The Italian Grand Prix will be the second race weekend of the 2021 F1 season to trial the new Sprint Qualifying Race format, with a practice session and standard Qualifying on Friday, a practice session and the Sprint Qualifying Race on the Saturday, and the normal race on the Sunday.
Monza is nicknamed ‘Temple of Speed’ for a reason… 78% of the lap time and 85% of the lap distance are taken at full throttle, the highest of any F1 track.
The tow is incredibly powerful in Monza and often impacts strategy in Qualifying. In 2020, the difference between a lap with a tow and without a tow was around 0.7 seconds.
A lap of Monza requires just 36 gear changes, one of the lowest figures on the F1 calendar, because a large portion of the driving is spent in eighth gear on the long straights.
You might expect Monza to have the highest maximum speed of any track on the F1 schedule, but this isn’t true. It has the third-highest max speed, 340 km/h, behind France (341 km/h) and Mexico (350 km/h).
Monza has the lowest downforce level of the year, requiring a special rear wing for the event. This is a talking point every year at the Italian Grand Prix, but there would still be enough downforce to – in theory – drive a car upside down.
The Italian GP venue is one of the most power-sensitive tracks in F1, even a modest increase in power can have a sizeable impact on lap time. This is in part due to the long straights, but also because there are a lot of low-speed corner exits onto those long straights, which demand a lot more power in those acceleration zones.
The lower downforce levels at Monza combined with the long straights decreases the temperature of the tyres, resulting in more frequent wheel lock-ups than at other tracks. This also impacts brake stability as it makes the car more nervous and unpredictable under braking, increasing the possibility of a lock-up. A lot of time can be found in these slow-speed chicanes and big braking zones, but the run-off areas can be unforgiving if you make a mistake.
The fast Curva Grande (Turn 3) and Parabolica (Turn 11) counterbalance the slow chicanes to give Monza the highest average corner speed of any F1 track.
Mechanical grip at Monza is crucial due to the amount of acceleration zones out of low-speed corners, meaning the track has the third-highest traction demand of the F1 season.
The exit kerbs at Monza offer up poor traction and a bumpy ride, so, due to the importance of propelling the car down the long straights that follow, drivers sometimes avoid the exit kerbs altogether to get the best run out of the turn.
The average ambient temperature at Monza (25°C) is on the higher end of the scale when it comes to 2021 race locations, but the average track temperature (40°C) is on the lower end. This is because the tarmac is lighter in colour (grey compared to black) and therefore doesn’t soak up the heat as much. There is also a lot of shade created from the trees in the park Monza is located in.
The high-speed nature of the track means the Italian Grand Prix is often a very short race, if it runs uninterrupted, usually taking around one hour and 15 minutes. However, the quick lap means you can fit more runs into practice and Qualifying sessions.
Some corners at Monza, like Ascari, are heavily dominated by how well your car handles the kerbs on the entry. If the car is stable over kerbs, drivers can really attack the corner entry of Turn 8 and almost straight line Turns 9 and 10. But if the kerbs upset your car too much, mistakes can easily be made, and a lot of time can be lost.