29 – 1934 French GP


A series taken from the 162-page Motor Sport special 100 Greatest Grands Prix (other specials are available here).

Scuderia Ferrari’s Alfa Romeos mopped up while the Germans prepared for action: 1-2s at Monaco and in the Targa Florio, plus a 1-2-3-4 at Alessandria, a 1-2-3 in Tripoli and a win in Morocco, with Guy Moll, Louis Chiron and Achille Varzi sharing the spoils. 

They even finished 1-2 – Moll from Varzi – at the Avusrennen (May 27) in the debut presence of Auto Union, although Hans Stuck’s radical rear-engined device had disappeared over the horizon before suffering a broken clutch.

Mercedes-Benz arrived later, at the Nürburgring’s Eifelrennen on June 3, and promptly ended Alfa’s run of success, courtesy of Manfred von Brauchitsch; Stuck was second. That, though, was home soil. The French GP would be a truer test of the preparedness of the Silver Arrows.

Though fast in practice, they were found wanting in the heat of the race. All three Auto Unions – one didn’t even make the start – and all three Mercs failed to finish, retiring through a range of faults indicative of the newness of these complex cars: defective steering, a disintegrating supercharger, failed brakes – there was debate whether this was caused by Luigi Fagioli’s excursion rather than vice versa – and a fractured fuel feed. Only one Silver Arrow, Stuck’s, made it beyond half-distance, by which time it was out of contention because of a long pitstop caused by the problem that eventually sidelined it: a weakening water pump.

View this race on the Database

Alfa Romeo was thus handed another 1-2-3. In defence of its winner Chiron, however, the classy Monégasque had matched the German machines from the moment he accelerated into the lead from the third row; only Stuck headed him. It wouldn’t be long, however, before the Silver Arrows wedded experience to experiment and the Alfa, a three-year-old design, was made to look its age.

*Stuck did not take up his pole position.
He started from the middle of a depleted front row having taken over team-mate August Momberger’s car. The latter switched to Hermann zu Leiningen’s chassis and started from the second row.

About 100 Greatest Grands Prix | From the editor Damien Smith
The Grand Prix motor races we can never forget…

This was a special one-off magazine, dedicated to our love of Grand Prix racing and produced by the same team that brings you Motor Sport each month.

It seemed a good idea: whittle down 107 years of racing history to come up with 100 GPs that could be considered the ‘greatest’ – then rank them in meritocratic order. By week three, the old grey matter was beginning to ache…

Defining greatness was the first task. There were the obvious races – the wheel-to-wheel duels, the comeback classics. But there were also individual performances of supreme dominance, races that might not necessarily have been the most exciting to witness. Greatness goes way beyond thrill-a-minute, we decided.

Choosing which races should make the list was hard enough; ranking the top 100 in some sort of order was even tougher, especially when it came to the crunch: which should be number one? We never did agree unanimously on the ‘greatest’, but if the magazine was to be finished a decision had to be taken. And that’s what I’m here for!

Will you agree with our choice and order? Probably not. But if steam begins to issue from your ears, take a deep breath. In any exercise such as this, there is no definitive list – because there can’t be. Our top 100 is based on opinion, nothing more, designed to be a bit of fun and to spark good-natured debate among fans of the world’s greatest sport.

You can download 100 Greatest Grands Prix in PDF form in the Motor Sport app.

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