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Italian GP: Track notes, DRS, tyres, stats and more

NEWS STORY
05/09/2019

Ahead of this year's Italian Grand Prix, the guardrail barrier on the righthand side of the pit exit road has been replaced with a concrete wall. Meanwhile, an additional row of directional arrows has been placed in the run-off between Turn 1 and Turn 2, Turns 4 and 5 have been resurfaced and the exit kerb at Turn 5 has been replaced with one of similar specification.

There are two DRS zones. The detection point for the first is 95m before Turn 7, with the activation point 170m after Turn 7. The second detection point is 20m before Turn 11, with the activation 115m after the finish line.

For Pirelli's home grand prix, the C2 has been chosen as the white hard tyre, the C3 as the yellow medium, and the C4 as the red soft: the most common combination seen so far this year.

This selection is the best compromise to cope with the varying demands of the 'temple of speed', which over the years has had some slower and more technical sections added to the rapid straights and corners that built Monza's reputation: the venue that has hosted more grands prix than any other.

Last year's pole from Kimi Raikkonen became the fastest-ever lap of Monza and in Formula 1 history, at an average speed of 163.789 mph (263.587 kph). The fastest Monza race lap still stands at 1:21.046, an average of 159.895 mph (257.320 kph), courtesy of Rubens Barrichello back in 2004.

This year's choices are broadly similar to last year, when medium, soft and supersoft were selected. The only difference is that the current C4 is softer than the 2018 supersoft, while the C2 is also a little softer than last year's medium. As usual, the data from previous years is a key factor when it comes to selecting tyres for races.

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.

The weather is usually dry and warm, but last year there was intermittent rain during Friday and Saturday, which made the usual job of data collection quite tricky.

Last year, Lewis Hamilton won the race from third on the grid with a one-stop strategy, which was used by the majority of competitors. He pitted later than polesitter Raikkonen and then used the advantage of fresher tyres to make a move for the lead later in the race.

In terms of motor racing betting tips, it will come as no surprise that following his win at Spa last weekend, Charles Leclerc heads to Monza as 5/4 favourite to claim back-to-back victories, ahead of Hamilton 13/8 and Vettel (3/1).

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.

"Monza is still a huge challenge for drivers, cars and tyres," says Pirelli's Mario Isola, "a bit like Spa. 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. While Monza is traditionally renowned as a place where it's hard to overtake, last year's race also showed how tyre strategy can make an important difference.

"For the last two years it has rained at some point during the Monza weekend as well, adding another variable to what is always a very closely-fought race with small margins."

The Autodromo Nazionale is the most power sensitive track of the season. More than 75% of the lap is spent at full throttle, more than any circuit of the season. There are four long periods of open throttle, each holding an average of 13secs bursts. The first is the pit straight, followed by the run through the Curva Grande, then from the Lesmos to the Variante Ascari and finally from Ascari to the Parabolica. The longest time the power unit will be at full throttle is the pit straight, which lasts 16 secs.

Despite the ICE being flat out for most of the lap, fuel consumption per kilometre is relatively low compared to slower tracks. This is due in part to the short length of the track and to maintaining a constant speed throughout, but also due to the high average speed with low downforce package that reduces the time spent to complete the distance.

The long periods of wide open throttle generate a steady stream of exhaust gas. The energy available in the exhaust due to the high percentage of full throttle time means that the turbo will be at maximum speed for over 80% of the lap.

Despite the heavy braking for the three chicanes, the MGU-K is not significantly stressed in Monza. Each braking event is very short and there are only three slow corners. In comparison to a corner-rich circuit such as Hungary, the MGU-K barely recovers the maximum energy allowed. To compensate, the MGU-K recovers energy at partial throttle through overloading the ICE, although it will be difficult to harvest the max energy allowed by the regulations. The MGU-H will also feed the MGU-K down the straights.

The chicanes will see the cars brake from well over 300kph to 80kph but accelerate back up to 300kph in less than eight seconds. This creates a braking event of around one to two seconds, or quicker than a blink of an eye. It's important for the car to be stable under braking and acceleration so engineers will pay particular attention to the engine maps and how they interact with the low downforce aero configuration.

2019 marks the 70th Formula One World Championship Italian Grand Prix and the 69th to be held at Monza. The only other circuit to hold the race is Imola, which
hosted the event in 1980.

Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton share the record for the most victories at Monza, with five each. Schumacher's wins were all scored with Ferrari, in 1996, 1998, 2000, 2003 and 2006, while Hamilton won with McLaren in 2012 and with Mercedes in 2014, 2015, 2017 and last year.

The only Monza winner on the current grid other than Hamilton is current Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel. The German claimed his maiden Formula 1 victory here in 2008 driving for Toro Rosso. He also scored two wins in Monza with Red Bull Racing, in 2011 and 2013.

Ferrari is the most successful team at Monza, with 18 victories. McLaren is second with 10 followed by Mercedes with seven.

Hamilton also holds the record for most pole positions at Monza. The Briton has six Italian Grand Prix poles to his name, two with McLaren (2009 and 2012)
and four in a row with Mercedes from 2014 to 2017.

The race has been won from pole position in 14 of 19 editions since the current circuit configuration came into use in 2000. In that time, the only occasions on which victory has been secured from further back than the front of the grid are 2002 when Rubens Barichello started from fourth place, 2006 when Michael Schumacher started from P2, in 2009 when Barrichello again won, this time from fifth, 2016 when Nico Rosberg started second, and last year when Hamilton won from third position on the grid.

Williams driver Robert Kubica scored the first podium finish of his career at Monza in 2006. Then driving for BMW Sauber, the Pole started from sixth on the grid but rose thorugh the order to claim third place at the flag behind race winner Michael Schumacher and second-placed Kimi Raikkonen.

Kubica, who also finished third here with BMW-Sauber in 2008, is one of six current drivers to have finished on the Italian GP podium. Hamilton leads the way with seven top-three finishes, followed by Vettel (6), Raikkonen (4), Valtteri Bottas and Kubica (2) and Sergio Perez (1). Hamilton this weekend has the chance to equal overall record holder Michael Schumacher.

Three of this year's full-season rookies have won at Monza in junior categories. Williams' George Russell won the GP3 feature race here in 2017 and the F2 sprint race last year. Alfa Romeo's Antonio Giovinazzi won the GP2 feature race in 2016, and McLaren's Lando Norris won here in the FIA F3 European Championship in 2017.

The odd man out is Red Bull Racing's Alexander Albon, though the Thai driver has finished on the podium here, taking second in the GP3 sprint race in 2016 and third in the F2 feature race last year.

Check out our Thursday gallery from Monza, here.

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