Is the Italian GP at Monza the spiritual home of F1 now?

As DJ is holding his BBC boycott protest it falls to me to report on what may have come over as an error by the BBC commentary team last weekend when they said that the old banked Monza circuit was last used in 1961 and maybe gave the impression that it was always used up until that point and never since.

The banked track at Monza still exists and you see the North banking clearly as the cars come down from Lesmo 2 and the cars come under the bridge. When the banking was used the cars would start, as now, from the left side of the pit straight, do a conventional lap of the road course, but on the exit of the Parabolica would keep right past the pits and on to the North banking, off that and down the straight to the South banking and then emerge from that onto the left side of the pit straight to start the next lap.

This combined course was ready in time for the Italian GP in 1955, and was used again for F1 in only three more years; 1956, 1960 and 1961, but was also used for the 1000kms Monza sports/GT world championship race through until 1969, reverting to the road course only from the 1970 race.

The banking was threatened with demolition a few years back, but a concerted campaign saw that off for the time being. It can’t last forever without some work, and therefore money, being invested, but it would be good to think that it will be around for a while as a reminder of a different era in motor sport.

Monza is one of the great tracks and about the only one that is around from the start of the F1 world championship that the guys who raced then would still recognise. Silverstone is a very different track now, Spa is so much shorter, and the others are long gone from the scene. France may have held the first GP, but that has been off the calendar for a while now. The UK may be home to more teams than anywhere else, but Italy, through Monza, has that F1 world championship continuity and, with such passionate fans, has a good claim to be the spiritual home of F1, and why not?

 

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