Sunday sees the 91st edition of the Italian Grand Prix, the 71st to count towards the Formula 1 World Championship, the only race along with the British Grand Prix to feature in every season since the series began. It has been held at the Monza circuit every year with the exception of the 1980 event which was held at the Dino e Enzo Ferrari circuit at Imola, a race won by Nelson Piquet in a Brabham. Over the years, Scuderia Ferrari has won 19 times, started from pole 21 times and secured a total of 69 podium finishes.
Speed, slipstreaming and overtaking. Since the “old” Hockenheim disappeared, Monza is the only high-speed track on the Formula 1 calendar. In the old days, there were no chicanes on the long straights making for some incredibly close racing, with dozens of overtaking moves every lap thanks to the slipstreaming effect. The current track, a temple for Ferrari fans, consists of high speed corners interspersed with long straights, with chicanes to reduce the speeds, so that drivers and cars are subjected to heavy braking forces. The two Lesmo corners are among the most interesting and difficult: exiting the second Lesmo at 180 km/h it is all too easy to end up on the wrong line and run wide in the escape road. However, the most famous corner is probably the Parabolica, a high-speed curve leading on to the start-finish straight with, in the background, the old high speed oval with a 38 degree banking. Watch out also for the first chicane where in the space of 150 metres the cars slow from 340 to 80 km/h. Cars run very little aero downforce to be as fast as possible down the straights, which is the key to a quick lap time.
Kimi and Charles. Last year, the Scuderia won here with Charles Leclerc, just one week on from his maiden Formula 1 win in the Belgian Grand Prix, thus making him the youngest ever driver to take two wins in a row. Ferrari also holds another record at Monza: two years ago, Kimi Raikkonen, at the wheel of the SF17H, took pole at an average speed of 263.587 km/h, the quickest ever lap in a Formula 1 car.
In the grandstands. Like all the other races run so far this year, the Italian Grand Prix will be held behind closed doors and therefore there will be no traditional track invasion by the fans at the end of the race. However, there will be 250 very special people in the grandstands, socially distanced of course: doctors and nurses will be guests at the track, as a symbolic honour for their courage, sense of duty and altruism as front line workers in the fight against Covid-19. The first race which will let in a small number of spectators will be the Toscana-Ferrari 1000 Grand Prix, which takes place the following weekend at the Mugello Circuit, where just under 3000 spectators will watch from three grandstands.
Sebastian Vettel #5
“Monza is one of the most famous Formula 1 tracks in the world. This season, racing at the Autodromo Nazionale will seem very strange, because without fans, there will be a surreal atmosphere. Plus we come to Monza knowing it’s going to be tough to be a frontrunner this weekend.
The last race here was anything but straightforward for me and we are well aware that will also be the case this time. We have a specific aero package that we hope will make the SF1000 more competitive. Nevertheless our aim this weekend is the same as always: to make the most of our package and bring home as many points as possible.”
Charles Leclerc #16
"Last year I experienced the most emotional moment of my racing career here in Monza. This time around, the grandstands will be empty, as our fans, who made the podium ceremony so unforgettable, unfortunately can’t be there with us.
We are not as competitive as last year, so it will be a difficult weekend. All the same, we are not lacking motivation for this round. We will all pull together to bring home the best possible result.”
Last week in the team
Last week, Scuderia Ferrari took part in the Belgian Grand Prix, which was a very difficult weekend from start to finish. As from free practice, the team struggled to get the tyres working and in the race, despite running two different strategies, Charles and Sebastian failed to finish in the top ten.
Back in Maranello, the engineers analysed all the Belgian data to understand why the team’s performance did not live up to expectations. For the Italian Grand Prix, the SF1000s will have a special aero package which should help the drivers get the most out of the car on this fast Italian circuit.
GP contested 998
Seasons in F1 71
Debut Monaco 1950 (Alberto Ascari 2nd; Raymond Sommer 4th; Luigi Villoresi ret.)
Wins 238 (23.85%)
Pole positions 228 (22.84%)
Fastest laps 254 (25.45%)
Podiums 772 (77.35%)
FERRARI STATS ITALIAN GP
GP contested 70
Debut 1950 (Alberto Ascari and Dorino Serafini 2nd)
Wins 19 (27.14%)
Pole positions 21 (30%)
Fastest laps 19 (27.14%)
Total podiums 69 (98,57%)
Italian GP Facts & Figures
8 – The number of drivers who led the 1971 Italian Grand Prix. At the time there were no chicanes after the start-finish line, nor the Variantes at Roggia and Ascari, so that slipstreaming was even more important and efficient. The first leader was Clay Regazzoni in the Ferrari, who had got the better of poleman Peter Gethin (McLaren). After that, the lead was held by Ronnie Peterson, Jackie Stewart, François Cevert, Mike Hailwood, Joseph Siffert and Chris Amon. Gethin took the lead when there were just three laps remaining losing the lead to Peterson on lap 54, but getting by the Swede once more to win by just one hundredth of a second.
11 - The number of times the title was decided at Monza. It’s a record shared with Suzuka, home to the Japanese Grand Prix. For many years, the Italian track hosted one of the last rounds of the season and so the championship was often decided here. The first time it happened was in 1950 with Giuseppe Farina, driving for Alfa Romeo. The other ten champions to be crowned in Italy were: Juan Manuel Fangio (1956, Ferrari), Phil Hill (1961, Ferrari), Jim Clark (1963), Jack Brabham (1966), Jackie Stewart (1969 and 1973), Niki Lauda (1975, Ferrari), Mario Andretti (1978) and Jody Scheckter (1979, Ferrari).
83 – Italian drivers have taken part in at least one Formula 1 Grand Prix. Two of them won the world championship: Giuseppe Farina in 1950 with Alfa Romeo and Alberto Ascari in 1952 and 1953 with Ferrari. 27 Italians have raced for Ferrari, the first being Ascari and Luigi Villoresi on the Scuderia’s debut, the 1950 Monaco Grand Prix and the last being Giancarlo Fisichella in 2009. The most successful Italian is still Ascari with two world titles and 13 wins, all with the Scuderia, out of just 32 events entered. The Italian who has taken part in the most races is Riccardo Patrese, who for a long time held the outright record for GP participations and won six times. At the moment, the only Italian on the grid is Antonio Giovinazzi.
1922 – The year the Monza circuit first hosted its inaugural race. Work on the facility began on 15 May that year and the work was completed in just 110 days. The first laps of the track were completed on 28 July by Pietro Bordino and Felice Nazzaro in a Fiat 570. Monza was only the third permanent race track built in the world, after Indianapolis, USA (1909) and Brooklands UK, (1907) with the latter no longer operating as a race track. The first race at Monza was run on 10 September 1922, the second Italian Grand Prix. Bordino won in a Fiat 804, beating fellow Fiat driver Nazzaro by 22 seconds. Third was Spain’s Pierre de Vizcaya in a Bugatti T30, four laps down.
200,000 – The number of spectators who packed the viewing areas over the course of three days at the 2019 Italian Grand Prix at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, a record. Many were encouraged to come having watched Charles Leclerc winning the Belgium GP a week earlier, which fired up the tifosi enthusiasm. The Monegasque driver did it again in Italy, prompting a sea of red as the fans staged the usual track invasion after the race. The tradition of the dash from the grandstands to the foot of the podium will not be possible this year as the race has to be held behind closed doors.
This week in our history
2/9 In 1969, Belgian driver Willy Mairesse committed suicide in an Ostend hotel room. He was aware that, after yet another crash, he would be unable to continue racing. Very quick but prone to mistakes, Enzo Ferrari was struck by his courageous approach to every race, brushing danger aside to score some unexpected results. Born on 1 October 1928 in Momignies, he took part in 12 Formula 1 races, ten of them with Ferrari. His best result was a third in the 1960 Italian Grand Prix at the wheel of a 246 F1. He got some great results in Maranello made sports cars: two wins in the Tour de France Automobile in 1960 and 1962, teamed with fellow Belgian Georges Berger; one in the 1962 Targa Florio at the wheel of a works Dino 246 SP; two in the Spa 500 Km and one in the Nurburgring 1000 Km in 1963, alongside John Surtees in a factory 250 P.
3/9 – In 1960, Phil Hill won the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. The race was boycotted by almost all the English teams as a protest at the use of the high-speed oval at the track. The race was a slipstreaming exercise for the Ferrari 246 F1s, with Richie Ginther who had led from the start only to be overtaken by Phil Hill. It was an historic one-two-three finish for Ferrari as these two were joined on the podium by team-mate Willy Mairesse.
4/9 – In 2019 Charles Leclerc, Sebastian Vettel, Team Principal Mattia Binotto and plenty of famous faces from Scuderia Ferrari’s past and present were joined by a mass of fans in Milan’s Piazza Duomo for what was an incomparable event celebrating 90 years of Scuderia Ferrari.
5/9 – In 1939, Gian-Claudio Giuseppe, generally known as “Clay” Regazzoni was born in Lugano. He was the best Swiss driver ever in Formula 1, taking part in 132 races, 73 with Scuderia Ferrari, of which he won four; the 1970 Italian Grand Prix, Germany 1974, Italy 1975 and USA East 1976. His best season was 1974 when he finished second in the World Championship behind Brazil’s Emerson Fittipaldi. Regazzoni died in a road accident near Parma on 15 December 2006.
6/9 – In 1964, John Surtees won the Italian Grand Prix to reignite his championship chances, going on to unexpectedly take the title at the end of the season. Surtees won as he pleased when, on lap 62 of 78, Dan Gurney suffered an engine problem on his Brabham. It was Surtees’ third F1 win, all of them with the Maranello marque and the Italian success put him back in the title race, as he was now just four points behind the leader, BRM’s Graham Hill.