A two-race weekend with fans in the stands
The second triple-header of the season now ends with the Italian Grand Prix, one of only two events, the other being the British Grand Prix, that have featured on the calendar every year since the World Championship began.
It’s the 92nd edition of the race, the 72nd since the world championship began and in that time, it has always been held at Monza apart from 1980 when it moved to Imola. The biggest change since last year’s race here is that spectators, who have always been one of the defining elements of this event, are being allowed in, although limited to 50% capacity. Another innovative aspect is the return of the Sprint Qualifying format first trialled at Silverstone earlier this year.
The weekend. Drivers and teams therefore face a different timetable to usual. Instead of two hours of free practice on Friday, there is just the one, at 14.30 CET, followed at 18 by qualifying to determine the grid for Sprint Qualifying. There’s another hour of free practice on Saturday at 12 and 16.30 sees the start of the 18 lap, 100 kilometre race, with no compulsory pit stop and with a free choice of tyres. The result of this race will determine pole position and the rest of the grid for the Grand Prix which starts at 15 on Sunday. The format will be trialled one more time this year for the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos.
Historic circuit. Monza is one of the most famous motorsport circuits. Built in 1922, it remains the only high speed Formula 1 track. Its straights, which were not always interrupted with the current chicanes, have witnessed some of the closest battles of all time, with dozens of overtaking moves on every lap, thanks to the ability to slipstream the cars in front. The current layout features high speed corners and long straights, with chicanes to slow the cars down, so that drivers and cars are subjected to very high braking forces.
The most famous corner is possibly the Parabolica, which as from this weekend is being named in honour of Michele Alboreto, on the twentieth anniversary of the death of the Italian, who took part in 80 races for the Scuderia from 1984 to 1988, winning three of them. The corner is a very high speed hairpin that leads onto the start-finish straight, where an efficient car with good traction is the key requirement.
The first chicane is also demanding, given that in the space of 150 metres cars must slow from 340 to 80 km/h. The cars run with low aero downforce for maximum speed down the straights, which is vital for a quick lap time and for overtaking. However, it’s important not to sacrifice too much traction when setting up the car. There are two DRS zones, one on the main straight and the other between the second Lesmo and the Variante Ascari.
Special guests. Apart from fans in the stands, the paddock will also have more guests, including Italian medal winners from the Tokyo Olympics and the manager of the Italian football team that won Euro 2020, Roberto Mancini.
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GP entered 1021
Seasons in F1 72
Debut Monaco 1950 (A. Ascari 2nd; R. Sommer 4th; L. Villoresi ret.)
Wins 238 (23.31%)
Pole positions 230 (22.53%)
Fastest laps 254 (24.88%)
Total podiums 776 (25.33%)
Ferrari Stats Italian GP
GP entered 71
Debut 1950 (A. Ascari/D. Serafini 2nd; P. Whitehead 7th; C. Biondetti ret.)
Wins 19 (26.76%)
Pole positions 21 (29.58%)
Fastest laps 19 (26.76%)
Total podiums 69 (32.39%)
Italian Grand Prix: facts & figures
11. The furthest back on the grid from which the Italian Grand Prix has been won. Peter Gethin did it in 1971 in a race that is always remembered for a variety of reasons: the lead changed hands eight times, the others apart from Gethin were Clay Regazzoni in a Ferrari, Ronnie Peterson, Jackie Stewart, Francois Cevert, Mike Hailwood, Jo Siffert and Chris Amon. Gethin, on the BRM, only took the lead with three laps to go but lost it to Peterson on lap 54, before getting by the Swede again to win by one hundredth of a second.
Last year, Pierre Gasly won from tenth on the grid. When it comes to the best climb to the podium, that falls to Englishman Ron Flockhart who finished third in 1956 at the wheel of a Connaught, having started way back in 23rd place on the grid behind Stirling Moss and the Ferrari of Juan Manuel Fangio, the Argentinian thus clinching the world title.
24. The number of wins for Italian-licensed constructors at Monza in Formula 1, an average of over one in three. The first Italian company to win was Alfa Romeo in 1950. The following year, Scuderia Ferrari took the first of its 19 wins, while Maserati won in 1953 with Juan Manuel Fangio and in 1956 with Stirling Moss.
The other two wins fell to the same team, with a gap of twelve years inbetween. Faenza-based Scuderia Toro Rosso, which rose from the ashes of another Italian marque, Minardi, won in 2008 with a very young Sebastian Vettel in a Ferrari-powered STR3 and last year, having undergone a name change to Scuderia AlphaTauri, it won with France’s Pierre Gasly.
69. The number of Formula 1 drivers who have raced in the Italian Grand Prix at the wheel of a Ferrari. Carlos Sainz will therefore become the seventieth. Featured in this select band are 19 Italians, the last of whom was Giancarlo Fisichella who raced a Ferrari at Monza in 2009.
101. The number of Formula 1 world championship races run in Italy, just under 10% of all the races. They took place on four different circuits. Monza has hosted 71 and on Sunday hosts the 102nd Italian race. Imola has been the venue for 28. The other two took place, one in 1957 at the Pescara street circuit and the other in 2020 at Mugello, when the track in Tuscany owned by Ferrari hosted the Toscana-Ferrari 1000 Grand Prix.
1895. The year of the first Italian motor race. At the time of a Bicycle Show, a city committee organised “an experiment in racing self-propelled vehicles” on 18 May. The race went from Turin to Asti and back again, over a distance of 93 kilometres. There were five starters, three of whom finished. The winner was an engineer, Simon Federmann in a four seater Daimler omnibus at an average speed of 15.5 km/h.
This week in our history
7/9. In 1975, Clay Regazzoni won the Italian Grand Prix at the wheel of a 312 T, to record the third victory of his career. Niki Lauda made it to the third step of the podium, which was enough to clinch his first world championship crown. It was the first time the Drivers’ title had come to Maranello, after an eleven year absence dating back to when John Surtees won the championship in Mexico. Scuderia Ferrari also took the Constructors’ title.
8/9. In 2019 at Monza, Charles Leclerc took his second Formula 1 win, just one week on from the first, which came at another legendary track, Spa-Francorchamps, in Belgium. The Monegasque took pole in a chaotic qualifying, while on Sunday he had the bit between his teeth from the first to the last lap, fending off the attacks of both Mercedes drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. He thus became the youngest driver to win two consecutive Formula 1 races.
9/9. In 1979, Scuderia Ferrari arrived in Monza with Jody Scheckter in a position to clinch the title. Two other drivers were still in the running: team-mate Gilles Villeneuve and Ligier’s Jacques Laffite. It went well for Ferrari right from the start and on lap 42 the crowd was on its feet cheering, as Laffite who had been running third, retired. Now there was only Villeneuve between Scheckter and the title and if the Canadian won, the title would still be up for grabs.
But Gilles was the perfect team player and rode shotgun as his team-mate and friend headed for the win and the title. It was the Scuderia’s 34th one-two finish and it meant the team had also won the Constructors’ championship. The crowd jumped the fences and charged for the podium for a big Ferrari celebration.
10/9. There were some special spectators at Fiorano as Luca Badoer shook down the Formula 1 cars for the 2008 Italian Grand Prix: there were a dozen or so Jamaican athletes including 100 metre world record holder at the time, Asafa Powell (9.72s) and Melaine Walker who took gold in the 400 metre women’s hurdles (52.62s) at the 2008 Peking Olympics.
11/9. In 2020, the two Ferrari SF1000s and the 18 other cars competing in the world championship, took to the track for the first free practice session for the Toscana-Ferrari 1000 Grand Prix. It was the first world championship race to be held at the Mugello Circuit, owned by the Prancing Horse, located outside Florence. For the Scuderia it was also its 1000th appearance in a Formula 1 Grand Prix.
12/9. In 2010 Fernando Alonso won the Italian Grand Prix ahead of Jenson Button and Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa in what was almost a perfect weekend as the Spaniard took pole and the win after a brilliant pit stop from the mechanics and an impeccable drive that saw him dispense with Button with less than 20 laps to go. It was the Scuderia’s 213th win.
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