The Big Preview: Italian Grand Prix

Monza is the home of Ferrari tifosi

Monza is the home of Ferrari tifosi

Round 13 of the 2014 FIA Formula One World Championship moves the action to its traditional early September date at Monza, home of the Italian Grand Prix.

Monza is F1’s premier speed circuit, the last of its kind, a flat-out blast through parkland that sees cars, configured for low downforce, reach their highest velocities of the year. Its reputation as Formula One’s fastest track is likely to be enhanced this year. While 2014’s technical regulations have produced cars with less downforce than those of recent years, the corresponding decrease in drag may see cars hitting 360kph on the long straights.

But Monza isn’t simply about top speeds. Recent races have seen winners emerge from among the slowest through the speed traps, preferring a set-up that possesses sufficient downforce to carry speed through the circuit’s few corners and onto the long straights. Other requirements include a car that is stable under braking, rides kerbs well and has good traction out of the chicanes.

Monza aerial view

Monza aerial view

Racing on home ground, Pirelli brings its two hardest compounds to Monza. The fast Parabolica corner places high lateral energy demands on the tyre, while the stop-go nature of the chicanes means Monza also makes high longitudinal demands on the rubber. Even so, the presence of the Hard and Medium tyres combined with the long pitlane time makes this a good place to try a one-stop strategy.

Mercedes come into the race with a strong lead in the Constructors’ Championship, while Nico Rosberg has extended his margin over team-mate Lewis Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship thanks to second place in Belgium. The German driver now has a 29-point lead over his English team-mate but Hamilton has two pole positions and a victory at Monza to his name and will be optimistic of closing the gap this weekend. It promises to be a spectacular event. prvw-flag-italy.jpg

Sebastian Vettel celebrates winning the 2013 Italian GP

Sebastian Vettel celebrates winning the 2013 Italian GP

Autodromo Nazionale Monza Circuit Data

  • Length of lap 5.793km
  • Lap record 1:21.046 (Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari, 2004)
  • Start line/finish line offset 0.309km
  • Total number of race laps 53
  • Total race distance 306.720km
  • Pitlane speed limits 80km/h in practice, qualifying and the race
  • To enhance safety, the inner half of the gravel trap at Parabolica has been replaced with an asphalt run-off.
  • There will be two DRS zones in Italy. The detection point for the first zone will be 95m before Turn Seven, with the activation point 210m after Turn Seven. The second detection point will be 20m before Turn 11, with the activation point 115m after the finish line.
Monza is Ferrari country

Monza is Ferrari country

Italian Grand Prix Fast Facts

  • The Italian Grand Prix is one of only two ever-present races on the Formula One World Championship calendar. The other is the British Grand Prix.
  • This is the 65th running of the Italian Grand Prix as part of the F1 World Championship. Sixty-three of the previous 64 were held at Monza, the exception being 1980, when the race was held at Imola and won by Nelson Piquet.
  • Piquet also has three Italian Grand Prix victories at Monza (1983, ’86, ’87), placing him second on the all-time list. Michael Schumacher holds the record with five wins (1996, ’98, 2000, ’03, ’06), all for Ferrari.
  • Ferrari holds the record as a winning constructor, having taken victory 18 times. Alongside Schumacher there have been Ferrari wins at Monza for Alberto Ascari (1951, ’52), Phil Hill (1960, ’61), John Surtees (1964), Ludovico Scarfiotti (1966), Clay Regazzoni (1970, ’75), Jody Scheckter (1979), Gerhard Berger (1988), Rubens Barrichello (2002, ’04) and current Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso (2010).
  • Alonso also won the race in 2007, while driving for McLaren. Lewis Hamilton (2012) and Sebastian Vettel (2008, ’11, ’13) are the only other Italian GP winners on the current grid.
  • Vettel’s win for Toro Rosso in 2008 makes him the youngest winner in Championship history. He was 21 years and 74 days old. A day earlier he became the youngest driver to secure pole position. Of the current grid, only Daniil Kyvat can threaten those records, having until the start of July 2015. Max Verstappen, signed by Toro Rosso to contest the 2015 season, would require victory or pole before the end of the 2018 season.
  • The Italian Grand Prix at Monza has been won from pole position only 21 times. Interestingly, more than half of those victories have come since the turn of the century. Only in 2002 (Rubens Barrichello from fourth), ’06 (Michael Schumacher from second) and ’09 (Barrichello from fifth) has the sequence been interrupted.
  • Monza’s speed records are many and varied, particularly from the latter years of the V10 era. Michael Schumacher holds the record for the highest average race speed, winning the 2003 Italian Grand Prix with an average speed of 247.585km/h. Unsurprisingly, this race is also timed as the shortest duration grand prix (of those going the full distance,) with Schumacher finishing in a time of 1h14m19.838s. Rubens Barrichello set F1’s highest average lap speed in qualifying, taking pole position for the 2004 race at an average of 260.395kph, though Juan Pablo Montoya went faster that same weekend, taking the record for the fastest average lap speed overall, with a lap averaging 262.242km/h, set during a practice session. Montoya also holds the record for the highest top speed achieved during a Formula One race, hitting 372.6km/h during the 2005 Italian Grand Prix.
Oozing history: Tazio Nuvolari at Monza in 1932

Oozing history: Tazio Nuvolari at Monza in 1932

Italian Grand Prix Statistics by Reuters

  • Mercedes have won all but three races so far this season. The exceptions were Canada, Hungary and Belgium – all won by Red Bull‘s Daniel Ricciardo.
  • Red Bull’s quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel has 39 career wins, Fernando Alonso 32, Lewis Hamilton 27, Kimi Raikkonen 20 and Jenson Button 15. Championship leader Nico Rosberg has seven.
  • Hamilton is level with triple champion Jackie Stewart in the all-time list of winners. The only British driver to have won more is 1992 champion Nigel Mansell (31).
  • Ferrari have won 221 races, McLaren 182, Williams 114 and Red Bull 50. Mercedes have won 22 and one more would lift them level with now-defunct Tyrrell.
  • McLaren have not won for 31 races, a run that dates back to Brazil 2012 but is not their longest drought. Most recently, they went 48 races without a win between 1993 and 1997.
  • Ferrari’s last victory was in Spain in May 2013 – the last time a team other than Mercedes or Red Bull won.
  • Mercedes and Williams are the only teams to have started a race on pole position this year.
  • Rosberg (Bahrain/Monaco/Canada/Britain/Germany/Hungary/Belgium) has had seven poles this year to Hamilton’s four(Australia/Malaysia/China/Spain). Brazilian Felipe Massa was on pole for Williams in Austria.
  • Vettel has 45 career poles. Hamilton has 35 – more than any other British driver in the history of Formula One.
  • Ferrari’s last pole was in Germany with Alonso in 2012.
  • Caterham, who came into the sport in 2010, are the only team on the grid who have yet to score a point.
  • Ferrari have finished a record 79 successive races with at least one car in the points, a run that dates back to the 2010 German Grand Prix.
  • Alonso is the only driver to have scored points in every race this season.
  • Sauber have gone 12 races without scoring, their longest barren run since they entered the sport in 1993. They went nine in a row between October 1995 and May 1996, at a time when only the top six cars scored points.
  • The Italian and British Grands Prix are the only ones to have appeared on the calendar in every season since the championship started in 1950.
  • The Italian race has always been staged at Monza, with one exception – in 1980 it was held at Imola.
  • There are currently no Italian drivers in Formula One, although Ricciardo and Williams’ Brazilian Felipe Massa hold Italian passports due to their ancestry. Marussia’s French driver Jules Bianchi also has Italian roots.
  • Monza is the quickest track on the calendar, with top speeds of up to 340kph. On the approach to the first chicane, cars brake from 340 to 80kph in the space of 150 metres.
  • The circuit holds the record for Formula One’s fastest lap, an average of 262.242 kph set by Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya before qualifying in 2004.
  • The race has been won from pole position only 21 times in total but nine times in the last 11 years.
  • In the last two decades, only German drivers have won at Monza and gone on to take the title that season: Michael Schumacher in 2000 and 2003 and Vettel in 2011 and 2013.
  • Schumacher won a record five times at Monza, all with Ferrari.
  • Ferrari have 18 wins at Monza, more than any other team.
  • Vettel took his first F1 win at Monza, with Toro Rosso in 2008. That made him the sport’s youngest race winner at 21. Only Toro Rosso’s Russian rookie Daniil Kvyat is young enough of the current drivers to beat that.
  • The only current drivers to have won at Monza are Vettel (2008, 2011, 2013), Hamilton (2012), and Alonso (2007, 2010). Vettel is the only one to have won for the same team twice.
  • Ricciardo’s win at Spa was Red Bull’s 50th in Formula One.
2013 Italian Grand Prix podium

2013 Italian Grand Prix podium

Italian Grand Prix Race Stewards Biographies

  • Paul Gutjahr started racing in the late 1960s with Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Lotus and Porsche, then March in Formula 3. In the early ‘70s he became President of the Automobile Club Berne and organised numerous events. He acted as President of the organising committee of the Swiss GP at Dijon between 1980-82. Between 1980-2005 he acted as President of the Commission Sportive Nationale de l’Automobile Club de Suisse and in 2005 he became President and board member of the Auto Sport Suisse motor sports club. Gutjahr is President of the Alliance of European Hill Climb Organisers and has been steward at various high-level international competitions. He was the Formula 3000 Sporting Commissioner and has been a Formula One steward since 1995.
  • 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.
  • Derek Warwick raced in 146 grands prix from 1981 to 1993, appearing for Toleman, Renault, Brabham, Arrows and Lotus. He scored 71 points and achieved four podium finishes, with two fastest laps. He was World Sportscar Champion in 1992, driving for Peugeot. He also won Le Mans in the same year. He raced Jaguar sportscars in 1986 and 1991 and competed in the British Touring Car Championship between 1995 and 1998, as well as a futher appearance at the Le Mans in 1996, driving for the Courage Competition team. Warwick is a frequent FIA driver steward and is President of the British Racing Drivers’ Club.