F1 On This Day: September 5th

5th September is the day on which the closest ever F1 finish was recorded in 1971 and the day Stirling Moss led a World Championship race for the first time in 1954. The 2021 Dutch Grand Prix will be the third F1 race held on 5th September.

5th September Races in Stats:

  • The 2021 Dutch Grand Prix will be the first F1 race held on 5th September to not take place in Italy. Both the 1954 and 1971 Italian Grands Prix were held at Monza.
  • The winning margins could not be more different at the two previous races on this day: Juan Manuel Fangio won by over a lap in 1954, while Peter Gethin won by 0.01 second in 1971 – the smallest ever F1 win margin!
  • The Drivers’ Championship had already been decided at both previous races held on this day.
  • Both of the previous 5th September races had eleven cars still running at the Grand Prix’s conclusion.
  • Ferrari are the only team to record multiple podium finishes on this day. Their cars finished second and third in the 1954 Italian Grand Prix.
  • Of the six podium finishers on this day, Juan Manuel Fangio’s win from pole in 1954 is the only one to come from the top three on the grid. All of the other five podium spots were taken by cars starting outside of the top four.

1954 Italian Grand Prix

Juan Manuel Fangio was victorious at Monza on this day in 1954 at the Italian Grand Prix. Fangio had already won the Drivers’ Championship at the previous round in Switzerland. This was the first race in which Stirling Moss led a lap – and he very nearly won, until he needed to top up on oil, dropping him behind Fangio twelve laps from the end. Moss’s engine packed in on the following lap, and he ended up pushing his car over the line to tenth place, nine laps down on Fangio.

The other two podium positions were taken by Ferrari cars. Mike Hawthorn took second place, while Umberto Maglioli and José Froilán González shared a drive for third place. It was the first time that Maglioli scored points, doing so on his third World Championship appearance. For González, this was the final time that he would set the Fastest Lap of a Grand Prix.

1971 Italian Grand Prix

The closest finish in Formula 1 history was recorded on this day fifty years ago. Peter Gethin recorded his only win – and only podium finish – at Monza, winning with a margin of just 0.01 second ahead of Ronnie Peterson. Francois Cevert, in third, was only 0.08 seconds further back, with the top five separated by just six tenths. Howden Ganley, who finished fifth, recorded the first points of his career. Gethin won at an average speed of just over 150mph, which remained the record for the fastest average speed at which a Grand Prix has been won until the 2003 Italian Grand Prix. It was the last time an F1 race was held on this layout of the Monza circuit. Eight different drivers led a lap of the race – the most in World Championship history.

While this is classed as the closest finish in F1 history, the timing system only went to two decimal places. The 2002 United States Grand Prix (0.011 seconds) and the 1986 Spanish Grand Prix (0.014 seconds) had similarly small win margins.

Emerson Fittipaldi made history in this race by racing in the Lotus 56B – the final appearance for a four-wheel drive car, and a gas-turbine powered car. Meanwhile, Tyrrell secured the Constructors’ Championship as a result of the race. It was the only time that Tyrrell would be victorious in the teams’ championship.

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