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Italian Grand Prix - facts and figures 11 Sep 2003

Juan Pablo Montoya (COL) Williams set the fastest ever pole position lap of 161.175mph average but retired from the race.
Italian Grand Prix, Monza, 16 September 2002

Monza has hosted more grands prix than any other venue. 2003 will be the 53rd time the Italian round of the world championship has been held there. Only once has the race been held elsewhere - at Imola in 1980.

Monza can lay claim to the fastest qualifying lap in Formula One history. In 2002 Juan Pablo Montoya took pole position for Williams at an average speed of 259.827 kph, breaking the 17-year-old record set by Keke Rosberg at Silverstone in 1985, also in a Williams.

The decision to build the Monza Autodrome was made by the Milan Automobile Club in January 1922 to mark the 25th anniversary of the club's founding. The Italian car manufacturers of the day were keen to have a permanent motorsport and testing facility to help promote growth into foreign markets.

The very first (non-championship) Italian Grand Prix was held in 1921 on a semi-permanent circuit near Brescia. The race was won by Frenchman Jules Goux driving a Ballot. He completed just over 519 kilometres at an average speed of almost 145 kph.

The newly constructed Monza circuit held its first Italian Grand Prix in 1922. Perhaps not surprisingly, the event was dominated by home-grown machinery, with Fiat 804s taking pole position, race victory and the fastest laps. The driver to take the chequered flag was Pietro Bordino.

The layout of the Monza circuit has changed several times over the years. Its original layout was 10 kilometres long and in 1931 the Italian Grand Prix there was held over a staggering 155 laps - a total race distance of 1550 kilometres - with two drivers sharing each car. To put that in perspective, the 2003 winner is expected to cover just over 300 kilometres, barely a fifth of the 1931 distance.

Since the inception of the world championship in 1950, three wins seems to be something of a glass ceiling at Monza. Six men have done the hat trick there - Juan Manuel Fangio, Stirling Moss, Ronnie Peterson, Alain Prost, Nelson Piquet and Michael Schumacher. Piquet won the Italian Grand Prix four times thanks to his victory at Imola in 1980, but Schumacher will become the first driver to win the event four times at Monza if he takes the chequered flag on Sunday.

Ferrari hold the record for most wins at Monza, with 14 Grand Prix victories since 1951. Key rivals McLaren and Williams (who joined the championship in 1966 and 1975 respectively) have each won there on six occasions.