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.
Fast Facts - Provided by the FIA
The Italian Grand Prix, alongside the British Grand Prix, is an ever-present on the Formula One World Championship calendar. Sixty-four of the 65 races have been held at Monza. The anomaly is the 1980 race, held at Imola while Monza underwent redevelopment.
Most races at Monza have run on a variation of the road course seen today, though the 1955, 1956, 1960 and 1961 races were ran on the combined circuit, which linked the road course with the famous banked oval.
The 1965 Italian Grand Prix holds the record for the most changes of lead in a grand prix. The slipstreaming race involved the lead changing hands 41 times with Jackie Stewart, BRM teammate Graham Hill, Lotus driver Jim Clark and Ferrari's John Surtees all taking the lead at one point or another. Stewart was in front at the chequered flag for his first F1 victory.
Peter Gethin's advantage over Ronnie Peterson at the chequered flag in the 1971 Italian Grand Prix is given as 0.01s. This contends for the title of narrowest winning margin in F1 history with Rubens Barrichello's margin at the 2002 US GP of 0.011s over Michael Schumacher. The change from two to three decimal places in the timing regime makes it impossible know which was closer.
The top speed recorded through the speed trap in the 2014 Italian Grand Prix was 362.1km/h (225.004 mph), achieved by the Red Bull Racing-Renault of Daniel Ricciardo. This is considerably higher than the top speed seen in the final year of the V8s, when Esteban Gutiérrez, driving for Sauber-Ferrari sat top of the chart at 341.1km/h. F1's highest ever racing speed was also recorded at Monza, Juan Pablo Montoya reaching 372.6 km/h (231.529 mph) for McLaren-Mercedes in 2005, the final season under V10 rules.
A 1:19.525 lap of Monza set by Montoya for Williams during a practice session for the 2004 Italian Grand Prix is widely regarded as the fastest Formula One lap of all time. It gave him an average speed around the lap of 262.242km/h (162.954 mph).
Michael Schumacher's 2003 victory at Monza holds the record for the highest average race speed. His race time of 1h 14:19.838s represents an average speed of 247.585km/h (153.846 mph). Unsurprisingly, this is also the shortest duration full distance grand prix.
Michael Schumacher's five wins for Ferrari make him the most successful driver at the Italian Grand Prix. Ferrari's 18 wins make them the most successful team.
Marco Apicella set an unwanted record at Monza: F1's shortest racing career. The Italian contested the 1993 Italian Grand Prix for Jordan. aving qualified 23rd, he retired following a collision at the first corner - a distance of approximately 800m. He never returned to F1 but won the Japanese F3000 title the following season.
The Drivers' Championship has been clinched 11 times at Monza: Nino Farina secured the inaugural championship here in 1950, followed by Juan Manuel Fangio (1956), Phil Hill (1961), Jim Clark (1963), Jack Brabham (1966), Jackie Stewart (1969 & 1973), Niki Lauda (1975), Mario Andretti (1978) and Jody Scheckter (1979). This is not quite a record: the drivers' title has also been settled 11 times at Suzuka.