Grand Prix 2021 Italian Grand Prix Practice, Qualifying & Race Discussion

The Autodromo Nazionale Di Monza is the third oldest purpose built race track in the world. Constructed in 1922 after Brooklands and Indianapolis, its motorsport history is a long and, in many cases, tragic one.

Like Brooklands and Indianapolis, the circuit was famed for its high banked oval circuit which, when combined with the outer road circuit made up 10km of bumpy, fast, and often deadly racetrack.

The 1961 Italian Grand Prix should have been a joyous occasion for the Tifosi, the band of Ferrari fans who create a sea of scarlet around the track at every Italian GP, with either the American Phil Hill or the German Wolfgang (Taffy) Von Trips set to take the world drivers title. Neither Ferrari driver could be caught by anyone else and the title battle would be decided between them.

Going into the race Trips had 33 points with Hill behind on 29. This was a time when the scoring system was made more complicated by only the best 5 of 8 results counting. While Monza was the 7th of 8 races no other driver could catch Hill or Von Trips in the standings.

It’s incredible to think that 37 cars attempted to qualify for the race with 32 managing to come in under the 115% percent cut off time from the second fastest driver. This rule had been in place for the whole of the 1961 season, and there you all were thinking the 107 percent qualifying rule was a new thing? Von Trips qualified fastest ahead of the Ferrari’s of Rodriguez, Ginther and Hill. All 4 cars were separated by 0.9 of a second which in those days was incredibly close. Graham Hill qualified in fifth a distant 2.4 seconds from pole.

When the flag dropped on race day the four Ferrari’s raced off the line however, Jim Clark, his Lotus using shorter gearing than the Ferrari’s squeezed his way through and briefly held second. Von Trips didn’t get away well and as the cars completed lap one, Hill lead from Ginther, Rodriguez and Clark with Brabham, Von Trips and Baghetti chasing hard behind.

Part way through the second lap, Von Trips had managed to force his way through and ahead of Clark and was now running in 4th. On the approach to the Parabolica corner Clark made his move to try and retake the position. In Clark’s words:

“I was preparing to overtake him and my front wheels were almost level with his back wheel as he started to brake. Suddenly he began to pull over towards me and he ran right Into the side of me. I honestly don’t think Taffy realised I was there. I am sure that, when he passed me earlier, he had decided that his was the faster car and I would be left behind”

The contact between the cars forced Trips Ferrari left and towards the packed crowd. As the car span out of control it slid up the high banking beside the track, suddenly digging into the ground it flipped and slammed through the chain link fence and through the crowd. Flipping over again, the car the car slithered back onto the track. Von Trips had been thrown out of the car and, along with at least 11 other spectators, died at the scene. Several more would die of their injuries over the next few days and, while the official figure was listed as 15 spectators killed, the precise number is not known.

Remarkably, while some of the drivers became aware that an accident had occurred, most at the circuit, including the commentators were unaware of the true scale of the accident. The race was not stopped, and it has since been claimed that this was due to the race organisers not wishing to flood the area with spectators attempting to leave the track prohibiting the emergency services from accessing and helping the injured. Whether this is the case it’s hard to say.

Hill raced on, now aware that his teammate was out, he swapped the lead with Richie Ginther on a number of occasions over the first half of the race and then, one by one, the Ferrari’s pulled out. Baghetti, Rodriguez and then Ginther all pulled out with mechanical trouble until Hill lead alone to cross the line and take the world title.

After the race, Jack Brabham, who had witnessed the crash confirmed that neither Clark or Von Trips had been racing each other dangerously and Brabham defended Clark in the fullest saying that you could be quite confident that he wasn’t going to do something stupid when you raced hard against him.

Hill climbed out of the car to discover the tragic news and, despite this being the pinnacle of his motor racing career there would be no celebration. Ferrari withdrew from the final GP of the season and, while Phil Hill would remain with the team for the following season he would never win for the Scuderia again and he slowly drifted away from F1 and into a career in sports cars.

Incredibly, this would not be the last time that Monza would see tragedy decide the title. In 1970, world championship leader Jochen Rindt lost his life when he lost control of his Lotus 72. Team Lotus were attempting to run their cars without the normal front and rear wings. Rindt’s teammate, John Miles had already reported handling issues with the car in this format, frightening himself and telling Colin Chapman that the car wouldn’t run straight. Rindt however was happy with the set up and, on Saturday ran the car with longer gear ratios to increase the top speed even further. As with Von Trips, on the approach to the Parabolica corner the car suddenly snapped right, then left and right again before finally snapping to the left and through the poorly fitted guard rail. Rindt died on the way to hospital but by this point had already amassed enough world championship points that by the end of the season he would be crowned F1’s first and thankfully so far only, posthumous world champion.

Fate wasn’t done with Monza though and it had one last cruel hand to play in deciding a world championship. The circumstances surrounding the 1978 Italian Grand Prix are so tragically similar to the 1961 race it is remarkable.

Going into the 1978 race, Lotus and their “ground effect” Type 78 and Type 79 cars had dominated the season in the same way that Ferrari had with their 1961 car. Again, as in 1961, only two drivers could win the world title. The American Mario Andretti and his teammate Ronnie Peterson. On this occasion, Gianni Restelli, the man responsible for starting the race, did so before the cars at the back of the grid had come to a complete stop after their warm up lap. As a result, the cars towards the rear of the grid were up among the front runs almost instantly. Approaching the first corner, absolute carnage ensued. James Hunt, avoiding the fast starting Ricardo Patrese collided with Peterson sending his Lotus spinning into the barriers. Seven other drivers were involved in the collision, all coming to a halt. Peterson’s car caught fire on impact and he was trapped in the car. Vittorio Brambilla had been hit on the head by a detached wheel and knocked unconscious. Hunt, Clay Regazzoni and Patrick Depailler dragged Peterson from the wreckage before he could receive anything more than minor burns however, he’d suffered multiple fractures to his legs. Sadly, Peterson was using the older type 78 which was his spare care because his normal race car, the newer type 79 had suffered problems over the weekend and Lotus didn’t have enough type 79 chassis at that point. The 79 had a different front end and it’s possible that had Peterson gone off in that car his injuries may well have not been as severe. It took over 20 minutes for help to arrive and Brambilla and Peterson were transferred to hospital. Peterson, who had been fully conscious throughout looked as if he would soon make a full recovery. It was widely believed at the time that he’d a McLaren contract waiting to be signed for 1979. Unfortunately, he died in hospital the following morning when a fat embolism in his blood stream caused his organs to fail.

Andretti came home 6th taking his only world title. Like Phil Hill before him, he would never win another formula one race and, while remaining in F1 for a few more years would see his results slide backwards with each passing season until he eventually retired from F1 and continued his hugely successful career in Indy Racing.

As a final, and slightly more uplifting coda to his story, in what had been a tragic year for Ferrari in 1982 with the death of Gilles Villeneuve and the near fatal accident to Didier Pironi, Mario was drafted into the team to join Patrick Tambay to enable Ferrari to run two cars at their home GP. Mario gave the Tifosi the lift they needed by setting the final pole position of his career and bringing his car home in 3rd behind his teammate Tambay in second and between them, scoring enough points to secure Ferrari their first constructors title since 1979.

We have a lot to be thankful for when we look at how safe modern formula one has become but we should never be complacent. Monza is not a circuit to be taken lightly.

Lets hope we have a great race.
 

cider_and_toast

Exulted Lord High Moderator of the Apex
Staff Member
Premium Contributor
I expect the bulk of the stewards decision was made by carefully examining the telemetry. My instinct watching it live was that it was a racing incident all be it one in which Verstappen could have far more easily bailed out than Hamilton could.

The fact that Verstappen chose to stick to the attempt to pass and his subsequent "that's what you get for not leaving me room" coupled with the telemetry were probably enough to give the penalty.
 

Il_leone

Champion Elect
I expect the bulk of the stewards decision was made by carefully examining the telemetry. My instinct watching it live was that it was a racing incident all be it one in which Verstappen could have far more easily bailed out than Hamilton could.

The fact that Verstappen chose to stick to the attempt to pass and his subsequent "that's what you get for not leaving me room" coupled with the telemetry were probably enough to give the penalty.
Maybe Mercedes should make an insurance claim against Verstappen which is what would have happened in a normal road traffic accident

It's obvious there was no room left but Verstappen decided he wanted to bulldoze his way through
 

Il_leone

Champion Elect
Did not Senna supposedly had some driver course to do after Balestre deemed him at fault for Suzuka 89 ?

I suspect Verstappen would not turn up anyway
 
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F1Brits_90

Champion Elect
I expect the bulk of the stewards decision was made by carefully examining the telemetry. My instinct watching it live was that it was a racing incident all be it one in which Verstappen could have far more easily bailed out than Hamilton could.

The fact that Verstappen chose to stick to the attempt to pass and his subsequent "that's what you get for not leaving me room" coupled with the telemetry were probably enough to give the penalty.
at least their being consistent. because Lewis was penalised in Britain for being the "aggressor" & i guess with how accident looked abit like in incident with the liverpool player. no matter how bad tackle was deemed the circumstances meant that it had red
 

olegg

Race Winner
By the way, Masi claims that both in Silverstown and in Monza,
the decision on the perpetrators and punishment was made regardless
of the consequences of the accident.
 

olegg

Race Winner
at least their being consistent. because Lewis was penalised in Britain for being the "aggressor" & i guess with how accident looked abit like in incident with the liverpool player. no matter how bad tackle was deemed the circumstances meant that it had red
And, by the way, regardless of the subsequent punishment, both at Silverstone and at Monza,
the blow was from Verstappen.
 

F1Brits_90

Champion Elect
And, by the way, regardless of the subsequent punishment, both at Silverstone and at Monza,
the blow was from Verstappen.
you cant have it both ways & that Silverstone fault was on the outside. monza the fault was in inside. it effectively the same incident just in 1st gear not 5th
 

Il_leone

Champion Elect
I forgot Verstappen 's remark "That is what you get when you give no room!" having was petulant , arrogant right after they crashed. It was almost like he did not think he might have seriously injured Hamilton after going over thr top of him
 

Titch

World Champion
Premium Contributor
I forgot Verstappen 's remark "That is what you get when you give no room!" having was petulant , arrogant right after they crashed. It was almost like he did not think he might have seriously injured Hamilton after going over thr top of him
Or even a warning to everyone else, that’s what you get ( or worse) if you don’t get out of my way.
 

FB

Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
Too soon?

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Il_leone

Champion Elect

That :censored:Marko has to fan the flames further does not he? In response to Wolf's suggestion Verstappen committed a tactical foul - in other words drove off Hamilton knowing he would still be leading the championship but also negate one of Mercedes supposedly stronger races
 
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Titch

World Champion
Premium Contributor
I suggest Marco be put in a car then shoved in to the wall at high speed and have Verstappen sit on top of him in his car trying to drive the car of him.
I wonder if he would survive?
 
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