has been one of the engineering areas that each Formula 1 team has been refining. It appears that each team is looking at improving the ability to apply maximum torque/power from KERS in bursts to give rapid acceleration as the driver engages the system. At Monza, Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal for the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team said, "Monza is notable for being a power circuit, and with KERS we should see some incredible speeds - particularly during qualifying when the drivers will double-deploy KERS along the start/finish straight."    

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