The GP2 and GP3 series will face its biggest challenge of the year in Monza later this week as both championships prepare for the fastest race of the season. The Italian race will mark the eighth and final round of this year’s GP3 series and is the penultimate race in this year’s GP2 series.
Based close to the home of Pirelli in Milan, The Autodromo Nazionale di Monza is 5.793-kilometres in length and is one of the oldest circuits on the championship calendar. The circuit is characterised by a series of long straights and tight chicanes, which provide a tough test for the tyres as well as the cars and drivers.
The GP2 drivers will have the P Zero Silver hard and P Zero Yellow soft tyres available to them, while the GP3 Series will use the hard compound only. There are three corners that are expected to pose the biggest challenges: the first chicane, characterised by heavy downhill braking, the Ascari curves – with their several rapid direction changes – and the famous Parabolica, a wide, open radius corner that puts a lot of lateral stress through the tyres.
Under the latest GP2 rules introduced in July that allows the drivers an extra set of the softer tyres at each race, each car will be supplied with three sets of Pirelli P Zero hard tyres and two sets of P Zero Yellow soft tyres. The GP2 drivers are likely to use the softer compound during qualifying, before moving onto the harder compound during the race. Pit stops are also now allowed in both GP2 races, while the GP3 drivers are expected to go the whole race distance without stopping.
The GP3 Series will use just one compound for the race weekend, the hard compound. As the closing round of the championship, the Monza race is crucial for all the GP3 drivers, so they will be pushing hard throughout the weekend. But as always, tyre management will be important. Following a late charge from Carlin driver Antonio Felix da Costa in Spa, there is still everything to play for in the championship, although Arden driver Mitch Evans continues to lead the standings.
Pirelli’s racing manager Mario Isola said: “Having supplied the GP3 Series since 2010, it seems incredible that we are approaching the end of our third season in the category already. During that time, we have been able to accumulate a huge amount of experience, which has enabled us to fine-tune the compounds to best suit the demands of the championship and the needs of the young drivers that take part of it. For us it has been a privilege to see these young drivers move forward in their careers, and we hope that the knowledge they have picked up about tyre management and strategy will be useful to them as they aim for the pinnacle of the sport. Once more, the field has been exceptionally talented this year and we look forward to another exciting conclusion to the championship this weekend. For GP2, the combination of hard and soft tyres will open up the possibility for a number of different race strategies with what should be a notable speed differential between the two compounds, Because of this, we would expect the GP2 drivers to use the soft compound in qualifying.”
On Friday, the GP3 drivers will take part in one practice session in Monza while the GP2 drivers will complete practice and qualifying. On Saturday, the GP3 drivers will have their qualifying session in the morning, followed by the GP2 feature race at 15.40 and the GP3 feature race at 17.20. Before the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday, the GP3 sprint race will take place at 09.00, followed by the GP2 sprint race at 10.35.
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