XX GRAND PRIX DE L'AUTOMOBILE CLUB DE FRANCE
Montlhéry - Paris (F), 1 July 1934
40 laps x 12.492 km (7.762 mi) = 499.7 km (310.5 mi)
The Germans loses on reliability
There was a high quality entry at the French GP with all the top teams present.
Caracciola made his return to Grand Prix racing at Montlhéry after a 14 month long pause. He still had great problems to
walk, but once in the car he soon put in some very respectable laps.
Fagioli had crushed the old lap record of 5m19s by doing a 5m11.8s lap during a Mercedes test on the track two weeks
before the race. During practice von Brauchitsch showed the speed of the Mercedes cars by lowering that record to 5m05.6s.
Second fastest was Chiron's Alfa from Fagioli and Stuck.
During the practice the Auto Unions were suffering from fuel pump trouble while Mercedes suffered from steering problems
and high tyre wear. The Bugattis, which arrived at the last moment, had plug trouble and Čtancelin had both ignition and
carburettor problems to worry about.
L'Auto listed the weight of the cars:
Auto Union: Stuck 740.5 kg, zu Leiningen 738.5 kg, Momberger 736.5 kg.
Mercedes-Benz: Caracciola 739.5 kg, Fagioli 739 kg, von Brauchitsch 737 kg
Alfa Romeo: Varzi 730 kg, Trossi 721.5 kg, Chiron 720,5 kg
Bugatti: Dreyfus 749 kg, Nuvolari 747 kg, Benoist 747 kg
Maserati: Etancelin 748 kg, Zehender 735 kg
|* Stuck did not use his pole position.|
* Stuck raced Momberger's car.
* Momberger raced zu Leiningen's car.
At the start Chiron came from the third row to take the lead followed by Caracciola, Fagioli and Stuck.
Then the Germans started to attack. Stuck passed the Mercedes cars and then took the Auto Union up into the lead
from Chiron on the third lap.|
Fagioli passed Caracciola and began to close in on the Alfa Romeo, breaking the lap record during the charge.
Situation after 4 laps:
|1.||Stuck (Auto Union)||21m14.7s|
|2.||Chiron (Alfa Romeo)||21m19.2s|
|5.||Varzi (Alfa Romeo)||21m42.1s|
|6.||Trossi (Alfa Romeo)||21m49.2s|
|12.||Momberger (Auto Union)||24m03.5s?|
Nuvolari was already in trouble with the gearbox and after 8 laps he gave the Bugatti over
to Wimille. Situation after 8 laps:
|1.||Stuck (Auto Union)||42m11.5s|
|2.||Chiron (Alfa Romeo)||42m15.4s|
|5.||Varzi (Alfa Romeo)||42m49.5s|
|7.||Trossi (Alfa Romeo)||43m13.3s|
|12.||Momberger (Auto Union)||46m04.2s?|
One after the other the German cars struck trouble, Momberger was the first to give up and then von Brauchitsch, who
during the race never got up to the speed he had shown during practice, did a pitstop with engine trouble. He came back again
but was soon out of the race for good. Order: Stuck, Chiron, Fagioli, Caracciola, Varzi and Trossi.
Then Stuck started to struggle, falling back behind Chiron and the two Mercedes cars. By lap 12 Stuck was in for new tyres and fuel.
order after 12 laps:
|1.||Chiron (Alfa Romeo)||1h02m56.5s|
|4.||Varzi (Alfa Romeo)||1h03m53.0s|
|5.||Trossi (Alfa Romeo)||1h04m25.4s|
|7.||Stuck (Auto Union) ||1h07m25.6s|
Caracciola and Fagioli had
a tremendous fight for positions while chasing Chiron's leading Alfa Romeo, bringing the French crowd to its feet.
One can only guess what went trough Fagioli's mind. Before the season start he must have believed that taking the leading
position in the team would be a piece of cake. Then came the Eifel incident with von Brauchitsch and now Caracciola's
speed during his comeback race must have been a nasty surprise. The internal Mercedes duel ended in a draw, all three Mercedes drivers had to retire
one after the other within a few laps. Von Brauchitsch with supercharger troubles, Caracciola with fuel feed problems and
Fagioli with a broken brake pipe after having running off the road in his fight for the lead.
order after 16 laps:
|1.||Chiron (Alfa Romeo)||1h23m34.4s|
|2.||Varzi (Alfa Romeo)||1h24m42.2s|
|3.||Stuck (Auto Union)||1h28m56.3s|
|6.||Moll (Alfa Romeo)||1h30m04.1s|
The race situation had altered completely, the only German car left was Stuck's clearly struggling Auto Union, and Chiron could ease up.
Situation after 20 laps:
|1.||Chiron (Alfa Romeo)||1h47m17.5s|
|2.||Varzi (Alfa Romeo)||1h48m16.1s|
|3.||Stuck (Auto Union)||1h50m35.3s|
|4.||Moll (Alfa Romeo)||1h51m52.3s|
At half distance the Alfa Romeo cars went in for tanking and tyre changes. Varzi held the lead for a moment during the
pit stops but then it was Chiron again at the top position.
The Ferrari drivers Chiron, Varzi and Moll (who had taken over from Trossi after the car had lost both 1st and 3rd gears)
took full command of the race with Stuck a distant forth.
The only other cars left were Benoist and Zehender, Wimille and Dreyfus having given up their Bugattis with transmission
and engine troubles.
Race order after 24 laps:
|1.||Chiron (Alfa Romeo)||2h09m09.7s|
|2.||Varzi (Alfa Romeo)||2h13m30.4s|
|3.||Moll (Alfa Romeo)||2h13m43.4s|
|4.||Stuck (Auto Union)||2h14m10.2s|
Four laps later, after 28 laps, the race order remaind the same:
|1.||Chiron (Alfa Romeo)||2h31m08.4s|
|2.||Varzi (Alfa Romeo)||2h35m00.6s|
|3.||Moll (Alfa Romeo)||2h35m11.3s|
|4.||Stuck (Auto Union)||2h35m38.0s|
And after 32 laps as well:
|1.||Chiron (Alfa Romeo)||2h53m04.5s|
|2.||Varzi (Alfa Romeo)||2h57m03.6s|
|3.||Moll (Alfa Romeo)||2h59m05.5s|
|4.||Stuck (Auto Union)||3h00m56.05s|
Then Stuck had a 15 minutes pit stop and Zehender a 20 minute stop while the mechanics tried to fix a
leaking cooler respective a loose rear axle before both called it a day. The rest was just a Scuderia Ferrari parade.
Chiron made a 55s stop for new rar wheels and Varzi did a 1n42s stop for rear wheels, fuel, water and oil, losing second position to Moll.
Situation at 36 laps:
|1.||1. Chiron (Alfa Romeo)||3h15m37.2s|
|2.||Moll (Alfa Romeo)||3h20m42.0s|
|3.||Varzi (Alfa Romeo)||3h21m15.2s|
Chiron took the flag to the joy of the spectators. Varzi half a lap behind finished second as Moll did a late pit stop, dropping back to third.
Chiron had won a great and popular victory, and the German teams had suffered a humiliating defeat.
But from now on the Germans were to dominate Grand Prix racing.
|1.||12||Louis Chiron||Scuderia Ferrari||Alfa Romeo||Tipo B/P3||2.9||S-8||40||3h39n14.0s|
|2.||6||Achille Varzi||Scuderia Ferrari||Alfa Romeo||Tipo B/P3||2.9||S-8||40||3h42m31.9s||+ 3m17.9s|
|3.||20||Trossi / Moll||Scuderia Ferrari||Alfa Romeo||Tipo B/P3||2.9||S-8||40||3h43m23.8s||+ 4m09.8s|
|4.||16||Robert Benoist||Automobiles E. Bugatti||Bugatti||T59||2.8||S-8||36||3h39m27.0s|
|DNF||24||Goffredo Zehender||Officine A. Maserati||Maserati||26M||3.0||S-8||33||rear axle attachment|
|DNF||2||Hans Stuck||Auto Union AG||Auto Union||A||4.4||V-16||32||engine|
|DNF||14||Nuvolari / Wimille||Automobiles E. Bugatti||Bugatti||T59||3.3||S-8||17||engine/transmission|
|DNF||18||René Dreyfus||Automobiles E. Bugatti||Bugatti||T59||3.3||S-8||16||engine|
|DNF||8||Rudolf Caracciola||Daimler-Benz AG||Mercedes-Benz||W25||3.4||S-8||15||fuel feed|
|DNF||30||Luigi Fagioli||Daimler-Benz AG||Mercedes-Benz||W25||3.4||S-8||14||brakes|
|DNF||22||Manfred von Brauchitsch||Daimler-Benz AG||Mercedes-Benz||W25||3.4||S-8||11||supercharger|
|DNF||26||Philippe Etancelin||P. Etancelin||Maserati||8CM||3.0||S-8||11||engine|
|DNF||4||August Momberger||Auto Union AG||Auto Union||A||4.4||V-16||10||steering|
Fastest lap: Louis Chiron (Alfa Romeo) in 5m06.0s = 147.0 km/h (91.3 mph)|
Winner's medium speed: 136.7 km/h (85.0 mph)
Weather: sunny and hot.
7 July 1934: The B.A.R.C. Inter-Club Meeting was held at Brooklands.|
The handicap races were won by R. H. Eccles (Frazer-Nash 1.5 litre), Mrs. E. Gordon-Simpson (Triumph 1.1 litre), C. D. Parish (Austin 0.7 litre),
H. G. Dobbs (Riley 1.1 litre), A. Powys-Lybbe (Alvis 1.5 litre), J. H. Day (Graham-Paige 5.3 litre), C. A. Richardson (Riley 1.1 litre) and A. H. Boyd (Maserati 2.5 litre).
J.R.D.C. won the team relay.
IX GRAND PRIX DE LA MARNE
Reims-Gueux (F), 8 July 1934
64 laps x 7.826 km (4.86 mi) = 500.9 km (311.2 mi)
Yet another Scuderia Ferrari parade
by Leif Snellman
The Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeos raced by Chiron, Varzi and Moll were challenged by a group of Maseratis including Etancelin, Nuvolari, Zehender, Straight and Hamilton. Early in the race there was a
duel between Varzi and Nuvolari but the latter dropped back after multiple tyre troubles and later retired with a broken rear axle. Etancelin, Zehender and Straight had to retire as well with technical
problems and the Alfa Romeo duo of Chiron and Varzi took control of the race and kept swapping the lead until Varzi stopped to change plugs and then suffered gearbox trouble, handing over the car to
Marinoni, who managed to finish third behind dominant Chiron and Moll. Sole remaining Maserati driver Hamilton finished fourth.
The Marne Grand Prix organized by l' Automobile Club de Champagne under the patronage of magazines l'Auto and l'Eclaireur de l'Est was run as usual on the Reims-Gueux road course.
This was the 9th Marne Grand Prix even if it in fact was the 10th time the event was held as the 1932 event had been run as the French Grand Prix. For 1934 the race length had been increased to 64 laps
on the 7.826 km long triangular circuit for at total of 500.9 km.
A total of 245,000 Francs of prize money was offered: 100,000 fr, 50,000 fr, 25,000 fr, 15,000 fr, 12,000 fr, 10,000 fr, 8,000 fr, 7,000 fr, 5,000 fr and 3,000 fr went to the top ten finishers.
There was also a 3,000 fr. prize for setting a lap record.
Scuderia Ferrari entered three of their Tipo B /P3 Alfa Romeos for their drivers Louis Chiron, Achille Varzi and Guy Moll.
On the fast Reims track the Maserati cars were able to keep up with the Alfa Romeos on the straights but suffered from inferior brakes. Goffredo Zehender racing a 8C-3000 on a 26M chassis was entered by the
Maserati works team while Gruppo Genovese San Giorgio entered a similar car with a 2.8 litre engine for Clemente Biondetti and an Alfa Romeo Monza for Renato Balestrero. Tazio Nuvolari, now fully recovered
from the Alessandria crash, raced his works-supported dull red Maserati 8CM and there were two white-blue Maseratis entries from Whitney Straight Ltd for Whitney Straight and Hugh Hamilton. Philippe Etancelin
and Raymond Sommer entered blue colored Maseratis as independents.
Other entries included a Scuderia Siena entered a dull red Alfa Romeo Monza for Luigi Soffietti and Bugattis for Robert Brunet and Earl Howe.
The race program optimistically listed two Auto Unions and another German entry named "X" but they did not appear.
After the defeat at the French Grand Prix the German teams were busy preparing themselves for the German Grand Prix.
In l'Auto Maurice Henry was highly critical of Zanelli's habit of entering a car but never appearing for the race.
Practice sessions were run on Friday and Saturday morning from 5 to 8 a.m.
During Friday practice Moll was fastest with a time of 2m57s. Other practice times were: Nuvolari 3m00s, Straight 3m04s, Sommer 3m06s, Chiron 3m09s, Brunet 3m18s, Howe 3m18s and Soffietti 3m29s.
During Saturday practice Varzi did 2m54s and then bettered the time to 2m52s. Moll answered with a lap of 2m51.7s but that lap was overshadowed by Varzi's who went out again and did an astonishing 2m48.4s.
Chiron did not attempt to challenge his team mates as he had been unwell following the French Grand Prix and was still recovering from it.
Sunday came with extremely sunny and hot weather. Before the race stands stood half empty as the spectators were elsewhere trying to find shade and refreshments. Water trucks sprayed the roads trying to
avoid the tar from melting.
Before the race Armond Girod made a few laps with the 48 hour-record Delahaye while air acrobatics were carried out by famous French aviators Michel Détroyat and Dieudonne Costes.
The grid was lined up like this with the 1933 race winner Etancelin being given the pole position:
At 2 p.m. Charles Faroux dropped the flag. Sommer stalled his Maserati while the other 13 competitors rushed away towards Gueux with Varzi in the lead followed by Etancelin, Moll, Chiron and Nuvolari.
At Gueux Moll with his superior braking Alfa Romeo challenged Etancelin but failed to pass. But Moll got a better exit from La Garenne and passed for second position and on the long straight Nuvolari
and Chiron passed Etancelin as well.
At the end of the first lap Varzi was leading followed by Moll, Nuvolari, Chiron, Etancelin, Straight, Hamilton, Soffietti, Zehender, Howe, Brunet, Balestrero and Biondetti.
Varzi at the top was the last thing Nuvolari wanted to see so he immediately took up the chase. During the second lap Nuvolari failed to pass Moll at Gueux but on the long straight between La Garenne
and Tillois Nuvolari slipstreamed past Moll for second position to end the lap 4 seconds behind Varzi, who had done the two laps in 6m26s (146.0 km/h).
After the third lap the gap between Varzi and Nuvolari had increased to seven seconds, the Maserati losing more in the corners than it gained on the straights. Straight had to make a pit stop to change
plugs on his Maserati.
Varzi did four laps in 12m32s (149.9 km/h) and he was followed by Nuvolari, Moll, Chiron and Etancelin. The mid field consisted of Hamilton and Zehender while the rest in the order Soffietti, Biondetti,
Straight, Brunet, Howe and Balestrero already had fallen far behind.
Straight slowly returned his Maserati to the pit and retired from the race with two broken pistons. Zehender made a pit stop as well.
Varzi did six laps in 18m51s (149.5 km/h) with Nuvolari only five seconds behind him while Moll in third position was a further 12 seconds back. Zehender made a second pit stop and the mechanics had
difficulties to restart the engine.
Nuvolari was clearly overdriving his car while trying to keep the pace of his arch rival and after eight laps Nuvolari was in the pits with his right rear tyre in shreds. Not willing to give up, Nuvolari,
now down to sixth position, started off again at full speed. Meanwhile Biondetti had to retire his Maserati.
Nuvolari's pit stop had temporarily put Moll in second position but on the 9th lap he was passed by Chiron. Scuderia Ferrari held the top three positions with Varzi leading by 16 seconds. After having
stalled on the grid Sommer had regained some places and was now up to 10th position.
The race order at 10 laps looked like this:
|1.||Varzi (Alfa Romeo)||31m29.7s (149.1 km/h)|
|2.||Chiron (Alfa Romeo)||31m44s|
|3.||Moll (Alfa Romeo)||31m47.9s|
Nuvolari's speed after his pit stop had perhaps been a bit too high because after 10 laps he had to make a 41 seconds pit stop to change the left rear tyre. He returned to the race in 8th position a lap
Chiron was closing in on Varzi while both were pulling away from Moll, who after the 14th lap made a 43 seconds pit stop for a wheel change dropping to fourth behind Etancelin. Varzi was slowed down a
bit as he had to lap Brunet and Sommer. On the 15th lap Chiron had caught Varzi and on the next lap the Monegasque passed his team mate before Gueux to take over the lead of the race.
Varzi and Chiron now started a duel that went on for much of the race. On the two long straights Varzi tried to regain his lead, the two cars almost touching each other. On the 17th lap Varzi retook the
lead at Thillois after the two Alfa Romeos had gone wheel to wheel through La Garenne and along the straight. Further back Moll passed Etancelin regaining third position.
The two Scuderia Ferrari drivers took turns to lead and on the 19th lap Chiron was back in the front. When Nuvolari, who had advanced to sixth position, passed the grandstand the tyre of the left rear
wheel disintegrated with tyre parts flying 15 meters up in the air landing on the roof of the stand. Skilfully Nuvolari kept control of the car and made a lap on the rim back to the pits for a 1m12s stop
to change both rear wheels.
The situation after 20 laps:
|1.||Chiron (Alfa Romeo)||1h03m07s (148.8 km/h)|
|2.||Varzi (Alfa Romeo)||1h03m07.4s|
|3.||Moll (Alfa Romeo)||1h04m31s|
|6.||Soffietti (Alfa Romeo)|
Sommer had probably been involved in an incident because he had to make a 7 minutes stop for repairs, removing a broken windshield and securing his engine hood with a rope. The fasteners of the exhaust
pipe were broken.
After 25 laps Varzi was leading Chiron by 4 seconds with Moll in third position 2 minutes behind and Etancelin fourth 3 minutes behind. After 27 laps Etancelin retired his Maserati to the pits with a
broken gearbox and at about the same time Nuvolari had to call it a day with a broken rear axle.
At half distance the refuelling stops started. Race leader Varzi was the first one to do it after 32 laps stopping 1m35s for fuel and tyres. Chiron made a 1m09s stop on the next lap and then Hamilton
with his Maserati made a 1m46s stop and Moll a 1m50s stop. Sommer's troubles continued and he made pit stops during almost every lap.
The race order was now Chiron, Varzi, Moll, Hamilton, Howe and Soffietti.
After 35 laps the two Alfa Romeos were still running together with Chiron in the lead. Moll was a lap behind and Soffietti had taken over fifth position from Howe:
|1.||Chiron (Alfa Romeo)||1h51m43s (147.1 km/h)|
|2.||Varzi (Alfa Romeo)||1h51m44s|
|3.||Moll (Alfa Romeo)||1h55m55s|
|5.||Soffietti (Alfa Romeo)||1h59m31s|
After 36 laps Zehender retired his Maserati due to mechanical trouble. On the 41st lap the race changed dramatically as Varzi had to make a 2m29s stop to change plugs returning to the race still in second
position but just 30 seconds in front of Moll. However Moll had to make a 29 seconds stop himself soon afterwards.
When Soffietti, who had been duelling with Howe for most of the race, made his fuel stop he lost control during braking and crashed into Etancelin's stationary Maserati, fortunately without any serious
damage to either car. Soffietti was able to rejoin the race.
Sommer who was many laps behind the others finally decided to retire from the race leaving only seven competitors with Hamilton as the sole remaining Maserati driver.
Varzi was pushing to close in on Chiron and made the fastest lap of the race with a time of 2m58.2s (157.8 km) but after 47 laps he returned to the pit informing the pit crew that the Alfa Romeo gearbox
was broken and that he had lost gears. It was decided that test driver Attilio Marinoni would try to take the damaged car to the chequered flag and after a 2m40s stop the Alfa Romeo returned to the circuit.
The race order after 50 laps was like this:
|1.||Chiron (Alfa Romeo)||2h40m15s (146.5 km/h)|
|2.||Moll (Alfa Romeo)||2h44m13.5s|
|3.||Marinoni (Alfa Romeo)||2h47m44s|
The situation remained the same after 55 laps:
|1.||Chiron (Alfa Romeo)||2h56m43s (146.1 km/h)|
|2.||Moll (Alfa Romeo)||3h00m11s|
|3.||Marinoni (Alfa Romeo)||3h04m56s|
Near the end of the race Hamilton made a 30s pit stop but retained his 4th position.
At the end of the race Chiron took the chequered flag 4m36s in front of Moll. By then the crowd had started to swarm the course and the rest of the cars were flagged off. Marinoni managed to keep Varzi's
Alfa Romeo going to finish in third position for a triple victory for Scuderia Ferrari. Hamilton finished fourth, Howe fifth and Soffietti sixth.
Chiron received the congratulations of Mr. Paul Marchandeau, major of Reims and former French minister, while La Marseillaise (sic!) and Marcia Reale were played.
Reims lies in the middle of the champagne district and it was said that ten thousand bottles were drunk that day!
|1.||12||Louis Chiron||Scuderia Ferrari||Alfa Romeo||Tipo B/P3||2.9||S-8||64||3h25m51.8s|
|2.||16||Guy Moll||Scuderia Ferrari||Alfa Romeo||Tipo B/P3||2.9||S-8||64||3h30m27.8s||+ 4m36s|
|3.||14||A. Varzi / A. Marinoni||Scuderia Ferrari||Alfa Romeo||Tipo B/P3||2.9||S-8||62|
|4.||34||Hugh Hamilton||Whitney Straight Ltd.||Maserati||26M||2.5||S-8||61|
|5.||20||Earl Howe||Earl Howe||Bugatti||T51||2.3||S-8||59|
|6.||30||Luigi Soffietti||Scuderia Siena||Alfa Romeo||Monza||2.6||S-8||59||* Siena?|
|7.||26||Renato Balestrero||Gruppo Genovese San Giorgio||Alfa Romeo||Monza||2.6||S-8|
|DNF||24||Goffredo Zehender||Officine A. Maserati||Maserati||8C-3000||3.0||S-8||36||mechanical|
|DNF||2||Philippe Etancelin||P. Etancelin||Maserati||8CM||3.0||S-8||26||gearbox|
|DNF||4||Raymond Sommer||R. Sommer||Maserati||8CM||3.0||S-8||22||exhaust|
|DNF||18||Tazio Nuvolari||T. Nuvolari||Maserati||8CM||3.0||S-8||21||rear axle|
|DNF||28||Clemente Biondetti||Gruppo Genovese San Giorgio||Maserati||8C-2800||2.8||S-8|
|DNF||6||Robert Brunet||R. Brunet||Bugatti||T51||2.3||S-8|
|DNF||32||Whitney Straight||Whitney Straight Ltd.||Maserati||8CM||3.0||S-8||3|
Fastest lap: Achille Varzi (Alfa Romeo) in 2m58.2s = 158.1 km/h (98.2 mph)|
Winner's medium speed: 146.0 km/h (90.7 mph)
Pole position lap speed: 167.3 km/h (104.0 mph)
Weather: sunny and hot.
Primary sources researched for this article:|
Echo de Paris, Paris
Le Figaro, Paris
Le Matin, Paris
El Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona
IL Littoriale, Roma
The Motor, London
Motor Sport, London
Barré Lyndon: Grand Prix
Special thanks to: