Mercedes ran a tactical qualifying session in Monza today with focus on saving tyres for Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg, who will start the Italian Grand Prix from eighth and ninth respectively.
Schumacher completed just one quick lap in Q3 today, and has a new set of the soft ‘option’ tyres saved for tomorrow’s race. “Qualifying today went mostly according to plan,” said the seven-time world champion. “I don’t think we could have taken much more; maybe I could have ended up one place higher.
“I didn’t have an ideal fast lap as I tried to use the slip stream from Lewis but then he locked up in the second chicane which made me lock up too. However I will be on soft tyres tomorrow which should be better for my race. As our race pace looked quite good yesterday, I was more focusing on the race and trying to use the tyres in the right way. For tomorrow, I will try to get a good start and take it from there.”
Rosberg adopted a different strategy, completing a lap on the slower medium ‘prime’ tyre. He will be the highest placed driver to start on this compound tomorrow as the top eight all set their fastest Q3 lap using the option tyre.
“I’m happy with today’s qualifying and the compromise that we made to be strong in the race tomorrow,” said Rosberg. “The performance in Q2 shows that the car is working well here, and we saved two sets of options which is good. I’m the only driver who took part in Q3 who will be starting on the hard tyre, so it will be interesting and should help me a lot at the start of the race. I think it will be a really good race tomorrow.”
Team principal Ross Brawn explained the thinking behind these tyre strategies: “Tyre management will be crucial in the race, and we were very mindful with both cars that we must start the race on the same tyres as we qualified on,” he said. “For Nico, we opted for a prudent approach by running the hard tyre which could open up a nice opportunity for him tomorrow and it will be very interesting to see how he progresses. Michael decided to use the soft tyre in Q3, but only completed a single lap to preserve them for the race.
“Both drivers have fresh sets for the race – two sets of softs for Nico, and one for Michael – so we will see how this afternoon’s tactical decisions play out. I think we can look forward to plenty of action.”