MONZA, Italy -- The Italian Grand Prix will be a one-stop race and is unlikely to have much variation in strategy.
The fastest way to the flag is to start on the soft tyres before a pit window opens up between lap 19 and lap 29 to switch to the medium compound. The hard compound is an option for the second stint if teams are worried about tyre degradation, but the white-striped tyre will take longer to get up to temperature on the crucial lap out of the pits.
The fast speeds on the pit straight at Monza mean a pit stop is quite costly in terms of time and drivers need at least a 24-second advantage over the car behind to pit and still emerge in front. That relatively high pit-lane-loss time all but rules out a two stop, but even though tyre strategy options are limited, the closely matched performance of the Ferrari and Mercedes -- and the possibility for slipstreaming battles on Monza's long straights -- should still make for an exciting race.
Temperatures are forecast to remain under 20C and that should help drivers to manage their tyres. The rear tyres are the main concern at Monza as they are prone to overheating out of Monza's slow chicanes, but it is only likely to become a major issue if temperatures rocket towards 30C.In the battle at the front, the Mercedes appears to be kinder to its tyres and also has a performance advantage on the medium compound.
If anything Ferrari has the edge on softs and Charles Leclerc, who starts from pole position on that compound, will have to make good use of that advantage to build a lead over the Mercedes drivers before the pit stops.If the qualifying order remains the same approaching the end of the first stint, Mercedes may look to pit at least one of their cars early to try and gain an advantage on fresh medium tyres over Leclerc.
If that undercut doesn't gain a position outright on the lead Ferrari, the hope is that it will lure Leclerc into an early counter pit stop, allowing the remaining Mercedes to go longer into the race and create a tyre offset (i.e. pit later and be on fresher tyres at the end) to attack in the closing stages.