Autodromo Nazionale di Monza – aka The Temple of Speed – celebrates its 100th anniversary this weekend with Ferrari under pressure to perform in front of a packed home crowd and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen ready to spoil the party at the 2022 Italian Grand Prix.
Formula 1’s most famous and successful team have again flattered to deceive this season, revving up the fans with a quick car and early wins before strategic errors, driver mistakes and technical failures took a toll.
Verstappen, meanwhile, will be going for his fifth win in a row on Sunday to take his tally to 11 victories from 16 races.
The 72nd Grand Prix at the super-fast Autodromo Nazionale, the “Pista Magica”, ends the European season and a gruelling triple header with teams arriving from the Netherlands after Belgium the weekend before.
“Monza has historically been a tougher circuit for us,” said Red Bull boss Christian Horner, whose team last won at Monza with four-times world champion Sebastian Vettel in 2013 — before Verstappen came on the scene.
“But based on our performance at higher speed circuits this year I´m actually quite looking forward to going to Monza this year.”
High-speed Monza will play into Verstappen and Red Bull’s hands
Verstappen was dominant at Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps, another high-speed track that played to the Red Bull’s straight-line strengths, and he arrives with a 109-point lead over Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
Last year the Dutch driver collided with seven-times F1 world champion and title rival Lewis Hamilton, with the Red Bull ending up on top of the Mercedes and both retiring.
Leclerc won the race in 2019, the Italian team’s first home victory since Fernando Alonso in 2010, but the two most recent winners at the circuit outside Milan were surprising.
It was Australian Daniel Ricciardo last year, taking McLaren’s first victory since 2012 in a one-two with Lando Norris after a Saturday sprint to set the grid. Frenchman Pierre Gasly won for AlphaTauri in 2020.
“On paper, it’s not our best track, unfortunately,” said Leclerc, who finished third last weekend in Verstappen’s home Dutch Grand Prix.
“We always have a massive amount of support and for that, I’m really looking forward to it. But I think the performance on paper will be a bit more difficult.”
Sainz looking forward to the atmosphere at the Italian Grand Prix
“Full crowd, fighting with a competitive Ferrari, I think is the best possible scenario that you can have as a racing driver,” the Scuderia driver told reporters ahead of this weekend.
Some 125,000 fans are expected on Sunday with a total weekend attendance of 315,000 compared to the last unrestricted pre-COVID crowd of 200,000 over three days in 2019.
The Ferrari drivers will be wearing yellow race suits with the F1-75 car also sporting a yellow touch as the team celebrate their 75th anniversary.
Victory at Monza in any car is a career highlight but Ricciardo, out of both form and a job at McLaren at the end of the year, is unlikely to repeat it.
“Monza will always have a special place in my heart. Whilst another one-two isn´t really on the cards this time around, hopefully we can still bring you a little bit of Italian magic,” he said.
Another milestone will be reached with Alpine’s double world champion Alonso, 41, equalling Kimi Raikkonen’s record for most starts. The Spaniard, who has won twice at Monza, will be making his 349th.
He will also equal Brazilian former Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello, who started 19 Italian Grands Prix, for most appearances at Monza. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin)
Italian Grand Prix Facts & Stats
- Venue: Monza
- Round 16 of the 22 race championship 2022 F1 World Championship
- Lap distance: 5.739km. Total distance: 306.720km (53 laps)
- 2021 pole position: Max Verstappen (Netherlands) Red Bull also winner of Saturday sprint race.
- 2021 race winner: Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) McLaren
- Race lap record: One minute 21.046 seconds, Rubens Barrichello (Brazil), Ferrari 2004.
- Start time: 1300GMT (1500 local)
- The race will be the 72nd at Monza and 73rd Italian Grand Prix since the championship started in 1950.
- Seven times world champion Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari great Michael Schumacher share the record of five wins each at Monza.
- Other past Monza winners on the 2022 grid as well as Hamilton are Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, Charles Leclerc, Pierre Gasly and Ricciardo.
- Hamilton has started on pole seven times at Monza.
- The Italian and British Grands Prix are the only ones to have been on the calendar in every year since 1950. In 1980 the Italian round was held at Imola.
- Hamilton’s 2020 pole lap was at an average speed of 264.362 kph, the fastest in Formula One history.
- Ferrari have won 19 times at Monza since the championship started, more than anyone else.
- Red Bull have won 11 of 15 races this season and Ferrari the rest. Verstappen has won 10, equalling his tally from all of last season.
- Ferrari’s Leclerc and Carlos Sainz have three and one wins respectively, and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez one.
- Verstappen is chasing his fifth win in a row and 31st of his career.
- The Dutch driver is eighth in the all-time winning lists, one behind Britain’s 1992 champion Nigel Mansell.
- Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton has a record 103 wins and 188 podiums from 303 starts. The seven-times world champion last won a race in Saudi Arabia in December and is now on the longest streak of his career without a win.
- Ferrari have won 242 races since 1950. McLaren have 183 wins, Mercedes 124, Williams 115 and Red Bull 86.
Pole Position & Fastest Lap
- Leclerc has had seven poles this year, Verstappen four, Sainz two, Perez and Russell one each.
- Hamilton has a record 103 career poles, most recently in Saudi Arabia last year.
- The Italian Grand Prix has been won from pole on 15 of the last 22 editions. The lowest winning start position to date was British driver Peter Gethin’s 11th with BRM in 1971.
- Six drivers have taken fastest laps this season.
- Leclerc (3) took the bonus point in the first three races, Verstappen (5) in Imola, Miami, Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands.
- Perez (2) was fastest in Spain and Azerbaijan, McLaren’s Lando Norris (1) in Monaco, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz (2) in Canada and France and Hamilton (2) in Britain and Hungary.
2022 F1 World Championship Points
- Verstappen leads Leclerc and Perez by 109 points, with the Ferrari driver ahead on race wins. Red Bull lead Ferrari by 135 points in the constructors’ standings.
- Williams’ Nicholas Latifi is the only race driver yet to score this season.
- Mercedes are the only team to have scored in every race.
- Monza’s ‘Temple of Speed’ is celebrating its 100th anniversary.
- Alpine’s Fernando Alonso will equal Kimi Raikkonen’s record of 349 Formula One starts.