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1956 Italian Grand Prix

The seventh and final round of the 1956 Formula-1 World Championship took place on September 2 in Italy at the famous Monza circuit, receiving the honorary title of the European Grand Prix. Like last year, the Grand Prix used a full track configuration with a profiled oval part, while the total race distance was 50 laps.

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After a convincing victory at the previous stage in Germany, Juan-Manuel Fangio arrived to Monza as the undoubted leader of the championship, clearly hoping to win his fourth champion title here. The Argentinean's only rival in the fight for the title was still his  teammate Peter Collins, who was 8 points behind, but the Englishman only needed a victory in Monza, while Fangio just needed to get on the podium.

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Considering that the title in any case should have gone to one of the Scuderia drivers, the Maranello team arrived in Monza in high spirits, but they were not going to relax, hoping to win the home Grand Prix and bringing for this purpose as many as six of their Ferrari D50 cars.

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In addition to Fangio and Collins, the Scuderia drivers in Monza were Eugenio Castellotti, Luigi Musso and Alfonso de Portago, as well as the team's newcomer, the German aristocrat Wolfgang von Trips, for whom this Grand Prix became his debut in the World Championship.

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Meanwhile, the Scuderia's main rival, the Maserati team, even having lost their last chances for the title in Germany, also prepared for the last race of the season in the most serious way, entering five Maserati 250F cars for the Grand Prix. At the same time, there were some changes in the Modena team. The leading Maserati drivers were, as before, Stirling Moss and Jean Behra, who received new improved cars at their disposal here, in Monza, while instead of Cesare Perdisa, injured in Germany, the Italian veteran Luigi Villoresi was invited, who became a teammate of Umberto Maglioli and Chico Godia. Besides, Swedish debutant Jo Bonnier became a reserve driver of the team.


In addition to the Italian teams, the last Grand Prix of the season was also attended by the British Vanwall and Connaught, as well as the French Gordini. Tony Vandervell's team this time put up three cars, driven by the main drivers Harry Schell and Maurice Trintignant, as well as the Italian veteran Piero Taruffi, who was invited to this one race.

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The Connaught was also represented by three drivers Jack Fairman, Les Leston and Ron Flockhart, the latter on loan to the British team by Alfred Owen, whose team never made it to the start of the final stage. As for the Gordini, two of its 8-cylinder T32 cars were brought to the start by the main drivers Robert Manzon and Nano da Silva Ramos, while Amadeus Gordini provided the old 6-cylinder T16 to André Simon. The rest of the Grand Prix participants were private drivers in Maserati 250F cars, including Roy Salvadori from Gilby Engineering, Gerino Gerini from Scuderia Guastalla, as well as Bruce Halford, Luigi Piotti and even the Swiss Baron Tulo de Graffenried, who represented the Scuderia Centro Sud.

Qualification

The qualification of the last round of the World Championship was held, to the delight of the Italian fans, with a clear advantage of the Ferraris, however, during both days of training, the team drivers, as in the past year, had problems with tire delamination on profiled bankings, which caused some concern in the "scarlet" camp.

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Another wake-up call for the Scuderia was the accident of rookie von Trips, who quite dangerously flew off the track in the first turn, almost completely destroying his car, and only falling out of the cockpit of his Ferrari saved the German from serious injuries.

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Returning to the pits on foot, von Trips assured the team that this accident was not his fault, but happened due to some technical malfunction, however the Scuderia manager Sculatti did not take the rookie's words seriously, and, as subsequent events showed, completely in vain.


Whatever it was, the first three places on the starting field were taken by the Scuderia drivers again, and pole position was once again won by Juan-Manuel Fangio, who managed to complete his best lap by almost 4 sec faster than last year on Mercedes!

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The Argentine's teammates Eugenio Castellotti and Luigi Musso were also very fast at their home circuit, losing only about a second to their leader, while the world champion's main rival Peter Collins did not look so convincing, taking only 7th place.
Meanwhile, 4th on the grid was taken by Piero Taruffi in the British Vanwall, which once again demonstrated its superb speed characteristics, this time at the high-speed circuit in Monza.

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Following the Italian veteran, Behra and Moss settled down in two Maseratis, who were not immediately able to get used to their new squat cars and showed almost the same time, losing Fangio by about 3 sec.

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The remaining places in the top ten went to Villoresi in another Maserati, who has traditionally always been very fast at Monza, de Portago in another Ferrari, and two more Vanwall drivers, Schell and Trintignant.


As for the British team Connaught, they almost dropped out of the Grand Prix even before the start, as their tire supplier Pirelli only brought 17-inch tires to Monza, which did not fit the 16-inch Dunlop wheels installed on British cars, however Avon tire manufacturers came to the rescue of the team, who provided the British with their 16-inch tires and assured the management that they would last the entire race distance. Nevertheless, as a result of this force majeure, the drivers of the British team did not manage to train properly, and the best they managed to achieve was the 15th, 19th and 23rd result. However, things were even worse for the Gordini, which cars simply did not have enough speed, and as a result, all the drivers of the French team took places at the very end of the grid.

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Race

On the morning of the race day in Monza, there was a rather heavy downpour, which completely wet the entire track, but at noon the sun came out, and by the start there was almost no trace of wet spots on the track.

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Start. Fangio, as has happened more than once this season, starts too cautiously, and local favorites Castellotti and Musso are getting ahead of him, bringing the crowded stands to indescribable delight! In addition, Schell gets off to a great start, breaking through to 4th place at once, while his teammate Taruffi, on the contrary, lingers a bit, dropping to 7th position. Meanwhile, the Connaught drivers also manage to start the race superbly,  and each of them win back several positions at once, while Villoresi and Manzon have problems on the very first lap, with both drivers dropping to the back of the field.

Position after lap 1: Castellotti, Musso, Fangio, Schell, Collins, Moss, Taruffi, Behra, de Portago, Fairman.
Lap 2: Castellotti and Musso battle desperately for the lead, forgetting all caution and the need to take care of the tires, speeding through the high-speed straights and turns of Monza literally side by side!

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Meanwhile, Schell is also clearly on a roll today, and the American is already in 3rd place, getting ahead of Fangio himself!

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However, the main goal for the world champion in this race is to keep Collins behind, and Juan-Manuel has been successfully coping with this task so far. Besides, Fairman, who started the race well, already on the 2nd lap begins to lose ground, letting Trintignant through to 10th place.

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Lap 3: Fairman loses another position, missing Maglioli.
Lap 4: First retirement of the race: Da Silva Ramos pulls into the pits with a faulty engine. Besides, on the same lap, Villoresi makes a pit-stop to change spark plugs, and after repairs, the Italian gives up his car to Bonnier.
Lap 5: After several laps of desperate struggle, Castellotti's and Musso's left rear tire treads fall apart at the same time on the banking, and both Ferrari drivers turn into the pits one after the other!

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The Italians' cars are immediately surrounded by the mechanics, and thanks to well-coordinated work they manage to replace the damaged wheels quite quickly, but a whole group of drivers still manages to rush past, and as a result, Castellotti and Musso return to the track only in 13th and 15th positions respectively!


Meanwhile, after the problems of the two Italians, the new leader of the race is ... Moss, who manages to get ahead of Collins, Fangio and Schell in one incredible lap!

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Lap 6: Musso, after his pit-stop, feels much more confident than Castellotti, and he easily passes his teammate, overtaking Flockhart along the way!

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Lap 7: While passing the banking, the left rear tire on de Portago's Ferrari also falls apart, and the Spaniard only by some miracle manages to avoid a collision with a rail, after which he also turns into the pits. At the same time, Alfonso is not as lucky as his teammates, since the torn tread also damages the rear suspension of the Ferrari, forcing the Spaniard to retire already on lap 7. Meanwhile, Musso wins back another position, overtaking Godia, while Salvadori enters the pits to check the car, letting Piotti ahead. Besides, on the same lap, Leston leaves the race due to a broken torsion bar.
Lap 8: Three drivers at once get in trouble, causing Gerini to stop in the pits for repairs and fall back to last place, while Bonnier and Manzon are out of the race with a failed engine and a broken chassis, respectively.
Lap 9: Musso passes Fairman in the fight for 9th place, while Castellotti also wins back one position, overtaking Godia.
Lap 10: Taruffi, who was firmly in 5th place, turns into the pits due to problems with an oil leak in the transmission, and after repairs, the Italian veteran returns to the track only 10th. Meanwhile, at the exit of the south banking, the left rear tire on Castellotti's car bursts again and his uncontrolled Ferrari immediately spins, crosses the entire track backwards, crashes into the fence already on the inside of the finish line and eventually freezes on the side of the road. Fortunately, despite this rather terrible accident, Eugenio remains safe and sound, but this race is over for him.

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Position after 10 laps: Moss, Schell, Fangio, Collins, Behra, Trintignant, Maglioli, Musso, Fairman, Taruffi.
Lap 11: Schell, who has a clear speed advantage on the straights over Moss, goes on the attack and passes the Englishman, thus becoming the new leader of the race!

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Meanwhile, Collins also has a problem with the left rear tire, and the Englishman, in his turn, drives into the pits, dropping to 8th place and thereby actually losing his last chance to fight for the title! Besides, Fairman also has problems with tires and pits, losing several positions.
Lap 12: After leading just one lap, Schell can't hold back Moss' onslaught and once again concedes the lead to the Englishman!

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In addition, on the same lap, Taruffi finally retires due to problems with an oil leak.
Lap 14: Another Vanwall is out of the race: Trintignant's car has a transmission failure. The Frenchman was in 5th place before his retirement, and now it will be inherited by Musso, who manages to get ahead of Maglioli on this lap!

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Lap 16: Fairman passes de Graffenried and Piotti on the same lap to move up to 11th.
Lap 17: The engine on Halford's Maserati, which has been smoking almost since the start of the race, finally gives up, and the Englishman turns into the pits, retiring.
Lap 18: Fangio has problems! The Argentinian slowly drives into the pits, with the front wheels turned in different directions, and after a quick inspection, the mechanics diagnose a broken right steering arm.

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Unfortunately for the world champion, the repair of this unit takes forever, and the Argentine returns to the track penultimate, with almost no chance of scoring now! However, given that Collins is only 6th so far, Fangio still retains the best chance for the title.
Meanwhile, on the same lap, Musso manages to catch up and get ahead of Behra, and thus the Italian is already in 3rd position!

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In addition, Flockhart, who has been in a tight fight with Godia for several laps, finally manages to get ahead of the Spaniard, and thus Ron is already 7th!

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Lap 19: It starts to rain, and under these conditions, Moss feels best of all, who at once breaks away from Schell for 3 seconds! Meanwhile, on the same lap, Collins passes Maglioli, and thus the Englishman is already 5th!

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Position after 20 laps: Moss, Schell, Musso, Behra, Collins, Maglioli, Flockhart, Godia, Salvadori, Fairman.
Lap 21: Salvadori again pulls into the pits to fix a fuel leak in the auxiliary fuel tank and, after a long repair, returns to the track in 13th.
Lap 22: The rain stops and the track begins to dry up again, but in just four rain laps Moss manages to break away from Schell for 10 sec!

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Lap 24: The magneto on Behra's Maserati fails, forcing the Frenchman to turn into the pits and retire.
Lap 28: Schell pulls into the pits for scheduled refueling, losing 2nd position to Musso! In addition, on the same lap, Flockhart manages to get ahead of Maglioli, and thus the Scot is already 5th!

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Lap 30: Schell starts having problems with the transmission, and the American lets Collins ahead, who is already moving up to 3rd!

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Meanwhile, Fangio, who is in 12th place and already desperate to win back any positions, drives into the pits and hands over his car to Castellotti. To the credit of the Italian, despite a rather serious accident that happened to him earlier due to a burst tire, Eugenio does not hesitate to get behind the wheel of a Ferrari again and gets back to the track!

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At the same time, Musso also pulls into the pits to check the tires, and during the wheels change, the Scuderia manager Sculatti offers the Italian to give up his car to Fangio, but Luigi in response only shakes his head and rushes back to the track!

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Position after 30 laps: Moss, Musso, Collins, Schell, Flockhart, Maglioli, Godia, Fairman, Piotti, de Graffenried.
Lap 31: Maglioli is instructed to drive into the pits, and after stopping for a pit stop, the Italian passes his car to Behra. Taking a seat in the Maserati cockpit, the Frenchman gets back to the track without losing 6th place.

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Lap 32: During the lap, Behra discovers that the rear bonnet locks are released and the Frenchman again stops in the pits to fix the problem, after which he returns to the track in the same 6th place!
Lap 33: While driving along the finish line, Schell's car suffers the main gear jamming, and the American turns to the side of the road, losing another points! Having got out of the oil-filled cockpit, a disappointed Harry returns to the pits on foot, but he still receives his share of applause from the audience, who have appreciated the efforts of the driver.

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Lap 35: Collins, in his turn, stops in the pits to change wheels, however, having found Fangio there, who was left out of work, the Englishman unexpectedly offers the world champion to take a seat in his car, in fact giving up all his claims to the championship title!

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At the same time, for the Argentine, this amazingly noble gesture on the part of his teammate comes as a complete surprise, and, simply not finding any words, Fangio hugs the Englishman tightly, after which he gets into the car and returns to the race again!

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Lap 37: Castellotti wins back one position, overtaking Simon.
Position after 40 laps: Moss, Musso, Fangio, Flockhart, Behra, Godia, Fairman, Piotti, de Graffenried, Castellotti.
Lap 43: Behra's Maserati has a steering failure, and the Frenchman, having almost caught up with Flockhart, is forced to turn into the pits again, this time for good.
Lap 46: About a third of a lap, the engine on Moss' Maserati suddenly stops working, and, to his dismay, the Englishman realizes that he simply ran out of fuel! No longer hoping for anything, Stirling continues to coast, and then suddenly Piotti on another Maserati gets attached to his car from behind and begins to push the Englishman's car forward!

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Thanks to the help of the Italian, Stirling still manages to get to the pits, where the mechanics immediately fill the Maserati with additional 25 liters of fuel and release the Englishman back onto the track, but Musso still manages to rush past, who is now becoming the new leader!

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Lap 47: Despite badly worn tyres, Moss is pushing to the limit in an attempt to catch up with Musso, setting a new lap record in the race!

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Lap 48: Incredibly, but Musso, already almost certain of victory, also suffers from the broken left steering arm on the south banking, causing his left rear tire burst and his Ferrari losing control and rushing across the track straight to the pits! Fortunately, the uncontrolled car still lacks a margin of speed, and it stops a few meters from the garages, but Musso was so shocked by what had happened that he managed to get out of the car and leave the pits only with the help of mechanics, after which the Italian simply falls on the couch and faints!

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Meanwhile, the new leader, to the complete disappointment of the stands, is again Moss, and his mechanics immediately urge the Englishman to slow down, fearing tire delamination in the last laps! At the same time, Fangio is now in 2nd, who is only 20 sec behind Moss!
Lap 49: In one lap, Fangio closes his gap to the slowed Moss to 10 sec, and the Maserati mechanics, fearing the loss of victory on the last lap, start a verbal skirmish among themselves! Meanwhile, Flockhart, who, thanks to Musso's accident, is already in 3rd place, drives into the pits and refuels without losing a single position!
Last lap: Moss manages to stabilize his lead over Fangio on the last lap, and it is the Englishman who still finishes first, thus gaining an absolutely incredible and already unexpected victory!

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Immediately after the finish, Moss falls into the arms of his team, and the mechanics who surrounded the Englishman congratulate him not only on the magnificent victory in Monza, but also on the title of vice-champion, which Stirling gets at the end of the championship!

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Meanwhile, in 6 sec behind Moss finishes Fangio, and the Argentine on this day also manages to celebrate neither more nor less, but already his fourth champion title! At the same time, immediately after the finish, the Argentine goes not to the winner, but to his teammate Collins, thanks to whom his today's success became possible, and, embracing the Englishman again, Juan-Manuel has already fully expressed to Peter all his admiration for his truly noble deed.


Juan-Manuel Fangio: "When Collins came in, he saw me stuck there, and without being asked he got out of his car and offered it to me to finish in. That was a fantastic gesture. My anxiety and misery gave way to joy, so much so that I threw my arms around him and kissed him. After that I finished second to Moss, and that was enough."


Peter Collins: "All I could think of was that if I won the race and the championship I would be an instant celebrity. I would have a position to live up to. People would make demands of me. Driving would not be fun any more, so I handed the car to Fangio. I am only 25 years old and have plenty of time to win the championship on my own."


Meanwhile, the 3rd place goes to Flockhart, who not only earns his first points in Formula-1, but also brings Connaught its first podium in the World Championship! As for 4th place, it again goes to Godia, who had a race that was not very impressive, but quite reliable, while the 5th becomes Fairman, who only consolidates Connaught's success in this race.


P.S. After the race, Ferrari mechanics examined von Trips' car that had been wrecked in training and found out that this accident also occurred due to a broken steering arm, and not because of the driver error. If the Scuderia management had not taken the words of the German so lightly, this would have allowed them to avoid many problems in the race ...

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Interesting facts:

- Ron Flockhart's first podium and points;
- Luigi Musso's first leading in the Grand Prix;

- Wolfgang von Trips' debut;

- Jo Bonnier's debut;

- Luigi Villoresi's last Grand Prix;

- Piero Taruffi's last Grand Prix;
- Connaught's first podium.

Driver standings

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Alternative GP results

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