The Formula 1 circus arrives at Monza for the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, the 14th round of the 2021 World Championship. The weekend arrives after an incredibly interesting week, with several teams confirming their lineup for the 2022 Formula 1 season (and beyond, in some cases), but now the racing is all that matters, and both World Championships are definitely up for grabs.
Max Verstappen (Red Bull) enters the weekend leading the World Drivers’ Championship with three points over Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes). The Dutchman retook the lead in the standings after winning last week’s Dutch Grand Prix, which was his seventh Grand Prix win of the year.
Hamilton finished second at Zandvoort last weekend, and Valtteri Bottas (who will be replaced by George Russell next year and will drive for Alfa Romeo) finished third. Mercedes is leading the World Constructors’ Championship with a 12-point gap over Red Bull Racing.
Behind the World Championship fights, the Scuderia Ferrari (Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz) and McLaren (Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo) have a good fight for third place in the World Constructors’ Championship, with the Italian outfit coming off a big weekend in comparison to the Woking-based squad. At the Netherlands, Leclerc and Sainz finished fifth and seventh respectively, while Norris could only salvage one point for McLaren.
Ferrari leads McLaren 181.5 to 170 in the WCC. Behind the two iconic brands, Alpine (Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso) is ahead of AlphaTauri (which confirmed Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda to return for 2022) by six points in the battle for P5 among constructors.
Aston Martin (Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll) is comfortably in seventh place, far ahead of Williams, which announced Alexander Albon as Russell’s replacement for next year and has 20 points this year from George Russell and Nicholas Latifi. Alfa Romeo and Haas (Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin) close out the Constructors’ standings.
Alfa Romeo will not count on Kimi Raikkonen for this weekend, as the former World Champion will miss another race due to his positive Covid-19 test. Robert Kubica will again take Raikkonen’s place alongside Antonio Giovinazzi.
Second 2021 Sprint Race
For the second of three times throughout the 2021 Formula 1 season, we will see a Sprint qualifying format in this week’s Italian Grand Prix, as we saw in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. The weekend format will have a one-hour Free Practice session on Friday and then the qualifying session as we know it in the afternoon (Q1, Q2 and Q3).
Said qualifying will fix the grid for Saturday’s Sprint Race, which will be held after a second Free Practice session on Saturday morning. The Sprint Race will be run over 100km (18 laps at Monza) and there will be no mandatory pit stops.
The Sprint Race order will set the starting grid for Sunday’s main Grand Prix, and the Top three drivers will earn three points, two points, and one point respectively. There will not be a podium as usual after a race, though “a special post-Sprint presentation for the top three” will take place, according to Formula1.com.
The Friday qualifying will only have the soft tyres available for each driver. That will give freedom to every team for Sunday’s race, as drivers will be allowed to start with any desired tyre and not forced the Top 10 to start on the compound worn during the Q2 session of a conventional Qualy.
2021 Italian GP Facts & Figures
The 2021 Italian Grand Prix will be the 72nd running of the event under the FIA World Championship of Drivers umbrella. Ferrari is the most successful team with 19 victories in front of their devoted Tifosi.
The race has been part of every season of the World Championship since its inception in 1950 and is a truly iconic date in every year’s calendar. This year, the event will be rocking, as it did not have a crowd last year and the Tifosi will definitely show up hugely.
The first winner of the Italian round of the World Championship was Giuseppe ‘Nino’ Farina, who won his home race in 1950 in his Alfetta and also secured his World Championship, which made him F1’s first champion in history and the only one to date to win the title at his home race.
Ferrari’s first success at Monza during the World Championship occurred in 1951, with Alberto Ascari winning the event, something he would replicate during his title-winning campaign in 1952.
Then, Juan Manuel Fangio won three straight races with Maserati and Mercedes between 1953 and 1955, becoming the first to win three Italian GPs on the trot, something that has not been replicated yet.
Fangio himself was crowned champion in the 1956 event, achieving his fourth title and doing so with Ferrari. Jack Brabham too sealed one of his titles in Italy, in the 1960 event, which was boycotted by the British teams as a protest against the Monza banking.
The race was constantly the defining moment of many World Championships:
Phil Hill sealed his title in 1961 at Monza and behind the wheel of a Ferrari too, but the race was marred by the tragic accident in which Ferrari driver and title contender Wolfgang von Trips lost his life, with 15 spectators killed as well in one of the saddest days of F1 racing.
Jim Clark also achieved his first title at Italy in 1963, while Brabham would earn his third and final championship in 1966. Furthermore, Jackie Stewart closed out his championship quest in 1969 in the Italian round, but the 1970 posthumous World Champion Jochen Rindt lost his life in the Italian event in 1970.
The 1971 event saw the closest finish in the history of the sport between first and second, with Peter Gethin beating Ronnie Peterson (who also lost his life as a result of a crash in Italy in 1978) by 0.01 seconds and a little more than six-tenths covered the top five.
In turn, Fittipaldi celebrated his first World Championship in Italy in 1972 and Stewart did the same with his third and last championship the following year. Another driver who also took the biggest prize in motor racing in Italy while driving for Ferrari was the legendary Niki Lauda in 1975. Then, in 1978, Mario Andretti achieved his main goal for Lotus in the track in which his passion for motor racing began as a child watching Alberto Ascari in the 1950s.
Ultimately, Jody Scheckter followed in Lauda’s footsteps in 1979, winning the title at Italy for Ferrari in what was the last time a driver sealed a championship at the Italian Grand Prix.
The most successful drivers in the Italian Grand Prix are Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton, with five wins each, followed by three-time champion Nelson Piquet with four. Piquet won the only Italian Grand Prix in history to not be held at Monza, as he dominated the 1980 event at Imola.
In the 2020 event, without any spectators, the race was a surprising one, with Frenchman Pierre Gasly becoming a Grand Prix winner after holding off Carlos Sainz’s McLaren in the final laps and taking advantage of a red-flag period and an off weekend by elite teams (Mercedes due to mistakes and Red Bull due to lack of pace).
Autodromo Nazionale di Monza Track
The Temple of Speed will always be known for its long straights and being the most demanding track in terms of power. Though it offers simplistic setup configurations for the track, low-downforce settings for the cars mean they look gorgeously unstable around the 5.793-km track.
Since 1950, the circuit has provided seven different layouts, most keeping the same ‘boomerang’ layout we see now, though some changes have been made to adhere to safety measures.
The first layout had eight corners, but only four of those demanded hard breaking. In 1955, the Parabolica (turn 11) was added instead of the two-corner Curva di Vedano, but also the oval speed ring was added, bringing in the infamous and intimidating banking.
This layout was scrapped after the 1961 event, in which Wolfgang von Trips and 15 spectators tragically died. Four races were completed in the longer version of the track (1955, 1956, 1960 and 1961).
The shortened track kept the high-speed nature, but safety concerns were huge due to the unbelievably increasing speeds, which enforced two chicanes for the track, one in the middle of the long straight, the Variante del Rettifilo, and the Variante Ascari, added instead of the Curva del Vialone, where Alberto Ascari had died in 1955.
Both the Variante Ascari and the Variante del Rettifilo were changed in 1974 and 1976, respectively, and a chicane was also added to the Variante Della Roggia in 1976. Since 1976, the changes have been minor, with a new profile for the Curva Biassono and the second Lesmo in 1994 and the Variante del Rettifilo being changed from a double chicane to a simpler right-left turn.
The current layout records are the following:
Outright record: 1:18,887 min by Lewis Hamilton in 2020, driving the Mercedes W11 at an average speed of 264.363 km/h (Fastest Lap of all-time in terms of average speed).
Fastest Lap during a race: 1:21,046 min by Rubens Barrichello in 2004, driving the Ferrari F2004 at an average speed of 257.321 km/h.
2021 Italian Grand Prix – Tyres
The dry tyres for the 2021 Italian Grand Prix will be the C2 as P Zero White hard, C3 as P Zero Yellow Medium, and C4 as P Zero Red soft.
Pirelli explained their choice with a simple statement in a press release and established the guidelines for the particular weekend: “The same compounds were selected for the last two years at Monza, offering a good balance for all the different demands of the Italian Grand Prix.
Monza is the second race this year that will host the new sprint qualifying format, pioneered at the British Grand Prix in July. As a result, the usual tyre allocation has changed. Rather than having 13 sets of tyres for a weekend, there will be 12 sets. These will consist of two sets of P Zero White hard, four sets of P Zero Yellow medium, and six sets of P Zero Red soft. In addition to this, the teams will have up to six sets of Cinturato Green intermediates and three sets of Cinturato Blue full wets available in case of wet weather conditions.”
The minimum starting pressures for the tyres will be 24.0 PSI (front) and 21.5 PSI (rear).
2021 Italian Grand Prix Weather Forecast
Friday, Sep 10th – FP1 & Qualifying
Conditions: Some sun, then clouds; nice
Max. temperature: 27°C
Chance of rain: 8%
Saturday, Sep 11th – FP2 & Sprint Qualifying
Conditions: Sunshine and patchy clouds
Max. temperature: 28°C
Chance of rain: 9%
Sunday, Sep 12th – Race
Conditions: Times of sun and clouds
Max. temperature: 28°C
Chance of rain: 8%
Who will be on the 2021 Italian Grand Prix Podium?
The iconic Monza circuit will definitely bring us interesting sights during the 2021 Italian Grand Prix. The weekend is expected to be a dry one with some heat. Mercedes definitely needs to have a solid outing with Lewis Hamilton, as the pairing has won only one of the last nine Grands Prix.
Red Bull has the most competitive car, but the unique features of the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza could give the upper hand to Mercedes. There were rumours suggesting that both teams could take some engine penalties this weekend, in a track that seems suitable to overtake, though it was not the case last year.
Apart from the championship contenders, we could have a McLaren looking pretty fast in the Monza straights, as the MCL35B has shown tremendous straight line speed throughout the year.
The weekend will be a different one, with Saturday’s Sprint Race having the possibility of changing what a normal grid would be for Sunday’s main event.
It will be interesting to watch other engines go up against the Mercedes Power Unit. While Red Bull Racing certainly has the fastest car on the grid, the Mercedes W12 has great straight-line speed and it could be a difference-maker on Sunday.
The prediction for the top three of the 2021 Italian Grand Prix is 1. Lewis Hamilton, 2. Max Verstappen, 3. Sergio Pérez.
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