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#76 1959 Monaco Grand Prix

2021-04-23 14:14

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#1959,

#76 1959 Monaco Grand Prix

Stirling Moss, il pilota numero due del mondo, dovrà cercare una nuova auto da corsa: è questa la notizia che sconvolge tutte le idee dell'annunciato

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Stirling Moss, the world’s number two driver, will have to look for a new racing car: this is the news that upsets all the ideas of the announced dominator of the upcoming season, especially since the champion Mike Hawthorn has retired. Only Ferrari, Cooper and BRM, in Europe, and Barbara Hutton’s son, in America, build Formula 1 cars. While motorsport seems lethargic, with constructors and drivers only focusing on preparing for the spring recovery, the following news come from London: Anthony Vandervell, the engine-bearing manufacturer who four years earlier had started to build Vanwall racing cars, announces his retirement from racing.

 

"My health no longer allows me to continue in such a heavy commitment".

 

Vandervell’s cars, as you will remember, had raced last year, with Moss and Brooks, six of the ten Grand Prix valid for the Formula 1 World Championship, without however being able to prevent the conquest of the title by Hawthorn and Ferrari. Vanwall’s retirement had already been discussed after the Casablanca Grand Prix. In that race, the third driver, Stuart Lewis-Evans, had lost his life, and Vanderwell was deeply disturbed by it, so much that he expressed precisely his intention to retire. However, the small team of technicians and mechanics financed by the English manufacturer had continued to work around the machines, setting up those that were to take part in the races of 1959. Now, the defense of the British colors remains the responsibility of B.R.M. and Cooper, modest organizations that seemingly cannot fill the gap left by Vanwall. One may wonder, however, whether such efficient material as Vanderwell’s Formula 1 should and can be scrapped. It would not be surprising if in England some teams were willing to take over and continue the activity on the circuits. Meanwhile, what will Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks do? It is unlikely that they will remain on foot, but the available Formula 1 single-seaters are rarer than ever. If racing car manufacturers in Europe are now reduced to only three names, it seems that a new initiative may come from the United States, where the 23-year-old son of Barbara Hutton, Lance Reventlow, after having made a decent sports car - The Scarab - is completing the construction of a Formula 1 car.

 

It is not likely that the attempt will have immediate success, but this still demonstrates how the interest in motoring tends to move from Europe to America. With Moss and Brooks out of work, the pilots' cadres are now defined. The new World Champion Mike Hawthorn has retired from the competitive activity, but other names enter the increasingly restricted circle of Formula 1 car conductors. They are mostly British; no Italian, however, neither married nor as an isolated. There are also young people in Italy who seem technically well equipped, but whose limits are unknown. And you cannot set limits unless you put them to the test. You have seen so many hopes collapse as soon as you climb a step. The real champions come out quickly, but they can only be recognized as such when their behaviour at the wheel of very powerful machines is positive. But if they themselves do not have the means necessary to procure and maintain an efficient sports car of large displacement (not talking about the unattainable single-seater, and the now very rare manufacturers do not feel able to meet certain risks), there is no way forward. The fact is that, this year, you will not see Italian racers in a Grand Prix car. But a lot of good people are looking for remedies to overcome this crisis. For example, the pilot schools in Rome and Modena, under the direction of Giuseppe Farina and Louis Chiron, respectively, are thriving. It is likely that practical teaching can result in something useful for the training of new pilots; it is less likely that champions will come out of it.

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The usefulness and function of these pilot schools has been much discussed. Giuseppe Farina, who understands racing problems and drivers like few others, is unreservedly supporter of the initiative. The former World Champion claims that if it is true that pilots are born as such, the task of schools is to identify the most promising talents and then refine them through teaching. As of this task, we can certainly agree on the usefulness of schools. But will a full degree be enough to convince the teams to hire the newcomer? The difficulties will begin at this point. And how is it possible that in England every year some new world-class driver comes out? Is it not because, beyond the English Channel, motorsport is organized with simpler criteria, there are competitions with any car category (that is, without excessive exposure of capital), and without other ambitions than to compete in a sporting activity? Certainly not everything is so simple, even in England, but if facts matter, something good must be there, and this “something” consists precisely, some say, in the different conception of the races and the different organizational criteria. Maybe that is the problem. But the fact that it is easy to change the structure of motorsport in Italy, and especially the mentality of the practitioners, is another matter. Therefore, we trust driving schools: if the approach is right, the results will not be lacking. After learning the decision of the retirement by Anthony Vandervell, Wednesday, January 21, 1959, Enzo Ferrari (who manages to anticipate Colin Chapman, since on January 20, 1959 he offers Brooks to drive for Lotus) personally writes a letter to Tony Brooks to thank him for accepting the invitation for a meeting in Maranello, invitation made by telephone by Romolo Tavoni on January 21, 1959.

 

A few days later, Tony Brooks, accompanied by his wife Pina, a beautiful girl from Pavia who he married the year before, arrives in Maranello. Ferrari escorted them on a visit to the factory and the racing department before inviting them to his office, which he kept carefully in half-light because it highlighted the large photograph of Dino hanging on the wall and illuminated by three lights in the colors of the Italian flag. Elegant in double-breasted grey - as Ferrari has been slowly learning to dress with an unsuspected style just for a short time before, when it was not uncommon to see him with his pants too short to show his socks or underwear that somehow sprouted from his pants - he explains Brooks the plans for the 1959 season. There would not have been a first drive until the championship had taken a certain shape and, even then, those who would have received such status would not have had carte blanche, but always had to submit to its directives. Ferrari tells Brooks that, in addition to Formula 1, he wants him as a driver of his Sport cars. Brooks accepts, provided however that he does not compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, point on which, in reality, he expects some resistance from Ferrari, which is not manifested. In half an hour, driver and constructor reach the sporting and economic agreement, which Brooks considers generous compared to the standards he is used to: half of the starting and ranking prizes, bonuses for accessories such as gasoline and lubricants and a monthly advance of 250.000 lire.

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Perhaps as an act of kindness for the presence of a lady, during the meeting he does not wear glasses with thick black frames and dark lenses that for a few years began to wear even in closed places and outdoors, even when there is no sun. They had been prescribed to him as a precaution for weak eyes to which the light of the sun had caused trouble for a long time; but they also became, in the short time of a couple of years, a habit to disorient the interlocutor who, from behind the dark lenses, He cannot feel squared even when he is not. The announcement of the engagement is announced however only on Friday, February 20, 1959: it is the same British driver to announce the agreement, from London. Meanwhile, on Thursday, January 22, 1959, the world of Motorsport was deeply shaken when, near the Guildford Bypass, Mike Hawthorn lost control of his Jaguar Mk1 3.4 and left the road, losing his life. The disappearance of Mike Hawthorn at only twenty-nine years of age (and less than two months after his farewell to the glories and dangers of the automobile circuits) shocks England. The newspapers dedicate their headlines to the mournful event and speak - as always in similar disasters - of deadly irony of fate: the champion survived countless races and numerous accidents - it is observed - perished on a quiet carriageway, while traveling at speeds that, although high, were far inferior to those he faced and mastered on international tracks. According to the press, this disaster should be a warning to all motorists. It has shown that driving a car is always dangerous, even for the most experienced drivers. To fully understand the mood of the British, it should be remembered that five British drivers have died in less than twelve months.

 

On 19th May 1958, during the Belgian Grand Prix, the Scottish driver Archie Scott-Brown died at the stake of his car in Spa. On August 3, 1958, Peter Collins died at the Nürburgring circuit. On September 21, 1958, Peter Whitehead went off the road during the Tour de France automobile and died on a mountain slope. On 25 October 1958, Stuart Lewis Evans died in a hospital in London, suffering from burns at the Casablanca Grand Prix; and, in the same month, Peter Mitchell met his death on the British circuit of Brands Hatch. It is said that it was this rapid succession of tragedies that caused Mike Hawthorn to abandon the dangerous sport and today it is attributed an equal intention to the last English rider left on the scene, Stirling Moss. According to these reports, Moss was on the verge of withdrawing from the races after the disappearance of Peter Collins: now, after the disappearance of Hawthorn, his friend, shocked and incited by his wife, the British driver would not intend to postpone the decision any further. All the newspapers try to reconstruct, through the account of the eyewitnesses, in detail, the disaster, to identify the possible causes. Although the diagnoses of these lightning misfortunes are never easy, the impression of most is that the fatal slip of Hawthorn’s machine was caused by a contest of several factors. First of all, the speed. There seems to be no doubt that Hawthorn was advancing at quite remarkable speed, at 130 km/h. The best proof is the state of his car that, after the final impact against a slender tree along the edge of the road, is torn and crushed. There is also the testimony of Major Saint Clair, who was surpassed by the mighty Jaguar of the champion a few minutes before the disaster.

 

"Mike Hawthorn travelled really fast, maybe a hundred miles an hour".

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The road is wet and therefore slippery. The wind is very strong. In addition, in some places the road surface is made even more slippery by the presence of large spots of naphtha left by agricultural tractors. It cannot be excluded that the wheels of the Jaguar have passed on one of these slippery pools and have continued to turn, unstoppable, on the surface wet by rain. The most complete description of the accident (which took place in Guilford, near London) is still the one made by Bob Walker, a friend of Hawthorn, an amateur racer, whose Mercedes follows the champion’s Jaguar by a few meters:

 

"Mike’s car caught me at the entrance of the broad ring road in the open country. But, at a certain moment, his rear wheels no longer seemed to respond to the controls. I did not alarm myself. I thought: it takes more for Mike. One steering wheel blast and everything will be fine. But the rear wheels swayed more and more and then I realized that my friend had lost control of the vehicle. Then the Jaguar rotated on itself until its snout appeared in front of me; but, at the same time, it satiated, crazy, backwards. The car crossed the road, hit the rear fender of a truck, bumped into an obstacle, jumped on the grass, ran into a tree and stopped there. I slowed down, rushed to the wreckage, calling, Mike, Mike, Mike. I found my friend lying in the backseat. The Jaguar was unrecognizable. Mike must have died almost immediately. I couldn’t even tell if he was still breathing".

 

This chronicle of Rob Walker will give rise to an accusing voice. At the time of the disaster - it will change - the two friends would be engaged in a speed race, dangerous not only for them, but also for other vehicles. But Walker will refute such conjectures from the beginning:

 

"We found ourselves together on that stretch of road by pure combination. Mike was much stronger than me, but he had no intention of challenging me. He surprised me because he was in a hurry and I was traveling slowly. That’s all".

 

Mike Hawthorn was headed to London where he was expected to sign a major contract. His friend Noble, an automobile manufacturer, wanted him alongside as a technical consultant and the champion accepted the invitation. His salary would be £10.000 a year. The agreement had to be signed after breakfast. The tragedy happens at 11:55 AM. Hawthorn’s tragic end puts another life in danger, that of his grandmother, an old lady of eighty-six years, very attached to her granddaughter. As soon as she was informed of the accident, she was seized by a serious heart attack and was taken to hospital.

 

"If he survives, it will be a miracle".

 

A family friend admits. The old lady has already lost in the wreckage of a car another loved one, her son, Mike’s father. He died in 1951 at fifty-one years of age, driving his car, a few miles from the site of the accident involving Mike. Leslie Hawthorn had been among the first English racers and it was from him that Mike had learned the difficult and dangerous art of steering. Even the pretty Jean Howarth is upset, the model that Hawthorn loved for a long time and that by this year would have certainly married. The 22-year-old young lady, the daughter of a wealthy industrialist, receives the news by phone at her home in Huddersfield in northern England. Soon after, the girl leaves the house and, alone, in a roaring rain, walks for two hours, weeping and sobbing, through a deserted moor. She is followed by the dog gifted to her by Hawthorn, to whom he had given the name Ferrari, for affectionate memory of Mike’s car.

 

"Mike would arrive on Saturday to spend the weekend with me and my parents. We had to make the final arrangements for our engagement. We wanted to announce it in May, the same day that Mike would celebrate his 30th birthday".

 

The tragic death of Hawthorn particularly affects Umberto Maglioli. The driver from Biella, still suffering from serious injuries suffered in August 1957 in Salzburg during the tests of an uphill race, admits:

 

"We were good friends and we entered the Scuderia Ferrari together. Mike had decided not to run anymore, but evidently his fate was marked".

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John Michael Hawthorn was born on April 10, 1929 in Mexborough, Yorkshire. His father owned a motorcycle repair shop. Passionate about engines, when Mike was just two years old, he moved to Farnham, County Surrey, at the famous circuit of Brooklands, now disappeared, where he devoted himself to the development of motorcycles and sports cars. Mr. Hawthorn Senior was reported missing in 1954 in a car accident, At Farnham as long as his father was alive, Mike had helped expand the workshop and carried out his business (he had become, among other things, a Ferrari dealer). In a familiar environment so close to the engines, Mike grew up with some sort of predestination. Since he was a young boy, he had his first experiences riding old motorcycles and shaky cars. When at Brooklands there are races or record attempts, the young Hawthorn does not miss a beat, becomes friends with famous British pre-war drivers, such as the world record holder John Cobb, Oliver Bertram, Lord Howe, Percy Maclure, and Dick Seaman. At the age of eighteen, his father gave him a 350 cc cross bike, on which he took part in his first off-road races, very popular in England, and won the Rookies Cup twice. But Hawthorn’s great passion is cars. He owns a Fiat Topolino, then a Riley and finally a Lancia Aprilia. He runs wild on the roads of Surrey, he learns, he seems to march stronger than anyone else. He wants to become a runner. The problem is mainly financial, but the young man manages to get around it. In England, it is usual to run on Saturdays, wherever there is an abandoned airport or a private property with four roads; cars of any type and age are used.

 

So, Mike Hawthorn managed, in 1950, to borrow a motorcycle-powered rig and made his debut in Brighton, winning his first race on four wheels: his racing career began. That same year he took part in eighteen races, winning fourteen of them; the technicians set their sights on this gigantic young man, blond, rosy, permanently smiling, and Cooper offers him the driving of a Formula 2 car, with a 2,000 cubic centimeter Bristol engine. On a rainy afternoon in April 1952, Mike Hawthorn, at Goodwood, finally made it: on the Cooper-Bristol he was fighting against the Ferrari and the Maserati; the race was divided into three races and he, with lower machinery, managed to win two, finishing second behind González in the last. In the following September he was in Modena, in practice for the Grand Prix of the Aerautodromo. During the tests, the one who more than anyone had set to observe the behavior of the then twenty-three-year-old English young man was Enzo Ferrari, the manufacturer of Modena. Enzo, a connoisseur of drivers like no other, had such a good impression of Hawthorn that he decided to offer him a drive in his factory, which at that time counted on men like Ascari, Farina and Villoresi. Hot Mike, on September 14, 1952, was in the mood to overdo, and ran off the road smashing green Cooper. A few hours later, at the hospital (he was injured, but not seriously), Nello Ugolini came, then sports director of Scuderia Ferrari, with a pile of contracts to be submitted to the signature of the English driver. From that day on, Hawthorn no longer moved from Modena, and wrote to his father, that for having always lived in the world of engines he had passed on his passion:

 

"I did it. Mike Hawthorn’s name will be in the papers a lot".

 

He kept his promise, but his father did not have time to attend his greatest triumphs: he died in a car accident two years later, almost on the same roads on which Mike had to lose his life on January 22, 1959, united in a tragic family fate. When Ascari and Villoresi left Ferrari at the end of 1953, Enzo Ferrari called Hawthorn and said:

 

"In three years, you will be World Champion".

 

It took longer: Hawthorn himself remembered the engineer from Modena, almost apologizing, in a letter of last October, immediately after the conquest of the world title, in which he communicated the decision to abandon the sport. It took him longer, but he did it. Actually, Hawthorn had a long period of eclipse, due to multiple causes: a serious accident in Syracuse, in the spring of 1954, from which he came out with painful burns; his recklessness of life to which carried the fatalism of those who know the terrible risks of racing, and the consequent need not to think about those who are waiting for him the following Sunday; finally, the two-year reign of Mercedes, which did not allow, if not very rarely, the affirmation of Italian car drivers. And yet, one of the few who succeeded was Mike Hawthorn, in the unforgettable Spanish Grand Prix, in Barcelona, in October 1954. It was said for a long time, in the racing circles: when Mike is in shape, no one resists him, but if things do not go well immediately, he seems to lose interest in what happens in front of him.

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In his last season, when he won the World Championship, Hawthorn changed suddenly, he was disciplined, consistent, always combative, aware of the tremendous responsibility of having to defend, practically by himself, after the death of Luigi Musso and Peter Collins - his brotherly friend, the latter - the colors of Ferrari. Stirling Moss and Vanwall’s men were running more aggressive and confident, but Hawthorn was able to manage to the maximum the margin of advantage in the world championship standings accumulated on Moss in the first practice of the season: he gave up attacking, perhaps he gave up some new victory in fear of compromising everything. He did it lucidly, with a true spirit of sacrifice. And he was rewarded, giving himself and Ferrari the highest title in motoring. Leaving the scene, he asked only Enzo Ferrari to keep in the salon of his garage in Farnham the victory car, a precious, romantic heirloom. He wanted to leave behind, far away, the risks, the fears, the terrible battles on the slopes. He wanted to be an ordinary man, with his memories and trophies and Ferrari in the exhibition hall. He wanted to show that he was not that crazy, undisciplined pain in the ass that most people thought he was. And he said enough, with regret, perhaps, but firmly. Death seized him just when he had told him not to run anymore because he wanted to live. All this is very human, irremediably human. He had escaped numerous serious racing accidents; particularly serious was the one in Syracuse, in 1954, when his Ferrari collided with González’s: the driver suffered severe burns, from which he recovered only several months later.

 

The death of the reigning World Champion also shocks the world of Motorsport, which was certainly prepared for his retirement but not for his disappearance. The environment was shaken again on March 5, 1959, when it was learned from London that a Russian driver will compete this year in East Germany and Italy: announced by Radio Moscow, also stating that the host will be Vladimir Nikitin, official champion of the Soviet Union. He holds four world records and twenty Russian records. Nikitin is one of the best-known drivers in the USSR. He builds his own cars, which for the body resemble the aerodynamic and wavy shape of the Renault Star streamer. In Russia, there are no races reserved exclusively for Grand Prix with 2500 cc engines as in other European nations. We pay attention mainly to the records and even with engines of small displacement, 350, 500 cc, these cars reach speeds around 200 km/h: lately, the competitive motoring has also spread broadly. At the end of 1958, there were also sports competitions in which the Ferrari of a Finnish team have achieved brilliant triumphs. In 1958, Russian drivers were also expected to be at Silverstone but, eventually, they postponed their debut on the western slopes. A Russian delegation took a tour around France, England and Italy, visiting, among other things, the Monza track. The Moscow radio gave no details about the car that Nikitin intended to drive in Germany and Italy: it is supposed to be a car with a 2000 cubic centimeters engine, capable of exceeding 250 km/h, which has been the talk of the town in the newspapers of Moscow.

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Previously, the same conductor on a Karkov 6 exceeded 300 km/h in a test. The news of the participation of a Russian in European formula races must be taken with reservations, because, as it has already been told in the past, the event had been announced, but it had not occurred. It would certainly be of the greatest interest to see Vladimir Nikitin next to the strongest riders, and Monza could offer a magnificent field of competitions in this regard. Waiting for any developments by the Soviet motorsport, on Sunday, March 22, 1959, in Florida, the 12 Hours of Sebring will take place, first round of the World Championship for sports cars. Violent hurricanes flooded wide sections of the circuit (obtained from the runways of the abandoned Hendrick air base and on the adjacent roads), preventing a smooth procedure of the official tests and making the holding of the race problematic. But, with the return of the sun, the track began to dry out, so that in the late afternoon of Friday, March 20, 1959 almost all drivers can start to practice on the circuit in almost normal conditions. Otherwise, a postponement of the race would have been inevitable. What matters is that the races can always take place in the most complete regularity. Great favorites are the three new Ferrari 3000, entrusted to the crews Behra-Allison, Gendebien-Hill and Gurney-Daigh (the latter is an American who will replace Tony Brooks, who at first was thought to be starting his new relationship with Ferrari in Sebring). These cars still use the well-known 12-cylinder three-liter engine, but upgraded (300 horsepower), while they have a new lighter chassis and disc brakes, this year adopted on all racing Ferraris.

 

The only opponents with some chance to engage the Italian cars are the Aston Martin of the pair composed by Salvadori-Shelby and the new Lister-Jaguar of which it is talked about very well, especially the one driven by Stirling Moss and Ivor Buch. However, they have grounded reasons to doubt the estate to the distance of these cars. The evidence, unfortunately, is marred by a serious accident involving the American Ed Lawrence, aboard a Maserati sport. The driver, out of the track at a turn, loses control and the car overturns on fire. Lawrence’s charred body will be recovered by the fire department after a firefight, lasting a quarter of an hour. At 10:00 on Sunday 22 March 1959 the cars of the various categories shoot when the red flag of the starter lowers. Roy Salvadori, at the wheel of an Aston Martin, immediately takes the lead and gains a slight advantage. During the fourth lap, however, the Ferrari of the French Behra has a sprint and takes the lead, followed by the Ferrari of the American Dan Gurney. After half an hour of racing, the Ferrari brings three cars in the leading positions, with Jean Behra in command. After the first hour of racing the Ferraris are always in charge even if Dan Gurney has passed to the first place followed by Behra and Gendebien. The Lisler-Jaguar of Moss and Bueb is in fourth position. At the second hour, Behra regains the lead followed by Gendebien and Dan Gurney. In the meantime, an accident occurred at an Alfa Romeo driven by the Mexican Fred Van Beuren. The car flips out of the S-turn, but the driver gets away with a few nicks. After fifty-one laps, equal to three hours of running, Gendebien leads, followed by Gurney and Behra. Behind the Ferraris Moss struggles desperately with his Jaguar.

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At the end of the fourth hour, fifty-nine of the sixty-five starters are still in the race. The positions for a while do not change. Then the three Ferraris slightly slowed down the pace, while at the same time Moss launched his offensive, and pushing deeply managed to take the lead at the end of the fifth hour of the race. Then twist: the Ferrari of the pair composed by Gendbien and Hill is forced to retire due to rear axle failure. Immediately after, Moss retired, whose car, equipped with a new engine, does not stand the infernal pace. The two Ferraris of Daigh and Behra are thus again in the lead. Now, as Ferrari decides to put Gendebien and Hill behind the wheel of Ferrari so far driven by Gurney and Daigh, the Lister-Jaguar mechanics manage to get Moss’s car back on track, but he is disqualified because Moss has reached the pits on a motorcycle and not by foot as prescribed by the regulations. This brings us to the tenth hour. Gendebien’s car seems to be unleashed in the lead; the Belgian and his teammate Hill continue to push progressively increasing the lead over Behra. The bottom of the road is wet, but the Belgian and American car seems to run on dry land so sure is their driving. The victory of Phil Hill and Olivier Gendebien reached the end of the eighty-eighth lap. It’s no surprise that the Ferraris made a splendid statement in the 12 Hours of Sebring. In this season start, only the Modena-based presents itself to the races in full efficiency, with renewed cars and a team of first-rate drivers. The brands traditionally rival to Ferrari have either left the stage (like the Maserati) or are still far from having reached a just satisfactory preparation.

 

There were therefore no doubts about the very wide chances of victory of Italian cars in this first round of world sports championship. However, the behaviour of Modena cars in Sebring has gone even beyond the forecasts. Not so much, we repeat, for the first two places won in the overall standings, but for the constant, even monotonous superiority shown by the first to the last minute of the race. Nor can he prove otherwise the ephemeral appearance, at the command of the Lister-Jaguar of Stirling Moss and Ivor Bueb, towards mid-race. We can reasonably attribute this meteoric exploit more to the great class and indomitable combativeness of Moss than to the efficiency of a machine of undoubted quality but still summarily fine-tuned. So much that he immediately paid the effort sustained with a mechanical failure. Of the couple who alternated at the wheel of the victorious Ferrari - Oliver Gendebien and Phil Hill -there is nothing new to discover: the Belgian is a specialist in the races and showed it again; the American, already winner at Sebring last year with the late Collins, He is a very strong driver, whose experts predict the possibility of arriving at the world title very soon. To the joys on the track, Enzo Ferrari is called to contrast the sorrows related to the process opened at his expense in Italy: So, on April 6, 1959 Enzo Ferrari goes to Mantua to appear as a witness before the examining judge Luciano Bonafini in the seat of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, at the city court. Ferrari was summoned to report on the incident that, twenty-three months earlier, had caused the disappearance of nine spectators and its two drivers during the Mille Miglia. Ferrari is tight, but extremely precise in his statement.

 

"In my opinion, the explosion of De Portago’s car occurred as a result of a collision in fast drifting on the front, at the junction about Volta Mantovana and immediately after the town of Goito, against one of the cat eyes that delimit the center of the road. It is possible that due to the high speed, the thin tread against the small obstacle, even if blunted, caused an initial crushing in cross of the carcass, which, expanding in the subsequent rectilinear by gyroscopic effect, I was able to pinch the inner tube. Whence, the sag of the wheel".

 

The reconstruction of what Ferrari thinks may have happened is supported by its technicians and those of Englebert, the tire manufacturer that equipped that day its cars, including of course that of De Portago.

 

"The explosion of the rubber, therefore, originated from the impact that I think I have so identified".

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The process will continue for months and, in the meantime, on 18 April 1959 the Ferraris of Jean Behra and Tony Brooks respond to the challenge launched by Stirling Moss, finishing in first and second place respectively, at the Aintree circuit. The great British driver had stated in the previous days that his B.R.M. would beat the Italian cars without uncertainties. Moss was right only for the second part, having scored the record time of the test turning to 146.300 km/h. But he pays hard for the exploit, retiring in the thirtieth lap for mechanical troubles. The 200 miles of Aintree is the first big competition of the year reserved for Formula 1 cars. It should have given a first piece of feedback on the new modified Ferraris (in the structure of the chassis, in the suspensions, in the disc brakes) and should also have ascertained whether Stirling Moss' statements were valid. In part, Moss kept his word: his Cooper B.R.M. proved to be handy and very fast. But she also blamed a certain fragility that was fatal to her. Although not valid for the World Championship conductors, which will start on 10 May 1959 with the Monaco Grand Prix, the race offers many interesting ideas. First of all, for the first official release of the new Ferrari, with three cars entrusted to Jean Behra, Phil Hill and Tony Brooks. As it is well known, the single-seater of the firm of Modena has been deeply renewed, especially in the chassis (suspensions, weight distribution, disc brakes), compared to the model with which the late Mike Hawthorn had won the world title 1958. The tests carried out in recent times on the tracks of Modena and Monza have given so positive results to consider the new car almost unbeatable, especially as the news from the opposing field - That is, across the Channel - they talk more about disarmament than about the will to fight.

 

The withdrawal of Vanwall had strongly contributed to such optimism, which from the technical point of view and above all of the competitive interest is also completely out of place, as Enzo Ferrari himself very realistically acknowledges. But the situation now seems to be changing. Stirling Moss, who has just stated that for Ferrari he will never run, had a special car set up, with Cooper chassis and BRM engine, which, tested in England and subsequently at the wind tunnel of Modena, it would have satisfied Moss enough to make him say that he had never driven another car so fast. Generally, hybrid machines are unsuccessful, not resulting in homogeneity of setting between the different elements put together. It may however be that the initiative of Moss is an exception and is successful, made every reservation on the perhaps excessive lightness of the car (which does not exceed 400 kilos, that is about 150 kilos less than Ferrari) in relation to the power delivered by the four-cylinder B.R.M., and the tightness of this, as powerful as it is fragile, at least judging by the results of the previous year. However, Moss and his Cooper-B.R.M. will be competing in Aintree, and some precise indication will surely come out. Meanwhile, Vanderwell has partially returned to the decisions made in January, declaring himself ready to set up a car - only one - as long as Moss agreed to fly it. And since it seems that the technicians of Vanwall have continued to work in secret around the car that for two years has been the pride of the English sportsmen, it is to be believed that even in the championship tests of this season will renew the duel Ferrari vs Vanwall. For his part, Stirling Moss has made it known that on the Vanwall would compete in very fast races, while for the sinuous, slow circuits (such as Monte-Carlo and, in fact, Aintree) his preferences go to the Cooper-B.R.M.

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At Aintree, among others, also Schell and Bonnier on BRM will be in the race, with the former being surprisingly improved, and Brabham and Trintignant on Cooper. The circuit does not allow strong speeds; it measures 4828 meters, it has seven turns, of which five with a small radius. In 1957 it was the scene of the Grand Prix of Europe, won by Moss on Maserati, who got average general and fast lap in record time. The previous year, with Cooper, Moss established himself in the 200 Miglia at an average of 137.830 km/h, while Brabham, still on Cooper, set the fastest lap at 143.140 km/h. Masten Gregory’s Cooper-Climax takes the lead at the start. Stirling Moss is behind him, followed in turn by Behra and Tony Brooks. Gregory held the lead of the competition until the nineteenth lap. Then, due to a failure, he went off track. The accident, fortunately, did not have serious consequences. Masten Gregory, however, is inexorably forced to abandon. After the race, the American driver is Moss, but his dominance is relatively short. The Briton, as said, lowers the track record, running in 1'58"8, but in the thirtieth lap he is forced to stop at the pits. The Ferraris of Jean Behra and Brooks pass to lead the race. Their action, always regular and without the slightest hitch, contains at the end of the race a desperate counterattack carried by two Cooper-Climax, driven respectively by New Zealand Bruce McLaren and English Mike Taylor. When Behra takes the lead, he is ahead of Tony Brooks by about a minute. In the last ten laps, however, the British keeps pushing and manages to reduce the gap. On the finish line, the two competitors are separated by about ten seconds. The Aintree competition is attended by 70,000 spectators, who long applaud the clear success of the two Italian cars and their drivers.

 

The motorsports season has therefore entered into full activity, and now every holiday day is engaged by one or more races, and between Saturday 25 and Sunday, April 26, 1959 three events are scheduled: the Grand Prix of Syracuse and the circuit of Cesenatico, while Sunday will run the Serravalle San Marino. Among the three races, the most important is the Sicilian one, where the racing cars of Formula 2 will be engaged, that is, having the engine of maximum displacement 1.500 cubic centimeters. As you know, this will be the new limit of the future Formula 1, which will enter into force on 1 January 1961, and therefore the current litre and a half can be considered as experimental means for the now imminent change in international regulation in the most important field of motorsport. Moreover, the technical situation between Formula 1 and Formula 2 is almost identical. As among the most powerful 2500 grand prix, Ferrari’s opponents are essentially some British brands, Cooper and Lotus in the foreground, with the addition of the German Porsche. In Syracuse we will have the first comparison of these four manufacturers, and it is first of all to note the fact that Ferrari also participates, in derogation from the decisions taken at the time by the manufacturer Modena to refrain from carrying out direct activity in Italy. Jean Behra will be in the Sicilian race the driver of the only Ferrari registered: the six cylinders last year improved and lightened, with an available power of over 190 horsepower, which for engines of one and a half liters without a compressor is a record value. The Italian single-seater is therefore the most powerful among those present in Syracuse, but neither this fact nor the value of its driver, recent winner of the 200 Miles of Aintree with Formula 1, are sufficient elements to put Ferrari safe from surprises, that the adversaries appear very fearful.

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First of all, Stirling Moss is registered - whose presence is not, however, safe - at the wheel of a Cooper with Borgward engine: a combination of which is said to be a great good. Other Coopers, still driven by the German four-cylinder injection engine, will be driven by Bueb and Wicken. The same, but with the usual Coventry-Climax engine, will have as drivers Brabham, Bonnier, Gregory, Campbell. Then, on the interesting Lotus, Ireland, Halford, Zimmermann and Maria Teresa De Filippis, Seidel and the very young Christian Bino Heins on Porsche, and finally Gino Munaron on an Osca 1500 sport assimilated, for displacement, to the Formula 2, but under obvious conditions of inferiority. A nice race, in essence, that will be held on fifty-five laps of the fast circuit of Syracuse, for a total of 302,500 meters. Through avenues and roads of Cesenatico has been traced a path typically stracittadino on which will run the cars Junior and the 750 sports, preceding of a day the motorbike championship test. The Juniors offered during the previous Sunday, in Monza, an extraordinary demonstration of speed possibilities; on the circuit of Cesenatico will compete in very different but no less interesting conditions of use. All the best to go. On Sunday, finally, the San Marino Cup will be held, on 8350 meters from Serravalle to Mount Titano. At the test, valid for the Mountain Trophy, there are almost one hundred and forty drivers of the turismo and gran turismo categories. The recordman of the race, Curzio Quadrio, will defend his record (93.755 km/h average) at the wheel of the powerful Ferrari 250 GT On the same type of car will run the Turin Carlo Mario Abate and Miro Toselli.

 

As anticipated, the most important race is held in Syracuse: Sunday, April 25, 1959 Stirling Moss, on Cooper-Boryward, wins the ninth edition of the Grand Prix car of Syracuse, international speed event reserved for Formula 2 cars. The race was held on a circuit of 5.500 kilometers in length, for fifty-five laps, equal to 302.500 kilometers away. Fifteen riders, the best in the world at the moment, take off in front of more than 100.000 spectators, including many Maltese porters, who came from the great British island of the Mediterranean to encourage the British steering wheel axles. At the start the American Gregory takes the lead, but at the end of the first lap the French Behra is already in the lead, followed by Moss and Gregory. Brabham, Wicken, Campbell and Bueb follow in the order. On the third lap Moss attacks and Behra has to let him go. From this moment, between the French and the English begins a close duel that sees them alternating in the head every two or three laps. On the 33rd passage, Behra’s misfortune lingers. The Frenchman, in the Floridia curve, makes two laps on himself (a spin), but the driver, thanks to his extraordinary ability, manages to put the car back in line. The small incident favors Moss, who leads again to the lead, then taking advantage of more and more. At this point the race still turns on: while Moss tries to keep the advantage by forcing to the maximum, Behra, recovering beautifully, presses on the accelerator of his Ferrari and tries to reach the English. The action of Behra is spectacular: on the fortieth lap the transalpine demolishes the record of Moss, then improved during the forty-second lap. The crowd sprints up and enthusiastically applauds at the address of this daring ace of the wheel, who struggles strenuously in the exciting final to catch the rival that precedes him. Behra did not finish his series of feats, however, and set a new record during the forty-sixth lap. For his part, Moss, approaching the end of the race, accelerates to keep the advantage within a safety limit. On lap forty-nine the last exploit of Behra, which still lowers the track record by turning in 1'59"0: nothing, however, can take away the victory to Moss.

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For some time, the Formula One World Championship used to start in Buenos Aires, in winter. This year, instead, an old tradition is restored, and the season begins in Monaco, which in its Grand Prix has, sadly, one of the few notable events of the country. Tourism and sports, popular excursions and thrilling action are mixed, melancholically, in a desperate effort to recall the good old times. The famous Monegasque circuit, a narrow serpentine squeezed between the high part of the town and the small harbor, 3.145 meters long, has stayed unchanged for thirty years, with its big downsides and its undeniable qualities. Among the latter ones, its spectacularity and a good level of safety for the spectators; among the former ones, the narrowness of the track, the few chances of overtaking in many parts, and the scarcely protected seafront. Here occurred several tragic accidents like the fall into the sea of the late Alberto Ascari in 1955, luckily with no severe consequences, since it is a track where it is not possible to reach a high speed. The city circuit of Monaco, so characteristic in its narrow serpentine between sea and mountains, has been for exactly a hundred years the location of the most important motorsport races. Punctually, in spring, wooden stands, the pitlane, barriers and boardwalks are placed on the seafront of the small harbor. Everything is exactly like the previous year and, as usual: an old air, low budget, erratic structures. The only difference is represented by the very tall houses built on the boulevard Albert I, in the area of the finish line. These buildings are a big problem for the Monegasque organizers, since their stands are challenged by the competition of hundreds of free spots from the windows and the balconies that are placed on the entire flat part of the circuit.

 

Anyway, these are not the aspects of the event in which the fans are interested. The most interesting fact is that on Sunday 10th May, 1959, the Grand Prix will be held as the first stage of the World Championship, where the hints of a fight emerged from the two previous non-championship races, between the Ferrari and the English Cooper and B.R.M., will become a true challenge. Above all, in Monaco, the first stage of the World Championship of Drivers will take place, where the successor of the late Mike Hawthorn will be decided. But in Formula 1 races, the name of the driver is as important as the name of the car: the fight is mainly between machines, even if these are only complementary to the skill and to the courage of the drivers who are demanded to master them. The technical situation, on the eve of the Monaco Grand Prix, is unclear. In the two previous Formula 1 races, Ferrari dominated in Aintree against the British cars, which one week ago (Silverstone) greatly got their own back, so much that they astonished those who, according to inductive elements, considered the Italian single-seaters unsurpassable. Eventually, in Monte-Carlo, as the rest of the season, the line-up will not include World Champions, which has never happened before, except for the opening season of 1950. Another important absent is among the constructors: in fact, the World Champion Constructor Vanwall does not join the season due to some health problems of its founder, Tony Vandervell. Sunday sees real Monte-Carlo weather, blazing sunshine, blue sky and all the colour and atmosphere that is traditional with this race. With the Argentine races being cancelled the Monaco Grand Prix becomes the first round in the World Championship series and the first occasion when all the Grand Prix teams bring out a full complement of their latest cars.

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A break from tradition is the dropping of early morning practice, all three practice periods being in the afternoon, and another change is the addition of a Junior Formula race on the Saturday afternoon. First practice is on Thursday afternoon under a cloudy sky that makes Monaco look drab but is nevertheless excellent for high speed motoring, with no heat to melt tar, no glare from the white buildings and less of a sharp blackout as the cars rush through the tunnel on the sea front. With the circuit unchanged from last year the lap times set then are good targets and in addition there is the incentive to try really hard for only the fastest 16 during the three practice period would qualify for the starting grid. The official lap record for the 3.14 kilometres circuit stands at 1'40"6 set up during the 1958 race, but in practice that year Brooks has taken a Vanwall round in 1'39"8, so it is reasonable to look upon a time in the 1'40"0 as something worthwhile. Most people are out for practice, but noticeable absentees were the Cooper-B.R.M., Moss preferring to try a Cooper-Climax to start with, the two works Lotus cars, their transporter having broken down on the way from England, and the two Porsches of de Filippis and von Trips. Although the starting-grid is limited to the fastest 16 cars a total of 24 appeared for practice. The works Cooper team consist of three cars, all with double-wishbone and leaf-spring rear suspension and disc brakes. Two of the cars, driven by Brabham and Gregory, have the new 2½-litre Coventry-Climax engine and the third car, driven by McLaren, have a 2.2-litre Climax engine. Of the big engines Brabham had 58-mm. Weber carburetters and Gregory have 48 mm Webers, the American driver prefer the lower-rpm torque characteristics of this engine with the smaller-choke carburetters.

 

The Walker-Equipe is very busy with three cars, all basically Cooper but all of them much modified, these being the Cooper-B.R.M., an old Cooper-Climax and a new Cooper-Climax, both with 2½-litre engines. The Cooper-B.R.M. is reputedly designed specifically with Monaco in mind, having a four-cylinder B.R.M. engine in the rear of a modified Cooper chassis and driving through a Colotti five-speed gearbox, the B.R.M. being as delivered by Bourne, with the exception of the magnetos being driven by internally-toothed rubber belts, an American-inspired principle of drive aimed at replacing chains. Just in case the Cooper-B.R.M. prove unsuccessful there is last year’s Monaco-winning Cooper fitted with a 2½-litre Climax engine and a Colotti gearbox, and Moss have the choice of these two. The third Walker car is the much-modified Cooper-Climax for Trintignant, this car having a similar engine and gearbox to the older car but being a new chassis at the end of last season, and used by Moss in Australia and New Zealand, since which time it had been converted to Rudge k.o. hubs and Borrani wire wheels. B.R.M. have a full team of cars and a training car, the three entries being driven by Schell, Bonnier and Flockhart, and, apart from minor details, such as modified rear radius-rods on one car, they are all identical, having the long bonnet top air intake to the sealed box surrounding the two double-choke Weber carburetters. The Lotus team have two entries, both being the long slender 1959 cars with i.r.s. by a lower wishbone member, the drive shaft and the coil-spring unit and i.f.s. by wishbones and coil-springs with the anti-roll bar to the rear and kinked around the front of the engine.

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Graham Hill is entered in the car he drove at Siracusa recently, but with the 1.500 cc engine changed for a 2½-litre unit, and the American driver Pete Lovely have the second of these cars. Both engines were fitted with 58mm Weber carburetters and have had the top chassis rail cut and kinked to give more clearance as it was found that the flexible engine mounting was allowing the carburetters to vibrate against the chassis. Opposing this galaxy of British Formula 1 cars is a strong team from the Scuderia Ferrari, consisting of Behra, Phil Hill and Brooks in the latest coil-sprung, disc-braked Dino 246 models with V6 engines and the high wrap-round cockpit. In preparation for some close racing the long protruding nose cowlings have been replaced by short stumpy ones, and as a safeguard against overheating in the hot Monogasque sun the radiators have been enlarged, so that the cars have a strange appearance of having wide-open mouths. In addition to the three team cars there was a fourth car, with normal frontal treatment, being used as a practice car. To complete the Formula 1 entry there were two old 250F Maseratis, driven by Scarlatti and Testut and the Atkins Cooper-Maserati driven by Salvadori, its four-cylinder 2½-litre engine have recently been attended to at Modena and the front of the car having an enlarged air intake for the radiator. The regulations allow for a number of Formula 2 cars to enter and there were eight in all, and they have to compete on equal terms with the Formula 1 cars for a place in the 16 fastest qualifiers during the three practice periods.

 

The Scuderia Ferrari brought along their Formula 2 car that Behra have driven at Siracusa, this time to be driven by Allison, and there were four private Coopers, all with Climax engines, two brand new cars belonging to the Equipe National Belge, driven by Bianchi and de Changy, an earlier one driven by the Frenchman Lucienbonnet, and the fourth being that of the United Racing Stable and driven by Ivor Bueb, this last team having taken over the entry at the last moment from the British Racing Partnership. There is a single Formula 2 Lotus, driven by Halford, and to complete the field, but without doubt of great interest, were two single-seater Porsches. The first is entered by Jean Behra and driven by Maria de Filippis, and had been built in Modena from a new sports RSK Porsche. Taking the original car, Behra have a new tubular chassis frame built around the front and rear suspensions, following the general principles of the RSK but making it much narrower, though track and wheelbase were kept the same. A central driving position is built and the four-camshaft Spyder engine and gearbox were mounted in the normal position and the battery ignition, dynamo and starter were all retained. A close-fitted aluminium bodyshell is wrapped round these components, the resulting car being remarkably small and low in overall height and looking something like the lamented Sacha-Gordini of a few years ago. The other single-seater Porsche caused quite a stir, for, unheralded, it came from the Stuttgart racing department, with the works team and von Trips as driver. In general conception it is a single-seater RSK but being a factory design it is all new rather than being modified from standard.

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Front suspension is still by two trailing-arms on each side and transverse torsion-bars, with long thin telescopic shock-absorbers, but the rear suspension is new, though similar to experiments tried on sports cars earlier this year. Instead of the low-pivot swing-axle and Watt-link location used last season, with coil-springs the wheel movements were controlled by a system of triangulated links and radius-rods that gave the general effects of double-wishbones. Due to some intense work on geometry and the positioning of the triangulations, the static negative-camber of the rear wheels is maintained during the earlier part of the travel of the rear suspension, gradually increasing at the limit of the travel. In addition the roll-centre of the suspension stayed virtually at ground level until the last few degrees of travel were reached. Into this new chassis is fitted a normal works Spyder engine, even having a Spyder exhaust system complete with expansion boxes, but the transmission was something new, comprising a six-speed gearbox, all fitted into the normal RSK-type of tubular gearbox housing. In this new gearbox first gear is purely for starting from rest, after which the driver had a five-speed all-synchromesh box to use to keep the engine turning over around 8.500-9.000rpm, mixture being supplied by two enlarged double-choke Weber carburetters. Fuel was carried in a large tank on the left of the driver, another smaller one on the right, and a saddle tank in front of the scuttle, while oil is carried in a tank in the extreme nose with an oil-cooler mounted beneath, fed with cold air from a tiny slot in the nose cowling, the alloy bodywork on this car being rather ungainly but making it look even lower and smaller than the Behra car. 

 

For the first half-hour everyone goes round pretty quietly, feeling their way and getting accustomed to the circuit, with its multitude of stone walls and kerbs, to say nothing of trees and lamp-posts. Schell is one of the first to start trying, with a lap in 1'47"0 with the B.R.M. but then things start warming up and Coopers and Ferraris begin to go quickly, Moss and Behra looking fast, and Schell finds he is quite unable to keep up with the Walker Cooper-Climax. Salvadori is going well in the Atkins Cooper-Maserati, the engine sounding beautiful under fierce acceleration, while Brabham looks to be enjoying himself round the corners as is Allison with the F2 Ferrari which he has been given with the object of an opportunity to learn to drive a Ferrari, this being his first race with a single-seater from Maranello. Halford is in trouble still with the gear selector mechanism on Fisher’s Lotus and Phil Hill is looking a little wild and seemingly trying too hard. Brooks is looking the complete opposite and it calls for a stopwatch to convince one that he is at all fast. Behra is driving in a determined manner but tidily nevertheless and all the Ferrari drivers are looking lost, hidden away in the cockpit, the offset engine and prop-shaft permitting a remarkably low seating position. By 3:00 p.m. everyone is well and truly wound up and Moss is going round in just under 1'42"0, his best being 1'41"7, but he has not long done this before Behra puts one in at 1'41"6. Brooks is overtaking Halford, going into the tunnel when he gets on some loose gravel and spins wildly through the darkness, but continues reasonably unabashed. Not long after Behra makes the fastest time Moss is out again and the Cooper-Climax looks horribly unstable as it comes out of the Tobacconists corner and is still snaking and wiggling by the time it reaches the pits.

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Braking really hard on the curve down to the Gasworks hairpin, the car is sideways-on for some yards and it is only the mastery of Moss that gets away with it. Up at the top of the town, crossing the Casino square it is just as exciting to look at and the result is first of all a fastest time of 1'41"3 and then 1'41"1. While this Behra vs Moss contest is being watched closely, for Behra goes out again immediately after Moss has stopped, Brooks is going round unobtrusively and has clocked 1'41"4. Behra continues until 3:30 p.m. when practice finishes but he can not improve on his earlier time and though the lap times are not approaching last year’s best they are quick enough for the first day, the final order being Moss, Brooks and Behra. On Friday practice is a little later in the afternoon and again it is dry and cool and though the two Porsches now appear, the factory car causing a lot of eye-brows to be raised, there is still no sign of the Lotus team. Both Ferrari and B.R.M. have their spare cars out and the Walker Equipe have the Cooper-B.R.M. at the pits as well as their two Cooper-Climax cars. Behra is off as soon as practice begins and Moss is not far behind, but only for one lap as he finds he can not select gears correctly, so he stops and goes off in the Cooper-Climax. Von Trips is getting accustomed to the tiny Porsche as is de Filippis, but she is having difficulty in selecting first gear on the standard RSK gearbox. Behra is soon in his stride and clocks 1'41"4 while Phil Hill is alternating between his own car and the practice car, for being his first race at Monte-Carlo he has a lot to learn. With very little warning, except perhaps for a look of concentration, Brabham slips in a remarkable lap in 1'40"9 which really stirs things up.

 

Both Behra and Moss are soon out again and trying hard, the Ferrari driver scoring 1'40"7 and then 1'40"4. He stops at that, having been using 9.000rpm and is looking a bit hot, and Moss also stops, having not improved on the best time. The Cooper-B.R.M. is restarted and he does another lap but the gear selection is still not right so the car is abandoned. Gearboxes are a big problem on most circuits and especially at Monte Carlo, where so many gear changes are made and the possibility of mistakes is enormous. Allison comes in with the Ferrari F2 showing well over 10.000rpm on the tachometer having inadvertently changed down from fifth to second, but luckily with no resultant damage. Von Trips is not too happy sorting out the six-speeds on the works Porsche as there is no visible gate on the gear-change and he is frequently heard to change from second to fifth. The car is going remarkably well on its first appearance and is easily as fast as the F2 Ferrari and sounding perfect as regards carburation. Brooks has a go in the Ferrari practice car and later Allison tries it, but it is not as fast as the F2 car, being a rather tired hack machine; however, all three drivers, Hill, Brooks and Allison, record virtually the same lap times with the car. The B.R.M. team seem happy enough but are not making any startling times, Schell and Bonnier being almost identical, with Flockhart only a little slower. As de Filippis is not going fast enough to qualify in the Porsche, her best time being 1min 49sec, Behra let Edgar Barth try the car, but being new to the Monaco circuit he can not go as fast as the Italian. At 6:00 p.m., with only 30 minutes left, there is a sudden rush of activity and the tempo becomes absurdly hot, with Moss, Hill, McLaren, Gregory, Salvadori, von Trips, Flockhart, and Brooks all trying pretty hard and then Brabham joins in going very fast and looking most comfortable.

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Phil Hill is beginning to feel his feet and gets down to 1'41"3, and Brooks does 1'41"9, while Brabham upsets things once again with 1'40"1. As practice finishes Moss does two really quick laps in a last-minute try to beat the Australian but his best is 1'40"3. For the third and final practice, conditions are once more unchanged and at last the Team Lotus cars have arrived. This is the last opportunity for the tailenders of the field of 24 cars to decide who is going to qualify and who isn’t and it seems certain that the last few places left after the works teams are accounted for would go to the faster F2 cars. Moss is still on the Cooper-Climax, the B.R.M. special not even appearing this day; and as soon as practice begins almost everyone goes out, though Graham Hill is delayed at the pits for a time, the Lotus not being quite ready. He has not gone long before Lovely appears in sight from the Tobacconists Corner wheeling his Lotus backwards, having spun and stalled. Everyone is trying pretty hard now, the faster boys trying for the all-important front row of the grid and the slower ones endeavouring to get under 1'45"0, for although there is no fixed lap time for the 16th qualifier, it is becoming increasingly apparent that this time would be about the slowest on the starting grid, and as the front row are around the 1'40"0 mark it means that even the back row of the grid are going to have to drive very fast. Moss and Trintignant are both driving hard and Allison is doing a great deal of lapping in the F2 Ferrari, but is not as quick as von Trips in the works Porsche. With so many hairpins to negotiate rapid pick-up on carburation is an essential at Monaco, and also a rapid gear-change, and watching the cars out of the Gasworks hairpin is most interesting.

 

The Ferraris could put the power on hard very early and leave the corner with the tail just a shade out of line, though when trying hard Behra is going a long way up the road on left lock, leaving the Climax cars visibly. The Walker Coopers are not perfect, there being a slight hesitancy on pick-up, but the works Coopers are very good. Having had no time for doing carburation the poor Lotus drivers are suffering and go away in a series of splutters and bangs until well up the rev-range, but even so Graham Hill is down to 1'43"9, but this pales into insignificance in comparison with von Trips in the Porsche who has done 1'43"8 with only 1.500 cc. The pick-up of the flat-four air-cooled car is quite fantastic and many times it would leave an F1 car in the initial acceleration away from the hairpin, and providing the driver doesn’t miss a gear change it sounds like a four-cylinder Gilera or MV motor-cycle with its high revs and fantastically fast gear change. Phil Hill does only a few laps in his own car and then goes on learning in the practice car and later on Brooks has another go in it. It is becoming increasingly obvious that Brabham is a real menace, for although he doesn’t go out as often as some, when he does he makes very quick times, seemingly without having to wait for a clear track. Moss now has a clear run in front of him and taking every opportunity he fixes everyone with a lap in 1'39"6. This stirs Behra who replies with 1'40"0 and just to remind the big boys that they are not alone Brabham does 1'40"7. The B.R.M. team are right out of the picture, even though it is only a matter of 3 seconds and Schell is doing his utmost, but nevertheless they have no qualms about being in the fastest 16.

 

The F2 drivers are scrapping like mad in order to be tail-end Charlie and Halford and Bueb are going very fast for ordinary private-owner cars, in fact faster than the works F2 Ferrari, though the Italians haven’t noticed this being pre-occupied with the bigger cars. Once more 6:00 p.m. seems to be the signal for a last dice and there is some furious driving, cars sliding, wheels locking, tyres screaming, drivers perspiring and engines being made to give all they have got. This is a brief and exciting period of real racing driving, and in the middle of it all Brabham loses the Cooper as he brakes past the pits and arrives at the Gasworks hairpin going backwards and still spinning, ending up with a very light bump against the straw bales; he still has the engine running and is quickly off again, lapping just as fast. Still holding the fastest time of practice with the Cooper-Climax, Moss goes along to the Bourne team and tries the practice B.R.M. but proves nothing, being only a fraction of a second faster than the team drivers. To go from the rear-engined Cooper to the front-engined B.R.M. and expect to do equal times on such an exacting circuit as Monte Carlo is asking too much, even for Moss. Suddenly all the pandemonium of the last-minute dice is over, many people waiting to see if they are on the starting-grid or not, when the Scuderia Ferrari suddenly wake up and realise that Allison hasn’t qualified their F2 car. Just as the circuit is about to be closed he goes out and in the last two laps of practice gets in a 1'44"4 lap, which knocks the unfortunate Bueb off the end of the list, after he has tried so hard. The 16 starters are headed by Moss with 1'39"6 and ends with Halford with 1'44"8, which gives a good indication of how hard everyone had been driving. The two most unfortunate non-starters are Bueb, who has done 1'44"9, and Scarlatti with 1'45"0, but the line has to be drawn at 16; the rest are considerably slower.

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As can be imagined, on such a tight circuit the first lap sees the whole field virtually nose-to-tail, with the three F2 cars bringing up the rear, and as they round Ste Devote corner and head up the hill to the Casino for the second time, someone slops some oil from an over-filled tank and von Trips goes sideways on it, right in front of Allison and Halford. At such close quarters no-one can do anything, and three very bent F2 cars finish up on the pavement and out of the race, the drivers luckily escaping with minor cuts and bruises. After only four laps the pattern of the race takes shape, Behra leads Moss by seldom more than a length or two and Brabbam is following closely and at his ease. These three have already drawn away from Phil Hill, who is in fourth place, and he in turn has drawn away from Trintignant. Some way back comes the remainder of the field, still bunched together and trying to sort themselves out, in the order Bonnier, McLaren, Brooks, Schell, Gregory, Salvadori, Graham Hill and Flockhart, and in the next four laps they do so. Gregory has his clutch pack up and then the gearbox and retires, and McLaren has a slight tangle with Schell at the chicane and finds himself at the back of the field after stopping to see if the rear suspension is all right. Meanwhile the three leading cars are going round as if tied together, Moss not trying to overtake but keeping the Cooper very large in Behra’s mirrors in the hope of worrying him, while Brabham is content to sit and watch. Phil Hill is trying too hard for comfort and Trintignant closes up on him, the twice-winner at Monaco driving very nicely and sitting in a firm fifth place. Brooks is sandwiched between the B.R.M.s of Bonnier and Schell and obviously being held up, which is unfortunate, as he is rapidly losing touch with the leaders, with whom he should have been, but on lap 11 he gets by Bonnier and soon out-distances the cars from Bourne, but can not catch Trintignant.

 

On lap 18 Trintignant arrives at the hairpin too fast with his throttle stuck open, cuts the ignition and scrabbles round on a dead engine, restarting and stopping at the pits at the end of the lap to have it fixed, which drops him to next to last place and a lap behind the leader. After 20 laps the leading three cars look exactly the same as they have done on lap one, and Phil Hill is now a very lonely fourth and Brooks fifth, but Schell has got past Bonnier and is worrying Brooks. It seems as if the outcome of the Behra, Moss, Brabham scrap is going to be one of nerves, but on lap 22 the Ferrari slows down and Moss goes by, and the next lap Brabham goes by and clearly the Ferrari is in trouble. As Behra starts lap 25 he is in real trouble and the bottom falls out of the engine and he strewes oil all over the Gasworks hairpin, coming to rest behind the pits. This leaves Moss comfortably in the lead, with Brabham smiling quietly to himself a few lengths behind. While this turn of events has been taking place, Graham Hill stops hurriedly just past the Station hairpin with an uncomfortable oil fire burning under his elbow and leaps out to extinguish it with his own fire-fighting apparatus, and Brooks has been worn down by Schell and drops a place. These two are running very close together and lap Trintignant, but the little Frenchman is trying to make up time and when he finds himself between the B.R.M. and the Ferrari he stays there. Moss now has things all his own way for he knows Brabham is not going to worry him, and the Australian is intelligent enough to know that he is a safe second and it would be futile to try anything on. During the opening laps Behra and Moss have been lapping at around 1'43"0, but now that all is safe Moss slows to 1'45"0, but even so is pulling away from Brabham and by lap 30 has a 16sec lead, the Australian having a 26sec lead over Phil Hill, who is in turn 32sec ahead of Schell and Brooks, who are still in close company, Bonnier having dropped back as his rear shock-absorbers are not working properly.

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To complete the field come Salvadori, driving a steady and regular race, Flockhart, Trintignant and McLaren. Moss is now complete master of the situation, touring round at his ease and ticking the laps off like clockwork, lapping the tail of the field for the second time. On lap 36 Phil Hill, who is a firm third now, laps Bonnier, and the next lap he spins at the Casino square and dents the Ferrari tail. He continues but now has Schell and Brooks right behind him, and on lap 38 they both pass him and leave him behind, so at lap 40 the order is Moss (Cooper-Climax), Brabham (Cooper-Climax), Schell (B.R.M.), Brooks (Ferrari) and Hill (Ferrari), the rest being lapped, and the Maranello pit must feel very sick. On lap 44 Hill is again overdue, having spun once more at the Casino, and Bonnier is obviously in trouble as Salvadori and Flockhart have passed him. On lap 43 the Swede stops at the pits, does one more lap and then retires with a lack of brakes. Barely have the BRM pit realised that the first of their cars is out when Schell is missing, having gone straight on into the straw bales at the Casino Square. He pulls the car out and restarts down the hill towards the Hotel Mirabeau, but does not get far as both oil and water radiators have been split in the crash. At 50 laps, just half way, there are only eight cars left running, with Moss sitting pretty with a 40sec lead over Brabham, who is in turn 30sec ahead of Brooks, the rest being a lap or more behind. As Flockhart arrives at the Gasworks on lap 55 he is in trouble with his brakes locking on and has to use all the road to get round, which let Trintignant slip by, and Moss as well, for that matter, as the leader is lapping the tail-enders yet again.

 

It now seems that nobody is going to catch anybody and the scene becomes a bit monotonous, though Brooks is closing a little on Brabham, but unless he makes a big effort, and Brabham does not notice it, it is unlikely that the Ferrari would steal second place. Brabham laps Phil Hill by lap 60, and on lap 65 poor Flockhart spins at the entrance to the Casino square, stalls the engine and, being unable to restart, has to abandon the race, and on lap 68 Hill spins for the third time at the same place and this time buckles both left-hand wheels, stopping at the pits to have them changed, this mistake dropping him to sixth place just a lap ahead of the last man, McLaren, whose Cooper is suffering from a bent chassis. Trintignant now catches up with Salvadori, whose regular driving has given him fourth place, and for a few laps these two scrap together but the Frenchman gets the advantage. By lap 80 it is a matter of time before Moss wins, but Brooks is making a big effort and has whittled the gap between himself and Brabham down to 11sec, but the Australian is quite happy and on lap 83 he not only improves on the fastest lap, holds then by Moss in 1'42"3, but sets up a new lap record with a time of 1'40"4. This end-of-race attempt by Brooks to wrest second place from Brabham is suddenly shattered by Moss stopping at his pit. He senses a vibration in the transmission and thinking it might be something repairable like loose bolts in a universal joint he comes in. Nothing is visibly wrong and he rejoins the race still in the lead, but with a sinking heart for he knows something is wrong somewhere. He has hardly got to the Gasworks hairpin before there is an awful grinding noise from the rear end and his race is run and Brabham and Brooks go by.

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His feeling that something is coming loose is well founded for the bolts holding the crown-wheel to the differential cage are shearing off and the end comes when the broken heads pick up in the teeth of the rear axle and in the integral gearbox. Two laps later Salvadori coasts into his pit with his crown-wheel and pinion strips and, having completed 80 per cent. of the race, waits to wheel the car across the line and be classed as a finisher. Brabham goes on with beautiful regularity, though by now beginning to feel that the race is a very long one, and Brooks begins to feel sick from exhaustion and the heat and smells in the very enclosed Ferrari cockpit, and makes no further attempt to worry Brabham. Two laps behind comes Trintignant, still driving with his calm precision, and one lap later comes Hill, driving as though his very life depends on it, and having frequent moments at the Gasworks turn, while up at the Casino the crowds wait expectantly for him to spin yet again! At long last the 100 laps are completed by the first two cars and the others are flagged off and Salvadori wheels the stricken Cooper-Maserati across the line. Brabham is an exceedingly popular winner and Brooks receives a great ovation for trying hard, while poor Behra and Moss have to grin and bear it. After two hours and fifty-five minutes, Brabham gains his maiden career win, both for him and for the Cooper Car Company. Moreover, at lap 83, having set the fastest lap, he gets an additional point. Second at the finish line, with more than 20 seconds of disadvantage, Tony Brooks on Ferrari 155, author of a very high-quality performance but not enough to be successful, while third comes a tenacious and never tame Maurice Trintignant, who even if two laps behind the others, he managed to react to the unexpected events of the initial part of the race. Everyone is disappointed at Ferrari.

 

"If only Brooks waked up earlier...".

 

Say the mechanics. It might be the case, but sportingly, a lesson needs to be learned. Fourth, taking advantage from the latest excellent retirements, comes Phil Hill, who managed to close in front of Bruce McLaren, who, unlike Trintignant, was not able to make a comeback. The New Zealander, anyway, takes a credit for gaining the two points reserved for fifth place, especially in light of the thirteenth place on the starting grid. In the end, Salvadori’s mechanics push his Cooper-Maserati across the finish line, the single-seater #38 comes sixth, 16 laps behind the winner, but this information is purely statistic. Brabham, right after the finish, reaches the grandstand in order to receive the big cup and the congratulations from the prince and princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly. English national anthem (no one thought about getting a record of the Australian anthem, who would have believed in this Jack Brabham?) and non-stop applause. Obviously, the results obtained in this stage of the world championship are also valid for the general standings as for the drivers, while in the constructors’ championship, the Cooper-Climax leads the standings with eight points, since the extra point of the fastest lap is not counted. Maybe it is not even the case to talk about a surprise, since the Australian driver did not wait for this occasion to reveal his talent, and in the official practices of the previous days it even entered the group of the fastest three. Not even Cooper’s victory is surprising, a small artisanal machine but with enormous resources, especially adequate for challenges on slow and twisty tracks like the one of the Principality. All in all, it was legit to expect a win from Ferrari, as much as among the drivers of the English cars, the one expected to lead was Stirling Moss.

 

Actually, in a sense or another, until lap 80, the predictions were about to become reality, once in a while. This Monaco Grand Prix will make history for being a memorable race as for spectacularity, but showed many interesting technical aspects. First, it has been a very tough challenge for drivers and machines, with only five cars crossing the finish line, plus Salvadori. Moreover, it highlighted a first-level challenge between Cooper and Ferrari, with the English single-seaters being faster but less reliable than Maranello’s cars, which however lived up to them. In addition, it is interesting to notice that the new mid-rear-engine set-up, used by all English cars, implies adapting to a new driving style, more precise and less incline to the controlled drifts that conquered the heart of the fans in the recent past. It is exactly after this statement by Jack Brabham that Ferrari starts to believe that the old saying according to which it was only necessary to give their own drivers 20 HP more than the others, was starting to be always less true. Therefore, even though they had to respect the collaboration contracts with the suppliers that until this moment prevented them from programming the development of a rear engine, Ferrari really started to think that Cooper’s solution was the best one for the future. The next stage will be Indianapolis, always more of a mysterious object since the points obtained by the teams in the American race will not be counted in the constructors’ championship, indeed not encouraging the European teams to appear in the Indiana speedway.

 

Luca Saitta

 

Translated by Nicola Carriero


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