Formula One drivers have won their battle for safety modifications at Monza's second chicane, just a fortnight ahead of this year's Italian Grand Prix, autosport.com can reveal.
The Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA) issued a statement immediately after the 2006 race stating they were unhappy that their calls for safety improvements at the high-speed track had been ignored despite a seven-year campaign.
Matters reached a head when circuit representatives failed to attend a meeting with the drivers at the track to discuss the situation.
In the GPDA statement issued after the race, the drivers called for the track owners to at the very least replace the gravel trap at the second chicane with an asphalt run-off area.
Discussions to find a solution that would appease the drivers' concerns have been ongoing since then, and the GPDA has now been officially told of improvements that will be made at the corner.
Although the drivers' ultimate hopes of a reprofiling of the chicane to make it a right, left flick, have not been realised, track owners have agreed to replace the gravel trap with an asphalt run-off area.
Jarno Trulli, who has played a key role in the Monza discussions, confirmed to autosport.com that the drivers have been informed of changes to the track.
"I spoke with the Monza director at the weekend, and at the second chicane the gravel trap has been resurfaced, so it will be asphalt," he said. "Already, that is a good step ahead."
Several drivers have welcomed the change, which they hope will allow cars to scrub off more speed if they spin off at the corner.
"Anything that improves safety has got to be a good thing," David Coulthard told autosport.com. "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."
Despite backing the change, however, Coulthard believes that the GPDA should continue to campaign for changes to the corner - either by eventually reprofiling it or replacing the high kerbs.
"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 (high) kerbs, I think they can damage your suspension. You can go through the two Lesmos and not know about it until you run down to Ascari at 200mph."
The Monza track owners have had difficulty trying to make major changes to the track layout, however, because the trees near the corner are protected by law as part of Monza's park, so cannot be cut down.
Alex Wurz added: "The asphalt is an improvement if that is the case, 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."
It is believed that the drivers will inspect the changes during this week's pre-Italian Grand Prix test at Monza, which starts on Tuesday.