The Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza marks the last of the European races before teams head off on their extended seven-race ‘round the world trip. Monza is an interesting circuit with the highest top and average speeds of the season, although cornering speeds are similar to that of Barcelona.

Aerodynamic efficiency and engine power sensitivities are therefore very high, and so is braking severity.  Suspension settings are also critical to a quick lap because the cars need a smooth ride over the circuit’s relatively high curbs to allow drivers to get the power down early on corner exits.

The track, which has a total length of 3.6 miles, also has a high pit loss and low fuel effect that tends to favor fewer stops. The tires will be the same as raced in the Belgian Grand Prix last weekend, namely the hard and medium compounds.

Following the dramatic crash at Spa, the current points leader in the 2012 F1 season, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, says that despite some initial whiplash and back pain he’s now feeling one hundred percent.

The driver responsible for the crash, Lotus’ Romain Grosjean will be sitting out this weekend’s race, while Williams’ Pastor Maldonado will have to face a 10-place grid penalty for his own actions.

Going into qualifying tomorrow and Sunday’s eventual race, Fernando Alonso leads the Drivers’ Championship with a tally of 164 points. He is followed by Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel in second place with 140 points and fellow Red Bull driver Mark Webber in third with 132 points.

In the Constructors’ Championship, Red Bull Racing remains the clear leader with 272 points, followed by McLaren on 218 points and Lotus in third with 207 points.