The once dense trees that framed the immediate backdrop of Monza’s second sector’s swift right-hand turns have been noticeably depleted—stripping the race of its almost tunnel-like ambiance where Mother Nature’s splendor used to rendezvous with state-of-the-art motorsport tech.
The landscape surrounding the circuit’s second chicane, known as the Variante della Roggia, also appears startlingly sparse this year, particularly along the lengthy straight stretch that precedes the Ascari chicane.
What’s the scoop? Well, just a month and a half ago, this region of northern Italy got hammered by an onslaught of vicious thunderstorms.
The storms were so relentless that they knocked down an estimated 10,000 trees in Monza’s erstwhile royal park, according to data provided by F1 Flow.com and corroborated by event planners.
Within a four-day span from July 21-24, two storms unleashed havoc, with wind speeds reaching over 60 mph, well surpassing gale-force intensity. Trees were uprooted en masse and toppled like dominoes, taking down others in their vicinity.
As if that weren’t enough, the collapsing tree limbs and trunks wreaked havoc on Monza’s protective barriers and guardrails, although, by some stroke of luck, the track’s asphalt and kerbs remained unscathed.
In a scramble to clean up the mess before race weekend, Monza’s ground crew, backed by local government workers, pulled off what can only be described as a logistical Houdini act—ensuring the event proceeded without a hitch.
The Woods at Lesmo
Photo by: GP2 Media Service
Pedestrian pathways and auxiliary roads on the Monza circuit grounds had to be cleared of tree debris, though the more expansive fan zones in broader grassy sections were mostly left untouched.
Prior to the Italian Grand Prix, F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali commended the circuit staff. “They were in a race against time, especially considering the seasonal staff shortages in August, to ensure the event could proceed as scheduled,” he noted.
Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas, upon taking his practice lap, remarked that the mountains surrounding the main straight were “more visible than ever,” a stark reminder of the altered landscape. “It’s a wider-feeling racetrack now, but obviously, I’m still focused on the asphalt,” he added.
Domenicali also revealed that upgrades are on the horizon for Monza, scheduled to begin post-2023 Grand Prix. “We need to modernize our facilities to match the ticket prices. The historical reverence of Monza is a given, but keeping pace with modern-day expectations is crucial,” the former Ferrari team leader emphasized.
Liam Lawson, AlphaTauri AT04
Photo by: Simon Galloway / F1 Flow Images
This is the second time tragedy has struck Italy’s 2023 F1 circuit, though in this case, the devastation was environmental, not human. No one was injured in the storms that decimated Monza’s leafy terrain.
Earlier this year, the Imola race had to be called off due to severe flooding in the Emilia-Romagna area, resulting in at least 15 deaths and the displacement of tens of thousands.
In a bid to restore the area’s natural beauty, a reforestation initiative is underway at Monza, spearheaded by Domenicali himself. But considering many of these trees were centuries old, it’ll be a hot minute before Monza regains its former lush allure.
Additional reporting by Roberto Chinchero and Jonathan Noble.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Monza’s F1 track transformation
What changes have occurred at Monza’s F1 track for the 2023 season?
Severe thunderstorms felled around 10,000 trees, altering the lush scenery around Monza’s F1 track. The landscape’s transformation is a result of these environmental changes.
How did the storms affect the racing circuit?
The storms resulted in extensive damage to Monza’s protective barriers and guardrails, but the asphalt and kerbs remained undamaged, allowing the race to proceed without disruption.
How has F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali reacted to the challenges?
Stefano Domenicali praised Monza’s circuit managers for their remarkable efforts in preparing for the Italian Grand Prix. He emphasized the importance of modernizing facilities to meet contemporary standards and expectations.
What impact did the tree loss have on the racetrack experience?
Drivers, including Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas, noted the visual changes brought about by the loss of trees. The surrounding mountains are now more visible, creating a different racing atmosphere.
What initiatives are being undertaken to address the environmental impact?
A reforestation effort is underway to replace the lost trees and restore Monza’s natural beauty. However, due to the age of many of these trees, the process will take time.
How does this event compare to previous challenges faced by Italian F1 races?
This environmental challenge differs from previous incidents like the Imola race cancellation due to flooding. The Monza incident solely impacted the landscape, whereas Imola’s cancellation resulted from severe flooding causing human tragedy.
More about Monza’s F1 track transformation
- Monza’s F1 Circuit Transformation: From Lush to Striking
- Severe Thunderstorms Impact Monza’s Racing Landscape
- Stefano Domenicali’s Efforts in Preparing for Italian Grand Prix
- Valtteri Bottas on Visual Changes at Monza’s F1 Track
- Reforestation Initiative to Restore Monza’s Natural Beauty
- Comparison Between Monza’s Environmental Challenge and Imola’s Flooding Incident