Italian F1 Grand Prix 2013: Fast Track Speed Makes Team Strategy Vital in Monza
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Monza is the fastest track on the Formula 1 circuit, which brings team strategy into play more than ever for Sunday's Italian Grand Prix.
For a masterclass in how to overcome Monza's extreme situations, look no further than last year's runner-up, Sergio Perez. Then with Sauber, he began the race on harder Pirelli tyres and stayed out longer on his first stint.
With some impressive driving he was able to stay in touch with the leaders, despite most of them operating on the medium, faster tyres.
Because of this excellent combination of driver skill and team planning, when Perez came in to change to medium tyres he was able to really hit the accelerator on his final 24 laps as the other teams switched to hard Pirellis and the overall pace decreased.
Perez vaulted from a 12th-place start to a second-place finish, which set him up nicely for his move to McLaren. It will not be surprising to see teams take note from his 2012 performance for this year's race.
Perez's result is not that common, but it shows what can be done on a fast track that at first seems to offer little room for manoeuvre. Although there are plenty of overtaking opportunities, the high track speed doesn't guarantee a huge amount of excitement.
In fact, in previous years it's been very difficult to win the race without first qualifying on the front row.
As James Allen remarked on his JA.F1 site, the 2012 practice showed that a one-stop strategy was superior to a two-stop one by approximately 10 seconds. Aside from concerns about wear on the tyres, all teams knew how many stops they would be making.
Interesting fact - Sergio Perez scored 18 points during last year's Italian Grand Prix. Since then he's scored 19 points in total #f1— F1Zone.net (@f1zone) September 1, 2013
This will be the case again, with the new 80 km/h pit-lane speed limit meaning any advantage gained through stop strategy must be taken. Look for a one-stop strategy all round on Sunday—although there will obviously be some teams forced into a second stop by declining performance.
Heat could also be a factor, with a hot weekend forecast in Italy. Such a high track speed combined with rising external temperature increases the risk of overheating, which could again force teams into an extra stop.
As the race is a relatively short one—last year's winning time was one hour and 19 minutes—there is little margin for error. The long straights and fast chicanes will ensure low tyre degradation, increasing the pressure on driver and team.
Expect it to be decided in a similar manner to last year: fast times, great driving and smart team strategy.
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