The 2023 Formula 1 World Championship battle continues this weekend with round 15, the Italian Grand Prix.

The race is the final European round this season and takes place once again at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, located just outside of Milan. The circuit is nicknamed the Temple of Speed, as top speeds regularly eclipse 217 mph during an F1 weekend.

The Italian Grand Prix, like the British Grand Prix, has been on the F1 calendar since the inaugural 1950 season. It’s been held at Monza every year except 1980, when it was held at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari located at Imola. In recent years, F1 has added a second Italian round held at Imola, known as the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. It was canceled this year due to heavy flooding at its scheduled time.

Monza remains the only historic high-speed track still hosting an F1 race. But the Italian Grand Prix is much older than F1, as its first race was held in 1921. Monza was built the following year, making it more than a hundred years old. It hosted its first Italian Grand Prix just a week after completion.

Autodromo Nazionale Monza, home of the Formula 1 Italian Grand PrixAutodromo Nazionale Monza, home of the Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix

Today, Monza’s 3.6-mile track layout consists of a series of straights and some tight chicanes. The circuit contains just 11 corners, four to the left and seven to the right. That is the second fewest of the year, behind only the Austrian Grand Prix’s Red Bull Ring which has 10.

Drivers typically spend 77% of the lap time and 80% of the lap distance at full throttle. Only the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix’s Jeddah Street Circuit sees a higher amount of time spent at full throttle, at 82%. As a result, cars are set up for low downforce to maximize their top speeds. This in turn makes them more dependent on the mechanical traction from the tires to provide grip through the corners. Pirelli has nominated its C3 compound as the White hard, C4 as the Yellow medium, and C5 as the Red soft, a slightly softer combination than last year.

The weather at Monza this time of year tends to be hot, which is good as the long straights mean the tires can cool too much when the weather is milder. The current forecast calls for warm and sunny conditions during both Saturday’s qualifying session and Sunday’s race, with 87 degrees F (31 degrees C) expected to be the top temperature.

Going into the weekend, Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen leads the 2023 Drivers’ Championship with 339 points. Fellow Red Bull driver Sergio Perez is second with 201 points and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso is third with 168 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Red Bull leads with 540 points, versus the 255 of Mercedes-Benz AMG in second and 215 of Aston Martin in third. Last year’s winner at Monza was Verstappen driving for Red Bull.

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