Monza F1 Italia cartoon

Italian Grand Prix history

The first-ever Formula One included a jazz musician, a Swiss baron, and a Thai prince, among a host of international drivers. Over time, the sport has grown to become a global event that spans 34 countries, but there is one track that is synonymous with the sport. Monza, home of the Italian Grand Prix, is one of the few tracks that boasts a rich pedigree that can rival any other track.

Monza Grand Prix location

The Monza Circuit is situated north of Milan, Italy (near Monza). In Italian, it is known as the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza and has been the home of the Italian Grand Prix since 1949, except for 1980. The track stands on the grounds of the Royal Villa of Monza, a Hapsburg palace built during the Austro-Hungarian empire.

Monza Grand Prix features

Part of Monza’s appeal is its classic layout, which has had minimal changes since its’ construction in 1922. It took only 110 days to complete the road course and banked oval section. While the banked oval is no longer a part of the track, three chicanes came into existence to slow the cars slightly, and the current layout has been in use since 1957.

Monza is considered one of the most exciting F1 tracks due to its layout, featuring long straights and wide corners that allow drivers to push their vehicles to full speed for approximately 75% of the course. It is also one of the fastest F1 tracks, with cars regularly reaching over 350 km per hour. In 2004, Juan Pablo Montoya set the fastest recorded lap, with an average speed of 262.242 km per hour.

Monza F1 Gran Premio DItalia cartoon

Monza’s reputation is also closely associated with death, as several drivers lost their lives on the circuit before 1978 when the last driver died. One of the saddest moments in Monza’s history was the Black Day of 1933 when three drivers, Giuseppe Campari, Baconin Borzacchini, and Stanislaw Czaykowski, died during the Italian Grand Prix. The tragic event led to one of the few changes to the track. But it was deemed to slow down cars too much. Thus, two years later, in 1935, the original layout came back.

Interesting facts about the Italian Grand Prix

The finish of the 1971 Grand Prix at Monza is still considered one of the closest Grand Prix finishes ever, with only 0.01 seconds separating the winner, Peter Gethin, and his rival, Ronnie Peterson. A mere 0.61 seconds was the difference between the first five cars, making it an incredible race.

In 1988, Ferrari ended McLaren’s unbeatable winning streak on the Monza track, which was the first Grand Prix since the death of founder Enzo Ferrari. Driver Alain Prost was absent from the race due to engine issues, while legendary driver Ayrton Senna was leading up to lap 50 until a collision with Jean Louis Schlesser, allowing Ferrari to claim a first and second-place win.

Monza is not known for its wet races, with the weather usually sunny and warm. But when it does rain, it makes for some of the most exciting races of the season. In 2008, future world champion Sebastian Vettel sealed an unexpected wet track victory, while high-profile drivers like Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen had early exits in qualifying.

Lewis Hamilton, one of the most famous drivers in F1 history, holds the record for the most wins on the Monza track, with five victories. He gained his fifth title on the course in 2018, rivaling the previous record set by Michael Schumacher.

Would you like to visit Monza someday? Do you imagine being present in one of the fastest F1 tracks? Knowing some Italian before going will also accelerate your experience. Check out this podcast-style Italian course. Click here to test drive it for seven days for free!

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10 Comments

  1. Hi, thank you for this post. Formula One is exciting! I want to visit Monza because I enjoy learning about Italy. It would be interesting to be present at one of the F1 tracks. The only negative aspect I fear is the possibility of witnessing a fatal accident during the race.

    1. Formula One races appeal to the adrenaline and excitement derived from surviving dangers. Sorta like bungee jumping or skydiving.
      I know it’s not for everyone. Some of us much prefer to choose safer sports!

      Thankfully, with modern improvements, fatalities are reduced and hopefully eliminated.

  2. I enjoyed reading this article as it was very informative and engaging. Monza is a legendary circuit for Formula 1 fans, as it has a rich history and a unique layout. It demands a good balance between straight-line speed and cornering grip from the cars and drivers.

    Sadly for Italians, Ferrari, the local team, has struggled to match the pace of their rivals, especially Mercedes and Red Bull, in recent years. But they came close to winning in 2022 when Charles Leclerc finished second.

    Unfortunately, the Italian Grand Prix 2023 got canceled due to bad weather conditions. So, we’ll have to wait until next year to see a new race in Monza.

    1. The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, also in Italy, had to be called off due to flooding. However, the Monza Grand Prix doesn’t take place until September.

      We’ll be rooting for Ferrari to get re-energized soon. Hopefully, they’ll get way ahead of those rivals!

      Thank you for your comment.

  3. The Monza Circuit is one of the iconic tracks in F1. I find it fascinating how the classic layout of the track has remained mostly unchanged since its construction in 1922. That is more than one hundred years!

    But Monza has two sides. It’s impossible to think of Monza and not link it to tragedy. Knowing about the drivers who have lost their lives on the circuit makes us frightened each time we see a car crash in Monza.

    1. The most recent crash was the one in which Charles Leclerc went straight into the barriers at high speed at the exit of Parabolica. It ended his Italian Grand Prix on Lap 23 at Monza, but thankfully he lived on! It was a real scare to see his car crash!

  4. This article of the history of the Italian Grand Prix was really interesting.  I love Italy and have been to a few places but never to Monza of Milan. 

    I have watched the Grand Prix on TV – always cheering on Lewis Hamilton as he’s from the UK, like me!  However, I didn’t know the history of Monza and that it was constructed over 100 years ago!  Thank you for giving an insight into its rich history. 

    1. You should try to plan a visit to Monza of Milan and watch the Grand Prix in person! It is an exciting location to add to your list of places visited in Italy.
      And, of course, remember to brush up on your Italian racing-related lingo before you go!

  5. The Italian Grand Prix in Monza is one of the best Formula 1 tracks. Its unique layout features long straight and wide corners that allow Formula 1 drivers to push their vehicles to full speed for about 75% of the course. They can reach 350 km per hour or sometimes more. So, due to the speedy track, planning a visit to Monza to witness the Grand Prix in person should be an exciting trip for anyone from any part of the world!

    1. Your ears will hear the engines at full speed! It may be too much for some and a unique experience for others!

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