The Autodromo Nazionale Monza is one of the oldest and fastest motor racing circuits in the world and has hosted the Italian Grand Prix since the beginning of the sport. Known for long straights and fast corners the track has continuously evolved since it open in 1922.
Maximum speed achieved in a 2009 Formula One car is 340 kilometres per hour (210 mph), achieved at the end of the start/finish straight. They achieve a maximum g-force of 3.80 through turn 7, the second Lesmo. Rubens Barrichello recorded the fastest ever pole position lap at Monza in 2004 when he lapped in 1m20.089s, 161.802 mph. But in the pre-qualifying session for the same race (which did not count for a grid position but only Q-running order), Juan Pablo Montoya lapped the track in 1m19.525s (162.949 mph) which remains the fastest lap ever recorded in an F1 car.
Formula One cars are set up with minimal wing angle, to ensure the lowest level of drag on the straights. There are only 3 proper corners at Monza, the two Lesmos and the Parabolica, so cars are set up with maximum performance on the straights.
Cars approach the first corner at 340 kilometres per hour (210 mph) in seventh gear, and brake at about 120 metres (390 ft) before the first chicane – the Variante del Rettifilo, entering at 86 kilometres per hour (53 mph) in first gear, and exiting at 74 kilometres per hour (46 mph) in second gear. This is the scene of many first lap accidents. Higher kerbs at the first two chicanes were installed in 2009 to prevent cutting.
It is important to accelerate out of the first chicane as straight as possible and with minimal wheelspin, as a lot of time will be lost through the Curva Grande down to the Variante della Roggia chicane in 7th gear, at 330 kilometres per hour (210 mph). The braking point is just under the bridge. The kerbs are very vicious, and it is very easy for a car to spin as Kimi Räikkönen did in 2005. This chicane is probably the best overtaking chance on the lap, as it is the only one with the "slow corner, long straight, slow corner", one of the characteristics of the modern circuits.
The Curve di Lesmo are two corners that are not as fast as they used to be, but are still challenging corners. The first is blind, entered at 264 kilometres per hour (164 mph) 5th gear, and dropping to 4th gear at 193 kilometres per hour (120 mph), and has a slight banking. The second is 5th gear entry at 260 kilometres per hour (160 mph), apexing in 3rd gear at 178 kilometres per hour (111 mph), and very important and all the kerb is used. A mistake at one of these corners will either result in a spin into the gravel, or an overtaking move into Variante Ascari.
The downhill straight down to Variante Ascari is very bumpy under the bridge. Variante Ascari is a very tricky sequence of corners, and is key to the lap time.
The final challenge is the Curva Parabolica, approaching at 335 kilometres per hour (208 mph) in 7th gear, cars quickly dance around the corner, apexing in fourth gear at 215 kilometres per hour (134 mph), and exiting in 5th gear at 285 kilometres per hour (177 mph) accelerating onto the main start/finish straight. A good exit and slipstream off a fellow driver along the main straight could produce an overtaking opportunity under heavy braking into Variante del Rettifilio; however, it is difficult to follow a leading car closely through the Parabolica as the tow will reduce downforce and cornering speed.
Onboard with Lewis Hamilton during his pole position lap at the 2012 Monza GP
Monza Record Lap driven by Rubens Barrichello