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Monza offers exciting possibilities: Italian GP race strategy briefing
Posted By: James Allen  |  03 Sep 2013   |  1:19 pm GMT  |  116 comments

In the refueling era of F1, Monza was always the track around which the engineers used to design the fuel tanks, as the objective would always be to make it large enough to do a one-stop race at Monza.

Strategy has always been central to this race.

Last year we saw Sergio Perez move up from 12th on the grid thanks to a bold strategy of starting on the hard tyre, running a long first stint and then picking off cars struggling for pace, using the faster medium tyres. It worked perfectly and he finished second, a result that set him up for the McLaren move.

This year, with the new lower pit lane speed limit of 80km/h, the teams will be even more likely to stop only once. But how you attack the race, what tyre you start on and when you make your stop will still be pivotal to the outcome.

With an average lap speed of over 250km/h, Monza is the fastest circuit in Formula 1. Monza is one of the great, classic venues on the F1 calendar. It has hosted a Grand Prix since the very first season of F1 in 1950 and provides variety to the calendar, with its high speed character. The cars run in low downforce mode here with thinner wings than usual. The aerodynamic package for this event is unique in the season. This makes it an outlier in the calendar and teams do not always devote much resource to developing a package for this one-off race.

For this reason, it can be a race where smaller teams can do well, as they sometimes do decide to focus some resource in it, in the hope that it can give them a chance to shine.

From a strategy point of view, Monza is not particularly hard on the tyres as there are few fast corners, which put energy into them. The track is basically a series of long straights, punctuated with chicanes. There are only three corners in a traditional sense; the two Lesmo bends and the Parabolica.

However the wheel rotation speeds are very high so overheating can be an issue and if the track temperature is high, this can create problems. Also the cars hit the kerbs hard and this means that the construction needs to be robust.

Last year the FIA decided that there should be two DRS zones in the race, so the pursuing car could open his rear wing to shed drag and attempt an overtake. One was on the main straight, the other between the Lesmo bends and Ascari corner. One of the key decisions was how to balance the use of the DRS wing (giving a 6-8km/h speed boost) while not hitting the rev limiter, which is set at 18,000 rpm.

Track characteristics

Monza – 5.793 kilometres. Race distance – 53 laps = 306.72 kilometres. 11 corners in total. Average speed 247km/h. Historic race track in a Royal Park.

Aerodynamic setup – Low downforce. Top speed 340km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing) – 334km/h without.

Full throttle – 74% of the lap (high). Total fuel needed for race distance – 135 kilos (ave). Fuel consumption – 2.5kg per lap (ave)

Time spent braking: 11% of lap. Number of brake zones – 6. Brake wear- High)
Total time needed for pit stop (at 80km/h): 23 seconds (ave/high)

Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried): 0.35 seconds (ave/high)

Form Guide

The Italian Grand Prix is the twelfth round of the 2013 FIA F1 World Championship.

So far Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso have all won races, while only Hamilton, Vettel and Rosberg have also been on pole position.

Red Bull has never had the best straight line speeds, but managed to win the race in 2011 due to clever gearing which kept Vettel ahead on acceleration out of the chicanes. His wins in Belgium and on the low downforce track in Canada this year indicate that he and Mark Webber should be very competitive.

From a driver perspective, Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton are the ony drivers in the field who have won the Italian Grand Prix. Alonso and Vettel have won it twice, Hamilton once.

Weather Forecast

The long term weather forecast predicts a hot and sunny weekend with temperatures of 27-28 degrees.

Likely tyre performance and other considerations

Pirelli tyre choice for Monza: medium (white markings) and hard (orange markings). This combination of revised specification tyres was seen in Belgium.

As it is a low downforce circuit, the tyres will tend to slip under traction out of the low speed chicanes and this increases the degradation.

With the two hardest compounds in the range brought to this race, we should not see high wear rates on the tyres. What the teams have to watch out for is thermal degradation caused by very high wheel rotation speeds. When the car is travelling at in excess of 330km/kh, it’s easy to overheat the inside shoulder of the tyres, causing blisters.

Track temperatures tend to fluctuate a lot at Monza, as it is the early Autumn so with cloud cover the temperature drops, while it quickly heats up in direct sun. This can have a marked effect on performance.

Number and likely timing of pit stops

Last year’s pre-race simulations showed that one stop was faster than two stops by 10 seconds. However one notable factor was the wear on the inside shoulder of the right front tyre. This was showing signs on some cars of wearing down to the nylon, so managing that was crucial.

If it turns out that drivers have to stop twice, the ones who plan it from the outset and space out the stops ideally will have an advantage over those pushed into it by fading tyre performance.

For top ten cars that start on the medium tyres, the target will be to reach lap 20-24 and then use a set of hard tyres to the finish. There will be opportunities to “do a Perez” for any quick car that finds itself outside the top ten after qualifying. Having new tyres at your disposal makes the challenge easier, thanks to the extra laps of life.

The time needed for a pit stop at Monza is on the high side at over 23 seconds thanks to the new regulation that pit lane speed limits are set at 80km/h. It’s a long pit lane and the cars on track exit the final corner at over 200km/h and go down the pit straight at over 300km/h.

Chance of a safety car

The chance of a safety car at Monza is statistically very low at 43% and 0.4 Safety Cars per race. There was however a Safety car three years in a row recently from 2007- 9.

Recent start performance

Starts are a critical part of the race and strategy can be badly compromised by a poor start, while good starts can make strategists change their plans in the hope of a good result. Much can change, especially at Monza, where the cars arrive at speed and are sorted out in a tight first chicane. Incidents are common.

As far as 2013 start performance is concerned drivers have gained (+) or lost (-) places off the start line this season on aggregate as follows:


+17 Van der Garde*****

+15 Maldonado

+14 Massa

+15 Perez

+13 Gutierrez

+12 Di Resta

+10 Button

+8 Sutil***

+6 Alonso

+4 Vettel

+1 Pic

+1 Hulkenberg**


-2 Bottas

-2 Chilton

-4 Raikkonen

-8 Hamilton

-8 Ricciardo

-9 Bianchi******

-10 Grosjean
-10 Rosberg

-15 Webber*

-15 Vergne ****

*Webber dropped from second to seventh after a clutch problem in Australia
** Hulkenberg did not start in Australia *** Sutil suffered puncture from contact with Massa in Bahrain ****Vergne retired following collision. *****Van der Garde and Maldonado made contact in Monaco. ******Bianchi started from pit lane in Monaco after stalling

Pit Stop League Table
Of course good strategy planning also requires good pit stop execution by the mechanics and we have seen tyre stops carried out in less than two and a half seconds by F1 teams. The record is a 2.31s stop in the German GP by McLaren.

However with recent safety measures introduced by the FIA, following a loose wheel incident in a pit stop at the German Grand Prix, teams seem to have slowed the process by a second or so and closed up considerably in performance.

The league table below shows the order of the pit crews based on their fastest time in the Belgian Grand Prix, from the car entering the pit lane to leaving it.

1. Ferrari 22.444s
2. McLaren 22.465s
3. Mercedes 22.682s
4. Red Bull 22.685s
5. Sauber 22.712s
6. Toro Rosso 22.871s
7. Williams 23.411s
8. Lotus 23.445s
9. Force India 23.475s
10. Marussia 23.916s
11. Caterham 23.998s

The UBS Race Strategy Briefing is written by James Allen with input and data from several F1 team strategists, from JA on F1 technical adviser Mark Gillan and from Pirelli.

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If VET wins the season is OVER, FINITA, TERMINADA. In the best interest of the sport VET must DNF, DSQ, DRS-less. Most teams would shift R&D to 2014 cars.


Here’s hoping that James’s [coded] photographic prediction for the race comes true. Seb can afford to suffer a dnf or two before he bags this title.

Great picture.


I don’t see any stilts!


I think the mention of the stilts is with regards to the holding up of the actual concrete banking. It looks like a bit of a drop from the top of the concrete banking to the actual ground level behind the banking. Therefore something has to be holding the top of the banking up.

Well, that’s how I view the picture, and the comments about stilts.


Let’s look at the mid field for a change.

1. McLaren

2. Force India

3. Sauber

Torro Rosso?

I guess Williams are out gunned in the engine department?


Looking forward to this race. The top speed of RBR in Spa is a worry (unless you’re a Vettel fan) but Ferrari always go well here & an Alonso win with Vettel preferably down in third will keep the hopes alive of a decent title fight.

Merc & Lotus should provide a good fight at the front too and it’ll be nice to get an exciting and close race.


Ham…POL (Tyers heat management in the race)

RedBull…1-2 (they found the straight speed 🙂

Alonso…3 (cuz it’s Monza)

NOW! Kimi could toss a spanner in the works 🙂

Dan to make Q3 finish in top 10…(has to prove to RB that he’s the right choice)


Quality top 3

1. Hamilton

2 Alonso

3. Massa

Race top 3

1 Alonso

2. Vettel

3. Hamilton


Oops I meant qualy. That said Alonso and Hamilton are quality drivers . Not sure that Massa is that good though.


If you think Massa is not top quality, then why you listed him?? Mercedes engines are by a small margin better than the Ferrari ones. Even McLaren has chances here and with the new wing even RB are pole contenders. Man, you`ve got to read the JA on F1 news more often!!


It was a typo . I meant Qualy instead of quality . I was trying to predict Qualy top 3.


I’m thinking a 2 stop race will beon if teams run agressive camber angles. NH / UM maybe?

How effective is DRSwhen you have FA rear wing in the first place? Just wondering is all.


” The Resurrection of Felipe Msssa ”

My money is on Massa (1/100) for this weekend. I think he will be driving like mad to keep his job. I truly hope he is allowed to win and there will be no team orders. If he wins I am hopeful he will keep his drive. If he lets Alonso pass for the win he keeps his drive. All other scenario’s are end of the story.

Come On Felipe……I need new shooooooesss!!!!

Realistically I think Hamilton will walk away with it. Vettel taken out by Webber.(nothing fancy..just a small love kiss and nobody gets hurt)

Remember were you heard it first:)


Even I think that is an unrealistic prediction.


I like Massa too, a lot. But why do you want him in the team? If he was consistent, think where would Ferrari be if he would score good points consistently. Last year, this year….

I really think Ferrari needs a stronger and a more consistent driver, but it doesn’t mean I do not like Massa. I do….he is not the right guy for the job


Massa for pole Alonso to win – just saying.

Alexander Supertramp

1. Nando 2. Lewis 3.Nico 4. Seb


I hope both Mercedes, Red Bulls and Ferraris are wiped out by Grosjean and Maldonado during the race so Kimi wins.


Yes I’d imagine it feels really good to win after all your main rivals have been taken out…


The picture for this post seems like a sad dragon, much like Ferrari at the moment.

Go H.A.M!


Even if ALO wins (should have perfect quali result) and VET comes 2d or 3rd (he definitely will if no DNF) ALO will cut off only 7-10 points (still 39-36 pts deficit)and from Singapore onward everything ll be the same as last year – VET ahead of ALO in most races.

Hopefully VET (I am a fan of VET & RAI) has bad luck or DNF this week to keep championship alive as I want a thriller in Interlagos.


Although Vettel has had two wins here, it has not been a happy hunting ground for Red Bull. One of Seb’s wins was in the Torro Rosso in 2008. With Red Bull his Monza record reads eighth, fourth, first, DNF, while Webber is worse: DNF, sixth, DNF, DNF. So this looks like it should be a good opportunity for the chasing pack to make up some ground on the front-runners.


A note, if I will, on the humble Pit Stop League Tables.

McLaren still hovering at #2. Damn, what an utter DISASTER Sporting Director Sam Michaels has been since coming to Woking… 😛

(No, I have no involvement with anything, I just get tired of him taking so much stick for their recent troubles when all he does is the sporting end of it…which apparently he is excelling at – they’ve come a long way since their pits stop woes at the start of last year).

Alexander Supertramp

What does that even mean, sporting director? He can’t just be responsible for the pit crew, right?


Not too much I can add, except this:

There is some chance of rain on Friday and Sunday.

Just saying…


Strange, but Monza is the one race where I don’t want to see rain. I love watching chaotic rainy races, but at Monza it ruins the element of speed that you get.

Although as a Ferrari fan maybe it’s just bias from me but nonetheless, I hope it stays nice and dry 🙂


*thumbs up*

I love the rain.


Love the picture for the article with a Ferrari in the foreground with Vettel’s Red Bull being recovered in the background!


The injured bull stops, while the local horse prances on.

I reckon the bull got scared of the red of the horse (even if it is red itself) 😛


exactly….I think there is no better way to make the crowd go completely wild than to have Alonso winning and having Vettel and Webber taking each other out of the race due to the Multi 85 message.


By the way, just noticed….phenomenal photograph:-) Priceless!


Yup. Absolutely brilliant.


It will be pay back time this week 😉


You should check the picture after the Brazil 2012 race, with Alonso staring into the distance while Vettel celebrates his 3rd title.

That one was priceless too 😉


For once i felt sorry for the guy…


can you share the link? Could be a good photograph indeed


The video is even more pronounced, he just stands there motionless for a long time staring at Vettel celebrating.


James do you think Red Bull will use the rear wing they used during the race in spa( so as to have more downforce in the corners) even though they were still pretty quick on the straights or the ultra low downforce wing used by vettel during Friday practice?


I agree with Juzh, they’ll go with the super low downforce option.

Not that I think that will be enough for them, Monza is all about power and low downforce. If Merc & Ferrari come up with an aero package that is half decent the extra horsepower the Ferrari/Mercedes engines have over the Renault engined cars will see them move further forward.


The extra power from the Merc/Ferrari engines SHOULD see them ahead, but that should’ve been the case as well in Belgium, and wasn’t.

Even with low-DF settings at Spa that car looked so planted, it was amazing.

Monza is even more naked power, so it should be that RBR are pegged back some. But maybe it’s like 2011 again.


Definitely the ultra-low version used in fp1 and fp2. Vettel was up to 8/10 faster than webber in the flat-out sections. webber was 8/10 faster in the twisty sector 2. In monza however, there will be less penalty in having less DF because there is less high speed corners, and more stop-and-go chikanes.



Do you think or know if Ferrari will make their 2014 driver announcement this next weekend?



no chance!


Why are you so sure? That’s exactly what I would want you to believe if I were Ferrari… I have sources (suppliers to most F1 teams) telling me that we are out for a big surprise.


Certainly won’t be until after the race is done, if it means Massa is out.


I also heard the same. Big announcement.


Let us see what the race shows and hope Ferrari, Merc or Lotus shows strength to win.

However if RB wins than we might as well start looking at 2014 championships.


Championships are already over in my mind. Now it’s just treating each GP on its own, and wanting to win as many of them as you can.


james , who do you fancy for the win ?




Making my first pilgrimage to the Temple of Speed this weekend so am super excited.

Here’s hoping for a Alonso/Ferrari win!

Tornillo Amarillo

Please, no more tears from Alonso if he wins…

No more “surprises” from Hamilton if he get pole…

No more fingers from Vettel…

No more cheap soap operas!


Enjoy! It’s my favourite race of the season


No, seriously James, who do you fancy for the win 😉


Oh alright then…Vettel! 😉


Fingers crossed it stays dry as I’m hoping the same!


If they have an agreement with Red Bull that is.


Hamilton for win, Alonso seconnd Rosberg third


I am sure Mercedes will be on pole but the question is, are they sacrificing race setup for Saturday glory?


This is a simplistic notion, that quali pace and race pace share a 1:1 inverse relationship, such that you could dial out some quali pace to gain in race pace.

If that was the case, Mercedes would dial it all the way to full race pace!! Quali is nice, but it doesn’t net any points (i.e. there is no Saturday “glory”). If one could always qualify on pole with race pace hit-or-miss, or always start at the back of the grid with a car 2s/lap quicker than all others, you would always go with the fastest race pace settings.

To pretend that Mercedes wouldn’t act in the exact same way is ridiculous.


I doubt Mercedes is doing that. The car seems to have a relatively narrow sweet spot of set ups that the drivers like. In Germany is was a guess before qualifying that worked – Spain and Monaco it proved elusive for Hamilton.

A suggestion has been that the 2012 construction front tyres deform differently and this reduces how the front end transfers energy to the rear of the car, reducing tyre temps. Tuning the front wing so that as the wheel is steered the downforce is consistent is apparently a possible area that Mecedes has also improved.

The other teams aren’t standing still either. Hopefully it is a good race.

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