Maserati's Achilles Heel


Nigel Roebuck’s interesting essay on Achille Varzi needs a little amplification. He suggests that Varzi moved from Alfa Romeo to Bugatti in 1931. He did indeed join Bugatti, but in late 1930, and from Maserati, not Alfa.

In the middle of 1930, Varzi and Nuvolari were members of the Alfa team. They did not get on, and when Alfieri Maserati offered Varzi one of his new Type 26M cars for the Coppa Acerbo, the Milanese driver was quick to accept.

Varzi won at Pescara, but was almost beaten by Fagioli in another Maserati; only a broken pinion thwarted Fagioli. Varzi also won the Monza GP, but by a mere 0.2sec over his team-mate Arcangeli.

When Varzi went on to win the San Sebastian Grand Prix, Alfieri Maserati felt certain that he had a winning combination for the coming season. In fact, the Italian press published the names of Maserati’s drivers for the 1931 as Varzi, Fagioli, Ernesto Maserati and Aymo Maggi. It was a shock, therefore, when Varzi announced he was moving his skills to Molsheim.

It is probable that he found the relaxed, slightly disorganised atmosphere of Maserati not to his liking, preferring the prosperous discipline of Molsheim. As it happened, of course, the new 2.3 litre twin-cam Type 51 Bugatti became one of the stars of the 1931 season.

I am, Yours etc, Nigel Trow, Portskewett, Monmouth