This weekend sees the Formula 1 circus head to Autodromo Nazionale Monza for the 2022 Italian Grand Prix — one of the most storied events in the sport. Today, to get ready for the race, we’re looking back at some of the most unforgettable moments in the event’s history.
1956: Fangio’s Dramatic Win
Monza used to host the final round of the Formula 1 World Championship, which means many a title was decided there, and 1956 was no different. Peter Collins and Juan Manuel Fangio battled all season. Coming into Monza, if Fangio failed to score any points and Collins won the race, Collins would take the Championship.
As it turned out, Fangio’s car broke down, and his teammate Luigi Musso refused to forfeit his car to allow Fangio to finish the race. In a shocking turn of events, though, Collins stepped out of his own car to give Fangio a chance to finish the race. By doing so, Collins forfeited what would be his only shot at a Championship, while Fangio would record his fourth Championship for as many manufacturers.
1961: Horror Crash
In 1961, Monza still used its banked, high-speed section — but that would be its final year. Wolfgang von Trips, in a deadlock for the title championship with Ferrari teammate Phil Hill, ended up colliding with a Lotus. His car flew into a barrier, throwing von Trips from the car and killing 15 spectators. Hill took the Championship, and Ferrari opted against traveling to the United States for the season finale.
1967: Jim Clark Unlaps Himself
Jim Clark led the 1967 Italian Grand Prix until a deflating tire saw him pit on lap 13. When he rejoined the race, he was a lap down on the leaders, and his race looked just about over. But he put up a blinding pace, and soon began setting laps three seconds quicker than everyone else. One by one, Clark unlapped himself and regained the lead for what should have been one of the most stunning victories of all time. Unfortunately, his engine failed on the last lap.
1969: Rindt vs. Stewart
The Italian Grand Prix has counted endless tight finishes to its name, and 1969 was no different. Jackie Stewart and Jochen Rindt battled the whole race, but it was ultimately the Scottish driver who took victory by a mere 0.08 seconds at the line, thanks to his decision to have his car fitted with a longer fourth gear than the competition.
Unfortunately, Rindt was killed at Monza the following year; he had built up such a Championship lead that he became the first and only posthumous World Champion.
1971: The Closest Finish in F1 History
The 1971 Italian Grand Prix holds a special record: It was the closest finish in Formula 1 history and will likely remain that way. The top five drivers all crossed the finish line in a span of just 0.6 seconds. Peter Gethin took his first and only F1 victory, pipping Ronnie Peterson at the line by just one hundredth of a second. Close behind were François Cevert, Mike Hailwood, and Howden Ganley.
Peterson, too, would unfortunately suffer a fatal accident at Monza in 1978.
1976: Niki Lauda’s Return
Ferrari’s Niki Lauda refused to let his near-fatal accident at the 1976 German Grand Prix slow his pursuit of another World Championship. After nearly burning to death in his car, Lauda missed only two races before he made his stunning return at the Italian Grand Prix. Even Ferrari had no idea its driver was set to return, and had to run a third car after signing a new driver to replace him.
Lauda’s fourth-place finish in the event was an exceptional story, helping him maintain his lead over competitor James Hunt.
1988: In Honor of Enzo
McLaren had a deeply dominant year in 1988, winning every single race of the season — except the Italian Grand Prix. Both McLaren drivers had trouble during the race, leaving Ferrari’s Gerhard Berger and Michele Alboreto to take a 1-2 finish at the team’s home race. It was a highly emotional event, as the team’s founder Enzo Ferrari had died mere weeks before.
1993: 360 Degrees
Minardi drivers Pierluigi Martini and Christian Fittipaldi were nearing the finish line of the 1993 Italian Grand Prix when disaster struck. Martini ran into the back of his teammate, which sent his Minardi into the air; it completed a full 360-degree flip before landing back on its wheels.
The drama at the 1995 Italian Grand Prix started before the green flag even flew. Polesitter David Coulthard spun on the formation lap and initially retired from the race — but a multi-car crash on the first lap meant the race could be restarted after some cleanup, and Coulthard was able to get right back into it ahead of the restart. More than half the field ultimately retired, and Johnny Herbert took the win.
1999: Hakkinen’s Mistake
Mika Hakkinen entered the 1999 Italian Grand Prix as Championship leader and dominated the first part of the race until he made one tiny error. At the first chicane, Hakkinen downshifted into first gear instead of second, leaving him spinning out of the race. The Finnish driver could later be seen crying in the bushes, knowing his simple mistake might have cost him a Championship. As a result, the battle went down to the very last race that season, and Hakkinen took his second consecutive Championship by just two points.
2008: Vettel Sets Records
The 2008 Italian Grand Prix was a sign of a record-setting future to come. Toro Rosso driver Sebastian Vettel stunned the crowd when he took his first-ever pole position, followed quickly by his first-ever race win. At 21 years old, he earned the title of the youngest driver ever to win a Formula 1 race; that record was only broken eight years later by Max Verstappen.
2014: Ricciardo Has the Moves
In his first year as a Red Bull Racing driver, young Daniel Ricciardo was looking to impress, and he did just that at the 2014 Italian Grand Prix. The so-called “honey badger” displayed a measured but aggressive race craft that saw him move up the field from ninth to fifth.
2019: Charles Leclerc’s Victory for Ferrari
Ferrari was nearing a 10-year dry spell at its home race when driver Charles Leclerc took victory in Monza in 2019. He fended off two dominant Mercedes drivers to stand on the top step of the podium, taking his second victory in a row after the previous weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix.
2020: Pierre Gasly Is Triumphant
No one would have picked AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly as a potential race winner for the 2020 Italian Grand Prix, but that’s exactly what happened. A well-timed pit stop before a safety car helped Gasly rise from 10th place to the front of the grid; he then inherited when leader Lewis Hamilton was given a penalty for entering pit lane when it was closed. Gasly held off McLaren’s Carlos Sainz Jr. to take his first F1 victory.
The race would be one for the record books. Gasly became the first French F1 driver to win a race since 1996, and the AlphaTauri-McLaren-Racing Point podium marked the first time since 2012 that an F1 podium didn’t have a Red Bull, Mercedes, or Ferrari driver on podium.
Further, it was a deeply emotional race for Gasly, who had been demoted from Red Bull Racing proper to the junior AlphaTauri team and had experienced the death of his friend Anthoine Hubert the previous year.
2021: Daniel Ricciardo’s Last Gasp
To say that Daniel Ricciardo’s move to McLaren was a bit underwhelming wouldn’t be an overstatement — but the Australian driver did find himself in the team’s good graces after winning the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, helping give McLaren its first 1-2 finish since the 2010 Canadian Grand Prix.