Monza s second chicane has been modified a fortnight ahead of the Italian Grand Prix after repeated calls from the GPDA to improve safety features at the circuit.
After the 2006 race, the Grand Prix Drivers Association (GPDA) stated that they were unhappy that their calls for safety improvements had god unheeded despite a seven year campaign. Last season, matters were made worse when the circuit s representatives failed to turn up to a pre-arranged meeting to discuss the issue.
In the statement last year, the GPDA requested that the gravel trap at the end of the chicane to be replaced by an asphalt run-off area at the very least. Little has been done to allay drivers concerns, however the GPDA has now been told by the track officials that the second chicane will be improved before the race weekend.
Ultimately, the GPDA were hoping to have the chicane remodelled to make it a right-left, however they acknowledge that replacing the gravel trap is a start. Several drivers have publicly acknowledged the welcomeness of the change.
“I spoke with the Monza director at the weekend ,â€ Jarno Trulli said. “At the second chicane, the gravel trap has been resurfaced so it will be asphalt. Already, that is a good step ahead.â€
“Anything that improves safety has got to be a good thing,â€ David Coulthard remarked. “It is a fact that tarmac slows the car down quicker than gravel. The old theory of digging into gravel is fine, but what happens with these flat bottom cars is that they bounce over the gravel.â€
Coulthard is also an advocate of replacing the high kerbs at the circuit. “The asphalt is a step in the right direction, but they may need to do something else, even if there were different kerbs. What is the problem with running over a flat kerb if you know you get a penalty if you go too far? Having those kerbs, I think they can damage your suspension. You can go through the two Lesmos and now know about it until you run down to Ascari at 200mph.â€
One of the problems that the track owners face are the trees which are protected by law as part of Monza s park. This means they cannot be cut down and this sometimes limits what the track owners can do to the circuit.
“The asphalt is an improvement if that is the case,â€ Wurz remarked. “But it needs something else to be honest. It is a cool chicane, I like it to drive, but the way you drive it with these cars is too aggressive. You are always asking for it to damage material and then you are asking for a high-speed crash. I think they have to come up with a better solution at one point. We know they have problems with the trees, so it is not easy, but it would be good if we could find a compromise.”