Monza: Bridgestone preview

The penultimate round of the 2009 Bridgestone-supported GP2 Series will be held in Monza, on 11-13 September, as part of the Italian Grand Prix weekend, where the medium compound GP2 tyres will be used. Only three venues on this...

The penultimate round of the 2009 Bridgestone-supported GP2 Series will be held in Monza, on 11-13 September, as part of the Italian Grand Prix weekend, where the medium compound GP2 tyres will be used.

Only three venues on this year's GP2 calendar have been allocated with the same compound of slick tyres as in 2008. This includes Monza, with GP2 remaining on the medium specification tyre at this traditional Formula One circuit. Known as the 'Autodromo Nazionale di Monza' the circuit is located in parkland, and is the fastest track that GP2 drivers experience during the year.

Maintaining tyre durability and employing more aerodynamically efficient car set-ups will be the key to a successful weekend for teams and drivers in Monza. The circuit is made up of fast straights and corners which require good aerodynamics, and slow chicanes which demand high traction. With low downforce being part of the car set-up to cope with the faster sections of the track, the tyres have to work harder.

In 2008, Lucas di Grassi (Campos) and Davide Valsecchi (Durango) both took race wins at the Italian track and will be looking to repeat their performances, while championship leader Nico Hulkenberg races there for the first time in his career and will be looking to secure the 2009 GP2 title.

Quote from Hirohide Hamashima - Director of Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development

"Monza is undoubtedly the fastest track on the GP2 and F1 calendars. One of the main factors that the GP2 drivers and teams need to consider here is the overheating of the tyres. With low downforce set-ups for the high speed sections, braking into the slower corners can be difficult and this causes some sliding which in turn can overheat the tyres. The drivers need to control the car well and the chicanes really test the drivers' skill and technical ability. It is also a very abrasive track surface where tyre wear can be fairly high, and this combined with the potential for tyres to overheat means the medium compound is the most appropriate allocation for this circuit. GP2 should provide two entertaining races in Monza and the main passing point where drivers can get an advantage is at the first chicane."

Bridgestone GP2 Series: Q&A with Davide Valsecchi

Barwa Addax Team driver Davide Valsecchi grew up near one of Italy's most famous race tracks and explains to Bridgestone e-reporter finalist Mieke Vercammen the specific characteristics of the circuit. After a disappointing beginning to the season, the Italian has switched from Durango to the Barwa Addax Team, to replace ING Renault F1 Team driver Romain Grosjean.

Q: Having scored your first GP2 win in Monza last year, what are your expectations for this year? How has the change to the Barwa Addax Team been?

A: Of course I hope to be good and want to win again, but it's hard. It wasn't easy last year due to the wet conditions, although the pole position I obtained after the first race did help me a lot. The Barwa Addax Team is very professional and competitive. It has got great engineers, but on the track the difference isn't that big, because a good driver should be fast in every car.

Q: What is your favourite part of the track?

A: I've raced on the Monza track about ten times and I love it in general. In the past, when there was an 'open day' on the track, I also took some friends with me and then drove there with my normal road car, which was a lot of fun. There is still one part of the circuit I like the most: Ascari. It's one of the corners that has always been there and it's fantastic.

Q: Bridgestone will be using the medium compound again in Monza. How are you finding the tyres this year?

A: Actually in general, at most of the circuits [but not Monza] the Bridgestone tyres this year are all one step softer to ensure more fun for the drivers and a good show for the spectators. In the GP2 Asia Series the difference could be felt remarkably well, in Europe there is slightly less of a difference but we still have to manage the tyres well. Monza is a very fast track, it's easy to cool down the tyres on the long straights.

Q: Last year it rained a lot during the Grand Prix weekend, how does this affect the tyres? Which weather conditions do you prefer?

A: The tyres don't suffer much from the higher track temperatures and also when it rains, which happens pretty often in Italy in September. They work perfectly, so that's both fine for me. Only when it has rained and the track starts drying, does it become more difficult to make the right tyre choice.

Q: Are all your friends and family coming over to Monza?

A: Yes, they're all coming, but sadly I have to disappoint a lot of them, as I only have four guest passes I can hand out. On the other hand, I have to make sure I stay focused and not let them distract me.

-credit: bridgestone

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About this article
Series FIA F2
Drivers Lucas di Grassi , Davide Valsecchi , Nico Hulkenberg , Romain Grosjean
Teams Renault F1 Team