Hamilton Ricciardo and Verstappen

The Monza Circuit, home of the Italian Grand Prix, is currently the fastest race track on the Formula One calendar.

Famed for its long straights and fast corners, the track invites drivers to unleash the full potential of their cars.

The speeds attained are so extreme that engine failures and accidents are a common occurrence. In total, 52 drivers and 35 spectators have lost their lives at Monza over the years.

Several speed records have been set by drivers able to tame the track, such as Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher, who have each won the Italian Grand Prix a record five times.

Layout of Monza race track

Schumacher won his fourth Italian Grand Prix in 2003, where he broke the record for the fastest average speed in a Grand Prix. His average speed throughout the entire race was 247.58 km/h (153.84 mph).

Driving for Ferrari, he started in pole position and won with a 5.29-second lead over Juan Pablo Montoya in second place. Schumacher's teammate Rubens Barrichello followed in third.

The previous record of 242.62 km/h (150.75 mph) was also set at Monza, by Peter Gethin in the 1971 Italian Grand Prix.

Schumacher's record-breaking race helped him on his way to winning a sixth World Championship, putting him clear of Juan Manuel Fangio’s record for the most Formula One World Championships.

Schumacher and Hamilton now share this record, with seven World Championships each.

The fastest lap time registered during a race at Monza is 1:21.046 by Barrichello, who won the 2004 Italian Grand Prix.

However, this did not set a world record for the highest average lap speed at a Formula One Grand Prix because, during a qualifying session prior to the race, Montoya registered an even faster lap time of 1:19.525 with an average speed of 262.24 km/h (162.95 mph) in his Williams FW26.

A Grand Prix is a three-day event, comprising three one-hour practise sessions, a qualifying session, and then a race. Lap times are generally faster during qualification because the cars carry much less fuel than they do during the race, and they have fresher tyres.

Montoya's record remained unbroken for 14 years, until 2018 when Ferrari's Kimi Räikkönen recorded a time of 1:19.119 during qualification at Monza.

Lewis Hamilton, driving for Mercedes, later claimed the record in 2020 after lapping the course during qualification in just 1:18.887 at an average speed of 264.36 km/h (164.26 mph).

Lewis Hamilton (centre) celebrates qualifying in pole position ahead of Max Verstappen (right) and Daniel Ricciardo (left) at the 2017 Italian Grand Prix

After setting the average lap speed record in 2004, Montoya returned to Monza in 2005 and broke another record: the fastest speed outright in a Formula One Grand Prix.

Driving for McLaren-Mercedes, Montoya hit a top speed of 372.6 km/h (231.5 mph) - a record which still stands to this day.

There have also been some non-speed-related records set at Monza, such as in 2008 when Sebastian Vettel became the youngest Formula One driver to qualify in pole position, aged 21 years 72 days.

He went on to win the race, becoming the youngest driver to win a Formula One race. Max Verstappen now holds this record, after winning the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix at the age of 18 years 228 days.

Verstappen also recently equalled Vettel's record for the most consecutive Formula One Grand Prix victories (9), and he'll be able to claim the record outright by winning this year's Italian Grand Prix.

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