The Monza Circuit is one of the oldest in the Formula 1 calendar, since 1950 every year the big event happens on it’s tracks, which is located in the Monza Park, part of both Milan and Monza. This last weekend I was there for the 2014 Italian Grand Prix and I am going to tell you all about it, and give you some advices in case you go there someday for a race.
Quick facts about the circuit:
Circuit’s official name: Autodromo di Monza
Build in: 1922
First Grand Prix: 1950
Driving direction: Clockwise
Number of laps: 53
Length: 5.793 Km
Race distance: 306.720 Km
This was the 4th Grand Prix I have ever been to in my life, and as all the previous ones, it was again an amazing experience and different from the others. This time I had a 3-day ticket, from Friday to Sunday and I my place was at 8a (Prima Variante Esterna/ Variante del Rettifilo) on the first turn of the race, as you can see below at the circuit’s map:
I cannot imagine another better place to sit at the circuit. This turn will give you all the action you are looking for when watching a Formula 1 race. As it is the first turn after the start, the cars arrive at high speed and have to break as much as possible, which results in many drivers’ mistakes, just like these ones:
The Prima Variante is also where take overs happen throughout the entire race. My place was very high and the view was great, I found it better than sitting at the lower rows. In front of the stand there is also a screen, which makes easier to follow what’s going on. As they open the tracks for the public at the end of the race, for those wanting to watch the podium ceremony closer, here is your chance!
The dilemma of getting there…
There are different options for you to get to the Monza Circuit from Milan (if you decide to stay there as I did, since there were no more hotels in Monza), however, I am sorry to inform you that none of them will get you there in less than 2 hours, so its up to you to choose what fits you better:
By car: Monza is only 22 Km away from Milan, and if you Google it, it will tell you that in 30 min you get there! Huh, sorry to tell you that no such thing will happen on a F1 weekend, traffic will make you lose a lot of time, not to mention that you have to find a place to park, which is not even that hard in the “Biassono” area. Of course, on the Sunday it will take you longer to get there, as most of the streets near the circuit are closed by the police. That is when your GPS will be your best friend!
On Friday and Saturday: you need to take a train from Milan to Monza Central Station, and from there you either change to a bus (which will cost you 4 EUR both ways), to another train to go to the Biassono train station, or you can walk some kilometers until you reach your entrance.
The bus takes longer than you think, as it get stuck in traffic too, besides, it will be packed; if you choose to go with the train you will have to wait a bit at the Monza Central Station, and depending on which entrance you have to go, you might need to walk a bit; and if you choose to walk, be prepared in case if it’s a hot day.
On Sunday: there is a special train leaving every half hour from Milan Central Station that goes directly to the Biassono Train Station and from there you walk to your entrance, this is the most simple option. However, I may warn you that the trains might be packed.
I wouldn’t choose this option; it will cost a fortune and you will be stuck in traffic as everyone else. Probably the only good thing about it is that the driver will drop you at your entrance, which means not much walking involved.
***Apart from these most viable options above, you can also get there by bike (in case you are staying nearby Monza, or by helicopter, which is not a bad idea – just kidding – even though I believe that’s how all drivers get there, otherwise they would be late for the race – kidding again.
My impressions of the circuit: the reality
It is not doubt that watching a race in Monza is beyond exciting, however, in comparison to all other circuits I have been before, the Monza Circuit is definitely not my favorite one, and here are my reasons to think that, problems I didn’t find in other circuits so far:
The hassle to get there: it took me 2 hours to get there from Milan every day and 2 more to go back (as you can notice from the “Getting there” section above), not practical at all, a bit chaotic I would say.
Bad infrastructure: the bathrooms are horrible and disgusting, lack of toilet paper was common.
Dirty: ALL the trash bins were always full and no one replaced them (on Saturday there was still garbage from the day before) so garbage was all over the place!
Long lines: you will always find them when trying to buy something to eat/drink.
Parking: it costs 20 Euros to park your car around the circuit, and it might be that this place is 3 Km or more away from your entrance gate.
Walking and walking: I really don’t mind walking, I run 5 Km everyday, but walking is all you do to get to watch the race in Monza, everything is far, so choose your shoes carefully!
The place from where I watch the race couldn’t be better, every important thing that happened during the Grand Prix was there: Alonso stopping his car, Kyvat going straight ahead in high speed 2 laps to the end, Rosberg making a mistake, which lead Hamilton to take over and win the race, and several take overs and drivers’ mistakes.
At the end of the race, the track was open to the public and some people took advantage to bring some “souvenir” back home:
A bit of advice
- If you are going only for the race, stay as close as you can to the circuit;
- If you also would like to explore a bit of Milan, stay longer and spare a few days only to visit the city itself;
- On Friday and Saturday, the trains leaving to Monza are not frequent, so try to find out the one you want to catch before you go to the station, and be there early, otherwise it will be packed!
- Bring paper, as I said lack of toilet paper is common in the bathrooms;
- It is possible to find free parking, but it will be far from the circuit.
I hope this little guide to the Monza Circuit is useful to all of you planning to go to a Formula 1 Grand Prix there in the next few years. I wish I had found some more information about the reality of the circuit before I went there, so I would have prepared myself better or at least be aware of what I was going to see. Having said that, I hope that all information given here helps you when you need it!
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Have you ever been to a Formula 1 race in Monza? If yes, how was it? Would you go again? If not, are you planning to go?