Hear from McLaren Honda drivers Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne as they prepare for Round 13 at Autodromo Nazionale Monza.
“Like Spa, Monza is one of those legendary tracks where everybody loves watching cars going racing. With the new wider, faster cars this year, it will definitely be another circuit where we’ll see a new fastest lap and some incredibly high speeds on the straights.
“It’s the fastest circuit on the calendar in terms of outright speed, and for a driver it’s an incredible feeling racing down those iconic straights punctuated by the tight chicanes and big, fast corners that require a huge amount of commitment. We’ve always said this circuit wouldn’t suit our package, and we expect a tough challenge. Although it’s power-hungry like Spa, it’s also different in many ways. Spa is a long race; the Monza circuit is short and sharp and the race always feels like it’s over very quickly.
“The thing I love most about Monza is the fans. Even when you’re not dressed in tifosi red, the fans come out in force and they’re all super passionate about racing and motorsport. The Italian Grand Prix is a favourite for many people and it really deserves its legendary reputation as a magic circuit for race fans.”
“Monza is a really cool place. I’ve driven there in Formula Renault 3.5 and also in GP2, and I won there in both series, so I know the circuit well and have always really enjoyed racing there. The fans are great, they show a lot of passion, and you feel like you’re swept up by their enthusiasm the whole weekend.
“Spa was definitely a tough race for us, and we’ve always identified Belgium and Italy as two difficult weekends for us. It was hard to manage our pace with the rest of the pack on the straights, and we’re preparing ourselves for the same thing at Monza, but of course we’ll push hard every day throughout the weekend to try and give ourselves the best chance of a good result.
“As usual, the important thing is qualifying, but it’s in the race where we need to work on our pace and make sure we can maintain our position throughout Sunday afternoon. We worked really well as a team in Spa to try to we maximise our progression through qualifying and hopefully influence our prospects for the race, and I hope we’ll be able to do more of that this coming weekend.”
Circuit name: Autodromo Nationale Monza
First race: 1950
Built in 1922, the Autodromo Nazionale Monza epitomises the history and drama of the Formula 1 World Championship. Only once, in 1980, has the circuit not been included on the F1 calendar and the 5.793km/3.600-mile lap remains the fastest of them all, with an average speed approaching 259km/h/160mph. The old banking – last used in 1961 – is still clearly visible, as are many of the old grandstands. Aptly, the track is called ‘La Pista Magica’ by the fanatical Italian racing fans.
What makes the race special?
The juxtaposition of the circuit’s 90-year-old banking and high-tech 21st century F1 cars gives the race a unique atmosphere. The top speeds are going to be spectacular this year as well, with the cars exceeding 330km/h/205mph on four occasions around the lap.
Bet you never knew...
Monza is the third oldest permanent circuit in the world, after Brooklands in the UK and Indianapolis in the USA. Like Brooklands and Indianapolis, Monza was built as an oval, but only the road course has been used for the Italian Grand Prix since 1962, after Wolfgang von Trips and 15 spectators were killed following a high-speed crash the previous year.
The final lap of the 1971 Italian Grand Prix, when the top five cars were separated by just 0.61s at the chequered flag. It was the last of the circuit’s classic slip-streaming races and Peter Gethin’s margin of victory over Ronnie Peterson was just 0.01s. It would be Gethin’s only F1 victory.
What we love
The podium. It’s located above the start-finish straight, which allows the Italian fans, the Tifosi, to stand beneath it while the top three drivers receive their trophies. According to Fernando Alonso, it’s one of the best podiums of the year.
McLaren has won the Italian Grand Prix on 10 occasions, most recently in 2012. Of those victories, the team’s first at Monza in 1968 was memorable. Team owner Bruce McLaren led the race until half distance, when he was forced to pit for more oil, and that left his team-mate Denny Hulme to take the win – the team’s second of the season.
Italy is steeped in motor racing history. Monza is the oldest track on the F1 calendar and Ferrari is the sport’s oldest team, yet there has been no Italian world champion since Alberto Ascari in 1953. The two-time world champion was killed at Monza in 1955.
Did you know?
Until 2006 there were often two grands prix in Italy. There was the Italian Grand Prix at Monza and the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola.
Statistically, pole position at Monza is more important than at Monaco. The winner at Monza has started from pole in 13 of the last 18 races.