Reliving the most thrilling races from the center of racing in Italy
Since the beginning of the championship era, no Formula 1 circuit has hosted more Grand Prix than Monza. The circuit’s centennial celebration in 2022 is a sign of its longevity and relevance on the F1 calendar.
The cathedral of speed is not only the home of passionate Ferrari fans, but also the circuit for all the Italian national championships in racing, plus the top GT racing, as well as the European LeMans series.
As some of the greatest F1 GPs have been staged in Monza, here are my Top 5 Italian Grand Prix finishes.
NO. 5: 1922:
Pietro Bordino etched his name in the record books, winning the first-ever Italian GP at Monza in 1922. The sport of motor racing would continue to grow from there, especially in Italy, where F1’s first world championship round saw an Italian driver on top at Monza in 1950. You could say Bordino’s win paved the way for Giuseppe Farina to triumph for Alfa Romeo in the sport’s first season. The first GP lands here at No. 5 in the rankings because of its place in history.
NO. 4: 1996:
Few races have yielded more delight for Ferrari fans than the LXVII Pioneer Gran Premio d'Italia, otherwise known as the 1996 Italian Grand Prix. It was the fourteenth race of the 1996 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza in Monza.
The race would see F1 emerging giant Michael Schumacher sweep to a popular victory for Ferrari, the constructor’s first on home soil since 1988, as the two Williams-Renaults crashed out. Schumacher’s victory gave Ferrari its first Monza win since Jody Scheckter’s in 1979.
NO. 3: 1956:
For years, Monza was the final round of the calendar. In 1956, Peter Collins and Juan Manuel Fangio battled to the end. Fangio looked to have the championship wrapped up until his car broke down.
Rather than claim victory, Collins pulled into the pits and handed his car over to Fangio, so the great Argentinean could win the title. Collins reasoned that Fangio deserved the championship more. His act of sportsmanship is unmatched in the sport’s history, and that history occurred at Monza.
NO. 2: 1988:
A sensational 1-2 victory for Ferrari in the only race of the year that McLaren did not win.
Gerhard Berger and Michele Alboreto provided sterling and emotional results for the Scuderia. It seemed very unlikely until both McLaren cars had trouble, and the finish was made all the more special as it occurred just a few weeks after the death of Enzo Ferrari.
NO. 1: 1971:
Five drivers in contention for victory on the final lap are good enough to headline this list.
The slipstreaming nature of Monza provided the backdrop for the greatest race to date. Each of the drivers crossed the finish line within six-tenths of each other. Peter Gethin took victory by just one-hundredth of a second. It was the closest finish in Grand Prix history.
It was the final race at Monza before chicanes were installed. The average speed reached a furious 150 mph. The 1971 edition is unquestionably a classic. Gethin’s only GP win – by 0.1 seconds over Ronnie Peterson – stands tall to this day.
With 20-plus years of experience in the media capital of the world, New York City, Bobby Ciafardini is an award-winning journalist that has done it all. He has covered everything from the Super Bowl to the World Series to the NBA Finals and the Stanley Cup, as well as the highest levels of motorsport. His favorite moment: Speeding along in a two-seater open-wheel race car with the legendary Mario Andretti.