Italian Grand Prix 2014: 10 Key Facts About Monza
Following a thrilling race in Belgium, Formula One makes its final European stop this season for the Italian Grand Prix at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza.
The Monza circuit, located in a royal park north of Milan, is a relatively simple design that allows for extremely high speeds. It is also located just 200 kilometres from Ferrari headquarters in Maranello and is always packed full of Tifosi—the devoted fans of the Italian manufacturer.
To help you prepare for the race, we have compiled 10 facts about the circuit and its history.
Last Classic Layout?
Unlike Spa or the German circuits of Hockenheim and the Nurburgring, Monza retains much of its original layout.
The high-speed, banked oval is no longer part of the track, but the rest of the current circuit is very similar to the original, with three chicanes added to slow the cars (slightly). The oval used to be combined with the road circuit to form a 10-kilometre track, but it was eventually deemed too dangerous and fell out of use after the 1961 Italian Grand Prix.
The current layout, minus the chicanes, has been used since 1957 (although the oval returned for the 1960 and 1961 races).
The circuit was built in 1922 and, according to the official Monza website, took just 110 days to complete, using 3,500 workers.
That original construction included the full road course, as well as the banked oval.
One of Monza's most popular corners is the challenging Parabolica, the final turn of the circuit. It was always a challenge for drivers to carry enough speed through the corner so they would not lose time on the start-finish straight without running wide onto the grass strip or gravel trap beyond.
For this year, though, the gravel has been replaced with tarmac. Drivers will now be able to run wide with impunity, lessening the challenge of one of F1's greatest corners.
The Italian Grand Prix is Ferrari's home race. As the oldest and most popular team on the grid, the grandstands at Monza are always full of Ferrari red.
The passion of the Tifosi makes for a special atmosphere at Monza. Most other races feature support split among many teams and drivers. In Italy, the focus is on Ferrari, regardless of who is driving the cars.
The weather at Monza is usually warm and sunny for the race. Over the last 10 Italian Grands Prix, there have only been two wet races, in 2004 and 2008. Sebastian Vettel took advantage of the weather in the latter year to win his (and Toro Rosso's) first grand prix.
The forecast for this Sunday, according to the official F1 website, is for sun. However, some rain is expected on Saturday, which could make for an interesting qualifying session.
Monza is the fastest circuit on the calendar. In 2003, Michael Schumacher set an F1 record with an average speed of 247.585 kilometres per hour over the race distance.
In the past, F1 cars at Monza have topped 270 kilometres per hour. This year, McLaren's Kevin Magnussen said in the team's race preview, "We’re expecting to see top-speeds in the region of about 345km/h (214mph)—and that’s without a tow."
The Circuit of Death
Because of the extremely high speeds, Monza can also be a dangerous circuit. In his 1961 book Cars at Speed, Robert Daley called Monza the "Circuit of Death"—and with good reason.
Alberto Ascari, Wolfgang von Trips, Jochen Rindt and Ronnie Peterson were all killed following accidents at Monza, along with many grand prix drivers during the interwar years (Ascari was testing a Ferrari sportscar when he was killed, not an F1 car).
Although thankfully no drivers have been killed at Monza since 1978, a marshal was killed at the 2000 race when he was struck by a loose wheel following a first-lap accident.
Most Successful Drivers and Teams
As usual, Schumacher has the most wins at Monza, with five. Nelson Piquet won the Italian Grand Prix four times, but one of those was in 1980, when the race was held at Imola.
Six other drivers have won three times at Monza since the F1 World Championship began in 1950: Juan Manuel Fangio, Stirling Moss, Alain Prost, Rubens Barrichello, Sebastian Vettel and Peterson. Ascari also won three times, but one came in 1949, the year before the championship was established.
On the constructors side, Ferrari leads the way with 18 victories at their home race. McLaren have 10 wins at Monza and Williams six.
The Importance of Qualifying
Although there are overtaking opportunities at Monza, seven of the last 10 winners have come from pole position. The last time the winner did not start on pole was 2009, when Rubens Barrichello qualified fifth.
With most of the lap taken flat out, and not much room for aerodynamic adjustments, a good qualifying performance at Monza usually equates to strong pace during the race, as well.
Closest Finish in Formula 1 History
Peter Gethin won the 1971 Italian Grand Prix by just 0.01 seconds from Ronnie Peterson, having started the last lap in fourth place. The top five finishers were separated by only 0.61 seconds, for the closest finish in F1 history.
With the dominance of Mercedes so far this season, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton should be able to create a much larger gap to the rest of the field this weekend—but the same could be said for the last race in Belgium, and we all know how that turned out.
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