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1955 Italian Grand Prix

The sixth round of the 1955 Formula-1 World Championship took place on September 11 in Italy at the famous Monza circuit. Over the past year, the organizers carried out a large-scale work on the reconstruction of the track, as a result of which the oval part with profiled curves was rebuilt, similar to the one used in the 20s and 30s.

Monza 1955.jpg

At the same time, taking into account the many tragedies that took place on the oval in the past, the organizers this time approached the safety problem in the most serious way, installing a new track on concrete foundations, while the curves themselves were designed quite wide and received a strongly concave profile.


In addition, to connect the old and the new part of the route, a new turn was built, called Parabolica, which replaced the former paved Vedano turn. Leaving the Parabolica, the drivers got to the finish line, which was also connected with a new profiled curve, while the separation of the two routes was carried out by special rubber pylons installed in the middle of the track. Thus, as a result of combining the new and old parts of the route, the total length of the circle reached 10 km, and laps number was reduced to 50.


After the tragedy that occurred in mid-June in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, several World Championship Grand Prix were canceled, and following the French Grand Prix, the German and Swiss rounds were also excluded from the championship calendar. Given that the holding of the Spanish round was also in doubt, the Italian Grand Prix could well have been the last race of this season, however, be that as it may, it was here, in Monza, that the owner of the championship title was to be determined, which was claimed by two Mercedes drivers, Juan-Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss. In addition to the two contenders for the title, the German team in Italy was represented by two more drivers: the unchanged Karl Kling and Piero Taruffi, who joined the team in Great Britain.


At the same time, taking into account the high-speed configuration of the Monza track, the head of the German team Neubauer for the first time this season brought cars of both configurations: with open wheels and streamlined bodies.


The Scuderia Ferrari team, after a devastating British Grand Prix, arrived at the home stage with the clear intention of recouping, bringing for this purpose as many as six cars, half of which consisted of D50 cars recently purchased from Lancia. These cars were driven by former Lancia drivers Eugenio Castellotti and Luigi Villoresi, as well as the first world champion Nino Farina, who decided to take part in the home Grand Prix for the last time before the end of his racing career.


Maintenance of Lancia cars was carried out by former mechanics of the Turin team, headed by the creator of these cars, Vittorio Jano. As for the other three Scuderia drivers Maurice Trintignant, Mike Hawthorn and Umberto Maglioli, they got the Ferraris 555 Super Sharks, which were equipped with new 5-speed gearboxes.


The Maserati team in their native land was also presented quite impressively, providing their cars not only to the main team drivers Jean Behra, Luigi Musso and Roberto Mieres, but also to private drivers Peter Collins, Carlos Menditeguy and Horace Gould.


At the same time, the team leader Behra got at his disposal the only car with a fully streamlined body designed specifically for high-speed tracks.


Meanwhile, the only British team in Monza was Vanwall, which, as at the previous stage, was represented by American Harry Schell and Englishman Ken Wharton.

The last team to take part in the Grand Prix was the French Gordini, which for the first time fielded its new T32 car. This car featured a more powerful 8-cylinder engine with four Weber carburetors, a wide streamlined body with a nose fairing covering the front wheels, and a multi-tube exhaust system coming out the side of the car.


It was originally planned that team leader Robert Manzon would drive the new car, but after the Frenchman suddenly withdrew from the Grand Prix for family issues, French debutant Jean Lucas took his place. In addition to the new T32 model, the "Sorcerer" brought to Monza two more Gordinis T16, driven by the Brazilian Nano da Silva-Ramos and the Frenchman Jacques Pollet, who returned to the team.

As for the special guests, the Grand Prix was attended by the Emperor of Vietnam Bao Dai with his daughter Phuong Mai.



Given the new configuration of the track, the organizers allowed the drivers to start training as early as Thursday, and for many of them driving on profiled curves was a completely new experience. At the same time, the very first laps on the new track showed that the new turns turned out to be quite bumpy, and at huge speeds the drivers had to hold on tightly to the steering wheel so as not to fly out of their cars. A separate concern was also caused by small pebbles that fell off the top of the bends and fell under the wheels of speeding cars, turning them into shrapnel. 

Anyway, the Silver Arrows drivers were out of competition again, and the first two positions at the start were won by two contenders for the championship title, Fangio and Moss, who drove cars with streamlined bodies.


Two other Mercedes drivers, Kling and Taruffi, preferred open-wheel modifications, but if the German was also fast enough to take 3rd place, than the Italian showed only 9th result. Lancia cars also managed to show excellent speed, allowing Castellotti and Farina to show 4th and 5th results, however, during training excessive loads on the curves three times led to delamination of tires on Turin cars, as a result of which Nino even got into a rather serious accident.


At the same time, despite the fact that the former world champion got off with only a slight scare, Ferrari management decided to withdraw these cars from the race in order to avoid new accidents, and thus Farina and Villoresi dropped out of the Grand Prix even before the start. As for Castellotti, he switched to the only spare Ferrari 555, becoming the Scuderia's main hope for a successful performance in the race. At the same time, his teammates on the Super-sharks clearly lacked power on this super-fast track, and they showed only the 12th, 14th and 15th results, with Maglioli at the head. Unlike the Scuderia drivers, the Maseratis looked very good, and three of them took places in the top ten, led, as usual, by Jean Behra. The British Vanwall could not boast of speed this time, and Schell managed to take only 13th place, wedging between the Ferrari drivers. However, the main losers of qualifying were the Gordini racers, who were clearly inferior in speed to their competitors, while debutant Lucas could not realize the potential of the new T32 model in any way, and, having lost more than 16 seconds to his teammates, the Frenchman took last place on the starting field.



On the day of the race, the grand opening of the reconstructed circuit took place, and the President of Italy, accompanied by a group of motorcyclists, made a lap of honor on a Maserati sports car, after which the drivers began preparing for the start.


Start. Fangio slightly hesitates at the start and goes into the race only 3rd, while his teammates Moss and Kling take the lead!


However, Juan-Manuel immediately rushes in pursuit and already on the old part of the track passes Kling, and in the last curve already Moss moves to the side and lets the Argentine through!


Meanwhile, Taruffi on another Mercedes manages an amazing start, and having overtaken his teammate Kling during the first lap, the Italian is already in 3rd place!


Also off to a good start are Hawthorn, who moves up to 6th, and Pollet, who moves up to 11th, while Maserati drivers Behra and Musso, on the contrary, fail the start and fall to the 10th and 16th positions, respectively. Besides, Wharton drops out of the race already on the first lap, the fuel pump drive failing on his Vanwall.
Position after 1st lap: Fangio, Moss, Taruffi, Kling, Castellotti, Hawthorn, Mieres, Maglioli, Collins, Behra.
Lap 2: Having missed Fangio, Moss follows the Argentinian's Mercedes, however, without taking any attacking actions. It seems that Neubauer again, as in the Netherlands, instructed his drivers in advance about their position in the race ...


Meanwhile, Mieres passes Hawthorn and takes 6th place, and Schell also wins back one position, overtaking Trintignant. As for Musso, after an unsuccessful start he makes an impressive breakthrough and, having overtaken six rivals, rises to 10th place!


Unlike the Italian, Maglioli, on the contrary, loses several positions he won at the start, and Pollet makes a mistake and misses six rivals at once.
Lap 3: Maglioli loses another position, missing Gould, and behind this pair a heated battle for 13th place unfolds between Schell, Pollet, Trintignant, Ramos and Menditeguy!


Lap 4: Four Mercedeses confidently lead the race, being within three seconds of each other, while Castellotti chasing them begins to slowly fall behind the Silver Arrows.


On the same lap, Musso wins back two more positions, passing his teammates Collins and Behra, and thus the Italian moves up to 8th place!


Meanwhile, the fight for the 13th position continues, although it is still held by Schell.


Lap 5: Kling goes on the attack and passes his teammate Taruffi, rising to 3rd place!.


On the same lap, Hawthorn counterattacks Mieres, regaining 6th position, and Behra also wins back one position, overtaking Collins.


Meanwhile, Trintignant manages to get ahead of his rivals in the fight for 13th place, and Menditeguy makes a mistake and falls to the very end of the peleton.
Lap 6: Mieres attacks Hawthorn again and passes him, and the Englishman immediately misses Musso, who continues his breakthrough to the top!
Lap 7: Musso overtakes Mieres as well, and is already 6th! On the same lap, Ramos passes his teammate Pollet, and Collins pulls into the pits to adjust his Maserati, dropping to the penultimate place.


Lap 8: Moss, who has been staying behind Fangio for a long time, suddenly attacks the Argentine and takes the lead!


Two months ago at the British Grand Prix, Fangio did the same trick with the Englishman, and it seems that today Stirling decided to pay Juan-Manuel back in kind! On the same lap, the suspension on Schell's Vanwall breaks, unable to withstand the extreme loads of banking, and the American drives into the pits, dropping out of the race. Besides, Jean Lucas also retires in the new Gordini, the engine of which could not withstand even eight laps. Anyway, the Frenchman was already last, not really claiming anything.
Lap 9: Fangio, clearly not impressed by Moss' demarche, attacks the Englishman again and regains the lead!


Lap 10: Maglioli attacks Gould for 10th place and takes the lead!


Meanwhile, Trintignant drives into the pits to replace his cracked glasses, dropping to the back of the field.
Position after 10 laps: Fangio, Moss, Kling, Taruffi, Castellotti, Musso, Mieres, Hawthorn, Behra, Maglioli. Four Mercedeses are still confidently leading the race, being within five seconds of each other.


Lap 11: Behra attacks Hawthorn and takes 8th place!


On the same lap, Gould counterattacks Maglioli and forces him to make a mistake, as a result of which the Italian loses more than 7 seconds!


Lap 12: Menditeguy catches up with Trintignant and passes the Frenchman for 15th position.


Lap 17: Musso, having just a great race, catches up with Castellotti, and after a great battle the Italian is ahead of Ferrari, already moving up to 5th place!
Lap 18: Mieres has engine problems, and the Argentine comes into the pits for repairs, dropping to 13th. Besides, on the same lap, Menditeguy passes Fitch.
Lap 19: Moss is in trouble! On the oval part of the track, a stone flying out from under Fangio's wheels hits the Englishman's Mercedes windshield, smashing it to smithereens, and Stirling has no choice but to turn into the pits! Installing a new glass takes more than a minute and a half, and Moss returns to the track only in 8th place!


Position after 20 laps: Fangio, Kling, Taruffi, Musso, Castellotti, Behra, Hawthorn, Moss, Gould, Maglioli. The three Mercedeses are still in a tight group at the head of the race, while Kling, who replaced Moss in second place, also does not take any attempts to attack the leader, following team orders.


Lap 21: After leaving the pits, Moss, no longer limited by team orders, picks up the pace and sets the fastest lap of the race!


Meanwhile, Collins passes Trintignant in the fight for the penultimate position.
Lap 23: Moss continues to fly down the track and easily passes Hawthorn to move up to 7th!


On the same lap, Collins drops out of the race, on whose Maserati the suspension also cannot withstand.
Lap 24: The fuel pump fails on Ramos' car, now leaving only one Gordini in the race, driven by Jacques Pollet.


Lap 25: Gould pits for a rear wheel change, dropping to 13th.


Lap 27: The last of the Gordini drops out of the race with a broken engine, ending the French team's absolutely disastrous performance.
Lap 28: The engine in Moss' Mercedes can't keep up with the pace set by the Englishman, and Stirling swerves to the side of the road in a puff of smoke, finally dropping out of the race!
Lap 29: Taruffi, who has been behind Kling for a long time, suddenly goes on the attack and passes the German, taking second place!


On the same lap, Musso enters the pits to replace his cracked glasses and drops to 6th position.
Lap 30: Kling counterattacks Taruffi and regains second position!


Behind, Fitch also enters the pits to change tires, dropping to the last position.
Position after 30 laps: Fangio, Kling, Taruffi, Castellotti, Behra, Musso, Hawthorn, Maglioli, Mieres, Menditeguy.
Lap 31: Musso starts having gearbox problems and the Italian loses 6th to Hawthorn.

Lap 32: The gearbox on Musso's Maserati fails completely, and the Italian finishes this promising race in the pits. In addition, Gould also drives into the pits with a broken crankcase, for whom this Grand Prix also ends ahead of schedule.
Lap 33: Kling is in trouble too! The German had his best race of the season, clearly claiming the podium, but the gearbox fails on his Mercedes too, depriving him of any chance of success! Now Taruffi is second, but already two failures of the Silver Arrows cause obvious alarm on Neubauer's face.


Lap 37: Hawthorn enters the pits to change tires, dropping to 8th.
Lap 38: Mieres slows down due to engine problems and is passed by his teammate Menditeguy.


Lap 39: A failure of one of the gearbox mounts on Hawthorn's Ferrari results in enormous vibrations and the Englishman pits, giving up the fight.


Position after 40 laps: Fangio, Taruffi, Castellotti, Behra, Maglioli, Menditeguy, Mieres, Trintignant, Fitch.
Lap 41: Maglioli becomes the next driver to pit for new glasses, as a result of which the Italian misses Menditeguy to 5th place!
Last lap: Fangio and Taruffi still manage to avoid any problems in this race and the two Mercedes cross the finish line one after the other, giving the German team another double!


The winner, for the fourth time this season, is Fangio, who, thanks to this success, again becomes world champion, for the third time in his career! His teammate Taruffi also deserves his share of the credit, having managed to get back on the podium with his confident performance for the first time since 1952!


Meanwhile, Castellotti, also having a great race, finishes third, which allows the Italian to take third place in the overall standings!


As for Behra, who was fourth, his engine failed on the last lap, but Jean still manages to reach the finish line on a Maserati shrouded in clouds of smoke, still taking fourth place! Following in fifth place is the Frenchman's teammate Menditeguy, who earns the first points in his career.


Interesting facts:

- Carlos Menditeguy's first points;

- Nino Farina's last Grand Prix.

Driver standings


Alternative GP results

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