FORMULA 1 ITALIAN GRAND PRIX

Posted By F1 Fast Lap












Monza

Race Date:
07 Sep 2014
Circuit Name:
Autodromo di Monza
First Grand Prix:
1950
Number of Laps:
53
Circuit Length:
5.793 km
Race Distance:
306.720 km
Lap Record:
1:21.046 - R Barrichello (2004)

Monza is regarded by many as the embodiment of Formula One racing. Not only is it a fantastic example of a track that combines speed with skill, it also has a heart and soul all of its own. It has seen some of the finest races of all time, but also some of the sport's worst accidents. The names of great drivers and the sounds of engines from years gone by linger in the grand old trees surrounding the track in the royal park.

Work began on the circuit in 1922 and was completed in under six months. After Brooklands in the UK and Indianapolis in the USA, it was the third permanent race track in existence. With a banked oval incorporated into the design of the road racing circuit, the total track length stood at a whopping 10 kilometres.

The list of famous victories and horrifying crashes is long, and all combine to make Monza one of the most magical places on the Formula One calendar. For many there is nowhere that encapsulates the sport better than this circuit. The Italians call it 'La Pista Magica', the magic track, a description few would disagree with.


Monza consists of very long straights and tight chicanes, putting a premium on good braking stability and traction. The circuit, of 5.793 kilometres (3.600 mi), is very hard on gearboxes, with many gear changes per lap. Formula 1 engines are at full throttle for nearly 80% of the lap, with engine failures common, notably Fernando Alonso in the 2006 Italian Grand Prix.

Formula One cars are set up with minimal wing angle, to ensure the lowest level of drag on the straights. There are only 3 proper corners at Monza, the two Lesmos and the Parabolica, so cars are set up with maximum performance on the straights.

Cars approach the first corner at 340 kilometres per hour (210 mph) in seventh gear,  and brake at about 120 metres (390 ft) before the first chicane – the Variante del Rettifilo, entering at 86 kilometres per hour (53 mph) in first gear, and exiting at 74 kilometres per hour (46 mph) in second gear. This is the scene of many first lap accidents. Higher kerbs at the first two chicanes were installed in 2009 to prevent cutting.

It is important to accelerate out of the first chicane as straight as possible and with minimal wheelspin, as a lot of time will be lost through the Curva Grande down to the Variante della Roggia chicane in 7th gear, at 330 kilometres per hour (210 mph). The braking point is just under the bridge. The kerbs are very vicious, and it is very easy for a car to spin as Kimi Räikkönen did in 2005. This chicane is probably the best overtaking chance on the lap, as it is the only one with the "slow corner, long straight, slow corner", one of the characteristics of the modern circuits.

Aerial photo of the Autodoromo of Monza, with the village of Villasanta in the upper part. City of Monza is southwards, off the right side of the photo.
The Curve di Lesmo are two corners that are not as fast as they used to be, but are still challenging corners. The first is blind, entered at 264 kilometres per hour (164 mph) 5th gear, and dropping to 4th gear at 193 kilometres per hour (120 mph), and has a slight banking. The second is 5th gear entry at 260 kilometres per hour (160 mph), apexing in 3rd gear at 178 kilometres per hour (111 mph), and very important and all the kerb is used. A mistake at one of these corners will either result in a spin into the gravel, or an overtaking move into the Variante Ascari chicane.

The downhill straight down to the Variante Ascari chicane is very bumpy under the bridge. The Variante Ascari chicane is a very tricky sequence of corners, and is key to the lap time.
The final challenge is the Curva Parabolica, approaching at 335 kilometres per hour (208 mph) in 7th gear, cars quickly dance around the corner, apexing in fourth gear at 215 kilometres per hour (134 mph), and exiting in 5th gear at 285 kilometres per hour (177 mph) accelerating onto the main start/finish straight. A good exit and slipstream off a fellow driver along the main straight could produce an overtaking opportunity under heavy braking into the Variante del Rettifilio chicane, however it is difficult to follow a leading car closely through the Parabolica as the tow will reduce downforce and cornering speed.

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