Preview: Italian GP

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Italy, Autodromo Nazionale di Monzait

To round off the European season of Formula One races, teams have moved to Monza for the Italian Grand Prix, traditionally host of the fastest and lowest downforce race of the season.

Races held at Monza are always a particularly spectacular event to watch with cars running the lowest drag configuration they are seen in during a season. Interestingly, this year's new V6 engines are expected to power each car to top speeds comfortably ahead of last year's best.

Circuit map of Monza, Italy

There are two DRS zones around the lap; the first is on the start-finish straight and the second on the approach to Turn Eight, the Ascari chicane. However, history relates that overtaking might still be difficult because pole position is statistically more important here than at Monaco. This race has been won from pole position 11 times in the last 14 years, whereas Monaco has been won from pole on only nine occasions during the same period.

With so much emphasis on braking and traction, Pirelli are taking their two hardest tyre compounds – Medium (Option) and Hard (Prime) – to this race. When combined with the relatively long pitlane time, the durability of these tyres encourages drivers to make only one pitstop in the race.

Car setup

Front wing As per the all-round aero package the watch word at Monza is low-downforce, with emphasis on a slippery package to ensure maximum speed on the long straights.

Rear wing Monza is all about minimising drag to ensure optimum top end speed on the long start and back straights. Speeds can reach in excess of 350kph and low downforce specs will reach their minimal limit here. Overtaking opportunities are relatively simple at Monza particularly in to the Rettifilio (T1) and the second chicane.

Suspension Vehicle dynamics are ultra-important at Monza where the car needs to ride the wedge-kerbs at the chicanes efficiently. The suspension set-up is usually on the soft side but this has to be tempered in set-up by the final high-speed Ascari chicane where a nimble change of direction is needed through this challenging left/right/left complex.

Brakes Monza is demanding on the brakes with some of the biggest ‘stops’ of the season in to the Rettifilio and the Roggia chicanes. The cars need to scrub off approximately 265kph for turn in to the former. Late summer temperatures are sometimes quite high at Monza which can add for need for preserve the brakes toward the end of the race.

Tyres For Monza the medium (white) and hard (orange) tyres are provided by Pirelli. This is the same combination as used in 2013 and reflects the need to cater for the high-energy loads that the rubber goes through due to the high braking demands and the significant level of traction need to exit the three chicanes.

Power Unit There are three periods where the Power Units will be at full throttle for roughly 13 secs each, plus the main straight where it is flat out for 17secs, longer than a drag strip. This year speeds will be even higher and we expect to see them peaking at over 350kph, the highest speed of the year so far and at least 10kph more than 2013. For these reasons, the ICE will come under huge pressure here and it’s likely we’ll use fresh parts where we can, both for performance and reliability.

The other components of the PUs will be less solicited. The turbo, for instance, will have an easier time since it will not turn at such high speeds down the straights. With just a couple of corners the MGU-K will likewise be a touch underused: each braking event is just over two seconds so there’s not enough time or energy dispersed to totally recharge the battery. Equally the drivers run the kerbs as much as possible to straight line them, so further losing potential energy harvesting opportunities. To compensate, the MGU-K will be recovering energy at partial throttle through overloading the ICE. The MGU-H will also feed the MGU-K down the straights.

Quick facts

Number of corners: 11 (4 left, 7 right)
Distance from pole to Turn 1 apex: 380 m
Braking events: 6 (3 heavy)
Pit lane length under speed limit control 422 m
Pit lane time at 80 km/h: 19.0 s
Track abrasiveness: Medium. The emphasis on braking and traction makes it hard on the rear tyres
Fuel consumption: High – 69 per cent of the lap is spent at full throttle. The longest uninterrupted spell of full throttle is around 17s
Brakewear: High - 7 braking events around the lap and on two occasions the cars decelerate from 200mph to less than 50mph in two seconds