Moss, however, had already suffered his scare, the gearbox hanging between ratios for several laps before the problem righted itself. Resuming the lead on lap 21, he controlled the race thereon and moved a lap ahead when Fangio stopped for tyres on lap 41. This meant that Moss, as he had in victory at Aintree and Pescara, could make a late precautionary stop for oil and rubber without losing the lead. Only Fangio finished on the lead lap and the best of the outclassed Ferraris was two laps in arrears in third.
“It is useless to deny it,” wrote Fangio, “[this] was the Vanwall’s great era. And this was a very good thing. It rekindled public interest, especially in Italy, where the public had begun to cool off about racing, spoiled by too many successes for their national marques.” Judging by the size of the crowd that rushed the track to laud Moss, Fangio’s assessment wasn’t wrong, though it’s doubtful that his employer was as sanguine.
The day after the race there was a raucous banquet on the roof garden of Milan’s Palace Hotel to mark the end of the Formula 1 World Championship. The World Champion was conspicuous by his absence, Fangio preferring the company of ‘Beba’, his constant female companion in Europe, and a few close friends at the more modest Colombia Hotel. The man with the most to shout about was modest and softly spoken. He also had much to think about.
Photography courtesy of LAT Images