The Big Preview: Italian Grand Prix at Autodromo di Monza

Round 12 of the 2013 Formula One World Championship marks the sport’s final race of the season in Europe and, as has become traditional, it takes place at one of F1’s great venues – Italy’s Monza circuit.

F1’s original temple of speed, La Pista Magica, as it is known, is now out on its own in modern F1 as a true low-downforce, high-speed circuit, with just a handful of fast bends and chicanes to get in the way of drivers clocking the highest average lap speed of any track on the current calendar – around 245 km/h.

The presence of slow chicanes breaking the high-speed straights means that suspension settings are crucial, as to secure a good lap time drivers need to be able to ride the kerbs hard. The flat out nature of the track also means that engines take more punishment than at most circuits with up to 70 per cent of a lap being run at full throttle.

Monza is Ferrari tifosi country

Monza is Ferrari tifosi country

The final effect of all that speed is that tyres are subjected to heavy longitudinal forces under braking and blistering can be an issue. Therefore, tyre supplier Pirelli has allocated its hard and medium compounds for this weekend.

After taking a comfortable win at the last round in Belgium, Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel has extended his drivers’ championship lead over Fernando Alonso to 46 points, with Lewis Hamilton third, 12 points further back. However, following the race, Vettel acknowledged his team’s relatively poor record at Monza, saying, “we don’t expect, maybe, to be that strong” in Italy. That will offer Alonso hope that he can reassert himself in the title fight.

In the constructors’ battle, meanwhile, Red Bull Racing, with 312 points, hold a commanding 77-point lead over nearest rivals Mercedes, with Ferrari third on 218 points.

Monza from the air

Monza from the air

Autodromo di Monza Circuit Data

  • Length of lap: 5.793 km
  • Lap record: 1:21.046 (Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari, 2004)
  • Start/finish line offset: 0.309 km
  • Total number of race laps: 53
  • Total race distance: 306.720 km
  • Pitlane speed limits: 80 km/h throughout the entire event weekend.

Changes to circuit since 2012 & DRS Zones

  • The leading edges of the kerbs at the apex of Turn 1 and 4 will be longer, to avoid the possibility of a car being launched when crossing them.
  • The kerb at the exit of Turn 6 will be extended by 20 m in order to prevent damage to the grass verge.
  • At the exit of Turn 10, the kerb and artificial grass will be extended by 50 m.
  • The section of guardrail just before the opening on the driver’s left at Turn 1 will be replaced by a wall.
  • There will be a two DRS zones. The detection point of the first will be just before Turn 7 with activation just after Turn 7. The second detection point will be just before Turn 11. The activation point will be just after the start/finish line.
Race winner Ludovico Scarfiotti (Ferrari) leads Jim Clark (Lotus) during the 1966 Italian GP

Race winner Ludovico Scarfiotti (Ferrari) leads Jim Clark (Lotus) during the 1966 Italian GP

Italian Grand Prix Fast Facts

  • The Italian Grand Prix has featured on the calendar every year since the world championship’s inception in 1950. The race has been held at Monza each time, save for 1980 when the event was run at Imola, as Monza was being refurbished.
  • The 1980 race was won by Nelson Piquet for Brabham. The Brazilian thus became the first driver to win an Italian GP at two different venues since the pre-F1 era when Rudolf Caracciola won for Mercedes at Livorno in 1937, having also driven a Mercedes to victory in 1934 in partnership with Luigi Fagioli.
  • The most successful driver in F1 here is Michael Schumacher, with five wins. All of the seven-time champion’s Italian GP victories were at the wheel of a Ferrari, beginning in his first season with the team, 1996. He also stood on the podium’s top step in 1998, 2000, 2003 and 2006.
  • Piquet is the next most successful driver, with four wins, in 1980, ’83, ’86 and 1987.
  • Of the current drivers, just three have won at Monza. Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso are the only current multiple winners, with two apiece, while Lewis Hamilton won last year.
  • Ferrari are by is the most successful constructor with 18 victories. McLaren has 10, while Williams has six.
  • At the 2008 race, Sebastian Vettel, driving for Toro Rosso, became the sport’s youngest ever pole position man and followed it up by driving flawlessly in heavy rain to become F1’s youngest race winner, at just 21 years of age. Previous record holder Fernando Alonso was 22 when he won the 2003 Hungarian GP.
  • Vettel has, of course, gone on to win three world championship titles with Red Bull Racing. Monza, though, has been something of a ‘bogey’ circuit for the team. In 16 starts since its F1 debut in 2005, the team has recorded just one podium finish – Vettel’s 2011 win. Beyond that, the German’s fourth place in 2010 is the outfit’s next best result.
  • Since 2000, the race has been won from pole 10 times from 13 events. Michael Schumacher won from second in 2006, while Rubens Barrichello won from fourth in 2002 and fifth in 2009.
  • Only once has the race been won from further back than 10th on the grid. That was Peter Gethin’s famous 1971 win, when the top five finishers were separated by just 0.61 seconds.
  • Heinz-Harald Frentzen took the last of his three career victories here, for Jordan in 1999. With three races remaining, the win put him firmly in contention for the ’99 drivers’ title, but his hopes were largely dashed at the very next round, the European GP, where after securing pole position electrical failure saw him exit the race after 32 laps, while in the lead.
  • Force India’s Adrian Sutil made the only front-row start of his career so far at Monza in 2009. The German qualified second behind Lewis Hamilton and raced to fourth. It’s his only top-10 Italian GP finish so far.
L to R: Sergio Perez (second) Sauber, race winner Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso (third)

L to R: Sergio Perez (second) Sauber, race winner Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso (third)

Italian Grand Prix Statistics by Reuters

  • Four different teams have won the 11 races so far this year (Lotus, Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes).
  • Red Bull’s triple champion Sebastian Vettel has five wins in 2013. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and Mercedes’s Nico Rosberg have won two races each. Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen and Mercedes’s Lewis Hamilton have each won one.
  • Alonso has 32 career wins, Vettel 31, Hamilton 22, Raikkonen 20 and McLaren’s Jenson Button 15.
  • Ferrari have won 221 races since the championship started in 1950, McLaren 182, Williams 114 and Red Bull 39.
  • Mercedes have been on pole eight times in 11 races. Vettel has taken the other three.
  • Vettel has 39 poles to his credit, putting him third in the all-time list (Michael Schumacher had 68 and Ayrton Senna 65). Hamilton has 31 and Alonso 22.
  • Hamilton’s pole in Belgium last month was his fourth in a row, a career first for the Briton. The last British driver to take four poles in a row was Damon Hill in 1995.
  • Mercedes have locked out the front row in qualifying three times this year.
  • Alonso has not been on the front row in the last 21 races, with his last appearance being his pole in Germany in July 2012. He has not been on pole in a dry qualifying since 2010.
  • Caterham and Marussia have yet to score a point after three seasons in Formula One.
  • None of the five 2013 rookies has scored points so far.
  • Kimi Raikkonen’s retirement at Spa ended a record run of 27 successive races in the points for Lotus.
  • Until Belgium, the Finn was the only driver to have scored points in every race this year. He had also racked up 38 successive grand prix finishes – three short of Nick Heidfeld’s record of 41.
  • There are currently no Italian drivers on the starting grid, but several of Italian ancestry.
  • Of the 63 Italian Grands Prix held since the world championship started in 1950, all but one have been at Monza. The other, in 1980, was at Imola.
  • The track is the quickest on the calendar, with top speeds of up to 340kph. On the approach to the first chicane, cars brake from 340kph to 80kph in the space of 150 metres.
  • The Italian GP has been won from pole position eight times in the last 10 years and 10 in the last 13.
  • Only two drivers in the last two decades have won at Monza and taken the title that season – and both are Germans. Michael Schumacher did it in 2000 and 2003 with Ferrari and Vettel triumphed in 2011.
  • Vettel took his first F1 win at Monza, with Toro Rosso in 2008, and became the sport’s youngest race winner at the age of 21. His Australian team mate Mark Webber has never finished on the podium there.
  • Vettel (2008, 2011), Hamilton (2012) and Alonso (2007, 2010) are the only current drivers to have won at Monza. None of them have won for the same team twice.
  • Vettel’s 2011 win for Red Bull remains the team’s sole podium finish at Monza to date.
  • McLaren are celebrating 50 years since New Zealander Bruce McLaren founded the team on Sept 2, 1963.
  • Sunday will be the last Formula One race in Europe of the season and the last on the continent for the current V8 engine, which will be replaced next season by a V6 unit.
Sebastian Vettel celebrates his first grand prix win at Monza with Toro Rosso team boss Gerhard Berger  in 2008

Sebastian Vettel celebrates his first grand prix win at Monza with Toro Rosso team boss Gerhard Berger in 2008

Italian Grand Prix Race Stewards Biographies

  • Garry Connelly has been involved in motor sport since the late 1960s. A long-time rally competitor, Connelly was instrumental in taking the World Rally Championship to Australia in 1988 and served as Chairman of the Organising Committee, Board member and Clerk of Course of Rally Australia until December 2002. He has been an FIA Steward and FIA Observer since 1989, covering the FIA’s World Rally Championship, World Touring Car Championship and Formula One Championship. He is a director of the Australian Institute of Motor Sport Safety and a member of the FIA World Motor Sport Council.
  • Radovan Novak has been actively involved in motorsport since 1963 and rose to become Secretary General of the ACCR in 1990.Since 1991 he has held the role of President of the FIA Central Europe Zone and over the past two decades he has acted as a steward and observer in WRC and ERC rallies, EC autocross and rallycross events and WTCC and GT races. He has been a Formula One steward since 1994. From 1994 to 2006, he was a member of the FIA Off-road Commission and was made a member of the World Motor Sport Council in 1998. In 2000 he became a member of the Sport Commission at the Ministry of Sport of the Czech Republic. An avid racer and co-driver, Novak has won a number of Czech rallying events.
  • US racer Danny Sullivan made his F1 debut with Tyrrell at the 1983 Brazilian Grand Prix. He raced just one season in F1, scoring a best result of fifth in Monaco. In 1984, Sullivan returned to the US where he resumed a successful Indy Car career. He is perhaps best known for his ‘spin and win’ victory at the 1985 Indianapolis 500, where he passed leader Mario Andretti, survived a 360 degree spin, and then caught and re-passed Andretti to claim the Borg-Warner Trophy. He won the Indy Car World Series title in 1988. After 17 victories from 170 Indy Car starts he drew a line under his open-wheel career in 1995. He finished third in the Le Mans 24 Hours in a Dauer Porsche 962 in 1994. He made four starts at Le Mans, the most recent being 2004.

2013 Monza Track Map

monza-2013