It’s only a few days to go before we see Formula One cars race on one of the most historic tracks. The Italian Grand Prix at Monza remains a spectacular event in the Formula One calendar. Rivalries, wheel to wheel racing, overtaking incidents, roaring crowd, you name it and it has all the ingredients of an action packed race.
Here’s a look at the top five things you need to know about Italian GP.
The Magical Track
The Italians call Monza ‘La Pista Magica’ or the magical track simply because of the F1 magic associated with it in the past and that it continues to be one of the most sought after races and tracks with fans and drivers alike. The track was built in 1922 and was only the third permanent race track to be built at that time after England’s Brooklands circuit and the Indianapolis Circuit in the US. Monza has hosted the highest number of races in Formula One with 62, playing host to the Italian GP. The race was held once at Imola in 1980.
The Italian GP was part of the 1950 inaugural Formula One championships, and has been held every year since then. This unique distinction of the Italian GP has been shared only by the British Grand Prix, another championship race during that time. It continues to be one of the four races still being held from the inaugural year. The other three being British GP, Belgian GP at Spa and the Monaco GP.
Wins and Pole Positions
Michael Schumacher holds the record of winning the Italian Grand Prix for a whopping 5 times (1996,1998, 2000, 2003, 2006) for Ferrari. Schumacher overtook the record set by Nelson Piquet who had won it four times, before announcing his first retirement from Formula One after winning the 2006 Italian GP. From the current drivers, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso have won it 2 times each. At the 2008 Italian GP, Vettel became the youngest Formula One race winner at 21 years and 74 days old.
In the Constructors, Ferrari, having a very close association with the event and the track (home GP for them), have won the race 19 times. McLaren-Mercedes are behind them with 10 race wins. Ayrton Senna and Juan Manuel Fangio hold the record for most pole-positions, with 5, at Monza.
The Italian Grand Prix has been witness to some of the sport’s worst accidents. In 1955, Alberto Ascari, the two-time world champion, died in an accident at Monza during a private practice session; incidentally, he had miraculously survived a crash during the Monaco Grand Prix just 4 days prior to the fatal accident.
In 1961, the German Wolfgang von Trips had an accident during the Italian GP. The crash left him and over a dozen spectators dead after von Tips’ Ferrari collided with the Lotus of Jim Clark during the opening lap.
The one word that describes the Ferrari fans at Monza – the Tifosi. Monza, Italy the home to Ferrari sees the stands packed to the core during the Italian GP with the red Ferrari flags flying high. Such is their love for the prancing horse team that the fans would support any driver in the Ferrari rather than supporting an Italian driver driving for another team.