1955 Italian Grand Prix (partially found footage of Formula One World Championship race; 1955)

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Juan Manuel Fangio leads Stirling Moss, in Mercedes' final Formula One race as a constructor until 2010.

Status: Partially Found

The 1955 Italian Grand Prix was the seventh and final race of the 1955 Formula One Season. Occurring on 11th September at the Monza Circuit, the race would ultimately be won by Juan Manuel Fangio in a Mercedes-Benz, in what was the final race for the original Mercedes Formula One team.

Background[edit | edit source]

The 1955 Italian Grand Prix was the sixth running of the event as part of the Formula One calendar, with the race lasting 50 laps.[1] The 25th edition in Grand Prix history,[2] the Italian Grand Prix has been held at Monza for all bar one instance in 1980 since Formula One's inception in 1950,[3] and has garnered a reputation for being the "home" grand prix of Ferrari.[4] Monza itself was rebuilt for 1955, with the full circuit now being 10 km in length.[5]

Heading into the race, Formula One had not hosted a Grand Prix since the British Grand Prix on 16th July.[6] The reason for the gap between races was that four events, including the French, German, Swiss, and Spanish Grand Prix, were all cancelled following the 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans disaster that claimed the lives of Mercedes driver Pierre Levegh and 84 spectators.[6][5] Meanwhile, the race would also mark the end of an era, as Mercedes were to withdraw from Formula One.[7][5] The decision had been made prior to the Le Mans disaster, with the German company intending to concentrate on its production of passenger cars that was suffering due to its vast racing investment.[7][5] For its final race, three different designs would be entered for its drivers Fangio, Stirling Moss, and Karl Kling, including a new streamlined long-chassis for the now-three-time World Champion Fangio.[5] Meanwhile, Ferrari had bought out Lancia's D50s and entered them for the race alongside three of its Tip 555s.[5][6] Additionally, 1950 World Champion Nino Farina came out of retirement to drive once more, competing in one of the D50s.[5]

In qualifying, Fangio achieved pole position with a time of 1:46.5.[5][1] Directly behind him were his teammates Moss and Kling, in second and third respectively.[5][1] The Lancia-Ferraris also proved competitive, with Farina placing his car fifth out of 23 competitors.[5][1] However, Farina also experienced a major crash when a rear tyre tread broke away, causing his car to spin and total the car's rear.[5] While he escaped uninjured, a front tread fell off during another session, although this time a crash was avoided.[5] Enzo Ferrari attempted to have the D50s' tyres be replaced with Pirellis, but contracted tyre supplier Englebert refused to allow this.[6][5] Thus, Ferrari withdrew the D50s from the event, meaning Farina would not start his final Grand Prix.[5][6][1]

The Race[edit | edit source]

With the starting order decided, the 1955 Italian Grand Prix commenced on 11th September.[1] Moss jumped Fangio into first on the opening lap, but team orders forced him to relinquish it back to his teammate.[5][1] Fangio led a Mercedes 1-4, with Piero Taruffi having passed Kling.[5][6] Even by lap 2, the Mercedes cars were already dominating the field, with only Ferrari's Eugenio Castellotti capable of hanging with them.[5][6] This only lasted for four laps however, with Castellotti also losing ground to the German vehicles.[5][6] On lap 8, Moss briefly led, before Fangio moved back into first a lap later.[1] By lap 19, it appeared Mercedes would have no issues, with the 1-4 line-up just separated by four seconds.[5] However, Moss' windscreen soon shattered, forcing him to pit, which dropped him back to eighth.[5][6] But because he was no longer constrained by team orders, Moss was able to demonstrate his and his car's full potential, including setting a lap record at Monza.[5]

On lap 25, Maserati's Luigi Musso passed Castellotti after a long duel for fourth.[5][6] Three laps later, Moss was out following an engine failure.[5][6][1] He was not the only Mercedes driver to be eliminated; on lap 32, Kling suffered a gearbox failure.[5][6][1] But with Musso having also retired a lap prior to Kling because of a faulty gearbox, Fangio and Taruffi remained unchallenged, with only Castellotti and Maserati's Jean Behra also being on the lead lap.[5][6] Fangio, who was fatigued and bruised negotiating the new track and its bankings, therefore claimed victory and a final eight points in the Drivers' Championship.[5][6] Taruffi made it a Mercedes 1-2, the last until the 2014 Malaysian Grand Prix.[5][1][8] Indeed, Mercedes would only return as a manufacturer when it supplied the Sauber team engines in 1994, and it would take until 2010 for it to become a constructor again.[7] Castellotti took third, with Maserati drivers Behra and Carlos Menditeguy claiming the final points positions in fourth and fifth respectively.[5][6][1]

Availability[edit | edit source]

The race is reported to have received full live coverage from RTE.[9] However, the broadcast has yet to publicly resurface, having originated from an era where telerecordings were rare until videotape was perfected in the late-1950s.[10] Nevertheless, some footage remains courtesy of British newsreels and a German documentary.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Videos[edit | edit source]

Silent British Pathé newsreel footage of the race.
Upscaled British Pathé newsreel footage of the race.
German documentary providing footage of the race.

Images[edit | edit source]

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]