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Monza is popularly known as 'the temple of speed', being the fastest circuit on the Formula One calendar, but to everyone at Pirelli it just means 'home'.
The Autodromo Nazionale di Monza is situated just half an hour's drive from the company's Milan headquarters in the Royal Villa of Monza Park and having been inaugurated in 1922 it is one of the oldest circuits of Formula One history.
The current 3.599 mile track is the result of many changes, but its reputation for outright speed remains, which is why the two hardest compounds in the P Zero range have been chosen: the P Zero Silver hard and P Zero White medium. This is exactly the same nomination as Spa last weekend, a track that also puts a very high energy loading through the tyres.
There are three sections of the Monza circuit that place particularly heavy demands on the tyres: the first chicane, which is 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.
On top of all these challenging corners, Monza also has some of the fastest straights of the year where the cars reach around 210 mph, meaning that tyre temperatures can peak at up to 130 degrees centigrade.
The high average speeds mean that there is potentially a lot of time to be gained by choosing exactly the right tyre for the conditions: consequently strategy will play a particularly important role at the final European race of the 2012 season.
Paul Hembery: "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."
Although the high speeds and fast corners are what make Monza famous, there is also some very heavy braking that places significant demands on the tyres: in the first chicane, for example, the cars decelerate from 211 mph to 50 mph in just 150 metres. At those low speeds, the tyres have to provide all the mechanical grip to get the car around the corner. The cars spent around 75% of the lap on full throttle and about 15% hard on the brakes.
With the highest average lap speed of the year, the cars run the lowest downforce all season at Monza, with teams developing a specific aerodynamic package to minimise drag. In order to enhance this, the teams also run a very low ride height but this can lead to some cars bottoming out over the bumps.
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 160 mph.
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