Thursday, September 5, 2013


We are now coming to the last race of the European season at Monza this weekend. Although a simple layout track, Monza is the fastest track on the calendar and will see some great action round the bends plus some crashes at the first turn. Hopefully not.

The Italian Grand Prix (Gran Premio d'Italia) is one of the longest running events on the Formula One calendar. The Italian Grand Prix was also one of the inaugural Formula One championship races in 1950, and has been held every year since then. The only other championship race for which this is true is the British Grand Prix, and the only other inaugural F1 races that are still on the calendar are the Monaco Grand Prix and the Belgian Grand Prix. Every Formula One Italian Grand Prix since 1950 has been held at Monza (except in 1980, when it was held at Imola). The Italian Grand Prix counted toward the European Championship from 1935 to 1938. It was designated the European Grand Prix seven times between 1923 and 1967, when this title was an honorary designation given each year to one grand prix race in Europe.

The Autodromo Nazionale Monza is a race track located near the city of Monza, north of Milan, in Italy. The circuit's biggest event is the Formula One Italian Grand Prix, which has been hosted there since the sport's inception.

Built in the Royal Villa of Monza park in a woodland setting, the site has three tracks – the 5.793 kilometres (3.600 mi) Grand Prix track, the 2.405 kilometres (1.494 mi) Junior track and a 4.250 kilometres (2.641 mi) high speed oval track with steep bankings which has been unused for many decades and is now decaying. The major features of the main Grand Prix track include the Curva Grande, the Curva di Lesmo, the Variante Ascari and the Curva Parabolica. The high speed curve, Curva Grande, is located after the Variante del Rettifilo which is located at the end of the front straight or Rettifilo Tribune, and is usually taken flat out by Formula One cars.

Drivers are on full throttle for most of the lap due to its long straights and fast corners, and is usually the scenario in which the open-wheeled F1 cars show the raw speed they are capable of (372 kilometres per hour (231 mph) during the mid-2000s V10 engine formula, although in 2012 with the 2.4L V8 engines, top speeds in F1 rarely reach over 340 kilometres per hour (211 mph)). The circuit is generally flat, but has a gradual gradient from the second Lesmos to the Variante Ascari. Due to the low aerodynamic profile needed, with its resulting low downforce, the grip is very low; understeer is a more serious issue than at other circuits; however, the opposite effect, oversteer, is also present in the second sector, requiring the use of a very distinctive opposite lock technique. Since both maximum power, and minimal drag is the key for speed on the straights, only competitors with enough power or aerodynamic efficiency at their disposal are able to challenge for the top places.

In addition to Formula One, the circuit hosts an endurance event, the 1000 km Monza, which has been run as part of the World Sportscar Championship and the Le Mans Series. Monza also featured the unique Race of Two Worlds events, which attempted to run Formula One and United States Auto Club National Championship cars against each other, and previously held rounds of Grand Prix motorcycle racing, in the Italian motorcycle Grand Prix. Current major events are races of the World Touring Car Championship and the Superbike World Championship, as well as various local championship races.

The Monza circuit has been the arena of many fatal accidents, especially in the early years of the Formula One world championship and has claimed the lives of 52 drivers and 35 spectators. Track modifications have continuously occurred, to improve spectators safety and reduce curve speeds but it is still criticised by the current drivers for its lack of run-off areas, most notoriously at the chicane that cuts the Variante della Roggia.


Track length : 5.793 kilometres
Race distance : 53 laps (306.72 kilometres)
Corners : 11 corners in total
Average speed : 247km/h
Aerodynamic setup : Low downforce
Top speed : 340km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing) – 334km/h without
Full throttle : 74% of the lap (high)
Total fuel needed for race distance : 135 kilos (ave)
Fuel consumption : 2.5kg per lap (ave)
Time spent braking : 11% of lap
Number of brake zones : 6
Brake wear : High
Total time needed for pit stop (at 80km/h) : 23 seconds (ave/high)
Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried) : 0.35 seconds (ave/high)


The long term weather forecast predicts a dry weekend with temperatures of 27-28 degrees. Although Friday and Saturday are predicted dry, we have the prospect of mixed conditions for the race on Sunday and the last time that happened on race day a Torro Rosso won. Could we have the irony that the perennially damp Spa turns out dry and the perennialy dry Monza turns out wet? On Wednesday the BBC weather site was predicting sunshine and thundery showers for much of the day on Sunday although F1 Weather Forecast predicts overcast.


Pirelli tyre choice for Monza: medium (white markings) and hard (orange markings). This combination of revised specification tyres was seen in Belgium. From a strategy point of view, Monza is not particularly hard on the tyres as there are few fast corners, which put energy into them. The track is basically a series of long straights, punctuated with chicanes. There are only three corners in a traditional sense; the two Lesmo bends and the Parabolica. However the wheel rotation speeds are very high so overheating can be an issue and if the track temperature is high, this can create problems.


The chance of a safety car at Monza is statistically very low at 43% and 0.4 Safety Cars per race. There was however a Safety car three years in a row recently from 2007- 9.


The Italian Grand Prix will again feature two DRS zones this season. As per 2011 and 2012, these have been placed on the runs to the chicanes of Rettifilo and Ascari. The first detection point comes shortly before the entry to Lesmo 2, with the activation area situated along the Curva del Serraglio. A second detection line is located ahead of the Parabolica, after which drivers can use the device again on the main straight.


Following Red Bull's lacklustre display at Monza in 2012, few realistically believed the partnership would be so effective at Spa last race. The Red Bulls were similarly lacklustre in Monza last season underlying the fact low down-force high-speed circuits were not exactly their cup of espresso. Nowadays all circuits, all conditions and all comers are dispatched implausibly yet totally predictably. And there is no good reason why the Spa form will not translate directly into Monza results. That is underlined by McLaren's dominance here in Italy last year which followed a convincing race win in Belgium.

Ferrari and Alonso need a win badly and no where more badly than at their home race with all the passionate support that is a part of the circuit tradition. More importantly, Red Bull and in paticular Vettel need to have a DNF, no points scored to make this championship interesting until the end. The other hope to deny Vettel even more points and surging out of reach are the 2 Mercedes of Hamilton and Rosberg. If they can perform their qualifying magic again, take pole then deny Vettel the win, it would at least give some life back to the championship. lets hope for the best.

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