#69 1958 Belgian Grand Prix

2021-04-19 00:00

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#1958, Fulvio Conti, Translated by Nicola Carriero, Translated by Valentina De Sanctis, Simone Pietro Zazza,

#69 1958 Belgian Grand Prix

On the difficult, insidious Nürburgring circuit, traced by a capricious hand through the wooded hills of the Eifel, the 1958 1000 Kilometres race for


On the difficult, insidious Nürburgring circuit, traced by a capricious hand through the wooded hills of the Eifel, the 1958 1000 Kilometres race for cars in the sports category will be run on Sunday 31 May. This is the fourth round of the season for the World Championship for manufacturers, the ranking of which sees Ferrari in the lead with 24 points, followed by Porsche with 14. But practically the question of the top title is now settled in favour of Ferrari, which only needs either a victory or even just a good placement to make itself safe from surprises in the remaining two rounds (24 Hours of Le Mans and Tourist Trophy). It is therefore not this aspect of the Adenau race that is of the greatest interest. It is rather the new episode in the struggle between Italian and English cars, or rather between Italian and English technique, that gives the 1000 Kilometres a highly competitive level. For a couple of years now, the specialised constructors from across the Channel have been methodically attacking the supremacy of Italian cars, and with alarming results. The only Italian maker that is still coping with the heaviest situation - Ferrari - has to defend itself on two fronts: in Formula 1, it has lost some ground - although it is by no means the case to speak of surrender; the situation is better in the sportscar category, where the three previous rounds valid for the world title have been as many triumphs for the Modenese cars. At the Nürburgring, against the four official Ferraris of the pairs Musso-Munaron, Collins-Hawthorn, Gendebien-Hill and Trips-Seidel, Jaguar and Aston Martin sent out cars and drivers in full force. Particularly fearsome appears to be the Aston Martin, which this year seriously challenged the Italian cars at Sebring, and in the recent Targa Florio broke the new lap record, while proving to be as fast and manoeuvrable as they are rather fragile. It should also be noted that Aston Martin won last year at the Nürburgring with a record average speed with the Brooks-Cunningham crew. Less dangerous seem to be the Jaguars, whose superior speed in an absolute sense is only relatively important on a track as winding as this one. Nor should there be any surprises from the Porsches and Borgwards, German cars of excellent ability but disadvantaged by the too onerous handicap of displacement (1500 cc against the 3000-cc limit of the Italian and British cars). The confrontation - and this is also shown by the official practice times - will therefore be a duel between Ferrari and Aston Martin. 


The latter will line up three cars, driven respectively by Moss-Brabham, Brooks-Lewis-Evans and Salvadori paired with a driver who has not yet been designated by the British team's sporting director and former racer Reginald Parne. The gruelling distance over which the race will be contested (forty-four laps of the 22,810-metre circuit, equal to 1003.640 kilometres), in the experts' predictions accords a certain favour to the Italian cars, whose robustness is proverbial, and which boast tried and tested qualities of power and agility. The forecasts could only suffer a rude blow if the Aston Martins proved to have overcome their congenital lack of grip, something that is far from being ruled out. In practice on Saturday, 30 May 1958, Collins was the fastest (9'45"3), but only three tenths of a second faster than Moss (9'45"6): the balance between the two cars was therefore very evident. Next, Musso-Munaron (Ferrari) set a time of 9'45"8, Trips-Seidel (Ferrari) a time of 9'50"5, Brooks-Lewis-Evans (Aston Martin) a time of 9'52"2, and Behra-Schell (Porsche) a time of 10'03"0. On Sunday, 31 May 1958, taking advantage of the fine weather, from the early hours of the morning, tens of thousands of people began to invade the Eifel area, through which the famous Nürburgring circuit winds its way, passing numerous ups and downs. At 9:00 a.m., the starter gives the go-ahead to the cars, which are divided, according to their engine displacement, into various categories. Stirling Moss at the end of the first lap is about ten seconds ahead of Hawthorn (Ferrari), Brooks (Aston Martin), Trips (Ferrari), Salvadori (Aston Martin), Behra (Porsche) and Luigi Musso. In the following laps, Moss further increased his pace and on lap three set a new lap record for sports cars in 9'43"0 flat. After a hundred kilometres, the race was livened up again when Moss stopped to temporarily hand over the wheel to his Brabham team-mate, as the regulations stipulated. Hawthorn took advantage of this stop to take the lead for a few laps of the race. However, when Hawthorn also stopped to be replaced by Collins, everything returned to order. On lap 19, the Behra-Barth crew (whose small 1500-cc Porsche managed to squeeze in between the big cars and maintain fourth position), had to retire due to a mechanical failure. 


At mid-race, that is after twenty-two laps, the positions, by now clearly defined, saw the Moss-Brabham pair in the lead, followed by Hawthorn-Collins and Trips-Gendebien. In the second part of the race, Hawthorn suddenly launched a violent offensive, recovering about a minute against the leader of the dizzying carousel. But then, following a skid on a curve, he lost almost two minutes, compromising any chance of success for Ferrari. Two laps from the end of the race, the Aston Martin lost the car of Brooks-Evans, stopped along the circuit due to lack of petrol, while Gregory went off the track near the grandstands due to a broken leaf spring. Fortunately, the American driver escapes with minor injuries. The 1000 Kilometres of Nürburgring ended with the win of the British Moss-Brabham crew in an Aston Martin; the places of honour were taken by the Ferraris of Hawthorn-Collins and Trips-Gendebien. Munaron from Turin, protagonist of a very regular race, placed fifth together with the German Seidel. Stirling Moss, in splendid form, accomplished an admirable feat by completing about three quarters of the race alone. Starting from a flying start, the British driver distanced his most dangerous rivals by more than half a minute before the end of the third lap. But Stirling's most astonishing feat came between laps 15 and 20, when he had to make up the time lost by his team-mate Brabham who had climbed into the Aston Martin after a hundred kilometres of racing. Stirling Moss was the man of the day in motor racing circles: the English driver collected one laurel after another. On 26 April 1958, he triumphed in the Dutch Grand Prix and at the 1000 Kilometres of the Nürburgring he won, together with the young Brabham, in one of the most difficult races on the continent. Indeed, the Adenau track, with its many turns, demanded almost superhuman efforts from the drivers. Despite the massive offensive of the Ferraris, who finished from second to fifth place, the English ace pulled through. It must also be added that his task was made extremely difficult by the fact that his team-mate Brabham did not appear too up to the situation; therefore, in order not to jeopardise his success, Stirling Moss remained at the wheel of the green Aston Martin for the most part. Moss also takes the credit of setting the fastest lap of the day. After crossing the finish line at the Nürburgring, Moss managed to escape the assault of his admirers and with his young wife - the daughter of a Canadian industrialist - returned to the hotel in Adenau where he gave an interview on Monday morning:

"It was one of the most challenging races of my motor racing career. The Ferraris were very well prepared. Especially the Hawthorn-Collins crew, who finished second, gave me a lot of trouble. I would also like to pay special praise to Munaron, who with his courageous handling of the race became a true champion".


The one who cannot rest is Mike Hawthorn:

"Without that damned spin on lap 33, which lost me over two minutes, I might have caught up with Moss in the last lap. I was engaged in a furious chase and from the refuelling stalls I was signalling that I was gaining six or seven seconds on the Aston Martin every lap".


Munaron, before leaving for Turin, simply says:


"The car entrusted to me wasn’t too good, otherwise I could have done better. However, I'm satisfied with the fifth place".

Although Ferrari managed to place its four cars in the places of honour, the outcome of this 1000 Kilometre race was anything but satisfactory for the Italian colours: after losing supremacy in the field of Formula 1 cars, as the results of the Argentine, Monaco and Dutch Grands Prix demonstrated, it now seems that the Modenese manufacturer must also lose it among sports cars. Aston Martin clearly proved to be superior in terms of speed. The Ferraris, for their part, showed excellent endurance qualities: four cars started, four finished. Of the three Aston Martins, however, two were eliminated due to mechanical failures. It is to be feared, however, that Ferrari's position will become even more precarious as soon as Aston Martin has been able to eliminate the mishaps complained of in Germany. 


After the success of Moss's Aston Martin, followed by four Ferraris, the ranking for the world sports car championship by makes still sees Ferrari in the lead with 30 points, while Aston Martin is third, behind Porsche. The Italian company only needs to gain two more points to take the title. However, the race is - unfortunately - marred by a dramatic accident when it has practically come to an end. As the last cars are arriving at the finish line, the Ferrari driven by German driver Erwin Bauer is signalled to stop, but he does not notice the signal. Convinced that he could recover some positions, he accelerates and goes off the road at the Brünnchen turn, ending his race against a tree. Bauer, who was quickly rescued, was taken to hospital, where the doctors found a cranium fracture. His condition is desperate. On Sunday, June 15, 1958, the Grand Prix of Europe and Belgium is run on the very fast circuit of Spa-Francorchamps, the fifth round of the Formula 1 World Championship. The race happens at a time of absolute uncertainty regarding the superiority of one car over another: so far, the British brands have won the first three tests (Argentina, Monaco, Holland), twice with Cooper, once with Vanwall. There had been three unforeseen results, not to say disconcerting: every time the predictions had given Ferrari as a favourite, the Italian car failed to tick it, for one reason or another. It will be therefore revealed on Sunday how things really are, and if there really will be nothing to do for the Ferrari against the Vanwall and the B.R.M. (the Coopers should be cut out of the fight, given the characteristics of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, where a certain power is needed that the English car does not own). The question is exciting and gives exceptional interest to this Grand Prix of Europe. Ferrari will be present in Belgio with Musso, Hawthorn, Collins and Gendebien, Vanwall bring Moss, Brooks and Lewis-Evans, B.R.M. entrust their cars to Behra and Schell, Cooper rely on Brabham and Salvadori, and Allison represents Lotus. Maria Teresa De Filippis, Trintignant, Gregory, Seidel, Kavanagh, Bonnier and Godia complete the line-up. There has been talking of the technical reasons for the Grand Prix of Europe: these include those relating to the events of the World Championship. 


The ranking sees Stirling Moss in the lead with 19 points, ahead of Musso with 12, Schell with 9, Trintignant with 8, Hawthorn with 7 and Behra with 6. It is easy to see that a new victory by Moss would give a categorical indication of the good right of the English driver to collect the legacy of Manuel Fangio (and in reality, it would be the official consecration of supremacy that is recognised by all). The eventual affirmation of a Ferrari driver would instead make the fight for the title in the pinnacle of motorsports more uncertain and interesting. In any case, nothing will decide the Grand Prix of Europe in this regard, as there are still seven rounds on the calendar. There is an unconfirmed rumour, according to which Moss, Hawthorn and Collins,  the strongest drivers across the Channel, made an agreement to split equally the prizes won by each of them. The accusation is serious, but it may be completely unfounded. Combinations, in motorsport, are extremely rare, fortunately. In this case, the losers would be Ferrari and Vanwall because it is obvious that the situation of each race could lead those interested to avoid the fight and thus give up the defence of their respective colours. Car drivers are extremely proud, even when they have achieved celebrity and economic safety. Stirling Moss, for example, after several years of waiting, has never made any mystery that his greatest aspiration is to become a world champion. After all, he would not even have to throw himself into such a quagmire. The European Grand Prix will be held over twenty-four laps of the circuit, amounting to 338.400 kilometres. The record lap time on the 14.100-metre layout belongs for Formula 1 to Moss, in a Maserati, at an average speed of 199.575 km/h; the overall time is in the possession of Gendebien in a Ferrari 4100 sportscar at 203.202 km/h. The Spa circuit has one major new feature: due to the tragic death of Scott-Brown, a driver who also took part in the 1956 Formula 1 Grand Prix of Great Britain during a sportscar race, metal protection barriers were inserted in many sections of the track. Such an improvement, combined with the greater smoothness now provided by the circuit located in the Ardennes, should ensure significantly faster lap times than in the past. With the roads used for the circuit being part of the everyday road system around the area between Francorchamps and Stavelot, practising is limited to a two-hour session for each of the three days preceding the race, and on Thursday evening, Vanwall, Ferrari, B.R.M. and Cooper team cars appear and one lone Maserati. 


Vanwall has three cars for Moss, Brooks and Lewis-Evans, the team leader having a car fitted with 17 seconds diameter wire-spoke wheels, the other two have 16 seconds diameter alloy wheels. Ferrari has four Dino 246 cars out, two with the heavier Formula 1 chassis frame and two with the lighter Formula 2 frame, and all have new air intakes for the sets of three downdraught double-choke Weber Carburettors. In the past, Ferrari has tried a Perspex screen around the carburettors with an opening at the top, a Perspex bubble with an opening at the rear, and now they have aluminium covers with front openings. Hawthorn, Collins and Musso are the drivers and, if all went well, Gendebien is to have the fourth car. B.R.M. has two 1958 cars for Behra and Schell and a 1957 car as spare, for Flockhart’s crash at Rouen prevented him from making up the full Bourne team. Cooper has two entries but only Salvadori is out on this first evening, for Brabham is suffering from a cold, so he drives both cars, one having a 2.2-litre engine, the other a 1.96-litre engine. Although seven Maseratis are entered by private owners, only Kavanagh turned out on Thursday evening for a few slow laps, and in fact, the practice opened on a very gentle note as drivers felt their way around this ultra-high-speed circuit. The B.R.M.s are the first cars to increase the pace when they begin lapping in times around 4'20"0, but it is not long before the Vanwalls begin to get wound up, and Brooks gets down below 4'10"0 and finally settles for 4'06"0, which is something near the sort of lap time everyone expected. The Ferraris were going as fast as the B.R.M.s until the show of speed by the Vanwalls stirs things up and Hawthorn finds himself in close company with Moss, whereupon each driver tries to either show how good his car is or prevents the others from seeing how fast he can really go. While indulging in this little game of hide-and-seek, Hawthorn laps in 4’06”0, so everyone really sits up and takes notice. When he comes in, there is no one more surprised at the lap time than Hawthorn himself, so after a pause to let things settle down again, he goes out and puts the cat among the pigeons, or, more correctly, the Ferrari among the Vanwalls, with a lap in 4’00”0, an average speed of 210.9 kph. Meanwhile, the B.R.M. team are not very happy, for, apart from not having enough speed on the very fast straights to improve on 4’20”0, Behra gets himself into real trouble. 


Entering the 145-mph chicane on the Masta straight, he gets into a slide, due to oil on the rear tyres, and goes right through the left-hand curve on full right lock and then through the following right-hand curve sideways on full left-hand lock and, just as it seems like is going to get away with it, the nose of the car strikes a hedge, the cowling and radiator are torn off and be spin to rest, shaken but unhurt. Schell in his B.R.M. collects his team-mate and brings him back to the pits, but there is not much enthusiasm for trying to challenge Hawthorn’s fastest lap. The Vanwall team, on the other band, are on their mettle and Moss and Brooks try hard to approach the Ferrari time but could not. Being the first practice period, the handling is not yet ideal for such speeds, nor are the gear ratios right for chopping off the last few seconds, so Moss has to be content with 4'04"8 and Brooks with 4'05"6, even though they are both faster than Musso and Collins, while Lewis-Evans is next, this being his first visit to Francorchamps. Activity on this first evening has not been terrific nor intense, but Hawthorn’s time get hopes up for the following practice periods. Friday practice is again from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and conditions are warm and dry, and this time Ferraris have painted their fourth car bright yellow, the Belgian racing colour, and it is driven by Gendebien. B.R.M. has not repaired Behra’s car, so he is out in the old practice car with little hope of joining in on the top dicing, but Vanwalls are all set for battle, being better geared and prepared to experiment with different size tyres and wheels to try the effects on steering and road-holding. Brabham is out in the 2.2-litre Cooper and Salvadori in the smaller one, while Lotus has arrived with their two single-seaters for Allison and Hill. A long line of Maseratis is in front of the pits, three under the banner of Centro-Sud for Gregory, Seidel and Trintignant, the last being Gerini’s car on loan, the privately-owned ones of Bonnier, Godia, Kavanagh and Maria Teresa de Filippis, and another one bearing the letter L in place of a number. This car is a brand new six-cylinder; shorter lighter and smaller than the normal 250F, and while all the Maserati drivers are standing around wishing it were theirs, drivers and engineers from other teams are sniffing around to find out what it is all about. Meanwhile, the Maserati factory people, Ugolini and Bertocchi, are trying to look as if it were nothing to do with them, for everyone knows that Maserati has given up racing, officially.


As soon as practice is underway, Hawthorn sets the ball rolling with 4'02"5, but even though he tries hard, he cannot approach his time of the day before, for he now has a different rear-axle ratio and though the car is better on the return run from Stavelot to the pits it is not so good on the fast outward run. Collins is, at last, getting into his stride and beginning to throw the Ferrari about its beautiful controlled slides, and the result is equalling Hawthorn’s 4'00"6, while Musso is steadily working his way towards some really fast times. Vanwalls makes a rather hesitant start, but then Brooks shows that all is going well and does 4'01"7, although Moss is still lapping around 4'07"0 and not very happy with the handling of his car, and Lewis-Evans is not really in the picture, even though he has made the creditable time of 4'08"0. Most of the Maseratis seem to be creeping around if lap speeds of over 110 mph can be called creeping, even though they are relative to the really fast drivers, who are approaching 130 mph average speeds. The only Maserati to get out of the rut is that of Gregory, who is driving the blue-and-white Centro-Sud car, which is by no means the ultimate in Maseratis; he records the remarkable time of 4'05"4. Such performances are now becoming expected from this fragile-looking quiet American, for after driving smoothly but unsparingly all last year he has now added a remarkable degree of speed to his very neat driving methods. With now ideal conditions for high-speed motoring and everyone getting the hang of cornering at around 150 mph, something that none of the drivers have done so far this year with the current Grand Prix cars, things begin to get stirred up. Moss tries 16" wheels on the front of his Vanwall and finds less gyroscopic effect and begins to approach the 4-minute mark, while Musso, through sheer perseverance, is doing likewise. Collins is making a great impression and is also not far off 4-minute laps, and the real excitement now lay in seeing who is going to be the first to get under 4 minutes. Collins equals Hawthorn’s best with 4'00"6, and then Musso does 4'00"2, while Moss is hovering on the brink of beating both of them. All this competition rather overshadows the efforts of the tiddlers, but Allison is really enjoying himself on this high-speed circuit and is down to 4'10"6 with the 2.2-litre Lotus and Brabham is 5 seconds slower with the big Cooper, but before he can challenge the Lotus, the main bearing breaks. Moss now tries 16 seconds wheels on the rear of his Vanwall as well as on the front, and the slightly lower gear, together with the already improved handling, allow him to rapidly approach a 4-minute lap, and then he does an electrifying 3'57"6, which staggers everyone, and follows with another at 3'59"0, then stopped, leaving Ferrari to ponder on the performance of the Vanwall. 


In the Maserati pits, the new car is still unused until, near the end of practice, Masten Gregory did a few tentative laps in it at around 4'18"0, but it is very much like a test-run to make sure that everything is working right. With Moss making such a shattering lap time and Hawthorn, Collins and Musso hovering close to 4 minutes, any other times seem slow by comparison, but Gendebien is making a good impression on his first outing in a Dino V6 Ferrari and his best lap, in 4'03"7, is very creditable, while Schell does a worthy 4'07"4 in the 1958 B.R.M. It is now pretty obvious that the circuit has been modified and made quicker until it is potentially faster than the cars’ capabilities, so that extreme accuracy of selection of axle ratios is critical, the speed difference between the cars not being very large and the circuit not allowing any marked superiority of driving among the top few to show any great difference on time. On Saturday practice is held in the afternoon from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., so that final carbonation and tyre settings can be approximated for race day, the race is scheduled to start at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday. Everyone is out for a final fling, the starting grid being arranged according to the best times of the three days’ practice. Moss and the Vanwall team are so sure that their time of 3'57"6 would not be approached that his car is not taken to practice, the time being spent on making sure it is in 100% condition for the race. Brooks is soon circulating rapidly, and almost before everyone is underway, he does 4'00"5 and then 3'59"1, so now Vanwalls are one and two. Before he can go any faster, his gearbox shows signs of seizing so he stops, and it is left to the Ferrari team to dominate the scene. BRM has repaired Behra’s 1958 car and he is going a lot quicker than before, but it is clear that the Bourne machine has insufficient maximum speed or power to approach the leaders. Brabham is pressing along in the Cooper, now with a 1960-cc engine fitted, and Allison is down to 4'07"7, while Hill in the smaller Lotus is keeping ahead of some of the Maseratis but is still learning about high-speed driving. Hawthorn now leads the attack on the apparent Vanwall supremacy, and after some laps around 4 minutes, he does 3'57"1, a heroic effort and FTD Brooks cannot retaliate as his gearbox is in trouble, and poor Moss has to sit and watch, his car being back in the garage in pieces, only Lewis-Evans having a Vanwall available and he just not being quick enough to worry the Ferraris, his best time being 4'07"2. 


Having nothing to drive, for the time being, Maserati lends Moss a new experimental sportscar that they have with them, this being a V12 cylinder 3-litre engine in a modified 300S chassis. After a pause, all four Ferraris go out again and as if to show that Hawthorn’s time is not a fluke, Collins does 3'57"7 and Musso does 3'57"5, and the Vanwall team has to sit by helplessly, unable to defend their positions in the front row of the starting grid. The order was now Hawthorn, Musso, Moss, Collins, and Brooks, all well under 4 minutes, while Gendebien was still working hard to try and achieve the magic 4min lap. Gregory is by far the fastest Maserati driver and while he takes the new works Maserati out for a few laps he lends the blue-and-white one to Trintignant. Almost unnoticed, due to the excitement among the top boys, Brabham has recorded a remarkable 4'05"1 with the 2-litre Cooper, beating Gregory’s best time with the old Maserati, his best time with the new works car being 4'11"0. Towards the end of the afternoon, Gendebien is still trying hard and just before practice ended, he does a lap in 4'00"5, and follows this with an excellent 3'59"3, thus getting the fourth Ferrari under the 4-minutes mark. While Ferraris are rejoicing at the end of practice and Vanwalls are wondering. Maserati are most unhappy for Kavanagh, after beating Godia, breaks a rod and wrecks his engine, Gregory breaks a valve while running at 7800 rpm down the straight, and Bonnier has his propeller-shaft broken, narrowly missing a very serious physical injury. It has been quite an afternoon, and the sun has shone brilliantly all day. Overnight, Vanwall fits a new gearbox to Brooks’ car, and Maserati repairs Bonnier’s car and bodged-up Gregory’s engine and hopes that it would at least start, but Kavanagh’s engine is beyond repair. Ferrari polishes all their cars and goes to bed early. As the race is like a sprint event, being over a mere 24 laps and 338 kilometres (approximately 210 miles), and would probably last less than 1¾ hours if the practice speeds are anything to go by, the Royal Automobile Club of Belgium is faced with a lot of spare time on their hands, especially as the Grand Prix is due to start at 4:00 p.m. As the FIA has given the race the title of the Grand Prix of Europe, for what is worth, it would have been nice to have seen a reasonable length of race visualised; instead, the day is filled up with a series of carnival acts, first there being a parade of Bugatti cars organised by the BOC of Holland, and then there is a handicap race for touring and grand touring cars open to Belgian drivers and lesser foreign drivers; despite being amusing for the competitors, it does not have a place at such a meeting. 


But if the premise as a guarantee of entertainment is great, the race holds the first twists and turns even before it begins. An hour before the start of the Grand Prix, the sun is really hot, and then a parade of drivers takes place in real Hollywood film-star style, each driver sitting on the back of an open two-seater, such as 190SL, 300SL, Giulietta, etc, with his (or her) name on a huge placard across the front of the car, and they are driven slowly round the circuit for the crowd to applaud. This air of carnival must have got into the Grand Prix organisers, for when the cars are given their positions on the starting grid, they are lined up time wrong way round, with fastest time on the left instead of on the right. Under a really hot sun, the 19 cars are now ready to start and for once green cars do not dominate the scene, the three red Ferraris and Gendebien’s yellow one are well placed and out to save the honour of Italian motor racing. Although the race is to be a short one, it is obviously going to be a fierce one, but, unfortunately, incompetent bungling by the starters spoils all prospects of a good race before it is started. The two-minute signal is given and the Ferrari mechanics wait another minute before starting their cars with the portable starters, and then everyone starts up, for 60 seconds is about as long as a Grand Prix car likes to be kept waiting on the line, especially under time sweltering sun. Just as everyone is ready to go, the starter signals another minute to go, but as the last few seconds ticked by, Gregory’s Maserati is still being pushed up and down, the bodged-up engine being reluctant to fire, and without giving any indication, the timekeepers and starters decided to wait other 60 seconds. Nerves are at breaking point, for a driver always anticipates the last 10 seconds and his leg begins to release the clutch, but now they are all straining to go and still the flag is not raised. Water temperatures are rising rapidly and then it happens, Collins’ Ferrari begins to boil, the water temperature gauge needle is right off the dial and the oil temperature is dangerously high. What can the poor driver do, enveloped in steam: he cannot switch off for time start is now 30 seconds away. Mechanics, drivers, team-managers and onlookers all starts waving and shouting, and everyone is in a high state of tension; the cars behind the front row begin to creep forward while officials wave them back, and all the while the timekeeper and the starter are waiting for the last 20 seconds to pass by. 


Twenty seconds are not long, but under the prevailing tension and surrounded by the excitement, it seems a lifetime. The Ferrari is spewing out water and steam, and the paint on the bonnet is blistering, and any second the other cars might start boiling, while all the drivers are frantically watching their rising temperature gauges, the three in the front row conscious of a turmoil behind them but not really knowing what is going on. At 10 seconds, the starter hurriedly raises the flag and drops it, much against the wishes of the timekeeper, and the screaming pack goes away. Nerves are all jangled by this time, so it is not surprising that Musso and Hawthorn muff their starts, the Ferraris being difficult at the best of times, having no special low starting gear as on the Maseratis and Vanwalls. So, it is Moss who leads away, followed by Brooks. The boiling Ferrari has obscured the fact that Gregory’s Maserati has still not fired, and when all the shouting has died down, he is left on the line, to be pushed away eventually, banging and misfiring in a very unhappy state. The air of carnival has certainly seeped into the Grand Prix, but unhappily it has serious consequences. Moss leads down through the Malmedy corner and along the Masta straight he has quite a considerable lead, which he increases around the fast Stavelot corner, but then disaster strikes and whether it is the result of the starting-line chaos he would not say, but it might well have been. As he accelerates out of Stavelot in fourth gear, he reaches peak revs and whips the gear-lever back into fifth gear, but he mistimes it and it does not go in it; is only a matter of a hundredth of a second but it is enough, the revs go up to the sky and valves and inseams meet each other with disastrous effects, and the field streams by the stricken Vanwall and its unhappy driver. It is Brooks who leads at the end of the first lap, closely pursued by Collins, whose water and oil temperature are still way up in the danger zone; then comes Gendebien, much to the delight of the Belgians. followed by Hawthorn, Behra, Evans, Musso, Schell and Allison, the Lotus leading the mini-cars and all the Maseratis, while poor Gregory never re-appears, his engine failing halfway round the opening lap. The next time round Collins is leading, with Brooks right on his tail, while Evans is about to pass Musso and Hawthorn already past Gendebien and in third place. The standing lap has been covered in 4'12"0, and as the tail-enders have streamed by Moss has pulled into the pits to retire and explain why the car has no compression. Brooks and Collins are really battling now, lapping at 4'02"0, and as they pass for the third time, it is the Vanwall leading, but the Ferrari is so close that it is almost obscured under the high green tail of the British car. 


On lap four, the order is reversed, and the gap is still so small that it could not be measured on an ordinary stop-watch; but it cannot go on, for the Ferrari has overheated too badly on the starting line. As Gendebien brakes for the hairpin before the pits at the end of the fourth lap, he is struck on a rear wheel by the nose of Lewis-Evans’ Vanwall, which is close behind, and the result is that the yellow Ferrari spins and bumped its nose against the inside retaining wall of the hairpin and the engine stalls. All the following cars run round the outside, and when they have gone, Gendebien has to manhandle the car backwards up the steep camber until he has enough room to swing round and roll down to the pits to have the nose beaten out so that some air could get to the radiator. He is right at the end of the field when he gets away and nearly a lap behind the leader. Meanwhile, a third retirement is that of Schell, whose Maserati’s rear suspension is acting up and then Brooks goes by on his own, followed by Hawthorn a bit later, and Collins coasts into the pits and retires. Neither the water temperature nor the oil temperature has ever shown signs of returning to normality, and when the oil pressure begins to sag as a result of the overheating, Collins wisely switches off before the engine breaks. Behra also comes in with the B.R.M. suffering from low pressure, quite probably due to initial overheating at the start, and he retires, while on the next lap, the sixth one, Musso fails to appear, it being reported that a tyre has burst and he has skidded off the road, fortunately with no injuries. Only a quarter of the race has been run and already six cars are out and all prospects of a race are now finished, a high-speed procession now developing. There are 11 seconds between Brooks and Hawthorn on lap seven and this increases lap by lap, until it is 37 seconds by half distance, while the gap between Hawthorn and Lewis-Evans, who is in third place, has risen to 47 seconds. Running in fourth place is the 2.2-litre Lotus driven by Allison, while behind him comes Salvadori and Brabham, followed by the private Maseratis, with Gendebien working his way steadily past them. Brooks has set up a lap record on lap five with 4'00"5 and is continuing to lap in about 4'02"0 (approximately 130 mph), and has already lapped the last five cars, while Hawthorn is doing the same. Just as the Ferrari is about to lap Hill’s Lotus, the little green car disappears in a cloud of smoke as a con-rod comes out through the side of the engine, and Hill has to settle for being a spectator from then on. 


Brabham calls in for water and Salvadori enlivens things by passing Allison’s Lotus, but he leads for only three laps and then the Lotus retake fourth place and Cooper’s clutch begins to slip. With 10 laps to go, Brooks has a 41-seconds lead and began to take things a little easier, but not for long, for Hawthorn now begins to pile on speed in a last do-or-die effort, first of all setting a new lap record in 3'59"3 and then reducing Vanwall’s lead steadily every lap. Brabham retires with head-gasket troubles and then Godia goes out with a broken piston, and Brooks retaliates to Hawthorn’s challenge with a lap in 3'59"7, not a record but sufficient to stem Ferrari’s onslaught. All this time, Lewis-Evans has been running in third place, driving quietly and steadily, with no hope of challenging the leaders but way ahead of the fourth car, which is still the Lotus putting up a remarkable run and still not lapped by the leader, all the rest of the ten runners long since having been lapped, including even Schell in the B.R.M., who is lying fifth. It is now virtually all over, little more than 1½ hours after the start, and as Brooks rounds the Source hairpin for the last time and accelerates down to the chequered flag, something tightens up in the Vanwall gearbox and it is fortunate he does not have to do another lap. Less than half a minute later, Hawthorn storms down the hill to the finish and just before crossing the line, a piston brakes and a cloud of white smoke shot out of the exhaust, and the Ferrari is flagged second with a ruined engine, but Hawthorn has the satisfaction of setting up a new lap record on that last lap with a time of 3'58"3, and he has not taken the engine over the permitted 8500 rpm. The last lap has not finished wreaking havoc for Lewis-Evans arrives in third place going quite slowly for the top right-hand wishbone out the Vanwall has broken. The first car to arrive in a fit and healthy shape after this very high-speed event is Allison’s Lotus in fourth place, and if there had been another lap to go it might have been in 1st place, which would have confounded the experts. At the end of the fifteenth lap, Vanwall's lead is of as much as 40 seconds: from the pits, they signal to Brooks to slow down, and Hawthorn approaches him sensibly, also breaking the lap record; but only a mechanical failure could have changed the result. So, Anthony Vandervell's car takes its second victory of the season, appearing even better than the last performance, while Hawthorn's Ferrari loses an engine piston two hundred metres before the finish line, evading a white smoked culture. 


Lewis-Evans closes third, but he also passes under the chequered flag with the damaged single-seater: contact with Gendebien's car has cut off the suspension arm and dangerously tilted the tire; so the runner's courage is to be praised since on a very fast track like the one in Spa-Francorchamps it is a real miracle to finish, with an average of over 209 km/h. The Vanwall with the driver Tony Brooks, considered somewhat as an outsider, wins the Grand Prix of Europe, the fifth round of the drivers’ world championship. According to forecasts, Ferrari was the favourite, whose conductors had reached the best times during the tests. The race, however, saw a series of sensational withdrawals, corresponding to as many accidents, so every expectation was disappointed. And this is not only said about the Italian colours: even Stirling Moss, considered the most likely successor of Fangio, was eliminated from the fight from the first lap for breaking a valve. It must be noted, in this regard, that a similar failure already touched the Vanwall during the Monaco Grand Prix. Luigi Musso also had to retire, so at the top of the world championship title, he is still ahead of Moss with 17 points, propped with 14 points by his compatriot Hawthorn, who, despite irregular race conduct, placed his Ferrari in second place and achieved in the final lap the new absolute record of the circuit in 3'58"3, corresponding to the average speed of 213.008 km/h. Therefore, another all-English victory is confirmed at the end of the fifth round of the drivers’ world championship, in a Grand Prix of Europe that according to the indications of the eve should have been the rebirth of the Ferraris. Actually, once again the men of the Maranello team were targeted by bad luck, but it would not be fair to give credit to a line of the fate of the splendid win of the Vanwall of Tony Brooks, the former London dentist who in a couple of years managed to enter the narrow elite of the aces of motoring. As well as first place overall (this is the first time Tony Brooks has established himself in a world championship race), Vanwall also takes third place with Lewis-Evans. Finally, it should be remembered and highlighted how Neapolitan Maria Teresa De Filippis ranked in tenth place in Maserati, the first woman to participate in a Formula 1 race. Considering the fearful speed of the race, the value of the reckless Italian motorist can be acknowledged. A result that is not at all despicable, if it is considered that the Neapolitan girl participated for the first time in a Formula 1 race, and above all that the Spa-Francorchamps circuit is one of the most impressive for the very high speeds that are reached. Maria Teresa's average speed was above 190 km/h.


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