Italian Grand Prix

Italian GP 2016

2016 Italian Grand Prix – race report

"I couldn’t have wished for anything better"

Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, Sunday September 4

Neither McLaren-Honda finished in the points at Monza this afternoon, despite spirited scraps from both drivers throughout the race.

Jenson’s afternoon was compromised by a messy first lap, but he recovered brilliantly, putting his head down to carve back through the field and finish on the tail of 11th-placed Romain Grosjean.

Fernando made a strong start, but was delayed by a pit-stop traffic-light issue at his first stop. He was passed by Jenson, who ran a set of Options in his third stint as opposed to Fernando’s set of Primes, then elected to make a late stop to fit a set of Options. He enlivened a somewhat uneventful afternoon by blasted away to set the fastest lap of the race.

Another notable landmark was achieved today: our timing system measured a 2.15s stop for Fernando on lap 33, our fastest-ever tyre stop.


Started: 12th
Finished: 14th
Fastest Lap: 1m25.340s on lap 51 (1st)
Pitstops: Three: laps 13 (5.21s), 33 (2.15s) and 49 (2.62s) [Option-Prime-Prime-Option] 

“We didn’t do a perfect race today – we made some mistakes here and there, including having a problem in the first pit stop, when the green light didn’t work. We lost a little bit of time there which probably compromised the stint.

“We didn’t really have the pace to be in the points today, so finishing 11th or 14th didn’t really make much of a difference. But at least we finished the race on a positive note, by setting the fastest lap.

“We fitted new tyres for the last two laps and I just went out and maximised the grip. It doesn’t make for much difference – it’s only good for the stats – as we were basically never in the running for points today.

“This was a circuit where we always knew we wouldn’t be competitive, but I think good times are coming our way from now on, as most of the remaining tracks on the calendar should better suit our car.”


Started: 14th
Finished: 12th
Fastest Lap: 1m26.354s on lap 40 (+1.014s, 6th)
Pitstops: Two: laps 15 (4.45s), and 28 (2.70s) [Option-Prime-Option] 

“There were a few mistakes on the first lap. I got a bad start, then, at the first Lesmo, one of the Saubers pushed me wide, then forced me off the circuit and into the gravel. I was last at the end of the first lap…

“After that, I couldn’t have wished for anything better: I had a lot of fun out there and pulled off some good overtaking moves, including one around the outside of Parabolica – something that doesn’t happen very often!

“I’m very happy with my performance. To come through and finish 12th isn’t great, but it wasn’t too bad considering the first lap. There’ll always be ifs and buts: if I hadn’t gone off on the first lap, I think we could have got into the points today.

“Singapore will definitely suit us better than here – this is our toughest circuit of the year, so to be that close to the top 10 wasn’t too bad, really.”

ERIC BOULLIER - Racing director, McLaren-Honda

“We always knew that Monza was going to be one of the toughest races of the year for us from an overall car performance point of view, so the fact that we finished 12th and 14thtoday isn’t a surprise.

“Having said that, both our cars ran flawlessly, reliable from lights to flag, and our race pace was reasonable throughout.

“Jenson and Fernando had a good dice at one point – hard but fair – and I’m sure their battle must have made for great viewing for TV viewers and grandstand spectators alike. It sometimes looked a little too close for complete comfort from our pit-wall, but McLaren always lets its drivers race, and rightly so. After all, our drivers are both super-experienced professionals and they know exactly what they’re doing. Equally, we may be a very serious and focused organisation, but we should never forget that we’re also in the entertainment business.

“Talking of entertainment, we were happy to allow Fernando to make an extra pit-stop and take on a new set of Supersoft tyres just before the end of the race, the result of which was that he was able to record the afternoon’s fastest lap – the 22nd of his Formula 1 career.

“Next we go to Singapore, a diametrically different kind of racetrack. We’re always aware of the danger of over-promising, so I won’t do so; but it’s likely that the twisty streets of Marina Bay will suit our car rather better than the wide-open curves and flat-out straights of the Autodromo di Monza have this afternoon.

“We’ll be gunning for points, make no mistake about that.”

YUSUKE HASEGAWA - Honda R&D head of F1 project & executive chief engineer

“As we expected, this was a difficult race.

“We definitely saw improvement and stability in race pace from our qualifying, although we still weren’t able to challenge the teams ahead of us.

“It was unfortunate that we couldn’t finish in the points today, but we showed potential to do so. Both the drivers and the team did a great job, and I think we had a good race at a tough circuit, so I’m not unhappy.

“We’re already looking forward to the next race where we hope we can have a better result.”


2016 Italian Grand Prix preview


#14 Fernando Alonso

"As we saw in Azerbaijan, the developments that have been made to these turbo cars mean they’re now incredibly fast, and we’re going to see some serious speeds along the straights at Monza.

This is always such a quick race – it’s over in a flash – and while it’s not always the most enjoyable to race with such low grip, the feeling of speed is phenomenal."


#22 Jenson Button

"I love the notion of coming to a racetrack that’s distinctly different from the others. We saw that in Spa last weekend – it’s no secret that, along with places like Monaco, Singapore and Suzuka, it’s also one of the circuits that the fans most love – and Monza is no exception.

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."


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)
Name Autodromo Nazionale di Monza
First race 1950
Circuit length  5.793km/3.600 miles
Distance to Turn One 380m/0.236 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 
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
Major changes for 2016 None, except for a few changes to the kerbs 
Fuel consumption 1.89 per lap, which is average
ERS demands Medium. There are four straights along which the cars exceed 320km/h (199mph), but only a few slow corners at which to harvest energy under braking 
Brake wear High. There are only six braking events around the lap, but all are from high speed
Gear changes 46 per lap/2,438 per race



History lesson: 
Monza has staged more world championship grands prix than any other circuit. 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’s located inside the walls of a royal park and it remains the fastest circuit on the calendar.

What makes the track unique: 
The long straights. 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: 
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.

Average. 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 ’62, 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.

Watch out for…: 
Turn Seven, the second Lesmo. This 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.


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
When to press record The start. 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 
Don’t put the kettle 
Between laps 20 and 30. Every car in the top 10 made only one pitstop last year, stopping at 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)
Weather conditions now   23 degrees
Race forecast 24 degrees
Tyre choices Supersoft/Soft/Medium, the same combination that was used at last weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix



First Italian Grand Prix: 

La Pista Magica.

Italy's F1 heritage: 
The country is steeped in racing history. Monza is the third oldest permanent circuit in the world, after Brooklands in the UK and Indianapolis in the USA, and Ferrari is the sport’s oldest team. Given such a long-standing passion for racing, it’s one of the great anomalies that there has been no Italian world champion since Alberto Ascari in 1953.

Smallest winning margin:  
0.7s, in 1961. Ferrari dominated the weekend: Phil Hill took pole position, from team-mate Wolfgang von Trips, and the American then headed home a Ferrari 1-2-3-4 in the race, coming home just ahead of his German team-mate.

Sporting legacy:
Until 2006 there were often two grands prix in Italy, one at Imola and the other at Monza. Now there’s only one race, at Monza, and it’s usually a sell-out. There’s always a fabulous atmosphere in the grandstands, as exemplified by the enormous crowd under the podium at the end of the race.

Did you know? 
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.

Don’t forget: 
McLaren has won the Italian Grand Prix 10 times, most recently in 2012. Fernando Alonso has won the race twice, in 2007 with McLaren, and again in 2010; Jenson Button has finished second on three occasions. 

Fan zone:
Claire, aged 27, from London, asks: “How much work goes into the low downforce specification used at Monza?”

McLaren’s answer: “A bit of windtunnel time goes into perfecting the aero performance of the car, but not as much as in the past. Monza is now the only true low-downforce track of the year, and you cannot single out one race more than the others. A lot of work goes into brake cooling because you want the ducts to be as small as possible for aero purposes, but big enough to keep brake temperatures under control.”


#14 Fernando Alonso

“Obviously, I have plenty of happy memories of racing in Italy, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have been the subject of both the Tifosi’s approval – and also their disapproval! But they are some of the greatest fans in the world, and their passion is what makes coming to Monza each year such a legendary experience. In many ways, Monza traditionally brings the curtain down on one part of the season, and the beginning of another – so it’s always an exciting place.”

#22 Jenson Button

“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.”


Eric Boullier
McLaren-Honda Racing Director

“As double-header races go, the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps and Autodromo Nazionale di Monza are a pretty epic combination. Both are dauntingly fast, achingly beautiful motor racing arenas, where the sport’s giants have triumphed, and where some of the greatest stories in Formula 1 have been forged.

“After Spa, we head to Monza with the knowledge and understanding that it won’t play to the full strengths of our latest package, but keen to further demonstrate the progress we’ve recently been making. Monza is likely to be another tough test, but we’re confident of the momentum we’ve gathered, and it’ll be interesting to see where we stand at a venue that favours out-and-out power above anything else.

“Still, there’s a determination and vigour within all at McLaren-Honda to see out the European season competitively, and to continue fighting as we head into the end-of-year flyways.”

Yusuke Hasegawa
Honda R&D Co Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer

“Monza is a high-speed, power-hungry, classic and legendary track with the longest full throttle percentage per lap on the 2016 calendar. The long straights and the nature of the turns will undoubtedly give us a difficult time over the race weekend, but we cannot deny the strong pull Monza has for everyone in F1, including Honda. The fans are incredibly passionate about the sport, and the atmosphere is nothing short of electric come race day. It’s always a special feeling to be part of the pinnacle of racing in Italy.

“The team did a great job pulling our strengths together last weekend despite Spa being a challenging track, and with the reliability issues we faced. The team was tested many times, but owing to their hard work and perseverance, we had a decent weekend.

“We will continue to target finishing in the points in the race, however tough it may be this weekend. We’re still investigating the problem with Fernando's power units, but we’ll learn from our experiences and hopefully have another good weekend in Monza.”


Italian GP map


2016 Italian Grand Prix

The Italian Grand Prix is an ever-present on the F1 World Championship calendar, and Monza represents its last remaining circuit dedicated to pure speed. Like Monaco at the other end of the scale, Monza requires a car outside the normal parameters. With only three chicanes and three corners to link the long straights, downforce is sacrificed in favour of drag reduction, with minimal ‘Monza-spec’ rear wings allowing the cars to accelerate up to top speeds in excess of 360km/h (224mph).

It isn’t quite so brutally simplistic as it sounds. End-of-straight speed is perhaps less important than the velocity a driver can carry onto the straights: the nature of acceleration in F1 ensures that a car carrying an extra 10km/h (6mph) out of the corners will maintain that advantage down the length of that straight.

A lot of attention is paid to vehicle dynamics and setting the cars up to ride the kerbs at Monza’s chicanes. Since the addition of higher ‘sleeping policemen’ behind the primaries, drivers aren’t able to take quite so many liberties, but it’s still important to straighten the line through the Rettifilo and Roggia chicanes and get good exits on the straights. That suggests quite a soft car – but the faster Ascari chicane is more about a quick change of direction, which means suspension can’t be too soft. The fast Parabolica and Lesmo corners would also benefit from harder suspension and more downforce – but the circuit characteristics mean that drivers simply have to do the best they can and hang on with a nervous car.

McLaren’s record at Monza includes ten victories, stretching back all the way to Denny Hulme in 1968. In more recent times, Fernando won here for McLaren in 2007, his first of two Italian Grand Prix victories.



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