Motor SportJuly 1933
THE FRENCH GRAND PRIX.
MAGNIFICENT VICTORY OF VETERAN CAMPARI, DRIVING A MASERATI, AFTER A KEEN DUEL WITH PHILIPPE ETANCELIN (ALFA ROMEO).
G, E. T. EYSTON (ALFA ROMEO) GAINS WELL DESERVED THIRD PLACE.
OFFICIAL BUGATTI TEAM NON-STARTERS.
DRIVING an 8 cylinder Maserati of 2,994 c.c. capacity, the veteran Italian racing-driver Guiseppe Campari won the Grand Prix de l'A.C.F. on the Montlhery road-and-track circuit on June 11th. The result of the race is a great achievement on the part of Campari, who has lately been regarded by many as being past his prime, and places him among the ranks of those drivers who have won the Blue Riband of Motor Racing on two occasions, namely Nazarro, Lautenschlager, Boillot, Benoist and Williams. Campari's previous win was at Lyon in 1924, when he drove an Alfa Romeo. Equally is there reason to congratulate the firm of Maserati, who now have their name inscribed on the list of French Grand Prix winners for the first time.
Facts About the Race.
Organised by the A.C.F. on June 11th.
Length of Montlhery road circuit 12 km. 500.
Length of race : 40 laps, 500 kms.
Record lap : 1931 Fagioli (Maserati),
5m. 29s., or 136 km. 778.
The race lost some of its interest through the withdrawal of the official Bugatti team. Apparently the long-awaited new 2,800 c.c. model was being prepared for the race and was to have been driven by Varzi. The car was only completed a few days before the race, and preliminary trials showed several details to be altered. By this time it was too late to bring the car to concert pitch, and the car was announced as a non-starter. The entries of Williams and Divo, the other members of the team, were cancelled because their Monaco cars had not been overhauled since the Monaco race—a fact no doubt due to the amount of time devoted at Molsheim recently to the new Bugatti rail-car.
Practicing was carried on for four days before the race, and produced some record-shattering times. On the first day Chiron (Alfa Romeo) made the best time, averaging 136.695 k.p.h. for the 12½ kilometres, being only 1/5th of a second slower than Fagioli's record with the Maserati in 1931. Chiron seemed to be taking the race very seriously, and covered 7 or 8 laps. By hand-timing his speed off the banking and past the grandstands was 139 m.p.h. Others to turn out were Lehoux (Bugatti), Czaikowski (Bugatti 4.9), Moll (on a touring Alfa) and Earl Howe (Bugatti). On the second day Sommer, G. B. T. Eyston and Bussienne joined the fray, but no record times were announced, Chiron making the fastest lap at 136.281 k.p.h. Eyston's speed was 129.236 k.p.h. and Earl Howe's 128.644 k.p.h.
On the third day a sensation was caused when Chiron smashed Fagioli's record by lapping in 5m. 27 2/3s., or 137.446 k.p.h. Then Etancelin also bettered the previous record with a speed of 137.195, while good times were also made by Campari (Maserati), 136.116, and Zehender (Maserati) 134.248 k.p.h. On the last day Chiron did not go out, but Etancelin improved his speed to 137.530 k.p.h. and Sommer to 136.363 k.p.h. The Ferrari team had only just arrived, and Nuvolari, Borzacchini and Taruffi, all on Alfa Romeos, immediately got to work. Nuvolari straightway upset all prognostics of a win for Chiron by covering a standing lap at 135.460 k.p.h.
and then without any slow laps to get used to the course covered the succeeding circuits at 139.578, 140.801, 140.889 and 141.242 k.p.h.!
Then the rumour got round that it was doubtful whether the Ferrari team would actually start, and it was not until Nuvolari actually came in from his practicing that it was definitely established that the stable would really start on the next day. Such are the trials of Grand Prix organisers!
Sunday, June 11th, dawned grey and foreboding, heavy clouds giving a threat of the rain that was to fall later in the day. In spite of this a stream of cars began to approach Montlhery so early as 9 o'clock, and the crowd grew more dense as the starting hour approached. The inevitable traffic block took place before the race, with the result that many spectators were late in arriving. The time passed quickly for spectatdrs as several competitors made last minute practice laps. Eventually the cars were drawn up in alternate lines of three and two, as follows: Lord Howe (Bugatti), Felix (Alfa Romeo) and Zanelli (Alfa Romeo); Villars (Alfa Romeo) and Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo); Zehender (Maserati), Taruffi (Alfa Romeo) and Eyston (Alfa Romeo); Czaikowski (Bugatti), Bussienne (Bugatti) and Etancelin (Alfa Romeo); de Waldthausen (Alfa Romeo), Campari (Maserati) and Gaupillat (Bugatti); Chiron (Alfa Romeo), Lehoux (Bugatti) and Moll (Alfa Romeo); Wimille (Alfa Romeo) and Sommer (Alfa Romeo). Of the nonstarters, Borzacchini had handed over his Alfa to Nuvolari for the latter had broken the drive of his supercharger in practice; Falchetto's Bugatti had not recovered from its propellor shaft trouble at Nimes; and Zehender was driving the single seater Maserati instead of Fagioli.
1906. Szisz (Renault), at Sarthe.
1907. Nazarro (Fiat) at Dieppe.
1908. Lautenschlager (Mercedes) at Dieppe.
1912. Boillot (Peugeot) at Dieppe.
1913. Boillot (Peugeot) at Picardie.
1914. Lautenschlager (Mercedes) at Lyon.
1921. Murphy (Duesenberg) at Le Mans.
1922. Nazarro (Fiat) at Strasbourg.
1933, Segrave (Sunbeam) at Tours.
1924. Campari (Alfa Romeo) at Lyon.
1925. Benoist (Delage) at (Montlhery).
1926. Goux (Bugatti) at Miramas.
1927. Benoist (Delage) at Montlhery.
1928. Williams (Bugatti) at Comminges.
1929. Williams (Bugatti) at Le Mans.
1930. Etancelin (Bugatti) at Pau.
1931. Chiron-Varzi (Bngatti) at Montlhery.
1932. Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo) at Rheims.
Engines were started up, and M. Perouse, president of the sporting commission of the A.C.F. stepped forward. The flag was dropped, and the pack of 19 cars leapt forward, Earl Howe being slightly ahead of the rest of the field as they came past the stands. Minutes passed, full of speculation, and then Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo) appeared, followed 8 seconds later by his old team mate Campari (Maserati), who was closely
pursued by Taruffi (Alfa Romeo), Zehender (Maserati), Chiron (Alfa Romeo), Etancelin (Alfa Romeo), Eyston (Alfa Romeo), Lehoux (Bugatti), Felix (Alfa Romeo), Czaikowski (Bugatti), Moll (Alfa Romeo), de Waldthausen (Alfa Romeo), Sommer (Alfa Romeo), Howe (Bugatti), Zanelli (Alfa Romeo), Wimille (Alfa Romeo), Bussienne (Bugatti) and Villars (Alfa Romeo).
Mechanical trouble soon began to make itself felt. Earl Howe pulled in and changed plugs, getting away in 2 minutes, and Gaupillat (Bugatti) had to retire at the end of the first lap. Nuvolari, Campari and Taruffi were still first second and third at the end of lap 2, but Chiron and Etancelin were closing up, both having passed Zehender. The next step was to pass Taruffi, but the Italian had other ideas on the subject and declined to let Chiron and Etancelin by. The latter both did their best to attract the attention of marshals at the tribunes, without effect, but on the next lap they both succeeded in getting ahead of the Italian, who was consequently in very bad favour with the crowd.
Another retirement was announced, namely, Wimille (Alfa Romeo). Nuvolari continued to lead Campari, but Chiron was passed by Etancelin and took third place. This order was not to remain for long, however, for a sensation was caused when Nuvolari came in to change his tyres after covering six laps, a procedure which he accomplished in 2 mins. 7 secs. Almost at the same time Chiron stopped at his pit to diagnose an unpleasant noise in the transmission of his Alfa Romeo. The popular French ace covered another lap, but then announced his retirement owing to back-axle trouble. Then another vital retirement was broadcast, that of the favourite for the race, Nuvolari, whose Alfa Romeo was a victim of the same trouble as Chiron's. Finally, to complete the trio of retirements, the Baron de Waldthausen withdrew his Alfa Romeo.
Meanwhile the burly Campari, almost overflowing from the cockpit of his Maserati, continued to hold his lead comfortably. There was a real dog-fight going on for second place. Taruffi, smarting under the disapproval of the crowd, had passed Etancelin, who is very popular with the French enthusiasts, and these two were fighting every inch of the course. At the end of the 8th lap, after 100 kilometres had been covered, the order was:
Etancelin (Alfa Romeo) closely followed by Taruffi on another Alfa. For many laps these two had a great scrap.
1. Campari (Maserati) 43m. 59s., 136.415 k.p.h.
2. Tarufil (Alfa Romeo) 44m. 34s.
3. Etancelin (Alfa Romeo) 44m. 34s.
4. Zehender (Maserati) 44m. 52s.
5. Moll (Alfa Romeo) 45m. 30s.
6. Czaikowski (Bugatti) 45m. 41s.
7. Sommer (Alfa Romeo) 45m. 46s.
8. Eyston (Alfa Romeo) 46m. 3s.
9. Zanelli (Alfa Romeo) 46m. 40s.
10. Felix (Alfa Romeo) 46m. 46s.
11. Earl Howe (Bugatti) 49m. 18s.
12. Villars (Alfa Romeo) 58m. 47s.
Three more retirements! Bussienne (Bugatti) on the 6th lap, Count Czaikowski (Bugatti) with gear box trouble and then, by an unlucky accident, the English
driver Earl Howe. It appears that Lord Howe was about to pass another competitor when a stone was thrown up in his face. He was wearing a visor, without goggles, and the stone struck his eyeball, causing severe haemorrhage. Lord Howe was anxious to continue, although suffering acute pain, but the doctors advised him to retire which he reluctantly did.
In spite of these many retirements the race had lost none of its excitement, and at this stage Campari had a lead of about 40 seconds over Taruffi and Etancelin, who carried on their battle wheel-to-wheel. Then came an alteration, caused by the stoppage of Campari for a tyre change. The Maseratis were both very unstable, snaking about in a terrifying manner as they came off the banking and past the stands. This erratic course naturally proved very heavy on the tyres—-hence Campari's early stop. Taruffi did not hold the lead for long, for with a great effort Etancelin pushed his Alfa Romeo to the fore on the 14th lap.
The time for refuelling was approaching, and Etancelin was the first of the two leaders to come in. He took 1 min. 52 secs. to fill-up and change his rear wheels, and this delay cost him the lead. As Etancelin slowed to come into his pit Taruffi swept by, so that at the end of 16 laps or 200 kilometres the order was:
1. Taruffi (Alfa Romeo) 1h. 28m. 9s., 136.131 k.p.h.
Earl Howe was unfortunately forced to retire through an injury to his eye.
2. Etancelin (Alfa Romeo) 1h. 28m. 10s.
3. Campari (Maserati) 1h. 28m. 40s.
4. Zehender (Maserati) 1h. 29m. 42s.
5. Moll (Alfa Romeo) 1h. 29m. 56s.
6. Sommer (Alfa Romeo) 1h. 29m. 59s.
7. Eyston (Alfa Romeo) 1h. 31m. 41s.
8. Zanelli (Alfa Romeo) 1h. 32m. 31s.
9. Felix (Alfa Romeo) 1h. 32m. 48s.
10. Villars (Alfa Romeo) 1h. 48m. 35.
By the time Etancelin got going again he had dropped to 5th place. Campari was pressing Taruffi and gaining on the Alfa every lap. Moll, the brilliant young Algerian, had crept up into 3rd position, but Sommer was right on his heels. This advance was caused by Zehender stopping to refuel and change tyres, an operation accomplished in 1 min. 57 secs. Pit stops
for refuelling were frequent now, and caused a constant shifting of positions. Moll stopped for 2 minutes, Sommer for 2 mins. 40 secs., while Zanelli pulled in for 25 secs. for a quick investigation. Pierre Felix retired.
Zehender's Maserati began to crack under the strain, and he came into the pits for 5 mins. 23 secs. while much work was done on the engine. At last Taruffi was caught and passed by Campari, and soon afterwards the Ferrari driver came in to refuel. Then there was a stir when it was known that Nuvolari was going to take over from Taruffi, and once more the wiry little Italian was in the heat of the fray. Two more retirements were announced, namely Zanelli (Alfa Romeo) and Zehender (Maserati).
At 300 kilometres, then, or 24 laps, the order was:
1. Campari (Maserati) 2h. 12m. 11s., 136.174 k.p.h.
2. Etancelin (Alfa Romeo) 2h. 13m. 59s.
3. Moll (Alfa Romeo) 2h. 16m. 31s.
4. Taruffi-Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo) 2h, 16m. 50s.
5. Eyston (Alfa Romeo) 2h. 19m. 34s.
6. Sommer (Alfa Romeo) 2h. 41m, 22s.
7. Villars (Alfa Romeo) 2h. 43m. 36s.
It will be seen that the Bugatti chances of success had long since disappeared, and the absence of official Bugattis was bemoaned by the French crowd. The issue now lay entirely between Italian cars represented by the solitary, albeit dangerous, Maserati, in the hands of Campari, and six Alfa Romeos. In the absence of French cars the crowd pinned their faith to Etancelin, the popular driver from Rouen, while the Algerian Guy Moll also received a share of public favour.
A particularly meritorious performance was that of G. E. T. Eyston (Alfa Romeo), who finished third.
From the point of view of regularity arising from speed, coolness and nice judgment, the performance of George Eyston was arousing much favourable comment. Eyston is very popular with the French sporting crowd by reason of his innumerable record attempts at Montlhery and his wonderful run of 130 miles in one hour with the Panhard. He is known as a "recordman."
Still more changes took place when Moll, who was lying third to Campari and Etancelin, stopped to refuel. He was very slow in carrying this out, and 3 mins. 25 secs. had elapsed before he got going again. This let Nuvolari by, but the Italian champion was doomed to have bad luck and had to retire almost immediately with mechanical trouble. Nuvolari's retirement allowed Eyston to take third place, a fact which gave rise to much rejoicing among the few English spectators in the crowd.
The duel between Campari and Etancelin was now the great feature of the race, and kept everyone on tip-toe with excitement. Campari still held a comfortable lead of 2 minutes over his rival, but his tyres were beginning to show signs of wear once more and a stop would probably have lost him the lead. This is what actually happened, and when he got going again Etancelin held a lead of 31 seconds, The Alfa Romeo was suffering from gear box trouble, however, causing Etancelin some trouble on the corners. Campari gradually cut down the Frenchman's lead, and at 400 kilometres, or 32 laps, the order was:
1. Etancelin (Alfa Romeo) 2h. 58m. 8s., 134.780 k.p.h.
Mastery of man over machine is conveyed in this action photograph
of the winner, Campari (Maserati).
2. Campari (Maserati) 2h. 38m. 33s.
3. Eyston (Alfa Romeo) 3h. 5m. 30s.
4. Sommer (Alfa Romeo) 3h. 7m. 50s.
5. Moll (Alfa Romeo) 3h. 12m. 9s.
Moll's Alfa was giving a lot of trouble, and caused him several stoppages. Eyston continued to lap with the utmost regularity, keeping well ahead of Sommer. Campari, after his stop, set about catching Etancelin and did so to such purpose that on the 33rd lap he was 20 seconds behind, On the 34th only 11 seconds, and on the 35th a mere 2 seconds. Then just as he was within striking distance he had to stop to change his rear tyres. They were badly worn, and as the rain had now started to fall it was essential to have the best grip possible. Then came an incident
which was to give rise to much heated discussion after the race. Campari's Maserati proved difficult to start, so his two mechanics, assisted by a person so far unidentified, gave the car a push-start. Now according to the last paragraph of Rule 15 of the Grand Prix regulations this is not allowed. However Campari was not disqualified, and set off at a great pace in pursuit of Etancelin.
Poor Etancelin was in the difficult. position of being chased by a man with a faster car, while he himself was at the wheel of a car with a badly damaged gear box. Campari drove as one possessed, lolling in the cockpit, and masterfully controlling every movement of his unsteady Maserati by quick movements of the steering wheel in his lap. Three laps before the end he was 56 seconds behind Etancelin; a lap later he was only 24 seconds, and the two cars set out on the last lap of the race. Although Etancelin's speed was considerably reduced, Campari exerted every effort to catch him, which he did fairly easily for Etancelin had to come to a complete standstill on one corner in order to engage a gear. Finally Campari roared over the line 42 seconds ahead of the unfortunate Etancelin, who nevertheless received a tremendous ovation from the crowd.
Then came Eyston, finishing third after a well-driven race of great regularity, nursing his car mechanically so that it was in perfect condition at the end of the race. Raymond Sommer was fourth, followed by Guy Moll and then, 4 laps in the rear, Villars.
After the race it was decided by the Sporting Commission to impose a fine of 1,000 francs on Campari for his breach of the regulations.
1. G. Campari (Maserati) 2,994 c.c.), 3h. 48m. 45 2/5s., average speed 131,143 k.p.h., 81.49 m.p.h.
2. P. Etancelin (Alfa Romeo) 2,350 c.c.) 3h. 49m. 37 2/5s.
3. G. E. T. Eyston (Alfa Romeo 2,350 c.c.), one lap.
4. R. Sommer (Alfa Romeo 2,350 c.c.), one lap.
5. G. Moll (Alfa Romeo 2,350 c.c.), two laps.
6. Villars (Alfa Romeo 2,350 c.c.), six laps.