One year ago, we left the Monza racetrack with the idea that we would never return. Despite being prepared for fatigue, heat, and poor visibility, as expected for anyone with a “general admission lawn” ticket, the post-race anger was too much. Partly due to the “jungle context,” partly due to the endless inconveniences of the racetrack, but above all, due to the atmosphere of widespread panic that permeated the curves of the Italian circuit. However, passion and love for this sport, combined with the desire to make peace with a circuit like Monza, where the history and beauty of Formula One are palpable, triumphed over anger. So, we tried again; we returned to Monza. And now, one year later, let’s see what has changed and what hasn’t.
PROGRESS MADE IN SMALL STEPS
First and foremost, it must be acknowledged that the Monza racetrack, even in 2023, remains highly inadequate to host an event like a Formula One Grand Prix. However, compared to the organizational disaster of last year, something, it must be said, has been done. In 2022, the prosecutor’s seals had blocked the setup and, consequently, the opening of the Fanzone until Saturday due to “violations of municipal urban planning regulations.” This year, the Fanzone was open and operational from Thursday, a day when it was also accessible to fans without tickets. A welcome initiative. Another breath of fresh air came from the abandonment of the token system. The infamous tokens, which required changing money to purchase food and drinks at the stands along the track, have fortunately been abolished. It took 90 minutes last year just to exchange money and discover that on Sunday (an hour before the race), those tokens would be unusable since everything, absolutely everything, was already sold out at the stands! With the abandonment of this absurd system, those 90 minutes have been reduced to just a handful, the time it takes to pay with a card or cash and wait to be served. Finally, it must be acknowledged that a few more giant screens have been installed along the track, and thank goodness for that!
MUCH LEFT TO DO
The main shortcoming of the Temple of Speed is undoubtedly the accessibility of the circuit and the management of the inflow and outflow of fans. There were far too few shuttles (station-circuit), and even fewer trains. Returning to Milan on Sunday was a real ordeal. A long line of fans crowded the square in front of Monza station. A dangerous crush, wholly inadequate security management, coupled with the typical delays of the Lombardy railway system with Trenord. In short, much work to be done. The racetrack itself also needs a lot of work; it’s too run-down and far from the standards of other circuits, including European ones, like Spielberg (Austria), for example.
And then there’s always that feeling, that perception of extreme distance between the paddock, VIPs, and tribunes seen on television and the real event. A Grand Prix hidden among the trees of Monza Park, embracing the track between the Roggia chicane and the Parabolica. In Monza, there’s a Serie A Grand Prix, visible, and there’s a Serie B Grand Prix, completely invisible.
In summary, something has changed, but will it be enough to save our home Grand Prix? Stefano Domenicali had stated it last year: “The Monza Grand Prix is at risk, the organizers must wake up!” Maintenance work on the circuit for the upcoming events should start shortly, assuming there are these events, as it’s a precarious situation; we’ll see… for now, it would be fair to say, “well, here it is, but not quite perfect.”