#92 1960 Portuguese Grand Prix

2021-10-08 01:00

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#1960, Fulvio Conti, Translated by Ylenia Lucia Salerno, Translated by Carola Buzio, Giulia Pea,

#92 1960 Portuguese Grand Prix

As seen on Friday and Saturday’s official sessions, the new Ferrari 1500, driven by Wolfgang von Trips, showed impressive pace and was unbeatable duri


As seen in the official sessions on Friday and Saturday, the new Ferrari 1500, driven by Wolfgang von Trips, showed impressive pace and was unbeatable during the Solitude Grand prix. The race was held on Sunday 24th July 1960 at Solitudering, according to Formula 1 regulations. Let’s give the right context to the success of the constructor from Modena. First of all, it’s important to remember that, starting from next year, the new formula will take over the old Formula 1. The reason behind this is that the latter had fulfilled its technical purposes. Thus, the Solitude race was a sort of preview for the official races of the 1961 World Championship. Without indulging in exaggerated optimism, we can confirm that the team from Maranello wants to put a lot of effort into the next season. The new creation of Ferrari, according to valid rumors, should develop around 180 horsepower per liter. On the tricky Solitude track, the car crossed the line in perfect conditions without having any technical inconvenience, in terms of efficiency. Wolfgang von Trips is satisfied:


"I could have done even 100 km more; I just didn’t want to take my hands off the steering wheel".


In terms of collective performance, Porsche made a very good impression. Two places on the podium were taken by the German manufacturer, in fact Herrmann finished 2nd ahead of Bonnier, Graham Hill and Gurney. Surtees’ car was the only one to not finish the race due a transmission failure. Furthermore, Herrmann led the race for 10 laps out of 20. In the end, he had to give way to the offensive Ferrari German driver. In terms of engine power, it’s still evident that the silver Porsche cannot compete with the new Italian creation. At the start of the race, Jim Clark leads the group driving his Lotus. Porsche and Ferrari follow. In the meantime, Jack Brabham’s Cooper doesn’t seem to work properly. At the end of the 7th lap, Hermann is still leading in the Porsche ahead of Trips’ Ferrari. Clark is 100 meters away. During the 16th lap, Trips’ car is much faster than the Porsche. Therefore, the German overtakes his fellow compatriot and takes the lead. Surtees, who also took part in the race, is able to take part in the Grand Prix but is then forced to retire due to a transmission problem. The race, as previously said, crowns Trips and Ferrari. The Italian team have demonstrated to have built a very solid car. The following week, on Sunday 31st July 1960, the German Grand Prix is scheduled at the Nürburgring. It is reserved for Formula 2 cars. This event is important because, during the course of the last testing day, there is a scary crash involving Masten Gregory. The American driver goes off track and the car overturns several times, luckily the driver only has some minor injuries. Stirling Moss makes his comeback after the horrendous accident at Spa. Three Ferrari also take part in this event: Phil Hill, Richie Ginther and Wolfgang von Trips drive the Italian cars. The organizers of the race are forced to say no to Formula 1 cars and, consequently, to the qualifying session that would have given points for the constructors’ championship. The attendance of the cars, in the Formula 2 series and in the Solitude Grand Prix di, is still significant. These cars - as mentioned earlier - are similar to those that will race in the 1961 Formula 1 World Championship. The Portuguese Grand Prix is more relevant. It takes place in Oporto on Sunday 14th August 1960 in the streets of the city. The last race in Portugal was in 1958. The track is considered a real street track, it’s fast and it presents all the dangers of a race held in a street circuit. Stirling Moss makes a comeback driving his Lotus-Climax for RRC Walker. It’s the same car that, after the accident in Spa, was completely rebuild. It now has a modified front suspension. The anti-roll bar, which usually is linked to the pins of the upper transverse arms, had given problems twice. Thus, it was designed again in order to be paired to the pins of the lower transverse arms with short tie-rod, to avoid a car design problem. Walker also have an old Cooper-Climax available, with the function of a car and a spare engine. 


Instead, Lotus are present in Oporto with three rear-engine cars. Jim Clark will have a car with an inclined engine and closed fuel. In the meantime, Innes Ireland and John Surtees will race with cars that have vertical engines and Weber carburetor. Both cars won’t have long suction tubes, which were previously used. Furthermore, Ireland’s car has rear disk brakes fit on the wheel hubs instead of being arranged inside the car. B.R.M. arrive in Oporto with rear-engine cars, driven by Jo Bonnier, Graham Hill and Dan Gurney. They have also a fourth spare one. Instead, Scuderia Ferrari only have two Dino 246 model cars that will be driven by Phil Hill and Wolfgang von Trips. Both are front engine. Scuderia Centro-Sud present two Cooper-Maserati. Masten Gregory and Mario Araujo de Cabral are driving them. The Portuguese drives replaces Maurice Trintignant, who was waiting to drive an official Aston Martin. However, at the last minute, the English cars weren’t lined up, leaving him without a car to drive. Cooper-Climax bring two official cars are driven by Jack Brabham and Bruce McLaren. The defending championship has an additional spare one, just in case. Instead, Yeoman Credit bring three cars: Tony Brooks’ car, equipped with the 5-gears Colotti gearbox, and Olivier Gendebien’s, which has a four-speed Cooper gearbox and spoked wheels on the rear. Trevor Taylor has a standard Cooper; the latest 2½ liters engine is fitted on all three cars. The Portuguese race weekend will be characterized by two free-practice sessions, each one lasting two hours, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. On Friday 12th August 1960, B.R.M. are missing one driver since Jo Bonnier has a fever. Dan Gurney compensates the absence of the Swedish driver by doing the fastest lap. It’s well below the record of the circuit, which was previously set by Mike Hawthorn with a Ferrari. In the meantime, Brabham and McLaren do some insight laps to know better the track. Lotus are forced to solve some issues with the gear ratios. John Surtees spends most of his time in the pits waiting until the mechanics solve the issue that affects his car, which is related to the gear-selection mechanism. At the same time, Stirling Moss doesn’t feel comfortable with the Lotus and decides to do some laps with the old Cooper. 


Ireland, as well, tries the Lotus to compare it with the official one. Yeoman Credit are unable to find enough speed to set a quick lap time. Furthermore, one of the drivers is involved in an accident. Henry Taylor lost control of his car while going through the open space after the pits, the British driver hits a pavement and has a massive shunt. Luckily, the driver only lightly injured his arm and fingers. During free practice, Jack Brabham sets the fastest lap in 2'28"43, followed by McLaren with 2'28"97. Towards the end of the session, Dan Gurney goes even faster in his B.R.M., setting a time of 2'27"81. Many have doubts regarding Stirling Moss’ conditions after his incident during the free-practice sessions in Belgium, but the British driver shows that he’s still competitive by finishing 2nd in free practice. The two Ferrari are also quite competitive, being quite close to the leaders. Time goes by and Surtees’ team are still looking to solve the gear-selection issue. Only towards the end of the first-free practice session, John goes back on track. Although not even a couple of laps later, the sprocket and the pinion break down. Once again, the British driver is forced to go back to the pits. The second free-practice session is on Saturday 13th August 1960, from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. During the afternoon, the weather is not excessively warm, but the wind has changed direction. It's now unfavorable to cars that will go through the final straight. Due to this, it’s noted that the times set during the second free practice session are slower than the ones set on the previous day. A couple of minutes before the start of this session, Jim Clark goes into the corner beyond the pits, to try a new line with the intent of avoiding the tram rails. However, the British driver hits the left kerb with the rear tyre and goes through the circuit and over the hay bales. Clark is uninjured yet his car is severely damaged. Jo Bonnier, in the meantime, has recovered from the fever and does some laps with the B.R.M. On the other hand, Yeoman Credit are struggling. During the session, a main shaft nut on Tony Brooks’ car is unscrewed, making the shaft and the gears move out of the system which leaves the wheels with no transmission. Luckily, there are no damages, but the car is stuck off-track for the rest of the session. 


Therefore, the team is left only with Gendebien’s car. As time goes by, the wind starts to be stronger and is favorable for the cars that are tackling the final straight. Brabham and McLaren go out on track together. The Australian driver is faster than his teammate and leaves him behind setting a time of 2'26"05. Stirling Moss sets a good time in 2'26"19, but it’s not enough to beat Brabham’s. John Surtees, who had to skip most of free practice on Friday afternoon, on track is behind Dan Gurney. The two follow each other closely for many laps, improving the times of each sector lap after lap.  Surtees sets a time that surprises everyone: a 2'25"56. Gurney is 2nd, with 2'25"63. Before the other drivers exit the pits, rain starts to pour. While the majority of the paddock starts to leave the circuit, Dan Gurney decides to leave the pits to try new tires. Following this attempt, the American driver doesn’t seem to be satisfied at all. The two Ferrari drivers are much faster than the previous day. Nonetheless, Wolfgang von Trips and Phil Hill will start from 9th and 10th position, Masten Gregory is happy with his Cooper-Maserati and is much faster than rival team Yeoman Credit’s Cooper. The American driver sets a time of 2'29"16 which is not distant from the two Ferrari drivers. At the end of FP2, local drivers have the time do the National GT races to give way to Formula 1 the following day. On Sunday 14th August 1960, at 2:00 p.m., the Formula 1 cars are subjected to final technical checks. In view of the Portuguese Grand Prix, the tanks have the 100/130 Avgas fuel. During the night, Lotus’ mechanics worked on Jim Clark’s car and managed to fix it using puff lamps, tourniquets, screw jack and wooden blocks. Everything is done under Colin Chapman’s order, although the owner of the Portuguese garage claimed that they would have never been able to repair the car of the Scottish driver in time for the race. In fact, the car repair ends during the lunch break. The slits in the fiberglass bodywork are covered with duct tape. One thing to note is that, apart from a slight steering stiffness and the tendency to over-steer in some corners and to under-steer in others, the car is in very good condition. Therefore, it’s brought to the FIA for technical checks. The start, scheduled at 4:00 p.m., is postponed for a couple of minutes. 


Optimistically, a contractor had built a Dexion footbridge, which was starting to break, and therefore they needed to repair it quickly. With this out of the way, finally the 15 cars can line-up on the grid. Henry Taylor is in the pits and will watch the race as a spectator due to an injury suffered during the first free-practice session. In the front row of the grid, there are three different car manufactures. It’s time to start the 55 laps race. When the 30-seconds signal appears, Graham Hill starts to move forward and goes between Gurney and Brabham. The duo does the same, followed by Surtees. The starter hasn’t lowered the flag yet, but in the front row four cars are moving already. The cars behind are also starting to get closer to the leaders. A couple of seconds before the start, the first row of the grid, with Surtees, Gurney, Graham Hill and Brabham, is now a car length over the starting line. A couple of seconds later, the drivers leave the starter behind, with the flag still up. Therefore, he decides to drop it. With a roar, all cars move towards turn 1. At the start, Gurney is slightly ahead but Brabham takes the lead of the race at the Avenue Boa Vista turn. Then, Gurney overtakes the Australian’s Cooper when breaking. When the group descends the winding hill towards the promenade, Gurney is still leading ahead of Brabham, Moss, Surtees, Ireland, Phill Hill, Graham Hill, McLaren, Bonnier, Brooks and Clark. Before the start of the race, the Scottish was given the rigid instruction to not enter the top-10 for at least 6 laps, until the car behaves properly. At the end of the 1st lap, Wolfgang von Trips has disappeared. Half a lap later though, he reappears in front of the pits with the nose of his car bent and twisted, this is the result of a crash against some hay bales. After a pit-stop, the German driver does the exact same lap time as before the incident. The top-8 cars are in a tight group going through the tram rails. Breaking left, the drivers then arrive at the twisty section. Braham misjudges the breaking point and is overtaken by six cars. At the end of the 3rd lap, Ireland, as well as Trips, is far back from the leading group and goes into the pits. Ireland’s car has a fuel supply issue that shuts the engine repeatedly. 


At the end of the 4th lap, Gurney has a 4-seconds lead over Moss, who is followed closely by Surtees and Phil Hill. Further back, a group starts to form: Bonnier, Graham Hill, McLaren and Brabham are part of it. During the following lap, Bonnier abandons this group due to the engine failure on his B.R.M. While this is happening, Brabham overtakes McLaren. On lap 6, Gurney extends his lead, which is now 6-seconds. Surtees, in the meantime, overtakes Moss for the 2nd place. These two drivers are followed by Phil Hill. This shows that Ferrari, even with a front-engine, can still keep up with the other cars. At the end of lap 6, Bonnier goes back to the pits. There is vapor coming out of the B.R.M. exhaust pipes. When oil starts to leak from the carburetor, the car sadly has to stop. Meanwhile, Innes Ireland is also stuck in the pits waiting for the mechanics to repair the power supply system. A couple of minutes later, Brabham and Graham Hill are running wheel to wheel on the final straight. The Cooper-Climax and the B.R.M. have the same top speed. On lap 9, the British driver gets overtaken by McLaren, before he starts to hear a noise coming from the rear of the car. Therefore, during the same lap, Graham Hill is forced to retire for a gearbox issue. On the 10th lap, Dan Gurney slides on what he thinks is oil, which is probably leaking from his car and on the track. His advantage over Surtees, Moss and Phil Hill drops down to 1.25 seconds. At this point, Ireland is back into this race. Trips is lapped by the leaders. Queuing up behind them, the Ferrari driver has the same race pace. On lap 11, Gurney is still fearing for the oil leakage. Surtees, Moss, Phil Hill and Brabham quickly overtake the B.R.M. driver. A lap later, it’s McLaren’s turn to overtake the American driver for the 5th position. The latter has dropped down to the 6th place, with Brooks chasing him more closely. At the end of the 13th lap, Surtees is one second ahead of Moss. Phil Hill is following closely the two blue Lotus.


Brabham is 10 seconds behind, in 4th place, and unable to gain ground on the Ferrari driver. Onto lap 16, Surtees’ Ferrari starts to struggle, unable to keep up with Lotus’ race pace. Meanwhile, Gurney’s engine starts to fall apart. Brook takes advantage of this to overtake him and obtains the 3rd place. At the same time, Trips overtakes the two Centro-Sud cars to approach progressively Gendebien. At the back of the field, Ireland does some good lap times but is too far back to leave his mark in this race anymore. The only goal for him is to finish the race. Back to the front, there is an apparently stalling situation which lasts until lap 19. Halfway through the race, it’s time to pit. Surtees is now running alone on the final straight since Stirling Moss has pitted. The Ferrari driver collects a 10 seconds advantage over Phil Hill. Brabham soon closes this gap and starts to appear in Surtees’ rear-view mirrors. Moss does a slow out-lap before coming into the pit again in order to let the mechanics change all the spark plugs on the car. He goes back out on track in 9th place, behind Trips, a lap away from the leaders. The engine, though, still concerns him. On lap 21, Masten Gregory retires due to a transmission failure. Meanwhile, Brabham is right behind Phil Hill. The American defends his position for two laps. On lap 24, Dan Gurney is forced to pit for an engine malfunction. Not even a lap later, Jack Brabham gets ahead of Surtees. Moss pits again while Gurney, after completing yet another slow lap, retires. John Surtees maintains a 10-seconds advantage and seems unbeatable. At the finish line, Stirling Moss goes back on track although he’s two laps away from the British. At the end of the 13th lap, Phil Hill is forced to retire because of a hydraulic clutch issue. The American driver changes gear when he goes wide into the turn and, as a result, he hits the hay bales. Jack Brabham is running on his own, yet he is unable to get close to Surtees, who is stretching his advantage. Onto lap 29, Tony Brooks goes into the pits for a gearbox issue. His intent is to let his mechanics repair it. Immediately after, Gendebien breaks the gearbox as well and has the same intention as the British colleague. 


At the end of the 14th lap, John Surtees has a 22-seconds advantage over Brabham and 19 seconds on McLaren. Clark is 4th, a minute behind the leader. Meanwhile Phil Hill, following the hay bales accident, restarts with a crumpled nose fairing and a bent steering wheel. Gendebien goes into the pits again, being able to use only the third and fourth gear, while Moss can’t get the four-cylinder engine to start properly. On lap 30, John Surtees starts to slow down and, almost since the beginning of the race, he points at the front fuel tank in every single pit-stop. Nobody understands what he means since there is no apparent reason to do so. In reality, though, they discovered that the fuel tank leaks oil from a racked seam. Hence, the British driver tries to keep his mechanics informed in case he has difficulties with the fuel level. In fact, as the race goes on, the leakage gets worse. It starts to pour on his feet and pedals, making them very slippery. As a consequence, as Surtees approaches the cobblestone turn in order to go into the tight and narrow part of the track, his feet slip from the brake. A fraction of a second later, Surtees ends up hitting the pavement and onto the hay bales. In the following moments, Surtees tries to restart the car while Brabham takes the lead of the race. What Surtees doesn’t know is that the radiator is damaged and, on the following lap, the British is forced to retire his Lotus, which didn’t have any coolant left, on the side of the track. With 18 laps to go, the two Cooper drivers Jack Brabham and Bruce McLaren, who are now first and second, have a good race pace. The concerned look that John Cooper had until that moment, finally disappears. Jim Clark is 3rd, a minute behind McLaren. Trips is 4th, less than a lap behind the leader. After the Ferrari mechanics finish checking the steering wheel, Phil Hill decides to finish the race. The American goes back on track and, before crossing the finish line, stops in order to be lapped by Brabham. However, the organizers don’t allow this unusual stop and invite Hill to restart. So, he restarts with the hope of stopping on a downhill point of the track until Brabham finishes the race. He would then restart the Ferrari engine to complete the lap. After a long push, Hill climbs in the cockpit, engages the gear and starts the engine. 


However, the clutch is stuck and doesn’t work. At this point, though, the flat stretch of the road ends and he is forced to retire. Just before the finish line, Wolfgang von Trips unlaps himself from Brabham. After the incident on the first lap, the German was able to drive the car with great skills. At some point, he was 4th and not very far behind Jim Clark. Moss is unable to finish the 51st lap due to a lock-up of the front brakes at the fateful left corner, where every driver had problems. As a result, the engine stops as he goes into the escape route. As Brabham completes the last two laps of the race, Moss vainly tries to restart his Lotus. When he notices that the race is over, the British driver turns the Lotus car around and goes downhill in the opposite direction to the track. Jack Brabham wins the Portuguese Grand Prix, this is his 5th win of the season. Bruce McLaren finishes 2nd. Jim Clark takes an impressive 3rd place with a car that should have lasted only a few laps. Wolfgang von Trips is 4th after an impressive comeback race. Stirling Moss finishes 5th. Later on, they discovered that the latter violated article 6 of the regulation and is disqualified; his place is given to Tony Brooks, followed by Olivier Gendebien. With this win, Jack Brabham is very close to becoming World Champion for the second consecutive time. Bruce McLaren missed two races but arithmetically isn’t out of the championship fight yet. However, it’s unlikely that the New Zealander succeeds on this track. Brabham leads the standings with 40 points, while his teammate has 33 points. Innes Ireland is 3rd and has no chance to win the championship with 12 points. Regarding the constructors’ championship, Cooper are mathematically World Champion with 48 points (even if the real score should have been 54). Lotus are 2nd with 28 points (29 if the worst-case race scenario isn’t calculated). The 1960 World Championship is coming to an end, with two Grands Prix left to go. Next up is the Italian Grand Prix, in Monza, which will be held on Sunday 4th September 1960. By now, this upcoming race doesn’t seem to be too important for the standings.


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