The Italian Grand Prix on this weekend serves as round 14 of the 2021 Formula One World Championship, with the race once again taking place at the legendary circuit known as Monza (officially Autodromo Nazionale Monza).
The circuit, located just outside of Milan, has been home to the Italian Grand Prix since 1950's inaugural F1 season, except in 1980 when the race was held at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari located at Imola.
The track layout consists of a series of straights and some tight chicanes, with drivers typically spending over 75% of the 3.6-mile lap at full throttle, delivering the fastest average speed of the season and reaching more than 200 mph at no less than four sections.
As a result, cars are set up for low downforce to maximize top speed. This in turn makes them more dependent on the mechanical grip from the tires to provide grip through the corners. Pirelli has nominated its P Zero White hard (C2), P Zero Yellow medium (C3) and P Zero Red (C4) compounds for the weekend, the same as last year.
Autodromo Nazionale Monza, home of the Formula One Italian Grand Prix
Looking at the local weather forecast, we should be in for fine conditions throughout the weekend.
This year's Italian Grand Prix is the final in a triple header that included rounds in Belgium and the Netherlands, and will see the return of the sprint race format for qualifying, which was first trialed in July at the British Grand Prix.
The format sees a traditional time-based qualifying session held after a single practice session on Friday to determine the starting grid for a 62-mile sprint race to be held on Saturday. The results of the sprint race then determine the starting grid for Sunday's full-length race. There are also championship points up for grabs in the sprint race: three for first place, two for second and one for third.
Going into the weekend, Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen leads the 2021 Drivers' Championship with 224.5 points. Mercedes-Benz AMG's Lewis Hamilton is second with 221.5 points and fellow Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas is a distant third with 123 points. In the Constructors' Championship, Mercedes leads with 344.5 points versus the 332.5 of Red Bull and 181.5 of Ferrari. Last year's Italian Grand Prix winner was Pierre Gasly driving for AlphaTauri.