The Formula 1 field has its last European hit-out with this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix. With up to 200 points up for grabs before the season comes to a close, the battle for championship honours is becoming more tense with each passing race.
Sebastian Vettel is enjoying a healthy points buffer after his dominant win at the Belgian Grand Prix, and he’ll be looking to repeat the dose at a circuit that – bar his win in 2011 – has historically not been kind to Red Bull Racing.
Let’s take a look at the Gran Premio D’Italia…
FORMULA 1 GRAN PREMIO D’ITALIA 2013
|Venue:||Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, Milan, Italy|
|Race Lap Record:||1:21.046, Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari F2004) – 2004|
|Event Schedule:||Free Practice Session 1||Fri 10:00-11:30|
|Free Practice Session 2||Fri 14:00-15:30|
|Free Practice Session 3||Sat 11:00-12:00|
|Race (53 laps, 306.720km)||Sun 14:00-16:00|
|Past Ten Winners:||Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes MP4-27)*||2012|
|Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing Renault RB7)*||2011|
|Fernando Alonso (Ferrari F10)*||2010|
|Rubens Barrichello (Brawn GP Mercedes BGP001)||2009|
|Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso Ferrari STR3)*||2008|
|Fernando Alonso (McLaren Mercedes MP4-21)*||2007|
|Michael Schumacher (Ferrari F2006)||2006|
|Juan Pablo Montoya (McLaren Mercedes MP4-19)||2005|
|Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari F2004)*||2004|
|Michael Schumacher (Ferrari F2003-GA)||2003|
* Denotes victory from pole position
All event times are quoted in CEST (GMT +2).
Being the spiritual home of Ferrari’s fans, the tifosi, the atmosphere at Milan’s Monza circuit is really something else.
The huge crowd has eyes for just one team and two drivers – if you’re not driving a car from the Prancing Horse stable, then you may as well not exist in their eyes.
Having hosted a Grand Prix in every season – bar one – since the inception of the World Championship in the modern era, the Monza circuit occupies a position as one of the few remaining traditional circuits left on the 2010 calendar.
And with the wealth of medium-downforce autodromes cropping up everywhere, it is the only circuit on this year’s calendar where a truly low-downforce set-up is required.
This pistol-shaped circuit is essentially a series of high-speed blasts punctuated by chicanes and some wickedly quick corners such as the Curva Grande, Lesmo corners and the Parabolica.
However, the current version is a vastly emasculated form of its original incarnation, which was virtually flat out.
Back then, the cars would trail each other in huge slipstreaming packs, and the races during that era often featured some of the highest average speeds, and closest race finishes, of the era.
But with the understandably increasing concerns for driver and spectator safety, chicanes were gradually introduced to slow the cars down, but that has done little to dull the action at this passing-friendly circuit.
Take a look at our Monza Circuit Guide:
The History Bit
As one of the most historic venues on the Formula 1 calendar, the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza has always provided entertaining racing. The lowest-downforce tracks used, it’s a special test of driver and car unlike no other circuit.
Here are our five favourite Monza moments in Formula 1:
1971: The last race to be held at a chicane-less Monza, this race was also the last of the truly great slipstreaming classics that had been a hallmark of the old Monza circuit. Despite starting from eleventh position, BRM’s Peter Gethin steadily worked his way up the order to be battling for the lead with four other drivers on the last lap. In the final lap, he went from fifth to first, winning by just 0.01 seconds – the top five was covered by just 0.6 seconds!
1988: It was at this race that McLaren threw away its chance of claiming a whitewash of wins in the 1988 season that it utterly dominated with its revolutionary MP4/4. Alain Prost retired at mid-distance with an engine failure, leaving team-mate Ayrton Senna to cruise to a seemingly assured victory. But fate – and some of the Brazilian’s impetuousness – would intervene with three laps to go when the soon-to-be World Champion collided with Jean-Louise Schlesser as he tried to lap him. He was out on the spot, leaving the Ferraris of Berger and Alboreto to claim to claim an emotion-charged 1-2, marking the team’s first win since the death of team founder Enzo Ferrari.
1999: The absence of Michael Schumacher and an off-colour qualifying performance for the Ferraris made a McLaren win look a near certainty. As was the case on Italian soil earlier in the year during the San Marino Grand Prix, Mika Hakkinen threw away victory with a schoolboy error. The Finn was furious and was left to cry in the woods, while Heinz-Harald Frentzen emerged as a late title challenger when he claimed his second victory of the season – it would be the Jordan team’s only dry-weather race win.
2000: Fears that the reprofiled Rettifilo chicane would create first-lap carnage would prove somewhat unfounded, with the grid deciding to spark mayhem with a multi-car shunt at the Roggia chicane instead. Debris’ from Pedro de la Rosa’s somersaulting Arrows would tragically kill a trackside marshal, and Michael Schumacher claimed his 41st race win to equal the tally managed by Ayrton Senna. Schumacher so moved by the moment that he wept openly in the post-race press conference.
2008: For the first time in as long as anyone could remember, wet weather would play a major role for almost the entire event, which produced one of the greatest upset results in the sport’s history. Many of the bigger names struggled in the slippery conditions, but a 21-year-old called Sebastian Vettel claimed his first ever pole before going on to blitz his more-fancied rivals with a consummate drive in soaking conditions on Sunday, giving the little Toro Rosso team its only victory to-date.
Monza Stat Attack
Here are some fast facts about this year’s Italian Grand Prix:
The Italian Grand Prix has appeared on the Formula 1 calendar every year since the World Championship was formed in 1950, with all bar one of the events (in 1980) being staged at Monza.
Eleven different constructors have claimed more than once victory at the Italian Grand Prix, with Ferrari easily proving to be the most successful at its home circuit with eighteen wins. McLaren (10), Williams (6), Lotus (5) and Mercedes (2) are the only other multiple winners on the grid, while Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso have claimed one win apiece here.
Sebastian Vettel (2008, 2011) and Fernando Alonso (2007, 2010) are the only drivers on the grid to have won here more than once – although neither with the same team on each occasion. Lewis Hamilton (2012) is the only other current driver to have won a Grand Prix at Monza.
Michael Schumacher has the greatest record at the Italian Grand Prix, with five wins, which were all earned as a Ferrari driver in 1996, 1998, 2000, 2003 and 2006.
Winning the Italian Grand Prix is considered a jinx to winning the World Championship title in the same year. Over the past two decades, only three drivers have won the Italian Grand Prix and the World Championship in the same year.
Fernando Alonso will make his 209th Grand Prix race start on Sunday; he will move to ninth outright on the all-time starters list, ahead of Andrea de Cesaris.
Mark Webber will make his 207th Grand Prix race start on Sunday, moving him to equal-tenth with Andrea de Cesaris on the all-time starters list.
Kimi Räikkönen will make his 188th Grand Prix race start on Sunday; he will move to sixteenth outright on the all-time starters list, ahead of Nigel Mansell.
Felipe Massa will make his 184th Grand Prix race start on Sunday; he will move to eighteenth on the all time starters list, ahead of Nick Heidfeld.
The Form Guide
Following the team’s woeful display at last year’s race, few expected Red Bull Racing to be so potent last time out at Spa-Francorchamps.
The Milton Keynes team was similar lacklustre at the 2012 Italian Grand Prix, underlining the RB8’s straight-line speed deficiencies.
This year’s Red Bull RB9 seems to dispatch most circuit types with monotonous precision, so there’s no reason to believe that strong form at Spa-Francorchamps won’t translate to a vastly different circuit like Monza. McLaren claimed victory at last year’s Belgian Grand Prix and followed it up with a win for Lewis Hamilton at Monza. So there’s every reason for Red Bull to repeat the dose this year.
Despite the placement of two DRS zones around the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza – a completely unnecessary advent, in our opinion – getting pole position here has been a requirement for victory here. Five of the last six pole-winners have won here.
While there’s an ever-increasing points gap behind Vettel, Fernando Alonso remains the German’s greatest threat, and he should perform strongly here in his quest for a third win at this venue, particularly with this being Ferrari’s spiritual home.
The Spaniard drove well en route to second place after a disastrous qualifying performance at Spa-Francorchamps, and he finished third here from tenth place on the grid last year. But qualifying continues to be the F138’s Achilles Heel, and he will have to start well up the grid on order to have a realistic shot at victory.
With four high-speed right-handers around its five-kilometre lap, the Monza circuit places a heavy load on the left-hand tyres, and with warm conditions expected over the course of the weekend, this could disadvantage Mercedes’ quest for another win. Neither of the Silver Arrows could match their qualifying speed at Belgium, and this could again be a factor come Sunday for Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
Forecasters are predicting a bit of rain for Sunday’s 53-lap race, so that could also throw the form guide completely out the window!
Don’t forget to enter your F1 Predictions!
This weekend’s round of our 2013 RichardsF1.com F1 Predictions Competition is now open for business, and you can enter and edit your predictions for the 2013 Italian Formula 1 Grand Prix right up until five minutes before qualifying!
Entry is open to all of our readers, and it’s so easy to submit your predictions! All you’ll need to do is correctly guess:
- which driver will win pole position and the race
- which two teams will earn the best finishes in the race
- which eight drivers will finish in the top-eight positions
- who will post the fastest lap of the race
- who will gain the most positions relative to their starting position
You can also choose to ‘double up’ your points tally for the Italian Grand Prix – but be careful, you can only do this twice per season!
To view the current points standings, click here.
To enter your 2013 Italian Grand Prix Predictions, click here.
As always, RichardsF1.com will be bringing you the best of the on- and off-track action this weekend, so make sure we’re your first port of call for your Italian Grand Prix fix!