Italian Grand Prix technical preview

Formula 1 heads to the 'Temple of Speed' at Monza this weekend for an Italian Grand Prix where fast laps and low downforce will be key talking points.

Italian Grand Prix technical preview

With a track length of 5.793 metres, and a race that takes place over 53 laps, Monza is a circuit that has the highest average speed – 244km/h, and the lowest rate of direction change – just 167 degrees per kilometre.

The track is characterised with four high speed straights, a slow chicane (Variante della Roggia), two quick corners (Parabolica and Curva Grande), and two chicanes ideal for overtaking (Variante del Rettifilo and Variante Ascari) thanks to DRS zone on the straights preceding them.

Monza requires a very low level of downforce, but one that is efficient enough to provide loads at low/medium speed – for better braking. Further it needs a good mechanical configuration of suspension to work well over the kerbs, while also needing strong power and a reliable hybrid system because it is full throttle for 69 percent of the lap.

Magneti Marelli acceleration telemetry
Magneti Marelli acceleration telemetry

Photo by: Magneti Marelli

Tyres: Less than one second difference

According to Magneti Marelli's simulations, the differences between the supersoft, soft and medium compounds that Pirelli brings will not be as great as they were in Belgium last weekend.

The difference between the soft and the supersoft is estimated to be 0.7 seconds, while between the soft and the medium it should be 0.9 seconds.


The Monza circuit is very demanding on brakes, with a high demand for the corners allied to the difficultly of maintaining temperature of the discs on the long high-speed straights.

One of the key things teams have to work out also is how best to split the balance between front and rear with the modern Brake-by-Wire systems.


Last year's pole position was obtained by Lewis Hamilton for Mercedes with a 1m23.397 seconds. The prediction of Magneti Marelli's WinTAX system is that it will be beaten this year by at least one second.

Magneti Marelli telemetry
Magneti Marelli telemetry

Photo by: Magneti Marelli

Track lap

Sector 1

The Start Line - Curve Grande

(Average speed of 255 Km/h)

Start: Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W06 leads
Start: Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W06 leads

Photo by: Autodromo Nazionale Monza / Actualfoto / Alessio Morgese

The first corner is 620 meters from pole position. The asphalt of Monza is not particularly abrasive, so it requires good management of the clutch to prevent wheelspin – and to allow additional exploitation of the ERS.

In the race, on the main straight in eighth gear, F1 cars will reach speeds of around 355 km/h in normal conditions – and they could get as high as 364 km/h using the DRS.

With braking being quite challenging due to the low downforce, it requires an effort of 2240 kW – around 188kg – on the brake pedal. The car decelerates to 80 km/h in 3.3 seconds – dropping through the gears to first and recharging the battery with 264 kJ.

The Prima Variante, a tight right-left corner, requires good mechanical setup to improve traction – while drivers must make heavy use of the kerbs to find speed for the section of track that follows.

Cars exit the first chicane at 90 km/h in second gear and continue toward the Curve Grande that leads in to the woods. They will hit 314 km/h in eighth gear with a lateral acceleration of around 2G – which will be a big challenge for the engine oil reservoirs in qualifying and towards the end of the race.

Sector 2

Jenson Button, McLaren MP4-30
Jenson Button, McLaren MP4-30

Photo by: Alex Galli

Variante della Roggia - Curva del Serraglio

(Average speed of 225 km/h)

Formula 1 cars arrive at the second chicane, the Variante della Roggia, at a speed of 340 km/h in eighth gear. For this left-right corner, braking requires a force of 1909kW – with a force on the brake pedal of 101kg. The battery will get charged with 180 kJ.

The car will decelerate to 101 km/h in third with a braking distance of 110 metres, and then will exit the chicane at 130 km/h in third to climb up three gears towards the Lesmo Curves.

The Lesmos are two medium-speed right handers where drivers have to let the car slide. In Lesmo 1 you reach 265 km/h in sixth: with a slight brake of 1317 kW that recharges the battery with 92 kJ and slows the car to an exit speed of 178 km/h in fifth.

After a short straight, cars arrive at Lesmo 2 at 262 km/h in sixth gear, with just a brief braking of 1360 kW from an effort of 74kg on the brake pedal which recharges the battery by another 90 kJ.

There is a slower exit on this corner, as the cars drop to 166 km/h in fourth gear as they drift out towards the exit kerb, to hit a part of the track when they can use DRS for overtaking.

With a slight kink to the left as the track ducks under a bridge below the old track, the car will reach 307 km/h in seventh gear before arriving at the Variante Ascari at 342 km/h – but they could be in eighth gear at 351 km/h if they have used DRS and more energy recovery.

Sector 3

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF15-T
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF15-T

Photo by: Autodromo Nazionale Monza / Actualfoto / Alessio Morgese

Variante Ascari - finish line.

(Average speed of 261 Km/h)

The Variante Ascari is a crucial part of the track for overtaking. It consists of three curves – left, right then left again - in spectacular sequence

Braking for Ascari requires a power of 2,167 kW with an effort of 114 kg on the brake pedal, charging the battery with 170 kJ.

Dropping down to fourth gear to a speed of 156 km/h, drivers will experience a deceleration of 5.3G for the first left hander.

They will then pick up the speed again to reach 190 km/h in fifth for Turn 9, before exiting the left hander Turn 10 at 234 km/h in sixth. Getting the highest possible speed on the exit is essential.

From here, cars will reach 341 km/h in eighth gear (although expect 348 km/h in qualifying with supersoft rubber) before the Parabolica – where they will brake from 2184 kW to recharge the battery with 120 kJ to slow the car to 176 km/h in fifth. The peak G-force here is 5.4G.

From here, the drivers try to maintain as smooth a line as possible to maximise their speed on to the start-finish straight.

Performance and reliability


The Monza circuit requires a low downforce setting that must be efficient at medium speed to ensure a good balance while braking.

The DRS is not very effective in Monza (may be worth about 6 km/h gain in speed compared to the 18 km/h that are seen at Spa), since cars will have only a very small main flap – but it can be more useful for overtaking where the benefit could be 16 km/h of top speed.


The track of Monza is especially hard on brake cooling: you must find the right adjustment to avoid excessive temperature drop of the discs while on the straights. The contrast between the straights and the violent braking for the chicanes is one of the more extreme of the year.


The Monza circuit is one of the three least difficult for teams in terms of gear changes – behind Silverstone and Spa. There are 1961 gear changes in the race. The analysis from WinTAX shows that eighth gear can get particularly stressed as it is used more than 30 percent of the lap, while sixth gear is used for approximately 20 percent of the lap.

Magneti Marelli gearbox telemetry
Magneti Marelli gearbox telemetry

Photo by: Magneti Marelli


Monza is very tough on the power unit – and is up there with Spa and Bahrain in terms of being most challenging. The engine is used at full power for 69% of the lap, since there are four long runs at full power. The circuit is quite sensitive to power: and teams will need the maximum energy recovery possible so they are not left without the extra power at key sections. Good acceleration is also a must from the chicanes.

Magneti Marelli engine telemetry
Magneti Marelli engine telemetry

Photo by: Magneti Marelli


Fuel consumption at this track is not critical because 88 kg of fuel is sufficient to complete the race distance. The value is relatively low: but it is not too surprising considering that the low downforce settings means that drag is reduced. The smaller wings save more than 10 percent of fuel compared to a higher downforce configuration.


Monza does not allow a large energy recovery on the brakes with the MGU-K because cars are braking only for 11.3 seconds per lap. But there is a greater chance to recover energy from exhaust gases due to the high mileage at full throttle.

On this track it is possible to recover braking with 735 kJ through the MGU-K and 3203 kJ in acceleration with the MGU-H - for a total of 3938 kJ per lap. The value is second only to Baku where teams could recover 4954 kJ per lap.

A performance contribution of 57 percent from the ERS at full strength corresponds to 2.8 seconds for every lap – and 19 km/h top speed.

Whiting to meet with Vettel, Raikkonen over Verstappen
Previous article

Whiting to meet with Vettel, Raikkonen over Verstappen

Next article

Perez expects to sort future by Singapore GP

Perez expects to sort future by Singapore GP
Load comments
How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison Prime

How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison

He’s had a hand in world championship-winning Formula 1 cars for Benetton, Renault and Mercedes, and was also a cog in the Schumacher-Ferrari axis. Having recently ‘moved upstairs’ as Mercedes chief technical officer, James Allison tells Stuart Codling about his career path and why being axed by Benetton was one of the best things that ever happened to him.

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2021
The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback Prime

The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback

It’s easy to look at Robert Kubica’s second Formula 1 career and feel a sense of sadness that he didn’t reach the heights for which he seemed destined. But as Ben Anderson discovered, performance and results are almost meaningless in this context – something more fundamental and incredible happened…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2021
The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver for McLaren Prime

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver for McLaren

From being lapped by his own teammate in Monaco to winning at Monza, it’s been a tumultuous first season at McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo. But, as he tells STUART CODLING, there’s more to the story of his turnaround than having a lovely summer holiday during Formula 1's summer break...

Formula 1
Nov 26, 2021
The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title Prime

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title

As the battle continues to rage over the F1 2021 drivers' championship, teams up and down the grid are turning their attentions to the prize money attributed to each position in the constructors' standings. But F1's sliding scale rules governing wind tunnel and CFD use will soften the blow for those who miss out on the top places

Formula 1
Nov 25, 2021
The invisible enemy that's made Hamilton's title charge tougher Prime

The invisible enemy that's made Hamilton's title charge tougher

After winning his past few Formula 1 titles as a canter, Lewis Hamilton currently trails Max Verstappen by eight points heading into the final double-header of 2021. Although Red Bull has been his biggest on-track challenge, Hamilton feels that he has just as much to grapple with away from the circuit

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2021
Why F1's inconvenient penalties have to stay Prime

Why F1's inconvenient penalties have to stay

OPINION: Quibbles over the length of time taken by Formula 1's stewards over decisions are entirely valid. But however inconvenient it is, there can be no questioning the importance of having clearly defined rules that everyone understands and can stick to. Recent events have shown that ambiguity could have big consequences

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021's title fight climax Prime

The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021's title fight climax

OPINION: Red Bull has had Formula 1’s fastest package for most of 2021, but in several of the title run-in events it has wasted the RB16B’s potential. It cannot afford to do so again with Lewis Hamilton motoring back towards Max Verstappen in the drivers’ standings with two rounds remaining

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
Qatar Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Qatar Grand Prix driver ratings

Qatar was a virtual unknown for most as Formula 1 made its inaugural visit to the Gulf state, and tyre management quickly emerged as an even more critical factor than normal. Perhaps then it should come as no surprise that two of the championship's elder statesmen produced standout drives

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2021