Probably more than with any other Formula 1 race, the history and host track of the Italian Grand Prix are indivisible. Usually, the Italian Grand Prix is the last race of the season in Europe, and it serves as a reminder of Formula One history to all who attend.
Built in 1922, the Monza circuit hosted Italy's second Grand Prix - after the first had been run at Brescia the previous year - and also staged the race throughout the 1920s and 1930s. In the modern era, only the British and Italian Grands Prix have been held every year since the Formula 1 championship started in 1950, but Monza has held all but one of its country's Grands Prix. (The Italian race ran in Imola in 1980, when the track in Monza was being renovated.)
Set in a royal garden in the Milan suburb of Monza, the track has a wild, colorful and often deadly history. It was the scene of one of the worst racing accidents ever, when a crash killed the driver Emilio Materassi and 27 spectators at the Grand Prix in 1928.
In 1961, the driver Wolfgang Von Trips and 15 spectators were killed in an accident at Monza. Von Trips was on his way to winning the world championship while driving for Ferrari. After his death, his teammate, Phil Hill, won the race and went on to win the title, becoming the first American to capture the drivers' title.
The Monza track is the fastest of the Formula One season, with average speeds of close to 250 kilometers per hour, or 155 miles per hour, and top speeds of 340 k.p.h. In 2004, Juan Pablo Montoya lapped the track in a Williams car at 1 minute 19.5 seconds, for an average speed of 262.2 k.p.h., the fastest qualifying lap ever in Formula 1.
The track layout has changed little over the years. A distinctive banked portion was built in 1954, but after Von Trips's death it was no longer used. Although Von Trips's accident did not take place on the banked part, the track was considered too fast and the oval ceased to be used. Because the banked section was considered so spectacular and dangerous, it was used in the 1966 John Frankenheimer film ''Grand Prix.''
Like a vestige of the past, the bank is still visible near the track used today.
Even without it, however, the deadly history continued.
In 1970, the Austrian driver Jochen Rindt was killed in practice for the race; he went on to become the only posthumous world champion in the series' history. In 1978, Ronnie Peterson, a Swedish driver, was injured at the start of the race in a pileup and died later that night at the hospital.
A track marshal, Paolo Gislimberti, was killed by debris from a car during an accident in 2000.
Monza has always been the home race of the Ferrari team of Italy, and some of the team's greatest history was written there. After winning the race driving for Ferrari in 2006, the German driver Michael Schumacher announced his retirement there - only to return three years later as a driver for the Mercedes team.
''When I think of Monza, I immediately see everything through a red veil,'' Schumacher said this week. ''It is the beating, racing heart of Italy, everything there lives and breathes Ferrari, and I must inevitably think of the good times I spent there.''
''What makes me particularly happy, Schumacher added, ''is that after all these years, the tifosi still welcome me so warmly, and I would like to thank them for that.''