Pirelli brings soft and medium tyres to home GP
Pirelli has good reason to anticipate this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza more than other events in the calendar; located in parkland just half an hour from the Italian firm’s headquarters to the north of Milan, the track – one of Formula One’s fastest with an average speed in the region of 250kmh – has been integral to the brand’s motorsport history. Pirelli will bring its P Zero White (medium) and P Zero Yellow (soft) tyres to Monza, which the supplier anticipates will provide plenty of scope for the teams to use different tyre strategies.
In the open tyre supply era, Pirelli claimed six victories at home in the 1950s, when the circuit was best known for its high-speed banking, which still stands as a tourist attraction today. The modern track has been extensively modified over the years but it is still hard to find perfect traction under acceleration and braking as the teams run low downforce in order to maximise their top speed on the flat-out straights. There are also some high kerbs on the chicanes that put huge lateral loads through the tyres, adding to the gruelling workout that the rubber receives over the 53 laps of the race. Despite this being one of the most demanding tracks of the year, where the contact patch of the tyres on the straight can increase to three times its size when stationary due to downforce, between two and three pit stops are expected for the leading runners as usual.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery, says: “Monza is obviously a very important race for us, both from a technical and a company point of view. We’re all looking forward to competing at home, with the championship reaching a crucial point in the season. On a rapid circuit like Monza the tyre strategy is sure to be vital, as it’s going to be hard to make up any time lost in the pits with the cars at full throttle for so much of the time. We expect to see a difference of about a second per lap between the soft and the medium tyre, but we’ll only know for sure once the cars start running in free practice. The versatility of the tyre is going to be a key element, as the rubber will have to cope with a wide range of conditions this weekend. It’s a big challenge as always, but at the same time we’re very much looking forward to being able to showcase the very best of Italian technology and know-how at home in Italy.”
Fernando Alonso, of the Ferrari team, which will also see Monza as its homecoming event, said: “Monza is a very special race for every driver: it is the fastest circuit on the World Championship and driving there gives you an extraordinary feeling. It is also very special for emotional reasons, especially if you are a Scuderia Ferrari driver as I experienced for the first time last year. Winning in Monza is incredible: winning there driving a red car is even more incredible.
“Being on the podium, seeing thousands of fans below you wearing red shirts and waving red flags is simply an overwhelming emotion. Our aim this year is the same as last year: to win the race. We are aware that we have the potential to achieve our objective but we also know that our opponents are very strong. I am sure that we will have a very exciting race, as we have seen many times so far this season already. The return of Pirelli in F1 has brought an increase to the show, which was one of the targets set at the beginning of the year, so we have to thank them for this – and what better occasion than their home race?”
Pirelli also notes from a technical point of view, cars at Monza run the lowest downforce of the year in order to eliminate drag. A typical aerodynamic package for Monza will generate about 15 per cent less downforce than is used in Spa, the venue of the last race, allowing the tyres to slide more. Suspension is another area of set-up for Monza that impacts on the tyres. The low downforce means that the cars rely heavily on mechanical grip, so the suspension set-up is designed to ensure the best possible traction under acceleration and braking, while allowing the drivers to attack the chicanes.