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Italian GP: Sprint team notes - Pirelli

NEWS STORY
11/09/2021

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas won the second sprint qualifying race in Formula 1 history, having started first on the grid after topping qualifying yesterday. This would earn him pole for the Italian Grand Prix, but he will start down the grid due to an engine change. As a result, Red Bull's Max Verstappen - who finished second in sprint qualifying - will be effectively promoted to pole.

There was a wide range of starting tyres for the 18-lap sprint qualifying race, with McLaren, Aston Martin, Alpine and AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda on the soft tyre. Everyone else was on the medium, with no pit stops.

Ambient temperatures were 29 degrees centigrade at the start of the race with track temperatures of 42 degrees. Despite the warmth, the degradation on the soft was lower than expected, probably helped by the fact that the cars carried only around a third of their usual fuel load for a full race distance, therefore helping to reduce the energy going through the tyres - along with an early safety car.

Sprint qualifying was preceded by one free practice session this morning, during which Lewis Hamilton led a Mercedes one-two on the soft tyre.

The fastest strategy on paper for the 53-lap Italian Grand Prix is a one-stopper, starting on the P Zero Yellow medium C3 and then going onto the P Zero Red soft C4. However, also switching from the soft or the medium to the P Zero White hard C2 can be a very good option, so all the compounds can play an important role. The information from sprint qualifying showed how both the soft and medium are valid choices as starting tyres, and the teams will have gained vital information from their performance during this afternoon's race.

Atwo-stopper is distinctly slower, but the best option in this case would be a soft-medium-soft strategy. The possibilities are in fact more open than usual at a sprint qualifying weekend, as nobody is locked into starting the grand prix on the tyres with which they set their fastest times in Q2.

Mario Isola: "It was interesting to see both the soft and the medium tyres on the grid today, with the teams given free choice. Although free practice time is reduced compared to a normal weekend, the teams were able to collect a good quantity of data today during sprint qualifying, which was run in conditions similar to those expected for tomorrow's grand prix. The early safety car in sprint qualifying gave the tyres some respite, but the soft performed better than expected, with very low levels of degradation despite the warm temperatures. For tomorrow's grand prix we expect all three compounds to have a valid role in the race strategies."

Check out our Saturday gallery from Monza, here.

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