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ROUND 12 • ITALY • MONZA • SEPTEMBER 8

• If there is a better place for a motor racing fan to be in the European autumn than Monza, we’d love to see it. Within easy reach of the great city of Milan to the south and the gorgeous Lake Como to the north, a wonderful haven to escape to after the mayhem of modern F1.

• Monza is another traditional European venue that has retained its place on the calendar – with one year out – since the World Championship began. The original circuit was laid out in short time in the grounds of the city’s royal palace. It once stretched over 10 kilometres thanks to the banked curves linked to its road course, but when it joined the World Championship in its first year it measured 6.3km and since 2000 has been at its current length of 5.793km. Despite changes to the layout over the years, names like the Lesmo Curves and the Parabolica remain spine-tinglers for drivers and spectators alike.

• Like Spa, Monza is a throwback to the glory days: it has staged the top five fastest races of all time, nine of the top 10 and 18 of the top 20! The 1971 race won by Peter Gethin was both the fastest of the World Championship in the twentieth century, the winner’s average speed touching 242.615 km/h, and the closest finish ever; in the early years of the 21st Monza then excelled itself with four more fastest-ever races from 2003-06, Michael Schumacher’s 2003 average of 247.585 km/h the fastest sustained race pace yet seen.

• Almost inevitably, Monza is also a place of painful memories: Wolfgang von Trips and 10 spectators losing their lives in 1961... Jochen Rindt killed there in 1970... three-time Monza winner Ronnie Peterson also killed in 1978. But the Italian track, with its seething mass of Ferrari-mad humanity, remains one of the most atmospheric on the annual calendar and a must-see place for the true F1 enthusiast.

• 1980 was a strange year: there was no Italian Grand Prix at Monza! Peterson’s loss had prompted safety upgrades at Monza and the race went instead to Imola. Otherwise, Monza has been an ever-present in the World Championship, which means this year’s is the circuit’s 63rd race in the Championship’s 63rd season.

• In 2011, almost inevitably, Sebastian Vettel won for Red Bull, but that was nothing compared to what the young German did at Monza three years earlier: he put sister team Scuderia Toro Rosso’s car on pole position and recorded its first and so far only victory to date, also the first in Vettel’s own record-breaking career. In 2012, though, the Red Bulls were missing in action as McLaren Mercedes locked out the front row and pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton took his first Monza win.

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