History of Autodromo Nazionale Monza

100 years this year since the famed Monza Circuit opened its doors for racing. 

The Monza Circuit has been the hub of Formula 1 racing in Italy since its opening in 1922. The town of Monza is 10 miles to the northwest of Milan and the circuit is in the royal park there. Construction was decided in January 1922 to mark the 25th anniversary of the Milan Automobile Club. It is one of five still existing tracks to have hosted Formula 1 races in its maiden championship season (1950) and the third oldest in the world, after Brooklands circuit in England and Indianapolis in the United States. 

A lap of Monza might look incredibly simple. There are only a handful of corners. Long straights are highlighted by only a trio of chicanes. 

But to drive the track, you’d fully understand its complexities. Those chicanes can become tougher to negotiate when attacked by modern F1 cars. 

Monza is a true cathedral to speed, unmatched around the world and fueled by the fanaticism of the Italian fans, the Tifosi. The atmosphere here is like no other. 

Take a look at the highlights of the Monza Circuit throughout the years: 

Key Moments in Monza and Italian Grand Prix History 

1922: The second edition of the Italian Grand Prix was held at the newly-built Autodromo Nazionale Monza, located in a large park on the outskirts of Milan. The 80-lap race was won in just under 6 hours by local driver Pietro Bordino, driving a Fiat.

1928: The 1928 Italian Grand Prix was overshadowed by one of the deadliest accidents in motor racing history. Attempting to overtake another car, Emilio Materassi lost control on the main straight and crashed into an unprotected grandstand, killing himself and over 20 spectators. The Italian Grand Prix wasn’t held for the next two years. 

1950: The Italian Grand Prix returned to Monza and held the final race of the inaugural Formula 1 World Championship. Farina took the spoils and became the first and only Italian to clinch the drivers’ title at home. 

1965: The 1965 Italian Grand Prix was a classic duel between the best drivers of the period. Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart, and John Surtees traded the lead a record 40 times before Stewart overtook Hill on the last lap to record his first Grand Prix victory.

1970: The 1970 Italian Grand Prix was marred by a tragic crash that claimed the life of Jochen Rindt. He became Formula 1’s only posthumous World Champion after winning five times earlier in the season. Ferrari’s Clay Regazzoni won the race, but celebrations were muted. 

1978: The 1978 Italian Grand Prix claimed the life of 10-time race winner Ronnie Peterson. The Swedish driver was heroically pulled from his burning wreck by his fellow drivers but succumbed to an embolism in the hospital the next day. 

1979: Ferrari’s 300th start in the World Championship was celebrated in some style when Jody Scheckter won the 1979 Italian Grand Prix from his teammate, Gilles Villeneuve.The 1-2 win at home sealed both the drivers’ title for Scheckter and the constructors’ title for Ferrari.  

1988: Less than a month after the death of founder Enzo Ferrari, Gerhard Berger took an emotionally charged victory for the Scuderia at Monza in 1988. It was the only race of the season not won by McLaren.

1996: Michael Schumacher won the hearts of the Ferrari faithful with the first of his five victories at Monza in 1996.  

2003: Michael Schumacher averaged 247.585 km/h (153.842 mph) en route to victory in the 2003 Italian Grand Prix – the highest average speed of all time.  

2015: Lewis Hamilton won the Italian Grand Prix, his second of five victories at Monza in the turbo-hybrid era. It was also the second “Grand Slam” of his career as the Brit took pole position, set the fastest lap, and led every lap of the race.

2019: Ferrari’s exciting new recruit Charles Leclerc gave his fans a weekend to remember. Charles took the team’s first victory at home in almost ten years. It was also announced that Monza had signed a new 5-year contract, ensuring the historic circuit remains on the calendar until at least 2024.

2020: AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly secured a shock maiden win to become the first French F1 winner in 24 years. It was the first Grand Prix in almost nine years not to feature either a Red Bull, Mercedes, or Ferrari driver on the podium.

Bobby Ciafardini

With 20-plus years of experience in the media capital of the world, New York City, Bobby Ciafardini is an award-winning journalist that has done it all. He has covered everything from the Super Bowl to the World Series to the NBA Finals and the Stanley Cup, as well as the highest levels of motorsport. His favorite moment: Speeding along in a two-seater open-wheel race car with the legendary Mario Andretti.  

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