Various teams and drivers in the FIA World Endurance Championship paddock say that Monza is a far more suitable track for traffic management compared to the previous round at Portimao, where the track layout sometimes caused issues between prototypes and the slower GT traffic.
The Monza circuit is famous for its long straight and relatively few corners, which has remained largely unchanged since the circuit was first opened decades ago.
In contrast, the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve in Portimao, where WEC hosted an eight-hour enduro to form round two of the series, has more undulation and a significant number of blind corners, which made lapping slower cars more difficult for both prototype and GT drivers.
Pascal Vasselon, Toyota Gazoo Racing’s technical director, says that the speed difference that its pair of Le Mans Hypercars have compared to the LMP2 field will allow them to avoid situations like at Portimao, where its cars sometimes spent several laps stuck behind slower prototype cars
“The main benefit we should get in Monza compared to Portimao is mainly in terms of traddic management,” he said. “LMP2 and GTE traffic management should be easier here because we have more longer straights.”
“So here it will be much easier to use this advantage to pass so we expect less problems with traffic management, blue flags.”
“It was really difficult in Portimao. The leading car of the race reading has spent up to six laps behind an LMP2. In Portimao, it was quite difficult for them to know when they have to let us past. Here it should be much easier.
In turn, the LMP2 runners will likely have an easier time themselves to make their way around cars racing in GTE Pro and GTE Am.
JOTA’s Antonio Felix da Costa, coming into the race as points leader in LMP2, also admits that the Portimao circuit was the most challenging track in terms of traffic management and predicts to have a much easier time in Italy.
“Portimao was probably hardest one of the whole year,” said Da Costa. “You know, there’s not many straights there and, and the GTEs, they take up a lot of space on tracks like that. Here, obviously, it’s a bit easier.
“I have to say, the GTEs are faster down the straights compared to last year, we’ve also been slowed down. So we just have to plan it a bit better, but it’s fine.”
Kevin Estre, GTE Pro driver for Porsche, also sees the benefits of Monza’s layout, stating that the longer straight gives him more time to anticipate for traffic coming up behind.
“You have long straights long time to see what’s approaching, maybe judge the speed from the prototype coming behind you. And big braking zones where it’s quite easy to say okay, I leave him the room or not.
“Portimao has a lot of a lot of up and down blind corners, a lot of corners which are turning opening or closing which makes it always a bit tricky or risky. The overtaking here, I think is more straightforward.”