FP1 and FP2 preliminarily hinted at the success stories of the 2023 Italian Grand Prix. The coveted winner will be awarded a unique trophy, inspired by Formula 1‘s exhaust pipes. Pirelli commissioned this special trophy, which is the creation of Italian artist Ruth Beraha.
Beraha drew inspiration from the Greek myth of Typhon, a giant who boasted 100 snakes around his head. Monza‘s former royal park presented an interesting backdrop to the practice sessions, as the park is visibly affected by the loss of 10,000 trees due to a July thunderstorm.
FP1 saw Verstappen lead the way, a mere 0.046s ahead of Sainz. During the session, Pirelli’s Alternative Tyre Allocation (ATA) experiment was once again brought into focus. With two fewer tyre sets available (11 compared to the usual 13), the objective was to assess the possibility of transporting fewer sets worldwide.
The limited availability of tyre sets meant that teams were frugal with their deployment during FP1. Aston Martin and Haas utilized mediums, while Red Bull, Ferrari, and Mercedes stuck with the hard set. Alpine, McLaren, Alfa Romeo, AlphaTauri, and Williams preferred softs.
Pirelli Motorsport’s boss, Mario Isola, stated that he is content with the ATA data gathered so far. However, he believes there is room for “fine-tuning”. The soft C3-C4-C5 series was in play during the practice sessions, a step softer compared to the C2-C3-C4 series from 2022.
According to Isola, the spectators faced no issues with the reduced sets of tyres. For instance, 483 laps were completed in 2023’s FP1, which is comparable to the 509 laps in 2022. Verstappen led the initial action, with Sainz close behind. Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez followed in fourth with the other Ferrari.
A clutch issue with the Alfa Romeo drivers stuck a noticeable blow during FP1. Further, many cars experienced bottom-outs on the track’s long straights. Consequently, Monza proved to be an apt choice for the ATA, after the Imola cancellation.
In contrast, FP2’s action was slow to start due to Lance Stroll’s fuel system problem with his Aston Martin. This hampered Stroll’s performance as compared to his counterparts in the subsequent sessions.
Qualification simulation runs in the mid-session saw Sainz and Leclerc win out. However, Sainz endured a rear locking issue. Yet, he picked up pace again, topping the charts on a 1m21.355s. McLaren’s Lando Norris was hot on his heels, ending up second at just 0.019s behind Sainz.
The bottoming-out issue was noticeably lesser in FP2 as teams adjusted their ride heights. Perez’s spin-off temporarily ceased FP2. However, he skillfully avoided severe damage. Consequently, the ride height adjustments led to bouncing due to tired flex under load, which is typical.