Monza is surprisingly one of the easiest circuits of the year on which to managing tyres. Especially this year, when there was no GP3 running at all on Saturday for the first time, following torrential rain that caused both qualifying to be delayed and the feature race to be postponed until Sunday morning (while the sprint race normally run on Sunday was cancelled completely). So, tyre wear and degradation on Saturday was precisely zero.
However, there would have been no actual problems for the feature race to go ahead on Saturday as planned, on a damp track using wet tyres. Instead the issue was a lack of time and light rather than a lack of grip: after Formula 1 qualifying had been delayed for more than two hours and the Formula 2 feature race was run behind schedule.
For the GP3 teams, Saturday afternoon was a period of uncertainty as well as frantic activity, with a wet weather set-up and race programme being planned – without any wet running data to fall back on. Then came the news that there would be no action until Sunday, and it was time to put the wet rubber away. So, on one of the wettest weekends of the year, the GP3 cars didn’t cover a single kilometre on the wet tyres: another impressive Monza statistic.
For some drivers, there would have been an element of relief: jumping straight onto a wet track in competition with no previous information is rarely an enjoyable experience.
As it was, the cars were finally able to race on Sunday with fresh sets of the P Zero soft tyres that they had sampled on Friday, in similar conditions. Yet while Monza is blindingly fast, it’s far from being one of the hardest tracks on tyres in GP3.
From the beginning of free practice, it was evident that the soft GP3 tyres were extremely consistent at the ‘Temple of Speed’, featuring quite low degradation. The hardest part for the tyres was sector two, with the possibility of losing traction through the sweeping Ascari bends if pushing too hard immediately before them.
With Monza consisting mainly of long straights, the tyres get plenty of opportunities to cool down over the course of a lap: an important factor in ensuring that they perform at their best from the start to the finish of each race. But that also means there are fewer corners to help bring them up to temperature…