33 – 1956 Italian GP


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

Fear of tyre failures is nothing new. But if modern Formula 1 drivers were prepared to boycott after the troubles at the British GP this July past, what would they make of those at Monza 57 years ago?

This wasn’t just flat-out Monza, remember – this was Monza complete with the rough, rubber-shredding banking. So much about the race that was officially called the Gran Premio d’Europa simply couldn’t be countenanced today.

The Lancia-Ferraris were fast but vulnerable on their Engleberts, against the Pirelli-shod Maseratis and the Dunlop-tyred Vanwall of an inspired Harry Schell. Against all reason, Eugenio Castellotti and Luigi Musso ignored Ferrari’s tyre fears and raced hard – until they were forced to stop for new sets. Castellotti would subsequently throw a tread on the banking, walking away from a frightening accident. It wasn’t the only close call that day.

View the 1956 Italian Grand Prix on the Database and Archive

At the front, Moss looked peerless until his 250F faltered, out of fuel thanks to a leak. Maserati privateer Piotti saved the day, thinking quick to run up behind and push Moss’s car pitwards (imagine!). Stirling was back in the race, behind new leader Musso. But then the Lancia-Ferrari suffered a steering arm breakage, the subsequent tyre blow-out sending Luigi into a pits-bound slide. As Jenks reports, “By sheer luck he came to rest a matter of inches from the pit counters and was helped out weak and very shaken, with the Italian GP once more wrested from his grasp.”

Thus Moss took victory from the Lancia-Ferrari of Peter Collins – but now driven by Juan Manuel Fangio. Yes, the ultimate example of F1 as a team sport. The Briton gave up his car for the maestro (Musso wouldn’t have it), allowing his team leader to claim his fourth title. Scandalous? No. Back then, simply sporting and the act of a gentleman. DS

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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