Pirelli to take hard, medium tyres to ‘home’ Grand Prix
The Italian Grand Prix takes place this weekend (7-9 September, 2012) in Monza, following swiftly behind the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa, and Pirelli returns to its home nation with the same P Zero White and Silver tyres it used in the previous meeting. Monza is the fastest circuit on the Formula One calendar, and puts similarly high energy loading through the tyres as at Spa. Pirelli, which knows the circuit well since the Autodromo Nazionale is situated half an hour’s drive from the company’s Milan headquarters. Pirelli highlights the first chicane, characterised by heavy downhill braking; the Ascari curves, with their several rapid direction changes; and the famous Parabolica, a wide, open radius corner that puts a lot of lateral stress through the tyres as being the most challenging areas for its rubber. Pirelli says these sections, coupled with some of the season’s fastest straights, mean tyre temperatures can peak at up to 130°C and choosing the right tyre for the conditions will be important.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery says: “Monza is probably the most important race of the year for us, as it is our chance to come home and showcase our tyres and specialised technology in front of so many of our people and the passionate Italian fans. There is a really special atmosphere to this race that is unique to Italy. Not only that, but Monza is one of the most demanding circuits that we visit all year due to the high speed and significant lateral loads on the tyres. After Spa, it is the second-highest set of forces that our tyres will experience all year.
“Coming to Monza directly from Spa for the first time means that the teams will be fully up to speed with the hard and medium tyres, while there is a huge amount of momentum behind the championship now, which is shaping up to become the most thrilling finale since we returned to Formula One. Ambient temperatures can be very high in Italy, which places further demands on the tyres, so we would normally expect two pit stops.
“Strategy turned out to be a key ingredient to success last year, with the podium places only decided on the final lap, and we would expect the same again this year. With the cars at full throttle for so long, it’s hard for anybody to gain a big lead unless they use strategy to their advantage.”
F1 drivers comment on Monza challenge
Daniel Ricciardo of the Toro Rosso team, said: “We will be running the hard and medium Pirellis again, just like in Spa, so we have some recent knowledge of the different compounds. This is the logical choice because actually Monza is not usually very hard on tyres, with its long straights and corners that are not too demanding. The fact we run low downforce also means the tyres don’t have to deal with too much stress. As for the number of stops in the race, we’ll have to wait and see.”
Pirelli test driver, Lucas di Grassi notes: “Monza is like nowhere else: the exact opposite of Monaco, for example. It’s a great circuit and the fastest place we go to all year, which is really exciting. It’s quite difficult to drive as the cars run with such low downforce that they are not always easy to control. So it’s all about the right compromise between downforce and handling. You have to be assertive under braking but all the straights and corners also mean that there are lots of good opportunities to overtake.
“It’s important to look after the tyres in terms of traction, as the traction areas put a lot of stress on them and if you don’t get a good drive out of the corners onto the straights then it really affects your lap time. Monza isn’t one of those circuits that takes a lot out of the tyres everywhere but instead there are one or two specific places that really put a lot of energy through them: Parabolica in particular, which is why you have to look after them. Another important place is the chicane: you have to really attack the kerbs because you can make a lot of time this way. We tested at Monza last year, and the hard and medium tyres work very well under these conditions. I’m sure we’ll be in for another great race.”
Pirelli also draws attention to the very heavy braking that places significant demands on the tyres. In the first chicane cars decelerate from 340kph to 80kph in 150m. At these low speeds the tyres have to provide the mechanical grip to get the car around the corner. The cars spend around 75 per cent of the lap on full throttle and about 15 per cent hard on the brakes.
During the Parabolica corner, the drivers experience 3.7g, which also places heavy demands on the tyre structure. This is enhanced by the impacts with kerbs that the tyres face at the chicane. The tyres are well-prepared for these demands though: during laboratory tests they are fired into kerbs at 260kph.