‘La Pista Magica’ – ‘the magic track’ is how Monza is referred to by Italians. The ferocious speed of the Autodromo Nazionale Monza encapsulates the spirit of the sport like no other circuit and requires the drivers to be on the absolute limit throughout the race weekend. Steeped in history and universally loved by Formula One fans, Monza has hosted the most Grands Prix in the sport’s entirety. Read about the magic of Monza in Lights Out’s Ultimate Track Guide.
|FIRST F1 RACE||1950|
|TRACK LENGTH||3.600 miles|
|NUMBER OF LAPS||53|
|NUMBER OF TURNS||11|
|GEAR CHANGES PER LAP||46|
|MOST WINS||Michael Schumacher (5)|
A SHORT HISTORY OF THE AURODROMO NAZIONALE
Italians, in particular the Milan Automobile Club, wanted to host an Italian Grand Prix to rival the already successful Grand Prix of the French Automobile Club. In January 1922, Monza was selected as the location for the new racing circuit, being selected rather than Gallarate or a Grand Prix in the Milan area. Monza was chosen due to its versatility of having a mass of open land – indeed the largest city park in Europe. Construction of the Monza circuit began in February 1922 and was completed by a 3,500 strong workforce during the summer of the same year, despite attempts to stop the construction due to landscape conservation fears. The track opened its gates for the first time on 3rd September 1922. After six successful years, the 1928 Italian Grand Prix was marred by the death of the driver Emilio Materassi and twenty seven spectators in the worst accident seen in Italian motorsport. The event had a negative impact on the perspective of the sport in the country, leading to the event’s suspension for 1929 and 1930. Tragedy would strike again in the 1933 running, with three top drivers being killed in three heat races leading up to the main event. The terrible events led to chicanes being added to the circuit and, after the 1938 Italian Grand Prix, the banked section was dismantled.
DID YOU KNOW?
The conclusion of the 1971 Italian Grand Prix was the closest ever finish to a Formula One race. The top six drivers crossed the line within six tenths of a second of each other.
When Formula One arrived in 1950, the first Italian Grand Prix was won by an Italian, and eventual inaugural World Champion Giuseppe Farina. The track was redesigned again in 1954 , with the legendary Parabolica being installed and the banking being reinstated. The new circuit saw the cars reach an average of 134mph per lap, which rivaled only the speeds seen at Indianopolis at the time. In 1957, the banked section was removed again due to damage to the Ferrari and Maserati cars only to be reintroduced for the 1960 event. The 1960 Italian Grand Prix was controversial as Ferrari, who had front-engined cars, had no real competition – the mid-engined British teams pulled out due to safety concerns. For 1961, the circuit combining road and banking was used but yet another tragedy hit the circuit. Wolfgang von Tripps was killed, as were 14 spectators, in a crash with Jim Clark. The banked section was never used again in Formula One, though the old track still remains in situ.
After the fatal accident of Jochen Rindt in qualifying for the 1970 Italian Grand Prix, the track was changed once again with more chicanes added to slow the cars, which were now too fast for the drivers’ on-track safety. More changes followed in 1979 as a direct result of Ronnie Peterson’s fatal first lap crash in 1978. In 1980, Monza was not on the calendar for the only time in any Formula One season. The circuit underwent a major upgrade, with a brand new pit complex – the one which stands today – being built. The next twenty years of Formula One at Monza would pass relatively safety but 2001 saw the death of marshal Paolo Gislimberti, who died as a result of a tyre flying from Heinz Harald Frentzen’s Jordan.
“If we take this away from the calendar for any shitty money reasons, you are basically ripping our hearts out.”
SEBASTIAN VETTEL ON MONZA, 2015
The Tifosi rejoiced at the turn of the millennium as Ferrari’s dominant days brought the team five wins between 2000 and 2006. The 2006 Italian Grand Prix is also remembered for Michael Schumacher announcing his retirement from the sport. The long term future of Formula One at Monza remains in doubt but it can be guaranteed that the knowledgeable and highly enthusiastic Italian fans will turn up in their thousands for as long as the sport continues to visit.
DID YOU KNOW?
Ferrari have won the most Grands Prix at Monza. They have won 18 races here with the latest coming from Fernando Alonso in 2010. Other Italian teams to win here include Alfa Romeo, Maserati and, more recently, Toro Rosso.
- Monza was only the world’s third purpose-built racing circuit – Indianapolis and Brooklands were the only circuits which came before the Italian track.
- Juan Pablo Montoya completed the fastest ever lap in a Formula One car at this circuit in 2004. His lap-time of 1:19.525 gave him an average speed of almost 163mph.
- The venue can hold up to 114,000 spectators.
- 79% of the lap is spent on full throttle.
- With the cars travelling at the fastest speeds we see all season, this Grand Prix takes the shortest amount of time to complete. The 2015 Italian Grand Prix was completed in 78 minutes.
- The 1980 season is the only season which hasn’t featured Monza on its calendar. The Italian Grand Prix was held at Imola that year due to construction work.
- Monza has a tragic history – among the multiple fatalities at this circuit, 1961’s Grand Prix saw the death of Wolfgang von Trips and thirteen spectators, while in 1970 Jochen Rindt was killed during qualifying and thus became the only champion to claim a title posthumously.
- Sebastian Vettel’s shock win for Toro Rosso here in 2008 remains the only podium appearance for the Italian team.
- The lowest starting position to have won from at Monza is 11th – in 1971, by Peter Gethin.
- Fans begin queuing to get on to the track to watch the celebrations from below the podium at least half an hour before the end of the Grand Prix (or longer if a Ferrari is about to take the win!) The podium here is arguably the most spectacular of the year.
GRAND PRIX WINNERS AT MONZA
|2013||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault|
|2011||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault|
|2008||Sebastian Vettel||Toro Rosso-Ferrari|
|2005||Juan Pablo Montoya||McLaren-Mercedes|
|2001||Juan Pablo Montoya||Williams-BMW|
|1978||Niki Lauda||Brabham-Alfa Romeo|
|1955||Juan Manuel Fangio||Mercedes|
|1954||Juan Manuel Fangio||Mercedes|
|1953||Juan Manuel Fangio||Maserati|
|1950||Giuseppe Farina||Alfa Romeo|