Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull, Monza, 2015

2016 Italian Grand Prix track preview

2016 Italian Grand Prix

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Formula One plans to introduce an extreme new generation of cars in 2017. But will they still get to race on the championship’s most extreme track?

Does it even still deserve that description? Since last year’s race F1 has returned to Mexico City and debuted at Baku and saw higher speeds than the cars managed at Monza last year. At the latter Valtteri Bottas set a new record high of 378kph (234.9mph).

But while much of the rest of those circuits compromise slow corners, at Monza the speed is unrelenting: F1’s close approximation of an American super-speedway oval, with just a few chicanes to blunt the huge speeds.

New Monza Curva Grande layout for 2017
Monza is planning changes for 2017
If F1 does return next year it could be to a track which is even faster still. The circuit owners are planning changes which would eradicate the painfully slow first chicane and replace it with a quicker configuration more befitting of the circuit’s heritage.

That history is, of course, the greatest reason why F1 would be crazy to leave Monza. Now in its 95th year, the venue has crowned champions, created heroes – and claimed them, too. It is a venue where the spectacle of seeing Formula One cars trimmed out for ultimate speed counts for much more than how many push-button DRS passes are completed during the race.

It adds up to a venue which is “impossible not to love”, according to last year’s winner Lewis Hamilton. “The speed, the history, the atmosphere… it’s just so iconic in every way.”

“Standing on that amazing podium, looking out over a sea of fans on the straight, has to be up there as of the most incredible experiences a sportsman can have.” Hopefully future generations of F1 drivers will continue to.

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A lap of Monza

Jenson Button, McLaren, Monza, 2015
The slow Rettifilio is for the chop
The first chicane remains for this year at least, and the corner is one of the biggest braking zones on the calendar. It’s also narrow, and drivers cutting the corner on the first lap of the race is a common sight along with the inevitable bumping and breaking of wings.

The Curva Grande, formerly the first corner on the track, is now an acceleration zone as the cars head towards the second, faster chicane. Precision is essential at this corner according to Esteban Gutierrez. “It’s important to get the right line,” he says, “because on exit if you miss a little bit of the first apex you are done for the rest of the corner”.

The two chicanes offer opportunities for overtaking but the jockeying for position tends not to last beyond Lesmo 1, where the cars tend to line up. This and the second right-hander which follows is quick and slightly banked. The latter leads onto another long straight which passes under the old banked track after the flat-out Serraglio kink.

Ascari was once a fast left-hand curve but is now a still-quick sequence which flicks left, right and left again. Gutierrez calls it “one of my favourite corners – triple chicane, braking very late, turning in very delicately because by braking late you basically unsettle the car completely”.

“You need to cope with it, using all the kerb available into the first part and getting the right line through to turn nine in order to be flat at turn ten”.

Romain Grosjean, Lotus, Monza, 2015
Parabolica’s lost gravel trap is set to return
After another long straight the drivers arrive at the fast, 180-degree Parabolica corner. But while the bends traces the same arc it has for decades, it became the subject of controversy a few years ago when the gravel run-off was replaced by asphalt.

Many drivers complained about the lessening of the challenge and Daniil Kvyat does not mince his words. “They ruined the Parabolica corner as now there is no gravel trap,” he says. “It was much cooler with gravel instead of Tarmac.”

Restoring the gravel is among the changes Monza has planned for 2017 but it remains to be seen whether F1 will be back.

2016 Italian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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9 comments on “2016 Italian Grand Prix track preview”

  1. Hopefully Monza gets another contract, not only does it have the history but even when the racing isn’t the best you can see the speed of this track.

    One of the few downsides of next year is that we won’t get to see how fast these cars could go on the changed track. Even with DRS open they’ll probably be slower although they should be more impressive in the corners.

    1. Fingers crossed for a positive announcement this weekend for Monza next year.

  2. @keithcollantine, I really enjoy these track guides and the Google images. It’s great to learn about each circuit.
    But looking at the image of Monza, there’s something that I’ve never noticed before. Just after the Rettifilio, there is a mark of a track that turned right into the infield and into a relatively sharp looking right-hander. I think the early part of this route is going to be used for the realigned Curva Grande, but obviously turning left to rejoin the main track, rather than using the tight tight-hander. This tight right then goes under the banking and seems to reconnect with the existing track at Ascari.
    Do you know anything about this version of the track – when it was used, what categories of racing etc. Monza is pretty extreme anyway, but a track that seems to be two 1.3 km straights linked by the Parabolica and an almost hairpin seems ultra-extreme!

    1. Aha! Got it. I did a little digging via Google and it seems that this was the “Pirelli Test Course (unused)
      2.914 miles / 4.690 km” of 1938 which had two ninety-ish degree corners at the South end before the Parabolica was built in 1955, I think.

  3. I’m not against the proposed circuit layout change, but I’d be happy if they’d postpone this change by a year so that we could make a relevant/comparable comparison between the lap times of the 2017 cars, and the pre-2017 cars as the technical regulations are set to change.

  4. I’ll admit my initial reaction to the proposed changes was that of knee jerk. I’m more content with this new one for the future. Although I will miss the old Curva Grande.

  5. I really don’t get these circuit changes going all the way back to Catalunya. If the track promoters or FIA want more passing, let’s change the cars(beyond the upcoming 2017 specs). Keep the Curva Grande as it is and let’s see these drivers endure 5-g’s lateral load while going 210mph..

  6. LovelyLovelyLuffield
    1st September 2016, 7:14

    OK, question: will the tarmac mix used at Daytona hold up in Monza’s oval? Not necessarily for F1 (that’s insaniacal), but it would be epic to see other classes of racing and vintage cars get on the thing.

  7. Baku’s maximum official recorded top speed was 366.1, and that’s not even the highest current turbos have achieved. Both vettel and massa went quicker in mexico 2015.

    Why is 378 being quoted as the highest? No one knows how fast montoya actually went after he passed the 372 kmh speed trap in monza. Or massa nad vettel for that matter.

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