60 – 1932 Marseille GP


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

By 1932 Tazio Nuvolari was confirmed as Italy’s finest racer and had won six Grands Prix that year for Alfa Romeo. But at Marseille the ‘great little man’ suffered a rare lapse in judgement.

At around the halfway point of the race, believing his lead to be unassailable, Nuvolari pitted. It was a leisurely stop, his mechanics topping up fuel and changing spark plugs and tyres while he took a drink. Unbeknownst to any of them, the privately entered Alfa of Raymond Sommer was not far behind. The Frenchman had made his name earlier that year by driving for 20 hours en route to victory at Le Mans, but had yet to score a Grand Prix win in his young career.

After three minutes in the pits, Nuvolari set off again with the quick-stopping Sommer just ahead. Still thinking the race was all but over and that he was a lap to the good, Nuvolari watched Sommer speed off into the distance gaining five seconds each tour, already a lap ahead. The Italian ignored pit signals for some time before stopping to find out “what was the cause of all the bother”. Tearing away from the pits, now fully aware of his situation, he set a record-breaking pace in his pursuit, but his tyres could not keep up and a puncture ended his chance of victory.

Lost in all the excitement was a fine third-place finish for Guy Moll driving an ageing Bugatti in his first Continental race; such was the pace of the Alfa duo he finished four laps behind. ACH


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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