5 Reasons We Love... The Italian Grand Prix
The European season draws to a close this weekend with the relatively short trip down from Spa-Francorchamps for the Italian Grand Prix. Here's why we love going racing at Monza…
1. The tifosi
We mention passionate fans regularly in this section, but the tifosi could have a full feature all to themselves. There are very few venues where the support for one team is as great as it is in Monza, where red is the predominant colour.
Ferrari fans dominate at the Italian Grand Prix, creating a special atmosphere throughout the race weekend. Drivers from all teams find it difficult to even enter the circuit as they are surrounded by fans on the way into the paddock, but any team member wearing Ferrari red are treated like rock stars when in the vicinity of the track.
Flags and banners adorn grandstands all around the circuit, and there are not many post-race sights more incredible than the podium at Monza. Regardless of the race winner, a giant Ferrari flag is unfurled in the middle of the grid as fans can stand directly below the top three.
2. Ferrari are putting on a show
And Ferrari are marking a special year with a one-off event ahead of the race weekend. The 90-year anniversary of Enzo Ferrari founding Scuderia Ferrari coincides with the Automobile Club d’Italia (ACI) marking the 90th edition of the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, and the result is an event called ‘90 Years of Emotion’.
Taking place in Milan’s Piazza Duomo on Wednesday evening, cars from all eras will be on display in celebration of Ferrari’s achievements and the race’s history, some of which will take part in a spectacular parade.
Drivers from Ferrari’s past, including Mario Andretti, Kimi Raikkonen, Rubens Barrichello, Jean Alesi, Gerhard Berger, Felipe Massa and Eddie Irvine, will take to the stage in Milan alongside the current line-up of Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc, with Team Principal Mattia Binotto also attending as part of the celebrations.
3. The circuit is a unique challenge
When attention turns to on-track matters, the teams are faced with a special test when they race at Monza. The high-speed circuit features a number of long straights and chicanes, with the amount of time spent at full throttle resulting in a low-downforce set-up.
Monza-specific rear wings are often developed to help increase top speed in Italy – with the thin designs intending to reduce drag as much as possible – but there is still a major emphasis on power unit performance. Those with more power are able to run slightly more downforce and also gain time in the few significant corners such as the Lesmos and Parabolica.
Braking stability is also crucial as cars need to slow from over 220mph for the first chicane – allowing further time to be gained under braking – and the exit of the chicanes require strong traction, with an emphasis on drivers looking after their rear tyres during a race distance.
4. Plenty of overtaking opportunities
The nature of the circuit lends itself to overtaking, with slipstreaming particularly influential at Monza. It is not uncommon to see teams sending their cars out in pairs during qualifying in order to give each other a tow and gain further time on the straights, and it has a big effect in the race, too.
If a car can stay close through Parabolica, the long run to the first corner allows a slipstream before the heavy braking zone at Turn 1, getting side-by-side to see who can hit the brakes latest before the Vari-ante del Rettifilo.
But the racing rarely stops there with a fight into the first chicane often continuing through Curva Grande as more slipstreaming keeps the cars close, then heading to another significant braking zone at the Variante della Roggia.
5. It's in a beautiful location
The Autodromo Internazionale di Monza itself is located in the Parco di Monza, to the north of Milan. The circuit is hidden away in the middle, where the track cuts through the trees amid beautiful surroundings.
But how can we write about the Italian Grand Prix without mentioning what’s on the menu? Pizza, pasta, wine, beer, coffee, desserts, ice cream… Italy is renowned for its food and drink.
With Monza situated just 10 miles away from the centre of Milan, Italy’s second-largest city is within a short drive or train ride, opening up numerous restaurants, cafes and bars as well as beautiful architec-ture.
And if city life is not your thing, then a short drive in the opposite direction will take you to some of the most stunning lakes in the world. Lake Como is less than 25 miles away, with Lake Lugano a little further on and both easily within distance of Monza. If you’re making a week of it, Lake Garda is about an hour’s drive to the east, and the breathtaking city of Venice is only about an hour further on from there.