The 1969 Italian Grand Prix, otherwise officially known as the XL Gran Premio d'Italia, was the eighth round of the 1969 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza on the 7th of September 1969. The race would be remembered for one of the closest ever finishes in F1 history, when the top four covered by just two tenths of a second.
Qualifying had seen Austrian ace Jochen Rindt claim a sixth career pole position, sharing the front row with former Champion Denny Hulme. Jackie Stewart, who would win the World Championship if he won the race, would start the race from third, while the only Ferrari in the field, piloted by Pedro Rodríguez, lined up in a very poor twelfth place.
When the flag fell on raceday it would be the beginning of an epic eight car scrap for the lead, with the numbers involved only coming down as a result of mechanical strife. Champion elect Stewart would get the best start, but was kept on his toes throughout the early stages as Rindt, Hulme, Piers Courage, Graham Hill, Bruce McLaren, Jean-Pierre Beltoise and Jo Siffert bunched up in the Scot's mirrors.
The order out front would consistently shuffle, although Stewart led across the line more often than not, only to be consumed by the pack around the back of the circuit. It was an impressive melee that refused to go away, despite issues for Siffert and Hulme dropping them out of contention.
The now six car scrap would rage on from lap 30 until lap 58, when Courage dropped away with a fuel feed issue, quickly followed by Hill when his Lotus broke a driveshaft. That left Stewart, Rindt, Beltoise and McLaren in the fight, with the Scot on the verge of the title when the field started the final lap.
It would be a staggering finale to an epic race, with Stewart losing the lead to Rindt through Curva Grande, before retaking the lead at Lesmo. Beltoise then seemed to have stolen victory at the Parabolica, only for Stewart and Rindt to come powering past across the line to bump the Frenchman down to third, McLaren just falling shy of the final podium spot by 0.02s. Stewart, meanwhile, was declared the winner by an incredible 0.08s from Rindt, a victory that ensure that the Scot had claimed his first World Championship with three rounds to go.
Background[edit | edit source]
A month separated the visits to the Nürburgring and Monza, a mid-season hiatus that had allowed many of the teams to rebuild their cars and test some updates. Most of the field would complete a test session before arriving in Monza, which was bad news for Ford Cosworth who supplied the majority of the field, and had been stretched to supply everyone throughout the season. The Northampton based engine builders had enough engines to supply a fresh unit to each of their customers ahead of the race at Monza, notorious for high engine wear, but had only a handful of spares left when the field arrived in Italy.
One team that had been particularly busy during the break had been Brabham-Ford Cosworth, rebuilding three cars to ensure that their customers were well supplied. The Frank Williams Racing Cars run BT26A had been rebuilt around a new monocoque, while Jacky Ickx's factory car had been completely stripped down. The team had also completed work on a brand new BT26A which would be raced in the hands of boss Jack Brabham, returning for the first time since his testing accident at Silverstone.
Lotus-Ford Cosworth had also been busy by rebuilding previously ruined cars, including the experimental Lotus 63 that Mario Andretti had crashed in Germany. Both Graham Hill and Jochen Rindt had had their usual challengers stripped down, while John Miles was handed the driving duties for the 63. The Norfolk squad had also had to completely rebuild the Rob Walker Racing Team's 49B so that Jo Siffert could race, while Jo Bonnier entered an ex-factory 49B, only to write the car off in a crash during the XIV International Gold Cup.
Another team with 4WD intentions in Italy would be Matra-Ford Cosworth, who entered a trio of cars under the stewardship of Ken Tyrrell. Team leader Jackie Stewart arrived knowing that victory could earn him a maiden world title in Monza, with the Scot piloting one of the team's two RWD MS80s. Stewart's usual teammate Jean-Pierre Beltoise would race a newly rebuilt MS80 as well, while Johnny Servoz-Gavin was entered to drive the 4WD MS84, although the Frenchman was never expected to arrive.
McLaren-Ford Cosworth had been flirting with 4WD too during 1969, although they did not bring the experimental M9A to Monza, with Bruce McLaren deciding to completely redevelop the design. They would only have the older RWD cars for Denny Hulme and McLaren himself, both of which had some very minor updates. Their hopes of a good result were not helped when the team arrived at Monza, when Italian police impounded their van in response to a paddock incident two years earlier.
Elsewhere, BRM arrived in Monza as the only British based team not powered by Cosworth, and had been busy during the break. Despite their internal problems, which had resulted in a complete restructure of the team over the summer, BRM had managed to produce a second P139, which Jackie Oliver would drive for the first time in Monza. John Surtees, meanwhile, would race the car he had declared undriveable in the Eifel mountains, which had been rebuilt as a result, while Oliver's old P138 was brought along as backup.
The final team to be considered in Italy were the home favourites, although the chances of Ferrari taking victory were incredibly remote. The Italian team entered three drivers for two cars, with Chris Amon expected to test the new 312B, which would only race if it proved competitive. The other car would be the 312, raced by Pedro Rodríguez since he had joined the team, although the Mexican would have to compete with Formula Two racer Ernesto Brambilla for the privilege of driving his usual charger. Ultimately, the fate of Ferrari's weekend would be decided before the meeting, an engine failure on the 312B making it impossible for the new car to compete, while the #10 312 had to have an older spec engine installed after a problem was uncovered on its usual unit.
Despite being beaten to victory for only the second time in 1969, Stewart would leave the Nurburgring having managed to extend his Championship lead to 29 points, a margin which could see him win the title in Italy should he manage to maintain it. Race winner Ickx was up to second, his second career win having seen him leap up from fifth, a single point clear of third placed McLaren. Hill was a further two points back and almost certainly out of the title fight, while Siffert still held the honours for the privateer field as he maintained his position among the top five.
Like lead driver Stewart, Matra-Ford Cosworth had managed to extend their lead despite tasting defeat in the race, leaving West Germany with a 23 point advantage. Brabham-Ford Cosworth would thank Ickx for putting them into second, although they were level with Lotus-Ford Cosworth on 28 points as they duelled for second. Those two would also have to factor in McLaren-Ford Cosworth into their fight until the end of the season, with Ferrari and BRM remained in single figures.
Entry list[edit | edit source]
The full entry list for the 1969 Italian Grand Prix is outlined below:
Practice Overview[edit | edit source]
Qualifying[edit | edit source]
Practice/qualifying were run concurrently as usual in Italy, with seven hours of total running scheduled across two sessions. Friday and Saturday would host one session each, both lasting from 3:00pm to 6:30pm, neither of which would be affected by rain or extreme heat. The qualifying record stood at 1:26.07, set in 1968 by John Surtees in the Honda, a target that the best of the field would expect to beat.
Report[edit | edit source]
Unfortunately, the engine shortage at Cosworth, combined with the lack of entries from BRM and Ferrari made Friday's running a severe disappointment, with no one managing to break Surtees' record. Indeed, most of the day had been spent simply trying not to damage equipment, as demonstrated by Jacky Ickx in the opening minutes of the session when he suffered an oil pump failure. Record holder Surtees was the only man really pushing on, although without anything of note to show for it, having to try and drive round an incurable engine issue.
The pace setters on Friday came as no surprise, for Jackie Stewart and Jochen Rindt ended the day at the top of the standings, although Denny Hulme was not too far off. Indeed, Hulme may well have set the fastest time if he had stuck with his aerofoils instead of pursuing outright speed, while teammate Bruce McLaren suffered the familiar Cosworth failure of driveshaft failure. Jean-Pierre Beltoise and Jack Brabham were also on the pace, joining the top three as the only drivers under the 1:27.00 mark.
Saturday saw more on track action after a night of overnight work, although an unlucky Ickx would spend almost the entire day on the sidelines once again. The Belgian racer had had a reconditioned engine installed, but before he could complete a flying lap to improve his lowly sixteenth position, Ickx was grinding to a halt with a driveshaft failure. Similar failure would hit Graham Hill later in the session, prompting Cosworth to release a statement regarding a bad shipment of driveshafts, all of which would be replaced before the field departed for the Americas.
Elsewhere, BRM's woes continued on track, with Jackie Oliver only getting a few laps in with his new car before its engine expired, while Surtees was forced to use the spare after a water pump failure on his P139. Ferrari were not fairing much better, and when Ernesto Brambilla failed to improve his pace, Pedro Rodríguez was put in the car to try and at the very least best the BRMs, but to no avail. Indeed, the scarlet car was not performing too well, with the Mexican racer only just managing to beat privateer Silvio Moser at the back of the field.
The battle for pole matched the low-key performances of the stragglers, as Rindt settled the issue early on with a 1:25.48 after getting a tow on his best lap. Hulme elbowed himself onto the front row with a late lap, pushing Stewart down to third with a 1:25.69, the top three the only members of the field to beat Surtees' old record. Piers Courage impressed as the best of the privateers, risking his engine to set the fourth fastest time, while John Miles completed the field, five seconds off the pace.
Qualifying Results[edit | edit source]
The full qualifying results for the 1969 Italian Grand Prix are outlined below:
|1||4||Jochen Rindt||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||1:26.43||1:25.48||—|
|2||16||Denny Hulme||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||1:26.57||1:25.69||+0.21s|
|3||20||Jackie Stewart||Matra-Ford Cosworth||1:26.48||1:25.82||+0.34s|
|4||32||Piers Courage||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||1:28.21||1:26.48||+1.00s|
|5||18||Bruce McLaren||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||1:27.54||1:26.48||+1.00s|
|6||22||Jean-Pierre Beltoise||Matra-Ford Cosworth||1:26.72||1:27.09||+1.24s|
|7||28||Jack Brabham||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||1:26.90||1:27.19||+1.42s|
|8||30||Jo Siffert||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||1:27.29||1:27.04||+1.56s|
|9||2||Graham Hill||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||1:27.31||1:28.39||+1.83s|
|12||10||Pedro Rodríguez||Ferrari||No Time||1:28.47||+2.99s|
|13||36||Silvio Moser||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||1:34.72||1:28.51||+3.03s|
|14||6||John Miles||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||1:44.21||1:30.56||+5.08s|
|16||26||Jacky Ickx||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||1:37.96||2:14.65||+11.58s|
|WD||24||Johnny Servoz-Gavin||Matra-Ford Cosworth||Withdrawn|
|WD||34||Jo Bonnier||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||Withdrawn|
- * Brambilla would be unable to start the race as he had shared the #10 car with Rodriguez.
Grid[edit | edit source]
Race[edit | edit source]
It would be a busy night for most of the teams on Saturday, with almost every car receiving a "fresh" engine for the race on Sunday. The mechanics also spent a fair amount of time debating whether to run with aerofoils, with a huge split across the field as the cars were rolled out onto the grid ahead of the 3:30pm start time. The pre-race procedure included a formation lap before the cars assembled on the dummy grid, before moving onto the proper grid for the actual start, although when it finally came to the start there would be a fifteen car rebellion.
Report[edit | edit source]
Jochen Rindt decided to move off the dummy grid after the formation lap incredibly slowly, Denny Hulme pacing him at a crawl right alongside, leaving the rest of the field to bunch up incredibly closely behind them. The starter began to panic seeing the pack moving so slowly, inadvertently dropping the flag. Both Rindt and Hulme saw this and reacted instantly, both stamping on the throttle and jumping the start, with the rest of the fifteen car field following suit just a fraction of a second later.
Rindt and Hulme's drag race would last until the pair changed into second, when a slight hesitation by the New Zealander's McLaren allowed the Austrian to pull clear. Jackie Stewart made a clean getaway to tuck right into the #4 Lotus' wake, taking second as Hulme suddenly found himself in the middle of the herd. Bruce McLaren, Jo Siffert, Piers Courage and Jean-Pierre Beltoise all got ahead of the orange car before the field swept into Curva Grande for the first time.
The order remained the same at the end of the opening lap, although Stewart was just pulling alongside Rindt as the pair came charging past the pits to start lap two. Right behind came McLaren, Siffert, Courage and Beltoise, who fanned out to try and get a tow from the two leaders as the top six barrelled on towards Curva Grande for the second time. A small gap followed before Hulme led Jack Brabham and Graham Hill across the line, with the rest of the field tucking in behind that trio as Stewart got the nose of his Matra ahead of Rindt's Lotus on the run to Lesmo.
The opening laps would see the top nine break away from the rest of the field, all lapping with an average speed north of 145 mph. The two BRMs were already falling away, fighting with the lone Ferrari of Pedro Rodríguez, while Silvio Moser was all on his own at the back after only a handful of laps. Elsewhere, Jacky Ickx had had to stop from the back of the field on the opening lap to report an oil pressure issue, while John Miles was out on lap four when the Lotus 63 saw its engine go up in a cloud of smoke.
Back with the leaders and Hulme was carving his way back up the order, beginning lap seven right on the tail of third placed Siffert, who was unable to involve himself in the Stewart/Rindt duel for the lead. As the New Zealander tucked himself in behind the Swiss racer, Brabham pulled his car off to the side to retire, a simultaneous fuel and oil leak making it impossible for him to continue. The top eight remained together despite the Australian's disappearance, with the herd soon charging towards Parabolica to complete yet another lap.
Siffert made his first mistake of the day on lap eight, outbraking himself into the fearsome final corner and running wide, slotting in behind Hulme and Courage, allowing the former a chance to run right onto the back of the leading pair. A lap later and momentum had carried the orange McLaren into the lead, with Hulme diving on the brakes later than anyone else to surge past both Rindt and Stewart into the Parabolica. Rindt's immediate attempts to respond were in vain, with the Austrian getting swallowed by the pack before the end of the next lap, as Stewart drafted past Hulme at the end of the ninth lap.
By this stage Hill's race was all but over, a flat sounding engine a symptom of a broken exhaust that meant that the defending Champion was down on power. The exhaust eventually failed and dropped off the car, only to be hit by an unsighted John Surtees, who had little chance to avoid. The BRM racer hit the metal tube with enough energy to dent his right front wishbone, before the lump bounced up and hit the Brit's ignition coil, forcing Surtees into the pits.
Surtees would reappear four laps and two visits to the pit crew later, by which stage Hill had managed to catch back up with the leading pack, his engine seeming to be coping without a sizeable chunk of the exhaust. The top eight were constantly shuffling throughout, the only difference between the eight being either the chassis constructor or tyre manufacturer. Indeed, the Ford Cosworth engineers would be very happy with the proceedings, with Jackie Oliver the first of those without a Keith Duckworth designed engine down in ninth.
Stewart managed to lead from laps nine to seventeen as Hill began his recovery, although by the end of lap eighteen he would be surpassed by Courage, Hulme and Rindt, only to get past the latter two on the run out of Parabolica. Courage was therefore credited as leading a lap in the Frank Williams entered Brabham BT26A, although Stewart would be back ahead when the cars reappeared at Parabolica a lap later. Brabham himself, meanwhile, had finally appeared back in the pits, greeted by a huge cheer from the crowd, although the Australian was soon seen wandering back to his abandoned car, taking a small set of tools with him.
It would be a short while before Brabham returned once again, this time in the cockpit of his terminally wounded car, a fact quickly diagnosed by his pitcrew. As he was working away the lead battle had entered a brief stalemate, with no changes among the top eight for three laps, until Hulme moved past Siffert and Courage on laps 22 and 23 respectively. Yet, the New Zealander's latest charge would be shortlived, for a brake issue arose a lap after he moved into second, meaning he had to lift and coast almost 500 yards earlier than everyone else as the top eight charged into Parabolica.
It would take a few laps for Hulme to be dropped by the rest of the leading pack, although the New Zealander still managed to stay ahead of Oliver and Rodriguez with relative ease. As the orange car went backwards Stewart and Rindt swapped places, the Austrian completing a three lap stint in the lead with Courage remaining in second throughout. This latest exchange would also involve the lapping of the lone Ferrari of Rodriguez, who was unable to improve his pace with a tow from the leading herd, while Oliver's race was ruined when he was black flagged for a loose extinguisher.
Siffert would be the latest man to fall away from the leading pack on lap 31, the Swiss racer's engine beginning to sound very rough as half distance came ever closer. As he tumbled away the lead changed between Courage, Rindt and Stewart again, while Hill suddenly jumped ahead of McLaren and Beltoise in spite of his shortened exhaust. Indeed, it seemed as if McLaren would lose contact with the leaders as the race passed half distance, Beltoise able to elbow his way past the orange car with ease, only for the New Zealander to rally himself and push himself right onto the Frenchman's gearbox a few laps later.
A few moments later and Hill was up into third, outbraking Courage into the Parabolica on the 36th lap, with the Brit now sitting right behind teammate Rindt in second. In an ideal world for Team Lotus the two gold-red-white cars would work together to defeat the Scot out front, but it would only be the Austrian who managed to force his way past Stewart on the following lap. The blue-white Matra would successfully defend from Hill into Parabolica after Rindt went past, before going on to recover the lead through Lesmo a lap later, with Hill falling back down to fourth.
After this latest breakthrough Stewart began to toy with his competitors, consistently leading across the line only to allow one of his five rivals to take the lead through until the exit of Lesmo. As it turned out, Rindt and Hill would be the only ones to take the lead from the Scot during his game, although he would consistently deny one of the two from getting past to prevent the pair from running together out front. Hulme, meanwhile, was the latest car to be lapped by the leaders, his McLaren still struggling with a lack of brakes, while Siffert's engine was sounding even rougher.
Into the final few laps and the order was remaining consistent across the line, with Stewart leading from Hill, Rindt, Courage, McLaren and Beltoise, although this was not the case around the back of the circuit. Indeed, Hill seemed to have rediscovered some of his former Championship form, with the Brit constantly tagged to the back of his former protege, putting Stewart under some very intense pressure. Courage, meanwhile, looked set for a strong result as he kept pace in the middle of the lead pack, until a fuel starvation issue, caused by the ever reducing fuel level, meant his pace collapsed.
With Courage falling away there were now five cars left in the fight for victory, although that would become four with just six laps left to run. The latest, and ultimately final, casualty was Hill, who suffered the common Cosworth issue of a driveshaft failure, leaving the Englishman a frustrated observer for the final moments. Ickx would join him in the pits when the Belgian had to stop for a quick splash of fuel, as Stewart, Rindt, Beltoise and McLaren began their final sprint for victory.
Rindt would briefly lead on lap 65, Stewart allowing him through until the quartet reached Lesmo once again, while McLaren took Beltoise a few moments later on the run to Parabolica. A lap later and the Frenchman was back through into third, and as they charged into the Lesmo turns on the penultimate lap, the quartet disappeared into a cloud of blue smoke. The source of the smoke was the expired engine of the limping Siffert, who had already pulled off the circuit as the leaders came through the haze, and nervous few moments for them all as they all charged past the disappointed Swiss racer.
Onto the final lap and Rindt stole the inside line through Curva Grande, a move which ultimately resulted in the Austrian holding the lead through Lesmo. Stewart, however, managed to get a better exit and so casually drafted past the Lotus before the Vian Curva, with Beltoise also coming past the Lotus. Indeed, a combination of momentum and slipstream was carrying Beltoise up behind his teammate, and as the leading quartet hit the brakes for Parabolica, the Frenchman slithered into the lead on the inside of his teammate.
Unfortunately for the Frenchman the move had been on the optimistic side, and as he drifted out wide Stewart carved his way up the inside, with Rindt and McLaren following through. Beltoise was still travelling at a rate of knots, however, meaning it was a four way drag to the line, although the Frenchman had the greatest distance to cover on the outside of the circuit. Rindt was inching up alongside Stewart as the line approached, McLaren tucked up right behind the Lotus, while Beltoise was trying as hard as he could to get onto the back of teammate Stewart.
In a single blur the quartet passed the chequered flag, covered by a grand total of 0.19 seconds, with Stewart declared the winner by just 0.08s from Rindt. Victory gave Stewart and Matra the title, while teammate Beltoise just managed to edge McLaren, beating the New Zealander by a incredible 0.02s. Fifth went to a rather dejected Courage, while Rodriguez somehow salvaged a point for Ferrari, having silently moved past Hulme when the latter made a short visit to the pits.
Results[edit | edit source]
The full results for the 1969 Italian Grand Prix are outlined below:
|1||20||Jackie Stewart||Matra-Ford Cosworth||68||1:39:11.26||3||9|
|2||4||Jochen Rindt||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||68||+0.08s||1||6|
|3||22||Jean-Pierre Beltoise||Matra-Ford Cosworth||68||+0.17s||6||4|
|4||18||Bruce McLaren||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||68||+0.19s||5||3|
|5||32||Piers Courage||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||68||+33.44s||4||2|
|6||10||Pedro Rodríguez||Ferrari||66||+2 Laps||12||1|
|7||16||Denny Hulme||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||66||+2 Laps||2|
|8||30||Jo Siffert||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||64||Engine||8|
|9||2||Graham Hill||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||63||Transmission||9|
|10||26||Jacky Ickx||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||61||Out of fuel||15|
|NC*||14||John Surtees||BRM||60||+8 Laps||10|
|Ret||12||Jackie Oliver||BRM||48||Oil pressure||11|
|Ret||36||Silvio Moser||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||9||Fuel injection||13|
|Ret||28||Jack Brabham||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||6||Fuel line||7|
|Ret||6||John Miles||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||3||Engine||14|
|WD||24||Johnny Servoz-Gavin||Matra-Ford Cosworth|
|WD||34||Jo Bonnier||Lotus-Ford Cosworth|
- * Surtees could not be classified as he had failed to complete 90% of the race distance.
- † Brambilla was unable to start the race as Rodriguez was using the #10 car.
Milestones[edit | edit source]
- Sixth pole position for Jochen Rindt.
- Jackie Stewart crowned as World Champion for the first time.
- Also the Scot's eleventh career victory.
- Matra claimed their first (and only) Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers title.
- It would also be their ninth and final victory as a constructor.
- Jean-Pierre Beltoise also set their tenth fastest lap.
- Jochen Rindt claimed Lotus their 60th podium finish.
Standings[edit | edit source]
Victory in Italy meant that Jackie Stewart had claimed his first World Championship with three races to spare, such had been the dominance of the Scot throughout the season. The battle for second now took precedence, with Bruce McLaren moving back ahead of Jacky Ickx, as nine points covered second to sixth, meaning Graham Hill, Jean-Pierre Beltoise and Jo Siffert were all in the fight. Fifteen drivers in total had now scored ahead of the end of year trip to the Americas, with Pedro Rodríguez the latest driver to add his name to the board.
Like lead driver Stewart, Matra-Ford Cosworth were declared Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturer's Champions in Italy, with a grand total of 60 points. Lotus-Ford Cosworth were only 26 points back, with 27 left to fight for, but the Norfolk squad would then drop points if they won every race to the end of the season, making it impossible for them to catch the Anglo-French effort. Brabham-Ford Cosworth and McLaren-Ford Cosworth were therefore a bigger threat for second, the trio separated by nine points, while Ferrari left their home race with just five points to their name.
References[edit | edit source]
Images and Videos:
- 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: ITALIAN GP, 1969', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2016), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr181.html, (Accessed 27/01/2017)
- D.S.J., 'The 40th Italian Grand Prix: Formula Ford at its Best', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport, 01/10/1969), http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/october-1969/36/40th-italian-grand-prix, (Accessed 27/01/2017)
- 'Italy 1969: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1969/italie/engages.aspx, (Accessed 27/01/2017)
- 'Italy 1969: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1969/italie/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 27/01/2017)
- 'Italy 1969: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1969/italie/classement.aspx, (Accessed 27/01/2017)
|V T E||Italian Grand Prix|
|Circuits||Monza (1950 - 1979, 1981 - Present), Imola (1980)|
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