Italian GP: A High speed game of chess – don’t make the wrong moves
Start Italian GP 2013
Strategy Briefing
Posted By: James Allen  |  03 Sep 2014   |  10:16 pm GMT  |  68 comments

Monza is the fastest circuit on the F1 calendar and the one with the highest straight line speeds, which are expected to reach 360km/h this year, due to the reduction in downforce and drag on the cars. Strategy is also important as there is a long pit lane, which makes for slow stops and as the cars remaining on track are travelling at high speeds, so it is easy to lose track positions with wrong strategy moves.

Monza has tended to be a one-stop race, but this year Pirelli has been making moves to encourage one more stop than in 2013. However, due to the heat build up in the tyres from the high wheel rotation speeds, they are obliged to bring the medium and hard compound tyres, which are likely to maintain the one stop strategy. Evaluating the tyre performance during the Friday practice sessions will be vital.

But one stop doesn’t mean a lack of strategic tension; how you attack the race, what tyre you start on and when you make your stop will still be pivotal to the outcome.

In 2012, we saw Sergio Perez move up from 12th on the grid to second at the flag thanks to a bold strategy of starting on the hard tyre, running a long first stint and then picking off cars struggling for pace in the later stages, by using the faster medium tyres. It worked perfectly and he got a podium for Sauber.

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.

Overtaking is common at Monza, but the influence of the DRS is reduced here because the cars run in low downforce specification, with less wing, so there is proportionately less of a drag reduction once the DRS is employed.

One of the key decisions is how to balance the use of the DRS wing (giving a 6-8km/h speed boost) while not hitting the rev limiter. This year teams have fixed gear ratios, but can add an 8th gear and some might make change to add in the top ratio with top speed in mind.

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 22.08.10
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 360km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing)

Full throttle – 74% of the lap (high).

Time spent braking: 11% of lap. Number of brake zones – 6. Brake wear- High)

Total time needed for pit stop (at 80km/h): 25 seconds (ave/high)

Daniel Ricciardo

Form Guide

The Italian Grand Prix is the thirteenth round of 19 in the 2014 FIA F1 World Championship.

In a season dominated by Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo has won three races, including the relatively low downforce Canadian Grand Prix. Due to various circumstances, the Australian has led 68 laps in the last two races, compared to 27 laps for Hamilton and Rosberg combined!

Meanwhile Mercedes has dominated pole position, apart from Austria, where Williams came out on top. Williams has a low drag car and is likely to feature strongly this weekend. Red Bull has never had the best straight-line speeds, but managed to win the race in 2011 and 2013 due to clever gearing which kept Vettel ahead on acceleration out of the chicanes. It has been a good circuit for McLaren over the years too. The Mercedes power unit advantage is likely to help them once again, as it will Force India, although they have fallen behind recently on development.

From a driver perspective, Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton are the only drivers in the field who have won the Italian Grand Prix; Vettel three times, Alonso twice and Hamilton once.

Weather Forecast

The weather forecast predicts a warm weekend with temperatures of 27-29 degrees, but there is a 40% chance of rain on Saturday morning.

Pirelli F1 tyres

Likely tyre performance and other considerations

Pirelli tyre choice for Monza: medium (white markings) and hard (orange markings). This combination of tyres was seen in Malaysia, Spain and Silverstone.

Monza is not particularly hard on tyres, as there are no high energy corners to speak of apart from the Parabolica. However as it is a low downforce circuit, the tyres will tend to slide more, especially under traction out of the low speed chicanes and this increases the degradation. Also with the biggest stop of the season from 360km/h down to 75km/h in Turn 1, with little downforce to help, it is easy to lock a wheel up and flat spot a tyre.

Another concern is that the very high wheel rotation speeds when the car is travelling at up to 360km/h, can cause blistering on the inside shoulder.

One thing the teams have to watch out for is that the track temperatures tend to fluctuate a lot at Monza, as the race is held in the early Autumn, so with cloud cover the temperature drops, while it quickly heats up in direct sunshine. This can have an effect on performance.

Number and likely timing of pit stops

The key factor in swinging this race towards just one stop is the slow pit lane time at around 25 seconds, combined with the speed of the cars out on track.

Last year most people did just one stop. The difference in pace between the medium and hard could contribute to the order in which the tyres are used and for cars which are on the fringes of the top ten there could be something in starting on the hard tyre and running a longer first stint in traffic, to around lap 24, then attacking on the faster medium tyre at the end. Having new tyres will help to stretch out stint lengths.

As always, 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.

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 2014 start performance is concerned drivers have gained (+) or lost (-) places off the start line this season on aggregate as follows:

Net gained positions

25 Gutierrez

16 Maldonado

15 Bottas, Ericsson

14 Hulkenberg, Kobayashi

13 Raikkonen, Chilton

12 Sutil
10 Hamilton, Massa

8 Bianchi

4 Alonso, Lotterer
2 Perez

1 Button

Net lost positions

22 Vergne

7 Ricciardo

5 Kvyat

4 Grosjean

2 Magnussen
1 Rosberg, Vettel

Melbourne Notes: Kobayashi, Massa eliminated in a first corner accident; Perez, Gutierrez pitted at the end of Lap 1; Bianchi, Grosjean started from pit lane.

Malaysia Notes: Perez started from pit lane, Bianchi pitted at the end of lap 1

Bahrain notes: Vergne pitted at the end of lap 1 after contact

China Notes: Sutil lost power at start and dropped 8 places, retiring soon after.

Monaco notes: Maldonado did not start, Ericsson started from pit lane, Perez crashed Lap 1.

Canada Notes: Gutierrez started from pit lane; Bianchi and Chilton crashed lap 1; Ericsson pitted lap 1

Austria Notes: Grosjean started from pit lane

GB Notes: Raikkonen and Massa eliminated in 1st lap accident
Germany notes: Massa eliminated in 1st lap accident, Magnussen and Ricciardo dropped back as a result
Hungary Notes: Hamilton, Magnussen, Kvyat started from pit lane Belgium Notes: Grosjean and Bianchi collided on lap one, Kobayashi absent and replaced by Lotterer.

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.
However with safety measures introduced by the FIA, following a loose wheel incident in a pit stop at the 2013 German Grand Prix, teams now focus more on consistency rather than outright pace.
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.
Pit Stop League Table

McLaren 22.414s
Red Bull 22.675s
Williams 22.769s
Ferrari 22.819s
Lotus 22.838s
Sauber 22.898
Mercedes 22.936s
Force India 22.977s
Toro Rosso 23.202s
Marussia 23.734s
Caterham 24.083s

Who do you think will do well this weekend at Monza? Leave your comments in the section below.

Brief sm banner rect

The UBS Race Strategy Briefing is written by James Allen with input and data from several F1 team strategists and from Pirelli.

Strategy Insights
Strategy Briefings
Share This:
Posted by:

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

In 1986 Michael received the slam soak contest and became

thinking about actively playing a bigger part within the designing from the

Air Jordan collection. Add a little bit more of your sparkling personality that has to shine through loud

and clear. ¡¥ clothes are dwindling, when their own boxes

are larger and larger.


If any race should offer double points, it’s Monza. Make it a 500km endurance event. Give them more tires, refueling and (if necessary) a brake change. That would be fun to watch.


For any one still interested in gear ratios, this is what the teams have actually been running all year long:

and the latest gear ratio changes in Red Bull and Mclaren at and before Spa:


Barring any “ego mistakes” Ros and Ham will run away with a 1-2. Wouldn’t surprise me one bit if the two DQ’s take each other out at some point. Monza has always been a favorite for me but I think engine/PU restrictions are going to throw a wet towel on the remainder of the season. Toss in the ridiculous double points for Abu Dhabi and Mercs domination seems a bit hollow. IMO 5 engine/PU for the entire season falls short of finishing the season without grid penalties for many of the teams. Anyone on the podium but a Merc would be a refreshing change. I say this not as disrespect to Mercedes as a team. They did an impeccable job with the design. What they are lacking is control over their drivers, it will continue to go wrong without the team taking them both by the scruff of the neck with the order that you work for Mercedes AMG F1. Not the other way around. I suppose we’ll all know come Sunday.


Interesting race in prospect. Monza is the fastest circuit. In dry conditions, monza should be the race where the 2014 cars are closest to the fastest times recorded by the 2013 cars. Given the top speeds would be reaching 360 km/h and with very few slow corners, it would be an interesting comparison to make with the 2013 cars. We can really see which team has gained the most and which teams have lost the most.

Can we do a post-monza article on this, James – Assuming of course Qualifying is completely dry.


Probably the most exciting race start for my money with the speed approaching the first chicane with cold tyres/brakes. I’d be surprised if there have been many races without some first lap incident at that corner.


I’m working the theory that Red Bull have a ‘next step’ in recoup, possibly developed in-house at Red Bull (and not Renault).

With this, and the ‘clever gear ratio’, and the patently lowest drag car, I expect the Red Bulls to be very strong in race pace, but less comparatively in qualifying. With good tire wear comparatives, I expect a split strategy, with both drivers threats for the top step.

Just a feeling, but it’s a good one for Vettel, to climb again to the top step.

Which introduces a potentially interesting question, Ricciardo is a long-shot, but definite contender for the 2014 WDC, could we have team orders for the consecutive four-time world champion to move over and let his team mate take the points differential?!?

It seemed to me that Vettel did a very, very good job as rear-gunner in the last race, and I believe it was critical in the Ricciardo win.

However, this guy must want to get back to where he reigned supreme in the second half of last season, non?

Elsewhere, Bottas in the slippery Williams, the Monza team, this year, should be good through qualifying; I expect him to be close to the Mercs, at least.

While I wouldn’t mind a first corner, two-driver catastrophic ‘incident’ at the first corner, I have a sense that Mercedes may be beatable at this ultimate power circuit, due to these in season developments (RB) and the base design of the Williams, and strong drivers.

If Ricciardo wins, and neither Merc finishes, we’ll have a real championship race going, and I would enjoy the last six races more than the first eleven.

Unless Ferrari have brought a similar ‘leap-frog’ technical innovation, and don;t rate their chances high, as Monza has just about everything to accentuate and aggravate the many deficiencies in the 2014 Red car, yet hoping, as usual, for a continued upward trajectory of Number 7.


Regarding Vettel, this year is pretty much a write off now – he’s not going to be WDC in 2014, so he might as well do all he can to help his team-mate.

He did say earlier in the year that if Ricciardo is faster than him then he has to accept it, so now it’s time to show he can in fact do that.

He might cop a bit of flak from those that will be eager to say that he’s the No. 2 driver now, but personally I’d respect the fact that he can put the team before himself.

Regarding Ricciardo, if by some miracle he can win again while the two Mercs DNF then you’re right – it’s going to be an awesome finish to the season 🙂


What’s the best high speed performer? Best driver of
that marque? Bottas for P1. You read it here first.


That’s correct; Bottas has bee fastest man through the speed traps more often this year


I’m just going to quote a short paragraph from Darren Heath from his website.

“A new attitude to aero, new gear ratios for Spa, the best strategists on the pit wall and back at base, only one driver – the incredibly impressive Daniel Ricciardo – in the hunt, a quick and experienced team-mate to back him up, feverish work by Renault to increase power unit power, energy recovery system functionality and drivability, three wins in the bag, etc, etc. They’ve got the Brackley boys spooked.”

Bring on Monza.


@Dufus: keep on dreaming mate; bar a crash from the merc boys, the RB boys will be no where near the mercs. At Spa, before the contact between LH & NR on lap 2, the Mercs were already 1.5s ahead!

or maybe you are talking about RB beating the rest?


He’s talking about Darren Heath talking about the Red Bulls being on the improve – which they are.

Agreed they’re not near the Mercs yet, but the season has shown that while the Mercedes and their drivers are fast they’re certainly not infallible.

Another win for Ricciardo might be a dream, but it’s not out of the question.


Another Ricciardo win? Canada, Belgium, see the trend?


I’m not sure…Canada is a traction heavy track and it has a very short lap, there were set up variances in Spa to take into account.

Red Bull were poor at Monza in 2010, the last time they went there without significant rear downforce and they the horsepower deficit really hurt them. That was despite Vettel being strong at Canada and Webber getting 2nd at Spa.


Red Bull gained an advantage in speed on their opposition in Belgium by running a low downforce setup on their cars, while all the other teams ran a higher downforce setup.

This weekend everyone will be on low downforce, because it’s Monza. So if Red Bull are genuinely down on straightline speed, I expect them to get exposed this race.


High brake wear. Is that still an issue for Mercedes?

Aren’t they locked into the small rear brakes that failed in Canada?


I think the Mercs will disappear up the road as the fight between the two escalates with each round (thinking back to Bahrain, how they left everyone for dead when they really fought each other after the last Safety Car).

Will be fascinating to see how much room they give each other. The margin for error is very small in close wheel to wheel racing, and humans all make mistakes.

Presuming the Mercs have a trouble free race, Williams to take the final podium place.


James, I was under the impression that gear ratios were set in stone for the year and cannot be altered throughout the season. I take it that rule was never implemented.


They’re allowed one change during the season to allow for…well, screwed up ratios basically – It would have been a big ask for everyone to get it right the first time 🙂



1) Isn’t the rev limit 15k now, not 18k, which the engines rarely approach in reality

2) Isn’t the eighth gear compensation for not being able to change the gear ratios now? (barring one “joker” change, which they won’t use for that since it would leave them with Monza ratios for Singapore!)


That’s the way I thought it was.


Due to the fact that Monza is somewhat of a jinx circuit, the following are the drivers that won the race then went on to win the title and how many titles they achieved in their careers.

* 1 time champions

Farina, Phil Hill, Surtees, Scheckter (all won with Ferrari)

* 2 time champions

Ascari, Graham Hill, Clark, Fittipaldi

* 3 time champions or more

Fangio, Stewart, Lauda, Piquet, Prost, Senna, Schumi, Vettel

Overall, the only pilots to have won Monza twice and gone on to win two titles are;

Fangio, Piquet, Prost, Schumi, Vettel.


Curiously, the 1980 Italian GP was held at Imola – don’t know why, perhaps Monza was being reprofiled.

In the last 35 odd years,, there have just been 3 rain affected races – 1981 there was on-off light showers, the start at 2004 and of course a certain 2008.


@ Gaz Boy

Yes Imola hosted the 1980 race because Monza was under refurbishment but the 1980 race was such a success that Imola got it’s own grand prix

Regards the rain, with Italy being in the south, it’s not a conducive place for the nimbus clouds I guess.


Some Monza stats:

a) Schumi 5 wins, Fangio +

Moss + Peterson + Piquet + Prost + Rubens = 3 wins

b) Ferrari 18 wins, Mclaren 10 wins, Williams 6 wins, Lotus 5 wins

c) The back to back winners are Fangio (3 wins), Ascari, Moss, Phil Hill, Peterson (2 wins) >>> But since 1975, only Piquet and Damon have won back to back (both driving for Williams)

d) Since 2008, 5 different teams have won the race

e) 1966 saw Ludovico Scarfiotti driving a Ferrari win. No Italian driver has won since

f) In 10 years (2013-2004) 8 out of 10 victors have come from pole the exceptions being 2009 and 2006.

However, between 2003-1994 only 4 out of 10 won from pole and from 1993-1984, only 2 out of 10 won from pole while 1 out of 10 won from pole between 1983-1973 >>> (1980 Italian race was held at Imola)

g) Schumi and Vettel have the most wins from pole – 3

h) Since 1991, only Schumi and Vettel have won Monza and gone on to win

the title.

i) The only number 2 driver to have won Monza then the title was Prost in 1989 >>> and currently Prost supports Rosberg’s title bid.

j) The last British driver to have won Monza then the title was Stewart in 1969 >>> and currently Lewis has the same number of race wins as Stewart.


Sadly, Monza has a tragic face: two potential and one eventual WDC would die at the circuit in the Royal Park: Von Trips in 1961, Jochen Rindt in practice in 1970, and Ronnie Peterson at the start of the race in 1978 – although Ronnie was actually alive and talking after his crash, he later died on the operating table. His legs were broken in 27 places, and during the evening of 10/11 September, bone marrow entered his bloodstream, causing a fatal aneurism in his brain.

Most recently, that poor marshall died in that pile up in 2000 at the 2nd chicane when he was fatally hit by flying debris.

Monza is a wonderful venue, but the spectre of “morte” does hang over it sadly.


I watched a documentary a while back on Jochen Rindt and the run up to his fatal accident, so terribly sad. Seemed like an extremely popular guy and wonderful driver


@ Gaz Boy

For sure, the old Monza track was very dangerous as it was made up of straights and fast corners.

Changes and chicanes were introduced to Monza in 1972, 1974 and 1976.

1979 brought in run off areas at the circuit.


Well it appears Mercedes have a good chance of getting back on top of the podium this weekend considering no Australian or Finnish driver have succeeded at Monza before.

But which of the two Mercedes cars crosses the finish line first will be the real question and that’s why we will tune in to find out >>> but as things stand, Rosberg has had the better run in Europe whilst Lewis has faired better in Asia.

Now Monza has always been a bitter sweet event for it has always signified the end of the European season but on the other hand also signifies the start of the championship battle as the teams shoot for glory.

Anyway, it will interesting to see how Ferrari perform in front of their home fans this weekend and more importantly if Kimi can maintain his good performance from the last few races and thereby giving the fans a battle of the Reds.

Also there has been some discontent among the fans with the tarmacing of parabolica but from my recollection I don’t think any car has gone off at that corner so will be interesting to see if any drivers take liberties at that section.

All in all, it’s a shame that despite Italy’s heritage with motorsport, we still haven’t got an Italian driver on the grid let alone a world champion because in Italian sport, Ferrari is all that matters.


It always amazes me when someone uses the argument that ‘because x hasn’t happened before it can’t happen in the future’. Events that have never happened before are always happening, particularly in motor sport. ‘If it can happen then at some point it will happen’ is an important maxim to adopt. This is especially true if the rules, venues. cars and drivers are constantly changing and evolving.


I don’t think goferet or anyone else says that it “can’t” happen, b/c it hasn’t happened to date. They just state that it hasn’t, and leave it to you to decide whether there is something behind it not having happened before, or if it’s just an oddity.


Dead right. I’ve not heard of goferet’s law of probability, but if there was one it would say – something on the lines of, as you say, ‘if it can happen, then at some time it will happen.’


@ Quercus

Maybe I should have said the law of probability states…


Italy can claim Ricciardo.


@ LagunaSeca

Ha, in a way yes but also in a way no.


Didn’t they already claim Alonso?

Besides, if Italy really wanted dibs on Ricciardo they should have spoken up when he was driving for HRT – snooze you lose 🙂


A LH and NR crash in the first chicane would be fantastic


I can understand why you’d say that, but I disagree:

Chances are they’re going to be one-two on the start grid, so if they get away clean and then crash into the first chicane then they’re likely to take out a few more of the top cars at the same time…which is bad.

I think given all that has unfolded during and after Belgium it would be better if they get away clean so that they are racing nose to tail toward the end. Then the only question will be will they be naughty or nice?

If it’s the former resulting in bits of carbon fibre flying and burst tyres and much gnashing of teeth and then say Bottas or Ricciardo slips through to steal the win then yeah, that would be fantastic 🙂


History might be against him, but the future might be with him 😉


History is against Bottas – I think I’m correct in saying no Finnish driver has ever won the Italian Grand Prix. Mika H finished 2nd in 1995 and 2000, Kimi has had a few podiums in Italy over the years, but never a win.

Having said that, a historical anomaly exists to be broken………………….and the Williams has good superb acceleration and a very slippery body to slice through the Monza air, so who knows……………


Don’t you just love Monza! Despite Bernie’s best efforts, the older tracks still hold the top spots.


I thought gear ratios were fixed for this year


Allowed 1x change in season


Each car is permitted to change it’s gear ratios once during the season. However, once they make that change it is fixed for the rest of the year.


I’m not suggesting thay you are wrong, but there are a lot of questionable statements on this blog without supporting references.. Can you point me to the appropriate para in the regs? What I do not understand is: are the intermediate gear ratios fixed but the final drive ratio can be altered on a race by race basis , or is the whole g/box final drive set fixed?. And what exactly can be changed once per season?

Apologies for the pedantry but it’s important to get this straight.


Hi James,

As we approach the business end of the season could you please see if you could publish a list of current engine use by each driver. i.e.

Number of engines used

Number of engines unable to be used again

There hasn’t been too much talk regarding this but its likely to have an affect on the remaining races when penalties start coming into the equation.



Top of my head i think Seb is on his last fresh unit..that is all of the drive train/batteries and electronics. I know Lewis has one less engine than Nico and the Ferrari pair are on track as they have been light on their engines…something to do with the flintstone effect lol


I’ll do that in Monza, hopefully


I’m not too optimistic on this one. One stop looks like a recipe for team orders and a static field. The lack of harder tyres are not good news for Kimi, so I’m picking Nando to challenge for the podium with the Williams and Merc pilots. I think Red Bull will struggle here. I’m hoping Massa can get a good result here.


You mean the lack of soft tyres? Given his struggles with heating the fronts up


Yep, lack of soft tyres it should have been.


Absolutely fantastic title for the article James, well done indeed!! That is amazing 😀


James Mercedes had brake problems in Canada and Austria.

Have they sorted this out or could this be an issue again?


It was reoprted by german media that the brake problem is solved. Important to note was that not the disc itself falied according to the report but the connection to the hub ( I hope I translate that correct).

Mercedes and Brembo both were satisfied with the outcome of the analasys.


As for the GP, I hope we have a clean race, that everyone finishes, and may the best man win. Mercedes really need a 1-2 this weekend, to create more of a gap to Ricciardo.


“As for the GP, I hope we have a clean race, that everyone finishes, and may the best man win.”

I have a history of attending races right after intra-team conflict.

2007 – I went to Turkey, the race after Hamilton-Alonso in Hungary.

2010 – I went to Canada, the race after Vettel-Webber in Turkey.

2014 – Off to Monza, the race after Rosberg-Hamilton in Spa.

So far there were no fireworks the race after, wonder if that will be the same this time?


Thanks for the note on the typo!


Any time, James, it’s my obsessive compulsive pleasure. Got any vacancies for a proof reader at JAF1 towers?

Top Tags
SEARCH Strategy