Bridgestone: Monza a tough circuit to master 05 Sep 2007
Monza, venue for this weekends Italian Grand Prix, is famed for its immense speed. Its a circuit that requires the cars run with low downforce set-ups to maximise their velocity down the long straights. Achieving that set-up is relatively straightforward - making it work well in combination with the cars tyres is more complex.
"Monza is an extremely difficult circuit to master from a tyre perspective says Kees van de Grint, Bridgestone Motorsports head of track engineering. In terms of track surface you could use a soft tyre. However, because of the high speeds a lot of heat is generated and therefore to cope with that you select a harder compound. This combines with the low downforce to make a compromise in terms of grip."
The predominance of fast straights means the tyres have a more prominent role in the slow speed corners, the chicanes, as the low downforce means that mechanical grip comes to the fore. Traction out of the chicanes is important to maximise the potential on the straights, so the rear tyres in particular will receive a harsh workout.
The final corner - the long, sweeping Parabolica - is particularly tough in terms of tyre wear, but it is also important as the start/finish straight follows. And it's not only the high speeds that challenge the tyres at Monza either, as the kerbs are frequently attacked in an aggressive manner to get a fast lap time.
"It's extremely important in Monza that the teams adhere to the minimum tyre pressures we advise for durability reasons, and this is a higher pressure than at other tracks, adds van de Grint. Of course the high pressure compromises the traction in the slow corners, but safety comes first. It's up to the team engineers to get the best compromise from their cars from the aerodynamics and suspension settings."
Bridgestone have opted to bring their medium and soft compounds to this weekends race. These occupy the mid-range of the Japanese companys 2007 Formula One range and have been used on four previous occasions this season, in Australia, the United States, France and Germany.