Video: Stunning 60FPS footage of the first F1 race on Monza's banking

02nd April 2024
Ben Miles

The 1955 Italian Grand Prix was a mixture of firsts and lasts. It was the first time that the new banking was used for F1 at Monza, it was the last time that the original Mercedes F1 team raced.

The 1955 season was truncated. After the Le Mans disaster the French, German, Swiss and Spanish Grands Prix were all cancelled. In fact, post Le Mans, only the British and Italian F1 races took place. So after this race in September, the season was done.

Mercedes, which built the car that sliced through the Le Mans grandstands on that fateful day, was also ready to pull out. It completed the 1955 season, winning the championship with Fangio, and then left motorsport, not to return for deacades. Also about to leave the sport was its first ever world champion, Nino Farina, who qualified, but never started the race.

Monza had had some form of banking available for most of its history. But the high concrete banking that we know today was only constructed in 1954. For the 1955 race F1 used a layout that combined both the traditional circuit and the oval – which had been constructed so that both could be used together. The way that it was built and worked meant that cars could find themselves running side-by-side down the start finish straight, while on completely different laps.

This footage is taken from a Pathé reel filmed at the time, but has been upscaled to 60FPS for our delicate modern sensibilities. There are many striking moments to take in. Firstly the sight if the amazing streamlined Mercedes W196, with its wheels closed in, which only appeared in four grands prix. Then there’s the way the cars move around the high banks, taking different lines, high to low and some close up shots from the pits. 

But I think my favourite moment is around one minute ten seconds in, when we can see Alfred Neubauer, the long-standing head of Mercedes racing, standing trackside watching his cars race for the final time.

It doesn’t really matter to the video, but in case you wondered, Fangio won, finishing just 0.7 seconds clear of team-mate Piero Taruffi. If you recognise that name, it’s because Patrick Dempsey played him in the Ferrari film this year.

Mercedes would not be involved in an F1 win again until David Coulthard took victory in a Merc-engined McLaren at the Australian Grand Prix in 1997. Mercedes-AMG is certainly hoping that its current barren spell doesn’t stretch to 42 years…

Welcome to Goodwood Elevenses, a helping of motoring-related amusement to help break up your day. Watch the last video: Chaotic racing in an Austin A35 at Goodwood

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Video: Stunning 60FPS footage of the first F1 race on Monza's banking

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