Monza And It's Chequered Past

Monza before all the changes to try and slow the track down. It was just too fast and too dangerous. Not surprising it is known as the Temple Of Speed.

The circuit was constructed in 1922 making it the third permanent race track at that time in the world. The other two were Brooklands in England and Indianapolis in the United States. The construction was completed within 6 months by a work force of over 3500. The aim was for a high speed track and the Milan Automobile Club designed what they thought was best. Speed over safety back then as crowds lining the course behind a ditch seemed quite alright.

This gives you an idea how steep the banks are making sure the cars stay on the track or meant to anyway.

Unlike other tracks it had very long straights and large steep banked curves to help maintain the speed of the cars. If you look at the course above there were literally a couple of bends to slow down for and everything else was at full throttle. Tragedies would strike and force the track to change after each incident. Amazing to think these things only happen after an event thinking everything is fine up until that point.

It took 6 years before the first of many tragic events occurred. In 1928 Emilio Materassi lost control of his car after touching another car in front of him and jumped a 10 ft ditch ploughing into a grand stand killing himself plus 27 spectators and injuring another 28. The worst recorded accident in Italian motor sport history. This bought a damper on things and the next two years saw the event take a much needed break.

In 1931 things were back to normal and luckily event free for the next two years until the race in 1933. This time it wasn't the main race, but three drivers were killed in the heat races before the main event.Time to slow the cars down and a new chicane was added. The banking was removed in 1938 to make the track a little slower and safer and remained that way until 1950.
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You just know if something goes wrong on here it is going to be disastrous.

Formula One under the FIA took over the racing calendar from the Automobile Association in 1950 and the World Championship as we know it today started. The raised curved bends were re introduced as it was such a feature of this track. The bank remained until 1957 and was removed yet again as the Ferrari cars complained it was damaging their undercarriage too much. That lasted all of two years and was back again in 1960. Obviously Ferrari being this as their home track had some say until they could fix their design issues.

In 1961 another serious accident just before the curves at full speed had Von Tripps and Jim Clark collide catapulting Von Tripps over the barriers into the crowd killing himself and 14 spectators. This was the last time the banked section was ever used and still remains today as a haunting reminder of what the track used to be.
Note how the kinks or chicanes have been added to help reduce the high speeds. Still not enough though. This was the track in 1972 and was the safest it had ever been. This had taken the racing fraternity 50 years to get to this point which is not exactly bragging rights.

Another death followed in 1970 when a driver crashed during qualifying. More chicanes were added and even more after another fatal crash in 1978. The problem is the cars were getting quicker each year so the tracks should have evolved with the times yet they didn't. It took drivers dying for the track to be forced to change.

In 1980 Monza missed out for the first time in hosting the Italian Grand Prix as it popped off to Imola whilst Monza received much needed upgrades. No other deaths have occurred since except a marshal who was struck by a loose tyre flying off a car in 2001.

As you can see from the above diagram the track has changed drastically with new features designed to slow the cars down. Straights are no longer as long and this has made it safer. Monza is still the fastest lap on the circuit however and makes it the shortest Grand Prix in the calendar year time wise with the same race distance covered. Cars operate with a 75% acceleration on this track and only slowing down for 25% which is what racing should be about.
Verstappen was caught out today in practice at one of the chicanes.Luckily this is the slow part of the course.

The modern cars of today have down force to force them into the road and stay on track but this course is about speed so that down force has basically been removed for this weekends race. The traction should still be safer than what has raced in the past but everyone still needs to concentrate and be careful. Accidents do happen and there is no way you can eliminate human error entirely, but the sport is much safer for the drivers sacrifices from the past. Unfortunately this sport seems to wait for something to happen instead of trying to prevent it from happening altogether.


Looking forward to watching qualifying very soon and the race tomorrow. I did not know about some of the history of this track. Thanks! !tip

Thank you for the tip and great comment. Yes I like to look into the history of things as it can tell you so much about the place. I just find it absurd that it takes something to happen before changes are made. Still happens today as that is why the safety features were upgraded two seasons ago. The Halo is their to protect the driver from debris on the track that gets kicked up by the car in front.

I know the reasons for the Halo but did not know the history of all those deaths at that track. Wow.

Go Lando!

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