Italian GP 1968

Italian GP, 1968

There was a five-week gap in the World Championship calendar after the German GP and after a season of rainfall and tragedy the F1 circus was able to take a break. The Oulton Park Gold Cup attracted some of the big names and victory went to Jackie Stewart, who had won a dominant victory the Nurburgring before the summer break.

The entry was the biggest of the season with American driver Mario Andretti entered in a third Lotus and his USAC rival Bobby Unser replacing Richard Attwood in the BRM team. Ken Tyrrell's Matra International has expanded to run two cars the second being driven by Johnny Servoz-Gavin. Ferrari ran a third car for rising British star Derek Bell while Honda fielded a second RA301 for David Hobbs. Cooper had been planning to run three cars but Robin Widdows was out of action after an accident and so the team ran only Vic Elford and Lucien Bianchi.

Early qualifying saw Andretti and Unser setting fast times as both wanted to fly back to the United States to race in the Hoosier 100 in Indianapolis the following day. They then intended to fly back across the Atlantic and race in the Grand Prix. The organizers announced that if the two drivers did fly back to the United States and race there they would be banned from competing in the Italian race under a rule which forbade drivers to compete in an other event within 24 hours of the start of the Grand Prix. They flew off back to the US and did not return.

Qualifying resulted in John Surtees taking pole his Honda with Bruce McLaren (McLaren) and Chris Amon (Ferrari) alongside him. The second row was shared by Jacky Ickx's Ferrari and Graham Hill's Lotus while Jackie Stewart shared the third row with Denny Hulme (McLaren) and Bell's Ferrari.

For the first time in months the race took place in sunny conditions with Surtees taking the lead at the start. McLaren was ahead by the time the cars returned at the end of the first lap. McLaren stayed ahead until lap seven when Surtees slipstreamed into the lead. The following lap McLaren was ahead again while Amon crashed and Surtees also hit the wall trying to avoid the Ferrari. This put Siffert into second place with Stewart third. Stewart then moved to second and a slipstreaming battle developed for the lead between McLaren, Stewart, Siffert and Hulme. Hill disappeared when a wheel fell off his Lotus.

McLaren dropped out when he had to pit for more oil on lap 35. Stewart was the next to disappear with engine failure on lap 43 and when Siffert went out with a rear suspension failure of lap 59, Hulme was left to win. There had been a lively battle behind the leaders between Servoz-Gavin, Ickx and Rindt. Ickx had emerged ahead but in the closing laps had to stop for more fuel and so dropped to third behind Servoz-Gavin, Rindt having gone out with an engine failure.

Denny Hulme McLaren-Cosworth M7A 68 1h40m14.800s  
Johnny Servoz-Gavin Matra-Cosworth MS10 68 1h41m43.200s  13 
Jacky Ickx Ferrari 312 68 1h41m43.400s  
27 Piers Courage BRM P126 67  17 
Jean-Pierre Beltoise Matra MS11 66  18 
Jo Bonnier McLaren-BRM M5A 64  19 
20 Jo Siffert Lotus-Cosworth 49B 58 Suspension 
10 Jack Brabham Brabham-Repco BT26 56 Engine 16 
15 David Hobbs Honda RA301 42 Engine 14 
Jackie Stewart Matra-Cosworth MS10 42 Engine 
19 Jackie Oliver Lotus-Cosworth 49B 38 Transmission 11 
Bruce McLaren McLaren-Cosworth M7A 34 Mechanical 
11 Jochen Rindt Brabham-Repco BT26 33 Engine 10 
26 Pedro Rodriguez BRM P138 22 Mechanical 15 
21 Dan Gurney Eagle-Weslake T1G 19 Overheating 12 
16 Graham Hill Lotus-Cosworth 49B 10 Accident 
14 John Surtees Honda RA301 Accident 
Chris Amon Ferrari 312 Accident 
Derek Bell Ferrari 312 Mechanical 
23 Vic Elford Cooper-BRM T86B Brakes/ Accident 20 
exc 18 Mario Andretti Lotus-Cosworth 49B  Raced In Usa Within 24 Hours 21 
exc 25 Bobby Unser BRM P126  Raced In Usa Within 24 Hours 22 
nq 28 Frank Gardner BRM P261   23 
nq 12 Silvio Moser Brabham-Repco BT20   24