This year there were no arguments or discussions about how the Italian Grand Prix was to be run, for right from the start it was decided that it should be on the 5.75-kilometre Monza road circuit, with no question of using the banked track, so that the Grand Prix teams knew that sheer engine power was going to be the main requirement.
Before the race Ferrari were working hard on their new flat-12-cylinder engine and BRM were doing the same with their revised port layout V8 engine, and Alf Francis was reviving the V8 ATS. The Japanese Honda team had given the Austrian Grand Prix a miss in order to get their V-12 engine working properly and Lotus, Cooper and Brabham had to rely on Coventry-Climax to do something about combating the opposition in the power race.
The Monza track being a permanent circuit, in use for racing or testing at all times, BRM and Honda were there well before the official practice started to try out their cars. For the first practice, on Friday afternoon, Ferrari fielded four cars, having three drivers entered for the race, Surtees with the choice of two V8-engined cars, and Bandini and Scarfiotti with the V6-engined cars, the new flat-12 not being quite ready. Because of slight doubts about starting the engines, the V8 cars were carrying an additional 6-volt battery to supplement the main ones.
Team Lotus had their two Type 33 cars, Clark in the latest one and Spence in the other one, both using the new Mercedes-Benz sliding spline shafts, but the outer ends were strengthened where they were welded to the universal joint, this overcoming the weakness that showed up at Zeltweg. The Type 25 that Clark has often used in the past was there as a spare, and all three cars had been put back to normal specification after the jumble of the Austrian race.
Like Ferrari, the Lotus cars were using larger spherical ball joints on the suspension links at the rear, the weaknesses that Zeltweg showed up having caused some rethinking in Maranello and Cheshunt. The Brabham team comprised Brabham himself and Gurney, with the same two cars they raced in Austria, and the BRM team had their new car (described elsewhere in this issue) for Graham Hill as well as one of the earlier 1964 cars for him, and a 1964 car of the earlier pattern for Ginther.
The Cooper team travelled direct from Zeltweg to Monza and were a bit short of material, but managed to get both their 1964 cars in working order, but had replaced Phil Hill with John Love, to support McLaren. The Honda had been very badly bent at Nürburgring and it had meant building a new car, using some of the undamaged components. No major changes were made to the layout, except that the engine was fitted with a Japanese system of fuel-injection, on the lines of the Lucas system, running at relatively low pressure and injecting into the inlet ports.
Rob Walker entered his ex-works Brabham chassis, with Climax V8 engine and Colotti gearbox, for Bonnier to drive, and the production Brabham with BRM engine and Colotti gearbox was on loan to the Italian Formula Junior driver Giacomo Russo who drives under the pseudonym “Geki.” The Parnell racing team were feeling the effects of a hard season of racing and were reduced to one car, through lack of time more than anything else, and this was driven by Hailwood. It comprised the ex works Lotus 25 chassis that had been acquired at Zeltweg, and used by Amon with a Climax V8 engine and ZF gearbox, but since then a BRM engine and Hewland 5-speed gearbox had been installed, which had meant a lot of work in a short time.
The earlier Lotus 25 that Amon normally drives and which Hailwood drove in Austria was completely clapped-out after the race, all the rivers having worked loose, ball joints were worn, wheel bearings worn and so on, and it was in need of a complete rebuild, which time did not permit. The team’s other early Lotus 25 was still being rebuilt after going in the lake during the race at Enna.
As Revson had entered his Lotus 24, with BRM engine, he took Amon’s place in the entry list, his car being looked after by the Parnell team anyway. The BRP team had stayed on in Zeltweg and overhauled their two monocoque cars, and as in Austria they were being driven by Ireland and Trevor Taylor. While the Parnell team were lacking a chassis, the Centro-Sud team were lacking an engine for one of their BRM cars, so only Baghetti was able to drive.
The new Derrington-Francis ATS was being driven by the Portuguese driver Cabral, and the rest of the entry was made up of private owners, Anderson with his Brabham-Climax V8, it having had a complete rebuild since the Austrian race, Siffert with his Brabham-BRM V8, Raby with his similar car, Trintignant with his blue BRM and Jean Claude Rudaz with his ex-Rob Walker Cooper-Climax V8. There were three non-arrivals, these being Gubby with his ex-BRP team Lotus 24-Climax V8, Pilette with his Scirocco-Climax V8 and John Taylor with Bob Gerard’s Cooper-Climax V8.
Of those that did arrive for the first practice the fastest twenty were going to qualify for the race and with a dry track and warm conditions the tempo was soon speeding up.
With maximum speed being all important for lap times, many of the private owners were taking every opportunity to slip-stream the factory cars, while the factory drivers were out to use each other’s slip-stream whenever possible, so that there were some very tight little groups circulating. Gurney was setting the pace, seemingly able to put in fast times with or without the help of others, and Surtees in either of the V8 Ferraris was also very quick and invariably had someone sitting on his tail.
Graham Hill was out in the new BRM but it was soon back in the pits to have some vents cut in the top of the engine hatch, for the exhaust pipes in the middle of the V of the engine were creating a lot of heat and showing signs of burning the cover. Ginther was late in starting practice as the engine in his car had broken while being run during the morning, and his mechanic had done a fantastically quick engine change “during the lunch hour”, and it was now going all right.
McLaren had got cracking really early and had put in a very fast lap, well under 1min 40sec, which was obviously going to be a standard for people to aim at, but Love had not gone very far before the drive to the distributor broke on the second works Cooper. The Honda was still proving a difficult starter, but once it did fire it was really on 12 cylinders and sounding very powerful, and the first sign that it was beginning to go quickly was when it was noticed that Brabham was a little way behind it on one lap, and still the same distance behind on the next time round!
Team Lotus were not at all happy, their cars not being fast enough on the straights, as has happened so often in the past, and Clark was not in the running for last times, even though he was trying to use Gurney and Surtees as a wind break. While these three were going round together Siffert got in with them, and though it made him sweat he stayed there and got a time in the under 1min 40sec group.
Surtees was still feeling a bit dizzy from Isis Tourist Trophy crash at Goodwood, but it did not seem to affect his driving and he was nearly a second faster than anyone else, with a time of 1min 37.4sec, with Gurney second fastest.
“Team Lotus were not at all happy, their cars not being fast enough on the straights”
Bucknum made the same time as Ginther, but Spence just managed to beat them, though the Honda was coming to the boil too frequently for Japanese peace of mind and the car was taken away for investigation. The Francis ATS was running steadily and reliably, but Rudaz was driving his old Cooper-Climax V8 as hard as it would go until a big cloud of smoke heralded disaster and the engine broke in an extensive manner.
As practice was drawing to a close Clark took the older Lotus out and made his best time of all, with 1min 39.1sec, but it was nowhere near quick enough to challenge the V8 Ferrari of Surtees which was going incredibly well, nor was it a match for the new BRM which Graham Hill had got round in 1min 38.7sec.
On Saturday the whole of the north of Italy seemed to be a grey colour and rain drizzled down intermittently, so that the track was never dry and it was quite impossible to do any serious practice with an eye on the starting grid. This was unfortunate as the new flat-12-cylinder Ferrari made its first appearance, driven by Bandini, while Surtees stuck to the V8-engined cars, and Scarfiotti kept on with a V6 car. Lap times seemed unimportant for they were not going to play any part in the line-up for the race, or for qualifying, which was very hard on those people who were not in the first twenty on Friday.
Particularly hard hit were “Geki,” who had spent the first afternoon getting used to the Brabham-BRM, and Trevor Taylor who had not had an opportunity to have a real go during the first practice. John Love was out of the running anyway as Cooper had no spares for the broken engine, and they spent their time concentrating on McLaren’s Car and getting it ready for the race. Lotus were trying to gain a few more rpm on Clark’s Type 33 by isolating the inlet pipes and injector nozzles from the engine heat by fitting a rubber shroud round the intakes.
Due to the conditions it was a long time before anyone even began to approach a lap time of 2min, but eventually Gurney got under this figure, and so did Clark, while Bandini was only a few tenths of a second off, the flat-12 Ferrari going very well on its first outing. The Honda was going noticeably quickly along the straights in the rain, the 12 cylinders obviously reaching their proper rpm at this meeting.
Graham Hill was using one of the earlier 1964 BRM cars, as well as the new one, but then the earlier engine broke in a rather violent fashion and he had to walk back to the pits and resume practice with the new car, and as it was the last of the earlier engines they had with them he was committed to use the new car for the race.
By the time practice finished Monza was a very grey colour all over, and rather depressing, and the organisers did not deem it necessary to reveal any practice times for the wet conditions, the qualifying and starting grid being decided on Friday’s times, which caused some dissatisfaction among the tail-enders, but there was no alternative. The twentieth qualifier was Rudaz, but as he had no spare engine or parts to repair his broken one, he was forced to be a non-starter and this let Trintignant into the list and Taylor, “Geki,” Love and Raby were out.
Race day was not an encouraging one for the spectators, but was ideal for the racing, being overcast and cool, and the track was packed solid with spectators, most of whom had come to see a Ferrari victory, with Surtees being on the front of the grid, and Ferrari having won the last two major Grand Prix races. The morning, starting at a very early hour, was taken up by races for GT cars, and the lunch interval saw a rather disorganised demonstration by some American and British sprint machinery on a standing start ¼-mile on the main straight in front of the pits.
“Race day was not an encouraging one for the spectators, but was ideal for the racing, being overcast and cool”
The Grand Prix was due to start at 3:30pm over 78 laps of the road circuit, and instead of the long line of paired cars on the grid, as used last year, the cars were lined up three-two-three-two and on a “dummy grid” back from the proper starting line. Surtees was driving one V8 Ferrari and Bandini the other, as the flat-12 had not done sufficient running, and none in the dry. As practice had ended on Saturday Bandini had done a few laps in one of the V8 cars, but his position on the grid was due to the time he made with the V6 car on Friday.
Graham Hill was using the new BRM, as was expected, but Clark was in his old Lotus 25, with the Metallastik rubber-ring joint drive shafts, and it had abbreviated engine covers rather like a Brabham, to keep the inlets and injection mechanism out in the air-stream. The twenty cars were wheeled onto the “dummy grid” and being rather worried about the starting of the Honda, Bucknum started his engine much too early and this caused others to start up, so that the whole field had their engines running with two minutes still to go before getting the signal to move up onto the proper grid.
After what seemed a lifetime the cars moved forward in neat and tidy rows to the main grid and the flag went up and the noise became terrific, as engines were revved and clutches began to bite. Clark was nicely placed behind Surtees and Gurney, so that whichever one made the best start, he could nip into their slip-stream. The roar of the twenty engines as the flag fell was multiplied by the great cantilever concrete grandstand overlooking the start, and Surtees and Gurney got away together so that Clark seemed unable to decide which one to follow.
On the other side of the front row Graham Hill did not move and his arm shot up in the air to warn drivers that he was in trouble. McLaren did a violent swerve round the stationary BRM and roared away ahead of Surtees and Gurney who had been busy watching each other. Photographs taken just after the start show Surtees looking incredulously at the Cooper that was about a length in front of him.
When the noise and smoke had died away poor Graham Hill was still on the line, not having moved at all. He made two more attempts to get going but nothing happened, for the clutch thrust mechanism had seized in the “out” position as he had come up from the “dummy grid.” The car was wheeled back to the pits but nothing could be done, and Hill was out of the race before he had even started.
“On the next lap the grandstand echoed to cheers for it was the red V8 Ferrari Surtees that led out of the south turn”
McLaren was still in the lead at the Lesmo turns, but down the dip to the Ascari turn and along the back straight Gurney and Surtees went by, but the Cooper was immediately in their slipstream and stayed ahead of Clark. The first lap ended with Gurney (Brabham), Surtees (Ferrari), McLaren (Cooper) and Clark (Lotus) nose-to-tail and already some distance ahead of the rest of the field.
As if four different makes of car almost touching each other for the lead was not enough, the next group that arrived was unbelievable and it was quite impossible to record the passing of everyone, but Bandini (Ferrari) was seen to be leading, Bonnier (Brabham), Ginther (BRM), Brabham (Brabham), Ireland (BRP), Siffert (Brabham) and Anderson (Brabham) with the rest so close behind that one could only write “etc, etc,” on the lap chart, and by that time the order was completely different anyway.
On the next lap the grandstand echoed to cheers for it was the red V8 Ferrari Surtees that led out of the south turn and he roared up the pits straight with Gurney, McLaren and Clark right behind him, while the next group was changing positions as far as one could record their passage, but Bonnier was leading them and driving the Brabham-Climax with renewed vigour. Cabral (ATS) Revson (Lotus) and Trintignant (BRM) were bringing up the rear and having a little battle all on their own, so that the overall race had developed into three separate ones, the four works cars fighting for the lead, then 12 cars fighting for fifth place, these being a mixture of works cars and private cars, and the three that were disputing last place.
On the third lap Clark got by McLaren and on the fifth lap Gurney snatched the lead back from Surtees, and on lap six Clark took second place from the Ferrari, but it was all relatively unimportant, for on lap eight Surtees was back in the lead again, and on lap ten Clark was back in fourth place, and so it went on. One could only record the positions as they finished each lap, but they were changing all round the circuit, for these four were very close at all times and they were lapping at around 1 min. 40 sec. The only one showing any signs of consistency was McLaren who spent most of the time in fourth place, apart from occasional laps in third position.
“This battle was exciting to watch, but what followed was fantastic and made the mind go blank”
This battle was exciting to watch, but what followed was fantastic and made the mind go blank. Hailwood had blown his engine up and retired at the pits, but the remaining eleven cars were battling away all round the circuit, there being no semblance of order or domination and anyone could be leading, while the Honda was in the middle of the pack. They would be side by side one moment and the next they would be in-line, then they would break up into groups of twos and threes, and then they would be all over the wide track in a chaotic fashion. This was motor racing at its best and the great thing was that they were all drivers who could look after themselves in close racing so that the resulting cutting and thrusting, swerving and weaving, was all part of the game, and fair and safe.
The leaders were pulling away all the time and by fifteen laps they were passing the pits as the “unruly mob” racing for fifth place were charging down the back straight. Surtees and Gurney were swapping the lead regularly, but one felt that if anyone had anything in reserve it was Surtees with the Ferrari, while Clark and McLaren were only there by reason of really hard driving and clever slip-streaming.
The second group obviously could not go on the way they were and the weak ones began to fall out. First to go was Anderson, who had been straining his engine to keep with them, and rather than risk an expensive blow-up he dropped back a bit. Then the Honda drew into the pits to retire, but not before Bucknum had created a good impression.
He was having trouble with the brakes and getting into some difficult situations in such close company under braking, so he began to use the full power of the Honda down the straights and went by other cars with case, but they all caught him again at the corners. As they finished lap 12 he was in third place, and before retiring he had got into the lead of this group, putting him fifth overall, but then oil and water sprayed out of the radiator fillers and plastered his goggles and he decided he was a bit out of his depth in this sort of close racing and stopped before anything unfortunate happened.
In this second group of cars there was just no knowing who might be leading at any time, and some of the established drivers like ‘Ireland, Bonnier, Brabham, Baghetti, Ginther, all had a go at leading the pack, but only for brief moments, for then they would get to the next corner and it was anybody’s race.
The three tailenders had spread out, Trintignant stopping at the pits when his engine started misfiring, and Cabral falling back a long way due to a slight “moment.” The leaders had already lapped them, and for five laps things looked settled out at the front of the race, with Surtees leading Gurney, but Clark and McLaren were still changing places for the best position in the slip-stream.
In the second group nothing was settled and the pushing and shoving was going on unabated, and on lap 19 Scarfiotti got “pushed” before he could retaliate with a “shove” and he found himself on the grass, with the others disappearing in the distance. He got back on the course again but this little excursion had caused him to lose contact with “the mob” and there was no hope of rejoining them, so this left Ginther, Bandini, Ireland, Bonnier, Baghetti, Brabham, Siffert and Spence in the tightly packed bunch. At 25 laps Gurney was leading, but a moment before it had been Surtees, and Clark was still with them but McLaren was showing signs of losing contact.
These four were now rounding the Curva Grande after the pits, while the “charging mob” were rushing down the back straight. The Francis-ATS suddenly stopped by the trackside when its engine died and on lap 26 Gurney and Surtees went by with a definite advantage over Clark, and the Lotus engine sounded distinctly odd.
On the next lap Clark stopped at the pits and after one more slow lap he retired with a broken piston in the Coventry-Climax engine. This meant that McLaren had lost his help-mate and on his own he could not hope to stay with the leaders; the gap between the leading pair and the Cooper began to widen visibly. This did not worry McLaren as he had no hope of beating the Brabham or the Ferrari while they kept running, and the opening pace had put him so far ahead of the rest of the field that his third was secure.
Normally by this time a race tends to settle down, but this one had not and while Surtees and Gurney kept taking turns at leading, there were still eight cars lighting now for fourth place. This battle was so enthralling that there was a tendency to view it as an entirely separate race and it is doubtful whether any of the eight drivers were worried about the fact that they were racing for fourth place, all being concerned to win this particular group. Ireland would lead, then Bonnier, then Brabham, then Ginther, then Bonnier again, then Bandini, then Ginther again and so it went on.
One lap they would appear out of the south turn looking like one car, so close and nose-to-tail were they, and the next lap you would see all ten as they raced up the straight spread all over the track. One lap they would be in line-ahead formation on the far side of the track right on the white line along the front of the pits, and the next lap they would be on the grandstand side of the track with their wheels nearly on the grass. Then they would be dodging all over the place trying to shake each other out of the slip-stream, but it never worked and next lap they would be in an orderly line again. While all this was going on the leaders were drawing away from them all the time and the further ahead they got the closer they became to coming up behind to lap this lot.
“This battle was so enthralling that there was a tendency to view it as an entirely separate race”
On lap 34 Scarfiotti was lapped, and on lap 37 Gurney and Surtees could see this unruly lot in front of them, dodging and weaving about, and could not have been looking forward to the prospect of getting past them. Just at this point the mob were about to lap Anderson, so the interesting situation was arising very quickly where Anderson was going to be lapped by eight cars which themselves were going to be lapped by two cars and on laps 39, 40 and 41 there was the thickest and fastest traffic flow imaginable, with no question of “lane-discipline” or passing on the right.
Everyone was passing as and when they could and had anyone weakened they would have got run over. The pace of this second group was still so furious that even though Surtees and Gurney got through them and to the head, they did not get away very quickly and had the ten cars in their mirrors for quite a number of laps. McLaren was content to sit behind them all, safe in the knowledge that while they were in front of him on the track he was holding third place.
After the leaders had gone through Brabham began to take command on the second group, having been at the front of it on lap 31, but at the back of it on lap 38. By lap 46 he was back in front again and then stayed there for eleven laps, followed by Ginther, Ireland, Bandini and Bonnier, while Baghetti, Siffert and Spence had obviously become a bit exhausted by the mêlée when the leaders went through and had fallen back a bit.
On lap 51 Bonnier came slowly into the pits, his battery going flat due to a faulty alternator and his fuel pressure was dropping due to the lack of amps at the high-pressure pump. This was most unfortunate as he had been putting up a very spirited fight, giving as good as he was getting, and by the time another battery was put on everyone was well ahead. This left a foursome out of the original twelve cars in this group, and they settled in the order Brabham, Ginther, Ireland and Bandini with Siffert, Baghetti and Spence some way behind. Out in front Surtees was beginning to lead consistently, the Ferrari sounding immensely strong, but Gurney was still right behind though not challenging any more, but equally he was not losing ground.
McLaren was comfortably in third place, making no attempt to start lapping the midfield runners and setting his pace by them. From lap 56 to lap 62 Gurney was in tow behind Surtees, but on the next lap his engine began to stutter and there was a sizable gap between these two. Each lap the misfiring got worse, and Gurney’s race was run as far as challenging the Ferrari, which was sounding as crisp as ever and forging towards victory.
This failing of the number one Brabham car seemed unbelievable because, while the apparent settling down had been going on for the lead, Brabham himself had lost the lead of the small but fierce group now fighting for fourth place, and had dropped back behind Ginther, Ireland and Bandini, and then on lap 60 his Climax engine broke in a big cloud of smoke and Brabham parked the car on the side of the track out near the Lesmo corners.
The smoke had hardly settled before Gurney’s car began to weaken, and on lap 68 he drew into his pit. It was thought that the high-pressure fuel pump might be overheating so water was poured on it and he set off again, but this was not the trouble for the engine sounded even worse as he left the pits. Poor Gurney could do nothing but limp round at a very low speed and let everyone catch him up, lap by lap dropping farther and farther down the field. This put McLaren in second place and the trio of Ginther, Bandini and Ireland were racing for third place.
While all the drama had been going on at the front of the field they had been racing as hard as ever, dodging this way and that trying to get rid of each other. Ginther was leading more often than not, but occasionally Bandini would be right alongside him, and never more than a length behind, and they were still varying their tactics up the straight, being right along the pit, wall on one lap and on the edge of the grass on the opposite side the next lap.
The leading Ferrari was almost forgotten due to the tenseness of the battle for third place, and behind this trio were Spence and Siffert running wheel to wheel, and behind these two were Baghetti and Scarfiotti running in very close company. The Centro-Sud BRM driver had dropped back from Siffert and Spence, until Scarfiotti caught him, and then he had woken up-and legun racing the third works Ferrari.
With victory in sight for Surtees and the Ferrari, Gurney stopped at his pit once more, but then limped on again desperately trying to finish; his alternator was not charging and the battery was running down, which meant that the Lucas electrical pump supplying fuel under pressure was not working efficiently and the low pressure to the injectors was ruining the mixture and causing the misfiring-and lack of power. This was not known at the time, or else another battery could have been fitted, so Gurney could only struggle on. McLaren had lapped Siffert and Spence, but their personal dice was so fierce that the Cooper driver could not get away from them as they were both making use of his slipstream, so with plenty of time in hand McLaren eased off and let them un-lap themselves and get on with their battle on their own.
The joy of the partisan crowd was immense as Surtees finished his 78th lap to gain a really convincing victory for Ferrari, but it was only a prelude to their real joy for Ginther and Bandini were due to arrive soon for third place. McLaren having gone by to take second place almost unnoticed. During the last few laps Ireland was having fuel feed bothers in the BRP and had been forced to drop back a bit, so third place was now left to the BRM and the second V8 Ferrari.
A great shout went up as the red car was seen to be leading out of the south turn, but the olive green BRM was right in its slip-stream and obviously poised to pull out arid strike as they raced up the straight. Bandini was wide awake and watching Ginther in his mirror and when he saw the BRM begin to pull out to his right side he kept to the right as they were approaching the pit wall, and Ginther was forced to swerve back into the slip-stream and have a go on the left of the Ferrari. By this time they were half-way along the length of the pits and the finishing line was in sight.
The BRM pulled out of the Ferrari slip-stream and got alongside and the two cars went over the line so close to each other that the decision of the judges had to be awaited before anyone could be sure who had won the battle. Bandini was given the decision and a subsequent photograph showed that he had won by half the width of the chequered finishing line. Ireland came in fifth and then there was another flurry as Spence and Siffert appeared, racing for the finish with only a few feet between them, the works Lotus driver just getting the advantage.
Still the racing was not over, for Baghetti and Scarliotti now came out of the south turn side by side and another wheel-to-wheel race for the finishing line took place, the Centro-Sud car just getting the verdict. The unhappy Gurney finished, and an equally unfortunate Bonnier, and as the cars did their slowing down lap the crowds began to swarm onto the track. Some 100,000 Italians had seen one of the greatest races for a long time and Ferrari had finished 1st, 3rd and 9th, three cars starting and three cars finishing, and the foreign (British) opposition had been well and truly trounced.
“The enthusiasm of the crowd was fantastic…poor Surtees was almost trampled under foot as the crowd chaired and cheered Bandini”
The enthusiasm of the crowd was fantastic and Surtees went straight to the pits at the end of his slowing down lap, as did everyone else, for the track was black with people and the officials with the garland of flowers and the cup were swept aside, as were the police. Mass enthusiasm took over and Ferrari and Bandini were the heroes of the day, poor Surtees was almost trampled under foot as the crowd chaired and cheered Bandini, and the 35th Italian Grand Prix finished up in a greater scene of chaos than even Le Mans has ever witnessed, all quite orderly and friendly but patriotism at its best, for nobody loves Italy more than the Italians.