Italian Grand Prix: Practice Sessions
The teams used the P Zero Orange hard and P Zero White medium tyres for free practice at Monza today: the ‘temple of speed’ close to Pirelli’s headquarters in Milan.
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time of the day towards the end of the afternoon session, with a benchmark of 1m24.453s on the medium tyre. This was nearly one second faster than the equivalent session last year when Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton set a fastest time of 1m25.290s.
Conditions were hot and dry today, which is expected to be the case for the rest of the weekend. The drivers used only the hard tyre during the first 90-minute session this morning, before trying out the medium tyre as well in the more representative qualifying and race conditions in the afternoon. With many teams bringing a specific aerodynamic package for Monza, the teams concentrated on optimizing the set-up to the tyres, as well as carrying out qualifying and race simulations with different fuel loads.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “The performance of the tyres was completely in line with our expectations today on what is one of the most challenging and atmospheric circuits that we visit all year, although we are obviously only at the very beginning of the weekend and there is a lot of data left to analyze. From what we can see so far, degradation and wear are at the levels we anticipated, with a performance gap of around a second between the two compounds – although this will come down as the circuit evolves. We’ll be looking carefully at all the data tonight, but so far we are on course for two pit stops for most drivers, with some cars perhaps trying a one-stopper. Monza has a number of different characteristics that sets it apart from most of the other circuits we visit this year, principally its sustained high speed, and this means that the set-up and subsequent effect on tyre usage is a key area. Consequently, the work carried out during free practice normally has a very important bearing on the race. This element of the grand prix, together with the characteristics of our tyres, allows several opportunities for strategy, which only adds to the spectacle offered by this famous and very popular circuit. Once more we’ve received a tremendous welcome and fantastic support from all the fans and we’re very appreciative of that.”