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Your classic Italian Grand Prix

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Andrew Benson | 13:54 UK time, Tuesday, 8 September 2009

The 1988 Italian Grand Prix is our selection for the latest edition of BBC Sport's series of classic Formula 1 races.

It fulfils the description in almost every way. It was a momentous event historically - it was the one race McLaren failed to win in the most successful season in their history - and it had last-minute drama when race leader Ayrton Senna was taken out by a backmarker.

We have made the full 'Grand Prix' highlights programme of the time available. You can watch it here. The shorter clips of all five of our selected races are linked just below.

The highlights will be available on satellite and cable from 1800 on Thursday 10 September until 0800 on Friday 11 September. Unfortunately, because of a lack of bandwidth, they will not be available on Freeview.

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Watch short highlights of the 1988 Italian Grand Prix
Watch short highlights of the 1990 Italian Grand Prix
Watch short highlights of the 1995 Italian Grand Prix
Watch short highlights of the 1999 Italian Grand Prix
Watch short highlights of the 2004 Italian Grand Prix

As many of the respondents on this blog pointed out, Monza provided particularly rich pickings, but it was no surprise that the 1988 race had the most supporters by far. It 'out-scored' the next most popular choice - the incident-packed 1995 event - by a ratio of almost two to one.

Some of you pointed out that, in terms of action, 1988 was not that great. And certainly, in terms of thrills and spills 1995 was more exciting. But it is no accident that, of the two, 1988 is more famous.

I go into the events surrounding all five of the choices in my blog of last week, but it is not just crashes and lead changes that make races stick in the collective memory.

As it happens, the 1988 Italian Grand Prix had a crash that led to a change of winner - leader Ayrton Senna collided with backmarker Jean-Louis Schlesser with just two laps to go, handing victory to Ferrari's Gerhard Berger, who led team-mate Michele Alboreto over the line.

But this race resonates for two reasons beyond that already exciting incident.

The first is that Senna's misfortunate stopped McLaren making a clean sweep of all 16 races that year with Senna and Alain Prost - arguably the strongest driver line-up any F1 team has ever put together, with the possible exception of Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss at Mercedes in 1955.

As it is, 15 wins out of 16 in a single season is an achievement that will probably never be beaten - even Ferrari never managed it at the height of their domination in the early years of this century. And in some ways the fact that McLaren fell short in the most agonising of circumstances only adds to their achievement.

The second reason is that Ferrari's one-two came fittingly at the team's first home race following the death of their legendary founder Enzo Ferrari, a man who has had a greater impact on motorsport than almost anyone else.

It was, then, a classic race in every sense of the word. I hope you enjoy reliving it.


  • Comment number 1.

    quick question as singapore has only had the one race what highlights package will there be to choose from?

  • Comment number 2.

    also i think you mean the 1988 Italian GP not the 1998.

  • Comment number 3.

    Watching the old races really makes you appreciate the good camera work these days!

  • Comment number 4.

    I'll check this out on iPlayer later. btw - It was good to see the "red button" F1 Forum finally got published. It's all good.

  • Comment number 5.

    Looking forward to these!

    Just as a suggestion for next year Andrew, perhaps you should bar this year's winners from being picked again as winners again next year? What I mean is for example, next year before the Italian Grand Prix offer 1988 as normal highlights, but exclude it from the vote for which race gets the extended highlights treatment. Also, whichever race gets the least votes, don't include it on next year's list. That way, we can have a regular turnover of different races being offered and different races getting the extended treatment.

    Great feature by the BBC, you've all done a wonderful job this year :-)

  • Comment number 6.

    Thanks Andrew, looks good. Can I put in suggestions for the Singapore randoms round? Given there are 4 spots..
    1979 France
    1984 Dallas
    1986 Mexico
    1991 Canada

    I'd really love to see 1984 Dallas though.. crazy track and race (not to mention the surface).

  • Comment number 7.

    I would like to second flukielukas' idea for Singapore (and Abu Dhabi), I am sure you can rustle up a good couple of handfuls of races that haven't been an option due to the GP no longer existing. Another idea would be a best of the rest, giving up the option to see the full highlights package for some of those amazing races that have lost out due their being as good if not better races also held at the respective tracks.

    I am looking forward to sitting down with my tea to watch the 1988 highlights, even if I voted for 95 ;) Keep up the good work chaps.

  • Comment number 8.

    Good idea for Singapore - races that are no longer on the calendar but how about for Abu Dhabi, a selection of the best season finales/title deciders - whichever circuit they happened to be on. I predict last year's drama "would have got the vote if we had extended highlights"!

  • Comment number 9.

    @ cordas and AndyBrook.
    Just to answer your question guys - I believe Andrew has already confirmed both that the Singapore classic GPs will feature (other than 08 Singapore) classic randoms and that Abu Dhabi will feature classic title deciders. So sit tight!
    I was just suggesting which ones they could possibly do for the "randoms" selection.

  • Comment number 10.

    You do realise that a lot of season finale/title deciders clash with the Australian/Brazillian/Japanese GPs

  • Comment number 11.

    Surely DC will be taking a fair bit of banter from EJ and Jake after his Monza '95 performance!

  • Comment number 12.

    brucey790, the warmup lap spin is embarrassing for sure(!), but I think the spin that took him out of the race was a mechanical failure.

  • Comment number 13.

    No freeview coverage? Bad times!

  • Comment number 14.

    Thanks for the clips and 1988 is a worthy 'winner'. Great Drama.

    ANDREW - Surely we can get these onto Freeview for a couple of hours? There are gaps here and there of a couple of hours this week before this years Grand Prix inbetween Muse and the Sport programming where there is nothing on either red button channel (Freeview Channel 301 and 302).
    Sorry to be a pain - just like to record them for keeps as we'll never be able to see them again and i may dig them out on the odd rainy Sunday afternoon in a few decades time.

    Other than that - loving your work. ;-)

  • Comment number 15.

    Thankyou for the highlights Andrew. A good selection of races and all with almost 10 minutes of coeverage. Well done.

    As you said, the 1988 race "fulfills the description in almost everyway", and although it was my second choice to 1995, I am pleaaed to see the race again. It is rare in Grand Prix to hear the crowd noise over the engines as you could at Monza that day. I remember similar scenes at with Senna at Interlagos in 1991 and 1993, and with Mansell at Silverstone in 1991 and 1992.

    Regarding 1995, I remember seeing how wobbly the camera on Jean Alesi's Ferrari was in the early stages of the race. I couldn't beleive it when it took Berger out of the race. Murray said "what could have happened if it had it Gerhard doesn't bear thinking about!" I think that the Massa accident in Hungary last month showed us what he meant.

    For Singapore (Classic races no longer on the Calender) I would ask you to consider Mexico 1990 and perhaps something from Estoril, maybe 1989?
    Looking forward to your selections.

  • Comment number 16.

    Thanks Andrew - i'm glad you pointed out classic GPs are not always about action from start to finish; sometimes you have to look at it in context. Although i voted 1995, 1988 was just as good a choice - it was undoubtedly one of the most emotional GP results ever (though if you detest Ferrari you probably disagree with that statement)

    I think you will have your work cut out for "Singapore" - there are countless classics from races we no longer have. I won't start listing particular races I would like to see cause i'll be here all day but I would greatly appreciate if races on the below circuits are considered:

    Mexico City

    It would be great to see classic racing again from these once-majestic racetracks (only Zandvoort and Imola remain half decent)

    There are numerous Canadian GPs that would fit the bill but personally i'd be happy to wait till next year (if the rumours are right that Montreal will be making its way back)

  • Comment number 17.

    You say there's no space to show the highlights but what about between the two practice sessions when they're a sports loop on. Don't BBC Sport control that?

  • Comment number 18.

    Yet again I vote and look forward to see if my hightlights choice wins, then the BBC say its not on the Freeview service.

    This is poor and a very "hit and miss" service. Please be consistent.

    Can't the Beeb show the Classic F1 races on the Sunday morning on freeview a la Spanish GP 09 schedule. This seemed to work beautifully.

    Sure the coverage is better that the ITV days but for next season please sort out Freeview access.

    In the closed season how about Red Button features on F1 drivers and consstructors.
    James Hunt's top 5 races, with extended highlights of the winning race.
    Lotus top five races, with extended highlights of the winning race.

  • Comment number 19.

    The 1988 footage shows how far F1 has come in the last 20 years. Did anyone notice that guy who came onto the circuit to push Senna's car after he'd spun? Don't know if he was a marshall or what, but he was only wearing a white t-shirt and trousers, one glove and smoking a fag!!!

  • Comment number 20.

    Great race choices again, and always good to see the extended highlights of a race before I was born.
    Aren't we having classic street races for Singapore? I'm sure I read that on here somewhere. Still plenty to choose from there though; Montreal, Monaco, Adelaide, Long Beach, Detroit, Phoenix and Caesars Palace maybe the old Spanish race at Montjuich park or an old French race if we're lucky???

  • Comment number 21.

    AB: " is not just crashes and lead changes that make races stick in the collective memory."

    Agreed! If you just want that, then simply watch NASCAR and turn your brain off.

    jiggyjaggy1: "Yet again I vote and look forward to see if my highlights choice wins, then the BBC say its not on the Freeview service. This is poor and a very 'hit and miss' service. Please be consistent."

    Sadly, agreed again. I hate to say it, but in one BBC forum or another, and a few carpet-biting e-mails, I've been banging on about this sometimes half-hearted approach for a while. Everything started off great, but then Auntie seemed to think that its commitment was finished about two months in, and the F1 service has been gradually eroded or messed about.

    I couldn't help noticing we lost 15mins off the Belgian GP highlights for MotoGP from Indy. I concede that some folks like what James Hunt called "two-wheeled frighteners", it was live and BBC 3 had to adjust, but what I don't get is - with all the avenues the Beeb has to broadcast - why isn't it more flexible? There's delayed transmission, there's changing channels (put the MotoGP on BBC 2, or better still, put F1 on BBC 2), there's putting the hour-long F1 highlights on later instead of an episode of "Stupid Drunken Teens get Pregnant 'n' Stuff" (BBC Three's usual output that no-one watches), there's cutting the highlights for TV, but putting the full version under 'red'. The 30mins show for the GBGP was an insult, something even ITV realised was a wrong turn when they tried it. It's not as if these sporting events come as a surprise to schedulers.

    And for flip's sake, sort out the secondary F1 coverage on Freeview!

    It's not your fault, Andrew, but it's getting frustrating. I don't see the Girl Guides Under-18's Inconsequential Cup Finals (Runners-up Play-off League) football getting beggared around...

    Oh, now look - I have to get underlay out from between my teeth again, dag nabbit...

  • Comment number 22.

    The audacity of Schumacher to run over to Hill's car to berate him after their crash in the 1995 race is staggering after the 1994 title-deciding incident in Adelaide.

    For shame, Michael !

  • Comment number 23.

    Why wasn't the 1971 race in he list we could choose from to vote on? It was certainly the closest finish in history at the time, with 5 cars within one second at the finish. Also in those pre-chicane days there was no shortage of overtaking (although I don't miss the danger aspect of those days).

    As I recall Senna was put out of the 1988 Italian GP by his own impatience. He was well in the lead & could easily have waited until after the chicane before making the pass.

  • Comment number 24.

    pick as many ferrari 1-2 highlights as possible week is it?

    no bias here at all.

  • Comment number 25.

    You what, you picked the 1988 race just because a McLaren didn't win, is everyone here a member of the tifosi?

    My days that race was rubbish, Ferrari wouldn't have even won if it wasn't for Prost and Senna failing to finish.

    What an epic fail on part of these viewers (most of whom are probably Italian)

  • Comment number 26.

    Pfft, 1995 and 1999 were better than 1988 imo

  • Comment number 27.


    I had a look back at Andrew's response for the classic Turkish GP's (where selections for Singapore and Abu Dhabi were first mooted) Quote:

    "For Singapore, we are going to pick five great races from venues that are no longer on the calendar."

    Hope that clears up any confusion

    PS I'm not a Ferrari fan but I think the choice was right.

    #24: "pick as many ferrari 1-2 highlights as possible week is it?"

    I think you'll find only 2 of the 5 races were Ferrari 1-2's.

  • Comment number 28.

    Just out interest who was commentating on the 2004 race for the BBC?

  • Comment number 29.

    Once again, like many others, I am extremely displeased by there being no freeview showing. As I write this there is NOTHING on 301, and R5L cricket on 302. If people want to listen to cricket commentary without watching it, they should have a radio. And why Classic F1 needs to be shelved so "sports news loop" and various other things on loop which have been repeated all week (Radio 1's Muse gig coverage and Radio 2 in Blackpool spring to mind) is beyond me.
    Ah, look whats up next on 301. Basketball, England v Serbia. I believe this has been shown every day this week.

    Come on BBC, we pay the licence fees, start listening to us!

    By the way, good choice but again I was disappointed not to see the 1971 race on there.

  • Comment number 30.

    I have trouble trusting any "miraculous" or "unexpected" developments or results in any F1 race. Especially in the 80s, when monitoring wasn't widespread.
    Lets see, the Ferrari team did a 1-2 in the race in Italy via a last-gasp freak accident ... hmmm.

  • Comment number 31.

    Here's my shortlist of races which should be offered for Singapore:

    1979 Dijon - Villeneuve vs Arnoux during the last 3 laps. One of the best battles in motorsport history.

    1983 Long Beach - A final outing for what Clive James calls 'All the thrills of Monaco without the close proximity of France'. John Watson repeated what he did in Detroit a year before by winning from the back. Spectacular.

    1985 Portugal - In appalling conditions Ayrton Senna takes his first F1 win.

    1990 Mexico - Mansell and Berger are locked in an epic battle for 2nd, which goes right down to the final turn...

    1993 South Africa - One of the most underrated F1 races in history. Watch Prost, Senna and Schumacher - with 14 world titles between them - absolutely slug it out for lap after lap. Then it rains at the end. Simply brilliant.

    Which would I vote for? 1979 Dijon every single time.

  • Comment number 32.

    I would also like to add my weight to those who are disappointed by the lack of Freeview coverage. I have no doubt that Andrews's hands are tied but it is very frustrating to see certain events repeated day after day with no room for Classic F1. By way of compromise would there not be room on the main BBC coverage for short highlights of the 'winning' race. Of course we can access these races on the BBC site but as others have said Freeview offers an opportunity to record the highlights for posterity.

    Does the BBC still have the recording of Grand Prix 500 shown in 1990? I have this on VHS but no means of playing it. That programme showed brief clips of several races from 1950 to 1990, including Murray Walker's choices the 1967 and 1971 Monza races, which tells me that there is, or was, materiall in the BBC archive. I am sure all of those on this forum would enjoy seeing that programme, just as the BBC repeated the 1995 Senna programme earlier this year.

  • Comment number 33.

    I always love the Classic Grand Prix selection (and not just because it means the next race is just a few days away!), and these were all awesome races. It's so great to see races from when I was about 3 monthd old! I must admit though that as a McLaren fan I found most of these videos pretty depressing viewing :s
    Here's hoping this sunday can produce a classic race for Macca at Monza!

  • Comment number 34.

    Yup I vote for more classic grand prix stuff being shown on freeview, as long as the schedule is announced here so I know its on!!!

  • Comment number 35.

    cordas, the commentators for the 2004 Italian GP were Maurice Hamilton and Eric Silverman, the commentary being extracted from the BBC Radio 5 Live coverage (the Grand Prix being shown on ITV at the time).

    This venue / circuit has to be my all time favourite. Decades of history and enthralling races, and a fabulous layout, set in the beautiful Italian parkland - a true classic. I'm looking forward to this year's race very much.

    Thankyou for the vids Andrew, keep up the good work.

  • Comment number 36.

    Er, but you were right. Taken out is exactly what happened and everyone knew it but being ferrari and all that!!!! Jean-Louis Schlesser I believe never drove in F1 before or after. Specially in for the job. Far more obvious than renault at Singapore, and although I hated McLaren for being so dominant it was so obvious and I just wished something would be done but no it was Ferrari at Monza and I dare say some gamblers were very happy.

  • Comment number 37.

    For the Japanese Grand Prix coming up could it be possible to see the 1976 race with Murray Walkers commentary when James Hunt won. This was a classic race. please may it be sourced. it does exist as ITV used clips of it during the 2007 Fuji race weekend.

  • Comment number 38.

    I've been keeping an eye out for this on the red button since Wednesday but so far have not seen anything on the Sport Multiscreen where these are usually shown. Is this a problem with my digibox or are the highlights just not being shown on the red button

  • Comment number 39.

    My apologies - I just noticed that it says from 6pm tonight - please ignore my senior moment.

  • Comment number 40.

    Races I'd like to see in the run-up to Singapore:
    Sweden 1978 - THAT fan
    Long Beach 1982 - THAT rear spoiler
    Austria 1987 - THOSE starts

    And given the current furore around Renault, perhaps we could dig out previous examples of suspected race fixing, if there are any (I don't know of any, except Belgium last year of course).

    I'd also back-up most of Incast's suggestions.

  • Comment number 41.

    Why are the classic races not on the red button?

  • Comment number 42.

    I presume because of the football...

  • Comment number 43.

    Take the radio 1 highlights off the red button as they've been on for ages. This should free up the bandwidth for the classic f1 which we've been promised (albeit 15 mins late).

    Ps leave Muse on. They're great.

  • Comment number 44.

    yey, the races are up

  • Comment number 45.

    I'm actually slightly regretting voting for 1988 for the extended highlights myself. The main reason I picked it (and indeed 1990) over 1995 was that there hadn't yet been an extended highlights programmes from either of those two years, and we'd just had a 1995 race for the Belgian GP. I enjoy seeing how the style of presentation (i.e the different grid music for instance) changes through the years.

    Now I've seen the short highlights of '95 it's left me wanting a lot more! (I see Schumi's reaction towards Hill was similar the that of how he was with DC at Spa '98!)- I really wanted both of them to fight him back!

    Still I love the "Pit Bits" section that seems to have been a regular in '87 and '88!

    If '95 is again an option for next year I'll definitely be voting for it!

  • Comment number 46.

    I have been looking at the EPG on my Freeview box and it has 'Classic Grand Prix' scheduled for Saturday morning before and after the third practice session on Freeview Channel 302 from 9.15-9.55 and 11.05-12.10. Not sure if this means it will actually be on given Andrew's comments (BBC interactive schedules are never 100% correct) but I just thought you would all like to know.

  • Comment number 47.

    Oh joy. Yet another repeat of INSIDE F1. Any chance of actually showing the Classic GP on freeview as advertised? No? Well, why bother put it on the schedules then?

  • Comment number 48.

    Very disappointed that Inside F1 appears to be a loop when Classic F1 is advertised. I was happy that Inside F1 was shown at the start - a nice build up to the classic races but I was horrified to see it REPEATED! Oh well, appararently it'll be shown tomorrow at 11.00am on Freeview.

  • Comment number 49.

    Well, a bit of pre-race curiosity was that Monza was under serious threat in 1988.

    As for the race itself, well it was Ferrari's luckiest 1-2 in history.

  • Comment number 50.

    well, I think Michael Schumacher and Mika Hakinen's Race in 1998 In Monza was my best race which is why i became F1 Fan

  • Comment number 51.

    Is it just me, or did the classic races for Italy have that filtered effect applied to the footage, so it's shown as "live", they sometimes do it when they show you the quali report during the race build up.

    Not noticed it for the other classic GP's and I hope the BBC are not going to continue with it

  • Comment number 52.

    @ Williams_Renault.

    Yes, I agree, they look like they were played in "Progressive Scan" mode as the motion of the picture is terrible for all other than 1999 and 2004. PLEASE do not continue with this as it looks AWFUL.

    For Singapore, I'd like to see 84 Dallas and 1993 South Africa.


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