Formula One 2017 Track Guide: Italy

The last European round of the season, the Autodromo Nazionale Monza just north of Milan is the destination for the Italian Grand Prix.

Completed in 1922, the track is the third oldest permanent autodrome in the world and oozes with racing history.

Colloquially known as the "Temple of Speed", Monza is the fastest track on the Formula One calendar, seeing cars regularly surpass 200 miles per hour whilst flying through forested sections.

The old banking sits adjacent to the track - some of it is still in use, with the rest of it still intact, but not fit nor wanted for racing.

Again, like Spa, the track has evolved several times down the years, with the most recent drastic change coming at the turn of the millennium - the reshaping of the Variante del Rettifilo, otherwise known as the first turn, from a double chicane to an ultra tight single affair. Unfortunately, the instant impact was unfavourable - a bunching up of the grid led to a nasty multiple car crash at the second chicane, that claimed the life of track marshal Paolo Gislimberti in 2000.

The 2000 race started with carnage. | Photo: Getty Images/Andreas Rentz
The new chicane saw that the 2000 race started with carnage. | Photo: Getty Images/Andreas Rentz

Although modifications have been made in the interests of safety, the lack of run off area is still a pertinent problem, with gravel traps unusually close to the circuit in comparison to other tracks on the calendar. Still, it's one of the many quirks and challenges that Monza poses.

A low aerodynamic approach is key here, with drivers able to get through the corners with little problem. Maximising speed down the several straights takes priority, shown by cars hitting over 220 miles per hour down the long, iconic pit straight.

Ferrari's home race has been kind to them over the years - Gerhard Berger's win here in 1988 helped dull the pain caused by the great Enzo Ferrari's death, and was their only win of the season; as the dominant MP4/4 constructed by McLaren won the other 15 races.

But, after Michael Schumacher's fifth and final win here in 2006, only Fernando Alonso has secured a home victory for the Scuderia - on his first attempt in 2010.

Track layout

DRS wide open and in eighth gear, fly down the pit straight. The start/finish line is further back than the front of the grid, so a good exit out of the Parabolica is needed so you carry as much speed as possible at the start of the lap.

At 125 metres, slam on the brakes and find second gear. Twist to the right and then crank the lock full to the left as you negotiate the Rettifilo. Easy on the throttle, the revs can climb very quickly and the back of the car won't think twice about snapping away from you.

Straight-line speed is important round here. | Photo: Wikipedia
Straight-line speed is important round here. | Photo: Wikipedia

Sweep round the long, flat out right of Curva Grande, taking as straight a line as possible, bringing the car to the extreme left of the track before coaxing it back to the right to brake for the Variante della Roggia. 100 metres third gear, thread the car over the kerbs and blast to the first of two right handers, known as Lesmo 1 and 2.

There's an indent in the track, use that as your brake reference. Touch the left pedal, down to fourth gear and use all the track without taking an excursion into the gravel. Short splash of throttle before braking at 100 metres for the second Lesmo. Clip the kerb on entry and take advantage of the track opening up on exit. Open the DRS and reach over 200mph in between the trees, the forest deepens the sound of a Formula 1 engine.

Ascari tests car balance. | Photo: Getty Images/Dan Istitene
Ascari tests car balance. | Photo: Getty Images/Dan Istitene

At the 100 metre board again, brake for the triple apexed Ascari complex. Fourth gear, hop over the left hander, feather the throttle through the right and take the last left at full speed. You can run wide on exit without getting penalised, so take as much speed as possible.

The final corner is the awesome Parabolica. Not as visually demanding anymore now the gravel trap has been virtually removed in favour of a tarmac run-off area, it's still a mighty challenge. Brake as late as you dare, down three clicks of the left paddle to fifth gear, hook the front end on the inside, using the camber to help you before opening up the wheel and heading for the line.

Statistics

Most wins for a driver: Michael Schumacher - 5

Most wins for a constructor: Ferrari - 18

Lap Record: 1:21.046 - Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari, 2004

Did you know

In 2004, Juan Pablo Montoya set the fastest lap in Formula 1 history here, at an average speed of a whopping 162.9mph during the first Qualifying session.

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