From the beginning, Monza was an important venue and since 1922 has hosted the Italian GP almost every year. Indeed, its opening caused members of the Brescia Automobile club to instigate the Mille Miglia. Brescia had lost its previous high status in Italian motor sport with the coming of Monza. There was also ancient rivalry in that Monza is in Piedmont and Brescia is in Lombardy.
This level of passion has long been a feature of Italian racing and is nowhere better experienced than at Monza when Ferrari is present. The word is 'present', not 'racing', the tifosi will turn out by the ten thousand just for testing.
Like many other circuits, Monza has not been a single layout, but a series of more than a dozen layouts which have ranged in length from 1.482 miles to 6.214 miles. The circuit was opened in the Monza Royal Park, near Milan, in 1922 and featured banking, though these were demolished in 1939. The banking which featured in some races, 1955-69, were new structures built on the format of the original. The banking was used for the Italian GP in 1955, '56, '60 and '61, and was last used for racing of any form in 1969 when the concrete became in need of substantial resurfacing and rebuilding.
From 1950 to 1954, the purely road circuit was 3.915 miles long, but the layout was eased, slightly shortened (to 3.571 miles) and made faster for 1957 and 1958. That is not a misprint, the track was made faster and also easier to overtake on.
Between 1962 and 1971 this revised circuit provided an opportunity for high-speed racing with lots of slipstreaming and overtaking. The 1971 Italian GP holds the record for the fastest-ever Formula One race but, emphatically, that is not the same as saying the fastest race for Grand Prix cars. Though you would not know it to listen to some people, that honour remains in the possession of the 1937 Avusrennen.
After 1971, the circuit underwent further revisions to discourage slipstreaming and to lower the average lap speed. Chicanes were added in 1976 and, in 1994, the second Lesmo Bend was tightened and the Curve Grande was re-profiled.
In 2000, the chicane on the main straight was altered, changing from a double left-right chicane to a single right-left chicane, in an attempt to reduce the frequent accidents at the starts due to the conformation of the braking area. The second chicane was also re-profiled. In the Grand Prix of the same year however, the first to use the new chicanes, a marshal, Paolo Gislimberti, was killed by flying debris after a major crash at the second chicane.
In 2007, the run off area at the second chicane was changed from gravel to asphalt. The length of the track in its current configuration is 3.599 miles.
The fastest ever Formula One lap of Monza in its current configuration, was set during the 2004 Italian Grand Prix, when Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) posted a time of 1:20.089, thereby averaging 159.891 mph.
Over the years, the circuit has witnessed many fatal accidents, especially in the early years of the Formula One World Championship, and has claimed the lives of 52 drivers and 35 spectators.
Despite the numerous modifications to improve safety and reduce curve speeds it is still criticised by drivers for its lack of run-off areas, most notoriously at the chicane that cuts the Variante della Roggia.
Every Formula One circuit has its own charm and excitement, from Monaco, with its glitz, glamour and casinos to the deserts of Bahrain. Yet the Italian GP, at Monza, the home of Ferrari, remains, to many, one of the highlights of each season.
The fastest part of the track, with speeds of around 210 mph, before braking hard for the slowest part of the circuit- the Rettifilo chicane- which has a minimum speed of around 46 mph. The kerbs are used extensively here as drivers aim to find the shortest line through this tricky right- left combination.
Good power delivery on exiting the chicane is essential as the drivers accelerate hard through Curva Biassono; a good slipstreaming opportunity heading into the next complex.
Heavy kerb usage through the Variante della Roggia, which the cars approach at 205 mph before braking down to around 75 mph.
The Lesmo Curves are approached at over 160 mph, with a minimum corner speed of around 110 mph in Lesmo 2. Good car control is required though this trick double right-hander due to the lower than optimum levels of downforce used at this circuit.
Variante Ascari is a fast third and fourth gear chicane, but unlike the previous chicanes around the track there is no kerb usage. The cars approach this complex at around 205 with a minimum speed of around 105 mph in the first left hand turn; a spectacular part of the circuit where bravery from the drivers is very much rewarded.
The second fastest part of the track - with around 208 mph reached before braking to around 133 mph at the slowest part of the corner - it's crucial to stay close to the car ahead through Parabolica to be positioned for a pass on the following main pit straight.