Italian GP: Welcome to Monza, home of the F1 fanatic

Monza fans
Budge up: The tifosi gather at the podium in 2006 to catch a glimpse of the retiring Michael Schumacher

The only way to follow one beloved race track is to head straight to another a week later.

Belgium might not have served up an instant classic this time around - the heart-in-the-mouth first-corner crash the only real talking point - but Sebastian Vettel's fifth win of the season is still enough to keep the hunt for the championship alive and well heading into the formidable Italian Grand Prix.

Daniel Ricciardo summed up Monza best when he said: "The fans are nuts, typical Italians. Very passionate." If you search the crowds for another team's colours you'll be out of luck. The sea of red, yellow and black is as dominant as the green, white and red of the Italian flag.

Climbing over barriers, sporting painted faces and fancy dress, setting off vibrant red flares in the middle of the crowds; only the craziness of the Japanese contingent at Suzuka can match the hero worship the tifosi puts on display.

And if there's one thing guaranteed to get the Italian masses hot under the collar, it's a Ferrari victory on home soil.

As one of the longest running events on the current calendar, this 5.793km circuit has seen it all. Michael Schumacher still holds the record at 'La Pista Magica' with five victories between 1996-2006.

Italian Grand Prix fans in 2001
Find a spot, hang your banners and watch the action unfold in front of you...or on a portable TV

During his post-race news conference in 2000, the seven-time world champion stunned fans when he broke down in tears after equalling Ayrton Senna's tally of 41 wins.

It was a sight the F1 world had never seen before; even Schumacher himself once commented: "I'm probably too German for a lot of the tifosi. Too serious, not enough ups and downs, not enough emotions. People love that, particularly in Italy."

This time, however, his emotions spilled out for all to see, consoled on either side by McLaren's Mika Hakkinen and brother Ralf in third for Williams.

Fast forward six years and it was Monza where Schumacher chose to announce he was retiring from the sport following his 90th career triumph. Taking to the podium for the beginning of his long goodbye, the congregation gathered below to savour the moment with a racing legend.

He may have had to work a little harder for the Italian love than some of the other Formula 1 greats but, in the end, the fanatical tifosi got what they wanted: a Ferrari icon on their turf.

Now it's the turn of another German world champion to use the Monza magic to his advantage. With a championship deficit cut to 17 points following victory at Spa, Vettel has the opportunity to win back-to-back races for the second time this season.

After Lewis Hamilton expressed his concern about Ferrari's pace advantage, will the unmistakable radio message of "grazie, grazie. Forza Ferrari" be ringing in the air at the drop of the chequered flag?

Lewis Hamilton
Qualifying was delayed for two hours in 2017 as torrential rain lashed the circuit at Monza. The wet weather didn't stop Lewis Hamilton, however, who broke the all-time record for pole positions by taking the 69th of his career, eclipsing the record previously held by Michael Schumacher. "It is an awesome way to pay homage and respect to him as a great, and kind of picking up the baton from him," Hamilton said

Flashback quiz

Three seems to be the magic number at the Italian Grand Prix.

Since 1953, six drivers have recorded three race wins each at the legendary Monza circuit.

To help you in your quest in gaining top marks, we've provided some handy hints and bits of trivia for every answer.

Naturally, there are three minutes on the clock to crack this one.

Triple Monza winners

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Previously in F1: Round 13 - Belgium

Esteban Ocon
Feel the Force: Standard stuff on the front of the grid following Saturday's qualifying session; Lewis Hamilton stormed to pole position in the wet ahead of rival Sebastian Vettel. But the big shock of the day was the Force Indias of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez locking out the second row just days after the team was rescued from going out of business
McLaren's Fernando Alonso and Sauber's Charles Leclerc
Salute to the halo: It's been the topic of much debate since it was introduced at the start of the season but at Spa, the halo device proved its worth following a multi-car crash at the first corner involving Nico Hulkenburg, Charles Leclerc and the soaring McLaren of Fernando Alonso. Sebastian Vettel kept his cool to pass Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes and close the gap in the championship before the F1 tour heads to Italy

The track

A graphic to show the track layout and number of laps (53) at Monza

Back pocket facts

  • In 1454, a real human chess game took place in Marostica, Italy, with the winner awarded the hand of Lionora, daughter of the ruler Taddeo Parisio. To commemorate the event each September in even-numbered years, the town's main piazza becomes a life-sized chess board.
  • In 2014, WhatsApp was cited in nearly half of Italian divorces. Forty percent of marriages that hit the rocks claimed the free messaging service played a role in the break-up, with a leading Italian divorce lawyer saying it encouraged the return of the 'Latin lover'.
  • The mayor of Falciano del Massico, a small town in southern Italy, banned its residents from dying after declaring the local cemetery was full. The 3,700 citizens had to travel several kilometres down the road to attend a funeral or to be buried.
  • The surname Ferrari derives from the Latin word "ferrum" - which means "iron" - and was an occupational surname for blacksmiths. In Italy, Ferrari is basically the English equivalent of the last name Smith.

Drivers' social

Valtteri Bottas
Sign the petition to bring this haircut back. Valtteri Bottas turned 29 years old on Tuesday
Fernando Alonso
Fernando says a last goodbye and thank you to the fans at Monza
Pierre Gasly
Ciao Milano! The Toro Rosso and Sauber boys pose at the F1 Festival

How to follow on BBC Sport

BBC Sport has live coverage of all the season's races on BBC Radio 5 live and BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, plus live online commentary on the BBC Sport website and mobile app - including audience interaction, expert analysis, debate, voting, features, interviews and video content.

All times BST and are subject to change at short notice.

Italian Grand Prix coverage details
DateSessionTimeRadio coverageOnline text commentary
Thursday, 30 AugustPreview21:30-22:00BBC Radio 5 live
Friday, 31 AugustFirst practice09:55-11:35BBC Sport onlineFrom 09;30
Second practice13:55-15:35BBC Sport onlineFrom 13:30
Friday, 31 AugustAlonso special21:30-22:00BBC Sport online
Saturday, 1 SeptemberFinal practice10:55-12:05BBC Sport onlineFrom 10:30 (continuous)
Qualifying13:55-15:05BBC Sport online
Sunday, 2 SeptemberRace14:10-16:00BBC Radio 5 liveFrom 12:30
Monday, 3 SeptemberReview04:30-05:00BBC Radio 5 live

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