1953 Italian Grand Prix (partially found footage of Formula One World Championship race; 1953)

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A four-horse race for the lead, with Juan Manuel Fangio ahead of Nino Farina, Alberto Ascari, and Onofre Marimón.

Status: Partially Found

The 1953 Italian Grand Prix was the ninth and final race of the 1953 Formula One Season. Occurring on 13th September at the Monza Circuit, the race would ultimately be won by Juan Manuel Fangio in a Maserati, achieving a hard-fought victory when Ferrari's Alberto Ascari and Nino Farina both encountered trouble at the final corner of the last lap. The race to date is the last Formula One event to be held under Formula 2 regulations.

Background[edit | edit source]

The 1953 Italian Grand Prix was the fourth running of the event as part of the FIA's World Championship of Drivers, with the annual event lasting 80 laps.[1] The Italian Grand Prix, has been held at Monza for all bar one instance in 1980 since Formula One's inception in 1950,[2] and has garnered a reputation for being the "home" grand prix of Ferrari.[3]

Heading into the race, both Ferrari and Maserati were testing new designs.[4][5][6][7] For Ferrari, the new 553 design proved slower than the dependable 500, with two-time champion Ascari and its other drivers noting issues regarding handling and high oil temperature.[6][4][5][7] Meanwhile, Maserati's modifications saw Fangio and Onofre Marimón improving upon their records set in 1952.[4][7] When it came to practice however, Fangio almost was forced to withdraw from the race, when he became shaken after a rear tyre broke free while travelling across a right-hand curve at Monza.[4] Ultimately, neither the test nor practice versions Ferrari and Maserati entered were utilised for qualifying by their top drivers.[4][6]

In qualifying, Ascari took pole position with a time of 2 minutes and 2.7 seconds.[1][7][5] Directly behind him was Fangio, with Farina lining up third out of 30 competitors.[1][7][6][5] The race almost became Ferrari's last; since 1952, races were held under Formula 2 regulations to increase participation.[5][7][6] However, with teams like Lancia and Mercedes set to enter in 1954, Formula One regulations were to return.[7][4][6][5] Considering Ferrari's success in the Formula 2 era, it appeared that the regulations change was the reason Enzo Ferrari announced his team would withdraw from the Championship after this race.[6][7][5][4] In actuality, Ferrari was using this as a ploy to gain further financial support from Fiat.[6] This move paid off, and the "farewell" race for Ferrari became anything but.[6][5][4][7]

The Race[edit | edit source]

With the starting order decided, the 1953 Italian Grand Prix commenced on 13th September.[1] Ascari and Marimón made the best starts and were side-by-side on the first lap, while Fangio was hesitant and fell to sixth.[4][5][6][7][1] Nevertheless, the 1951 champion made a comeback, and overtook Ascari for first on lap 7.[4][5][1] Throughout the race, the battle for the lead turned into a four-horse race between the Ferraris of Ascari and Farina, and the Maseratis of Fangio and Marimón.[4][5][7][1] None held the lead for long, contributing to nineteen lead changes throughout the event.[1][4][6][5][7] In fact, the cars were so close together that all four would be pitting almost simultaneously, separated only by a few yards.[4][6] This led to concerns at least one would not survive to the end because of engine issues.[4] This ultimately proved true when on lap 46, Marimón suffered a damaged oil radiator, repairs of which during two pit stops cost him six minutes and took him out of contention.[4][6][5][7]

However, Ascari, Farina, and Fangio were still in contention with 20 laps remaining.[4] However, it appeared the champion Ascari was gaining the upper hand, when having overtaken Fangio on lap 53, he defended it for 27 consecutive laps.[1][4] On the final lap, the trio continued their battle for the lead, with Marimón and Ferrari's Luigi Villoresi also mixed up in the battle, although both were at least a lap down.[4] At the final corner, just when it seemed a photo finish was possible, Ascari suddenly spun twice on some oil, and was hit from behind by Marimón, Farina also colliding with Marimón's rear wheel.[4][7][6][5] Ascari and Marimón were out, while Farina took evasive action.[4][6][7][5][1]

This led Fangio to suddenly move from third to first, claiming his only victory in 1953 and eight points, which became nine as he posted the fastest lap.[4][6][5][7][1] It was the first Grand Prix since the 1951 Spanish Grand Prix to not be won by Ferrari.[7] Such was the confusion generated from the crash that the man responsible for the chequered flag forgot to wave it, forcing Fangio and Farina to race one more lap to ensure both were classified.[4][5] Farina finished 1.4 seconds behind in second, with Villoresi a lap down in third.[1][7][6][4] Ferrari's Mike Hawthorn and Gordini's Maurice Trintignant claimed the final points positions in fourth and fifth respectively.[1][7][6][4] The result allowed Fangio to pip Farina for second in the standings, scoring 28 compared to Farina's 26.[8][7][6] The race also marked Ascari's last full-time race for Ferrari, with him departing for Lancia.[5]

Availability[edit | edit source]

The race was reported by an issue of La Stampa to have received partial live coverage, though it is unclear as to which organisation broadcast it.[9] While RAI would televise later Italian Grand Prix starting from the 1954 edition, the organisation did not exist until a year after the 1953 race.[9] Regardless, this broadcast has yet to publicly resurface, having originated from an era where telerecordings were rare until video tape was perfected in the late-1950s.[10] Nevertheless, some footage from Italian documentaries and newsreels can be viewed online. Photos have also publicly resurfaced.[7][6]

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Videos[edit | edit source]

Italian documentary providing footage of the race.
Newsreel footage of the race.

Images[edit | edit source]

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 Racing-Reference detailing the qualifying and race results of the event. Retrieved 7th Aug '22
  2. F1 Experiences detailing facts regarding the Italian Grand Prix. Retrieved 7th Aug '22
  3. Scuderia Ferrari Club detailing how Monza is considered the home of Ferrari. Retrieved 7th Aug '22
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 4.18 4.19 4.20 4.21 4.22 4.23 Motorsport Magazine providing a detailed report of the race. Retrieved 7th Aug '22
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 5.15 5.16 5.17 Conceptcarz detailing the race, noting it was the last to be held under Formula 2 regulations and potentially could have been Ferrari's last too. Retrieved 7th Aug '22
  6. 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 6.12 6.13 6.14 6.15 6.16 6.17 6.18 6.19 Grand Prix Ferrari summarising the race and noting Ferrari's announcement of withdrawing was to tempt Fiat into providing further financial backing. Retrieved 7th Aug '22
  7. 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 7.11 7.12 7.13 7.14 7.15 7.16 7.17 7.18 7.19 7.20 A Second A Lap detailing the race and providing photos of it.
  8. Racing-Reference detailing the final 1953 World Championship of Drivers standings. Retrieved 7th Aug '22
  9. 9.0 9.1 List of F1 broadcasts noting the race was televised according to La Stampa. Retrieved 7th Aug '22
  10. Web Archive article discussing how most early television is missing due to a lack of directly recording television. Retrieved 7th Aug '22