Monza’s long, narrow run to a tight chicane has been the scene of several crashes since it was built in 2000.
By the late sixties time was running out for Monza’s original, chicane-free layout. Five years later the cars no longer had an uninterrupted run from the start line to the Curva Grande, and the days of spectacular oval-style slipstreaming races were over.
The 1967 race was a classic: pole sitter Jim Clark led the early stages but dropped back with a puncture. Astonishingly he retook the lead with seven laps remaining, only to be sidelined as he ran lower on fuel with a lap to go. Honda’s John Surtees launched a daring attack on Jack Brabham at the final corner and snatched victory, having only led the final few hundred metres.
The opening sequences of corners at Monza went through various iterations before the current slow chicane was adopted in 2000. The first lap of that year’s race saw a major accident at the second chicane which claimed the life of marshal Paolo Ghislimberti.
Twelve months later the race was run in the shadow of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the teams ran with tributes to the thousands who had lost their lives. The atmosphere of foreboding was heightened on Saturday, when former F1 driver Alessandro Zanardi suffered a serious accident following which both his legs had to be amputated.
In light of that and the previous year’s accident, Michael Schumacher and some other drivers lobbied for a ban on overtaking at the start of the race. Jacques Villeneuve was among those who opposed the plan, which was ultimately rejected. The first lap passed safely, though not without incident.
While Rubens Barrichello headed off in the lead, Schumacher spun on a damp track as the 2004 race got underway. At the end of lap one Barrichello’s lead was almost seven seconds – he won the race, while Schumacher recovered to complete a Ferrari one-two.
The BMW drivers started strongly in 2006 but Nick Heidfeld had a woeful first lap. After losing second to Schumacher at turn one he was passed by team mate Robert Kubica at the exit. Felipe Massa and Jenson Button demoted him halfway around the lap, and as lap two began Fernando Alonso was lining him up for a pass.
Alonso held the lead from pole position at the start while Lewis Hamilton was all over the kerbs trying to keep the Ferrari drivers behind.
Heavy rain meant the race began behind the Safety Car in 2008. Having taken his first pole position on Saturday, Sebastian Vettel followed it up with his maiden race win – and the first for Toro Rosso.
Jenson Button, taking advantage of his McLaren’s F-duct to run an unusual high-downforce rear wing configuration fended off the Ferraris at the start in 2010. Team mate Hamilton, using a conventional slim rear wing, tangled with Massa further around the opening lap and retired, which dealt a blow to his championship chances.
From fourth on the grid a stunning getaway propelled Alonso into the lead. It also kept him well clear of the carnage behind.
Vitantonio Liuzzi was caught out by the slowing pack, spun onto the grass and slammed into the pack which was negotiating the chicane. Vitaly Petrov and Nico Rosberg were eliminated and Rubens Barrichello was delayed.
Massa had his nose ahead for a few metres at the start in 2012 but Hamilton protected the inside line and held onto the lead.
Despite a big lock-up at turn one, which troubled him for the rest of his first stint, Vettel held on to the lead from pole position in 2013 to win.
Problems with his car’s start system meant Hamilton got away slowly from pole position last year, falling behind Rosberg, Kevin Magnussen and Massa. But he recovered to pass all three and won the race.
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