Circuit Profile: 2016 Italian Grand Prix – Monza – Round 14

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Introduction:

After the lull of the summer break we head straight from the majesty of Spa to the Cathedral of Speed, Monza, for the Italian Grand Prix. The championship battle is well and truly on, with Nico Rosberg having gained back some precious points on Lewis Hamilton following Hamilton’s grid penalties in Spa, but Lewis will surely be pleased that the damage wasn’t worse. Italy represents a chance for Hamilton to prove once again that Nico can’t beat him wheel to wheel and that the championship is his for the taking, while if Rosberg can muster a win over Hamilton maybe just maybe he can plant the seed of doubt in Lewis mind. Either way, it should make for compelling viewing! Behind Mercedes, Ferrari had another disastrous race at Spa after both cars got involved at T1 (again) in Spa, and one gets the feeling that there may be more than just pride at stake for Ferrari at their home Grand Prix. Red Bull are back in the mix, and the battle between Williams and Force India should provide plenty of excitement all the way to the seasons end – bring on Sunday!!!

Michael Schumacher holds the record for most Italian Grand Prix victories with 5, with 4 of those achieved for Ferrari. Of the active drivers both Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have 3 wins apiece and could join Nelson Piquet on 4 victories this weekend. Vettel may have won his first Grand Prix with Ferrari power in his Toro Rosso, but has yet to take victory here for Ferrari, with Fernando Alonso the only active driver to have won the race for Ferrari back in 2010. Nico Rosberg has yet to win an Italian Grand Prix, and would dearly love to add Monza to his collection of winning tracks having recorded his first F1 win at Spa on Sunday, while Kimi Raikkonen has never tasted success at the track, and might just be a dark horse for the race this weekend.

In last year’s race Mercedes were finally under pressure, well, tyre pressure, as both Mercedes were found to have started the race with their tyres under pressured. The threat of a penalty (which never arrived) was the only disturbance for Lewis Hamilton, who romped home to an easy win from pole. Hamilton’s team mate Nico Rosberg, who had suffered mechanical trouble when his new engine had to be swapped out for an older unit, saw his old engine give up in the closing stages as he tried to chase down Sebastian Vettel for second place, having lost time early in the race stuck behind the Williams car’s. Rosberg had lost out in the run to the first corner, his cause not helped by starting behind Kimi Raikkonen, who threw away his excellent second place on the grid with an awful start. Hamilton was unchallenged other than being told to push at the end to build a buffer against any potential penalty, and Vettel was comfortable in second after Rosberg’s demise, with old man Felipe Massa hanging on to take the last step on the podium from his charging young team mate Valtteri Bottas in a good outing for Williams.

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History:

The first Italian Grand Prix was held in 1921. This was staged over 10.75 miles of roads around Brescia, in a triangular layout, with the start finish straight running along the road from Montichiari to Brescia, the track bending back at the village of Fascia d’Oro, with the race being won by Jules Goux in a Ballot. The circuit of Monza, known as La Pista Magica, was built in 1922, and the Italian Grand Prix would be staged there from 1922 onwards. There have been only four years where the Italian Grand Prix was not stage at Monza, the race being staged in Livorno in 1937 (in a race tightly contested between Mercedes team mates, Rudolf Caracciola held on to take the line half a second ahead of team mate Hermann Lang), on the streets of Milan in 1947 (a race won by Carlo Felice Trossi in a 1-2-3-4 for Alfa Romeo cars), on the streets of Turin in 1948 (another Alfa Romeo victory for Jean-Pierre Wimille) and the 1980 race, which took place in Imola and was won by Nelson Piquet for Brabham.

The first Italian Grand Prix at Monza in 1922 was won by Pietro Bordino for FIAT. The decision to construct a permanent race course around the royal garden in Monza was confirmed in January 1922, to mark the 25th anniversary of the Milan Automobile Club, with plans to have the track ready to host the Grand Prix that same year. Work got underway in February, before being stopped due to protests over the impact to the park, with the track design ultimately being modified and the construction work getting the go ahead at the end of May, work being done at a lightening pace to complete the track in time to host the 1922 Grand Prix. The original track configuration had a 5.5 km road course and a 4.5 km oval course, linked by two straights, allowing for three different configurations of the track, with the full 10 km course used for Grand Prix. The race continued to be staged at Monza until 1928, the race won by Louis Chiron in a Buggati overshadowed by tragedy, as Emilio Materassi’s Talbot went out of control as he tried to pass the Bugatti of Giulio Foresti, with the Talbot crashing into the grandstand, killing Materassi and 27 spectators. The tragedy spelled the end of the Italian Grand Prix for the next few years, although a Monza Grand Prix was staged on the oval track.  The Italian Grand Prix race returned in 1931 (won by Tazio Nuvolari and Giuseppe Campari in an Alfa Romeo) but disaster struck again at the circuit in 1933. Luigi Fagioli in an Alfa Romeo beat Tazio Nuvolari in a Maserati that day to take the Italian Grand Prix, which was to be followed by the Monza Grand Prix. The Monza Grand Prix was to be the last race for Giueseppe Campari, who had announced he would be retiring from racing following the event. Tragically, three leading drivers were killed in a pair of accidents at the south curve of the oval course. The race was held in three heats, and with oil reported on the track after the first heat, the spill was brushed and coated with sand prior to the second heat. In the second heat however, Campari and Baconin Borzacchini crashed out while dicing for the lead at the spot of the oil leak, with Borzacchini’s car sent spinning into a roll and Campari’s car going off the banking and flipping over, killing both drivers. In the third heat Stanislas Czaykowski also lost his life in a crash at the south curve, his car going off the track and catching fire. The tragedy would mean the end of the use of the full 10km course, and a desire to cut speeds. For 1934, a shortened track layout utilising the southern curve and half the main straight, with chicanes to reduce speed. This layout was replaced in 1935, with the full Florio circuit being used until 1938 (a combination of the road course and the southern curve of the oval track), with the chicane in place in the southern curve of the oval track to reduce speed.

After the Grand Prix in 1938 the track underwent further redesign, with the road course resurfaced, the oval course demolished and revisions to the road course layout, with the back straight extended and joined to the start finish straight by two new right angle bends, called the Curve del Porfido, after the stone paving used to, porphyry block setts. After the track was restored and racing resumed after the Second World War, this revised 6.3 km road course was the layout used for the first Formula One World Championship Italian Grand Prix in the 1950 season. That race was the last round of the inaugural F1 World Championship, and saw the title decided with Alfa Romeo’s Giuseppe Farina crowned the first Formula One World Champion after he won the race and the other Alfa Romeo of Juan Manuel Fangio retired, twice, having seen his own car suffer gearbox problems he swapped to his team mate Pierro Taruffi’s car, only for that to expire as well with engine trouble. The track continued to be used in this configuration through 1954.

In 1955, the track underwent another major change, with the original twin track approach from the 1922 design recreated. The road course was altered to accommodate the new oval, but while the original incarnation of the loop curves were relatively flat, with the curves laid on an earth embankment, the newly built curves were now elevated by reinforced concrete supports, with the banking going up to an incredible 800. The back and main straight of the road course were shortened, with a new curve connecting them, the wonderful Curva Parabolica. The track once again had a 10 km full course with smaller road course and oval course, and for the 1955 Grand Prix the full 10 km course was used. The 1955 race would be the last race for the works Mercedes team until they returned in 2010, and the finished off in style, with world champion Juan Manuel Fangio taking the victory from team mate Pierro Taruffi to give the Silver Arrows a 1-2 finish. The 10km combined course would be used again for the Grand Prix in 1956, before being replaced by the road course for 1957-1959.

In 1957 and 1958 the circuit played home to the Monza 500 Mile Race, or the Race of Two Worlds as it became known. This saw an open competition between the European based Formula One cars and the American based cars run on the high speed oval course only with rules based on those used at the Indianapolis 500. The race drew only 3 European entrants in 1957 however as the Grand Prix drivers boycotted the event considering it too dangerous, and with the team and drivers of Formula One staying away, the race was won by Jimmy Bryan who won 2 of the 3 heats in his Dean Van Lines Special. However, with a generous prize fund on offer, and a bit of pressure being applied by the organizers (entry was made compulsory in order to receive prize money from the Italian Automobile Club – and now Ferrari built cars for the event!!), the 1958 race saw F1 teams make an effort, with Ferrari entering cars and Maserati building a special car for Stirling Moss, while Juan Manuel Fangio (known for always getting himself into the best car in F1), drove the winning Dean Van Lines car from 1957 edition (which unfortunately would not hold up in the race, leaving Fangio unable to complete more than a single lap). Luigi Musso gave the Europeans something to cheer about by setting the fastest time in qualifying for Ferrari and he led the opening laps of the first heat from Eddie Sachs and Jim Rathmann. Musso would hand over to Mike Hawthorne after 26 laps, exhausted by the effort of hurtling the car around the banking, but Hawthorne wasn’t able to match Musso’s performance and fell back. In the end, the oval experience of the Americans counted, with Jim Rathmann winning all three heats to take the overall victory, with Jimmy Bryan coming second and European honour somewhat upheld as Ferrari managed to come third, Phil Hill sharing the car with Mike Hawthorne and Musso, after Stirling Moss Maserati had crashed out with steering failure going around the banked curve!. Unfortunately this would prove to be the last time the race would be run.

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Formula One would run full 10km course again in 1960 – a move which would help Ferrari, who’s front engine car had the power but not the handling of their rear engined competitors in 1960), leading to a boycott by the British based teams, who felt the combined track with its steeped banked oval was simply too dangerous for Formula One. Formula Two cars were allowed to compete in the race to pad the field, and the race was inevitably won by Ferrari (with Phil Hill leading home a Ferrari 1-2-3 finish, the only victory for Ferrari that year. Incidentally, this would prove to be the last time a Grand Prix was won by a front engine car, with Ferrari switching to a rear engine machine for 1961. For 1961 the full course would be used again, but a horrifying accident that year would mean it was the last time the banked oval would be used by Formula One. Phil Hill won the race for Ferrari, and in doing so became the first American to win the world driver’s championship, as his only rival in the championship was killed in the race. Hill’s Ferrari team mate, Wolfgang von Trips, who had led the world championship heading into the penultimate round at Italy, tangled with Jim Clark’s Lotus on the second lap heading into the Parabolica and lost control of his Ferrari, with von Trips car running off the track onto the grass and crashing up the bank lining the track and spinning into the watching crowd, killing the German ace and 11 spectators.

The Italian Grand Prix would revert to being run on the road course at Monza from 1962, when Graham Hill leading team mate Richie Ginther home in a 1-2 for BRM. Tragedy struck the circuit again in 1970, Clay Regazzoni winning the race for Ferrari in a weekend overshadowed by the death of world championship leader Jochen Rindt, who was killed in a crash during qualifying (Rindt would become the sport’s only posthumous world champion that year). A series of changes were then introduced to cut speed at the track, starting in 1972 with the introduction of a chicane on the start finish straight and the Variante Ascari. The Ascari chicane was altered again in 1974, and then in 1976 the new chicane on the start finish straight was removed and replaced with a new chicane further along the straight, the Varientte Rettifilo, installed where today we have the first chicane, and a further chicane (Variante della Rogia) was added between the Curva Granda and the Lesmo corners. Tragedy struck yet again in 1978, when Ronnie Peterson died after a crash at the start of the race. The race was started before the cars had all assembled on the grid, with the cars at the back still driving up to the grid as the race started. As the cars sped down into the first chicane, Riccardo Patrese’s Arrows got tangled up with James Hunt’s McLaren, with mayhem following, as Peterson’s Lotus was spun into the barriers, bursting into flames and then being collected by Vittorio Bambrilla’s Surtees as it rebounded off the side of the track. James Hunt pulled Peterson out from the burning Lotus, with Peterson left lying on the track as the Italian police formed a barrier to prevent people getting at the scene of the accident, leading to a delay of over 11 minutes in him being treated by medical staff. He was eventually taken to hospital suffering from broken legs, but he would die in hospital the following day after complications developed. The race would be restarted hours after the crash with Niki Lauda taking a 1-2 for Brabham from team mate John Watson after the first two drivers to cross the line (Andretti and Villeneuve) were demoted following a time penalty for jumping the start, with Andretti becoming champion in tragic circumstances, as only his team mate Peterson could have caught him prior to the Italian Grand Prix.

Monza’s run of consecutive Italian Grand Prix would end in 1979, which proved to be a glorious race for Ferrari, as Jody Scheckter crossed the line with team mate Gilles Villeneuve right behind him for a Ferrari 1-2 that clinched both the drivers title for Scheckter and also the constructors title for Ferrari. The Italian Grand Prix would then be staged away from Monza in 1980, with the race being held at Imola and Nelson Piquet taking the victory for Brabham. Formula One returned to Monza in 1981 in a race won by Alain Prost for Renault, and has remained there ever since. The track underwent further changes in 1994, when the Seconda Curva di Lesmo was altered to reduce speed, and then futher changes followed in 1995, with the section from the Curva Grande through the two Lesmo corners altered again, with the curve made more shallow and the chicane before the Lesmo’s moved forward, in a bid to improve safety and allow for greater run off areas. In 2000 the track was modified further, with the first chicane altered to give us the configuration in use today.

 

Circuit Characteristics

Power, lots of it, and skinny wings are the order of the day around Monza, a track which will also prove demanding on the brakes, with the high speeds punctuated by heavy braking into the chicanes.

From the start finish straight there is a long run down to the first corner past the pit exit, braking hard into the first chicane Prima Variante, a tight right hander followed by an immediate curve back to the left.

The long run down from the grid will allow for drivers with a good start to make up for a disappointing grid position, so expect to see plenty of movement going into the first corner on lap 1.

With the corner so narrow don’t be surprised to see a number of cars in the midfield forced to bail out and cut across the first corner.

The start/finish straight is also the first DRS activation zone and with the high speeds from the end of the straight braking into this corner will provide opportunity to overtake. Getting the braking right here will be crucial to holding position, remember Nico Rosberg locking up and cutting the turn twice while in the lead of the 2014 race, ultimately losing first place to Lewis Hamilton after his second error. The drivers accelerate out of the second turn, winding to the right into Turn 3, the Curva Biassono. This is a long winding right hander that allows the cars to carry speed onto the next straight. Sebastian Vettel made a determined move around the outside of the curve here on Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari in 2011, with the Vettel’s Reb Bull going two wheels onto the grass and kicking up dust, Vettel kept his foot down to claim the position into the next corner. The following year Alonso tried unsuccessfully to repay the favour, running his Ferrari around the outside of Vettel’s Red Bull, but in this case the Ferrari went all 4 wheels onto the grass and Vettel was given a penalty for running Alonso off the track. The cars cross back from the exit of the curve on the left to the right hand side of the track to approach the Seconda Variante, Turn 4 and Turn 5. This chicane is a tight left hander into a tight right hander, with the cars being careful not to take too much kerb into the right hander and then taking as much kerb as the can on the exit. The chicane will provide yet another spot for drivers to try to overtake, Daniel Ricciardo showed how it’s done with a nice move on his Red Bull team mate Sebastian Vettel here in 2014, Ricciardo diving late down the inside and taking the place. The cars exit Turn 5 onto another short 200m straight into the Prima Curva di Lesmo, Turn 6, a right hander with trees lining the inside of the track casting a shadow over the braking point, with plenty of run off on the outside. Lewis Hamilton used a better exit from the Seconda Varianta to launch his Mercedes past Kevin Magnussen’s McLaren on the run into the Turn 6 here in 2014’s race. The cars exit left over the kerbs and onto a short burst past the second DRS detection point into the Seconda Curva di Lesmo, Turn 7, another right hander. It was here that Lewis Hamilton crashed out of third place on the last lap in 2009, spinning off the kerb on the exit of the first Lesmo and battering into the barrier on the inside of the track. The exit of the second Lesmo opens out onto the Curva Del Serraglio, a slight bend to the left on another long straight. This is the second DRS activation zone, with the cars briefly flicking through darkness as they pass under a bridge carrying the north curve of the old banked track. The cars arrive into the Variante Ascari, Turns 8,9 and 10, a flowing section of left, right left turns leading onto the last straight, a long blast down past the second DRS detection point into the long right hand Curva Parabolica, Turn 11, with the cars winding around the curve and hurling themselves onto the start finish straight, Rettifilo di Partenza, which holds the second DRS activation zone. The pit entry is at the start of this straight, drivers will need to take care entering, with Manor’s Roberto Mehri coming close to driving into the back of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen last year as the Finn was extra cautious of his speed coming into the pits!

 

TYRES WITH PIRELLI:

It’s finally here: Pirelli’s home race at the fastest grand prix circuit of them all, making Monza the undisputed ‘temple of speed’. The actual cornering speeds aren’t excessive, so instead it’s all about the straights, where the cars come close to 360kph thanks also to specific low-drag configurations that are generally only seen in Italy. Pirelli has chosen the medium, soft and (for the first time) supersoft tyres at Monza: the fourth consecutive race where this selection is being used. In terms of atmosphere, the Parco Reale di Monza remains unique: a historic venue used continuously for Formula 1 since 1950 (with only one exception) that inspires not just the fans, but also the drivers.

 

THE CIRCUIT FROM A TYRE POINT OF VIEW:

While average speeds are high, cornering speeds are reasonably low, minimising tyre wear. This means that some teams could aim for a one-stop strategy. Heavy longitudinal forces act on tyres, especially under braking and traction in the two chicanes. The drivers tend to hit the famous kerbs at Monza hard, which further tests the tyre structure. Parabolica and Curva Grande are particularly challenging, as they are long corners putting plenty of energy through the tyres. Low downforce means braking and acceleration is tricky: drivers must try to avoid wheelspin.

 

THE THREE NOMINATED COMPOUNDS:                                          

White medium: a mandatory set that will be important for the race if using a one-stop strategy.

Yellow soft: again a mandatory set, could come into play for a two-stop strategy in particular.

Red supersoft: mandatory in qualifying; most of the top 10 are very likely to start on this tyre.

 

HOW IT WAS A YEAR AGO:

Lewis Hamilton dominated the weekend with a grand slam. He used a one-stop strategy, starting on soft and changing to medium on lap 26 (of 53). The entire top 10 stopped just once.

Best alternative strategy: Daniel Ricciardo was the highest-placed driver to start on the medium tyre and then change to soft, going from 19th on the grid to eighth at the finish.

 

PAUL HEMBERY, PIRELLI MOTORSPORT DIRECTOR:                      

“With Monza coming straight after Spa, that’s two epic circuits in the space of just over one week, but for any organisation in Formula 1, your home race is always the most special of the year. It’s going to be a busy weekend for us as a result, and with the supersoft coming to Monza for the first time, we might also see some record top speeds in qualifying especially. Last year we saw the majority of competitors opt for a one-stop strategy, but the arrival of the supersoft could make multi-stop options more attractive this time.”

WHAT’S NEW?

There are no changes to Monza this year, but major changes are planned for 2017 with a new first corner bypassing the Curva Grande. So this will be the last race on the ‘classic’ layout.

After Monza, Pirelli’s 2017 tyre test campaign using mule cars will resume with Ferrari at Barcelona (September 6-7) and Mercedes at Paul Ricard (September 6-8).

As was the case in Belgium, Pirelli will supply some prototype tyres (without coloured markings) for Friday’s free practice sessions only. These are designed to better resist multiple impacts or damage from foreign bodies.

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Form Guide:

Mercedes continue to look a class apart. Rosberg gained back some much needed points at Spa, but was able to do so without having to go head to head against Hamilton. Lewis would appear to have had the edge over Nico around Monza in recent years, but the battle between the two will hopefully be tight. Behind them Ferrari will be hoping they can finally convert the potential they believe they have in their car into a race result, with the pressure surely mounting on Sebastian Vettel, who must be starting to forget what a visit to the podium feels like. Kimi Raikkonen has continued to look improved versus Vettel as the year has worn on, and will be hoping for a repeat of last year’s qualifying effort, but maybe a bit more luck in the race. Red Bull will continue to cause trouble, although the flat out nature of Monza should test them, expect to see Verstappen getting in amongst the Ferrari’s at least – fireworks most likely. Daniel Ricciardo will be delighted to have returned to podium form of late, and will be pushing hard to secure the consolation 3rd place in the championship as best non- Mercedes car. Monza should provide another reality check for McLaren-Honda, but their Spa performance, with Alonso finishing ahead of both Williams, will be cause for genuine optimism. Conversely, Williams know they really need to get their act together if they are to have a chance of regaining fourth place from a flying Force India, with Monza surely representing another must perform weekend for the struggling Grove outfit.

 

Memorable Moments

2008 – Vettel splashes to first victory

Rain on Saturday and Sunday mixed the order up at Monza in 2008, with the main championship protagonists struggling, giving a lively mixed up race which saw plenty of wheel to wheel action, and a new star emerge for Formula One. While Ferrari were down the order, it was an Italian team powered by Ferrari who would take the glory, a young Sebastian Vettel becoming the youngest F1 race winner by taking his first F1 win at Monza, Ferrari powered, for Toro Rosso, who recorded their only win in Formula One to date, in the first win for an Italian team other than Ferrari since 1957, when Juan Manuel Fangio took victory for Maserati. After a damp qualifying, Vettel had become F1’s youngest polesitter, with Heikki Kovalainen lining up alongside him on the front row for McLaren. Mark Webber was third for the senior Red Bull squad with Vettel’s Toro Rosso team mate Sebastien Bourdais in fourth. Ferrari’s Felipe Massa was back in sixth, but he fared better than both his team mate Kimi Raikkonen, who lined up in 14th place, and McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, who had to settle for 16th place, after they both had taken the wrong tyre for the start of the wet qualifying session, and failed to set a time before the track conditions deteriorated. The race was held under wet conditions, with the race started under the safety car. When the safety car pulled in Vettel kept the lead, using the clear track and better visibility to his advantage, and he coasted serenely clear to his first win, only losing the lead during the pit stops. Behind, Vettel’s team mate Bourdais was in trouble from the start, his car not starting on the grid, the unfortunate Frenchman being rolled into the pits as the cars pulled off the grid and losing a lap and falling out of contention immediately. Behind Vettel, there was plenty of action on track, but the end result saw the championship contenders fail to pose a threat, with Massa threading water to come home in sixth, while Lewis Hamilton minimised the damage to his title hopes by charging through the field to come just one place behind Massa in 7th, while Kimi Raikkonen had a pointless race to 9th place. The podium was completed by Heikki Kovalainen in second and Robert Kubica taking third for BMW-Sauber after the conditions went his way, his single planned stop allowing him to change to intermediate tyres at just the right moment, but the day was all about Toro Rosso and F1’s new youngest race winner, Sebastian Vettel.

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1995 Italian Grand Prix – Herbert has the last laugh

In the 1995 season Williams had the best car in the field, the FW17 proving the troubles the team had encountered in 1994 with the FW16 following the banning of active suspension were well and truly behind them. The only problem for Williams was that in Michael Schumacher Benetton clearly had the best driver in the field. Over the course of the season leading up to the Italian Grand Prix Schumacher had won 6 races compared to only 3 for Williams Damon Hill, with Jean Alesi taking a sole win for Ferrari in Canada after problems had affected the Williams and Benettons, and Schumacher’s Benetton team mate Johnny Herbert taking his maiden win in Britain. Despite that win at the British Grand Prix, Herbert was surplus to requirements at Benetton, with the team moving to bring in Alesi and Berger for 1996 to replace the departing Schumacher. Herbert had been comprehensively outpaced by Schumacher all season, and even his British victory was regarded as fortuitous as Hill and Schumacher retired after colliding and Coulthard encountered electrical trouble which would cause him to speed in the pit lane and drop back after being penalised. Within the team Schumacher was clearly treated as the number one, and Herbert was keen to show that he still had a future in Formula One, and that in an equal environment he could still deliver – but would he get a chance for 1996?

David Coutlhard took pole position for Williams, half a second clear of Schumacher. Hill was back in fourth place, sandwiched by the Ferrari’s of Berger and Alesi. Herbert could only qualify eight, almost a second and a half down on his team mate. On race day, Coulthard went off track on the formation lap, running wide at the exit of the Variante Ascari and spinning his Williams in the gravel trap! At the start, Schumacher, now at the front of the field, held the lead from the two Ferrari’s, with Herbert having made a great start to climb to fourth ahead of Hill. But the race would be red flagged after Max Papis spun his arrows at the Variante Ascari, triggering a chain reaction which saw cars stranded across the track. This would forgive Coulthard’s earlier mistake at the same corner and allow the Scot to take the restart from pole position in the spare Williams, after a very cautious warm up lap! Coulthard led cleanly away from the restart, with Berger getting the jump on Schumacher, followed by Hill, Herbert and Alesi. Alesi got a better run around the Parabolica to pass Herbert at the end of the first lap, and Rubens Barichello’s Jordan soon followed through, as did Mika Hakkinen’s McLaren a few laps later, with Herbert dropping back as he was running a heavier fuel load than his rivals. After withstanding early pressure from Berger, Coulthard started to edge away, and looked set to deliver his first career victory, but would be denied when his car spun off into the gravel on lap 14 after having built up a lead of 3 seconds over the chasing Ferrari, a wheel bearing failure this time at fault. This saw Berger leading for Ferrari, with Schumacher and Hill lurking behind, with Alesi in the second Ferrari keeping pace, before a gap back to Barrichello. Everything seemed to fall into place for another great home result for Ferrari when Hill collided with Schumacher on lap 23, spinning them both out of the race. Hill got distracted while lapping Taki Inoue’s Arrows, who was moving off line after being passed by Schumacher, and Hill felt Schumacher also braked earlier than usual. Schumacher was furious, running from his beached car to confront Hill, having to be restrained by the marshals on the scene. The stewards ultimately agreed with the German world champion and blamed Hill, with the Williams driver handed a suspended 1 race ban. Berger pitted first of the front runners, which caused him to drop behind Alesi after the stops as he lost time scrapping with Barrichello and Hakkinen when he rejoined, as both cars were light on fuel and yet to stop. Alesi came in next, followed by Barrichello, then Hakkinen, with Herbert running a couple of laps longer than any, and enjoying a stint as race leader in the process. Herbert put his foot down in this phase, and took full advantage of his lightening fuel load to put in fast laps while his rivals drove around on full tanks, so much so that he leapfrogged Hakkinen and Barrichello when he finally made his stop. So now Alesi led from Berger, with Herbert up to third. Alesi and Berger circulated in close formation at the front of the race, pulling clear of Herbert, but Ferrari’s dream result would turn into a nightmare on the 33rd lap when the onboard camera on Alesi’s car would detach, flying backwards into the suspension of Berger’s closely following Ferrari. Berger was lucky not to have been hit by the flying camera, but his race was run, the Ferrari limping off the side of the track. Things would go from bad to worse for the Scuderia, as Alesi started to struggle, flames visible from his rear wheel, as Herbert continued to apply the pressure. The gap was down to 5 seconds with 8 laps to go when Alesi had to retire after pulling into the pits, a failed wheel bearing denying him a victory at his last appearance at Monza for Ferrari. The race was Herbert’s and he continued on to the finish to collect his second Grand Prix win, just four races after securing his first in Britain.

Herbert had a comfortable 18 seconds margin to second place Mika Hakkinen, with Heinz Harald Frentzen taking both his and Sauber’s first podium by coming home third, after the unfortunate Rubens Barrichello was side-lined with a clutch problem. Herbert had definitely put himself in the shop window, and he would be rewarded by being signed to driver for Sauber for the following season, his high profile from his Grand Prix wins helping swing the decision over which driver to partner Frentzen in his favour.

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1988 Italian Grand Prix – Berger stops McLaren’s clean sweep

In the 1988, McLaren dominated F1, courtesy of a transition in rule changes that McLaren and Honda exploited to the full. Between them Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost had won all of the opening 11 races, and there seemed to be no reason to expect they wouldn’t complete a clean sweep by the end of the season. The race at Monza would be held just a few weeks after the passing of Enzo Ferrari. For the second race in a row Nigel Mansell was sidelined with illness, and for this race Williams would draft in Jean-Louis Schlesser, who had one previous unsuccessful attempt to qualify for a Grand Prix back in 1983, but who had testing for Williams. Schlesser, who would go onto win the World Sportscar Championship for Sauber-Mercedes in 1989 and 1990, and the Dakar Rally in his own buggy in 1999 and 2000, will always be remembered for this his one and only F1 start!

Senna led Prost on an all McLaren front row, with the Ferrari’s of Berger and Alboreto on the second row. At the start Prost made an initial better getaway than Senna, but Senna stormed around him on the inside into the first chicane. Senna had a gap of 2 seconds over Prost by the end of the first lap and seemed set for a comfortable drive to his eight victory of the season. Prost’s engine was giving him trouble, and he dropped back, but kept the pressure on Senna, until his problems became terminal, Prost dropping back into the clutches of the Ferrari’s and eventually retiring in the pits. Senna now had a straight run to the finish, but was trying to take it easy to avoid a repeat of Prost’s engine failure and to conserve fuel, having been pushed by Prost in the early stages of the race. The Ferrari’s were chasing, but still Senna seemed to have the race in hand. But with just 2 laps to go, Senna came up to lap Jean-Louis Schlesser for the second time at the first chicane, and the McLaren dream of a 100% season went out the window. Senna, famous for being ruthless when dealing with lapped traffic, dived up the inside of Schlesser coming into the corner as Schlesser locked his brakes going deep into the chicane. Senna sliced past, but as he exited the final section of the chicane was clipped from behind by Schlesser, who had been left suddenly with no road to drive on as he recovered from his lock up. Senna was bumped into the air and was out, and Ferrari now had a 1-2 in the bag with Berger leading Alboreto home for a famous Ferrari victory the old man would have been proud of.

88-Monza.jpg

1971 Italian Grand Prix – Gethin wins hectic race

The race in 1971 would be the last race at Monza before chicanes were introduced to cut the speed of the track. In a frantic race of slipstreaming and constant lead changes, Peter Gethin would emerge to take his only Grand Prix Victory. Chris Amon started on pole position in his Matra, with Jacky Ickx lining up in second for Ferrari. The BRMs of Jo Siffert and Howden Ganley lined up in 3rd and 4th, with the other two BRMs of Gethin and Helmut Marko lining up in 11th and 12th. At the start it was Clay Regazzoni in the second Ferrrai who burst through from 8th place to snatch the lead to the delight of the home crowd. The hopes of the tifosi would evaporate with Ragazzoni and Ickx both retiring by lap 18, shortly after World Champion Jackie Stewart, who had also lead the race during the early laps, was sidelined with a broken engine. Siffert enjoyed a spell at the front but fell back with a gearbox problem, while Chris Amon briefly looked like he would take victory only to fall back after he inadvertently removed his visor while attempting to remove a tear off! The race would boil down to a battle between 5 drivers, with Ronnie Peterson (March), Francois Cevert (Tyrrell), Mike Hailwood (Surtees) all enjoying spells at the front, and the BRMs of Howden Ganley and Pether Gethin staying with the leading group to battle for victory going into the final lap. The cars jostled for position coming into the Parabolica for the last time, with Peterson leading the way, but Gethin emerged from his slipstream to pass him on the line and take the victory, with Cevert in third place followed by Hailwood and Ganley. Gethin over revved his engine by some 1000 rpm for the final push out of the Parabolica, and sneaked the win by just 0.01 seconds from Peterson, with the top four cars covered by 0.2 seconds, Ganley a massive 0.6 seconds back on the race winner in fifth place!

Support Races

Once again the hopefuls in GP2/GP3 and the Porsche Supercup will provide the backing entertainment in Italy.

In GP2 Red Bull hopeful Pierre Gasly continued his fine recent run of form in a weekend of exciting racing at Spa, and looks to have separated himself from the pack in the championship battle with a commanding victory in the feature race in Spa, followed by a fine fourth in the sprint race. With Sergey Sirotkin enduring yet another pointless weekend Gasly has opened up a commanding gap over his nearest rival in the championship, with his team mate Antonio Giovinazzi now up to second. Giovinazzi had a frustrating feature race after blowing his pole position with a poor start, but made amends with a victory in the sprint race to keep himself in the title hunt. Raffaele Marciello is hanging on in third, with the inconsistent Sirotkin dropping back to fourth. With only 3 race weekends to go time is running out for anyone to make a push to catch Gasly, and the chicanes at Monza should see plenty of excitement during the GP2 races!

In GP3 Charles Leclerc was the big winner in Spa, taking a lights to flag victory in the feature race but also seeing his team mate and title rival Alexander Albon struggle after qualifying down in 17th position. Ferrari academy driver Leclerc arrives in Monza with some breathing space at the top of the championship, with fellow Ferrari academy driver Antonio Fuoco in second but having fallen some 22 points adrift, with Albon’s poor weekend in Spa leaving him some 36 points back. Renault academy driver Jack Aitkin will arrive in Monza full of confidence after taking his first GP3 victory in the sprint race at Spa.

In the Porsche Supercup Sven Muller is now 20 points clear of Matteo Cairoli after bringing the car home in second in Belgium, having been passed by Mathieu Jaminet for the victory in Spa. It was Jaminet’s first victory in the Porsche Supercup, and sees him close the gap to Matteo Cairoli in the standings, with just 5 points separating the pair heading to Monza. Having seen a track limits penalty hand him the victory in Germany, this time around Matteo Cairoli fell foul of the regulations, first losing out on pole position and dropping 3 places on the grid to fourth due to a penalty for ignoring yellow flags in practice, and then losing third place after the race when he was ruled to have passed Christian Engelhart off the track, the subsequent time penalty promoting Engelhart to third for his first podium finish of the season.

Previous Results:

Year Winner Constructor
2015 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2014 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2013 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault
2012 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
2011 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault
2010 Fernando Alonso Ferrari
2009 Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes
2008 Sebastian Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari
2007 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Mercedes
2006 Michael Schumacher Ferrari
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5 responses to “Circuit Profile: 2016 Italian Grand Prix – Monza – Round 14

  1. Awesome, Marek. Best preview on the Internet, in my opinion. Good format and quite comprehensive.

    • thanks, glad you liked it 🙂 always fun to write, Monza has such an amazing history, so much got left out!! I’m very glad to hear Monza looks set to secure it’s immediate future, just can’t imagine a F1 season without a visit there.

  2. Ahhhhh..home again! It’s like putting on a pair of comfortable slippers thanks Marek.you did her proud

  3. Marek, my man! I can only back up the above. Best available preview anywhere. Expect a share on twitter.
    The “established” sites can only be jealous of this kind of work.

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