Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams, Monza, 2004

2017 Italian Grand Prix stats preview

2017 Italian Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

Having matched Michael Schumacher’s record for most pole positions in Belgium, the chances are very good Lewis Hamilton will break it this weekend. But that’s not the only major F1 record which could fall this weekend.

Race history

Start, Monza, 2014
Mercedes power dominated the front of the grid in 2014
Since the V6 hybrid turbo era began in 2014 Mercedes have had great form at Monza, a track which prizes outright power above all else. Hamilton has taken pole position on each of the last three occasions. If he takes four in a row this weekend he will be the second person to do so in the Italian Grand Prix, emulating Ayrton Senna’s achievement between 1988 and 1991.

Hamilton is currently tied with Senna and Juan Manuel Fangio for most pole position at this race with five.

The grid for the past three Italian Grands Prix paint an interesting picture of how dominant Mercedes were at the beginning of the new engine regulations and how other teams have started to catch them.

In 2014 Mercedes swept the front row and Mercedes-powered cars (Williams and McLaren) occupied the next four places on the grid. In 2015 every car which reached Q3 was powered by a Mercedes apart from the two Ferraris, which qualified second and third.

Last year Mercedes swept the front row again but their customer teams were further back. Ferrari took the second row and while Valtteri Bottas put his Williams-Mercedes fifth he was followed by the two Red Bulls.

Go ad-free for just £1 per month

>> Find out more and sign up

Mercedes have won the last three Italian Grands Prix and took one-twos in 2014 and 2016. In 2015 Nico Rosberg was running third when his power unit failed.

The arrival of the V6 hybrid turbos also brought a leap in top speeds. The quickest V8 car through the speed trap during qualifying in 2013 hit 340.4kph (211.5mph) but 12 months later that rose to 353.9kph (219.9mph). Last year the cars hit 357.6kph (222.2mph) at the same point. The wider, draggier cars may not be quiet as quick this year, but their average speed over a lap may be even quicker.

The form book

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Monza, 2010
Ferrari’s last home win was seven years ago
Hamilton’s Spa victory means he has won the most races this year with five. However Sebastian Vettel has the most second places – also five – and it’s the which is making the difference in the points standings at the moment.

Vettel leads Hamilton by seven with eighth races to go. If Hamilton wins with Vettel second again this weekend they will head to the final flyaway races tied at the top of the table.

Hamilton will be hoping Bottas can get between him and Vettel. But Monza wasn’t a particularly strong venue for Bottas during his Williams years: Felipe Massa beat him to the podium in 2014 and 2015.

As for the home favourites, this could be Ferrari’s best chance of winning at Monza since Fernando Alonso’s triumph in 2010. That was also the last time a Ferrari started from pole here.

Lap times

Juan Pablo Montoya’s lap of 1’19.525 in qualifying for the 2004 Italian Grand Prix remains the fastest ever lap by a Formula One car in an official session at any circuit. His Williams-BMW averaged 262.242kph (162.95mph) around the 5.793km Monza course which has been unchanged since the 2000 season.

Could the fastest lap in F1 history be seen this weekend? The quickest lap last year was 1.61 seconds off the record. In the 12 grands prix so far this year, F1 cars have registered an improvement of at least that much on nine occasions.

But consider the characteristics of the three tracks where F1 cars have gained less than 1.61 seconds this year. Monaco, Bahrain and Montreal are all dominated by low-speed corners and, in the case of the latter two, long straights. There’s ample reason to expect F1 cars won’t gain quite enough to rival the all-time record this weekend.

It should be close, however. In Canada the cars were 1.3 seconds faster than last year. A sub-1’20 lap time isn’t unrealistic and if someone gets a good slipstream the record might just fall.

Race ratings

How F1 Fanatic readers have rated the Italian Grand Prix in recent years.

Join in Rate the Race when the chequered flag falls at the end of this year’s race. You will need a (free) F1 Fanatic account to participate:

2017 Italian Grand Prix

Browse all 2017 Italian Grand Prix articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

46 comments on “2017 Italian Grand Prix stats preview”

  1. As much as I like Monza as circuit, I have no hope whatsoever for this race to be interesting. Chance of a Mercedes win: 90%. Although if Ferrari pulls it off, I’ll eat my words and my hat.
    I want to eat my hat.

    1. Hi Dad, sorry but since last FIA sentence today over oil burning allowed in Monza, MB should’ve 100% win. And so for remaining races. FIA at least cleared its place between right or left or upper side of desk. FAIR well done, FIA & Mercedes Co.Ltd.

      1. Wondered why MB introduced their last ICEs for the Spa race. Seems from the Italian GP onwards any ICE introduced must use less then 0.6l of oil per 100km. Does this mean new designs or existing designs? Guess MB chose to avoid the question coming up by getting their last units into play before the deadline

        1. it’s less than 0,9l/100 km (down from 1,2l/100km) @frasier not 0,6l

          1. OK, I was just going off what was published on motorsport.com…

    2. I predict a Hamilton/Vettel front row with Vettel leading during the first stint. I don’t think Mercedes will be that much stronger than Ferrari (maybe 1.5 – 2 tenths in qualifying), but whether that makes for a more ‘interesting’ race is an unknown at this point.

    3. 2014 LEW NIC FEL
      2015 LEW VET FEL (Nico retired due to engine failure)
      2016 NIC LEW VET

      Yeah I guess nothing much to look forward to :( unless it rains or something

  2. I bet there’s going to be a lot of towing in qualifying come Saturday. I wonder if even Mercedes will try it, as I can definitely see Ferrari doing it (as they always seem to do as it is Monza).

    1. im thinking the same thing. i would be very surprised if mercedes dont try it also.

      1. tgu (@thegrapeunwashed)
        30th August 2017, 11:23

        @ijw1 @lucifer I reckon Verstappen will benefit from a tow too, if not on Saturday then definitely come Sunday. :-(

  3. This year the rear wings are bigger, so therefore, the teams can afford to make them skinnier than in recent seasons. More or less as skinny as they used to be before the 2009 aero changes. What I’m more interested in, though, is how much faster this year’s pole lap will be compared to last year’s equivalent. I think the gap will be something between Bahrain (approximately 0.7 seconds faster than 2016) and Canada (approximately 1.4 seconds to 2016) or something between Canada and Australia (about 1.6 seconds to 2016).

  4. I have no false hopes of the Monza lap record being broken, at all. Baku has shown us:
    1. the top speeds were significantly lower than in 2016
    2. Monza has an even shorter track at 81 seconds compared to Baku’s 102 (both 2016).

    Further facts:
    – Even though the lap time in Baku was 2.2 seconds faster in 2017 compared to 2016, the top speed achieved in qualifying dropped from 378 km/h to 330 km/h, a whopping 48 km/h lower.
    – That 2.2 second improvement was also including the fact that 2016 was the first time ever, so nobody was even close to the theoretical limit on that track, which is different for a long-time known track such as Monza. In other words: (my prediction) a full second of those 2.2 is down to just being able to simulate using the on-track 2016 data and learning where to improve, the other 1+ second is of course the 2017 car itself.

    So even though I couldn’t find the exact top speed achieved in 2016, it’s safe to say that Monza, which is even more power/engine-only and no downforce at all, will not see any significant lap time gain. It’s quite a short track and I think we need to be glad if the lap time goes from 1:21.135 to 1:20.000/1:20.500.

    1. Yep, as these cars have higher downforce, they produce more drag (well, that’s a basic explanation, it’s a bit more complicated than that), so the cars go slower. We’ll be quicker than last year in terms of lap time, as a lot of time will be made up especially through the Lesmo’s and Ascari, but I doubt we’ll be that much quicker.

      1. Yeah, that is true in general. However, these cars also generate their DF differently and can go for shallower FW and RW at Monza with still keeping a lot of less draggy DF on the car @hugh11

    2. @addvariety with regards to Baku speeds you’re not comparing like for like. You’re using 2016 top speed VS 2017 speed trap, which is taken a good while before they get too.
      I only just found the race speed trap data, it’s 340 for 2016 Vs 336 for 2017.

      Of course the cars aren’t nearly 50km/h slower…

      1. @mattds Even so, they are slower (due to the higher drag) and if they try to compensate for the increased drag, the 2017 increased downforce is compromised, so either way don’t expect much faster times. That’s basically all I’m saying.

        1. @addvariety on the one hand they are more draggy, on the other hand they have more power to at least partly compensate for that. On top of it they have much higher corner entry and exit speeds meaning they get released into the straights much faster. They’re probably quite far into the straight before the 2016 car surpasses the 2017 car in terms of speed, only at that point out starts to gain.

          Now I don’t believe it will be a huge difference either. Just wanted to point out that those numbers were quite a bit off.

          1. @mattds Well, the power gains over 2016 are incremental at best. It’s the same engine, just more developed. Sure enough Renault and maybe Honda have found something in the lines of 50-70 bhp, but Mercedes and Ferrari were already at the top of their game. Let’s say it’s something like 30-40 bhp compared to 2016. When already around 900 bhp, that’s just something only an experienced driver in the same team (like Hamilton) can tell the difference between.

            I think we agree on the difference in lap time, but again you make a point out of the 2017 strong points: “much higher corner entry and exit speeds”. Which is true, if (a big IF) they keep the regular settings on the car, which is very unlikely at Monza. Of course I do agree that even so, the downforce at Monza is much better compared to 2016, but it also slows you down on the straights more than in 2016. Which is why there’s a need for compensation. If I make a comparison to road cars: the Bugatti Veyron is famous for being (one of?) the first production car(s) to go over 400 km/h and it did so while being extremely solid, comfortable and even safe. However, everything else was severely compromised: cornering and agility the most. It’s basic physics: if you have more downforce, you’re slower on the straights. And if you (I’m trying not to use the word compensate here) emulate the 2016 downforce levels to reach roughly the same straight line speed, you’ll be in a disadvantage in the corners that you could otherwise take so ridiculously quick.

            Spa was a prime example with both Red Bulls in Free Practice. Max was running the regular set-up, moderate downforce, but Daniel was trying a low-drag set-up, which made him just as quick or even slightly quicker than the Mercs in S1 and S3, but lost nearly 1.4 seconds in S2 alone. He was therefore also slower than Max at that point (by 0.8 sec I believe it was).

            I’ll say it again, but those 5 second gains every insider was talking about before the season start, was already way too much wishful thinking. They said it was on average, but surely if you look at the numbers, the circuits with high speed corners such as Silverstone and Spa offer the most gains, circuits on the other ends of the spectrum (low average speed or high average speed) don’t see nearly as much progress.

          2. @addvariety

            I think we agree on the difference in lap time, but again you make a point out of the 2017 strong points: “much higher corner entry and exit speeds”. Which is true, if (a big IF) they keep the regular settings on the car, which is very unlikely at Monza. Of course I do agree that even so, the downforce at Monza is much better compared to 2016, but it also slows you down on the straights more than in 2016. Which is why there’s a need for compensation.

            As you say yourself, it will always be true. The 2016 themselves also shed downforce, sho they also lost cornering performance as compared to the less extreme setups they use at other tracks to a varying extent. The 2017 cars will also shed downforce, just like the 2016’s did, but in the end they will still have far higher corner entry and exit speeds.
            The compensation for the lower speed that is only reached after a certain point somewhere down the straight is, as I said, the higher speed they enter said straights with (and carry for a while), the higher cornering speeds and the extra horsepower from the PU (I do not agree that a gain in the regions of 40HP would be almost unnoticeable).

            As for the Veyron: the Veyron is less agile primarily because it is a HEAVY car. As far as I can recall it also only gets over 400 if you enable a special mode that sheds downforce (which goes to underline the point being made here, actually).

            And lastly about the 5 seconds, most are making the mistake of thinking that is compared to 2016 – but it was always stupid to name a static figure instead of a percentage. 5 seconds at Spa? Well, sure, why not? But 5 seconds at Monaco? A lap around Monaco is less than half the distance of one around Spa, of course we’re not going to get to 5 seconds.

          3. @mattds Since Vettel just stated in today’s press conference that he doesn’t expect the 2017 cars to be much quicker if any, I rest my case. ;-)

          4. @addvariety well, the case will be made on track I guess…

            At the time of writing the drivers are halfway through FP1 and Hamilton is 4 tenths off last year pole. Projecting the same 1.8s improvement between FP1 and Q3 as we saw last year, we’re looking at sub 1:20 (around 1:19.7). Of course that’s not scientific at all, the gap between FP1 and Q3 is not static every race and every year, but it can serve as ballpark. We’ll see tomorrow.

          5. @mattds That’s apples and oranges, mate, from FP1 to Q3 every driver/car will become faster in general so it has literally no use compared FP1/FP2 2017 to Quali 2016. Let’s compare equal sessions so far:
            FP1 2016: 1:22.959
            FP1 2017: 1.21.537

            FP2 2016: 1.22.801
            FP2 2017: 1.21.406

            Both cases roughly 1.4 seconds faster than previous year and in both years the improvement from FP1 to FP2 was very minor. I have to admit that’s more of an improvement than I expected. If I now assume that in quali they’ll be able to get a little more performance out of the 2017 car because they can push a bit harder, then I guess the 1.21.135 of 2016 will indeed be around 1:19.700 to 1:19.500.

            I guess we’re finally agreeing on something. ;-)

          6. @addvariety well judging by the start of qualifying, I guess we will meet again next year :)

    3. I doubt the lap record will be broken, but even though Monza is a power circuit, it still has rather fast corners. Lesmos, Ascari and Parabolica should be extremely quick with these cars, never mind the shortened braking distances for all the chicanes.

      1. @kaiie Agreed, unless they need to compensate for the high downforce levels they have by default. Than those lap times won’t be that much faster anymore, just like Ascari and Parabolica. Those will be mind-blowingly fast using the Spa set-up, but I reckon most teams will opt for that 20-30 kph extra top speed.

        1. @addvariety Don’t forget braking points. This year’s cars’s brake distances are shorter than the previous years and Monza has 2 heavy braking zones and 2 medium braking zones. Your Spa analogy is also incorrect as it was still faster in s2 than last year’s red bull despite red bull running a much lower drag set-up during practice while last year’s red bull was not. In Monza, the cars would be running low-donforce setup relative to how low their downforce is last year( what i mean is that relative to their average setup).

  5. Mercedes always seem to shy away from having their drivers provide each other with a tow at power circuits, which given the animosity between Rosberg and Hamilton isn’t surprising. I do wonder if with the fairly fresh relationship between Bottas and Hamilton, and the good chance of Ferrari being a real threat at Monza (Ferrari will almost certainly be using the tactic) if this will mean Mercedes give it a go this year.

    Given the draggy nature of this years cars, even with their power unit advantage and proclivity for low drag setup, I think they’re going to need to do so, even if it’s just to make sure they lock out the front row because as much as I think Hamilton could still take pole without using a tow, I can quite easily see Bottas dropping down to 4th without some help. And if they give Bottas one then Hamilton will need one as well.

    1. Agreed, I was confused as to why they left tenths on the table by not doing this in Spa, required or not, you just never know.

      This years cars are very draggy, is it just me or did that sector 3 at Spa look far far slower than previous years? It was like the cars had hit the rev limit on a GP2 / F2 car and the bus stop took a few seconds longer to come around than expected.

  6. What are the chances of a Force India getting on the top two rows of the grid I wonder?

    1. Interesting. I think one of them might make the third row. If there are any accidents/incidents they might even get a podium. That’s if they don’t hit each other first of course ;-)

    2. Sundar Srinivas Harish
      30th August 2017, 5:55

      I think Haas would be another midfield team to look out for, given their result last year, Williams’ sophomore slump and the racier Ferrari engine.

  7. Rain is expected for practice, qualifying and race, so dont write off anyone yet… and expect one of the best races so far… :)

    1. I sincerely hope so, the weather gods haven’t given us much to get excited about this year as yet.

    2. Rain was expected for the entire Belgian GP weekend and we only saw 15 minutes of it during FP2. We aren’t going to know until Friday.

    3. Good point there @kaiser, the weather might throw the formbook around spectacularly. And also quash any hope of getting close to that top qualifying time!

    4. No rain on sunday, the highest chance of rain is on friday afternoon

      1. And we did get a bit, but not nearly enough to influence the pace a lot, in FP2

  8. Hamilton’s Spa victory means he has won the most races this year with five. However Sebastian Vettel has the most second places – also five –

    And Daniel Ricciardo has 5 third places.

    1. Nicely ranked :)

    2. And Max has 6 DNFs

  9. did monza ever complete that change to the curve grande? iirc they were going to remove the retifillio and reshape CG

    1. No. They postponed it for a year. Maybe in 2018.

      1. I guess it makes a lot of sense to see what the current cars do on the track and take that into account with how they redo the section @phil-f1-21. If I remember correctly, the change also had to do with the wishes of Moto GP, right?

        1. Here’s the proposed changes:

          The current first chicane location will still most likely be available as an optional configuration, although without it on the main straight the track seems safer for all kinds of motorsport.

          This is weird, it may be the 1st time ever that I would actually miss a chicane. The main straight is long enough, so the chicane doesn’t deprive us of anything, but gives us overtaking that just might not occur without it. I’m not sure the new tighter curva grande will give us that.

          1. I agree with you Damon. I know some people don’t like the first chicane but it is currently the best overtaking place on the circuit. It always brings some exciting incident so I actually think they should keep it or maybe some slightly amended version of it. I think the chances are the circuit will just be too fast without it there and offer even less in the way of passing chances.

Comments are closed.