F1’S FASTEST LAP

The rac­ing is non-stop at this re­lent­lessly high-speed clas­sic event

F1 Racing - - CONTENTS - Pat Sy­monds, Wil­liams’ chief tech­ni­cal of­fi­cer

The Ital­ian Grand Prix is one of the longestrun­ning events on the F1 cal­en­dar. It shares that hon­our with the Bri­tish Grand Prix, these be­ing the only two races to have been held ev­ery year since 1950 – al­though for seven years the race in Italy was known as the Euro­pean Grand Prix. The Au­to­dromo Nazionale Monza has hosted the Ital­ian Grand Prix for all but one of those years (when the race was held at Imola) and this year, once again, it will be the last grand prix in Eu­rope. It’s the quick­est race of the year, with long straights in­ter­spersed with slow chi­canes and few chal­leng­ing cor­ners. This means cars re­quire high en­gine power, low drag and ef­fi­cient brakes to be quick around here. Many teams there­fore used to run spe­cial Monza-spec aero­dy­nam­ics here but with the more re­cent changes to aero reg­u­la­tions, this is less com­mon.

Monza is one of the hard­est cir­cuits on brakes, pri­mar­ily due to the large brak­ing events af­ter the long straights, so good brake man­age­ment is para­mount. Brak­ing into the rst chi­cane is the best chance of over­tak­ing any­where on the cir­cuit, and can cause re­works at the start of the race; cars some­times cut across the rum­ble strips when they can’t make the chi­cane.

Strat­egy in­volves a low num­ber of stops, of­ten just one, due the large time lost in the pits com­pared to be­ing on the track. That rst stop is crit­i­cal, and teams will try to go as early as pos­si­ble to un­der­cut op­po­nents, but not so early that their tyres can’t make the end of the race.

Qual­i­fy­ing is im­por­tant be­cause of the lack of over­tak­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties and the scarcity of pit­stops. In fact the race is likely to be de­cided by qual­i­fy­ing and pit­stops rather than on the track. As a nal caveat, though, the de­mands on the new power units will be dif­fer­ent from qual­i­fy­ing (where max­i­mum power over a lap should be achieved by all) to the race (where en­ergy and fuel man­age­ment are likely to play a big­ger part). This could lead to in­ter­est­ing rac­ing with cars qual­i­fy­ing out of sync from race-pace or­der.

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