Temperatures remained warm in qualifying for the Italian grand prix, with track temperatures of 44 degrees centigrade and 31 degrees ambient as the session got underway at the ‘Temple of Speed’.
In the past, strategy has tended to focus on a one-stopper for the Italian Grand Prix, but the introduction of the supersoft tyre for the first time – with three compounds now nominated for each race – could bring in a new variable with a two-stopper chosen by some drivers.
For the last six years, the driver starting from pole position has won at Monza, making qualifying absolutely crucial. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton took pole, as he did last year (when he claimed a grand slam with fastest lap and race victory too) using the supersoft tyre smashing the 2015 pole time by around 2.2 seconds.
Ferrari was the only team to get through Q1 using the soft tyres only, where Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen placed third and fifth compared to their supersoft-equipped rivals.
In Q2, both Mercedes drivers were the only ones to get through with the soft tyres only (although Red Bull also tried, before switching to supersoft) – meaning that this is the compound that they will start on tomorrow.
The Q3 battle was run entirely on the supersoft, with Hamilton setting his pole time of 1m21.135s during his second run right at the end of the session, ahead of team mate Nico Rosberg.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “Track temperatures were about the same than we saw yesterday for free practice, with strategy already at the forefront from the start of qualifying. In Q2 the Mercedes drivers were the only ones to get through on the soft tyres only. Both saved a set of supersoft, while the Mercedes drivers will be the only ones in the top 10 to be starting the race tomorrow on the more durable soft tyre – from the first two places on the grid. So it remains to be seen whether or not this will affect their thinking on strategy tomorrow. With both one or two stops possible, the tactics for the grand prix will be extremely interesting.”
How the tyres behaved today:
Medium: Not used in qualifying but likely to be an essential part of any one-stop plan.
Soft: Only used by Ferrari in Q1, then also used by others in Q2 as the race start tyre.
Supersoft: Pole tyre, but only a relatively small speed advantage here compared to soft.