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#93 1960 European and Italian Grand Prix

2021-10-07 01:00

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#1960, Fulvio Conti, Translated by Carola Buzio, Martina Marastoni,

#93 1960 European and Italian Grand Prix

On Sunday 4th September 1960 the Italian Grand Prix is held in Monza which, for this occasion, takes the name of European Grand Prix. The organizers o

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On Sunday 4th September 1960 the Italian Grand Prix is held in Monza which, for this occasion, takes the name of European Grand Prix. The organizers opted for the layout that includes elevated curves, used in 1955 and 1956. In 1955 Fangio won with a Mercedes-Benz over a distance of 500 kilometers with an average speed of 206,791 km/h, after the German manufacturer had carried out many tests and worked on the suspension geometry to adapt the car to the very high speeds of the elevated curves. In 1956 Moss won the race with an average speed of 208.787 km/h with a new Maserati 250F with blocks under the springs which slightly lifted the car to avoid damaging the tank with the bumps on the elevated turn. One of the biggest problems to solve to adapt the car to the characteristics of the track concerns the tires, as the tread and the pressure suitable for the sectors of the circuit are different from those suitable for the elevated curves and vice-versa. The solution is to find a compromise, a balance between the two. On the 10 km circuit, pit stops for tire changes will be essential. Since 1956, the situation has changed a lot: among the teams that took part in the race, which are Ferrari, Maserati, Vanwall, Connaught and Gordini, only Ferrari will compete this year, while the other teams have long since abandoned Formula 1. The new entries Lotus, Cooper and B.R.M. are not willing to participate because of the characteristics of the mixed track and announced their absence in the event. The British teams argue that the characteristics of the track in Monza aren’t suitable for their light cars, designed for flat curved circuits which stress the chassis, and in particular the suspensions, much less. In such conditions, they say, the very fast elevated corners could represent a danger for the drivers. The organizers of the Automobile Club of Milan reacted firmly. First of all, claiming that the track in Monza is the safest one among all; then that the British teams had been informed of the change of course in April. Finally, if in the British teams couldn’t compete in Monza against Ferrari, they had to stay at home. Changing the course again wouldn’t even be an option. Actually, Cooper, Lotus and B.R.M. are designed with special lightness and structure that make them unsuitable for certain tracks, so the concerns of the manufacturers could be legitimate, but technically this wasn’t considered sufficient. The complaint is in contrast with the spirit of motor sport: the races are held - and they must be held - at the most different tracks, precisely to give the opportunity to judge the cars based on their seasonal performance. 

 

To increase the number of participants, the Italian Automobile Club opened the competition also to Formula 2 cars, allowing the fast Ferrari and Porsche to test waiting for the 1961 season, which will see the new 1.5-liter car. Scuderia Ferrari present their cars using the acronym SEFAC, the official name of Ferrari since it was made a public company. The team from Modena will take part in the race with three F1 V6 Dino 246 with front engine, driven by Phil Hill, Richie Ginther and Willy Mairesse, including Ginther’s which has a longer wheelbase. Instead, Wolfgang von Trips will be driving the F2 V6 Dino 156 with rear engine. A week before the race, Ferrari tried the new rear-engine F1 and the results were satisfying, but racing with it in Monza without a direct rival would have been counter-productive. Then they had to decide which of the four drivers would occupy the seat. But since Porsche will also participate with two F2 cars, driven by Hermann and Barth, Ferrari decides to support von Trips, to make the three Germans compete directly. The two classic 1960 Porsche are joined by a third car, the ex-Behra Colotti Special that Camoradi is trying to sell to the American Roy Colet, then driven by Camoradi’s driver Fred Gamble. Scuderia Eugenio Castellotti participate with two Cooper-Ferrari, with 1959 Cooper chassis, four-cylinder engine coming from the old Ferrari SuperSqualo and Colotti five-speed gearbox. The Italians Cabianca and Munaron will be driving these two cars. The other Italian team, Scuderia Centro-Sud, which has the main purpose of introducing new young drivers to the sport, will participate with two Cooper-Maserati driven by Scarlatti and Alfonso Thiele, with the latter driving a F1 car for the first time but who also has great experience on this track since he already drove both Ferrari and Abarth GTs. The rest of the grid is made by private owners, including Naylor with his JBW Maserati, Arthur Owen with his green 2.2-liter Cooper-Climax, and Gould with his old Maserati 250F. The list of participants is completed by other private F2 cars: Seidel (who set aside the idea of participating with his Porsche) with his Cooper-Climax, Piero Drogo with the Cooper-Climax owned by von Trips and his Scuderia Colonia, and finally Wilson with Gibson’s Cooper-Climax. Ferrari shouldn’t have any difficulty imposing themselves (and they would certainly have had excellent chances against the official cars of the British teams). 

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The comparison between Scuderia Castellotti’s Cooper, which have Ferrari engines, and those of Scuderia Centro-Sud, powered by Maserati, will be interesting. Above all, the fight between the six Formula 2 cars will be exciting. Drivers will have to cover 50 laps of the circuit, for a total of 500 kilometers. The race is valid for the World Championship, but in this respect, it no longer has any importance, since Jack Brabham has now largely secured, for the second time in a row, the title of World Champion. As we could imagine, the tests don’t tell us anything new and the result of both sessions on Friday and Saturday is as everyone had planned. The F1 Ferrari help the homonymous F2 car offering their wake and helping them set the fastest laps against those set by Porsche. Scuderia Centro Sud participate only in tests on Saturday and so does Naylor, while Gould is forced to give up the whole weekend due to issues on his Maserati, which doesn’t intend to work properly. In the Ferrari box a wave of complaints raises and the team from Modena returns only after accepting the apologies of senior officers. Of course, the three Ferrari F1 cars are the fastest and they obtain the top positions on the starting grid, while the two Centro-Sud cars fight each other for the second row. On Sunday the sky is covered by clouds and a cold breeze blows on the spectators, while the track condition is ideal for drivers. The sixteen cars line up on the grid, organized differently than usual: in rows of 3-2-3 cars instead of 4-3-4, given the decision to use only half of the width of the track on the starting straight. When the flag drops, the fourteen cars start, while Cabianca and Munaron stand still having stalled the Ferrari engine of their Cooper. The mechanics manage to push the cars and the two drivers start the race only when the rest of the participants have already reached the Lesmo turn. As the cars roll past the pits at the end of the first lap, Ginther is leading, followed by Phil Hill, Scarlatti, and Mairesse, ready to slow down to help Trips, stuck behind the two Porsche. Munaron and Cabianca have already gained ground, while Owen crashes into the barriers due to the malfunction of the brakes, being thrown out of the car but luckily coming out of it uninjured. On the elevated curves Ginther and Hill distance themselves from the rest of the group. 

 

Mairesse is overtaken by Naylor in fourth position while trying to respect the plan established within the team the night before: the two Americans should have kept the lead, while the Belgian should have slowed down to give way to F2 Ferrari. Halfway through the race, Ginther and Mairesse were expected to switch positions and Phil Hill was expected to take the lead of the Grand Prix, with Ginther slowing down and Mairesse ready to take back any position he had previously lost. If the plan had worked, the Ferrari would have finished in first, second, third and fourth position; a hypothetical extraordinary result for the team from Maranello. Porsche could have foreseen the rivals' plan but didn’t expect the four drivers to be willing to collaborate for the benefit of the team. On the second lap Trips overtakes Herrmann and Bart, Mairesse gives him the wake and the first part of the strategy is successfully implemented. For half lap the two Porsche maintain the pace of the two Ferrari, respectively in fourth and fifth position, but slowly lose seconds until they can no longer use the wake. On the fourth lap Scarlatti stopped at the pits due to an issue with the gas pedal. Mairesse and Trips overtook Naylor in third position, and so did Munaron in his Cooper-Ferrari after having already gained position on the two Porsche. Ferrari covered the first four positions, followed by Munaron, Naylor, Herrmann, Barth and Cabianca. On the fifth lap Cabianca overtakes the two Porsche, which once again can’t keep up with the the other drivers without a wake. Munaron ruins Ferrari’s strategy, overtaking Mairesse and Trips and obtaining the third place. The battle between the three cars continues for a few laps and only on the seventh lap Munaron manages to overtaking again the two Ferrari and gains a good gap that can ensure, for the moment, the third place, despite many attempts from Mairesse to keep up without stopping to offer his wake to the teammate. Meanwhile, Ginther and Hill are already lapping the cars in the queue. Scarlatti is back in the race but is one lap away from the others after the long pit stop. Around lap 10, Ginther and Hill were separated by just one second and had a 75-second lead from Cabianca, who was 9 seconds ahead of Mairesse and Trips, who had overtaken Munaron in the meantime. Mairesse is still forced to slow down behind Cooper-Ferrari to allow his team-mate to use his wake, but the strategy shows to be succesful, at least for now, given the great gap gained on the two Porsche, overtaken by Thiele as well. Drogo, Seidel, Gamble, Scarlatti and Wilson, with Seidel and Gamble, instead, arae engaged in a wonderful battle. During the sixteenth lap Munaron is between Mairesse and Trips, with the Belgian forced to slow down to respect the strategy of Scuderia Ferrari and leave more space to Cooper-Ferrari, now in fourth position.

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Ginther returns to the pits and, with a very fast pit stop, gets new rear tires fitted on his car. Back on track he finds himself in second place, but only for one lap, because in the next one Hill returns to the pit lane to change tires. Hill is now 25 seconds away from Ginther, a time accumulated also because of the mistake made by the American restarting from the pit lane that led him to stall the engine of his Ferrari. Ginther is almost lapping Trips, in fifth position. Mairesse stops at the pits for a tire change. Therefore, the two Ferrari F2 cars remain on the track but are far from the two Porsche, engaged in a continuous exchange of positions. On the twenty-first lap the order of the ranking sees Richie Ginther in the lead, followed by Phil Hill, Giulio Cabianca, Gino Munaron and Wolfgang von Trips; then, with a delay of one lap Bryan Naylor, Alfonso Thiele, Edgar Barth, Hans Herrmann and Willy Mairesse follow him. On the next lap, Cabianca stops to refuel and change the rear tires, but the pit stop is too long. Mairesse passes the two Porsche. On lap 23 Ginther laps Trips but leaves the opportunity to enjoy his wake to his teammate; Hill approaches the two drivers as well and is ready to pass them to take the leadership of the Grand Prix, as was established by Scuderia Ferrari’s strategy. On the same lap, Munaron stopped to refuel and replace a rear tire. On lap 25, halfway through the race, the order of the standings sees Ginther in the lead, followed by Hill, then Trips, Naylor, Mairesse, who have been lapped, and the two Porsche driven by Herrmann and Barth attacked by Cabianca. Scarlatti had reached the ninth position but was then forced to stop at the pits to refuel. The Italian driver, while going back on track, is immediately involved in a battle with the other two private F2 cars. So far there has been only another withdrawal other than Owen’s, involved in an accident during the first lap, and it was Wilson on the F2Cooper, during the twenty-third lap due to the engine failure, but in the next eight laps three more cars will be forced to quit the race: Munaron due to an oil leakage, during the twenty-seventh lap, and the two Cooper-Maserati driven by Thiele - during the thirty-second lap due to the damage of the gearbox - and Scarlatti, during lap 26 due to engine failure. On lap 26, Phil Hill took the lead of the race and Ginther continued to offer his wake to the F2 Ferrari, despite being a lap ahead of his teammates. Mairesse is in fourth position and is gaining seconds. 

 

Cabianca gains ground as well, and during the twenty-eighth lap he manages to pass Mairesse, who makes a mistake and goes wide. Ginther waits for him to give him the wake, leaving Trips uncovered and helpless. On lap thirty-two, Ginther went back to the pits for a tire change, and on lap thirty-three, Barth did the same to refuel his Porsche. The mechanics are quick, and both manage to keep their position. Two laps later Herrmann also went back to the pits and the team was just as fast. On the thirty-fifth lap it was Hill’s turn to change the front and rear left tire: the Ferrari mechanics were impeccable, and Hill went back on track maintaining the first position. The next lap is Mairesse’s turn. Naylor stops to refuel and so does Gamble, but shortly after their return on track find themselves in trouble. Seven laps later, only nine laps to go, Naylor’s Maserati gearbox broke and forced the driver to retire. Gamble stops instead for a problem with the fuel pump. However, while returning to the pits, he manages to solve the problem and finishes the race. Meanwhile, the pit lane is still chaotic: on lap 38 Drogo stops to refuel and on lap 39 Trips stops to check a possible issue with the rear tires: these are considered in good condition and the German driver is given the green light to finish the race. However, the short stop of the Ferrari driver, allows Cabianca to take the fourth position, ruining the plan of the team from Maranello. On lap 42, Mairesse stopped unexpectedly due to a transmission issue, but the mechanics sent him back on track to finish the race a lap behind his team-mate and leader of the Grand Prix, Phil Hill. The American driver completed the 50 laps scheduled with a new time and a new average speed record (212.534 km/h), becoming the first American to win an official Grand Prix in Europe after Jimmy Murphy. Ginther crosses the line in second position: two Americans are in the first two places, something that never happened before in the history of the Italian Grand Prix. Following in order of arrival Mairesse, Cabianca and Trips, first among the F2 cars, are following them. With a delay of one lap arrive the two F2 Porsche driven by Herrmann and Barth, who cross the finish line at the same time, but the lead is given to the first of the two German drivers. The three private F2 followed, with Drogo in the lead after doing an excellent race, participating for the first time in a Grand Prix. Seidel and Gamble closed the group. 

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As it was easy to predict, the cars from Maranello dominated greatly: they went very well without the slightest difficulty, but had to proceed, at regular intervals, with a double change of the rear wheels, whose tires had suffered greatly due to the speed (the double circuit of Monza allows to reach higher speed averages than any other existing track) and the violent friction on the elevated curves, which are tackled at a speed higher than 240 km/h. In a potential comparison with the British Formula 1 cars, these forced stops would have had a considerable importance, provided that Cooper, Lotus and B.R.M. weren’t in the same conditions. But these are theoretical hypothesis, certainly not made to diminish the efficiency shown by the Italian cars, whose progress shouldn’t go unnoticed to the careful observer. Even in the race with the smaller Formula 2 cars, the cars from Maranello were better. The Italian cars have improved a lot, after the bad performances in the first Grands Prix of the season. On the other hand, Phil Hill’s average speed, although very high, doesn’t exceed the speed achieved in 1956 just by four kilometers. Now, there is no doubt that the average speed would have been higher if there hadn’t been a fight and if the Ferrari drivers didn’t stop twice to change the rear wheels. However, it was a shame because this was the last chance of a direct battle between Formula 1 cars, given the imminent change of regulations. Other positive aspects of the day concern the behavior of the Italian drivers, finally racing in front of their audience: Giulio Cabianca, fourth on the Cooper-Castellotti; then the brave, though very unlucky in the final phases of the race, Gino Munaron and Giorgio Scarlatti, who stood out in the early stages of the European and Italian Grand Prix. On the other hand, the Inter-Europe Cup, raced with GT cars before the European and Italian Grand Prix, created more interest. Many well-known drivers were involved in the race, and very high-speed averages were achieved in all the different categories. Among all, the young Carlo Mario Abate from Turin, a driver not new to races, stood out, but perhaps he had never given a clear demonstration of his skills, which are authentic class, style, full mastery of the vehicle. The Ferrari 3000 GT isn’t certainly a car made for everyone, but Abate has shown how to use it to its full potential without risking beyond the limits. Another very good race, though less fortunate, is that of Miro Toselli, who lost the second place due to a sudden cut in the engine, and the always commendable Ada Pace who, after leading, for a long time the UDO class, saw her efforts vanished due to a simple issue with the gas pedal. 

 

Modena, the capital of racing cars, also has a racetrack that, small and compact as it is, offers spectacular features, with the audience being able to follow the race both from the stands and from any other location of the track. Unfortunately, after a very promising start and the organization of interesting Grands Prix, particular situations have caused a progressive decay of the structure, so much so that the conditions of the track didn’t even allow the test driver of the team from Modena to use it safely. Finally, the crisis has been overcome and the circuit in Modena, after the renovation, is now perfectly suited to host a long-distance race. On Sunday 2nd October 1960 is held the sixth edition of the Modena Grand Prix, valid for the Formula 2 championship, and for the first time in the group of competitors there will be many foreign drivers. In fact, in the scheduled competition among of the twelve cars in the race, only one is Italian: precisely the Ferrari of Wolfgang von Trips, already winner of the two most important Formula 2 races. The other eleven cars will represent the sports industry across the border: there will be two official Porsches, two official Lotus, Stirling Moss’ special Lotus, the Cooper-Climax of the Belgian national team and the cars of Scuderia Centro Sud. Equally, for the first time in the history of the race there will be only one Italian driver on the track: Giorgio Scarlatti. Scarlatti’s task will be very hard as he will face champions such as Moss, Ireland, Bonnier, Gendebien, Trintignant and the multiple motorcycling world champion John Surtees. The first two editions of the Modena Grand Prix were won by Ferrari, both by Alberto Ascari. The third Modena Grand Prix saw another Italian success, with Luigi Villoresi driving Ferrari. The other two victories went to Maserati, first with Juan Manuel Fangio and then with Jean Behra. It was thought that the European and Italian Grand Prix, held in Monza, had practically ended the season, and instead it will have a quite interesting continuation on the renewed track in Modena, with a race of top-class cars and drivers. Ferrari, Lotus, Cooper and Porsche will be racing on the spectacular track in Modena (finally renovated, after a period of decay, and improved safety, which once wasn’t entirely satisfactory) with a team of champions. Starting with Stirling Moss, who comes to Italy preceded by a bad reputation, after the well-known events that led to the defection of the British at the Italian Grand Prix: on that occasion, Moss was harshly attacked and considered the alleged responsible of the incident. 

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It isn’t difficult to imagine that in Modena the champion from London will fight with particular commitment, determined to end an especially unlucky season, keeping his serious accident in June in Belgium in mind as well. If Stirling Moss will be everyone’s target, so will be Ferrari, which after several years compete again at their home track, where their cars were tested for some time. The 1500 Ferrari with rear engine is perhaps the most successful F2 car at the moment: it was shown in Monza and especially at the Solitude circuit. It will be driven by Trips, the most close-knit of the Scuderia Ferrari drivers, and the American Ginther, who has also become the official test driver of the team from Maranello. The group of participants (a total of twelve drivers, as said by the race regulations: if the group is too big, drivers will have to take part in tests which then determine who will be the starting drivers), also includes John Surtees, the great champion of motorcycling who, transitioning to four wheels, has proven to be as capable as the strongest drivers, the young and determined Ireland and Tony Marsh. All three British drivers will be driving Lotus. Then Trintignant, Seidel and the Portuguese Cabral on Cooper-Climax; Giorgio Scarlatti on Cooper-Maserati; Burgess on Lotus-Maserati; Bonnier, Herrmann and Barth on Porsche, cars less powerful than the Italian and British one liter and a half, but very maneuverable. The track in Modena is just 2366 meters long: a zigzag which requires extreme effort, where the abilities of the driver are more important than the car efficiency. The Modena Grand Prix is held on a distance of 100 laps, equivalent to 236.600 kilometers. The start of the race sees Bonnier leading, while behind him there are top class drivers or drivers who have the most efficient cars: Ginther, Trips, Barth and Stirling Moss, driving Lotus. Then Moss attacked and managed to climb up to third position after the two Ferrari, but immediately paid for it with the withdrawal, caused by an irreparable valves issue. This happens on the 21st lap. Then Ginther, the second Ferrari driver, driving a traditional front-engine car, takes the lead strongly, while Trips contains Bonnier’s attacks (apparently with ease). We are beginning to think that the race is becoming monotonous, even though the average speed continues to rise (from the initial 137 km/h to over 139 km/h), when Trips overtakes Ginther, and almost simultaneously Bonnier starts to attack and overtakes the American as well, engaging a strong battle with Trips. 

 

At first he resists, then the bearded Joakim Bonnier manages to put the wheels of his Porsche in front of the Ferrari, overtaking it. At this point, the exciting phase of the race begins. The two drivers give their absolute best, repeatedly beating the lap record until both of them go under the limit of 59 seconds to cover the 2366 meters of the track, corresponding to the average speed of 144.365 km/ h (Trips on the seventy-eighth lap and Bonnier on the eighty-seventh lap). On the eighty-seventh lap, we have the feeling that the German driver is in trouble due to a brake malfunction. Bonnier has the so-called green light, and Trips must give up his position to his teammate Ginther. Once the general attention was focused on what was happening in the leading positions, the race of the other drivers goes almost unnoticed, and none of the other participants manages to shine except, at times, the other two Porsche drivers Herrmann and Barth, in fourth and fifth position, who are respectively one and two laps behind the leader. In short, it was a beautiful Grand Prix, organized impeccably, and which should be a prelude to a full resumption of competitive activity at the spectacular racetrack in the Italian capital of motor sport. The Swede Joakim Bonnier, on Porsche, won the Modena Grand Prix for Formula 2 cars, after a very intense race: heated, uncertain, full of plot twists and highly exciting phases. Between the fiftieth and the eighty-seventh lap of the hundred scheduled on the renewed, much smoother and safer track, Bonnier and the Ferrari driver, Wolfgang von Trips, overtake each other at least twenty times, and almost always cornering, braking at the limit, gaining from time to time a meter and even less, while the audience (more than twenty thousand people, enthusiastic and competitive as only the spectators in Modena can be) passes from one emotion to the other, holds their breath, shouts with admiration. Von Trips appears to brake easily, but Bonnier shows an exceptional coolness and timing in the difficult stages of overtaking, while the German seems to be more impetuous and reckless. This is the most interesting phase of the Grand Prix.


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