After their debut at the Hungarian Grand Prix, Monza will see different tyre and qualifying rules
At this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, qualifying will look a little different on Saturday, and tyre usage will be a lot different than what fans are used to seeing each week.
Formula 1, in conjunction with Pirelli, is continuing a test of rules regarding what tyre compounds teams can use during each segment of qualifying. Titled “Alternative Tyre Allocation” (ATA), teams now see their total amount of slick tyre compounds for the weekend reduced from 13 to 11. These will be divided into three hard tyres, four medium tyres, and four soft tyres.
During qualifying, teams are limited in what compounds they can use in dry conditions. Teams are required to use the hard compound during Q1, the medium compound during Q2, and finally they can use the softs during Q3.
If race officials deem track conditions to be “wet,” teams have their choice of compounds.
F1 was going to test this format at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix in May, but flooding in the region forced the cancelation of that race. That pushed back the debut of this format to the Hungarian Grand Prix in July.
Ahead of the race at Imola in May, Pirelli Motorsport Director Mario Isola outlined how the new rules were an effort towards F1’s goals regarding sustainability.
“At Imola we will be testing a new regulation that requires teams to use a different type of compound for each of the three sessions, with the hards fitted for Q1, the mediums for Q2, and the softs for Q3,” said Pirelli Motorsport Director Mario Isola. “This means a reduction – from 13 to 11 – of the sets of dry tyres that each driver has available for the entire event, therefore decreasing the environmental impact generated by the production and transport of the tyres.”
As for how the format impacted qualifying at the Hungarian Grand Prix, there are some who believe that the rules led to George Russell’s shocking exit in Q1. During the first qualifying session teams are required to use the hard compound. Russell was seeking a strong lap in the closing minutes of Q1, but was caught up in traffic and could not deliver.
“Q1 was overall messy, not only for us but for many others. So many cars on a single piece of track. We put them in the wrong position,” said Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff at the time.
“The first run was already compromised then everyone bunching up in the last corner was far from ideal,” added Wolff. “There is no code between the drivers because he was overtaken by three cars between Turn 13 and 14. That obviously completely screws your last lap. But we need to take it on us that we didn’t put him in a better position.”
As for Russell, he pointed to the reduction in track running under the ATA as a problem, a sentiment echoed by other drivers.
“I think for qualifying it’s good but with the lack of running in FP1 and FP2,” he said. “It’s worse for the fans, and we need to find a better solution because the fans pay a lot of money to come and watch on Friday, Saturday, Sunday,” said the Mercedes driver.
“If we’re doing only 60% of the laps compared to what we used to do, they’re getting less for their money, so we need to find a better solution.”
However, the grid heads to Monza with the ATA system in place, so now we wait to see if it has any impact on the action this weekend.