The World Touring Car Championship season kicks off next weekend at Monza, with SEAT hoping to the challenge to defending champions BMW.
Ahead of that, new SEAT driver Gabriele Tarquini takes a look at the famous Italian circuit.
“Monza is one of my favourite tracks, and not just because it's my home race. It's one of the fastest circuits – if not the fastest – in Europe and also one of the oldest. Races have been held there since the 1920s and you get a real sense of history just being there. I think every Italian racing driver wants to compete at Monza; it's very special - a real temple of speed.
“The best parts of the track, for me, are the Curva Parabolica and the Variante Ascari. Much of the rest of the track has been changed several times over the years to reduce the speeds, but a lot of it is still taken more or less flat out. I have some really good memories of competing there, particularly when I raced in Formula One in the 1980s and 90s.
“For spectators, I don't think the circuit is that exciting. It's very flat, so most of the fans tend to sit in the stand overlooking the start/finish straight so they can see right into the pits. Also, the first chicane can be quite spectacular with many cars using the kerbs, particularly on the first lap. The run down to the chicane is traditionally one of the highlights of the racing at Monza for the spectators.
“I think it will be difficult to score well there. Top speed is everything at Monza and without that top speed, overtaking is difficult and so it becomes a matter of defending your position. You have to remember, though, that Monza is very different from all the other circuits that we use during the year and so the rest of the season will be very different to whatever happens in the first two races.”