Formula One

Italian GP track layout, turns and DRS zones analysed

No stop for F1 following the series’ return from the summer break. This time around, Formula One pays its yearly visit to the legendary Autodromo Nazionale di Monza. Join us for a tour around the famous Italian GP layout, and also check out F1 predictions and the odds for the race weekend.

F1 Italian GP Layout Autodromo Nazionale di Monza
Circuit atmosphere – Re-landcaped Rettifilo chicane with trees removed. 31.08.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 15, Italian Grand Prix, Monza, Italy, Preparation Day. –, EMail: [email protected] © Copyright: Bearne / XPB Images – Photo by Icon sport

Italian GP layout: speed, speed and more speed

Monza is often called the Temple of Speed by motorsports fans, and there is a very good reason for it. The Italian GP layout consists of three long straights connected by chicanes, plus one long and relatively fast final corner. Because of this, Monza holds multiple records for the highest average speeds in F1.

Originally a part oval, part road circuit, Monza has only seen one major layout change in its 100-plus years of racing history. It happened in 1955, and ditched the oval section. While not in use anymore, the famous high-banked corners are still relatively well-preserved to this day.

The lap starts down the long main straight. The speed trap at the end of the straight often sees drivers clock in at over 350 kph. And that’s followed by one of the slowest corners in the schedule, the Variante Rettifilo – a right-left chicane that is also infamously tight. Drivers often have to take it to the runoff area at the start to avoid a pile-up.

After exiting Rettifilo, the cars take the famous Curva Grande flat-out. As the name suggests, Curva Grande is a long corner, with its low-radius allowing drivers to take it with minimum steering input.

A short straight follows Curva Grande, with drivers again slamming the brakes to take the second chicane – Variante Della Roggia. A left-right chicane, Della Roggia isn’t as tight as Rettifilo, but can still lead to contact if two cars try to take it side-by-side.

After exiting Della Roggia, the cars go down another short straight, which leads up to the Lesmo corners – two back-to-back, short, medium speed right-handers connected by a very short straight.

Nailing the second Lesmo is absolutely crucial in order to carry as much speed as possible down the long Serraglio straight. Next comes the third and final chicane, the very fast Variante Ascari. A left-right-left sequence, named after the two-time F1 champion, Ascari often has the cars on the edge of their grip, and requires maximum downforce out of the low-drag trims.

Following Ascari comes the long backstraight, which leads to the final corner: the famous Parabolica. A long, wide-radius corner, Parabolica can often catch drivers out with its tricky layout, causing snaps of oversteer midway through. Again, the cars must carry as much speed as possible out of this corner, which leads back to the long front straight to complete the lap.

Autodromo Nazionale di Monza DRS zones: the highest top speed in the schedule

Monza has two of the longest DRS straights in the schedule. The first one is located right at the exit of the second Lesmo corner, and continues all the way down the Serraglio straight. Its detection point is located just before the braking point for the second Lesmo.

The second DRS zone is located on the main straight, leading to a prime overtaking opportunity into Retifillo. Due to the first chicane’s nature, completing the move before the braking point is the ideal scenario, in order to avoid potential side-by-side contact. The detection point for this second DRS zone is located at the end of Parabolica.

Monza racing history


1950Juan Manuel FangioGiuseppe Farina
1951Juan Manuel FangioAlberto Ascari
1952Alberto AscariAlberto Ascari
1953Alberto AscariJuan Manuel Fangio
1954Juan Manuel FangioJuan Manuel Fangio
1955Juan Manuel FangioJuan Manuel Fangio
1956Juan Manuel FangioStirling Moss
1957Stuart Lewis-EvansStirling Moss
1958Stirling MossTony Brooks
1959Stirling MossStirling Moss
1960Phil HillPhil Hill
1961Wolfgang von TripsPhil Hill
1962Jim ClarkGraham Hill
1963John SurteesJim Clark
1964John SurteesJohn Surtees
1965Jim ClarkJackie Stewart
1966Mike ParkesLudovico Scarfiotti
1967Jim ClarkJohn Surtees
1968John SurteesDenny Hulme
1969Jochen RindtJackie Stewart
1970Jacky IckxClay Regazzoni
1971Chris AmonPeter Gethin
1972Jacky IckxEmerson Fittipaldi
1973Ronnie PetersonRonnie Peterson
1974Niki LaudaRonnie Peterson
1975Niki LaudaClay Regazzoni
1976Jacques LaffiteRonnie Peterson
1977James HuntMario Andretti
1978Mario AndrettiNiki Lauda
1979Jean-Pierre JabouilleJody Scheckter
1981Rene ArnouxAlain Prost
1982Mario AndrettiRene Arnoux
1983Riccardo PatreseNelson Piquet
1984Nelson PiquetNiki Lauda
1985Ayrton SennaAlain Prost
1986Teo FabiNelson Piquet
1987Nelson PiquetNelson Piquet
1988Ayrton SennaGerhard Berger
1989Ayrton SennaAlain Prost
1990Ayrton SennaAyrton Senna
1991Ayrton SennaNigel Mansell
1992Nigel MansellAyrton Senna
1993Alain ProstDamon Hill
1994Jean AlesiDamon Hill
1995David CoulthardJohnny Herbert
1996Damon HillMichael Schumacher
1997Jean AlesiDavid Coulthard
1998Michael SchumacherMichael Schumacher
1999Mika HakkinenHeinz-Harald Frentzen
2000Michael SchumacherMichael Schumacher
2001Juan Pablo MontoyaJuan Pablo Montoya
2002Juan Pablo MontoyaRubens Barrichello
2003Michael SchumacherMichael Schumacher
2004Rubens BarrichelloRubens Barrichello
2005Juan Pablo MontoyaJuan Pablo Montoya
2006Kimi RaikkonenMichael Schumacher
2007Fernando AlonsoFernando Alonso
2008Sebastian VettelSebastian Vettel
2009Lewis HamiltonRubens Barrichello
2010Fernando AlonsoFernando Alonso
2011Sebastian VettelSebastian Vettel
2012Lewis HamiltonLewis Hamilton
2013Sebastian VettelSebastian Vettel
2014Lewis HamiltonLewis Hamilton
2015Lewis HamiltonLewis Hamilton
2016Lewis HamiltonNico Rosberg
2017Lewis HamiltonLewis Hamilton
2018Kimi RaikkonenLewis Hamilton
2019Charles LeclercCharles Leclerc
2020Lewis HamiltonPierre Gasly
2021Max VerstappenDaniel Ricciardo
2022Charles LeclercMax Verstappen

Monza was part of the F1 schedule in 72 of the series’ 73 seasons, with 1980 being the only exception. The race was moved to Imola that year, as Monza underwent some repair work.

Of course, we cannot talk about Monza without mentioning the tifosi, Ferrari’s passionate fans. The Scuderia, which will run in the legendary Ecuire Francorchamps colors this weekend to celebrate the 2023 Le Mans victory, holds the record for the most wins at Monza among the constructors, with 19. Some of those are quite famous.

In 1988, Gerhard Berger ended a nine-year drought for Ferrari at the Temple of Speed. The race is well-known as the only time McLaren got beaten in 1988, being denied a perfect season of 16 wins in 16 races.

Ferrari had to wait another eight years to win at Monza again. This time, the win came courtesy of a certain Michael Schumacher, who scored the first of his record five wins at Monza in his first year with the Italian team.

In the 2004 GP, Juan Pablo Montoya set the unofficial F1 speed record during a race weekend. The Colombian lapped the Monza layout in 1:19.525, at an average speed of 262.242 kph. That mark has been beaten a few times since then, with Lewis Hamilton currently holding the unofficial record 264.363 kph, courtesy of his pole position lap in 2020.

That year saw a famous upset, with Pierre Gasly securing his maiden triumph in a chaotic race. And 12 years earlier, the AlphaTauri outfit, still under the Toro Rosso banner, scored its first victory, also at Monza, which came at the hands of a then 21-year old Sebastian Vettel.

A year later, Hamilton and Verstappen infamously collided into Retifillo, with the Dutchman’s Red Bull ending up on top of Hamilton’s Mercedes. Daniel Ricciardo, who will remain sidelined this weekend, led the race from start to finish, securing McLaren’s first win in nearly a decade.

Verstappen made amends for the 2021 race last year. Coming from seventh on the grid, the reigning champion picked his way up the order before passing pole sitter Charles Leclerc for the win.

What lies ahead for 2023

Another race at a high-speed track and another chance for Verstappen to dominate. Monza’s long straights will likely favor Red Bull again, making the reigning two-time champion the clear favorite. Williams should be one of the teams to potentially keep an eye on this weekend, as the team’s FW45 is also well-known for its straightline speed.

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