Why Alonso's tyre gamble could inspire others in F1's Monza sprint

Fernando Alonso starred in Formula 1's first sprint race at the British Grand Prix with a bold soft tyre gamble. At F1's second sprint event at Monza, the Alpine driver's example might well inspire others to go for broke.

Why Alonso's tyre gamble could inspire others in F1's Monza sprint

At Silverstone, the consensus was that everyone would take the safe option and start on the medium tyre. Alonso opted to go with the soft instead, taking advantage of the extra grip on the first lap to jump up from 11th to fifth, before falling back to seventh as quicker cars got past him.

The strategy caught the attention of rivals, and there’s no doubt that some will give it serious consideration at Monza. Saturday’s FP2 session provides a chance to further analyse the soft rubber and get more information before making the final call.

Overtaking can be difficult at Monza, and soft tyres would give a driver a better launch off the line compared to rivals, and superior traction out of the chicanes on the first lap.

Pirelli F1 boss Mario Isola therefore believes that the soft will be a valid, albeit still left-field, choice.

“I'm expecting that the majority of the teams will start with the medium compound or maybe somebody from the back could try to use the soft,” he said after qualifying on Friday.

“The weather conditions are good, it's quite warm, the track conditions are OK. We know from the past that the soft compound, that is the C4 like last year, is a compound where you need to manage the traction, you need to manage the rear tyres, because here it's important for the performance.

“You have heavy traction events in Monza, while laterally it is not so important. So maybe tomorrow we have a mix of medium and softs for the sprint qualifying.”

The 18-lap sprint race duration is potentially a stretch for the soft, but Isola says it’s possible.

“The sprint qualifying is 18 laps here, 18 laps are less than half an hour - so it's really a fast race where they have to push,” he explained.

“And that is why I think that somebody can try the soft to get an advantage at the beginning and then defend the position for the last few laps.

“The advantage on the soft is mainly the traction out of the slow chicanes. Maybe a little bit in braking, because in any case the front grip is better.”

Qualifying 13th for F1's Saturday sprint, Fernando Alonso is a prime candidate to repeat his Silverstone soft tyre gamble in Monza.

Qualifying 13th for F1's Saturday sprint, Fernando Alonso is a prime candidate to repeat his Silverstone soft tyre gamble in Monza.

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

A safety car - either real or virtual - would reduce the number of racing laps and help anyone who starts on the soft. However, Isola believes that there are other reasons why keeping them alive might not be as hard as some would expect.

“I believe that there is a certain degree of management in general during the race," he said. "But not just for the tyre, because you have to manage the power unit. With the hybrid part of the power unit, it's not like in qualifying that you can use all the power that is available.

“That's why during the race, there is a certain degree of management, brakes, power unit, whatever.

“If you manage the rear tyres in traction, you are a bit less aggressive outside the chicane, for sure you can manage to keep the rear tyre alive and finish the 18-lap race with still a good performance also for the soft.

“You get an advantage at the beginning, and then you have to protect a little bit the position in the last laps. Then for the other cars that instead are starting on the medium, the last part of the race that can be a lot more aggressive.

“The other point is that they don't start with a full tank in the qualifying race. They have a car that is much lighter compared to the Sunday grand prix. That is another important element that is giving you the opportunity to save or to protect the rear tyre.”

Isola has suggested it might be those “at the back” that opt for using softs, but there’s no reason why those further up the grid won’t give it a go.

Having thoroughly enjoyed being the joker in the pack at Silverstone Alonso, who starts 13th, is one obvious candidate.

Another is Sergio Perez, out of position in ninth after helping Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen with a tow in qualifying. He’s also a driver well known for being able to keep his tyres alive.

Sergio Perez has a reputation for keeping tyres intact and could opt for softs from ninth on the grid

Sergio Perez has a reputation for keeping tyres intact and could opt for softs from ninth on the grid

Photo by: Jerry Andre / Motorsport Images

If the Mexican can get ahead of the Ferraris, for example, he’ll have a much better starting position for the grand prix. The closer he is to the front on Sunday, the more likely he’ll be able to play a strategic role helping Verstappen.

Pierre Gasly, who starts the sprint race from sixth, hints that the need to make a good start could tip drivers towards the soft.

“One thing we learned in Silverstone was we had three starts before the actual first lap of the race,” he told Autosport. “So we had one start with our sprint race, a first lap. We had another start on Sunday, first lap, then there was a red flag. Then a third start, and then a first lap.

“And actually after that first lap, this is the position you are in, and by that time I think we had lost four positions compared to our starting position in qualifying. And that's something we clearly understood we need to work on, and especially with this sort of format.

“Teams which are really good at starts get like two occasions to make up positions, so that's one thing you need to focus on more than usual. I think Fernando surprised a couple of guys starting with a soft tyre, and [he] made up a lot of ground in Silverstone.

“I think there were a couple of lessons there clearly that were made after the weekend.”

shares
comments

Related video

F1 team bosses call for safer solution to Monza qualifying issues
Previous article

F1 team bosses call for safer solution to Monza qualifying issues

Next article

Red Bull not ruling out Williams F1 partnership after Albon move

Red Bull not ruling out Williams F1 partnership after Albon move
The relaxed home life that helps F1’s Danish superstar to deliver Plus

The relaxed home life that helps F1’s Danish superstar to deliver

The unrelenting grasp of the tax man prompts most racing drivers to move to the likes of Monaco, Switzerland or Dubai. But, as OLEG KARPOV found out, Kevin Magnussen is quite happy where he is, thank you very much – at home, with his family, in Denmark

How Perez has shown what many F1 drivers need from the 2022 season run-in Plus

How Perez has shown what many F1 drivers need from the 2022 season run-in

OPINION: Sergio Perez’s Singapore triumph arrested a big decline in his Formula 1 performances against Max Verstappen at Red Bull since his Monaco win. He now needs to maintain his form to the season’s end, while others are also seeking a change in fortunes

How the FIA should punish any breaches of the F1 cost cap Plus

How the FIA should punish any breaches of the F1 cost cap

OPINION: On Wednesday, the FIA will issue F1 teams with compliance certificates if they stuck to the 2021 budget cap. But amid rumours of overspending, the governing body must set a critical precedent. It needs to carefully pick between revisiting the bitterness of Abu Dhabi, a contradictory punishment and ensuring parity for the rest of the ground-effect era

Formula 1
Oct 4, 2022
Singapore Grand Prix Driver Ratings 2022 Plus

Singapore Grand Prix Driver Ratings 2022

A testing return to the Singapore Grand Prix in tricky conditions created plenty of hazards and mistakes for the Formula 1 drivers to fall into. That partly explains a number of low scores, including from a handful of high profile runners, allowing others to take a starring role under the floodlights

Formula 1
Oct 3, 2022
The two key contributors to Leclerc's defeat to Perez in F1's 2022 Singapore GP Plus

The two key contributors to Leclerc's defeat to Perez in F1's 2022 Singapore GP

In a marathon Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix, Sergio Perez’s victory was only assured hours after the race due to a stewards investigation. Throughout the contest the Red Bull driver impressively held off Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in changing conditions to see the Mexican pull out enough of an advantage to negate his post-race penalty

Formula 1
Oct 3, 2022
The time-honoured manufacturer model that can't apply to all F1 teams Plus

The time-honoured manufacturer model that can't apply to all F1 teams

What happens, asks MATT KEW, if the old adage of win on a Sunday, sell on a Monday is no longer true for F1 manufacturers?

Formula 1
Oct 2, 2022
Why is Oscar Piastri F1's most sought-after rookie? Plus

Why is Oscar Piastri F1's most sought-after rookie?

The Australian rising star is fast, consistent, confident, adaptable and has shown excellent racecraft, but there’s already a taint to his reputation. That hasn’t stopped him becoming the hottest property in this year’s F1 driver market and why McLaren moved fast to snap up the 21-year-old

Formula 1
Sep 30, 2022
The unintended benefit that F1's new engine rules era will deliver Plus

The unintended benefit that F1's new engine rules era will deliver

Formula 1's incoming engine rules shake-up has multiple targets. But it may also solve what has been a bone of contention since the hybrids arrived in 2014. The new plan will allow the series to pump up the volume

Formula 1
Sep 29, 2022