#81 1959 German Grand Prix

2021-04-17 00:00

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#1959, Fulvio Conti, Translated by Alessia Borelli, Luca Saitta,

#81 1959 German Grand Prix

In the run-up to the next round of the World Drivers' Championship, which will be held in Germany on August 2, 1959, and will count as the sixth round


In the run-up to the next round of the World Drivers' Championship, which will be held in Germany on August 2, 1959, and will count as the sixth round, two races are held on Sunday, July 26, 1959, at the Clermont-Ferrand circuit: the first, called Deux Heures d'Auvergne for sports cars from 500 to 1100 cubic centimetres, is won by Englishman Peter Ashdown at the wheel of a Lola Climax with an 1100 cubic centimetre engine, while the second race, reserved for Formula 2 cars, sees the success of Englishman Stirling Moss, in a Cooper. During this second race, several accidents occur that fortunately seem to have no disastrous consequences. Englishman Ivor Bueb, driving a Cooper, faces a curve, skids and goes off the road. The driver, promptly rescued, is extracted from the car and is immediately taken to the hospital, where doctors hold him for fractured ribs. His condition does not appear at first to be serious. Soon after, another Englishman, Bruce Halford, fractures his pelvis by crashing his Lotus into a roadside shelter. Other accidents are resolved without injury to the drivers. The first race, as noted above, ended with Englishman Ashdown winning after a fierce duel with Jean Behra; with six minutes to go (the winner would be designated at the stroke of two hours of racing), Behra complained of mechanical problems with his car and, despite being in the lead, was forced to surrender to the Englishman. Italian Gino Munaron in an Osca took third place, behind Ashdown and Behra, but ahead of a number of other highly rated drivers. At the same time, eighty-two competitors take the start for the Trieste-Opicina, one of the most interesting uphill races in Europe. This trial is valid for the Italian drivers' championship and the National Mountain Trophy. The race is won by Italian driver Giulio Cabianca (on an Osca 1500) who takes 4'27'7 climbing at an average of 119.014 km/h, also setting a new record for the competition. In second place overall was the Milanese Edoardo Lualdl (Osca 2000); also brilliant was the performance of Ada Face from Turin, who achieved two victories, winning in the Gran Turismo class from 750 to 1300 on a Giulietta Zagato, and in the sportscar class up to 760. Also good was the affirmation of Mario Abate from Turin, fifth overall in a Ferrari 3000. 


During the first weekend of August, drivers and teams moved on to Germany for the sixth round of the drivers' championship. The previous event in Britain officially elected Jack Brabham and his Cooper as the main candidates for the title, confirming a clear trend from the beginning of the season, hidden by the general balance seen in the championship, with a number of different winners. The German stage habitually finds its home at the Nürburgring, a circuit historically found to be arduous for the small mid-engine British single-seaters, due to the extreme length of the track, characterised by several elevation changes, various curves and a long straight. However, for the 1959 edition, the main novelty lies precisely in the venue hosting the Grand Prix. For edition number IXX of the German Grand Prix, it was back to the past, to the Automobil-Verkehrs- und Übungsstraße (Road for Traffic (V) and Testing (U) of Automobiles), near West Berlin. The choice is dictated by economic and political reasons. Also known as AVUS, the circuit is semi-permanent, carved in part from roads usually open to city traffic, a full eight kilometres and three hundred metres long. Characterised by a shape that is vaguely reminiscent of an oval, with the two adjacent and parallel highway sections connected by four curves: one hairpin turn in the Südschleife section and three curves that are very closely connected in the section to the north, the Nordschleife, distinguished by a steep gradient with a value of 43.6 percent. For comparison, Indianapolis boasts 11 percent gradients. Despite having a totally different nature than the Nürburgring, the track is distinguished by its high degree of danger. The AVUS, in fact, is usually used for speed records, suffice it to say that in 1957, in an event unrelated to Formula 1, the Mercedes W196 in a faired version reached an average lap speed of 267 km/h. The very long straights, theoretical high average speeds favour traditionally designed single-seaters that are very powerful but also mechanically strong, such as Ferraris. As mentioned, the Avus circuit consists of two long straights joined by two curves of different radius: on them, it is possible to reach speeds in the order of 300 km/h, but in one of the two curves, drivers are forced to slow down considerably, calling hard work on the brakes, to avoid being thrown off the road. 


The very high speed and the work of the brakes make for a dangerous ride. Therefore, the organisers, as a safety measure, decide to have the competition held in two heats, with a one-hour interval between each. This will allow drivers to change tires at least once. The AVUS circuit also has great social-historical significance as well as sporting one. Since the world championship was born in 1950, never has Formula 1 raced in nations of the Eastern-Communist bloc, and the opportunity to race in Berlin (two years before the construction of the famous wall), makes the event unique for fans of the top motorsport discipline from the East, who have a real opportunity to attend the event. The Great Britain-Italy duel continues in Germany, despite Ferrari's non-attendance at the Aintree circuit, caused by an Italian metalworkers' strike that prevented the Maranello team from travelling. Cooper-Climax, with 26 points, has a 10-point margin over second-place Ferrari, while B.R.M. chases on 14 points. Out of the picture is Lotus, with only 3 points in the standings. Similar situation in the drivers' standings: Brabham, with his Cooper, leads the standings with 27 points, Brooks is second with 14 points, followed by teammate Phil Hill with 9 points. Fourth place is disputed by Moss and McLaren, who have scored 8.5 points, after being absolute protagonists at Aintree. As a result of various political and financial manoeuvres, the German Grand Prix leaves the traditional Nürburgring this year and takes place on the AVUS track in West Berlin. Apart from the added complications of getting to West Berlin, the move is not popular with drivers and entrants as the AVUS track bears no resemblance at all to a Grand Prix racing circuit, as exemplified by the Nürburgring. Being 90 percent a pure speed track, it is felt that holding a leg of the Drivers’ World Championship on the AVUS is to make an absurdity of the whole thing. On the other hand, those people who think that a World Champion Driver should be able to drive anything, anywhere, anytime, partly approve of the move to West Berlin as it means that any potential World Champion would have to demonstrate that he can drive on a track as well as a road. Until the title is changed to World Road Racing Drivers’ Championship, there is not much argument against this train of thought. However, be that as it may, the 21st German Grand Prix is moved to AVUS and all the regular Grand Prix teams cross the Eastern Zone of Germany, either by plane or Autobahn and are ready for the first practice session, which is due for Thursday afternoon. 


With average speeds of nearly 150 mph envisaged, the AvD, who organises the race, takes it unto themselves to make some additional rules, overriding the standing rules for FIA Championship meetings. Instead of being for a minimum of two hours, or 300 kilometres, the German Grand Prix is arranged to run as two heats of one hour each, the overall classification being by addition of the drivers’ performances in the two heats, those finishing Heat 1 being allowed to start in Heat 2. This is done in the interests of tyre safety, it being felt that one hour on the AVUS would be enough for the Dunlops. Also, the regulations forbid any attempts at streamlining, all the cars having to have all four wheels exposed. As a result, the whole entry arrives in just the same condition as they would have done for Nürburgring, apart from high axle ratios, stiffer suspension and engines tuned for out-and-out speed. This is not to be the first occasion on which Formula 1 cars appear on the AVUS for there was a race held in 1954, at which three Mercedes-Benz gave an unchallenged demonstration run and during which Fangio set a lap record in 2'13"4, a speed of 224.0kph (approximately 139 mph). In pre-war days, the then current Grand Prix cars used to compete regularly at the Avus-Rennen, a meeting in addition to normal German Grand Prix. In those days, the AVUS track was longer at the southern end, allowing much higher speeds to be reached on each leg of the Autobahn, which forms the major portion of the circuit. From the start, the track runs dead straight down the right-hand leg of the Autobahn, round a full-throttle left-hand curve after about two kilometres and then straight for another two kilometres to the southern turn. In spite of almost nation-wide misapprehension amongst the daily papers in England, this South Turn has no banking whatsoever, being, in effect, a simple hairpin from one leg of the Autobahn onto the other leg. A large section of the grass centre strip of the Autobahn is replaced by concrete, and further concrete aprons are laid on each side of the Autobahn, so that, by using straw bales to line the track, a large radius hairpin bend can be formed in which the cars change direction 180° from running southwards on the Autobahn to running northwards on the adjoining leg. 


This large radius hairpin necessitates negotiating a gentle right-hand curve on the approach, which is made all the more difficult as it is in the braking area. The area of the hairpin is very large, allowing many different lines to be taken round it, turning late and accelerating up to the Autobahn proper, or turning early and running out wide and using the concrete apron on the exit and having to accelerate through a gentle right-hand curve back onto the Autobahn. As the whole Autobahn is tarmac-covered, and the additional bits of ground at the South Turn are of concrete, the 180° turn calls for crossing from tarmac to concrete, back across tarmac, concrete, tarmac, concrete and tarmac again as the reverse leg of the Autobahn is reached. All these changes of surface were calculated to upset the more sensitive drivers, which is exactly what they did. Back on the northward run of the Autobahn it is full-bore again for about 3 ½ kilometres to a flat-out right-hand curve leading off the Autobahn and on to the notorious North Curve. This is a tight-radius curve banked at something like 45deg, with the lower half sunk down below ground level. This tight steep banking turns through 180° and merges back on to the northward leg of the Autobahn, but pointing southwards. At this point there is no centre strip to the Autobahn for nearly half a kilometre, so that the circuit runs diagonally across this open space from the exit of the North Turn to the right-hand, or southward leg of the Autobahn and the circuit is started again, the time-keeping line being across this wide open space of double Autobahn. The total length measures 8.3 kilometres (approximately five miles) and calls for high maximum speed, heavy braking from 170-180 mph down to 50 or 60 mph for the South hairpin, more maximum speed and heavy braking again down to about 110-120 mph for entering the banked curve. In the days long ago, when the banking was built, it is doubtful whether many cars could exceed 120 mph, and as the old South Turn, some kilometres further down the double-track road, was a very large radius sweep, with a banking of some 10-15°, the whole thing could be considered as pure track racing, akin to Montlhery, Brooklands, or Monza. Since the war and with the introduction of the shortened circuit with no banking whatsoever at the South Turn, the track has become a freak for which it is difficult to prepare a car correctly.


The steep North Turn is built of bricks with very little science applied to the curvature so that a car does not find a natural line round the banking, as at Monza or Montlhery, and cars have to be physically steered round it as if round a normal corner. At the top, the bricks rise vertically for about two feet and then there is a wide flat ledge, also made of bricks. The whole affair is built up on an earth foundation, but by sinking the lower half of the banking into the ground, as at Monza, the height above the ground behind the banking is about 15-20 feet. The area behind the banking is a concrete apron used as the paddock, while the pits are situated well down the southward-bound leg of the Autobahn; with the time keeping and main grandstands along the open area at the exit of North Turn, the three major nerve centres of a race meeting are completely out of touch with one another, which does not make for smooth running of a meeting, while it makes it quite impossible for anyone to keep in touch with what is going on. The first afternoon of practice sees all the entrants trying to adjust their suspensions, tyres and so on to the heavy G-forces of the banking, yet still make the cars controllable on the flat-out curves and the slow South Turn. In addition, terminal velocities are discovered on the dead flat lengths of Autobahn, while drivers are trying to acclimatise themselves to the brick banking. The Scuderia Ferrari line up four cars, driven by Brooks, Phil Hill, Gurney and Allison, although the last-named is only a reserve runner. They are not far out in their estimation of the maximum speed of their cars, for they are pulling 8500 rpm in top gear, with 8600 rpm if they get a good run off the banking. The Cooper team of Brabham, Gregory and McLaren are not as fast but they can sit in the Ferraris’ slipstream and are pulling very high axle ratios to try and conserve the Climax engines. The cars of Brabham and McLaren are fitted with new wider gears in the step-up ratio between the clutch and gearbox, while Gregory retains a set of the older narrow gears. The Equipe Walker has a brand new Cooper-Climax, with a special engine from Coventry for Moss, and their regular Formula 1 Cooper-Climax for Trintignant. The new car is quite standard Formula 1 specification, apart from the gearbox, which is, of course, one of special five-speed ones. Their first practice is not encouraging as they are over-geared, expecting too much speed from the Climax engine.


B.R.M. has two cars entered for Schell and Bonnier, and a third car as a spare. They have been over earlier with Dunlop engineers and one car to do tyre tests, and have then flown two more cars out at a later date. With Moss driving for Rob Walker, the BRP syndicate are left high-and-dry with their pale green B.R.M. so they contract for Hans Herrmann to drive for them; a popular move with both the organisers and the paying public. Almost under sufferance, the A.v.D. accept two works cars from Lotus, to be driven by Graham Hill and Ireland, but hope for better performances than have been seen in previous races. They are quite simply lacking in maximum speed and can’t cope with the works Coopers, while Ireland is in trouble with a broken chassis and engine on the first try-out. In order to give the race some semblance of a German flavour the A.v.D accept two Porsche single-seater F2 cars, the factory one driven by von Trips, and the special blue one of Jean Behra, who is still driving for his own account, not having signed up with anyone after leaving the Scuderia Ferrari. Both cars are quite outclassed on maximum speed and it is typical of the organisation of the whole meeting that they are included in the entry. There is one further reserve, which is a Cooper-Maserati from the Scuderia Centro-Sud, driven by Ian Burgess. Some idea of the progress made in Formula 1 machinery since 1954 can be seen by the ease with which the old record lap of 2'13"4 is improved upon by many drivers at their first attempt. Gurney gets down to 2'09"6, while Schell and Allison do 2'11"9 and Brooks 2'12"1 in the afternoon. Brabham, Bonnier and Gregory also improve on the existing record with 2'12"6. When practice finishes, chaos reigns, for the paddock is about to send out a bunch of sports cars for practice before the Grand Prix cars are cleared from the pits. The time schedule is such that the A.v.D. make no allowance for gathering up tools and materials, fitting soft plugs and generally packing after practice for the Grand Prix cars is finished and with the pits and paddock being so far apart one official had no idea what the next is doing, so that Thursday practice for the Grand Prix ends in some pretty violent shouting matches between entrants and organisers. 


Not content to run the Grand Prix, the organisers are also putting on a sports car race, a touring car race and a Gran Turismo race when they will have quite enough to do with organising the Grand Prix properly. On Friday, practice continues all day for one class or another, the Grand Prix cars having a session in the morning and another late in the afternoon. Lap times are progressively reduced as cars are adjusted for the freak conditions and as drivers become braver at taking the banking, but not everyone turns out for both practice periods, although everyone is out at some time during the day. Allison surprises everyone by putting in a lap at 2'05"8, a speed of 237.5kph (approximately 147 mph), but not himself as he makes use of his team-mate’s slipstream to pull out some extra speed down the straights. Gurney is taking to this high speed motoring with great relish and improves on his first day by getting down to 2'07"2 and in two brief laps Moss equals this time, even though the Cooper-Climax looks very wild as it goes round the banking. In contrast, the Ferraris look safe enough but they are giving their drivers a very bumpy ride and springs and shock-absorbers are taking punishment. Brooks and Brabham are only 0.2 seconds slower than Moss, while Gregory records 2'07"5 and Phil Hill 2'07"6, everyone else being slower than 2'10"0, the B.R.M.s and the Lotus having insufficient maximum speed. Also, on the second day of official practice for the German Grand Prix at the Avus track, the Ferrari squadron confirms, achieving record-breaking times, its claims to victory in tomorrow's competition valid as a round of the World Championship. At the wheel of a Ferrari, American Dan Gurney - who completes with compatriot Phil Hill and Englishman Tony Brooks the official Ferrari team - lapped the 6.300-kilometre track in 2'07"2, averaging 234.900 km/h. This is a new track record achieved by the very driver who the day before at an average of 231.600 km/h, improved the official Avus record belonging since 1951 to Manuel Fangio with an average of 224.324 km/h. Proving, however, that it will not be easy for Ferrari to confirm its superiority in the race, Englishman Stirling Moss at the wheel of a Cooper-Walker equaled Dan Gurney's feat, and Australian Jack Brabham, the current leader of the World Championship standings, also lapped, also in a Cooper, in a time just two-tenths of a second faster than the American.


It is easy to foresee, therefore, that on the Berlin track tomorrow there will be the usual exciting duel between the Italian cars - in addition to the three official 2417 cc cars, Ferrari has entrusted Cliff Alllson with a 2600 cc mule - and the British ones. Cooper will be able to count on Brabham and McLaren, Moss and the Frenchman Trintignant will be at the wheel of two other Cooper cars from the Walker team, while B.R.M. will entrust the driving of its two beasts to Harry Schell and Bonnier. Completing the group of competitors are the Lotus of Ireland and Graham Hill and the German Porsche of von Trips and Jean Behra, as well as some unofficial cars such as Gregory's Cooper and Hermann's B.R.M. The Avus circuit consists of two long straights joined by two curves of different radius. In them, it is possible to reach speeds on the order of three hundred kilometres, but in one of the two curves, the drivers are forced to slow down considerably, calling hard work on the brakes, to avoid being thrown off the road. The very high speed and the work of the brakes make the race dangerous. Therefore, the organisers, as a safety measure, decided to have the competition run in two heats, with a one-hour interval between each heat. This will allow drivers to change tires at least once. Porsche drivers did not participate in qualifying, although they were entered, because Jean Behra lost his life on the Avus circuit, driving his Porsche 1500 sport, during the fourth lap of the Berlin Grand Prix, the competition for smaller displacements (up to 1500) that constitutes a kind of prologue to the German Grand Prix, valid for the World Drivers' Championship. With the cars equipped with the largest displacements, speeds of 237 km/h are exceeded, as the Avus is one of the fastest circuits in the world, also having a sharply elevated curve, while with the smaller cars, speeds of 200 km/h are approached. Perhaps too many for such a track, to be driven, moreover, in the pouring rain. The Berlin Grand Prix drivers set off at the appointed time, and Behra immediately took the lead. Interviewed in the pits shortly before the start, Stirling Moss had stated:


"The track is very dangerous, and not at all suitable for a world championship round. Especially scary is the northern corner. This corner has a stone tile bottom and is very inclined: a skid on it can prove fatal".


Unwittingly, Moss is prophetic: Behra in his Porsche speeds ahead of everyone on the initial two passes, then Trips, also in a Porsche, overtakes him, while Bonnier, also at the wheel of one of the Stuttgart cars, tails him. Behra is precisely battling with the Swedish driver for second place and is negotiating the elevated corner at no less than 180 km/h, when thousands of spectators in the grandstand located 250 metres away see the Frenchman's car skid, widening fearfully on the elevated wall to its extreme edge. Here, the Porsche crashes into the protective wall. The unfortunate driver is thrown out of the driver's seat and slams violently into a flagpole antenna. Immediately, nurses are brought to the scene, while an ambulance with a doctor arrives. Behra's lifeless body is cautiously loaded aboard the vehicle, which immediately launches toward a Berlin hospital. But there is no more to be done: the Frenchman has suffered a fractured skull and a crushed chest. Meanwhile, the race continued and recorded Trips' victory, at an average speed of 195.900 km/h. In the same race and at the same corner, on the second lap, Dutch driver De Beaufort, also in a Porsche, had performed an impressive pirouette without personal injury, but slightly damaging the car. Gino Munaron from Turin also went off the road, but at the south turn, but managed to recover and finish the race, despite some damage to the chassis of his Osca. Regarding Behra's accident, the Bonnier driver who was following him closely could not give a full explanation at the end of the race:


"I saw Jean's car swerve first to the left and then to the right, surging toward the side of the raised curve. Then I passed by and could not immediately realise the severity of the accident".


The passing of Jean Behra casts the drivers present at the Avus into consternation, and a painful shadow will weigh on the running of the German Grand Prix. At the same time, British driver Ivor Bueb passed away in the course of the evening at the Clermont-Ferrand Hospital. 


Doctors struggled to snatch him from death by subjecting him to two surgeries, but after an alternation of hopes and fears, the end came. Bueb had gone off the road, skidding into a curve in his Cooper, on Sunday, July 26, 1959, at the Circuit d'Auvergne, during a Grand Prix conducted with Formula 2 cars. He had won numerous competitions in his career, and among other things twice had come first in the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans. This season, he had confirmed himself as a regular driver with excellent skills. The tragic end of driver Jean Behra, who crashed on the Avus circuit, causes an enormous impression in all motorsports circles, and raises a press campaign against the race organisers. Especially the German newspapers do not spare criticism of the German Grand Prix officials, to whom the serious accusation is made that they did not delay the start of the race to give the track time to dry out after the rain. Was the accident unavoidable? wonders the daily Morgen Posto:


"If the organisers had delayed the start by an hour and a half to wait for the rain to stop and the track to dry, Behra would probably still be alive".


For the Telegraph, there is no doubt about the responsibility of the organisers:


"The accident could have been avoided. It would have been essential to delay the start".


Another newspaper, the Tagespiel, writes words of indignation against the insensitivity of the organisers:


"The public after the accident at least expected the race to be suspended. Instead they did not, and only at the end of the race was it announced that Behra had died".


The Tag thus writes:


"It is senseless to continue playing with human lives like this. It has to be said: these stunts with death have nothing in common with real sport anymore".


The British press also blames the Berlin organisers. The Sunday Express says that several times runners had remarked during practice that the safety of the track was insufficient. But the organisers never responded to their complaints. British champion Stirling Moss will declare to a newspaper:


"This circuit is one of the most dangerous, because of the curves".


Almost all French newspapers, sporting and otherwise, comment in some way on Behra's tragic end: again, the organizers are leveled the serious accusation that they wanted at all costs to complete their race while neglecting to ensure the safety of the drivers. L'Equipe writes:


"Too many drivers have died in recent times, and their end cannot always be explained by fatality. The race organisers must avoid any mistake or imperfection that could in any way compromise rider safety. As for the Berlin race, it would have been enough to delay the start a bit to give the track a chance to dry. Behra might not have died".


Despite the recent rifts, responding to a request for help from the deceased's wife, Ferrari's sporting director Romolo Tavoni and Amorotti, along with the entire team of mechanics, show up in the mortuary where Behra's body is laid to rest, with the black armband wrapped tightly around their arms as a sign of mourning. Here, Ferrari's men meet Fraichard, a French journalist who was paying 100,000 lire a month for information to write. The French journalist greets the men of the Maranello team, but gets no response from them. The French driver's name joins those of the Italians Ascari, Musso and Castellotti, the Englishmen Collins, Hawthorn, Bueb, the Spaniard De Portago, and other aces endowed with coldly reckless courage. Behra, a modest former mechanic from Nice, knew the risk that he was taking. Every race is a race to the limits of man's ability; a race lost once, but forever. Jean, on whose body there were more than thirty fractures, had come close to tragedy many times, saving himself by a miracle. From the archive envelope named after him, two photos, in the pile depicting the champion racing or in practice, now take on a terrible significance: March 1957, the year Castellotti died. Behra was racing for the Maserati. During practice for the Mille Miglia race, his sports car flew over a ditch off the road. Even now it seems incredible how the Frenchman came out of this accident alive. Yet Behra resumed racing. The following year, on the famous Goodwood circuit, a photographer with exceptional coolness filmed the scene of Jean's B.R.M. as it crashed into an obstacle. The driver was already out of the driver's seat, and his life continued. Other races other victories and disappointments, joys and sorrows, roaring engines at circuits all over the world. Then at Avus, on a rainy afternoon, a skid on a wall, almost perpendicular. The wall perhaps less difficult than many turns taken by the ace driver. Of the three accidents, the one in Berlin seemed the least serious. Instead, it was the last. And while Jean is remembered, the driver without an ear (he had lost it in an accident, and for that very reason he loved to joke: it was therefore common to see him take off his rubber ear in front of female company, perhaps at the dinner table, in a restaurant, just for the sake of fun) the Gascon Niçois, impetuous and shy at the same time, we still repeat the sad why. 


Because Jean Behra died, in the very accident that did not seem so serious. Although the German Grand Prix will be held regularly at the Berlin Avus track, on Sunday, August 2, 1959, there will be no failure to honour the memory of Jean Behra, who so tragically perished in the Berlin Grand Prix. As a sign of mourning, flags will be raised to half-mast, and the drivers of the Porsche to which the late French champion belonged will not line up at the start. Spectators gathered along the edges of the Avus circuit observe a minute's silence shortly before the start. Some Berlin newspapers urge in the course of the morning the cancellation of the German Grand Prix, saying that the Avus track does not give sufficient guarantees of safety for the drivers and the public, but after several hours of consultations between the German organisers and the international leaders convened in Berlin, Sunday, August 2, 1959 is opted for the regular running of the race. A few minutes before the start, the race director gathers the various competitors near him, urging them to exercise extreme caution, especially in the two raised curves; Minister Lammer, who was supposed to be present at the race, renounces it as a sign of mourning. Fortunately, the rain ceased to fall after noon so that by the time the first heat started at exactly 2:00 pm, the track was already dry. Following the accident involving Behra, the safety issue further worries Grand Prix organisers, teams and drivers. The AVUS circuit tests the endurance of the single-seaters: in particular, the very high average speeds put pressure on the tires, triggering inevitable concerns. In order to avoid sudden mechanical failures, and thus possible accidents, it is commonly agreed to divide the Grand Prix into two thirty-lap heats, with the second line-up decided on the basis of the order of finish of the first leg of the race. The winner will be decided by adding up the times of the two heats, while those who retire in the first fraction of the race will not be allowed to participate in the second. A crowd of about 200.000 people throngs around the circuit as competitors complete three training laps while waiting for the rain to cease and the track to dry. On Sunday, the weather still looks unsettled so the organisers decide that, in case of rain, a yellow light will be switched on and while it shines, no one is to go above the central white line round the banking, and there should be no overtaking in the area of the banked North Turn.


The start is due at 2:00 p.m., but it was nearly 2:30 p.m. before the cars are assembled on the grid, having three free laps for inspection of the track, during which time Gurney finds that he has a faulty front wheel on his Ferrari and the car is hurried back to the paddock to have both front wheels changed. While the flag is hovering for the last five seconds, Gurney and Brabham are over eager and both begin creeping forward so that the rows behind begin to follow them, and then, when the flag falls, they both falter and it is Moss and Brooks who go away in the lead with Gregory right behind them from row two. The fifteen cars stream down the Autobahn to the South Turn, where they all bunch together and then string out again along the return leg of the Autobahn and in the order Brooks, Gregory, Moss, Brabham, Bonnier, Gurney, Phil Hill, Schell and the rest, they swoop round the banking and away down the straight again. Moss does not go far down the straight on lap two when the transfer gears between the engine and gearbox strip and that is the end of his race. Gurney gets over his bad start and goes by Gregory and Brabham into second place, while Brooks still leads, but on lap three, Gregory goes by the lot and takes the lead as he goes round the banking with the Cooper literally sliding, closely followed by Brooks, Gurney, Brabham, Phil Hill and Bonnier. Then there is a short break and McLaren, Schell, Trintignant and Graham Hill go round equally close together, with Herrmann not far behind and Burgess and Ireland already way back out of the running. Allison stops on lap three with clutch trouble, so there are only 13 runners left. On lap four, the lead changes again and Brooks is back, followed by Gregory, Brabham, Gurney, Phil Hill and Bonnier and on the next lap Gurney and Brabham change places. There is nothing to choose between the Coopers and Ferraris, although Bonnier in the B.R.M. is now beginning to fall back, and it is obvious that the Coopers are using the Ferraris’ slipstreams to keep up the pace. As the leading five cars arrive at the South Turn with the brakes hard on Gurney’s Ferrari, he rides up one of Gregory’s rear wheels and closes up the Ferrari nose cowling before it drops back on the road again. 


However, this does not cause the engine to overheat and Gurney stays in the bunch giving as good as he gets. After seven laps, Brabham begins to ease off a little and drops back from the cut-and-thrust of the leaders, but Gregory has no intention of giving up and comes round the banking almost touching Gurney’s tail and then pulls down below the Ferrari as they come off the banking and they go down the straight almost side by side, behind Brooks who is still leading, and next time round Gregory is sandwiched in second place between Brooks and Gurney and enjoying every minute of it. The four leading cars are all lapping at around 2'06"0 or not far short of 150 mph, and neither Brooks nor Gurney or Gregory seem to have any advantage. Phil Hill is holding on in fourth position, but down the straights he is reaching 9.000 rpm in top gear; unbeknown to him, his teammates are only doing 8500-8600 rpm, pulling the same gear ratio, so that his rev-counter must be faulty, but thinking that the other two are getting too enthusiastic and over-revving, he begins to drop back rather than risk blowing up his engine. The result is that the lead now develops into a three-cornered battle between two Ferraris and a Cooper and one lap Gregory will lead, the next Brooks will lead, then Gurney will have a go, and sometimes they come off the banking almost line abreast. On lap 15, Brahham’s luck is out for he comes round the banking with a horrible grinding noise coming from the rear, which subsequently turns out to be sheared transfer gears between the engine and gearbox, the new wide ones having failed. Both Lotus cars have long since fallen by the wayside and Schell, Trintignant, McLaren and Herrmann catch Bonnier and the five of them are in a tight bunch dicing for fifth place, while Burgess is lapped by the leaders and is bringing up the rear. Being the two leading Ferraris driven as a team and not as individuals out to get points for the World Championship, they could have easily gotten rid of Gregory. As it is, the Cooper does not get shaken off and the battle continues lap after lap, Brooks being credited with the lap record in 2'04"5 (240 kph average). On lap 21, Brooks leads but has Gregory alongside him past the pits; on lap 22, Gregory leads but has the two Ferraris almost touching his tail, and on lap 23, Brooks leads once more and Gregory is the meat in the sandwich. 


On lap 24, it is all over, for, as they go down the straight, a big-end bolt breaks in the Climax engine and bits and pieces flow in all directions and Gregory’s terrific effort is finished. The three Ferraris now have things all their own way and slow right down, taking it easy as they lap the group who are still dicing for fourth place now, being led in turn by Bonnier, Schell and McLaren. As Gurney laps them, McLaren tucks in behind the Ferrari and gets a tow thereby shaking off the others and being sure of fourth place, leaving Schell and Trintignant to cross the line almost in a dead heat, the B.R.M. just ahead. Brooks, Gurney and Phil Hill complete the first heat of 30 laps in that order, the remaining six runners being a lap behind. There is a break before heat 2 takes place, during which time Allison’s clutch is repaired and Hill’s Lotus is made a runner again, while Gurney’s Ferrari has its nose cowling beaten out straight. The cars are lined up in rows of four-three-four in the order of finishing heat 1 and Allison and Graham Hill line up at the back, but just before the start is given, the organisers change their mind about letting them start and they are both sent back to the paddock. A very depleted looking field of nine cars is ready for the start of heat 2 and it is McLaren who shoots off into the lead, while Schell makes a bad start and gets left behind. McLaren does not lead for long, for all three Ferraris and Bonnier’s B.R.M. go by him on the straights, and lap one sees the order Phil Hill, Bonnier, Brooks, Gurney, McLaren, Trintignant and Herrmann, with Schell and Burgess already a fair way back. Brooks takes the lead on lap two, but Bonnier is still splitting the Ferraris, and on lap three the BRM drop to sixth place and it is McLaren who split the Maranello team, the first seven cars still being almost nose to tail. On lap four, the Ferraris take command but McLaren is still holding on, in fourth place, but the rest drop back and this situation lasts until lap seven when the Cooper’s transfer gears strip, just as Brabham’s do and McLaren coast to a rest. It is now all over, and the three Ferraris give a demonstration run, lapping at around 2'14"0 and taking turns at leading, being nearly half a minute ahead of Bonnier and Trintignant who are having a wheel-to-wheel battle for fourth place, changing positions almost every lap. 


Schell falls way back with a slipping clutch, due to his car being fitted with an obsolete type of clutch plate, and he is limping round hoping to finish the 30 laps, but is now way behind Burgess. At the same time, as McLaren comes to rest on the approach to the North Turn, Herrmann is in big trouble at the South Turn with the pale green B.R.M., for the front brakes give out and the car strikes the straw bales and goes end-over-end, smashing itself to pieces. Herrmann is thrown out and escapes with minor abrasions, but the car is reduced to scrap-metal. There is little interest in watching the Ferrari demonstration, all eyes turn to the dice for fourth place, but this only lasts until lap 21 for then Bonnier has the throttle linkage to one of the double-choke Weber carburettors come adrift and he comes limping round running on one carburettor. It is repaired at the pits and he rejoins the race going as well as ever, but he loses nearly half a lap. Schell’s clutch finally gives out and he stops by the line and pushes the car home when the three Ferraris complete their 30 laps in team order, Brooks, Hill and Gurney, their racing numbers being 4, 5 and 6. They do their lap of honour in line abreast and make a fine sight as they go round the steep banking with Brooks in the middle of the banking, Phil Hill above him and Gurney below him, then peeling off and coming up to line in a close group. Of the 15 starters, only seven are left at the end and only the three Ferraris complete the full 198 kilometres. To complete a rather poorly organised German Grand Prix the wrong Italian National Anthem is played for the Ferrari victory. By addition of the results of the two heats, the Ferrari team are classified in the order Brooks, Gurney and Phil Hill. As if there has not been enough racing already, a Gran Turismo race is now held over 15 laps, comprising three classes, the 1300-cc class being a fight between Alfa Romeo Giuliettas and a pair of Lotus Elites, the 1600-cc class being an all-Porsche affair, and the over 1600-cc, class a race between three American servicemen with Triumph TR3s. Much to the annoyance of the Alfa Romeos, including the hottest one in Germany, David Buxton walks away with the race in his private Elite and wins with ease, even though Warner in the other one retired with engine trouble, and once again the Union Jack is raised and God Save the Queen is played in honour of the dark blue Lotus Elite that goes so fast, in practice as well as the race. 


Many well-known Germans in the racing game are seen sniffing around it afterwards for following on the 1300-cc Gran Turismo class win earlier this year at the 1000-kilometre race, by Lumsden and Riley, the Elite in private hands shaking the superiority of the Alfa Romeo in this category. British driver Tony Brooks, at the wheel of a Ferrari, won the Berlin Grand Prix. Ferrari's triumph was completed by Dan Gurney's second place and Phil Hill's third, both Americans. After his success in Germany, Tony Brooks is in second place behind Australian Jack Brabham in the World Drivers' Championship standings; Hill and Bonnier follow. The supremacy of the Ferraris was clear: Tony Brooks, finding himself perfectly at ease in the elevated curves of the Berlin track, was always in command of the two heats, both of which took place over the distance of 249 kilometres. Never were the runners from the various British teams able to threaten the safe march of the Ferrari driver; in fact, the first British-branded car is found in fourth place and it is the Cooper-Climax of Frenchman Maurizio Trintignant. The Englishman Moss, also in Cooper-Climax, and the Australian Brabham who appeared to be the Italians' most dangerous opponents were forced to retire by mechanical failures. Only the American Gregory, of Cooper, gave the Ferrari men some trouble, but finally had to give up as a result of mechanical failures. Before the start of the race, as a tribute to the memory of Frenchman Jean Behra, who perished tragically in Saturday's practice, a minute's silence was observed; Minister Lammer, who was supposed to attend the race, gave it up as a sign of mourning. A frightening accident occurred during the second heat, but fortunately the driver was almost unharmed. 


German Hans Hermann's car, a B.R.M. 2500, following a skid, spun out. At this point, the racer was thrown onto the track; the car, after the second impact, shot up, and the racer ended up with a flight of a few metres against the protective barrier of the track. Bumping against the straw bales, the bolide ignited and naturally set fire to the straw. The driver, rolling on the track, then ended up in the flames but immediately rescued himself, with slight grazes and a few burns. Around the circuit,a crowd of about 200 thousand people gathered. The competitors completed three practice laps waiting for the rain to stop falling and for the track to dry. Thanks to these results, the title race was reopened: in fact, Brabham's retirement, which forced him to remain stationary with 27 points, brought Brooks to only four points behind the Australian, thanks in part to the additional point gained with the fastest lap. Phil Hill, with 13 points, is confirmed in third place but the gap to the top of the standings remains wide. Bonnier, now with 10 points, and Trintignant with 9 points also climbed up. Moss and McLaren remain steady at 8.5 points. The three points won by Trintignant prove valuable in the constructors' standings, where the British Cooper team climbs to 29 points, maintaining a five-point lead over Ferrari (24 points). B.R.M. loses contact with the leaders in the standings and remains lagging behind on 16 points, while retirements by Lotus drivers leave Colin Chapman's team trailing by three points in the standings. The Italian Grand Prix in Monza, the Portuguese Grand Prix in Lisbon and the U.S. Grand Prix in Sebring (if it takes place) are left before the end of the season.


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