John Surtees brought the 70,000 partisan crowd to its feet at Monza when he emerged victorious in a thrilling Italian Grand Prix, giving Ferrari their third successive championship win. To add to the Italians' delight, his team-mate Lorenzo Bandini finished third after a magnificent battle in the closing laps with Richie Ginther.
Surtees began on pole, but it was Bruce McLaren in the Cooper Climax who took an early lead, while Graham Hill failed to move off the line after his clutch burnt out. McLaren's lead was short lived as Surtees and Dan Gurney swept ahead of him, and at the end of the first lap, Gurney was in front, with Surtees, McLaren and Jim Clark close behind.
These four drivers took part in a fantastic high-speed tussle, weaving and dodging around each other, barely seconds between them. Behind the lead four, there was another slip-streaming group of ten cars, regularly swapping places.
After 20 laps, Surtees and Gurney were still wheel to wheel, while McLaren had dropped back slightly in third, ahead of Clark, and these four were now nearly a minute ahead of the chasing pack. Clark then limped into the pits with a blown piston and Gurney and Surtees continued to battle for the lead, never more than half a second apart.
This continued until the 65th lap when Surtees began to pull away, with Gurney's Brabham obviously in trouble. He spluttered into the pits with a failing alternator and Surtees found himself out on his own with a big lead over McLaren. He broke the lap record twice on his way to the flag and, with McLaren finishing second, it was left to Bandini and Ginther to provide the last bit of entertainment as they scrapped for third. Side by side they rushed for the line at 140 mph, with Bandini, urged on by his home crowd, just managing to nose his Ferrari in front at the last minute.
Giddy with excitement, the Italian crowd broke through the police cordon and mobbed the two Ferrari drivers, who had to be "rescued" by police. Surtees was now right in the championship hunt, just two points behind Clark and four behind Hill.