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#109 1962 Italian Grand Prix

2021-09-01 00:00

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#1962,

#109 1962 Italian Grand Prix

Esattamente un anno fa, dopo la terribile sciagura in cui perdettero la vita il pilota tedesco Wolfgang Von Trips e quattordici spettatori, era sembra

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One year ago, after the terrible disaster in which German driver Wolfgang Von Trips and fourteen spectators lost their lives, it seemed that the fate of the famous Lombardy racetrack was sealed. And with it, the fate of Italian motorsport, with Monza as its cornerstone. Many months passed; though the Italian government had appointed a commission of inquiry to study the issue of spectator safety at motor racing events, it also seemed unable to take a clear and definitive position. Then, at the beginning of the summer, the government finally announced the general measures to be taken for the protection of spectators on the racetrack.

 

The Monza circuit managers were already working on transforming the facilities, after an in-depth study of the protection systems adopted in Daytona (United States), which seem to be the best in this area among the permanent tracks. The ministerial provisions coincided with the conclusions of the managers, so there were no further obstacles to the progress of the work. The transformation of the safety systems will be carried out in three phases (only the first one has been completed) and may be completed next spring. However, only works completed during the summer - and with a positive result - can be considered satisfactory or at least reassuring for those responsible for the safety of the public (and of course the spectators). In brief, the works to adapt the circuit (which, according to estimates, will cost 332.000.000 lire) include:

 

  • Installation of a 2.20–3-metre-high metallic net, made of strong cables and supported by iron poles, along a good part of the track. In the areas with the highest speeds, the net is placed ten metres back compared to the existing wall;
  • Placement of a large number of guardrails, single or double, on the sides of all turns;
  • Elimination of the existing concrete kerbs, along with filling ditches;
  • Placement of fences around large lawn areas to prevent public access (who, among other things, cannot access the embankment along the straight where the Von Trips accident occurred last year).

 

In short, there’s nothing to worry about, within the limits of the humanly foreseeable: with the measures put in place this year, spectators will be able to watch the Italian Grand Prix without worries. This organizational (and human) aspect of the most important Italian motorsport event outweighs even the technical and sporting prospects of the race itself during the preparation phase. One might add that the fans’ anticipation does not seem as high as it was in the past. There is a reason for this: in this year’s World Championship races for Formula 1 cars - of which the Italian Grand Prix will be the seventh round of the season - the Italian cars, meaning the Ferraris, have not managed to win once. Union difficulties have hindered the activities of the Maranello workshops, but aside from that, the British cars have dominated the scene so far, leaving no margin of possibility for the Italian single-seaters.

 

The British cars were beaten only in the French Grand Prix, at Rouen-Les Essarts, by the German Porsche, and rather fortunately. And since it wasn’t just a single brand from across the Channel which won Formula 1 races, but B.R.M., Lotus and Cooper (and the newcomer - Lola - came close), the obvious conclusion is that the British way of doing things, which managed to overthrow Ferrari’s dominance from one year to the next, is superior. Will things go differently on Sunday 16 September, 1962? This question holds a good part of the interest of the motoring world for the Italian Grand Prix. Logic would have it that Monza can only confirm the existing situation, with the only doubt being the name of the winning British car. But Enzo Ferrari is not a man to accept adverse events and the British green cars may find a worthy opponent on Monza’s asphalt.

 

It is not a mystery, in fact, that the Modenese company has prepared new mechanical means for the occasion: it has completely redesigned the chassis and the suspensions of its six cylinders, elements of which its inferiority to the English has been confirmed. Ferrari enters five single-seaters at Monza, driven by Phil Hill, Baghetti, Bandini, Ricardo Rodriguez and Willy Mairesse. The latter will race with a hybrid car, tested by Bandini during the month of August, which has many changes and a new rear suspension. Jim Clark, Innes Ireland, Trevor Taylor and Maurice Trintignant will be in the race with the official Lotus. The current leader of the world standings, Graham Hill, and Richie Ginther will be driving for B.R.M. The Coopers will be driven by Bruce McLaren and Tony Maggs. The new Brabham will be driven by its constructor, Jack Brabham (whose registration, however, has not been received yet on August 11). Joachim Bonnier and Dan Gurney will be racing for Porsche, and John Surtees and Roy Salvadori will be driving the Lola. There are more than two dozen entries; apart from the official teams, there are other important drivers such as Masten Gregory (Lotus-B.R.M.), Joseph Siffert (Lotus-B.R.M.), the Italians Carlo Mario Abate, Nino Vaccarella (who will race with a Porsche or a Lotus), and Roberto Lippi (Osca-De Tomaso).

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On Sunday 26 August 1962, while waiting for the Italian Grand Prix to take place, in front of an audience of over forty thousand, Ludovico Scarfiotti becomes the new European champion of uphill motor racing. At the Ollon-Villars race, held in the afternoon over a distance of eight kilometers and an altitude difference of over 500 meters, the driver places his Ferrari 3000 in second place. Scarfiotti thus accumulates enough points in the European Hill Climb Championship rankings that his opponents can no longer surpass him at the remaining race in Gaisberg (Austria). The Swiss race is extremely hard, partly because of the heat. But being practically sure of conquering the European title, Scarfiotti can face the race with a certain caution, without excessively pushing his powerful car. In the two heats, the Italian driver totals a total time of 9'14"1. The first place goes in favor of German driver Greger who, driving a Porsche 2000, precedes the Italian driver by two tenths of a second. Scarfiotti, however, shows impeccable style, especially in the numerous turns of the track. Approached by reporters, the Ferrari driver is very satisfied with conquering the European title, and adds:

 

"I was very confident, so I didn't want to strain my car too much: next year I hope to be able to compete, always for Ferrari, in Formula 1 races; the two most fearful opponents in this European Hill Climb Championship were undoubtedly the German Greger and the Swiss Walter".

 

In addition to Ludovico Scarfiotti's second place, Carlo Mario Abate's placing (fifth overall) was excellent, also in a Ferrari 3000. Swiss driver Heini Walter, holder of the 1960 and 1961 European titles, had a rather disappointing performance. He did not match his usual results: suffice it to say that, compared to Scarfiotti, he lost exactly ten seconds and then close to eleven seconds in the two heats. Joachim Bonnier is the absolute winner of the Olon-Villars uphill race. In the Formula 1 car category Bonnier runs an excellent 4'87"8 heat, with an average speed of 107.500 km/h. With this time the Swedish racer, driving a 1500 cubic centimetres Porsche, pulverizes the previous track record, held by the late French racer Behra in 4'46"6. It should be noted that Scarfiotti, completing the first run in 4'37"4, also improves on the Frenchman’s record. As the Italian Grand Prix draws closer, it turns out that the Maranello workshops did not have enough time to finish the new Formula 1 car. The work had been set up when the technical implementation had looked alarming for the Modenese team, which was still dominating its rivals last year. However, the model which Ferrari will line up could be defined as half-way between the old and the future single-seater, meaning it will have an updated chassis but will still powered by the well-known six-cylinder (though, in terms of available power, it has nothing to fear from the British 8-cylinder).

 

This car will be entrusted to Willy Mairesse, who proved to be the most efficient among the Scuderia Ferrari drivers this year, until the frightening accident at Spa. The Belgian will be driving, provided that he has completely recovered. As for the other Ferrari drivers, World Champion Phil Hill did not seem to be in the best shape, both physically and mentally, during the season. On Sunday 16 September 1962 the American driver will have the car with the new six-speed gearbox and, above all, he will be on a circuit that is congenial to him. Three young drivers remain in the team: Lorenzo Bandini, Giancarlo Baghetti and Ricardo Rodriguez. The first is the fittest of the group; the other two prefer very fast circuits, such as Monza, even though the Grand Prix will be run on the 5.750-meter track, with the ring of elevated curves being excluded. This only increases Graham Hill's hopes of becoming World Champion at Monza, even though he is perhaps a little inferior to Clark and Surtees in terms of class. But the British driver is a solid, tenacious racer and has first-rate mechanical equipment. On Friday 14 September 1962, Jim Clark will have the misfortune of being invited by two policemen to show up at the court of Monza, in front of the judge who is still conducting the formal investigation on last year’s disaster.

 

The Scotsman was involved in the incident but miraculously came out unharmed. After the terrible event he had immediately left for his home and could not, or perhaps did not want to, defend himself from the vague accusation of having contributed to the fatal mowing of Trips' Ferrari with an incautious maneuver. But the judicial system is slow and Clark will have to recount his dramatic memories of that 10 September 1961 to a court clerk. He will then return to the pits, put his overalls on and get into his Lotus. He will look serene, demonstrating that these youngsters wouldn’t be here if they didn't have nerves of steel. It is precisely Jim Clark who is believed to be Stirling Moss’ successor, as far as overall values are concerned. As for the former motorcycling World Champion, he is perfectly in harmony with the four-wheeled vehicle, and the Lola seems to have reached a very high level of efficiency. During the weekend we learn, among other things, that the future Serenissima A.T.S. team has hired British driver John Fairman to test the new car that will be competing in the World Championship in 1963, currently being put together in Bologna. Fairman's engagement is supported by Dick Jeffrey of Dunlop, who will supply the team with tires.

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This year two major changes have been introduced for the Italian Grand Prix: firstly, the abandonment of the old part of the circuit - in order for the Grand Prix to be held on the road circuit only - and the increase of the race length to almost 500 kilometers. 31 cars will take part to qualifying, but only 22 of them will join the grid. Ferrari lines up with Phil Hill, Baghetti, Bandini, Rodriguez and Mairesse; but apart from the lightweight car introduced at Nurburgring, no development has been made on the 120-degree-engined cars, the old 65-degree-engined car, and the interim 1962 model with central gearbox. At the factory, three brand new cars with rear suspension like a Lotus were getting ready to be taken to the track, but while copying the geometry a major mistake was made and, having no time to correct it, these cars had to be left behind. On the other hand, B.R.M. is well prepared, lining up Graham Hill and Ginther’s cars and a third one as spare. They all arrive early at Monza, in order to conduct an unofficial practice the day before the meeting - having Ferrari also spent some time going round the circuit earlier in the week. Porsche also takes part to the race weekend with three cars - Gurney on the newest one, Bonnier on the second and the third kept a spare.

 

The team had an interesting modification to the cooling-fan drive, with the incorporation of a thermostatically controlled clutch-cum-freewheel so that at maximum speed the drive to the fan could be disengaged, leaving the impeller windmilling at maximum rpm, hence saving all the power losses involved in the drive. Other attempts at achieving more speed can be noticed in streamlining, which recalls that of Brooklands in the nineteen-twenties; the wheels had flush-fitting aluminum discs bolted on to the fixing studs; fairings were fitted over suspension members and rear wishbones were taped over to present a smooth surface. In order to check float levels, the Weber carburetors were fitted with small external glass riser-tubes, which indicated the petrol level. Meanwhile, Lotus is trying to get both its drivers in the monocoque Type 25 cars, Clark on the same single seater he won with in Oulton Park and Taylor in the newest one, but the team has a space-frame Type 24 as spare, all three cars having Coventry-Climax V8 engines. The RCC Walker team built a brand new Lotus 24 with Climax V8 engine and 6-speed Colotti gearbox, which was given to Vaccarella, while the original Walker car, completely rebuilt on twice occasions, was reserved for Trintignant. Cooper has two cars as usual, mounting Climax V8 engines; to drive them are McLaren and Maggs. McLaren’s car has been fitted with oversize fuel tanks alongside the cockpit, making the car more bulbous; both cars are mounting 15-in front wheels on this fast circuit.

 

This weekend, though, John Cooper will be missing due to his father being seriously ill. UDT-Laystall has three Lotus cars, a pair with Climax V8 engines and one with B.R.M. V8 engine, all with 5-speed Colotti gearboxes. Ireland received the Climax-engined car, while Gregory has the B.R.M. engined one, this being the team’s original one. Bowmaker brings all three Lola-Climax V8 cars, Surtees having the latest one, with a more resistant front suspension; the cars present pannier tanks alongside the cockpit as a safeguard for the increased race length, while they also have provision for fitting knock-off rear hubs, should the necessity for tyre changes in a race of 500 kilometres emerge during free practice. The rest of the entry to the 1962 Italian Grand Prix is made up of private owners, or small racing teams, with the exception of Jack Brabham, being the driver unable to agree with the organizers on the monetary value of his turquoise-special. An interesting entry which makes a brief appearance during the first practice is the new 8-cylinder de Tomaso car, driven by an Argentinian driver named Estefano. This car was entirely built in Modena, designed by Alessandro de Tomaso and Massimino and developed by a tiny factory with limited resources. This car is not really ready to race, having only recently been out on test in Modena, but makes its appearance in Italy as a gesture of good faith. With such a galaxy of new projects, the starting grid has been limited to 22 cars, all of which have to be within 10% of the time of the second fastest overall. For this reason, the forecast of private-owners’ qualifying results appears to be not such a positive one, especially for those with obsolete cars or 4-cylinder engines.

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Even though is seemed to be more than enough time for practice and for preparation, some teams still appear unprepared when practice begins on Friday afternoon 14 September 1962, at 3:00 pm to 6:30 pm. The sun is shining and conditions are splendid for the public enjoying their time at the track, but terribly hot for anyone who is at work. Ferrari puts Phil Hill out in the centre-gearbox car and Mairesse in the lightweight; the two Ferrari drivers race respectively under number 10 and 8, a complete reversal of all published lists of drivers and numbers, which creates continual doubts and confusion about lap times – it did not matter very much when the two of them were not running. It is B.R.M. the first team to set the pace in Italy, Graham Hill being much faster than anyone else and scoring a lap of 1'40"0, almost equal to the absolute lap record for the Monza road circuit, registered by Phil Hill with a 2.5-litre Ferrari in 1959. B.R.M. is using its newest car (the same that Johnstone drove at Oulton Park) as a spare, while Porsche and Lola both brought their training cars out, these cars carrying the letter T, but their times not counting for qualification. Team Lotus is in a bit of a shambles, Clark’s car being overgeared, and after having another gearbox fitted in double-quick time, this brakes before the driver gets going at all fast; in spite of all, he registers a lap of 1'41"0, the second fastest. His team-mate Taylor, also in a Lotus 25, is having just as bad a time, as a rear suspension ball-race broke up, forcing him him to stand around while the suspension unit gets changed.

 

Meanwhile, the UDT-Laystall team is getting on with the job, Gregory being just a shade faster than Ireland, and the B.R.M.-engined Lotus working very well. Troubles for Mairesse as well, who hits Gregory with his lightweight Ferrari and squares up the tail going into the South Curve, not realising that Gregory has only just come out on the circuit and is still warming up. The Belgian is currently making his first reappearance after his Spa crash and is pressing on as hard as ever. Fortunately, there is no damage on the Lotus-B.R.M. and the Ferrari only suffers a crumpled nose cowling, which is soon hammered out straight again. In the meantime, the Scuderia Venezia finds out that the brand-new Lotus-Climax V8 is far from ready to race, Burgess encounters a bout of misfiring on his specially-prepared 4-cylinder Climax engine, Prinoth disappears into the paddock with water pouring from the tail pipe of his old Lotus and Chamberlain has his 4-cylinder Climax engine in bits. The Cooper team has been a bit late in showing up for this Italian weekend, but McLaren soon gets into the groove and runs a lap of 1'41"0. On the other side, the Lolas are not going as fast as expected: the best Surtees can do is a 1'42"0 lap, while Porsches are barely any quicker, their power-saving freewheeling of the fan not showing as much gain on the track as it had on the test-bed. With his own car abandoned out on the circuit due to gearbox issues, Clark runs a few laps in Taylor’s car, just to see if it was all right.

 

As practice is drawing to a close, the new flat 8-cylinder de Tomaso car makes a brief appearance, but the clutch immediately starts giving trouble, so it only runs a few laps, stopping at the pits each time, which explains the very long official time that registered in the end. On Saturday, practice begins again at 3:00 p.m. and once more temperatures are quite high. Lotus encountered another gearbox flown out on Clark’s car, and it is quite late in the afternoon when the team is finally able to fix it and send Clark out to start serious practice. But, as soon as he joins the track, the Climax engine breaks a tappet. Meanwhile, BRM seems still to be well in control of the situation, though Graham Hill not improving his time of yesterday and Ginther’s engine losing water internally and not giving full power. All the B.R.M.s have been fitted with small tanks alongside the gearbox into which the engine breather pipes are fed; it is unbelievable the amount of oil caught by these tanks, that would previously have been blown out onto the circuit. Porsche had already fitted similar catch-tanks at Rouen earlier in the season. Right now, Ireland is trying two Climax-engined cars, and Gregory is still experimenting the B.R.M.-engined Lotus, but both of them being among the elite who got below 1'42"0. The Ferraris are suffering from an increase of understeer, especially on the centre-gearbox car, but while some of the drivers consider the situation as hopeless, others just press on without complaining, but even Mairesse could not reach a good lap time.

 

Gurney is driving the Porsche through the corners really hard and making some good times, his best being 1'41"0. As the end of the afternoon approaches and the air gets cooler, nearly everyone goes out to try to improve their times, and the track gets so crowded that they all stop equally quickly. In the Lotus pit there is deep gloom as neither driver is able to do any really serious practice. In desperation, the team puts Clark’s number 20 on Taylor’s car and the Scotsman goes out for a final fling, and in seven laps he improves Graham Hill’s time, equaling the absolute record for the road course with a time of 1'40"0, and an average speed of 206.175kph. The timekeepers look closer at thee timing and declare officially that Hill has done 1'40"38 and Clark has done 1'40"35, so Lotus wins the fastest time of the day. Meanwhile Ginther is out in the spare car, and he does a scorching 1'41"0, which gives him the third fastest time. Just as practice ends, Taylor goes out in Clark’s Lotus, the broken tappet having been replaced. But he only runs a few laps before the gearbox locks-up. When all the times are analyzed, it is found that only 19 cars got within 10% of Graham Hill’s time, so the starting grid is reduced to 21 cars, all having multicylinder engines or works cars, with the exception of the last two (those of de Beaufort with his 4-cylinder Porsche and Settember with the 4-cylinder Emeryson-Climax, and both can feel proud for having got into one of the fiercest starting grids, of all time, as 4 sec. covered the first 19 cars). Although the race is not due to start until 3:00 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, there is plenty of work to do; Trintignant’s engine has blown up, McLaren had a gearbox issue on the works Cooper, Lotus is still struggling with gearboxes, while the question of fuel consumption is still uppermost in the minds of some team managers.

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The Italian Grand Prix will start at3:00 p.m. and will consist of 86 laps of the circuit, for a total of 494.500 kilometers. The race record belongs to Stirling Moss, and was set in 1959 on a Cooper 2500 (which is the old Formula 1, the current rules allow a maximum displacement of 1500 cubic centimeters) at an average speed of 200.177 km/h; the lap record is instead of Phil Hill on a Ferrari, once again 2500 cubic centimeters, in 1'40"4, at an average of 206.475 km/h. In spite of dull weather and other local attractions, a very large crowd fills the Monza Autodrome and as starting time approaches, conditions for racing appear perfect, having completely overcast skies, no wind and a cool temperature. The field of 21 cars is lined up in pairs, row by row, and everyone is ready to go when the flag is raised. Down comes the flag and Clark makes a perfect start and goes into the lead, while Surtees whips through from the fourth row. Clark’s lead lasted just as long as it took Graham Hill to get under way and the B.R.M. leads the first lap with twenty cars strung out behind it. After the opening lap, the field divides itself into two groups, the first one comprising Graham Hill (B.R.M.), Clark (Lotus), Ginther (B.R.M.), Surtees (Lola), McLaren (Cooper), Bonnier and Gurney (Porsches) and Maggs (Cooper).

 

After them, Masten Gregory leads the second group, having the three red Ferraris of Baghetti, Rodriguez and Phil Hill right behind him, his UDT team-mate Ireland, still in trouble with the engine that would not run properly. There is no change in the first group on the second lap; it is obvious even at this early stage that nobody will be able to keep Graham Hill’s pace. On lap three Clark’s Lotus shows signs of seizing its transmission and he goes back into the pits long after everyone has gone by. Ireland is already at the pits having a carburetor seen to, and soon they both rejoin the race, Clark almost a lap behind. A few moments later, Ireland rejoins the race not far from the hard battling second group of cars. Graham Hill is drawing away all the time, while Ginther is engaged in a battle with Surtees, and keeps a clever pace. As they are getting away from the two Porsches and the two Coopers, the situation for BRM appears very satisfactory for them. Meanwhile, Hill increases to 5 seconds his gap over Ginther, who has Surtees right alongside him. Then comes McLaren, with Gurney closing on him fast, followed by Bonnier, while Maggs has dropped back from the leading group, being threatened by the second group which at this point has engaged him in a fantastic battle. Ireland and Gregory are working together to try to get an advantage for UDT. Ginther has to deal with Surtees, whereas Ireland is trying to fend off Mairesse, Rodriguez, Baghetti, Salvadori and Phil Hill, although the last two are not giving him much trouble.

 

This little group is gaining on the Cooper/Porsche dice. On lap 13 Clark is missing from his usual position behind the leading B.R.M. and he arrives slowly at the pits to retire. Gurney forces his way past McLaren and Bonnier, who is beginning to drop back slightly so that on lap 19 he is engulfed by the UDT-Ferrari battle. At the tail of the field there is another battle going on between Taylor (Lotus), Vaccarella (Lotus), Bandini (Ferrari) and Trintignant (Lotus), and right at the back the two 4-cylinder cars can do little but tag along. Trintignant’s run comes to an end when his electrics die, and though he pushes the car to the pits nothing can be done, and shortly afterwards Taylor as well. Gurney is leading McLaren but on the next lap the situation is reversed, and Gregory with Ireland alongside lead Bonnier, Maggs, Mairesse, Baghetti and Rodriguez. Slipstreaming is always a help, but it means that not so much air is going into the radiator and for that Gregory gets in trouble on lap 23, his water temperature getting dangerously high. On lap 25 he has to stop and blew off steam. Ireland continues to press on in the melee of Cooper, Porsche and Ferraris, and he and Maggs then manages to shake off Bonnier and the Ferraris and promptly catch Gurney and McLaren; Maggs finds himself back where he started, and on lap 27 he leads this group, being in fourth place overall.

 

Behind them, Bonnier is surrounded by Ferraris. Salvadori has dropped right back, suffering from the nasty experience of his fire-extinguisher exploding itself in the cockpit, while Phil Hill has clearly given up hope, so much so that he is lapped by the leading Hill on lap 31, well before half-distance. At lap 40, Graham Hill registers has a gap of 20 seconds over Ginther, who is no longer worried by Surtees, the Lola having gone a bit off tune. Ireland still leads Gurney, McLaren and Maggs, with only a few feet separating them. Within sight of this trio comes Bonnier and the three Ferraris. At half-distance, Graham Hill is lapping regularly at about 1'43"0. Meanwhile, Salvadori goes out with a broken engine and Gregory stops again, this time with gear-selector trouble which causes him to continue at a much reduced pace. Graham Hill’s average is gradually creeping up from 200.1kph to 200.4kph, while Ginther now laps Phil Hill. At the end of lap 47, Gurney leads the two Coopers and Bonnier the three Ferraris. There is about 1sec between the two groups, but Ireland is missing from the front and he goes back into the pits to retire with a cracked front suspension upright, leaving seven drivers to battle for third place. Now McLaren leads Gurney and Maggs, and right behind them are Bonnier and Mairesse, racing side-by-side, followed by Baghetti and Rodriguez, and quite behind follow Gurney.

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The XXXIII Italian Grand Prix - the seventh round of the world championship - ends in this way, as expected. But expectations were only partially met: while the English cars did win - B.R.M., to be precise - with Graham Hill and Richie Ginther in the first two places, and McLaren driving a Cooper in third place, the feared debacle of the Ferraris did not occur. The team placed itself very honorably in fourth position with the Belgian Willy Mairesse and in fifth with Giancarlo Baghetti, who drove beautifully in the final moments of the race. On the race’s eve, the Ferrari drivers' had placed their hopes in their 6-cylinder cars’ proven resistance to distance. This was a discrete success: four out of five cars did arrive at the end of the severe distance of almost five hundred kilometers (only Rodriguez retired). This is only a small satisfaction, because the events of the Grand Prix confirmed the English cars’ clear superiority this season: they only fought among themselves for the top positions. It is precisely because of the pace set by the B.R.M. drivers – who held the race lead since the first laps - that some of the other favorites, such as Clark (Lotus), Surtees (Lola), Ireland (Lotus), Gurney (Porsche) had to abandon the race, with their cars worn down by the effort.

 

In the first twenty laps (out of the planned 86) the Ferraris were all below tenth position, leaving little hope to the crowd. This victory mathematically ensures Graham Hill, the thirty-three-year-old driver from London, is the 1962 World Champion, having accumulated 36 points against McLaren’s 22 and Clark’s 21. There’s nothing to say: Graham deserved to win the highest motor racing title. He had studied at an English college and become a rowing champion, a less dangerous - and less profitable - sport than the one he is currently competing in. B.R.M., on the other hand, has reached an extraordinary level of efficiency; it has been repaid after a decade of disappointments, overcoming them with British tenacity. Lotus and Lola, instead, have collapsed; the cars were perhaps more brilliant than those of B.R.M. but certainly less resistant, while Cooper cars have remained on the usual standard. The Porsches dropped off greatly after a promising beginning. Under this aspect, Monza is once again the race which reveals the truth: the greatest disappointment was Jim Clark, the driver that most predicted to be Stirling Moss’ successor, both in popularity and skill. Stirling Moss in the Monza pits too, smiling and apparently serene, intent on photographing the details of all the cars. Many, if not all, of those present ask him if he will return to racing.

 

"I'm desperate for it, but I don't know if I can do it again".

 

This is the British driver’s only answer, but he doesn’t add what many are thinking: he could have reached the world title he unsuccessfully chased for seven years with this year’s unbeatable English cars. Nevertheless, even if the English teams do miss Moss's feats, they are lucky to have excellent drivers who continue to show off season after season. On the Monza track there are two men, two solitary drivers, with the same surname: the Englishman Graham Hill and the American Phil Hill. The first is in front of everyone, at an average speed of 208 km/h; the second is an unrecognizable outgoing world champion, struggling in a negligible position and not even fighting for good positions. The symbolic exchange of the insignia of best racer of the year could not have had a more melancholic scenario. B.R.M.'s Hill was strong, self-confident and inexorable; Ferrari's Hill was insignificant, the kind of driver hired by Grand Prix organizers just to increase the number of drivers. Nevertheless, many people in Monza think that it is not right, that the events of the race - on a sporting and human level - do not provide the truth.

 

Because Phil's class is certainly not inferior to Graham's class. So what? Once again, the mechanical means were the determining factor. The English, as was known before Monza, have first-rate cars this year and have been able to overturn Ferrari's dominance in just one season. The difference in performance between the British and Italian single-seaters was worrying, especially in the first half of the race. Even drivers who are not (or are not yet) stars, such as Maggs, Ireland or Taylor, were easily able to stay ahead of higher-class drivers such as Baghetti, Mairesse, Rodriguez, Bandini. The Ferraris proved incapable of following a race pace as fast as the one set by Graham Hill. In Phil Hill’s case, then, it is not difficult to understand that his car was inferior to those of his teammates. Even if one were to admit that the American 1961 World Champion has lost last season’s brilliance and perhaps is tired, worn out by a not very long but very intense career, the car must have played a role. Phil has also lived his own intimate sporting drama, and those who know him have certainly shared his bitterness. As the season comes to an end, the Ferrari technicians only have to prepare the winter work programs: it is clear that new weapons are needed to face the English (and the Germans of Porsche, who will be quite fearsome next year). The Maranello workshops are preparing several innovations: we can confidently wait for the results.

 

Lucia Pasian

 

Translated by Livia Alegi

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