Prixview – Italian Grand Prix

Features Prixview

Round fourteen of the 2021 season takes F1 to the temple of speed for the century Italian Grand Prix at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza. Only not being held during the second world war and 1929 / 1930 it’s the only race along with Britain to feature in every championship, with Monza hosting all but one race.

This season marks the 99th anniversary of the first Grand Prix and the opening of the circuit. Monza has hosted more races than any other circuit, it only has not held a Grand Prix in 1980 when the circuit was being upgraded with the race being held at Imola.

Monza has seen many different circuit layouts over the years, used by F1, including the oval and the road course, now the Grand Prix circuit, used together. Although no longer used it was the longest layout of the circuit seeing Stirling Moss and Phil Hill both won twice in this period, with Hill’s win at Monza making him the first American to win a Formula One race.

The circuit is and has always been one which has rewarded high speed and downforce, this makes the slipstreams around the circuit gives opportunities for overtaking. Monza can on average see speeds of over 200mph, with the current record in the turbo-hybrid era being 224mph.

Monza places unique on the current F1 calendar for its mix of long straights and slow chicanes. The low downforce circuit puts strain on engines, which are on full power for 80% of the lap, and gearboxes, which are used heavily in the chicanes. There is no other race like Monza, the Tifosi create an atmosphere like no other.

The first world championship Grand Prix, say Giuseppe Farina take the victory and secure the driver’s championship after Juan Manwell Fangio’s gearbox failed and Taruffi handed over his car, only for it to drop a valve and retire. Ascari won again in 1951 and 1952.

1954 saw the foundations of the modern Grand Prix circuit be laid, although it was still using the banking of the oval circuit until 1960. Mercedes won their last Grand Prix until 2013 in 1955, the Silver Arrows have dominated at Monza since the beginning of the turbo-hybrid era.

1966 was the last time an Italian won a race at Monza with Ludovico Scarfiotti taking his only win in F1. However, Italian-American Mario Andretti would take victory is 1977. During this era, Monza saw a far share of fatalities, Jochen Rindt the only posthumous champion killed in qualifying in 1970.

Monza is one of the circuits which has largely dominated by the car with the best downforce and power, and in recent times that has been Mercedes. Throughout the history of the race that has been the case, including accusations in the sixties that the re-induction of the banking was to favour Ferrari.

A total of twelve Italian drivers have won the Italian Grand Prix; ten before World War II and three when it was part of the world championship; most recently Ludovico Scarfiotti won in 1966. But, that can be made up for the number of wins that Ferrari has with nineteen wins.

This year’s race is set to put Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen head-to-head once again, despite this on paper looking like a Mercedes circuit they were beaten by Alpha Tauri last year. The Italian teams only two victories since being brought by Red Bull have been scored here, with Sebastian Vettel and Pierre Gasly.

Facts and figures

Round 15 of 23
Race Heineken Gran Premio d’Italia 2021
Venue Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, Monza, Province of Monza and Brianza, Lombardy
Configuration Modern Grand Prix
Circuit Length 5.793 km (3.600 mi)
Laps 53
Race Distance 306.720 km (190.596 mi)
Lap Record Race 01:21.046 (Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari, 2004)
Outright 01:18.887 (Sir Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 2020)
Most wins drivers Michael Schumacher (5)

Sir Lewis Hamilton (5)

Most wins manufacture Ferrari (20)

Fast facts

  • The closest ever F1 finish was recorded at Monza in 1971 when Peter Gethin won by one hundredth from Ronnie Peterson. The top five finishers were covered by just six tenths.
  • Monza is a happy hunting ground for Lewis Hamilton, who has taken the win here in four of the past six races. But he has finished on the podium in each of those, adding an eighth career top 3 at the Italian Grand Prix this time
  • In the past 17 races here, the 2009 & 2020 Italian Grand Prix is the only time that the polesitter has failed to finish in the top two. In 2009, Lewis Hamilton crashed out of the race on the final lap having started from pole.
  • The closest ever F1 finish was recorded at Monza in 1971 when Peter Gethin won by one hundredth from Ronnie Peterson. The top five finishers were covered by just six tenths.

Event timetable

Session

Local

BST

Friday

P1 14:30-15:30 13:30-14:30
Qualifying 18:00-19:00 17:00-18:00

Saturday

P2 12:00-13:00 11:00-12:00
Sprint Qualifying 15:30-16:00 14:30-15:00

Sunday

Race 15:00 14:00

What to watch for?

This weekend the story will remain about the battle between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, as they fight for the championship. Red Bull I think are on a bit of a role in terms of performance and moving towards becoming the team to beat, but this is a very different circuit to the last two, more towards Spa than Zandvoort.

Monza sees the return of the sprint qualifying, this circuit in theory looks like the best place to try the event again. We normally see great racing at Monza but we know the leaders tend to sail off into the distance as this normally is the shortest (in terms of time) and fastest race of the year, depending on things like safety cars.

Monza is a circuit that needs good downforce, this can create problems in breaking zones like Turn One which requires a huge stop to rub off speeds it is also a tight chicane that can cause collisions as the cars bunch up. This is an important thing to watch for the midfield teams to watch as they are likely to be the teams with the most to lose.

Overtaking is really possible; the circuit has lots of long straights broken up by chicanes which require huge stopping points, but the biggest challenge maybe dirty air and that could prevent overtaking. But next year the hope is the regulation changes allow closer racing.

Drivers need however to be careful that they don’t go too hard Monza can be hard on brakes and that can lead to accidents, therefore safety cars. Knowing when to make pit stops in what should be I think

McLaren should be strong in midfield, this is the type of circuit where they have looked to have the edge over Alpine and Ferrari. But we have had three different types of circuits in the last three weeks and with only an hour of practice before qualifying it will be important as we go straight into qualifying on Friday evening.

2020 vs 2020 Race Data

P1 Fastest

P2 Fastest

P3 Fastest

Q1 Fastest

Q2 Fastest

Q3 Fastest

Race Time

Fastest Lap

2020

01:21.537  01:21.406  01:40.660 01:36.009  01:34.660  01:35.554 01:15:32.312 01:23.361

Diff

-01.422 -01.395 +18.652 +14.155 +13.162 +14.419 -02:04.223 -2.020

2019

01:22.959 01:22.801 01:22.008 01:21.854 01:21.498 01:21.135 01:17:28.089 01:25.340

A lap of the Autodromo Nazionale Monza

Kimi Raikkonen starts the lap, by lining himself up down the centre of the straight, he continues to drifts his Ferrari to the outside on the long run to the first corner. He breaks around the 130m before the corner slowing right down hitting the apex on entry and as he exit gets the power down. Stays on the inside then eases his way across the track, then head to the apex of Curva Grande. He eases back towards the centre of the track, on exit going to the outside.  Breaking late into  Variante della Roggia, he was up .04 on his best.

He breaks late into Variante Della Roggia chicane hitting both the apexes. On exit, he goes to the outside. Carrying speed into the first Lesmo, he eases off mid-corner before reapplying the power, going to the outside running to the second Lesmo. Breaks slightly and hits the apex, carry’s all the speed down the straight and thro Serranglio,

Breaks for the Vialone/Ascari chicane hits the apex on entry speed carried nicely up .08 on his best. Going to the inside on the back straight, before easing himself toward the centre of the track. Back to the outside as he approaches the Parabolicia breaking and across to the apex. He then goes to the outside, before crossing on exit to the inside and across the line with a 1:19.119, finding all the time in the last sector.

Tyres

White Hard (C2)

Yellow Medium (C3)

Red Soft (C4)

Jack

Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.