Monza 1969 - Stewart takes crown in style 11 Sep 2003
Jackie Stewart arrived at the 1969 Italian Grand Prix knowing that a win would bring him his first world championship... with three races remaining of the season.
The race would become one of those Monza classics - a gaggle of cars all in contention for the lead, slipstreaming along the Italian circuit's fabled tarmac, lap after lap. Jochen Rindt had taken pole in his Lotus, with Denny Hulme joining him up front in the McLaren. Championship hopeful Stewart had put his Matra in third alongside Piers Courage's Brabham.
Ferrari had a poor showing at their home race. The new 312B had not made it to the race due to problems it encountered in testing, and the team only had one of its old cars ready. Tino Brambilla was promptly ousted from his steed to make way for Pedro Rodriguez who wrestled the 312 to sixth place on the grid.
When the race got underway an incredible battle unravelled at the front. An eight-way fight for the lead erupted between Rindt, Hulme, Stewart, Courage, McLaren, Beltoise, Siffert and a storming Graham Hill, who had driven brilliantly to make up for a lack-lustre qualifying that had left him in ninth. As the laps wore on the lead changed hands as the eight cars slipstreamed each other, jostling for position, biding their time and then jinking out on Monza's long straights. Despite the lack of Ferrari might, the Italian fans were enthralled.
Hulme and Siffert eventually fell away from the pack as they encountered mechanical gremlins, and Courage picked up a fuel problem soon after.
With five laps remaining, five cars were still nose-to-tail and battling for the lead. Suddenly, Graham Hill's driveshaft snapped and the remaining four drivers really started to put the hammer down. On the final lap Rindt blasted past Stewart and into the lead, but Jackie was caught in his slipstream and soon retook his lead. Coming into the final corner, the Parabolica, Beltoise out-braked the other three drivers and slid through into the lead. But he was carrying way too much speed into the tricky corner and as Rindt and Stewart got back on the power, they emerged onto the start-finish straight side by side.
Jackie Stewart took the chequered flag just ahead of Rindt, and with it he took his first of three Formula One world championships. The top four drivers were covered by a mere 0.19 seconds. A truly classic race - even by Monza's high standards.