When discussing the rivalry between Nuvolari and Caracciola in March, Mark Hughes has overlooked an important and possibly crucial point: the significance of the European Championship. During the 1930s this was as important for grand prix drivers as the Fl World Championship is now.
Nuvolari was desperate to win it, but there was also pressure on Alfa Romeo to ensure that an Italian driver was champion and gained greater glory for a fascist Italy. In 1932, there were only three rounds, the Italian, French and German GPs. By winning at Monza, Nuvolari was leading when the Alfa Romeo team went to Reims. The scoring was unusual, a win was worth one point, second place two and so on.
Had Caracciola won at Reims and the ‘Ring, he would have been champion, so a win at Reims was essential for Nuvolari. His conduct at Reims seems to have been spurred by this and his fear that Caracciola might pull a fast one; his fist-shaking at the German early on may indicate that team orders were not being obeyed. In the closing laps, Jano tried to slow Nuvolari so the Alfa Romeo team would cross the line in formation for publicity purposes, but Nuvolari was having none of it and made sure he had a safe margin as he crossed the line. Hughes does not mention that as the ‘new boy’, Caracciola had dropped back into third place behind his other teammate, Borzacchini, at the end, which seems to be a further hint that he was running to team orders.
It seems generally accepted that Caracciola was allowed to win the German GP for commercial reasons, but Nuvolari had to finish in the first three to be sure of the title. With his extraordinary fire and ambition, he must have wanted to win all three rounds, so the ‘slow’ pit stop was probably necessary to ensure Caracciola won the race. Nuvolari made an unscheduled stop for oil in the closing laps which accounts for Caracciola’s margin of victory, but Nuvolari made the fastest lap. His second place gave him a final points score of four while Caracciola took second place in the championship on seven points.
Nuvolari’s failure at Monza was due to a punctured carburettor float, not a broken fuel line as Mark suggests, nor did he make any fuel stops as the race was only a heat of 62 miles and a final of 124 miles. David Venables, Hove, Sussex