Going to the Italian Grand Prix in Monza last weekend was a great reminder of just how important it is to have a mix of historic and modern circuits on the Formula 1 calendar. Places like Abu Dhabi, Sepang, and of course India, deserve a place in the world championship but at the same time, it is vital to go to tracks like Monaco, Silverstone, Spa-Francorchamps and Monza that are steeped in tradition.
The traffic is chaotic, the pits aren't exactly shiny, the toilets smell like sewage and the car park is susceptible to becoming a place for a mud fight… but we absolutely love going to Monza! When I say we, I literally mean everyone in F1.
From the second you arrive at these historic circuits, there's a bounce in your step. These circuits ooze history and character, something that their modern counterparts can only aspire for. We are all fans of the sport first, and we all have childhood memories of these great circuits.
The tifosi, Ferrari's faithful fans, are infamous around the F1 world but nothing brings them out to cheer like a race at home. It's funny, you can literally gauge Ferrari's chances by the number of crazy fans who come to the Autodromo over the weekend. When Fernando Alonso took the lead at the start, the sound of the screaming tifosi drowned the roar of the cars.
I normally spend the evenings at a race weekend cycling around the circuit for a couple of hours on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It's a great time to really get out of the paddock and soak up the atmosphere in the evening when the noise and activity has died down. It's at these times that you can really tell the difference between the traditional circuits and the modern ones.
The circuits in Turkey or Abu Dhabi turn into ghost towns after 7pm… at Spa and Monza I had fans jumping over the fences and barriers with their own cycles and trying to join me around the lap! The grandstands and grass banks are full of people with sleeping bags and tents getting ready for a night at the track, and the air is filled with the smell of barbeques.
I would love for the atmosphere at the Buddh International Circuit to one day build up to this - but for now, I'll rejoice that we still go to Monza!