Leclerc still expects Monza ‘qualifying matches’ despite lower draw

The Italian track traditionally sees drivers looking for traction on the straights in qualifying while also trying to create the perfect gap so that the car in front of them doesn’t compromise on cornering.

This has sometimes led to controversial situations, most famously in 2019 when cars left the pits late for their final rounds in the third quarter, everyone backed up, and many drivers failed to beat the checkered flag to start their laps.

Leclerc believes that despite the impact of low slip, similar situations are set to occur again this year because drag is still valuable.

“I think the match will probably be the same, because even if it’s less valuable, it’s still worth it,” he said when asked about online play from Motorsport.com.

“I mean the drivers are always going to go to that last minute in qualifying, so I think it’s always going to be tougher in terms of quality than racing.

“I think with these cars we can follow them a little bit closer in medium and high speed, but the drag value is obviously a little lower also in the straights.

“Having said that, I think it will depend greatly on whether there is a train of cars with the DRS. In that case, overtaking would be very difficult. If not, I think it would be fairly easy.”

Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz Also expect to see some drama in the playoffs.

“I think a drag at Monza will always be a problem,” said the Spaniard when asked by Motorsport.com about previous qualifying controversies.

“But I think it’s part of the show, part of the nature of the circuit, part of the qualifying tactics you have at Monza.

“Even if people said 2019 was a mess and a show, I don’t agree, I think it’s part of the race. And there are a lot of people who got it wrong, or there are like me who got it right!

“I would just say that this is part of Monza’s tactics and strategy. And I think it’s part of the beauty of coming here, that you have very strange qualifications.

“And I think it’s good to see even if you don’t get a lap sometimes. I think this year again will be similar, because the cars are still very sensitive to slip and you want to pull.”

The cars occupy a spot in the first round of a qualifying round in 2021.

The cars occupy a spot in the first round of a qualifying round in 2021.

Photography: Mark Sutton / motorsports pictures

GPDA head George Russell I acknowledge that the issue of qualification may be brought up at the Drivers Briefing Friday evening.

“It will always be a challenge in certain arenas,” he said mercedes driver. “This is because the circle is pulled, just trying to get a gap in a small circle. No doubt we will discuss it, we will try to find a good compromise.

“But in the end, when we’re all on the right track, no one wants to be first. If you’re tracking delta time, you’ll make compound line activity probably the most dangerous point, because everyone is waiting as long as possible.

“It’s always going to be a problem here. Maybe you go back to the one-lap qualifying!”

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Russell admitted that in the past you’ve paid money to avoid getting too close to the car in front of you and consequently losing downforce, but until they get so close in practice, drivers won’t know how the 2022 aerodynamic package will affect Monza’s pursuit.

“Here’s the thing,” he said. “It goes both ways.” “If there is a bit of a gain, you can also do your lap on your own like that, and I think historically there have been times when a driver has run a lap on his own and been surprised by his performance.

“We can all measure the straight-line velocity gains we get when we’re in slipstream, but it’s hard to say exactly, I’ve lost a half-tenth, a tenth or nothing in the corner.

“Personally, I think, it won’t be all over and over. And there’s more to lose in chasing that perfect drag than there is to lose.”

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