The oldest circuit on the current Formula 1 calendar, Monza’s history dates back to 1922, when it hosted the Italian Grand Prix for the first time.
The original circuit layout stretched to over 10km and included a 5.5km road section broadly similar to today’s layout plus a 4.5km loop, which was redeveloped into a high-speed banked oval in the 1950s. Monza is one of four current Formula 1 circuits which formed part of the inaugural Formula 1 World Championship in 1950 and since then, has only been absent once (in 1980, when the Italian Grand Prix was held at Imola). The 10km layout of the circuit including the banked oval was used for four races in the late 1950s before the organisers reverted to the shorter layout over safety concerns following several fatal accidents. Further circuit alterations have taken place over the years to reduce speeds at Monza , including the addition of the Variante del Rettifilo and Variante Ascari chicanes.
Set in the grounds of the largest city park in Europe, Monza has a special home in the hearts of F1 fans, not least the fanatical local ‘tifosi’, most of whom support Ferrari. The circuit has grandstand capacity for just over 50 000 fans and can accommodate well over 100 000 fans including general admission areas. A new 3-year deal to keep the Italian GP at Monza until 2019 was signed in 2016, and the deal was renewed in 2019, keeping the race at the track until the end of 2024.
- Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton share the record for the most wins at Monza with five apiece.
- Ferrari are the most successful team at Monza, having won the race 20 times, the most recent of which was with Charles Leclerc in 2019.
- Sebastian Vettel’s surprise win at Monza in 2008 for Toro Rosso made him the youngest ever winner of a Grand Prix (at the time), aged 21 years, 2 months and 11 days old.
- At the Italian Grand Prix in 2018, Kimi Raikkonen set the fastest ever lap in a Formula 1 car, with an average speed on his pole lap of 163.785mph.
- The circuit is unique on the current Formula 1 calendar for its mix of long straights and slow chicanes. The low downforce circuit puts strain on engines, which are on full power for 80% of the lap, and gearboxes, which are used heavily in the chicanes.
- In the past 17 races here, the 2009 Italian Grand Prix is the only time that the polesitter has failed to finish in the top two. In 2009, Lewis Hamilton crashed out of the race on the final lap having started from pole.
- Thanks to the fact that it used to be held at the end of the season, 12 World Championships have been settled at the Italian Grand Prix since 1950, most recently in 1979.
- Giuseppe Farina won the first ever Drivers’ Championship at the track in 1950. He remains the only driver to have won the title on home soil.
- The Italian Grand Prix is usually the shortest all season. The 2003 race at Monza holds the record for the shortest F1 race to reach full distance, with Michael Schumacher winning in a time of just over 74 minutes.
- In six of the past seven seasons, the winner of the Italian Grand Prix has gone on to win that year’s title. Charles Leclerc broke that streak in 2019.
- In 2019, Antonio Giovinazzi became the first Italian driver to compete in his home race since Jarno Trulli and Vitantonio Liuzzi competed in the 2011 Italian Grand Prix. Giovinazzi also became the first Italian to score at Monza since Trulli and Giancarlo Fisichella finished in the points in 2006.
Monza’s Memorable Moments
- 1971: The closest ever finish: The closest finish to a Formula 1 race came at Monza in 1971, with Peter Gethin crossing the line just 0.01s ahead of Ronnie Peterson. The race was the fastest ever F1 Grand Prix until the 2003 Italian Grand Prix, and all of the top five finishers were covered by just over six tenths of a second! In the last running of the race at Monza to not feature the two chicanes, slipstreaming was highly effective, with no less than 25 changes of the lead between eight drivers. It was Gethin’s only Formula 1 win.
- 1988: Ferrari end McLaren’s win streak: The 1988 Italian Grand Prix was the only race of the 1988 season which McLaren failed to win. Alain Prost was out with engine issues, while Ayrton Senna led until Lap 50 of 52. Senna was attempting to lap Jean-Louis Schlesser, who was on his only race appearance with Williams, when the pair collided. That allowed Gerhard Berger to lead home a Ferrari 1-2; a particularly poignant home result, given that this was the first Italian Grand Prix since the death of the team’s founder Enzo Ferrari.
- 2008: Vettel wins in the wet: A wet weekend in 2008 saw future World Champion Sebastian Vettel take an unexpected victory for Toro Rosso. As other drivers – such as Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen – found themselves suffering early exits in qualifying, it was Vettel who took the first pole position of his career, with team-mate Sebastien Bourdais also starting from the second row of the grid. Though Bourdais stalled on the grid ahead of the Safety Car start, Vettel led comfortably when the race finally got underway. It was a perfect afternoon for the young German, aside from one wide moment – who became Formula 1’s youngest ever winner. It’s a record which was later beaten by Max Verstappen at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix, while Toro Rosso would not finish on the podium again until 2019.