Grand Prix
Photo by Greg Wilson

It’s the greatest racing championship on the earth and it tours the planet in a bid to find the best teams and the fastest drivers.

This season is the 64th, and the last to use the current 2.4 litre v8 engine configuration. The 1.6 litre v6 turbocharged engine formula which will be introduced from next year is more environmentally friendly and fuel efficient.

The new engines have far greater demands on efficiency and must last at least 4,000km, twice the life of its predecessors. They will also have a limited fuel flow, to encourage efficient engine design. This means strategists will be juggling another variable to ensure that tanks are not emptied too quickly.

The change is set to improve the sport’s credentials as a test bed for environmentally-friendly technology, and enhance both the strategic dimension and spectacle of the races.

One race that’s already a huge spectacle is the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, one of the current calendar’s longest running events. Monza became the world’s third permanent circuit after Brooklands and Indianopolis, with a banked course giving racers a lap measuring more than 10km (in all, 53 laps are raced).

The good news is, if you want to be part of the drama and excitement, that tickets and good value travel packages are still available. This year it all happens between the 6th and 8th September with qualifying and practice rounds being held before the grand finale on the Sunday.

For getting to the Grand Prix, the impact on the environment of four people flying is two and a half times greater than travelling by car, and one and half times greater for two people. While going by train can be less environmentally damaging than taking the car, not always by much, and, for four people travelling together, the train will almost certainly be the most expensive way to go.

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One thing to bear in mind if you’re driving there is insurance. Before embarking on your journey make sure you’re covered for potential breakdowns across Europe, not just the UK.

This makes driving to northern Italy a more eco and pocket friendly option than you may have realised. Don’t miss a second of the action from “the magic track” this year – catch it all first-hand rather than watching it from your sofa.

And, of course, you can choose to stay somewhere that aims to be as environmentally friendly as possible. One example is the Best Western Premier, just five minutes from the race track, reducing carbon emissions and travel time.

Brescia hosted the first Italian Grand Prix in 1921, but Monza staged the event the following year, and it has taken place as part of the permanent F1 calendar since 1950. Only the British Grand Prix can compete in terms of longevity.

The track has witnessed many historic Formula 1 moments, from legend Michael Schumacher making the emotional announcement of his retirement in 2006 (after winning) to 21-year-old Sebastian Vittel becoming the youngest ever F1 winner. Monza was also where Gerhard Berger raced to victory against the odds after the death of Enzo Ferrari a quarter of a century ago.

So, it’s a small wonder that “La Pista Magica”, or “the magic track”, holds a special place in the hearts of both drivers and fans.

Last year, British driver Lewis Hamilton took the title at Monza, becoming the first Brit to win since David Coutlhard in 1997. As the old engines are phased out this year, there promises to be just as many thrills on the track in 2013.

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