Monza — One pit stop expected for the fastest track of the year
Monza features the highest top speeds and lowest downforce settings of the year, but despite this challenging environment, just one pit stop is expected on Sunday for Pirelli’s home race.
Wear and degradation levels have been low on both compounds during the first two free practice sessions and are expected to get even lower as the weekend goes on and more rubber gets laid onto the track. Ambient temperatures in FP2 reached 28 degrees centigrade and 40 degrees on track, a bit higher than anticipated, and this is expected to remain the case for qualifying and the grand prix.
The time gap between the compounds is around 0.6 seconds for most competitors, which means that there could be a wide variety of strategies not just for the race but qualifying as well. One possibility, for instance, would be to qualify on the hard tire and save the medium for the race. With the hard and medium tires selected for Monza, this means that the two most durable compounds in Pirelli’s range have been nominated for the Italian Grand Prix weekend. Part of the work for teams in free practice is to establish how long it takes for the tires to deliver peak performance, which is essential information for qualifying. The medium tire, for example, seems to be able to deliver two fast laps. As usual, the teams also completed race simulations on different compounds and fuel loads, in order to capture data about tire performance at every phase of the grand prix. This information is then used to formulate race strategy, which will revolve around the timing of pit stops.
Mercedes was on top in both free practice sessions, with Lewis Hamilton going fastest in the morning on the hard tire and Nico Rosberg quickest in the afternoon on the medium, setting a benchmark of 1m26.225s.
Paul Hembery: “We’ve seen about 0.6 seconds difference between the two compounds in Monza so far, and we would expect that difference not to alter much for the rest of the weekend. Both compounds look to be very durable, with degradation also very low. As a result, we would expect to see one stop for most drivers on Sunday, as was the case last year. The drivers could qualify on the medium or the hard tire, but we should see the medium compound used for the majority of the race. Like every year, we’ve had a wonderful welcome from all the Italian fans here, who are among the most passionate and enthusiastic supporters in the world, so it’s a real pleasure to be here.”