XI░ GRAN PREMIO d'ITALIA
Autodromo di Monza (I), 10 September 1933.
50 laps x 10.0 km (6.214 mi) = 500.0 km (310.7 mi)
Lucky win for Fagioli and Alfa Romeo ahead of Nuvolari's Maserati.
by Hans Etzrodt
The XI Gran Premio d'Italia, the fourth major international Grand Prix of the year, was notable for the gigantic battle between Nuvolari in the
3-liter Maserati monoposto against Fagioli and Chiron both racing with monoposto Alfa Romeos. A total of 16 lead changes between those three
drivers plus Taruffi in another Maserati monoposto held the crowds on their toes. This small leading group outdistanced the remaining drivers
of a 19-car field. Fagioli in the Alfa Romeo P3 won the race in 2h51m4s after the leading Nuvolari had to stop two laps from the end to change
a burst tire.
The Italian Grand Prix, initially scheduled for July 25, had been postponed until September 10 due to various renovation works to the Monza circuit,
pits and grandstands. The Grand Prix of Monza had already been scheduled for the same day. This meant that for the first time in the history of
international motor sport, two major races were held on the same day at the same circuit. The Italian Grand Prix was to take place at 9:30 in the
morning on the famous Autodromo di Monza 10-km circuit, comprising the original 4.5 km high-speed oval track and the 5.5 km asphalt circuit. The
minimum required racing distance of 500 km was therefore realized with 50 laps. The Monza Grand Prix was scheduled to begin at 2:00 in the afternoon.
For the last time racecars without weight or engine capacity restriction appeared at Monza for both races. The organizers, the Royal Italian
Automobile Club and the SocietÓ Autodromo di Monza, were not paying starting money this year. Instead the Italian Grand Prix winner was to receive
40,000 lire, the second 30,000, the third 20,000, the fourth 15,000, the fifth 10,000, the sixth 9,000 up to twentieth classified at 4000, a total
of 196,000 lire were allocated for prizes.
The final entry list for the Italian Grand Prix comprised 26 drivers but did not include the new 2.8-liter Bugatti grand prix cars, which were
supposed to make their debut with Varzi, Dreyfus and Williams as drivers. Varzi, who had already been in Monza for several days, when asked about
a start, replied that everything did not depend on him but upon the management in Molsheim. Bugatti's sporting manager Meo Costantini explained
just before the start that the car was not yet ready to race. So, only the private Bugatti drivers Earl Howe, Gaupillat and Brunet were to start,
unable to fight against the two factory teams.
The Scuderia Ferrari had entered Alfa Romeo Tipo B monopostos for Fagioli and Chiron while Eugenio Siena and Tonino Brivio were to drive 2.6-liter
Alfa Romeo Monzas. The Maserati Factory entered monopostos for Nuvolari, Zehender and Taruffi with a two-seater for Ernesto Maserati.
The 16-cylinder Maserati was also due to start but a driver had not yet been assigned to the car. Besides those main contenders, there were many
independent Alfa entries for Lehoux, Moll, Sommer, Balestrero, Carlo Castelbarco, Ghersi and Pellegrini. While Biondetti showed up in his regular
Biondetti Speciale, utilizing a Bugatti chassis with a Maserati engine, Whitney Straight came with his privately entered Maserati. Count Luigi
(Gigi) Premoli arrived in his BMP (Bugatti/Maserati/Premoli), a special racecar, which he had built himself combining a Bugatti grand prix chassis,
gearbox and wheels with a 3-liter Maserati engine and front grill.
The Scuderia Ferrari was already practicing on Monday. On Thursday, other drivers appeared on the track. Taruffi in the Maserati monoposto was quick
and Fagioli reached 175 km/h on that day. Taruffi was quoted as fastest with Chiron next, while Nuvolari was further back. From the six monopostos
that were to start, the winner was expected to come either from the two Alfa Romeos or the three Maserati 3-liter cars.
Early Sunday morning a brief rain shower had soaked the Monza track. The circuit was still wet but drying at the time of the 9:30 AM start. At
this early hour many empty seats could be seen in the eight grandstands but 80,000 spectators were quoted to have been lured to Monza on this Sunday.
In single rows the drivers surrounded by their mechanics paraded the racecars past the grandstands to the lively cheers of the ecstatic masses.
They steered the machines to their assigned places on the grid, which had been determined by ballot according to the official race numbers.
Ernesto Maserati did not make the start and his place on row three was left vacant.
At the fall of the flag there was a brief thundering rumble as the wild pack of 19 cars took off in a cloud of bluish smoke to the loud roar
of the excited spectators. Siena in the red Alfa Romeo had the initial lead, behind him came Nuvolari in the red-yellow Maserati and Taruffi
both in Maserati monopostos. Nuvolari was the first to finish lap one, closely followed by Fagioli with his red Alfa Romeo monoposto, then
Taruffi, Premoli, Chiron and Zehender. On the next lap Fagioli caught up with Nuvolari in front of the grandstands where he made his pass to
enthusiastic shouts by the crowd.
After five laps the field had already stretched out considerably. The leading group consisted of Fagioli and Nuvolari who were fighting closely
after 17m22s, ahead of Taruffi, Chiron and Zehender. Then was a long gap to the rest. Premoli had already retired with his PBM. The sixth lap
brought a new sensation. Nuvolari had again overtaken his dangerous opponent. It took only one lap for Fagioli to regain the lost lead. Then
one lap later the Maserati of Nuvolari was first again. On the ninth lap the Mantuan's lead was assured as Fagioli stopped at his pit for a quick
refuel of his car. Apparently, a light fuel load might have helped Fagioli to keep abreast with the flying Mantuan.
After ten laps Nuvolari led with 34m10.4s ahead of Taruffi, Chiron and Zehender. Fagioli had now fallen to fifth place and was trying hard to
catch up with the cars ahead, while those behind him maintained their same rhythm in the order Brivio, Siena, Castelbarco, Lehoux and Ghersi, then the tail group
comprising Moll, Brunt, Earl Howe, Pellegrini, Gaupillat, Balestrero, Straight and Biondetti.
Nuvolari's average speed after ten laps was 175.575 km/h.
|1. Nuvolari (Maserati)||34m10.4s|
|2. Taruffi (Maserati)||34m25.2s|
|3. Chiron (Alfa Romeo)||34m51.0s|
|4. Zehender (Maserati)||35m21.0s|
|5. Fagioli (Alfa Romeo)||35m25.0s|
|6. Brivio (Alfa Romeo)||36m30.0s|
|7. Siena (Alfa Romeo)||36m30.0s|
|8. Castelbarco (Alfa Romeo)||37m19.0s|
|9. Lehoux (Alfa Romeo)||37m35.0s|
|10. Ghersi (Alfa Romeo)||37m35.0s|
|11. Moll (Alfa Romeo)||37m40.0s|
|12. Brunet (Bugatti)||40m29.0s|
|13. Earl Howe (Bugatti)||41m58.0s|
|14. Pellegrini (Alfa Romeo)||47m06.0s|
|15. Gaupillat (Bugatti)||51m25.0s|
|16. Balestrero (Alfa Romeo)|
|17. Straight (Maserati)|
|18. Biondetti (MB Speciale)|
On lap 11, the young Taruffi,
who for some time had followed the leader closely, dashed past Nuvolari, only to be relegated to second place by the Mantuan on the following lap.
The fantastic battle for first place brought the crowd to their feet. The average speed was still going up. On lap 13 Chiron passed the finish at
an average speed of 181.8 km/h.
After 15 laps, Nuvolari was leading Taruffi and Chiron at 51m18.4s. Fagioli by now had made it past Zehender into fourth place. The outcome of
this leading group was still unpredictable. After 17 laps Nuvolari, waving his hand, screeched into his pit with one flat tire, to change one
rear wheel in unbelievably short time. But the stop dropped him to fourth position. Taruffi found himself again in the lead, followed by Chiron
with Fagioli third. It was questionable if Nuvolari could catch up again with this leading group. On lap 18 another change took place when Taruffi
stopped at his pit and Chiron became the new leader. Nuvolari finished the nineteenth lap with an average of 184.9 km/h and had worked himself into
second place only 18 seconds behind Chiron. Fagioli was third and Zehender fourth. Then Taruffi encountered trouble and slowly pulled into the
pits. In his memoirs he mentions that when driving at the limit his Maserati went into an unexpected skid around the banking and again the following
lap, so he stopped for a check-up. The wheels had worked loose on the hubs and had to be tightened with a few blows of the hammer. At this time
Zehender also stopped at his pit. Nuvolari's progress from lap 20 to 26 is not known but presumably he made another pit stop. On lap 22 Chiron
changed one wheel at frantic speed, which enabled Fagioli to get past him but very soon the Monegasque was back in the lead. Brivio with his
2.6-liter Alfa Romeo had disappeared from view after lap 24.
On lap 25 Taruffi got into another huge slide, this time in Curva Grande and hit the inside wall without any harm to him. He returned slowly to the
pits with a broken wheel and the car's front end twisted beyond immediate repair. On the same lap the gap between Chiron and Fagioli was only three
seconds. After 25 laps Chiron was leading at an average speed of 177.019 km/h.
|1. Chiron (Alfa Romeo)||1h24m44.2s|
|2. Fagioli (Alfa Romeo)||1h24m47.0s|
|3. Nuvolari (Maserati)||1h25m07.0s|
|4. Siena (Alfa Romeo)||1h29m35.0s|
|5. Lehoux (Alfa Romeo)||1h30m55.0s|
|6. Ghersi (Alfa Romeo)||1h31m07.0s|
|7. Zehender (Maserati)||1h32m|
|8. Castelbarco (Alfa Romeo)||1h33m|
|9. Moll (Alfa Romeo)||1h35m|
|10. Brunet (Bugatti)|
|11. Earl Howe (Bugatti)|
|12. Pellegrini (Alfa Romeo)|
|13. Balestrero (Alfa Romeo)|
|14. Straight (Maserati)|
On lap 26 Chiron stopped for fuel and changed all four wheels. Although this work was carried out in an unbelievably fast time, Fagioli
and Nuvolari went past and Chiron found himself back in third place. On the following lap Fagioli came into his pits to refuel and change wheels.
In the meantime Nuvolari barreled past into the lead, and Chiron gained second place with Fagioli dropping to third place, still in the pits.
At the end of 30 laps Nuvolari held the lead with 1h48m49.2s. Chiron followed almost 2 minutes behind, a gap to Fagioli in third, then Zehender,
Siena and Lehoux fourth, fifth and sixth. Great excitement broke out again as Nuvolari pulled into the pits to refuel and change front wheels.
That gave Chiron a chance to overtake the leader and his chances increased further as Fagioli fell back with another wheel change. Brivio, who
had retired his Alfa Romeo Monza on lap 24, took over Siena's Monza. Chiron's chances increased constantly. His Alfa Romeo monoposto now roared
around the circuit at unbelievable speed.
After 35 laps Chiron had built up a two minute advantage to Nuvolari, who was followed by Fagioli, Zehender and Lehoux. The next laps showed no
changes and the race slowly settled into a steady pattern.
Lap 40 brought new life into the monotonous race when Chiron and Nuvolari both stopped at the pits. The first to change plugs, the second for
another wheel change. Nuvolari left one or two seconds before Chiron. One lap later Chiron slowly motored around, his race over with a broken
valve in the Alfa's engine.
Now it was between Nuvolari and Fagioli for the final battle. The advantage Nuvolari had at this time over Fagioli was 30 seconds, enough for the
Mantuan to safely win the race. He completed one lap after the other at the highest speed and spectators cheered in expectation of another great
On lap 48, 20 kilometer from the finish, the final result changed decisively when Nuvolari came rushing into his pit, hand raised, to stop abruptly
with a blown tire and hastily have the left rear wheel changed. The race was lost when Fagioli's red Alfa thundered past the now static Maserati.
The Mantuan took up the chase for the last two laps, but in vain. After 50 laps Race Director Renzo Castagnetto waved off Fagioli as the victor.
All other cars were also immediately flagged when they crossed the finish line. Nuvolari came second with a gap of 40 seconds, Zehender third,
then Lehoux. Cheering, clapping, the Marcia Reale resounded, applause. Again the Alfa Romeo monoposto had gained a great victory but despite all,
one had to praise Nuvolari for having been the better driver.
|1.||12||Luigi Fagioli||Scuderia Ferrari||Alfa Romeo||Tipo B/P3||2.6 ||S-8||50||2h51m41.0s|
|2.||28||Tazio Nuvolari||Officine A. Maserati||Maserati||8CM||3.0||S-8||50||2h52m21.2s||+ 40.2s|
|3.||34||Goffredo Zehender||Officine A. Maserati||Maserati||8CM||3.0||S-8||48||2h54m54.2s|
|4.||52||Marcel Lehoux||M. Lehoux||Alfa Romeo||Monza||2.3||S-8||47||2h51m50.6s|
|5.||4||E. Siena/A. Brivio||Scuderia Ferrari||Alfa Romeo||Monza||2.6||S-8||47||2h52m56.8s|
|6.||16||Carlo Castelbarco||C. Castelbarco||Alfa Romeo||Monza||2.3||S-8||47||2h53m51.8s|
|7.||42||Pietro Ghersi||P. Ghersi||Alfa Romeo||Monza||2.3||S-8||47||2h54m00.0s|
|8.||46||Guy Moll||G. Moll||Alfa Romeo||Monza||2.3||S-8||46||2h54m44.2s|
|9.||50||Renato Balestrero||R. Balestrero||Alfa Romeo||Monza||2.3||S-8||44||2h55m22.0s|
|10.||10||Robert Brunet||R. Brunet||Bugatti||T51||2.3||S-8||43||2h52m32.4s|
|11.||48||Whitney Straight||W. Straight||Maserati||26M||2.5||S-8||43||2h55m17.2s|
|12.||38||Earl Howe||Earl Howe||Bugatti||T51||2.3||S-8||41||2h52m01.8s|
|13.||30||Lelio Pellegrini||C. Pellegrini||Alfa Romeo||Monza||2.3||S-8||39||2h55m36.4s|
|DNF||32||Louis Chiron||Scuderia Ferrari||Alfa Romeo||Tipo B/P3||2.6 ||S-8||42||broken valve|
|DNF||40||Antonio Brivio||Scuderia Ferrari||Alfa Romeo||Monza||2.6||S-8||25|
|DNF||22||Piero Taruffi||P. Taruffi||Maserati||8CM||3.0||S-8||25||crash|
|DNF||8||Jean Gaupillat||J. Gaupillat||Bugatti||T51||2.3||S-8||9|
|DNF||24||Clemente Biondetti||C. Biondetti||MB Speciale||3.0||S-8||8|
|DNF||6||Luigi Premoli||L. Premoli||BMP||3.0||S-8||2|
Fastest lap: Luigi Fagioli (Alfa Romeo) on lap 41 at 3m13.2s = 186.3 km/h (115.8 mph)|
Winner's medium speed: 174.7 km/h (108.6 mph)
Weather: wet track drying, then overcast.
The Italian Grand Prix, which took its course without any accident, was overshadowed by the tragic events of the Monza Grand Prix that followed in