Having hosted all but one Italian Grand Prix since 1950, the Autodromo Nazionale Monza is up there with Spa and Suzuka as a classic racing circuit. As the fastest track on the calendar, Monza is all about skinny wings and putting the pedal to the metal as the majority of the lap is spent at full throttle.
Along the start/finish straight, drivers will begin to bounce on the limiter well before braking for the first chicane. A quick deceleration from 330km/h to just 70km/h means that mistakes at the Rettifilo chicane can be costly, but it provides the best opportunity for overtaking.
Coming out of the chicane, drivers once again get on the power through Curva Grande, coming close to the rev limiter before the Variante Roggia (the second chicane). By getting on the brakes slightly earlier here, drivers can take as straight a line as possible through the chicane and keep it out of the beckoning gravel.
After a short straight, the cars dance in the shadows through the two Lesmo corners. They require total confidence, taken in third and fourth gear, and once again, any mistakes will be punished by the lack of run-off area.
The exit of the second Lesmo leads onto another long straight that takes drivers under the old Monza banking. A fast, three-part chicane (Variante Ascari) follows, with a bit of run-off area allowing for a wide line on exit. Following this comes the back straight, leading to the final corner: Parabolica. A fearsome challenge, this is taken in fourth gear and requires a wide line on exit. Upon doing so though, drivers cross the line but a second later to complete the fastest lap in Formula One.
For all of the new circuits joining the F1 circus, there will never be anything quite like Monza.
CAR SETUP WITH WILLIAM TYSON
The ultimate speed circuit, Monza is all about trimming as much surface area from the cars as you can to reduce drag but maintain a substantial amount of downforce from the underfloor for the two medium speed Lesmo corners and the Variante Ascari chicane. Top speed over recent years has been above 210mph (340kph) but with the additional punch from the turbo and two MGUs, plus the additional eighth gear, we could well see over 215mph. Braking (feel/bite, rather than wear) is also critical, with heavy stops from these high speeds into two tight chicanes. A lack of downforce presents greater emphasis on mechanical grip, with higher camber angles often a way of curing front end grip.
Track: Autodromo Nazionale Monza
Lap Record: Rubens Barrichello 1:21.046 (2004)
Tyre Compounds: Medium (Option); Hard (Prime)
2013 Winner: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
2013 Pole Position: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 1:23.755
2013 Fastest Lap: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 1:50.756
DRS Zones: Main Straight (T11 to T1); T7 to T8
Images courtesy of Octane Photographic and Pirelli.