Charles Leclerc's victory at the 2019 Italian Grand Prix at Monza brought to an end a lengthy dry spell for the Scuderia at home, having last triumphed in front of the native Tifosi with Fernando Alonso in 2010.
Ferrari’s record on home soil has always been patchy. Of the 70 Italian GPs since 1950, the reds have won 19 times. No prizes for guessing who is responsible for the most. Michael Schumacher won there five times (1996, ’98, 2000, ’03 and ’06) and all were memorable – Ferrari winning at home for the tifosi always is.
With that in mind, we thought it a good time to look back on some of Ferrari's greatest home wins.
OK, so perhaps he wouldn’t be too inspired by our first example… But Monza 1961 is too important in Ferrari lore to be swept under the carpet.
Wolfgang ‘Taffy’ von Trips was Ferrari’s new darling in 1961, in the dramatic 156 ‘Sharknose’. But the man who would have pre-dated Schumacher as F1’s first German champion by nearly 40 years died at Monza, in a collision with Jim Clark’s Lotus that also horrifically claimed the lives of 15 spectators: by far, the F1 world championship’s greatest tragedy.
Unimaginably by today’s standards, the race continued… with team-mate Phil Hill winning for a second consecutive year. The American became world champion as a consequence, but this most sensitive of racing drivers had nothing to celebrate in the terrible circumstances.
2 1964: All hail Il Grande John!
Three years later, John Surtees pushed himself right into F1 title contention with a famous win for Ferrari. Already a multiple Monza winner on two wheels, Surtees had long been adopted as one of Italy’s own.
In cars, he became accustomed to classic Monza slipstreamers, but on this occasion he and Brabham’s Dan Gurney broke away from the pack. When Gurney slowed, Surtees was left to win by more than a minute and catapult himself into a three-way title battle with Jim Clark and Graham Hill – one from which he’d famously prevail in Mexico City six weeks later.
To not only win at Monza in a Ferrari, but also clinch the world championship… now that is the stuff of true tifosi delirium.
In 1979, Jody Scheckter’s decade of F1 graft paid off when he found himself in Mauro Forghieri’s still potent 312 T4. At Monza, Renault’s powerful turbos were on the front row, but typically wilted under flat-out stress. Not for the first time that year, Scheckter’s team-mate and friend Gilles Villeneuve could well have been the man to capitalise, but again it didn’t work out that way. The mercurial French-Canadian reasoned his time would come. Instead, he dutifully shadowed Scheckter to the South African’s defining moment.
Little could we know that Villeneuve would never win at Monza. Three years later he was gone.
4 1988: Pre-destined for Enzo
Only Ferrari, only at Monza. There is something other-worldly about Gerhard Berger and Michele Alboreto’s one-two in 1988.
The season is forever remembered for the dominance of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost in the McLaren MP4/4, which won 15 of the season’s 16 races. The one that got away, when Senna tripped over Jean-Louis Schlesser’s Williams, fell fortuitously into Ferrari’s grasp – but for those who are so inclined, it was as if a higher force was at work.
Less than a month earlier, Enzo Ferrari has passed at the age of 90. Nothing in Maranello or in F1 would ever be quite the same again. And here, in a season dominated by Dayglo and white, at the first Italian GP without him, his beloved red cars prevailed.
What did it mean? Nothing in terms of the world championship. But that was missing the point. It meant everything.
Any one of Michael Schumacher’s five wins could be picked out for this list. But in terms of significance, the 2000 victory is hard to beat.
It was now more than 20 years since Scheckter’s Ferrari title, the drought had become painful for the parched tifosi – and in Schumacher’s fifth season at the team, they were becoming impatient.
As it is for Vettel this week, victory at Monza was imperative – and Schumacher delivered, beating Mika Häkkinen and closing to within two points in their epic title battle. In Italy, the momentum had swung back in his favour and destiny was calling.
But typically of this place, the glory was tinged in tragedy. A marshal lost his life, struck by a flying wheel from Jarno Trulli’s Jordan. Then there was the press conference, when Schumacher broke down in tears as it was pointed out he’d equalled Senna’s win record of 41. What was the truth behind his emotion that day? We’ll never know.