The monster is surrounded by greenery, protected by an old wall and stone gates. In the royal Park almost everything has something lovely or a slightly morbid charm. The Autodromo Nazionale is the oldest circuit on the continent, turning 100 years old and as fast and dangerous as ever. The myth of Monza includes speed, triumphs and tragedy. There is no better, more emotional farewell to the European season of Formula 1 than this. Even qualifying with the best of the day, Charles Leclerc, was a successful dress rehearsal.
Monza has been a fixture on the calendar from the start: 70 of the 71 Italian Grands Prix to date have been held in the Milan suburb, more than any other Grand Prix circuit. In 1980, Imola had to step in for safety reasons. But where the automotive heart of the Italians beats is clear. Passione e potenza, passion and strength drive tens of thousands into their Parco. In 1922, the top-speed runway was built in response to Indianapolis. Conservationists had protested against the planned 14-kilometer loop for so long that only 101 days remained for construction. With ten kilometers of piste still remaining, this was a record speed right from the start.
To this day, when the asphalt snake is just under 5.8 kilometers long and the two long banked curves are only a relic of a great racing past, the course has fulfilled the promise of speed intoxication. Easily 80 percent full throttle, maximum stress on the brakes and the driver’s ability to react. This is backed up by a few numbers that can make you dizzy. Two years ago, Lewis Hamilton managed the fastest qualifying lap ever driven in the premier class with an average speed of 264.363 km/h. Michael Schumacher, who, like Hamilton, has five Italian victories, won the fastest Grand Prix in Formula 1 history in 2003 – it lasted only one hour and 14 minutes, the average speed was almost 248 km/h.
In addition to Leclerc, Mercedes hope George Russell is in the front row
For the anniversary of Monza and the 75th anniversary of the first road Ferrari, Ferrari even sacrifices the traditional heartblood red to a certain extent and mixes in a special yellow for cars and team clothing. The shade is taken from the coat of arms of Modena, but it acts as a warning color. In the morning, Ferrari President John Elkann said in the national bulletin for sports fans that Gazetta dello Sport, extensively reported on origin and future. The manager and heir to the company not only counted 19 home wins for his Scuderia so far, but also added eight for Alfa Romeo and two each for Fiat and Maserati. For the first time since Covid times, the stands in Monza will be completely full again on Sunday. And of course it will only be a good race for the vast majority of spectators if, at the end of the day, a driver in the said yellow racing suit is on top of the victory podium hovering over the pit lane. While Monza breathes the myth, Ferrari almost chokes on it.
In view of these expectations and knowing about the last three rather pathetic performances of the Italian team, you can almost hear Mattia Binotto take a deep breath. The team boss, who trimmed the squad to become one of the favorites over the winter, initially received tender loving care from Elkann on Saturday: “We have great trust in Mattia Binotto and appreciate everything he and our engineers have done.”
In the aftermath, however, he warns that everyone’s work must be improved, explicitly also that of the management team – quickly and sloppily, that should be the end of it now: “We have seen that too many mistakes are still happening when it comes to reliability, that Drive and the strategy works.” In reality, Elkann is giving a nicely disguised ultimatum: “I think Ferrari can still be drivers’ and constructors’ world champions before 2026, with Charles Leclerc in pole position.”
Lewis Hamilton and Yuki Tsunoda are at the bottom of the 16th World Championship round
The Monegasque was Ferrari’s last winner at the Autodromo in 2019, and a spate of engine penalties and relegations from rivals could only have meant losing pole position. But the unlucky person of the previous racing year, she won with nerves of steel with the last lap in front of Red Bull opponent Max Verstappen and teammate Carlos Sainz. The starting line-up looks different due to the shifts mentioned, alongside Leclerc Mercedes hope George Russell is in the front row. World Championship leader Verstappen will start from seventh position, so the Dutchman still has every chance – he is still missing a Monza victory.
The final composition of the starting field was a case for arithmetic, which can be seen from Mick Schumacher’s example: With a Haas-Ferrari, which he could hardly drive in practice due to technical problems, he classified last. In addition, he received five penalty places for a gearbox change, but he will start from 17th place. Lewis Hamilton and Yuki Tsunoda are now at the bottom of the 16th World Championship round. Dice games are easier to grasp. Sebastian Vettel again has an Aston Martin that is too slow in his last race in Europe, but he moves up to eleventh.