The fifth round of the 2015 iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series was held at Monza. The Autodromo Nationale Monza in its Grand Prix variation has been used for the first time as it was added to the service only few months ago. The track alternates long straigthaways where high top speed (around 340 kph) is mandatory to be able to overtake and very tight chicanes where low speed lateral grip is needed. The high speed Ascari chicane features additional sleeping policemen which can be deadly even if you only slightly touch them.
This track is very special as it is the only track where the low downforce trim of the Williams FW31 can be succesfully used. Of course taking the low speed chicanes with the low downforce trim is really challenging: the slightest timing error on the brakes costs severals tenth of a second.
During race preparation it took quite some time to find the best lines and some confidence. I was satisfied with the performance of my qualification setup early in the preparation phase, but I struggled to find a suitable race setup with a heavily loaded car. We opted for a one stop strategy as it became clear that the time gained by a 2 stopper would be marginal and overtaking would not be easy with the dirty air effect.
I started my first qualification run being somewhat too agressive and got a slow down penalty in the first corner! I aborted the run and started my second and last run being very cautious. Being overly cautious and some small mistakes ended up in a deceiving 28th position on the grid.
I knew that the first corner of the first lap would be a carnage. How could it be otherwise: a pack of 35 cars at high speed entering a tight corner 2 or 3 wide can only result in some major mayhem. Being at the back of the pack was a real advantage here: I could avoid the forecasted T1 carnage without loosing too much time. After overtaking Paolo and avoiding some more crashes in front of me I found myself in 16th position at the end of the first lap to my great surprise
I then tried to put some pressure on Yuho but the car suddenly became very twitchy. I made many mistakes, lost confidence and pace, allowing Paolo to overtake me. The rest of the race was basically trying to finish without crashing, as the car in front of me were faster and the car behind me were slower than me. At the end of the race I didn’t oppose much resistance to Tommaso’s charge as I didn’t want to take any risk. Finally Tommaso then Andre crashed out in front of me, giving me an unexpected 14th position.
In the end, despite a slow pace and many mistakes, moving from 28th to 14th position isn’t a bad result. Many of my close contenders having crashed out, I am now in 12th position in the championship, which is my best standing so far in iWCGPS.
Gratz to Greger and the podium.