Italian Grand Prix (2024): F1 Travel Guide to the Monza Circuit

The Italian Grand Prix, or Gran Premio d’Italia, is the longest running grand prix in Formula 1 Championship racing, and its regular circuit, Autodromo Nazionale Monza, or Monza for short, is the most enduring track in grand prix history. The very first Italian Grand Prix, decades before the establishment of the Formula 1 series, was held in the city of Brescia in Northern Italy, in 1921, but the circuit at Monza was built the very next year.

Along with the British Grand Prix, the Italian Grand Prix is one of only two races to have been held as part of the Formula One World Championship every season since its inception. Its rich history is unmatched by any other circuit today. This year’s race will take place on 1st September 2024.

Italian Grand Prix at Monza
Max Verstappen Won the 2023 Italian Grand Prix

There is a lot of history connected with the Italian Grand Prix, such as the participation of Count Louis Zborowski in 1923. Zborowski is most famous for creating the Chitty Bang Bang cars, which were used engines of WWI aeroplanes and inspired the books and films, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, but showed up at the 1923 Italian Grand Prix driving Harry Miller’s American Miller 122. The next year, also at the Italian GP, Zborowski died during the race, colliding with a tree.

Zborowski wouldn’t be the only fatality of the Italian GP through the years, which would result in modifications in the circuit and the track’s reputation as one of the most challenging tracks on the F1 calendar.

History of the Italian Grand Prix

The first Italian Grand Prix was held at Montichiari in 1921, although this involved shorter races with voiturette cars rather than the Grand Prix machines. The first recognized Grand Prix d’Italia was held at Brescia the following year. After a couple years at Monza, the race shifted between venues including Monza, Montichiari, Lago di Garda, and nearby Autodromo di Milano before returning permanently to Monza in 1922.

In the early decades, the layout of Monza was changed frequently to accommodate the ever-faster pace of F1. Huge curving banked sections were constructed in the 1950s but became obsolete as speeds increased. Chicanes were added and the circuit evolved into the 5.7km layout we see today.

Monza has been the scene of many memorable F1 moments: Ascari and Fangio dueling in the 1950s; Clark and Hill battling in 1967; Peterson’s fatal crash in 1978; and Schumacher’s emotional wins for Ferrari. Its high speeds have also contributed to tragedy, such as the deaths of von Trips and Pryce. But Monza lives on as the spiritual home of the Italian Grand Prix.

Italian Grand Prix Circuit

The Monza motor racing circuit is known for its flat-out blasts down two long straights, separated by the famous Curva Grande and Parabolica corners. The 5.793km circuit is one of the fastest on the calendar, with an F1 car’s power unit, aerodynamics and brakes pushed to the limit.

The first straight ends with the tight Rettifilo chicane, which often sees crashes as the cars brake from over 330kph to just 80kph. Next comes the Curva Grande, a steeply banked 180 degree corner normally taken flat-out in 5th gear.

The Lesmo corners then challenge the drivers with fast left-right sweeps. The second Lesmo is approached blind at around 260kph, requiring total commitment. The final turn, the Parabolica, is the most technical corner on the track. Drivers brake hard before quickly turning in and clipping the apex of this long radius right hander. A fast exit is crucial to maximize speed down the start/finish straight, where F1 cars can top 360kph.

Ferrari Fans at the Italian Grand Prix
Tifosi Fand Cheering on Ferrari at the Italian Grand Prix

The high speed nature of Monza results in processional racing if aerodynamics prevent overtaking. But DRS and tricky corners like the first chicane, Variante della Roggia and the Parabolica still provide great action for fans. The passion of the tifosi fans cheering on Ferrari only adds to the spectacle.

Winners of the Italian Grand Prix

The Italian Grand Prix has been won by the greatest drivers in history, particularly those in red cars. Alberto Ascari dominated in the early 1950s, winning three consecutive Italian Grands Prix from 1951-1953. Juan Manuel Fangio won twice in the 1950s, as did Stirling Moss. Phil Hill took Ferrari’s last Italian GP win for decades in 1961.

In the 1970s, multiple winners included Peter Gethin, Ronnie Peterson, and James Hunt. The 1980s saw dominance from Renault and Brabham, with wins for René Arnoux, Nelson Piquet and Gerhard Berger. Nigel Mansell frequently challenged but only won once in 1992.

From 1996-2006, one name dominated Monza more than any other – Michael Schumacher. He won 5 times with Ferrari, including emotional 1996, 1998 and 2000 victories where he performed outstandingly in front of the tifosi fans.

In recent years, Lewis Hamilton has excelled at Monza with four wins in five years whilst Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc brought joy back to the tifosi with his 2019 triumph. Max Verstappen has dominated the last two Italian Grand Prixs.

2023Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing
2022Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing
2021Daniel RicciardoMcLaren F1 Team
2020Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri
2019Charles LeclercFerrari
2018Lewis HamiltonMercedes
2017Lewis HamiltonMercedes
2016Nico RosbergMercedes
2015Lewis HamiltonMercedes
2014Lewis HamiltonMercedes
2013Sebastian VettelRed Bull Racing

Fan Guide to the Italian Grand Prix

The Italian Grand Prix’s party atmosphere and passionate fans make it a bucket list event for any F1 fan. Use our guide to help experience this iconic race weekend to the fullest.

Getting to Monza

Milan is served by two airports – Malpensa and Linate. Malpensa handles more long haul traffic but Linate is more convenient, located just 8km from Milan city center.

Shuttle buses operate from both airports to Monza on race days. Direct trains also run from Milan Centrale station to Biassono-Lesmo station, just a 10 minute walk from the circuit.

Downtown Milan has excellent metro, tram and bus connections. Ideal areas for accommodation include Zone 1 districts like Porta Garibaldi and Centrale Stazione. Avoid distant suburbs.

Buying Italian Grand Prix Tickets

General admission tickets offer views from grassy banks and hills surrounding the circuit. But to guarantee a seat, opt for a grandstand ticket overlooking key sections like the start/finish straight, high speed Curva Grande, or the Variante Ascari chicane.

Ticket information appears on the Monza circuit website or you can purchase them online from trusted resellers. Early booking is recommended. Beware of unofficial touts selling fake or invalid tickets. The cheapest prices are for the general admission tickets with prices rising according to which grandstand seats you choose. Consider a weekend pass to enjoy other races like F2, F3 and Porsche Super Cup.

Monza Race Weekend Tips

To properly soak up the atmosphere, spend Thursday or Saturday exploring the open grass areas and parks where you can get close to the teams in the paddock area as they set up. There is always a fabulous atmosphere with live music and entertainment to enjoy.

While you can bring food and unopened drinks, arrive early to avoid long lines at the entrances. An alternative is to pay for a hospitality pass granting access to dedicated food and drinks areas.

Dress for all weather conditions and bring sunscreen, comfortable shoes and earplugs. After the race, walking 10 minutes away from the track helps avoid the worst of the crowds.

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