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#74 1958 Italian Grand Prix

2021-04-14 00:00

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#74 1958 Italian Grand Prix

Il XXIX Gran Premio d'Italia, penultima prova di campionato mondiale conduttori, che si correrà domenica a Monza, capita nel momento di più acuta cris

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The XXIX Italian Grand Prix, the penultimate round of the World Championship drivers, which will be held on Sunday in Monza, happens at the moment of the most acute crisis of italian motor racing. Crisis of drivers, evidently, since the racing cars are still and always the best or among the best. Other times the crisis has been of a technical nature, and therefore easier to overcome: the machine is built, improved, replaced. The man no. Runners you can also become (hardly through the recurring pilot schools), but most often you are born. In Italy we have always had a tradition of steering axles, from Lancia to Nazzaro, from Bordino to Salamano to Antonio Ascari, from Campari to Brilli Peri, to Nuvolari, Varzi, Farina, Trossi, Taruffi, Alberto Ascari, up to Castellotti and Luigi Musso, the two last drivers who had ensured the continuity of this tradition. Now there is emptiness. Young runners, undoubtedly gifted, are coming out of the great mass of practitioners; few, but there are. However, we still do not know the limits and the real possibilities. Nor can one claim humanly, to know what these limits are, to send them into disarray. Only Maria Teresa Defilippis, Gerino Gerini and Giulio Cabianca were announced in Monza, among the twenty and more participants in the Grand Prix. The valiant driver is at the first tests in Formula 1, Gerini owns a car model 57 (and you know that racing cars grow old soon...) and Cabianca will debut in Formula 1. No one therefore has a specific experience and unless surprises so desirable as unfortunately difficult to achieve the fight for the record. It’s hard to say if the situation will be resolved quickly. Even with the disappearance of Ascari and the withdrawal of Farina, three years ago, there was talk of a crisis.

 

Immediately the Castellotti and the Musso bravely took their place, but both already had a certain experience and above all they had managed to assimilate the school of the great who preceded them. At the moment, therefore, there are not too optimistic prospects. It will therefore meet a Grand Prix of Italy - for the first time in twenty-nine editions of the most important national race - without being able to hope for the affirmation of an Italian driver. Different fortunately the situation in the field of mechanical vehicles, though. after the withdrawal of Maserati from direct competitive activity, remained the only Ferrari - despite the last serious misfortunes to support the offensive of the British who after thirty-five years of vain attempts, In the last five years they have managed to make machines that can win Grand Prizes and now to bring their rider to the threshold of the world title. Before 1957, the last all-English victory had been won in 1924 by Henry Segrave (who was also the speed world’s recordman), who established himself in San Sebastiano, in the Spanish Grand Prix, at the wheel of the Sunbeam, a car strangely resembling the Fiat Grand Prix of '22 (one of the designers, Bertarione, came from the racing department of the Turin company, of which at that time the engineer Tranquillo Zerbi was technical director). To conclude, the British - manufacturers and drivers - seem to be about to take on the role that until yesterday was held by the Italians (with German brand brackets). The Italian defense must now limit itself to the field of the cars, and the race on Sunday in Monza summarizes in this respect its fundamental reason in the comparison between the Ferraris on one side, the Vanwal and the B.R.M. may not excite the thought that the possibilities of the Scuderia Ferrari are entrusted to foreign hands and hearts (indeed, almost exclusively to an Englishman: Mike Hawthorn), but the situation must be accepted as it is.

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As for the World title, it is now a matter of the British pilots Hawthorn and Moss. It is not said that it is Monza to decide, but this penultimate clash between the two claimants to the succession to Fangio will still have a great interest for fans, precisely because it is closely linked to the Ferrari-Vanwall comparison. The fundamental reason for the XXIX Italian Grand Prix - needless to say - is the double comparison between Ferrari and Vanwall for the seasonal superiority of the car that the previous Grand Prix have decided by no means and between Hawthorn and Moss, respective first guides of the Italian and the English, for the conquest of the world championship conductors, of which the next will be the penultimate test. The two elements - technical and sporting - evidently intertwine to merge into one, by simple law of interdependence. So far, Vanwall has won four times, against only two Ferrari (the other two claims are by Cooper, a stunning English car): the figures speak for the London car; a little less an analysis of the events and individual episodes that have so far characterized the long struggle. The Italian car has in fact almost always given the impression of a superior overall efficiency, even if only at Reims and Silverstone supported by positive results. But, above all, the House of Modena has lost, fallen on the tracks, two of its best drivers, with the consequence of having to defend themselves with the remaining forces instead of being able to attack the compact British formation..M. on the other. Value of men and possibility of mechanical means besides, in motor racing it is necessary to prepare a race tactic that only the full availability of forces can allow. However, the result seems very open.

 

At Monza Ferrari brings four different single-seater configurations: Hawthorn is entrusted with the 246 model with a 2.417 cc engine and 290 horsepower, but the big news is the Dunlop disc brakes, mounted for the first time on an Italian car (taken from the car of the late Peter Collins, who had made them mount on his 250 GT), which guarantee greater efficiency and a reduced weight of three pounds per wheel. Trips instead drives the Ferrari 256 of 2.451 cubic centimeters and 320 horses, while Gendebien boasts a car with rear suspension telescopic type Koni. Phil Hill instead has a new type of drum brakes, lightened in weight, and shock absorbers Houdaille. Ferrari aims for triumph in the Italian Grand Prix, considering however one very important variable: the Englebert tyres with reduced section mounted on the four single-seaters. After the Portuguese Grand Prix, Ferrari had time to complete development work on a new version of the V6 engine that was the Dino 256. The normal Dino engine has a bore and a stroke of 85x71 mm, and a displacement of 2.417 cc, while the new one has the size of the cylinder equal to 85x72 millimeters, a millimeter longer in the stroke, bringing the displacement to 2.451 cc. This is identified with number 256. All four cars are equipped with Perspex covers on carburetors that extend far forward to an air intake in the front protected by a metal mesh screen. For the race three cars will use the 246 engine, leaving only one car the task of testing the new engine 256. The Vanwall team has four cars, the same used in Portugal, since the equipment had been brought to Monza without returning to Great Britain, except for the engines that have been overhauled.  During the first practices a car is equipped with a curious persplex cover, which wraps the cockpit around the driver’s head.

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Fixing is done from inside the cockpit by means of stops, leaving a small opening through which the pilot can look without his vision being distorted by the Perspex. At Monza, Team Lotus brought two cars, one from 1958 and one from 1957, which temporarily replaced the car demolished in Portugal. The 1958 car was slightly modified on the hood, giving the driver more room to maneuver, and fitted with a 2.2-liter engine, while the old car is equipped with a 2-liter engine for testing and a 1.500 cc engine for the race. Cooper brings his two regular Formula 1 cars, although the Salvadori one runs without the upper transverse arms in the rear because this gives more oversteer than the double swing arm layout, and the driver prefers it so. The Walker Team has two cars, a 1958 Cooper with a 2.2-litre engine and another 1957 car with a 2-litre engine; the 1958 car will be used in the race. In view of the high speeds of Monza this car is equipped with a special high gear, produced by Pippbrook Garage. The Scuderia Temple Buell, which can be considered the official Maserati team, has two cars from 1958, although only one will be used in the race. Built, prepared and maintained by the Modena company, it is a real Maserati team, with the difference that Buell pays and chooses the drivers and takes care of the organization, while the Maserati engineers and mechanics take care of the cars. The second car is fitted with Houdaille shock absorbers at the front and telescopic at the rear, while the first is equipped with Houdaille shock absorbers at the front and rear. In other respects these two cars are identical, being the last 250 F with six cylinders shortened and lightened, and are painted with the American colors blue and white.

 

To complete the list of cars five other Maserati, all old: Bonnier lends the car driven by Godia to Cabianca, and the one driven by Scarlatti to Herrmann, while Maria-Teresa Defilippis does repair her car after the accident in Portugal. The Scuderia Centro-Sud car breaks down during practice, so the mechanics will have to quickly borrow another car from the factory, this being the one driven at the beginning of the season by the late Keith Campbell. In the first official tests, held Friday, September 5, 1958, characterized by a very hot weather, the officers of the Automobile Club of Milan enter the usual state of excitement, helped and encouraged by the Italian police and, in the confusion that becomes part of the Monzese show, the workouts begin at 3:30 p.m., with thirty minutes late. The Vanwalls (which mount a new oil cooler) are slightly faster than the Ferraris, but, apart from the relative reliability of these exploits for a thorough evaluation of the possibilities of mechanical vehicles, The difference in timing is little more than a nuance. We will see in the race if this slight speed superiority of the cars with English four-cylinder engine will be confirmed or not. First, however, the drivers entered in the XXIX Italian Grand Prix will finish the official tests, providing some further reliable indication of the real relationships and maybe we will know which, between the rival cars Ferrari and Vanwall, will be faster, and if even the B.R.M., potentially on the level of efficiency of the former, may aspire in the race on Sunday to a role not only of compresses.

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It is expected, however, based on the times achieved by the best, that in the race will approach the average of 200 km/ h. In this regard, it should be pointed out that the race will be held - as in 1957 - not on the complete ten-kilometre course including the high-speed loop, but only on the road. In Monza will unfortunately miss the list Luigi Musso and Peter Collins, fallen in the height of their rise, and miss Juan Manuel Fangio, outgoing World Champion and wise administrator of the victory won on the slopes of each country. Senior career racers and young runners, consecrated aces and others who aspire to join them at the top of the value scale will compete in the Grand Prix. Surprisingly, there is instead Enzo Ferrari, who stops in Monza for the only day on Friday. There will be, for starters, Stirting Moss, number one in Vanwall and currently second in the world ranking, but without a doubt the most complete of the aces in the race. There will be Mike Hawthorn, to whom Ferrari fans trust the hopes of a victory at least half Italian. Then Tony Brooks, the young London dentist who, with the two victories of Spa and Nurburgring, entered the elite of the champions, Jean Behra, generous as well as unlucky pilot who has been chasing the great victory for years, and Volfgang Von Trips, the German aristocrat to whom the disappearance of Musso and Collins left a heavy responsibility. The Vanwall team had four cars, which were the same ones they had used in Portugal, the equipment making the journey direct to Monza without returning to Acton, that is excepting the engines which were flown home for revision and flown out again. As an experiment during the first practice, one car was fitted with an enclosed cockpit cover, an extra skin being bolted on to the tail to bring the head fairing line above the drivers head and a Perspex bubble clamping onto the existing wrap-round screen once the driver was in place.

 

The fixing was done from inside the cockpit by over-centre catches, and there was a gap of about 3 inches at the front through which the driver could look without his vision being distorted by the Perspex. The shape of the complete dome was such that no air came in through this gap, if anything the air-flow over the front sucked air out of the cockpit. In all other respects the cars were unchanged since their last appearance, all retaining the nose mounted separate oil cooler. Only three cars were entered, the fourth being kept as a spare. The B.R.M. team also had four cars present, three 1958 models and a 1957 one, the old one being used in practice. Like the Vanwall team the B.R.M. team made the journey direct front Portugal to Monza, the fourth car and transporter joining them there. The Ferrari team were at a great advantage, being able to return to base after the Portuguese race and to give some serious thought to the braking problems on the Dino 246 car. They also had time to complete development work on a new version of the V6 engine which was the Dino 256. The normal Dino engine has a bore and stroke of 85 by 71mm giving 2.417cc capacity, hence the 246 numbering, the 6 indicating six cylinders, and the new one was 85 by 72 mm, one millimetre longer in the stroke, giving 2,451cc and to identify it as being nearer to 2.5-litre it was numbered 256. Four cars were entered for the race and all were different versions of the regular Dino Formula 1 cars used all this season, all having V6 engines. There was a Formula 1 chassis, with large diameter bottom frame tubes, fitted with Houdaille vane-type shock-absorbers and Dunlop disc brakes, another similar chassis fitted with new drum brakes, a Formula II chassis, the light one, fitted with new drum brakes and the regular Houdaille shock-absorbers, and the fourth car was the experimental Monza car with coil springing at the rear, Koni shockabsorbers all round and the new drum brakes.

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On the number one car the Dunlop disc brakes had been acquired from the 250GT Ferrari that used to belong to the late Peter Collins, he having had them fitted himself. There was no connection between Dunlops and Ferrari, though a fitter was loaned to Maranello to help with the assembly. The fitting of these disc brakes meant rebuilding the Ferrari wire-spoke wheels with the spokes set to the outside of the rim in order to give clearance for the caliper. The other three cars had transverse turbo-finned drums as used in the past but instead of the whole drum being of cast-iron they were now hi-metal, of alloy with a steel liner. The experimental Monza car had revised rear springs, much longer and being mounted on a bracket that extended from below the de Dion tube. All four cars were fitted with Perspex covers over the carburetters extending far forward to an air intake at the front protected by a wire mesh screen. For the race three cars used the 246 engine and one car a new 256 engine. Team Lotus had two cars, one 1958 and one 1957, the old one temporarily replacing the car written-off in Portugal. The 1958 car had been modified about the scuttle slightly, giving the driver more elbow-room and had a 2.2-litre engine, while the old car was fitted with a 2-litre engine for practice and a 1.500cc engine for the race. Cooper had their two regular F1 cars though Salvadori’s was running with no top wishbones at the rear as this gave more oversteer than the double-wishbone layout and the driver preferred it like that. The Walker team had two cars with them, a 1958 Cooper with 2.2-litre engine and a 1957 car with 2-litre engine, the 1958 car being used in the race. In view of the high speeds at Monza this car was fitted with a special high top gear manufactured by Pippbrook Garage.

 

The Scuderia Temple Buell, which can be considered the works Maserati team had two 1958 cars though only one was used in the race. Built, prepared and maintained by the Modena firm it was really a works Maserati effort except that Buell was paying and choosing the drivers and handling the organisation, Maserati engineers and mechanics looking after the cars. One car was the one driven by Shelby at Portugal, this actually being the one raced at Monza, and the second car was brand new, these two being 2.533 and 2.534, respectively, following on the sequence of numbering of 250F Maseratis. The latest car had Houdaille shock-absorbers at the front and telescopics at the rear, the other car having Houdaille all round. In other respects these two cars were identical, being the latest shortened and lightened six-cylinder 250 F mode’s, and were painted in the American, colours of blue and white. To complete the list of cars were five more Maseratis, all old ones, Bonnier lending his ex-Godia car to Cabianca and his ex-Scarlatti car to Herrmann, while Maria-Therese de Filippis had her car repaired after her Portugal crash and the Scuderia Centro Sud entered one of their own Cars and Gerini’s car, this latter being fitted with a new body with a Vanwall-like tail. The Centro-Sud teams own car broke in practice so they hurriedly borrowed another car from the factory, this being the one raced earlier in the season by the late Keith Campbell, but it was very much a question of starting money for the car was not in race-worthy condition. On Friday afternoon, under a hot sun, the Automobile Club of Milano officials get into their usual excited state, aided and abetted by the Italian police and, amid the usual confusion that has become part of the Monza scene, practice gets under way at 3:30 p.m., 30 minutes late. Behra is first away in a B.R.M. and soon Hawthorn and von Trips are following, both having the enlarged Dino 256 engines, the English driver’s car having disc brakes.

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One after another cars go away from the pits, Salvadori, Trintignant, Moss with the first of the Vanwalls, Phil Hill having his first F1 drive for Ferrari, Gendebien in the experimental Ferrari, Cabianca having his first go in a F1 car, Graham Hill in the cigar-shaped 1958 Lotus, and so on. Soon the track is full of activity and the Ferraris are going round in 1'45"0 and Behra and Moss in 1min 46sec. Bonnier has a go in one of his own Maseratis before trying a B.R.M. and Gregory is out in the new Maserati, his first appearance since his Silverstone crash in the Lister-Jaguar. Behra is trying all three BRMs at various times and there is so much activity that traffic-conditions prevent anyone making any meteoric laps, so almost as though someone has given a signal there is a lull after 30 minutes and Brabbam is left circulating on his own, but not for long as Schell appears with the number two B.R.M. and Moss goes out again in his Vanwall. Once again there is a rush as everyone scents afraid someone fast is going to have a clear track; Gregory goes out and begins trying really hard through the corners, Phil Hill is really getting the hang of F1 car driving, and at long last Lewis-Evans is let out. Moss is getting below 1'43"0 and Lewis-Evans is not far off, while Hill is keeping up with them, but the B.R.M.s of Behra and Bonnier are sticking at around 1'45"0. The aim is to get below 1'42"0 as last year Lewis-Evans has done 1'42"4, and whereas 1'50"0 has been a reasonable time last year, it is now obvious that 1'45"0 is to be a minimum, anything over that being left behind. Since last year the long fast bend after the pits straight has been resurfaced and some bumps removed, but whether this is an advantage or not seems open to question among the drivers. There is a hint of a discussion as to whether Shelby is driver for Buell or Centro-Sud, but in the meantime he goes out in the second Buell Maserati, the one he drove in Portugal, and then Moss fits the bubble top to his Vanwall and goes out.

 

It proves highly successful from the driver’s viewpoint but its speed advantage seems doubtful, though the Vanwall is going well with or without its top. Shortly after 5:00 p.m. there is another lull and a lone Maserati is left circulating, this being Bonnier’s old car with his Swedish friend Norrinder driving it. Having been testing the Vanwall the previous day Brooks does not go out until near the end of practice and is soon down below 1'43"0, and does a final 1'42"0, which leaves him with FTD, Moss being unable to retaliate as he has broken his engine when he misses a gear-change. Gregory is trying very hard, doing some real Fangio stuff in the Lesmo corners. but the new Maserati is down on maximum speed and the brakes are not happy, so that Gregory’s times are down amongst the baby-cars, of which Allison is the fastest at 1'47"8, but his practice has been stopped when a big-end bolt broke and the rod tied itself in a knot and comes out through the side of the crank case. The afternoon finishes with Brooks fastest, ahead of Moss, Phil Hill, Lewis-Evans, Hawthorn and von Trips, the German driver having done 1'44"0, and all the remaining runners taking longer than 1'45"0. It is obvious that Vanwalls are on form, but surprise of the day has been the young American driver Phil Hill, and even Enzo Ferrari, who is in the pits, must have realised he has been hampering this promising driver for long enough, keeping him locked under contract to waste his time on sports cars. Next day practice, Saturday, September 6, 1958, starts amidst the same confusion but this time promptly at 3:00 p.m., and there are sonic changes to be seen. Ferraris have replaced the Dino 256 engine by a 246 in Hawthorn’s car and all four cars have the metal bulges over the down-draught carburetters replaced by Perspex ones. Vanwalls have abandoned the bubbletop, removing the additional skin from the tail and fitted a new engine to the car, B.R.M. have four cars at the pits and Rob Walker has two.

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Both Buell Maseratis are numbered 32 as Shelby has to drive a Centro-Stid Maserati, so Gregory can choose between the two 1958 cars. Almost as soon as the track is opened, Phil Hill, von Trips and Behra are away, and then everyone is thrashing round, some fast and some slow, and the Vanwalls are the last to join in. The general pace is extremely fast, especially among the real Grand Prix cars, and there is some pretty furious braking going on at the South Curve, while Moss and Gregory are taking this long, smooth hairpin in full-opposite lock power slides. Once everyone has get the feel of the afternoon there is a pause and Allison is left going round on his own, his old Lotus having a 1.500cc fitted in place of the blown-up 2-litre Climax. Then things begin to get stirred up and Hawthorn, Lewis-Evans and Moss begin to make it obvious that they are trying really hard and their times, by hand-timing, agree. Hawthorn and Moss are below 1'42"0 and Lewis-Evans is only just over that figure, and while this goes on Schell cruises round waiting for other drivers and tucks in behind as they pass to see how the B.R.M. measures up to the opposition. It does not, as he can not break 1'43"0, nor can Behra, though they aren’t completely left behind. Best of the small cars is Graham Hill with the 1958 Lotus in 1'46"0, fast by last year’s standards but not fast enough for this year. Both von Trips and Phil Hill have got below 1'43"0 in their outing in the early part of the afternoon, and Ferrari decides that is enough and they are put away for the rest of’ the afternoon. Gregory at last breaks the bogey-time of 1'45"0, but Shelby stops his practice very suddenly when a drive shaft breaks on the Centro-Sud car and he spins at very high speed. As the cool of the evening descends there is another lull and Norrinder goes out in the Cabianca Maserati, and Munaron tries de Filippis’ Maserati.

 

Then, 30 minutes before the end of practice there is a mad rush for the front row of the grid and we see some really high-speed driving. All three Vanwalls are at the limit, as is Hawthorn with the Ferrari and also Gendebien. Moss does a remarkable 1'40"5, which the time-keepers find hard to believe and takes a long time to confirm. This last-minute thrash round is kept up until the end of the practice time and the result is that everyone improves on their times of the previous day and three Yeomans and a Ferrari share the front row, but only tenths of a second decide the second row, which really does call for beam-timing now that the starting grid is so vital in today’s short races. The Centro-Sud team bring along another car for Shelby, to replace the one broken in practice and he sits in it for the first time on the starting line, only to find that the cockpit is laid out for someone half his size. Gregory decides to use the Reims car of the two new Maseratis, and all three B.R.M.s are 1958 ones. Sunday, September 7, 1958, at 3:00 p.m., when the mossiere lowers the flag the start is really impressive, especially if viewed from above the main grandstand. At the start, as the three Vanwalls jump to the head, Hawthorn gives a quick hit on the clutch pedal, takes the turns, then snaps into a haze of smoke of tires and wheels that slide to the pursuit of opponents. From the second row also Gendebien has problems starting and is rammed behind by Brabham, while Phil Hill is the author of a superb start, which allows him to recover the three Vanwall drivers and to overtake them. When the group reaches the braking point for the first of the Lesmo turns, Trips hits the B.R.M. of Schell: the Ferrari gets on the rear wheel of the car of the American driver, and the German driver, who remains for a moment entangled with his left leg, falls to the ground inanimate, while the car finishes its run bent in two against a tree. Meanwhile, the B.R.M. goes off the road, fortunately landing on wheels in the bushes.

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Schell stays in the cockpit. Immediately transported to the hospital in Monza (the passage of the ambulance on the track arouses painful apprehension), Trips found a state of shock, immediately overcome, the dislocation of the left knee and slight abrasions on the face. Prognosis of thirty days. In front, Phil Hill enjoys leading the race in his first real experience in Formula 1, leaving behind a gasping Moss, Lewis-Evans, Hawthorn, Brooks, Bonnier and Behra, who try to reach him. When the American passed the pits in the lead, at the end of the first lap, the applause was strong for this very popular and talented driver. The same cannot be said for Brabham, who returns to the pits to retire with the front axle bent due to the collision on the starting line. At the end of the next lap Shelby also withdraws because not only does it not fit into the borrowed car, but all the wheels are unbalanced and the whole car vibrates at high speed. The second lap saw the first thirteen cars pass in rapid succession, consisting of Hill, Moss, Evans, Hawthorn, Brooks, Behra, Bonnier and other drivers; but at the end of the third lap we start to create a gap after Trintignant and Salvadori, which are tenth and eleventh respectively. On the return straight, on lap four, Hawthorn overtook Moss, taking second place. On lap five, the contestants split into three groups, with Hawthorn taking the lead closely followed by Phil Hill, Moss, Evans, Brooks and Behra; Bonnier, Graham Hill, Gregory and Trintignant are separated from the rest of the group by a few seconds, that no longer counts Gerini since retired after passing the south bend and bumped the side dock. At the end of the fifth lap also Gendebien went back to the pits and retired due to the malfunction of De Dion’s bridge of his Ferrari, which remained bent due to the collision with Brabham at the start.

 

On the seventh lap, while he is driving along the south corner, the left rear tyre tread on Phil Hill’s car comes off, forcing the American to stop to change the wheel, abandoning the small leading group that sees Moss in command. Before Hill could re-enter the race the four cars of the second group managed to pass him, except for Roy Salvadori who stopped due to overheating, before leaving. Although Moss is now in the lead, most of the time Hawthorn manages to side by side trying to pass the compatriot, while Evans, Brooks and Behra follow the leading pair at a short distance. In the meantime, Graham Hill slows down during the eighth lap, due to a significant ignition error on the Lotus Climax engine. During the thirteenth lap Brooks returns to the pits to signal a spray of oil coming from the rear; the mechanics discover that it is only a cracked rubber bellows on a transmission shaft, and that the loss is not serious, so the British driver is sent back to race behind the group of Gregory, Bonnier, Trintignant and Phil Hill. As Vanwall resumed the race, Graham Hill took his Lotus to the pits to try to solve the problem of the ignition failure. Shortly after, Bonnier begins to lose ground on Gregory and Trintignant; on lap 15, the motif becomes visible when the smoke rises from under the driver’s seat, because something in the transmission is blocking. Hawthorn has meanwhile resumed the lead and Behra and Lewis-Evans are on a par with Moss: during the sixteenth lap Behra overtakes Moss and wins the second place, but on the next lap he loses the position by sliding to fourth place, behind the two Vanwall drivers.

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During the eighteenth lap Moss did not cross the finish line: while Hawthorn passed firmly in the lead, in front of Evans and Behra, the British driver was seen slowly down the return straight, and then returned to the pits having encountered problems with the gearbox. At this point, Hawthorn is consistently running 1'45"0: on lap 20, with the race less than a third, the Briton enjoys a seven-second lead over Lewis-Evans and Behra, who are still fighting each other. After a long wait, Gregory and Trintignant also reached the finish line, with Phil Hill now in their midst: the American Ferrari driver is still trying to recover the first positions, after making the tyre change. Brooks, also in recovery, follows at a distance, and the group composed of Herrmann, Graham Hill, Cabianca, Allison, de Filippis and Salvadori, who in the meantime have all been dubbed. As the race continues, the first mechanical problems begin, including the one that slows down Lewis-Evans who will stop on lap 30, while Graham Hill stops again in the pits to find out why the engine plugs do not work regularly. Even Trintignant’s excellent run ended abruptly when he gave up the gearbox during the 24th lap, and starting from the 29th Behra began to have problems with the front brake; an inconvenience that forced him to stop in the pits. Meanwhile, Hawthorn continued in the lead and Phil Hill managed to set a new record during the twenty-sixth lap, recovering to third place when Behra stopped in the pits. Almost neglected, during the thirtieth lap Brooks is now fifth and turns much faster than Hawthorn, but having been almost a full lap stopped at the pits, when few people left, and least of all the mechanics present in the pits of Ferrari, think a lot about his progress.

 

After the pit stop Behra returned to the track in sixth place, with a lap behind Hawthorn, while on lap 31 Lewis-Evans returned to the pits due to overheating of the cooling system: A suspected warped warhead caused the water to boil and flow out of the refrigeration system, so there is no way for the mechanics to remedy the fault. The Ferraris are now first and second, followed by Gregory. In the middle of the race, with an advantage of thirty-eight seconds, Hawthorn decided to return to the pits to change the rear tires, because in Ferrari are not happy with the lasting qualities of Englebert tyres. While Hawthorn is in the pits, Phil Hill takes the lead; shortly after, while the Ferrari with disc brake returns to the race, Gregory quickly reaches the finish line. Lap 36 saw Phil Hill in the lead, followed by Gregory and Hawthorn. While the British driver, aboard his Ferrari, tries to get used to the new rear tires, Brooks is getting closer and closer, driving unnoticed by the mechanics present at the Ferrari pits, as they are busy preparing for tyre changes. On lap 37, Phil Hill mounted a new rear tyre on the right and Hawthorn, after having passed Gregory, returned to the lead of the race. Before Phil Hill could get back into the race, Brooks went into third position: only at this moment the mechanics present at the Ferrari box noticed the comeback of the British driver, and signaled the danger to Hawthorn, who in turn is engaged in defending himself from Gregory. Quite neglected by all this excitement, Behra’s race ends on lap 42, when the clutch of his B.R.M. finally gives way. Meanwhile, Allison stops at the pits with the old Lotus to see if there is oil in the tank of the gearbox, and starts again when he is told by the mechanics that everything is in order.

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For nine laps Gregory will continue to press Hawthorn; however, this enormous effort will force him to have to replace the rear tires, in the middle of a sincere applause from his mechanics since this is his first race after the Silverstone accident. This allows Brooks to move into second place: his constant driving allows him to decrease Hawthorn’s lead to just eight seconds, while Phil Hill is in third place, twenty-two seconds behind Vanwall. Shelby follows in fourth place, and the group consists of Cabianca, Salvadori, de FiIippis, Allison and Graham Hill. Arriving at lap 50 the situation seems safe: Hawthorn, Brooks and Phil Hill all run in 1'45"0, a time that Hawthorn has maintained since the beginning of the race, because there was never the opportunity to relax. However, at the end of the next lap Brooks manages to gain half a second, and starting from lap 52, from the pits they start to hear the threatening sound of the Hawthorn Ferrari clutch slip, that to overcome the problem changes the highest gear after the pits. At the next lap from the pits they can still hear the sound of the engine revolutions that do not coincide with the speed of the car, so it is now certain that Ferrari is in trouble. Second after second, lap after lap, Brooks closes the gap on Hawthorn’s Ferrari. At the sixtieth lap Brooks has now the muzzle of the Vanwall in close contact with the tail of Ferrari while passing in front of the pits, before stepping out of the wake and move to the front of the race, without Hawthorn can do anything to defend himself. For the British driver the only hope now is that the clutch will last for another ten laps.

 

In the meantime Phil Hill is firmly in third place and Shelby, who in the meantime has taken the place of Gregory, turns quietly. Brooks, triumphant, completes the last ten laps while Hawthorn slows down progressively, finally being very relieved to see the checkered flag at the end of a really hard race. Phil Hill followed in third place, Carroll Shelby in fourth (but he did not collect or divide the points with Gregory), and closed in fifth place Roy Salvadori. Tony Brooks, the young new English ace, at the wheel of Vanwall, wins the XXIX Italian Grand Prix, a dramatic, exciting and hard-fought race. In the planned duel between Hawthorn and Moss, the classic third man has been inserted, a driver who is anything but unknown and that this year is indeed his third victory in a World Championship Grand Prix. Success certainly not stolen, but you can say it with objectivity - perhaps indulged by a pinch of good luck or, if we prefer, by the undoubted misfortune of Hawthorn that, after stopping mid-race for the expected change of the rear tires, while he was largely in command, failed to retain the margin of advantage gained on Brooks (in turn, for the truth, delayed earlier by a stop at the pits to register the rear shock absorbers) due to incipient friction disturbances. Nor, having passed the fifty-ninth of the seventy laps scheduled, was he able to react. The race, extremely tough given the decision with which it was conducted, saw in a few laps the elimination of most of the main drivers.

 

Stirling Moss, after a long fight with Hawthorn in the lead, succumbed to the seventeenth lap for breaking the gearbox. Shortly before the B.R.M. of the Swedish Bonnier catches fire, but the pilot manages to stop before the flames can wrap the car. And Brabham, Gerini, Gendebien, Shelby, all in the very first laps, are already out of action for mechanical failures. Later Trintignant, Lewis Evans and Behra also gave in (the latter two had been in the lead for a long time), Herrmann, Cabianca and the brave Maria Teresa De Filippis, last to retire. Overall seven suns arrived on twenty-one parties, but six classified, since Gregory, fourth arrived and author with the Maserati of a beautiful race, was replaced on lap 47 by Shelby who was not registered as a reserve for the first and therefore not authorized to take the wheel of another car. Ferrari, beaten again this time by a heap of adverse circumstances, remains the satisfaction of the fastest lap, and new official record of the circuit, achieved by his new driver Phil Hill, at 201.106 km/h average. Hill is one of the brightest protagonists of the day, along with the winner Brooks, Hawthorn and Gregory. In the world ranking nothing is decided yet, even if Hawthorn conquers six points and Moss not even one, but the first has more than ever the title at hand. However, everything is postponed to the Moroccan Grand Prix in October. Before becoming a racer, Tony Brooks was a dental mechanic in London. Friends said that he drove divinely, he liked to drive a lot and one day he was offered the opportunity to take a ride at the Crystal Palace in London behind the wheel of a small Cooper with a motorcycle engine, he did not get begged. He did not win, of course, but running seemed to him the easiest thing in the world, and he discovered his true vocation.

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It was 1954; the following year he unexpectedly won the Syracuse Grand Prix on a modest Connaught, ahead of the official Maserati. Brooks is a slender blond, with light eyes. He is modest, a bit scruffy, always calm and smiling. He has neither the attitudes nor the physical figure of the champion. But champion is, unquestionably. He won three Grand Prizes this year, more than his foreman Stirllng Moss, more than Hawthorn and all the others. He won at Spa, Nurburgring and Monza. You don’t win, especially at the Nurburgring and Monza, if you are not an authentic ace. Undoubtedly he had some luck, he is the first to recognize him, but luck is in a way a sure sign to recognize the true champions. So the British, for the second year in a row, win with their own car and with their own driver the Italian Grand Prix. There was no doubt about the nationality of the winner, although the prediction was restricted to the names of Hawthorn and Moss. However, there was a lot of confidence in everyone that Ferrari would win. Indeed, the hopes of the Italian sportsmen had become stronger after a few laps of the race, when it was seen that Hawthorn was able to juggle beautifully between the Vanwall, and that the same Phil Hill - new to the single-seaters of Maranello - participated bravely in the fight. It should be noted that, on the other hand, the Grand Prix had begun badly for Ferrari: Gendebien lingered at the start, and Trips off the road after a fearful collision with Schell during the tumultuous first lap. Shortly after Hill also stopped to replace a tire (after just thirty-five kilometers, the thing still seems inexplicable), but meanwhile Hawthorn moves away from the three Vanwall drivers, and his direct opponent, Moss, stops because of the failure of the change.

 

Now we are, the Italian fans say, wins the Ferrari and Hawthorn is World Champion. And the enthusiasm rises even when Hill, after a pursuit that has the prodigious, conquers the second place. Then Hawthorn stops for the expected change of tires, and few realize that Brooks, meanwhile, is recovering. However, Ferrari’s slight advantage seems sufficient to contain Brooks' wishful thinking. But here is the mockery of bad luck: suddenly the clutch of Hawthorn’s car begins to slip, and in gear shifts Mike loses precious moments. Between lap 40 and lap 55, everyone who has a chronometer starts to consult him nervously. The gap decreases with each pass, and when Brooks manages to join the Ferrari of his fellow countryman, then overcoming it with very skilful maneuver in the middle of the straight, a long murmur of disappointment rises among the spectators. Hawthorn is still very close to the world title. Counting the points, the Ferrari driver has 36 points, against 32 of Moss, but in reality, in the next Moroccan Grand Prix, to be overtaken by Moss in the ranking, the latter would have to win and also win the fastest lap point, and at the same time Hawthorn does not go beyond a third place. Unfortunately, there is little to say about the Italians in the race at Monza. Gerino Gerini managed to cover only three laps; Giulio Cabianca, at his first race in Formula 1, makes an honest but inconspicuous race, retiring then on lap fifty-two; from De Filippis can certainly not expect great things. The brave Neapolitan sails in the last positions abandoning twelve laps from the end. For the first time in the history of the Italian Grand Prix, even an Italian champion does not line up at the start. There is little to do. It is the time of the English: how long will it last?

 

Simone Pietro Zazza

 

Translated by Aurora Ricci

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