Friday, September 4, 2015


The Autodromo Nazionale Monza is one of the most iconic racetracks on the Formula 1 calendar. It was built in 1922 and has staged more world championship grands prix than any other circuit in the world. Only once, in 1980, has the circuit not been on the F1 calendar.

Up until the early ’60s, racing took place on a fearsome six-mile oval. But the death of Wolfgang von Trips and 15 spectators in the 1961 Italian Grand Prix resulted in future races taking place on a shorter road course, with the last true ‘slipstreaming’ battle taking place in 1971, after which chicanes were installed to slow the cars.

The track is still the fastest in Formula 1, with today’s cars exceeding 200mph (322km/h) on four occasions around the lap. The average speed is in excess of 150mph (241km/h), so the teams use one-off low-downforce aerodynamic packages to maximise straight-line speed. However, braking stability is important: there are a total of six braking events around the lap and on two occasions the cars slow from 200mph (322km/h) to 50mph (80km/h) in just two seconds.

Monza places an unusual combination of demands on tyres which are punished by kerbs and long braking zones in the chicanes and subject to high lateral loadings at Ascari and Parabolica. They also experience the highest speeds of the year: Daniel Ricciardo hit 362.1kph (224.9mph) during last year’s race.

But despite Monza’s unique contribution to Formula One’s heritage and its status as the only true high-speed, low-downforce venue left on the calendar, we may not have much longer left to enjoy it. Bernie Ecclestone insists he is offering the race organisers no more than anyone else pays to continue holding the race, but that minimum level is rising every year.

If the Italian Grand Prix organisers cannot afford it, the unthinkable will happen as surely as it has already happened in France and, this year, Germany.


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 : 360km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing).
Full Throttle : 74% of the lap (high).
Time Spent Braking : 11% of lap.
Number Of Brake Zones : 6.
Brake Wear : High.
Total Time Needed For Pit Stop (at 80km/h) : 25 seconds (ave/high).
Lap record : 1:21.046 Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari, 2004.

2014 result:
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes); 2. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes); 3. Felipe Massa (Williams); 4. Valtteri Bottas (Williams); 5. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull); 6. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull); 7. Sergio Perez (Force India); 8. Jenson Button (McLaren); 9. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari); 10. Kevin Magnussen (McLaren).

Last five winners in Italy:
2014: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2013: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
2012: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
2011: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
2010: Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)


Rain is expected to affect the build-up to the Italian Grand Prix but conditions should clear up before Sunday’s race. A low pressure system over the north of Italy will bring wet conditions and thunderstorms on Friday, though probably not until after the conclusion of the second practice session.

The rain will linger well into Saturday and there is a decent chance qualifying may take place on a damp or wet track. It will be warm, however, with air temperatures in the mid-twenties. However by Sunday morning the skies should clear and a sunny race day is forecast, though not quite as warm.

Friday - Light rain, high 24°C / low 16°C
Saturday - Heavy rain, high 23°C / low 13°C
Sunday - Sunny, high 23°C / low 13°C


Pirelli comes home to Monza this weekend; the 'temple of speed' that features some of the fastest straights on the F1 calendar, prompting the cars to run a specific low-drag aerodynamic set-up. The P Zero White medium and P Zero Yellow soft tyres have been chosen for the Italian Grand Prix, which are versatile compounds that are able to balance the unique demands of performance and durability that Monza always requires. With high-energy loads of up to 4.5g going through the tyres and some big impacts with the famous kerbs, the tyre compound and structure is challenged throughout the whole lap.

A fast circuit like Monza tends to be more demanding on tyres than a slow circuit, as all the forces at work encourage heat build-up, particularly on the shoulder of the tyre. There are significant lateral energy demands at Monza, due to long corners such as Parabolica, as well as big longitudinal demands, because of all the traction and braking. With a low downforce set-up as is used at Monza, the drivers need to take care of the rear tyres in particular, in order not to provoke wheelspin under acceleration. However, the other side to this is increased maximum speed, in the region of 360kph.

Expected performance gap between the two compounds: 0.8 - 1.0 seconds per lap.


There are two DRS zones; the first is on the start-finish straight and the second on the approach to Turn Eight, the Ascari chicane. But overtaking remains difficult because the impact of DRS is less at Monza than at other racetracks, due to the small rear wings being used by the cars. In fact, statistically, pole position is more important at Monza than it is at Monaco.


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.


Lewis Hamilton takes a 28-point championship lead into the race. He won here last season after Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg's error—a mistake that swung the momentum Hamilton's way and proved pivotal in the 2014 title fight.

This year, Rosberg is the man needing to turn the tide as the teams arrive at one of the oldest and most revered racing facilities in the world.

I fully expect Lewis Hamilton to be on form at Monza where he has done well many times and to hand the hammer to Rosberg.

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