‘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.
|FIRST F1 RACE||1950|
|TRACK LENGTH||3.600 miles|
|NUMBER OF LAPS||53|
|NUMBER OF TURNS||11|
|MOST POLES||Lewis Hamilton (6)|
|MOST WINS||Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton (5)|
A SHORT HISTORY OF THE AURODROMO NAZIONALE MONZA
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.
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 fourteen 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.
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. The Monza circuit holds a contract to host the Italian Grand Prix until 2019.
🇮🇹 DID YOU KNOW?
- 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 1980 season is the only season which hasn’t featured Monza on the calendar. The Italian Grand Prix was held at Imola that year due to construction work.
- 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.
- 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.
- Nino Farina was crowned the first ever F1 World Champion at this track in 1950.
🇮🇹 WHY WE LOVE MONZA
POLESITTERS AT MONZA
|5||Juan Manuel Fangio|
|3||Juan Pablo Montoya|
|1||Wolfgang von Trips|
GRAND PRIX WINNERS AT MONZA
|1950||Giuseppe Farina||Alfa Romeo|
|1953||Juan Manuel Fangio||Maserati|
|1954||Juan Manuel Fangio||Mercedes|
|1955||Juan Manuel Fangio||Mercedes|
|1978||Niki Lauda||Brabham-Alfa Romeo|
|2001||Juan Pablo Montoya||Williams-BMW|
|2005||Juan Pablo Montoya||McLaren-Mercedes|
|2008||Sebastian Vettel||Toro Rosso-Ferrari|
|2011||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault|
|2013||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault|