Following two very different races after the summer break, the Belgian GP washout and the exciting return of the Dutch GP, Max Verstappen has regained the lead in the F1 world drivers’ championship by three points over Lewis Hamilton.
The final leg of F1’s post-summer triple-header also sees the second running of the sprint race format, meaning the traditional weekend schedule is shaken-up on Friday and Saturday before the main grand prix on Sunday at Monza.
While the second-ever sprint race will be a key focus in Italy, paddock chat will also circulate on the latest movements in the F1 driver market.
After Kimi Raikkonen’s announcement that he will retire from F1 at the end of the season, Alfa Romeo has signed Valtteri Bottas as his replacement on a multi-year deal starting in 2022.
That paved the way for the overdue official confirmation of George Russell’s move to Mercedes as replacement for Bottas from next season, and in turn Alex Albon has secured a return to the F1 grid in 2022 by joining Williams as Russell’s replacement. The Grove-based team also confirmed it will retain Nicholas Latifi for a third season next year.
Elsewhere, AlphaTauri announced both Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda will stay with the F1 team for 2022. The timing is fitting for Gasly who returns to Monza for the first time since his stunning maiden F1 victory 12 months ago at the Italian circuit.
Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri AT01, 1st position, takes victory to the delight of his team
Photo by: Motorsport Images
2021 Formula 1 Italian GP session timings and sprint race details
F1’s sprint race is essentially a shortened version of a normal race, run over a shorter 100km distance and with no mandatory pitstops, compared to F1’s usual 305km grand prix distance (with the exception of the Monaco GP). Here’s a full explanation on how F1’s sprint race will work.
Sprint races are used in many other series to spice up the action, including in F1’s feeder series Formula 2, albeit with variants of its own. For example, in F2 the sprint race is 120km and the feature race covers 170km, though are usually no less exciting.
F1’s first-ever sprint race, which took place at Silverstone, was won by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen ahead of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton. The Dutch driver overtook his world title rival on the opening lap before defending his position to gain the official pole position for the grand prix, and three world championship points for winning the sprint, after Hamilton started on pole for the sprint race. Hamilton picked up two points for finishing runner-up in the sprint, with team-mate Valtteri Bottas gaining one point for finishing in third place.
F1’s sprint race on Saturday afternoon will be a straightforward 100km race, which tallies up to 18 laps at Monza, with the finishing order setting the final grid for the grand prix on Sunday. The race is expected to last around 30 minutes, ‘timed out’ after 60 minutes in total and if the session is red-flagged the maximum total time of the session will be 90 minutes.
The starting order for the sprint event will be decided by qualifying, run in the traditional Q1, Q2 and Q3 format, and will be held on Friday evening at 5pm BST. The only major change will be the drivers will only use soft tyres for the session.
Two practice sessions will also be run at the Italian GP, one before qualifying on Friday afternoon (1.30pm-2.30pm BST) and one on Saturday morning (11am-12pm BST) before the sprint qualifying race which starts at 3.30pm BST on Saturday.
Drivers will also have a free choice of tyres for the sprint race with Pirelli providing a soft, medium and hard (at Monza this will be the middle three options in its range: C2, C3 and C4) as well as intermediate and wet weather tyres if needed.
Friday 10th September 2021
Free Practice 1: 1:30pm-2:30pm BST (2:30pm-3:30pm local)
Qualifying: 500pm-6:00pm BST (6:00pm-7:00pm local)
Saturday 11th September 2021
Free Practice 2: 11:00am-12:00pm BST (12:00pm-1:00pm local)
Sprint race: 3:30pm-4:00pm BST (4:30pm-5:00pm local)
Sunday 12th September 2021
Race: 2:00pm BST (3:00pm local)
Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1, Race winner Charles Leclerc, Ferrari and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 celebrate on the podium
Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images
How can I watch the Italian GP?
Channel: Sky Sports F1 HD
Channel numbers – Sky: 406
Channel numbers – Virgin Media: 506 (Sky Sports F1 HD)
Sky Sports has live and exclusive broadcasting rights in the United Kingdom, with the build-up to the F1 race starting from 12:30pm ahead of lights out at 2:00pm.
Sky Sports will also broadcast the sprint race live in the United Kingdom, with the build-up to the sprint starting from 2:35pm ahead of lights out at 3:30pm.
When can I watch the Italian GP highlights?
Channel: Channel 4
Start time: Saturday sprint 6:30pm, Sunday race 6:30pm
Channel 4 has the rights to show Italian GP highlights of the sprint race on Saturday and the race on Sunday.
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W11, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes F1 W11, and Carlos Sainz Jr., McLaren MCL35, on the formation lap
Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images
Will the Italian GP be on the radio?
Live radio coverage of every practice, qualifying and race for the 2021 F1 season will be available on the BBC Radio 5 Live and 5 Live Sports Extra stations or via the BBC Sport website.
Coverage of the Italian GP will start at 2:00pm BST on BBC Radio 5 Live and the BBC Sport website.
Weather forecast for the Italian GP
Monza is set for sunny and cloudy conditions throughout the race weekend, with a small chance of rain across the three days of track action. Highs of 28 degrees Celsius are predicted on Sunday – around seven degrees hotter than the warmest conditions at the Dutch GP.
Most F1 Italian GP wins
Michael Schumacher: 5 wins (1996, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006)
Lewis Hamilton: 5 wins (2012, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018)
Nelson Piquet: 4 wins (1980, 1983, 1986, 1987)