The 1964 Italian Grand Prix, officially known as the XXXV Gran Premio d'Italia, was the eighth round of the 1964 FIA Formula One World Championship, held on the 6th of September 1964. The race would be the turning point in the 1964 Championship, as John Surtees and Ferrari leapt into title contention, as Jim Clark and Graham Hill hit problems.
Amid the sunshine around Monza, Surtees was able to claim pole position for Ferrari, much to the delight of the tifosi. Yet, at the start, the Englishman, and fellow front starters Dan Gurney and Graham Hill were all outdone by Bruce McLaren who launched into the lead. Hill himself failed to get away at all, his BRM suffering a terminal clutch failure meaning most of the field had to avoid the former Champion.
The top four, with Clark joining in the fun, proceeded to duel around Monza using the slipstream effect to try and find an advantage over the car in front. Soon Gurney and Surtees were able to make a break for a seperate duel for the lead, leaving McLaren and Clark to scrap for third, until the defending Champion fell with an engine failure. McLaren then ran just behind the lead battle, which saw Gurney and Surtees frequently swapping positions.
As an ever enticing truel for fourth between Jack Brabham, Richie Ginther and Lorenzo Bandini drew eyes away from the lead battle, the issue was settled when Gurney's engine began to sound rough. He slowly tumbled the order alongside team mate Brabham, whose engine also let him down, leaving Surtees to sweep home to claim a memorable home victory for Ferrari. McLaren came home for an increasingly rare second place for Cooper-Climax, while Bandini managed to escape the clutches of Ginther to earn third place at his home race.
After the inquests into the accidents encountered at Monza at the 1963 Italian Grand Prix, the FIA and all of the Grand Prix teams knew that the Monza "road circuit" would be in use for 1964. Previously, the banked circuit had been reinstated at the 1963, having been closed off while improvements to the fencing/barriers were made after the death of Wolfgang von Trips in 1961. When these barriers failed to cope with accidents during practice for the 1963 edition of the Italian Grand Prix the organisers were forced to use the road circuit only, and, with no modifications made since, the 1964 race would follow suit.
Regardless of the lack of banking, two outfits were in Monza, being one of the increasing number of purpose built race circuits, to test well before the Italian Grand Prix. Title contenders BRM were one of them, completing numerous laps as they sought to refine their engine to cope with the prospect of facing the Honda V12. Indeed, the Japanese firm arrived with their new RA271 with its fire-spitting V12 in Monza to get it working efficiently enough to race, forfeiting the Austrian Grand Prix to do so.
On the topic of engines, Ferrari were expected to unveil their new Flat 12 engine at the Italian Grand Prix, although delays in development prevented its appearance. They did, however, bring an additional car from Maranello, hoping to field Ludovico Scarfiotti in an older 156 Aero. John Surtees, meanwhile, would have the choice of their two 158s, while Lorenzo Bandini would get to choose between the other 158, and the best of the 156s. It was also the first time that Ferrari competed at their home race since the breakdown of talks between themselves and Ford over the purchase of the Italian firm in 1963, a move which had turned Ferrari into a symbol of Italia almost overnight.
For Team Lotus, Brabham and Cooper, the Italian Grand Prix was expected to be a struggle, with the Climax engine proving to be under-powered throughout the season. Climax were slowly coming through with solutions, but these were few and far between, and all three British manufacturers were beginning to look at alternatives. The only changes to effect the trio since Austria were at Cooper, with Phil Hill missing the race after his horrendous crash in Austria, and replaced by Rhodesian racer John Love.
The last of the factory efforts were the British Racing Partnership, who arrived in Italy with their two heavily bruised cars, Trevor Taylor and Innes Ireland racing as usual. The major privateer teams were led into Italy by Reg Parnell Racing, fielding their two ex-factory Lotus 25s with a third car loaned to American privateer Peter Revson. Scuderia Centro Sud held the Italian banner among the privateers, although they were not alone as Alf Francis attempted to revive the ATS campaign.
The RRC Walker Racing Team had two cars in action once again, their ex-factory Brabham handed to Swede Jo Bonnier, while a customer Brabham was prepared for Formula Junior runner Giacomo Russo, under the pseudonym "GEKI". Elsewhere, Jo Siffert and Bob Anderson were set to resume their exciting battle to be best of the "owner/drivers", while veteran racer Maurice Trintignant appeared for an increasingly rare blast. The rest of the entry list would be made up of "owner/drivers" in older equipment, ranging from F4 engine runners to the revived ATS project.
With the top three in the Championship all failing to score at Zeltweg, it was status quo ahead of the Italian race, with Graham Hill still leading the way with 32 points. Jim Clark held onto second just two behind, while Surtees completed the top three, eleven points further back. Richie Ginther remained in fourth, but had made a fair amount of ground, while victory for Bandini had put the Italian into the top five.
There was, in contrast, a fair amount of shuffling in the Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers as BRM overhauled Lotus-Climax at the top of the standings. Ferrari could thank Bandini for bringing them straight into the title fight, now eight points away from the new leaders. Brabham-Climax also now entertained hopes of a title, although they would be too far back to seriously challenge, while BRP-BRM finally got on the board after Ireland's limp to the line two weeks earlier.
The full entry list for the 1964 Italian Grand Prix is outlined below:
Practice and qualifying were run as one as was the norm for F1 during 1964, with Friday afternoon hosting the first official session. A second session was to be held on Saturday, although after a day of sunshine and light breezes on Friday, the second session was dampened by a day of showers. The target time for the front runners would be a 1:37.3, set by John Surtees on the road course during the 1963 race.
All of the major teams were able to complete a shakedown run before the first session, meaning all of the top runners were set to get some serious running in. For the rest, there would be a battle for the rest of the twenty available grid slots, although several withdrawals, a couple through early mechanical issues reduced the number of competitors. The track would immediately flooded with cars when the Friday session opened, with top speed needed for top times, meaning many were using the slipstream effect from the car ahead.
The earliest of the pace setters was Dan Gurney in the Brabham-Climax, who was able to set consistently quick times, regardless of having a car in front or not. Joining him at the top of the standings was John Surtees, whose constant swapping between the V8 Ferraris saw him appear at random times. Graham Hill, meanwhile, was running a brand new BRM car, although his outings would be brief as the team tried to resolve minor issues.
Elsewhere, Team Lotus were really struggling with a lack of power, Jim Clark and Mike Spence having to rely on using the tow of faster cars to make sure they made the cut. The new Honda in the hands of Ronnie Bucknum appeared relatively late, but the moment it hit the circuit the V12 machine sounded sweet and looked quick. As Clark joined Gurney and Surtees for a tour of the circuit, privateer Jo Siffert managed to get into their tow, setting an impressive sub-1:40.0 time.
With Saturday a washout, seeing limited running for the new Ferrari V12 car, the grid was settled from times set on Friday. Pole went to Surtees, who was just a tenth off of his 1963 time, with Gurney and Hill joining him on the front row. Clark elbowed his way onto the second row with fourth, while other highlights saw Siffert end the day in sixth, Bucknum's Honda in tenth, while Maurice Trintignant would start after an engine failure for twentieth placed Jean-Claude Rudaz.
The full qualifying results for the 1964 Italian Grand Prix are outlined below:
|19||50||Mário de Araújo Cabral||ATS||1:42.6||+5.2s|
- * Rudaz could not start after an engine failure, so Trintignant was allowed to start in his place.
|Mário de Araújo Cabral||20|
A dull morning made conditions perfect for racing, with cool temperatures and no threat of rain meaning Monza was set for an exciting day of racing. After a morning of GT races, and a series of sprints between small engined cars, the Grand Prix cars were finally rolled out for a 3:30 pm start. Hoards of Italian fans had arrived to see a Ferrari victory, with John Surtees on pole, and two races wins in the last two races encouraging the huge crowd.
In a roar of V8s and clutch smoke the Italian Grand Prix of 1964 got underway, with Surtees and Dan Gurney making an even start from the front row. Slipping in neatly behind was Jim Clark, the Team Lotus leader needing to use their slipstream to keep up, while title rival Graham Hill failed to move at all. The BRM on the outside of the front row refused to move when the flag dropped, meaning Bruce McLaren had to throw his car around the stricken Englishman as he shot into the lead.
The opening lap saw McLaren hold his lead through the Lesmo curves, but the run through and out of Ascari saw the bemused Surtees and Gurney slip by. The New Zealander was, however, able to tuck himself into their slipstream and remain a threat through the rest of the opening lap, keeping ahead of Clark as the top four broke away. By this stage, Hill's broken BRM had been wheeled into the pits, and by the time the field appeared for a second time the Englishman was officially out with a clutch failure.
Following the leading quartet came an intense battle behind Lorenzo Bandini, with the timekeepers unable to record the constant shifts in position. Jo Bonnier, Richie Ginther, Jack Brabham, Innes Ireland, Jo Siffert and Bob Anderson were the cause for chaos, with the battle for fifth seeing constant changes. The only distraction for the titanic battle was made on the third lap, when the crowd roared at the sight of Surtees exiting the Parabolica in front of Gurney for the first time.
As the top four stretched out their lead over the following laps, the battle for fifth continued to grow, with twelve cars running almost as one with Bonnier surging to the head of the battle. The lead battle was also intensifying, with constant changes around the rest of the lap going unrecorded, although Gurney was officially in the lead once again on lap five. At the same time, Clark elbowed his way past McLaren to challenge Surtees, although a few laps later the order was back as it had been on lap three, with Surtees leading Gurney, McLaren and Clark.
The frantic action in the lead was being matched by the knife fight going on for fifth, with Mike Hailwood the first to fall after an engine failure. The fifth place pack was now down to eleven runners, with the white Honda with its screaming V12 an enticing sight as Ronnie Bucknum scrapped with the rest. The wide straights of Monza allowed the eleven car pack to fan out all over the track to try and find an advantage over the car in front, before all tucked behind one another neatly to get through Curva Grande, Lesmo, Ascari and the Parabolica.
As the leading quartet pulled the length of the main straight clear of the rest, the fifth place pack began to see combatants fall aside with mechanical issues to join Hailwood and Hill on the sidelines. Anderson had to give in to save his engine from the strain, easing his pace, while Bucknum had to pit the Honda after a brake problem sprayed fluid onto his goggles. The nine car pack continued on as the Honda fell from the head of the group, with Ireland, Bonnier, Brabham, Giancarlo Baghetti and Ginther all taking turns to lead across the line.
As Clark and McLaren decided to work together to challenge Gurney and Surtees, exchanging places several times to allow the other to try and open the door ahead, the knife fight behind was getting even more physical. The first victim of this was Ludovico Scarfiotti in the third Ferrari, who was put onto the grass by an unknown assailant in the middle of the group as the shoving match went down to Ascari. The Italian rejoined a few moments later, but the rabble were already through the Ascari curve and away, meaning Scarfiotti was out of the fight.
As the race hit the 25 lap mark McLaren began to lose contact with the leaders, although they were all through Curva Grande before the fifth place mob made it to Parabolica. Gurney, meanwhile, managed to wrestle the lead of the race away from Surtees with Clark still an ominious sight behind, until the Scot's engine finally gave in. The Climax had sounded strained on lap 26, and within a lap and a visit to the pits the Scot was out with a piston failure, while McLaren lost contact completely without his under-powered colleague to help.
Surtees and Gurney continued to scrap for the lead as McLaren fell away, the New Zealander deciding to ease his pace and hope for the leading pair to hit problems. Behind came the rabble still featuring eight cars, with Bonnier, Brabham, Ginther, Bandini, Ireland, Mike Spence, Baghetti and Siffert all taking turns to run in fourth. Their battle was costing them all time, and soon there was a daunting prospect of the leading battle coming up to lap the fourth place knife fight.
On lap 39, Surtees and Gurney were forced to plunge into the middle of the dogfight ahead, who were themselves lapping Anderson as they flashed past the pits. Three laps of tense moves, slides lockups saw Surtees and Gurney make it through unscathed after several near misses, while McLaren opted to sit just behind them. The pace amongst the battle for fourth, however, was strong enough to prevent Surtees and Gurney from roaring away, meaning they were still under threat from a mistake behind.
Their involvement in the group did, however, cause a stabilising effect, with Brabham using their passage through the group to climb back up from the back of the pack to lead them on lap 46. At the 50 lap mark the Australian was still leading, depite the constant threat from behind, while Baghetti, Siffert and Spence had all dropped about a second behind as the pace drained the drivers. Bonnier then came in with an alternator issue, an unfortunate issue that meant he dropped out of the fight to have his battery changed.
The fourth place battle was now a quartet, with Babham leading Ginther, Ireland and Bandini, while Spence, Siffert and Baghetti fell further back without the slipstream effect. Surtees, meanwhile, was able to get a consistent run in the lead of the race, with Gurney dancing his Brabham around in his wake to try and force a mistake. McLaren was still in a healthy third, making no attempt to lap the midfield, instead focusing on keeping his Cooper-Climax running to the end.
Suddenly, the order was shuffled in dramatic style as both Brabhams hit problems within a lap of eachother. Team owner Brabham was the first to hit issues, losing his grip on fourth place after a fuel flow issue before a connecting rod failed to end his race prematurely. As he drew into the pits, Gurney developed an increasingly bad misfire, which could only be partially cured by cooling the fuel pump during a pit visit, although his pace was painfully slow for the rest of the race.
Out front, Surtees continued to surge on without issue, setting fastest lap just moments before Gurney fell with the strain, while McLaren was a content second, still unwilling to lap the third placed brawl. Ginther, Bandini and Ireland were still slogging it out amongst themselves for the final podium spot, Ginther leading more often then not, while Siffert and Spence duelled on ahead of McLaren. Baghetti's pace had dropped dramatically in the closing stages to leave him in a scrap with Scarfiotti, just as Gurney swung into the pits with a fuel pressure problem.
Before the end of the race, McLaren decided to up his pace and lap the two battles ahead, although once it became clear that Surtees was not going to suffer a mechanical failure, the New Zealander allowed Spence and Siffert back through as they continued to duel for sixth. The third place battle was also a duel for the final laps, with Ireland dropping his pace due to a fuel feed problem. On the final lap a huge cheer greeted Surtees as he crossed the line to win for the Scuderia, although the home fans still remained glued to the battle for third.
As McLaren crossed the line for second almost unnoticed the crowd were on their feet and cheering, for Bandini exited the Parabolica in front of Ginther. Yet, the scarlet car was only just ahead, and as they came onto the start/finish straight the green car of Ginther fainted towards the pit wall, prompting Bandini to move across to cover. The American suddenly jinked to the outside of the Ferrari as the chequered flag loomed ever closer, and the two crossed the line together in a photo finish.
As the timekeepers set about resolving the high-speed dead heat for third, Spence and Siffert came dancing through the Parabolica for the final time, the Englishman ending the race in sixth ahead of the Swiss racer. Baghetti and Scarfiotti were next across the line, the Italian just skating through ahead before Gurney and Bonnier limped across the line. With the racing done the 100,000 strong crowd swarmed onto the track to celebrate Surtees' win, just as it was announced that Bandini had taken third by just a quarter of a car length.
The full results for the 1964 Italian Grand Prix are outlined below:
- * Brabham still classified as he was judged to have completed enough of the race distance.
- 50th Grand Prix start for Bruce McLaren
- 81st and final start for Maurice Trintignant
- John Surtees claimed his third win and tenth podium finish.
Victory for John Surtees meant that the title fight became a three-way scrap, as Graham Hill and Jim Clark failed to score once again. The BRM racer still led the way with a two point gap over Clark, although the nine point bonus for Surtees meant he was only two points behind Clark. Richie Ginther also closed the gap in fourth, although he was still twelve points away from the leaders with eighteen left to fight for, while Lorenzo Bandini climbed into fifth.
With dropped scores coming into effect, it was the Italian firm Ferrari who left Monza in the lead of the Championship, now one point ahead of BRM. Lotus-Climax were just one point further back having failed to score at all, as three of the four Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers Champions went to battle over the final two rounds. Brabham-Climax and Cooper-Climax were now too far back to challenge for the title, now seeming set for a battle for fourth.
Images and Video:
- 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: ITALIAN GP, 1964', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2016), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr129.html, (Accessed 09/07/2016)
- D.S.J., '35th Italian Grand Prix: VICTORY THROUGH STRENGTH', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport Magazine, 01/10/1964), http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/october-1964/24/35th-italian-grand-prix and http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/october-1964/24/october-1964, (Accessed 14/07/2016)
- 'Italy 1964: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1964/italie/engages.aspx, (Accessed 11/07/2016)
- 'Italy 1964: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1964/italie/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 13/07/2016)
- 'Italy 1964: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1964/italie/classement.aspx, (Accessed 14/07/2016)
|V T E||Italian Grand Prix|
|Circuits||Monza (1950 - 1979, 1981 - Present), Imola (1980)|
|Races||1950 • 1951 • 1952 • 1953 • 1954 • 1955 • 1956 • 1957 • 1958 • 1959 • 1960 • 1961 • 1962 • 1963 • 1964 • 1965 • 1966 • 1967 • 1968 • 1969 • 1970 • 1971 • 1972 • 1973 • 1974 • 1975 • 1976 • 1977 • 1978 • 1979 • 1980 • 1981 • 1982 • 1983 • 1984 • 1985 • 1986 • 1987 • 1988 • 1989 • 1990 • 1991 • 1992 • 1993 • 1994 • 1995 • 1996 • 1997 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000 • 2001 • 2002 • 2003 • 2004 • 2005 • 2006 • 2007 • 2008 • 2009 • 2010 • 2011 • 2012 • 2013 • 2014 • 2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2018 • 2019 • 2020 • 2021|
|European Championship Races||1931 • 1932 • 1935 • 1936 • 1937 • 1938|
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