Monza: The Ultimate Track Guide

‘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 (7)
MOST WINS Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton (5)

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.

In 2019, the long term future of Formula 1 at Monza was confirmed, with the circuit securing hosting rights to the Italian Grand Prix until at least 2025. 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.


FAST FACTS

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 remained the team’s only podium finish until the 2019 German Grand Prix.
  • 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 19 races here with the latest coming from Charles Leclerc in 2019. 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.

?? 2020 ITALIAN GP RECAP

Lewis Hamilton set a new record for the fastest ever lap in qualifying for the 2020 Italian Grand Prix, but the race will be remembered for Pierre Gasly’s stunning victory with AlphaTauri.

Qualifying for the 2020 Italian Grand Prix saw some of the fastest ever lap times in Formula 1 history. While there was the usual jostling for position, with all the drivers keen to pick up a slipstream, qualifying at Monza came to a less farcical conclusion than twelve months previously. It was Lewis Hamilton who would take pole with the fastest ever lap in F1 history, securing pole by 0.069 seconds. On race day, the Grand Prix started in the usual fashion, with Hamilton pulling clear at the front. Carlos Sainz, who had qualified a career-best third overtook Valtteri Bottas at the start – and it wasn’t long before Sainz’s McLaren team-mate Lando Norris also passed the Mercedes. Bottas was passed by more cars – with both Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo finding their way through. Sebastian Vettel, who qualified in a disappointing seventeenth, retired on Lap 6 with brake failure, while Kevin Magnussen came to a halt thirteen laps later. The Safety Car was called as a result. However, with Magnussen’s car stopped near the pit exit, the pit lane was closed. Despite that, race leader Hamilton pulled into the pit lane. Sainz assumed the lead as a result of Hamilton’s stop. The pit lane eventually opened two laps later, with most of the field opting to stop. Crucially, Lance Stroll, Pierre Gasly and Kimi Raikkonen did not stop. Their fortunes for the afternoon were greatly improved when a heavy crash for Charles Leclerc brought out the red flags. While repairs were carried out on the tyre barrier, it was announced that both Hamilton and Antonio Giovinazzi had received ten-second stop/go penalties for entering the pit lane when it was closed. The race began again on Lap 28 with a standing start. Hamilton led the field away, with Pierre Gasly second and Kimi Raikkonen third. A lock-up for Stroll saw him run wide at the second chicane, luckily missing the car in front of him. Hamilton pitted to serve his penalty, allowing Gasly into the lead of the race. As Max Verstappen was forced onto the sidelines, Sainz set about moving up the order, overtaking Raikkonen with a bold move at Turn 1. Stroll also passed the Alfa Romeo soon after. That was the order in which the top three would remain, though Sainz kept the pressure on Gasly until the very end, eventually finishing less than half a second behind the AlphaTauri. Gasly claimed France’s first Grand Prix win in over 24 years, while the Red Bull junior team took their second victory – twelve years after Vettel took their first at the same circuit. Sainz and Stroll completed the podium, with all three podium finishers claiming the second top three finish of their careers.

?? 2019 ITALIAN GP RECAP

Charles Leclerc powered to pole for the Italian Grand Prix and brought Ferrari their first home victory since 2010, much to the delight of the loyal tifosi.

Saturday’s qualifying session led to a farcical situation at the end of Q3 where Carlos Sainz was the only driver who reached the chequered flag in time to start his final lap. The other drivers backed each other up, none of them wishing to go without the all-important slipstream. Charles Leclerc took pole position, starting alongside Lewis Hamilton on the front row. Leclerc kept the lead at the first turn, as a number of drivers cut the first chicane – including Max Verstappen, who picked up front wing damage. Carlos Sainz and Alex Albon enjoyed a wheel-to-wheel battle; or at least Sainz did, with the Red Bull driver forced to drive through a gravel trap. On the sixth lap, Sebastian Vettel spun and rejoined the track right in front of Lance Stroll, who took avoiding action and spun his Racing Point. Stroll then committed the same crime as Vettel, forcing Pierre Gasly to go through the gravel. Both drivers picked up a penalty for the incident, and Vettel pitted for a change of front wing before taking his ten-second stop/go penalty. In the battle for the net lead, Leclerc fended off Hamilton, with Hamilton left unimpressed by Leclerc’s aggressive defence. Sainz retired with a loose wheel following his pit stop, while Daniil Kvyat came to a halt with an engine failure. Leclerc locked up and skipped over the first corner, leading to another attack from Hamilton – but the Mercedes driver made a mistake himself, allowing team-mate Valtteri Bottas into second place. Bottas tried to chase down the leader, but no one could stop Leclerc from taking Ferrari’s first home victory in nine years. Renault had a strong race, with Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg finishing fourth and fifth. Leclerc became Formula 1’s youngest back-to-back Grand Prix winner.

?? 2018 ITALIAN GP RECAP

Kimi Raikkonen took a surprise pole position with the fastest lap in Formula One history, but Mercedes reigned on Ferrari’s home ground on Sunday as Lewis Hamilton took the win in a tight strategic battle.

Marcus Ericsson suffered a large crash on Friday afternoon as a result of his DRS remaining open at the end of the main straight. Saturday’s qualifying session saw a close fight between Ferrari and Mercedes, with the lap record being beaten several times in quick succession. It was Kimi Raikkonen who set the ultimate pace, with less than two tenths separating the top three on the grid. Meanwhile, Kevin Magnussen and Fernando Alonso decided to race each other in Q2, ruining both of their qualifying attempts. Raikkonen led away at the start, but there was drama behind as Sebastian Vettel defended from Lewis Hamilton, with the Ferrari driver spinning and ending up at the back of the field. Brendon Hartley failed to make it to the first turn as he got squeezed off the start line. Hamilton soon dispatched Raikkonen for the lead, but the Finn quickly took the position back just a few corners later. Hamilton pitted after Raikkonen, but remained behind the Finn, while Mercedes tactically kept Valtteri Bottas out in order to halt his compatriot’s charge. Bottas was later forced off the track by Max Verstappen, the latter of whom was unimpressed at being handed a penalty for the incident. With eight laps to go, Hamilton took the lead and remained there until the end. Raikkonen finished second to take his 100th podium finish and, although Verstappen finished ahead of Bottas on track, Bottas took third place as a result of the Dutchman’s five second penalty.


?? MONZA WINNERS AND POLESITTERS

YearPolesitterTeam On PoleWinnerWinning Team
1950Juan Manuel FangioAlfa RomeoGiuseppe FarinaAlfa Romeo
1951Juan Manuel FangioAlfa RomeoAlberto AscariFerrari
1952Alberto AscariFerrariAlberto AscariFerrari
1953Alberto AscariFerrariJuan Manuel FangioMaserati
1954Juan Manuel FangioMercedesJuan Manuel FangioMercedes
1955Juan Manuel FangioMercedesJuan Manuel FangioMercedes
1956Juan Manuel FangioFerrariStirling MossMaserati
1957Stuart Lewis-EvansVanwallStirling MossVanwall
1958Stirling MossVanwallTony BrooksVanwall
1959Stirling MossCooperStirling MossCooper
1960Phil HillFerrariPhil HillFerrari
1961Wolfgang von TripsFerrariPhil HillFerrari
1962Jim ClarkLotusGraham HillBRM
1963John SurteesFerrariJim ClarkLotus
1964John SurteesFerrariJohn SurteesFerrari
1965Jim ClarkLotusJackie StewartBRM
1966Mike ParkesFerrariLudovico ScarfiottiFerrari
1967Jim ClarkLotusJohn SurteesHonda
1968John SurteesHondaDenny HulmeMcLaren
1969Jochen RindtLotusJackie StewartMatra
1970Jacky IckxFerrariClay RegazzoniFerrari
1971Chris AmonMatraPeter GethinBRM
1972Jacky IckxFerrariEmerson FittipaldiLotus
1973Ronnie PetersonLotusRonnie PetersonLotus
1974Niki LaudaFerrariRonnie PetersonLotus
1975Niki LaudaFerrariClay RegazzoniFerrari
1976Jacques LaffiteLigierRonnie PetersonMarch
1977James HuntMcLarenMario AndrettiLotus
1978Mario AndrettiLotusNiki LaudaBrabham
1979Jean-Pierre JabouilleRenaultJody ScheckterFerrari
1981René ArnouxRenaultAlain ProstRenault
1982Mario AndrettiFerrariRené ArnouxRenault
1983Riccardo PatreseBrabhamNelson PiquetBrabham
1984Nelson PiquetBrabhamNiki LaudaMcLaren
1985Ayrton SennaLotusAlain ProstMcLaren
1986Teo FabiBenettonNelson PiquetWilliams
1987Nelson PiquetWilliamsNelson PiquetWilliams
1988Ayrton SennaMcLarenGerhard BergerFerrari
1989Ayrton SennaMcLarenAlain ProstMcLaren
1990Ayrton SennaMcLarenAyrton SennaMcLaren
1991Ayrton SennaMcLarenNigel MansellWilliams
1992Nigel MansellWilliamsAyrton SennaMcLaren
1993Alain ProstWilliamsDamon HillWilliams
1994Jean AlesiFerrariDamon HillWilliams
1995David CoulthardWilliamsJohnny HerbertBenetton
1996Damon HillWilliamsMichael SchumacherFerrari
1997Jean AlesiBenettonDavid CoulthardMcLaren
1998Michael SchumacherFerrariMichael SchumacherFerrari
1999Mika HakkinenMcLarenHeinz-Harald FrentzenJordan
2000Michael SchumacherFerrariMichael SchumacherFerrari
2001Juan Pablo MontoyaWilliamsJuan Pablo MontoyaWilliams
2002Juan Pablo MontoyaWilliamsRubens BarrichelloFerrari
2003Michael SchumacherFerrariMichael SchumacherFerrari
2004Rubens BarrichelloFerrariRubens BarrichelloFerrari
2005Juan Pablo MontoyaMcLarenJuan Pablo MontoyaMcLaren
2006Kimi RaikkonenMcLarenMichael SchumacherFerrari
2007Fernando AlonsoMcLarenFernando AlonsoMcLaren
2008Sebastian VettelToro RossoSebastian VettelToro Rosso
2009Lewis HamiltonMcLarenRubens BarrichelloBrawn
2010Fernando AlonsoFerrariFernando AlonsoFerrari
2011Sebastian VettelRed BullSebastian VettelRed Bull
2012Lewis HamiltonMcLarenLewis HamiltonMcLaren
2013Sebastian VettelRed BullSebastian VettelRed Bull
2014Lewis HamiltonMercedesLewis HamiltonMercedes
2015Lewis HamiltonMercedesLewis HamiltonMercedes
2016Lewis HamiltonMercedesNico RosbergMercedes
2017Lewis HamiltonMercedesLewis HamiltonMercedes
2018Kimi RaikkonenFerrariLewis HamiltonMercedes
2019Charles LeclercFerrariCharles LeclercFerrari
2020Lewis HamiltonMercedesPierre GaslyAlphaTauri