September 1st, 2014 (F1Plus / Rosie Baillie) - Formula One heads to the Autodromo Nazionale Monza for round 13, a track famed for the Tifosi and its incredible atmosphere.
The 5.793km circuit has is set near the town of Monza, north of Milan in Italy. First built in 1922 the track has changed since then but it does still bear resemblance to the original layout.
An oval circuit was added in 1950s and held it's last race in 1969 after the high speeds were deemed unsafe. The old banking is still accessible, so if you’re off to the Italian Grand Prix this year it’s well worth a trip and it’s always fun to try and run up the steep banking. (I failed last year and will be trying again this year)
A lap around Monza gets started on the main straight and then it’s time to brake heavily and shift down for the first corner, a tight chicane called Variante del Rettifilo.
From there it’s into Curva Grande, a long right hander which is usually flat out. Curva Grande leads into another straight and then on to another chicane, the Variante della Roggia, where drivers will ride over the kerbs.
It’s a short distance down to first Lesmo, which is nearly blind as drivers enter it. The second Lesmo is an almost 90 degree turn and then you’re on to the long back straight, Curva del Serraglio, which passes under the old banking.
Variante Ascari is the penultimate corner; a series of three tricky fast turns which lead into another long straight and into the final corner, a long right hander called Curva Parabolica. Once you've negotiated the final corner is down the main straight and across the line!
Due to the long straights Monza is a circuit where getting in the slipstream, or getting ‘a tow’, can benefit the driver behind as it reduces drag. Last year during qualifying Fernando Alonso tried to get a tow off teammate Felipe Massa but was unable to as Massa was too far ahead.
Long straights also mean that the cars are on full throttle for about 80% of the lap, which will play into the hands of Mercedes powered cars which are faster than their competitors in a straight line.
It would be foolish to rule Red Bull out just yet considering Daniel Ricciardo was stronger than expected in Spa-Francorchamps, another circuit which on paper shouldn’t suit the team.
Last year Sebastian Vettel won the Italian Grand Prix, from Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber, showing that while Monza shouldn't suit Red Bull it doesn't mean they can't pull a win and a podium finish out the bag.
The record for the fastest lap around Monza was a 1:21.046 set by Rubens Barrichello in 2004.