The 1988 Italian Grand Prix is best remembered for Ferrari’s sensational one-two finish on home soil, with Gerhard Berger leading home his team-mate Michele Alboreto.
The Maranello-based outfit didn’t expect to win the event heading to Monza and it was an emotional weekend, as it was the first Italian Grand Prix since the death of the team’s founder Enzo Ferrari.
Berger and Alboreto lined up third and fourth on the grid for the race, behind the two dominant McLaren MP4/4s of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost. The two front row starters swapped positions at the start but Prost quickly dropped back with a misfiring engine.
The Frenchman remained in second place and turned his boost up to full after the first lap to try and chase down his team-mate. By lap 30 he has moved to within two seconds of Senna but his engine problem then worsened.
In the space of just a few laps he had dropped to fourth place and eventually retired at the end of lap 34. It proved to be McLaren’s only engine-related DNF of the 1988 season.
After initially dropping back from his team-mate mid-way through the race to cool his gearbox oil, Alboreto closed in on Berger in the final phase of the race. Both Ferraris started to cut the gap to Senna, who later admitted that he was simply cruising to the chequered flag.
However, with two laps to go the race was turned on its head. Senna attempted to lap the Williams of Jean-Louis Schlesser – who replaced the ill Nigel Mansell – with two tours of Monza remaining at the Rettifilo chicane, but they made contact.
The dramatic incident put Senna out of the race and gifted Berger the victory. The Austrian took the chequered flag just five tenths ahead of Alboreto to take a hugely popular home win for Ferrari in the first Italian Grand Prix since the death of the team’s founder.
It was also at the time Ferrari’s 10th Italian Grand Prix win and its first since 1979. Arrows driver Eddie Cheever finished some way behind Alboreto in third, with Derek Warwick, Ivan Capelli and Thierry Boutson completing the top six.
As well as being Ferrari’s only win of 1988, it was also the only race that McLaren and the mighty MP4/4 didn’t win, costing the team what could have been a clean sweep.