F1’s summer break is now a distant memory, with the pack-up in Belgium always frantic – as one iconic venue is followed back-to-back with another, and the teams travel 800 kilometres south to Milan… 

… and the city’s royal park, home to Autodromo Nazionale Monza, which has hosted all but one of the Italian Grands Prix since 1950.

The exception being the 1980 edition, which was held at the Imola circuit – one made famous for the San Marino Grand Prix it hosted 26 times, from 1991 until its last in 2006.

As one of the world’s great temples of speed, Monza has hosted all types of racing since it opened in September 1922.

And the Grand Prix, which signals the end of the European season before the long-haul flyaways, is near the top of everyone’s favourites list.

“I like Monza. I like the Italian lifestyle, [and] la dolce vita. And it’s somehow a very special Grand Prix, cycling into the track.”

Located 40 minutes north of Milan, the 5.793-kilometre track features just 11 turns, four left, and seven right – and a top speed of 360 kilometres an hour. Brazilian Rubens Barrichello’s lap record from 2004 in a Ferrari still stands. There are two DRS activation zones: one on the run to Ascari, the other on the pit straight. There are two DRS detection zones, one between the two Lesmos, the other just before the legendary Parabolica.

And while the circuit no longer utilises its famous banked curves, the past is still keenly felt with all the greats having had big moments there.

F1 DRIVER 1951-1961:
“I was driving once here and I'm going round the top of the banking at 300 kilometres, and the steering broke. That was not very good.”

Michael Schumacher is the master of Monza with five wins, all taken with Ferrari. Lewis Hamilton has four, with the Brit able to equal Schumi’s record if he takes another victory this year… 

Ferrari’s current star, fellow-4-time F1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel will be desperate to stop him doing that – the German a three-time Monza winner, his first 10 years ago for Toro Rosso, his maiden F1 victory.

...and it was a round that Vettel dominated, with pole position and the win taken in torrential conditions, signalling his arrival in the sport.

Historic, and fast – it’s time for La Pista Magica and the Italian Grand Prix.