Pic of the Week: The closest finish in F1 history

With neither Lewis Hamilton nor Sebastian Vettel looking like blinking first, the most exciting inter-team title race in years may well end up going down to the wire. But despite the stage for this week's installment being one of F1's most historic, it will have to be quite a race to match the one from which our Pic of the Week was taken.

By the time the 1971 Italian Grand Prix arrived on September 5th, Jackie Stewart had already been crowned that season's champion. But this was Monza and, far from being a lame duck of a race, events would conspire to make it one of the most thrilling ever run.

By the 18th lap Stewart, Jacky Ickx and local 'tifosi' favourite Clay Regazzoni had all been forced to retire, making for a more evenly matched field. The speed of the circuit meant that in the ensuing laps first place was traded back and forth between multiple drivers. At a pre-chicane Monza slipstreaming was the name of the game, and all of them knew that leading with just a few corners to go would likely mean defeat. With no driver wanting to lead the pack, and no one able to pull away, multiple cars remained in contention as the chequered flag approached.

The stalemate remained until, going into the Parabolica on the final lap, Peter Gethin made his move. Diving up the inside, he exited the corner neck and neck with Ronnie Peterson's March and the Tyrell of Francois Cevert as they sprinted for the line. He got there first, winning the race by just 0.01 seconds from Peterson, with the top four cars separated by 0.18 seconds in total. Aside from being the closest finish the sport has ever seen, the result would also be the highlight of Gethin's career. He left Formula One in 1974 with a total of 30 starts, 11 points and, by one-hundredth of a second, one win.

Traditional (4:3)
Computer widescreen (16:10)
TV widescreen (16:9)
Portrait (mobile)


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Comments (8) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Turbobanana 01 Sep 2017

    Lovely as the pic is, would it not be better if it reflected the topic of the article a bit more?

    I can't search for it now but I know there is one of the first four drivers crossing the line, just feet apart, that is every bit as compelling as the one of Ronnie Petersen all crossed up.

  • ralphrj 01 Sep 2017

    Edited by ralphrj on Friday 1st September 15:43

  • CABC 01 Sep 2017

    plenty on youtube
    interesting back story

  • FourWheelDrift 01 Sep 2017

    The same race where Emerson Fittipaldi took the Pratt & Whitney gas turbine powered Lotus 56 to an 8th place finish and it's only classified race finish in 3 attempts in 1971. Reine Wisell was not classfied at Silverstone and Dave Walker retired at Zandvoort.

  • Turbobanana 01 Sep 2017

    ralphrj said:

    Edited by ralphrj on Friday 1st September 15:43
    Cheers ralphrj - although now I see it, maybe it wasn't as good as I remember it.

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