F1 2016 Monza Italian Grand Prix: Hamilton chases 50th career win
PUBLISHED: 10:15 04 September 2016 | UPDATED: 10:32 04 September 2016
World champion Lewis Hamilton is chasing his 50th career Formula One victory in today’s 2016 Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
The 31-year-old Mercedes driver from Hertfordshire stormed to his 56th F1 pole position in qualifying at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza on Saturday.
He powered to first place on the starting grid with a blistering lap time of 1m 21.135s – nearly half a second quicker than Silver Arrows colleague Nico Rosberg.
Hamilton has a great track record at the fabled Pista Magica, having three times converted pole position into victory at the Italian circuit.
The Stevenage-born F1 racer won the Italian GP at Monza in 2012, 2014 and 2015, and was runner-up in his rookie 2007 season. Lewis has also set fastest laps at the track in 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015.
Last year he completed the hat-trick of pole, fastest lap and taking the chequered flag.
The three-time world champion has great memories of racing at Monza from his younger days.
He said of the track: “I know it well from so many racing categories throughout my career and it’s one impossible not to love.
“The speed, the history, the atmosphere... it’s just so iconic in every way.
“Standing on that amazing podium, looking out over a sea of fans on the straight, has to be up there as of the most incredible experiences a sportsman can have.
“I had a perfect weekend on track there last year. If I can repeat that it would be amazing.
“It’s game on for me now with the penalties out of the way and fresh engines ready to use.”
Monza has staged more world championship grands prix than any other circuit and it is a high-speed, power-hungry track with the longest full throttle percentage per lap on the 2016 calendar.
2016 Italian Grand Prix – Monza circuit stats
• 2015 winner: Lewis Hamilton, 53 laps, 1:18:00.688s
• 2015 pole position: Lewis Hamilton, 1m23.397s
• 2015 fastest lap: Lewis Hamilton, 1m26.672s (lap 48)
• Circuit length: 5.793km/3.600 miles (sixth longest of the season)
• Distance to Turn One: 380m/0.236 miles (longest of season: Barcelona 730m/0.454 miles)
• Longest straight: 1.120km/0.696 miles, on the approach to Turn One
• Top speed: 370km/h/230mph, on the approach to Turn One (the fastest of the season)
• Pitlane length: 420m/0.261 miles, estimated time loss 24s (longest of season: Silverstone, 489m/0.304 miles)
• Full throttle: 75 per cent (the highest of the season)
• DRS zones: Two, on the approaches to Turns One and Eight
• Key corner: Turn 11, Parabolica, a 180-degree right-hander to end the lap. The cars approach the corner at 330km/h (206mph), slow to 1180km/h before clipping an early apex and getting on the power as quickly as possible because the longest straight on the lap follows
• Fastest corner: 295km/h (183mph), Turn Three
• Slowest corner: 80km/h (50mph), Turn One
• Start time: 14:00hrs local/13:00hrs BST
• Race distance: 53 laps (full world championship points will be awarded after 75 per cent distance/40 laps)
• Safety Car likelihood: Low. There is only a 43 per cent chance of a Safety Car.
It was built in 1922 by the Milan branch of the Italian Automobile Club and only once, in 1980, has the track not been on the F1 calendar.
It is located inside the walls of a royal park and it remains the fastest circuit on the calendar.
The track’s long straights make it unique. The cars exceed 320km/h (199mph) on four occasions around the lap, resulting in the highest average speed of the season – 255km/h (158mph).
Grip levels are low. Straight-line speed is vital at Monza, so the cars run in their lowest downforce configuration of the season.
As a result, they produce less aerodynamic grip and become more of a handful to drive, especially under braking.
The run-off area is average by today’s standards. Until the death of Wolfgang von Trips in 1961, Monza was a flat-out oval.
In an effort to slow the cars, the layout was changed to a road course in 1662, and 10 years after that, the first chicane was added to slow the cars further.
The most recent change in the name of safety was the addition of asphalt run-off at the exit of Parabolica in 2015.
Despite that, the circuit has some stunning corners.
Turn Seven, the second Lesmo, is a deceptively fast right-hander (280km/h/174mph) and it’s vital to maintain a good exit speed because it’s followed by the second longest straight on the lap, along which the second DRS zone is located.
McLaren-Honda driver Jenson Button, who confirmed yesterday (Saturday) that he’ll not be racing in 2017, loves the Italian circuit.
He said: “People often think that Monza is all about the straights, with tight, small corners – but that’s not really true: corners like the Lesmos, the Ascari chicane and Parabolica are big, fast corners that require precision and commitment. It’s a great track.”
The track is very wide along the start-finish straight, which gives the cars plenty of room for manoeuvre on the long run to Turn One.
The cars are travelling at close to 300km/h (186mph) by the braking point, which usually results in some excitement as they slow for the slowest corner on the track.
The leaders are expected to make just one tyre stop today, around half-distance.
Drivers try to do as few stops as possible at Monza because pitstops are very expensive – the pitlane is long and the cars are limited to 80km/h (50mph), while rivals pass on-track at 370km/h (230mph).
Button, who lines up 14th on the grid, added: “What is there left to say about Monza? It’s a unique, incredible racetrack.
“I love that its history surrounds the place – you just can’t ignore it. I also love that unique blend of Italian passion – and chaos – that engulfs the weekend. “It also signals the end of the European season – which seems to have disappeared in a flash – so it’s a time of year when you really start to narrow your focus before the final fly-aways.”
Statistically, pole position is more important at Monza than at Monaco.
The winner of the Italian Grand Prix has started from pole in 13 out of the last 17 races, compared to only 10 occasions in Monte Carlo.
Today’s race starts at 1pm BST.
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