Italian GP: Closest finish at just 0.01 seconds

The race in 1971 would be the last race at Monza before chicanes were introduced to cut the speed of the track.

In a frantic race of slipstreaming and constant lead changes, Peter Gethin would emerge to take his only Grand Prix Victory. Chris Amon started on pole position in his Matra, with Jacky Ickx lining up in second for Ferrari. The BRMs of Jo Siffert and Howden Ganley lined up in 3rd and 4th, with the other two BRMs of Gethin and Helmut Marko lining up in 11th and 12th.

At the start it was Clay Regazzoni in the second Ferrrai who burst through from 8th place to snatch the lead to the delight of the home crowd. The hopes of the Tifosi would evaporate with Ragazzoni and Ickx both retiring by lap 18, shortly after World Champion Jackie Stewart, who had also lead the race during the early laps, was sidelined with a broken engine.

Siffert enjoyed a spell at the front but fell back with a gearbox problem, while Chris Amon briefly looked like he would take victory only to fall back after he inadvertently removed his visor while attempting to remove a tear off! The race would boil down to a battle between 5 drivers, with Ronnie Peterson (March), Francois Cevert (Tyrrell), Mike Hailwood (Surtees) all enjoying spells at the front, and the BRMs of Howden Ganley and Pether Gethin staying with the leading group to battle for victory going into the final lap.

The cars jostled for position coming into the Parabolica for the last time, with Peterson leading the way, but Gethin emerged from his slipstream to pass him on the line and take the victory, with Cevert in third place followed by Hailwood and Ganley.

Gethin over revved his engine by some 1000 rpm for the final push out of the Parabolica, and sneaked the win by just 0.01 seconds from Peterson, with the top four cars covered by 0.2 seconds, Ganley a massive 0.6 seconds back on the race winner in fifth place!

2 responses to “Italian GP: Closest finish at just 0.01 seconds

  1. I am a sucker for these long forgotten high speed layouts. I admire the complexities of this modern era but the over use of speed cutting chicane,tilka sand boxes have left a bad taste. A car engine absolutely flat out will test any builder’s metal. The slightest flaw will show itself pretty quickly, be that driver or machine. The over use of DRS has muted the art of a good slipstream. It’s very easy to paint these events with a golden brush as,it often had very little action but when it did happen..dang!! We were hooked

  2. One of my favourite GP’s. a triumph for a little fancied driver and an often derided team. Gethin’s victory is incredible, really. He never led a complete lap in all his F1 career, only had one podium, yet set a fastest average speed record which stood for over thirty years. If I can be excused for including Denis Jenkinson’s last corner summary: ‘That last corner fracas was really rather interesting for in it you could see the characters of the three drivers concerned. Peterson is a charger, with not too much racing intelligence, Cevert is a beautiful young man who is timid and doesn’t want to get hurt, and Gethin is a tough little Londoner who has obviously grown up the hard way. Poor old Hailwood, who was there on the spot, didn’t get a look in, apart from nearly being struck by Cevert’s Tyrrell.’

    That does seem a little callous in hindsight. Of the five in that last corner battle, only Gethin and New Zealander Ganley lived their allotted span (Ganley is still around in NZ, I believe, Gethin died a few years ago).

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