Verstappen with the wildest tyre choice for the Italian Grand Prix

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Italy, Autodromo Nazionale di Monzait

Among the top drivers, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has opted for the most aggressive tyre selection for the forthcoming Italian Grand Prix. However, the Dutchman’s choice is not unique as most of the drivers selected a high number of soft tyres for the high-speed track of Monza.

Pirelli will supply the trio of C4, C3 and C2 compounds for his weekend’s Italian Grand Prix. Tyres wear has been relatively low in the past couple of years which may have been a factor for the teams to select a high number of the soft compound tyres.

Among the top teams, it is Max Verstappen with the most aggressive tyre choice. The Dutchman has selected ten sets of C4 and only two sets of C3 and one set of C2. Racing Point drivers Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll have identical tyre choice to Verstappen. Rain is forcast for various parts of the weekend. If practices take place under dry conditions though, these three drivers may use one set of C2 for their long run in the second free practice session and complete all other sessions with the red-banded tyres.

Ferrari and Mercedes drivers have opted for a slightly less aggressive tyre choice with more harder compounds available for them. In fact, every driver has nine or ten sets of soft compounds bar the four top-runners.

Focus on kerbs and mechanical grip

Teams run the lowest downforce possible at Monza, to maximise top speed on the long straights. This means that the tyres have to provide maximum mechanical grip through the corners, and that understeer can also sometimes be an issue: also because teams aim to protect the rear tyres in order to optimise traction.

There are some big kerbs that the drivers hit very hard: especially at the Rettifilo and Roggia chicanes. This means that the structural strength of the tyres is an important factor.

For the Italian Grand Prix, teams have to use Pirelli’s front slick tyres at 23.5psi while the minimum pressure in the dry weather rear tyres is 21.0psi. The camber limit for the front tyres is -3.0° while for the rears -2.00°.

Pirelli’s head of car racing, Mario Isola stressed out that tyre’ performance is key around the 5.793km-long Monza circuit because the heavy acceleration zones and high kerbs.

“Monza is still a huge challenge for drivers, cars and tyres: a bit like Spa, which took place last weekend. Unlike last year though, we don’t have the same tyre nomination for both races. While Spa featured harder tyres compared to 2018, at Monza the softest choice is slightly softer than last year. With the fastest-ever lap in Formula 1 history set in qualifying at Monza last year, and a tendency for the cars to be even faster this year, we might see more history being made this weekend,” he said.