GP Italy 1971: The tightest finish in history
GP Italy 1971
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E s was an unbelievable race, this Grand Prix from Italy, the last in Monza without bullying. Peter Gethin's winning average of 242.615 km /h was to survive until 1993, Henri Pescarolo's fastest race lap of 247.016 km /h until the 2003 season. The 55-lap slipstream battle saw 25 changes in leadership and eight different leaders.

Peter Gethin only entered the race as an outsider. The Englishman only drove his second race for BRM, and after practice he was only 11th on the grid. In addition, the former McLaren driver had only scored one championship point by then.

Gethin disregarded the speed limit

At the middle of the race Gethin was still 10th without a chance, 12 seconds behind the leading group. The 31-year-old Englishman refuted the old Monza wisdom, according to which to lose the slipstream once means the end of all hopes.

Julius Weitmann
Peter Gethin disregarded the speed limit of the BRM P160 V12.

Gethin disregarded all BRM speed regulations, consistently went 500 rpm over the limit of 11,500 rpm and finally managed to catch up with the Group with Ronnie Peterson, Francois Cevert, Howden Ganley, Mike Hailwood and Chris Amon.

In the last lap he belied a second Monza rule. Whoever goes first to Parabolica cannot win. Gethin proved that it can be done. His luck: Ronnie Peterson and Francois Cevert believed that they could negotiate the race among themselves and did not pay attention to the BRM driver who joined the leading group late.

Decision in the Parabolica

Cevert braked the Parabolica late, Peterson even later and Gethin on the very last oneGroove. B.R.M. and March had done without the front wings for the sake of better top speed. And Gethin relied on the horsepower advantage of his B.R.M. twelve-cylinder engine, which he tormented over the 12,000 rpm mark one last time. As the race director waved the checkered flag, Gethin threw up his right arm. Everyone should think they won. He was too.

Petersons March was only half a car length away from the finish. Cevert and Hailwood flew diagonally behind the March over the finish line. Only Howden Ganley was noticeably behind, if only 0.61 seconds on fellow brand colleague Gethin.
The narrowest victory of all time: Peter Gethin with the Cup.

On the evening after the race, Gethin was allowed to take a seat next to team boss Louis Stanley at the traditional winner's dinner. When the funny group wanted to leave the parking lot after dinner, they found a flat tire on Stanley's Mercedes. “Since I had the honor of going to the hotel with the boss, I was allowed to change bikes on the evening of my victory. I also had to pay my hotel bill from the prize money. The room in the Villa d'Este was £ 400. I got 800 for the win, ”said Gethin.

Time measurement only up to two places behind the decimal point

Whether the closest race of all time really took place in Monza in 1971 cannot be said today determine. At that time, measurements were only made to two decimal places. The GP USA 2002 with 0.011 seconds difference and the GP Spain 1986 with 0.014 seconds gap between 1st and 2nd place could well be candidates for the record.

The race is also in the density of the field when waving off not there alone on September 5, 1971. In 1969 the first four at Monza were separated by just 0.019 seconds. Two years later, fourth Mike Hailwood was 0.018 seconds behind.

Only five real photo finishes among the top ten

Only half of the ten closest finishings were really exciting. The rest arose from staged photo finishes or misunderstandings. Michael Schumacher's victories in Montreal in 2000 and at the A1-Ring in 2002 were the result of stable management. In one case Rubens Barrichello was not allowed to overtake the master, in the other he had to open himLet the order of the box pass.

The GP USA 2002 ranks second. Ferrari wanted to produce a dead race. But because the drivers didn't know exactly where the finish line was, it turned into an embarrassing number. Barrichello was ahead at the crucial moment. By 0.011 seconds or 77 centimeters. Ferrari suspected that Barrichello had deliberately pressed a little on the accelerator at the crucial moment. To ensure that in case of doubt he is the winner.

auto motor und sport is celebrating the 1,000th. Formula 1 races this season with a large series in 100 parts. In the daily countdown we provide you with an exciting story and interesting video features from the history of the premier class. You can find all previous articles on our >> Overview page for the big anniversary Grand Prix.


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