On 13th February 1961 Ferrari organize a press conference to present the cars with which they will race in the main world championships of the upcoming sporting season. Ferrari will be involved in three sectors: Formula 1 (with the new regulations becoming effective this year), Sportscars and the Intercontinental Formula. In total, ten all-new vehicles have been built in the Maranello-based workshop. The greatest surprise is the new rear-engine sportscar destined to the most twisty and challenging racing tracks (like Targa Florio and Sebring) thanks to the low weight (just 590 kilograms) and the remarkable manoeuvrability. It is at the same time streamlined and bulky, in order to comply with the measurements required by the regulations. The engine is a 2417 cc six-cylinder. In parallel, the 12-cylinder 3-litre front-engine model destined to faster races has been redesigned and will aim at the overall win at the Le Mans 24 Hours, the most prestigious automobile race in the world. Formula 1 cars are also new, powered by a 1.5-litre six-cylinder engine. For the latter, two different types have been designed to obtain the best results based on the layout of the circuit on which the races of the Formula 1 World Championship will be held. So, Ferrari’s approach is quite clear and imitates the one that allowed Mercedes to dominate motor racing in the biennium 1954-55 by having vehicles with different designs to be perfectly suited for different operating conditions. However, Ferrari will probably have a harder time in the Formula 1 World Championship rather than in the World Sportscar Championship because this year, in the Grand Prix, they will face not only British manufacturers such as Cooper, Lotus and B.R.M., but also Germany’s Porsche.
Same situation as in the Intercontinental Formula, created both to prolong the life of the old 2.5-litre single seaters, and to allow the Americans to compete with European manufacturers. For the Intercontinental Formula Ferrari have built two 3-litre rear-engine cars (the biggest displacement allowed by the regulations) which will be seen by the public together with British and (probably) American cars also in Turin at the Gran Premio del Centenario, which will be held in September on the runways of the Caselle airport. Ferrari have been facing British teams for a couple of years in the rounds of the World Championship. They are now producing a great effort to regain the long-lost primacy, changing to new construction schemes and new avant-garde technical concepts. However, a lot will depend on the human factor, i.e., the drivers. Since it was impossible to sign someone like Moss or Brabham, already tied to other interests, or Bonnier, who proved to be amongst the four or five strongest racing drivers in the world the previous season, Ferrari decides to put again their trust on their three drivers of the past three years: German Wolfgang von Trips and Americans Phil Hill and Richie Ginther, backed up by Belgians Olivier Gendebien and Willy Mairesse - but only for Sportscar races. Unfortunately, Italy lacks world-level racing drivers, even though there are some promising young talents; it is understandable that in current conditions Ferrari are opting not to take the responsibility of putting one of them to the test. However, the Maranello-based manufacturer has appreciably decided to make one of their Formula 1 cars - identical to the factory-entered one - available to the Federazione Italiana Scuderie (Italian Teams Federation). Only for the rounds of the Italian championship (starting with the Siracusa Grand Prix in April), the car will be assigned to whoever Federscuderie considers adequate for each race among those young talents.
For the moment, the chosen one is Giancarlo Baghetti, a young Milanese who shone in the junior categories. The experiment is interesting and Enzo Ferrari himself seems to believe in its success. The new Ferrari rear-engine sportscar will be tested for the first time in the following days at Aerautodromo di Modena, driven by von Trips. If the test is successful, the car will be sent right away to the United States where the following month it will take part in the Sebring 12 Hours, first round of the World Sportscar Championship. There, it will be joined by a second front-engine sportscar. The new Formula 1 single seater will debut instead in May at the Monaco Grand Prix, or, at worst, eight days later in the Netherlands. Testing, however, will not go as planned: von Trips suffers a scary accident in the morning of Wednesday 15th February 1961 at Modena circuit driving the new rear-engine Ferrari-Sport 2600. Being the first test of the new cars that were presented to the specialised press just a week before, technicians and onlookers swarm the circuit. After warming up the engine with the car stationary, Trips begins to drive around and progressively increasing his pace. The accident occurs on the fifth lap while the car is running through the S-corner, adjacent to the famous Via Emilia, that leads into the pits straight (it is a quite slow and difficult corner that cannot be taken at more than 120-130 km/h and which is protected all around by a very solid crash barrier). As the car skids, the driver tries to keep it on track desperately operating the steering wheel, but the car goes out on the grass on the inside of the corner. There, after having jolted on the bumps and stuck its nose in a hole in the ground, it is thrown into the air as if launched from a catapult, then it falls down on the track, flipping twice before landing on the four wheels.
The driver, curled up in the driver’s seat and wearing a steel helmet, is kept safe in the moment of the shunt. A cry of dread rises from the spectators’ chest as they follow the various phases of the accident just a few metres away, behind the crash barrier. Before the emergency services, who are headed in a rush towards the car, can reach the place of the accident they see von Trips laboriously get off the car. The German driver touches his body in disbelief: he himself does not even know how he got away with that accident. From far away the mechanics watch the scary accident and see the driver painstakingly walk away towards the pits. Von Trips seems calm and finds the strength to smile to team principal Tavoni (even though later all the emotions will cause him a light shock from which he will recover almost right away). Von Trips suffers only a mild back contusion and abrasion, which is dressed on place by Tavoni with a band aid, and a mild right-elbow abrasion. Only afterwards the driver will see a doctor, who will give him a few-day prognosis. The brand-new model, tested for the first time after being presented to the world sports press which gathered in Modena for the annual press conference, is completely destroyed. The causes of the accident are unknown. It may be due to the excessive speed and the fact that von Trips was driving the car for the first time. On the third lap the car had already skidded with its rear end, but the driver managed to keep it on the track. Accidents aside, the world of motor racing is ready for the 1961 season to start. With the same routine and the same men, but with new cars. The changes in the Formula 1 regulations put a strain on the Italian, British and German manufacturers, who will compete in the Grand Prix for that seasonal supremacy which has been firmly held by the Brits for two years.
The decrease in displacement (from 2.5 litres of 1950s formula to the current 1.5 litres) required all the manufacturers involved in this activity, which is so difficult, expensive and often disappointing, to build not only new engines but completely renewed cars. Racecars become outdated quickly because competition urges the teams to make progress and research new solutions. But, in order to see the new 1.5-litre single seaters built by Ferrari, Cooper, Lotus, B.R.M., Porsche and the other manufacturers who announced their entrance in motor racing debut, the public will have to wait for the Siracusa Grand Prix, scheduled for 25th April 1961, or rather the Monaco Grand Prix, scheduled for 14th May 1961, which will open the series of races valid for the World Drivers’ Championship. Instead, it is up to the Sportscars to open the racing season: these will compete on Saturday in the 12 Hours of Sebring, first round of the FIA World Championship for Sports Cars. The name Sebring as a racing venue appeared just a few years before but has rapidly become one of motor racing classics, despite its permanent organizational shortcomings. Sebring, located in Florida, is a former American airbase: a circuit with mixed characteristics, not particularly fast and extremely difficult, was designed on its runways and partially on its service roads. On this course the 12 hours will be held on Saturday 25th March 1961, from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Teams and drivers are the same as in the previous year: among the main entrants, Ferrari, Maserati, Porsche; among the main drivers Moss, von Trips, Ginther, Phil Hill, Gendebien, Bonnier, Mairesse, Gurney, McLaren, Herrmann, and Trintignant. But big changes have been introduced among the cars: both Ferrari and Maserati have built new rear-engine cars that will debut in Sebring. Ferrari participates directly with three crews: von Trips-Ginther, Gendebien-Trintignant and Hill-Mairesse, the first at the wheel of the new car and the other two in the old 1960-spec 12-cylinder sportscar, even though radically modified.
By contrast, Maserati does not participate officially, being represented by the teams who buy its cars: American Camoradi Corp. and Serenissima, founded by Count Volpi di Misurata. However, only Camoradi takes part in the 12 Hours. Stirling Moss (for whom Maserati has always had a soft spot) and McLaren (or Gregory) are the drivers recruited to drive the new rear-engine car in its debut. The fight between the two Modenese manufacturers, traditionally rivals, constitutes a further element of interest for this Sebring race, without underestimating the winning chances of the 1.6-litre factory Porsches driven by Bonnier-Barth and Gurney-Herrmann, which are particularly dangerous on a track like this. The previous year, the 12 Hours was won by one of the Stuttgart-based cars, despite smaller displacement and power, thanks to better manoeuvrability and reliability, which are Porsche’s best qualities. The endurance classic will be preceded by a race reserved to grand touring cars with a displacement up to 1000 cc on Friday 24th March 1961. Among the entrants there is also Fiat-Abarth. The record average of the 12 Hours was set in 1958 by the Ferrari duo of Peter Collins and Phil Hill, covering a distance of 1673 kilometres. The lap record (6372 metres) belongs instead to Ginther (Ferrari, 1960) with a time of 2’17’’2, corresponding to an average speed of 152.748 km/h. The anticipation for the debut in the Sebring 12 Hours of the new Italian rear-engine cars built by Ferrari and Maserati grows significantly after Phil Hill’s exploit, who on Friday 24th March 1961 beats the current lap record during practice at the wheel of his Ferrari. It takes 2’15’’6 to Hill to complete a lap at an average speed of 165.603 km/h. The previous record belonged to Stirling Moss, who in 1960 drove a lap at an average of 152.087 km/h.
Ferrari cars seem destined to a sensational triumph at the 12 Hours currently taking place at Sebring circuit in Florida, first round of the World Sportscar Championship. The cars of the Italian manufacturer, who had already impressed during practice setting the new lap record, turn out to be the fastest and most reliable of the field in the race, better than the Maseratis and the Porsches. Sixty-five cars line up at the start of the 12 Hours. And it is a very lively start indeed: the Rodríguez Brothers take the lead right away, while Moss (Maserati) is delayed by an unfortunate start. In the first hour of racing the Rodríguez brothers are in the lead but are subsequently overtaken by the Ferrari of the Ginther-Trips duo and by Moss’s Maserati, which completed an exceptional chase. Meanwhile, the first accident occurs: Lee Max’s Bristol rolls over after a skid, but the driver walks away miraculously unharmed. Right after that, Moss is forced to exchange cars with Gregory due to mechanical issues with his Maserati. The very sustained pace is fatal also for Ginther and von Trips, who, after dominating the first stages of the race at an average speed of 150 km/h, are forced to abandon their car and replace teammates Baghetti and Mairesse, who are running in fifth position, while Moss is forced to retire definitively. So, the Rodríguez brothers (nineteen-year-old Pedro and twenty-one-year-old Ricardo) come back strongly and at half race appear in the lead again, while Ginther and von Trips lose ground now running in third place behind Hill and Gendebien’s Ferrari. During the seventh hour of racing, the new rear-engine Maserati driven by Hansgen and McLaren is also forced to retire after having run in fourth place for a long time. Ferraris dominate by occupying the first five places at the end of the seventh hour of racing. After nine hours Rodríguez brothers’ Ferrari is still in the lead, running at an average speed of over 148 km/h.
Subsequently, towards the tenth hour of racing, the leading duo is forced to briefly stop in the pits. Hill-Gendebien take advantage of this and take the lead with their Ferrari as the race is heading towards its end and darkness falls over the circuit. Eventually, Olivier Gendebien from Belgium and Phil Hill from the U.S. win the 12 Hours of Sebring at the wheel of their Ferrari. For both, it is the third victory at the famous race. The American round ends with a crushing victory for Scuderia Ferrari, which secures the first four places. Mexican brothers Ricardo and Pedro Rodríguez fall victim to bad luck after running a magnificent race in the first nine hours, finishing third behind the German-American duo of Wolfgang von Trips and Richard Ginther and preceding the Americans Sharp and Hisson, all in a Ferrari. The victorious Ferrari covers a distance of 1757.300 kilometres in twelve hours, completing 210 laps of the 6.3-kilometre circuit at an average speed of 146.940 km/h. All these figures are new records. The previous record was held by Hill and Peter Collins who had driven at an average speed of 139.460 km/h in 1958. The outcome of the race is never doubted, as the Ferraris take the lead from the start, scheduled for Saturday at 10:00 a.m. under the hot Florida sun and in front of 30.000 spectators. The only one who had a chance to be a serious threat to Ferrari’s dominance is Englishman Stirling Moss. However, the Maserati driver lost six minutes at the start/in the beginning due to a battery failure. Moss has performed many feats trying to chase the Ferraris led, in the initial laps, by the new rear-engine model driven by von Trips and Ginther.
With the 12 Hours of Sebring now in the history books and with it all the comments regarding the sensational victory of Ferrari’s sportscars, the racing calendar proceeds with two events on Easter Monday (3rd April 1961) in Pau and Goodwood where the new Formula 1 single seaters will be used for the first time. This is not a fancy debut, because many new cars will not be present, including Ferrari and Porsche (the first race of the Formula 1 World Championship will be held only on 14th May 1961 in Monaco), but it is a very interesting race anyway, dedicated to providing manufacturers with precious information on the efficiency of their vehicles, among others, defending World Champion Jack Brabham and Maurice Trintignant with their Cooper-Climax, Jim Clark and Trevor Taylor in two Lotus-Climax, Gregory and Burgess in the Coopers of Scuderia Camoradi and maybe the new British cars built by Emeryson (and powered by a Maserati engine) assigned to Gendebien and Lucien Bianchi will participate in the Pau Grand Prix. The organizers also hope for the presence of Wolfgang von Trips (driving a Cooper entered by Scuderia Colonia) as the Ferrari driver is free from any commitment with Ferrari. Scuderia Centro-Sud enters two Cooper-Maseratis with youngster Lorenzo Bandini and Portuguese driver Mário de Aráujo Cabral. But in Pau pundits are particularly interested in the debut of the new Formula 1 car built by Turin engineer Virgilio Conrero, who used a modified Cooper chassis on which he mounted the engine of an Alfa Romeo Giulietta brought to ca. 1.5 litres and with twin-spark technology (152 horsepower at 7400 rpm), and a bodywork designed by Carrozzeria Michelotti.
It will be driven by Gino Munaron, who, before leaving Turin headed to France, expressed his enthusiasm for the capabilities of this car. The program in Pau will be completed by races reserved to Junior cars, sportscars and Grand Touring cars, as well as motorcycles. In Goodwood, near London, there will be a race for Formula 1 cars for the International 100 Miles Trophy, one for Intercontinental Formula (with 3000 cc displacement), one for Junior cars and one for Sportscar, in a program that fills the entire day. Among the F1 entrants the presence of Stirling Moss (Lotus-Climax), Ireland, Allison, Brooks and Graham Hill (B.R.M.) and probably John Surtees (Lotus) should be enough to bring some prestige to the competition. The Intercontinental Formula race should instead witness the participation of Reventlow’s Scarab and the new 2.7-litre rear-engine Vanwall-Lotus driven by Surtees, who will eventually be the winner of the Goodwood Glover Trophy, while Jim Clark and his Lotus-Climax will be victorious in Pau. However, expectations are much higher for the Bruxelles Grand Prix, which is won by Jack Brabham driving a Cooper on Sunday 9th April 1961. Brabham wins two of the three heats into which the competition is divided and deservedly claims victory, which, according to the regulations, is assigned to the driver who has totalized the fastest time. The Belgian race is a sort of preview of what is coming in the 1961 season, as it is not valid for the Formula 1 World Championship but marks the debut for Porsche’s Formula 1 cars. Their performance is only partially good: Sweden’s Jo Bonnier, Porsche’s main driver, wins the first heat in 45’40"6 (at an average speed of 131.647 km/h), but is not even classified in the following two events. Evidently, the German car suffers some imperfections and has to be retired.
In the second and third heat Brabham practically has no rivals, after finishing third in the opening race. In race 2, the Aussie sets a slightly slower time than Bonnier with 46’04"2 at an average speed of 130.423 km/h. In this second heat former motorcycle world champion John Surtees also gives a good performance, setting the fastest lap at an average speed of 133.663 km/h. Stirling Moss finishes instead only in seventh place. Among the toughest rivals of the winner there are Roy Salvadori (Cooper), who is classified second behind Bonnier in the first heat, and New Zealand’s Bruce McLaren (also driving a Cooper). In the third and last heat, Brabham is forced to defend against the attacks of a challenging Stirling Moss, who has long threatened his first position. Two weeks later, the Siracusa Automobile Grand Prix inaugurates the Italian Formula 1 racing season on Tuesday 25th April 1961. Ahead of the races valid for the world championship, the new cars already competed on the circuits of Pau, Goodwood, Bruxelles, Vienna and Aintree (the latter race being held on Saturday 23rd April 1961 and witnessing Jack Brabham’s win at the wheel of his Cooper). But Siracusa is particularly interesting because it will mark the debut of the new Ferrari, although unofficially, because there will only be the car with which the Maranello-based manufacturer has provided the Federazione Italiana Scuderie to be assigned - only in the races of the national championship - to the fastest young Italian driver deemed worthiest of support. The chosen one is Giancarlo Baghetti from Milan, who is the fastest of the field in the first official practice at Siracusa circuit, proving right who had trusted him.
Although the British drivers who take part in the Aintree Grand Prix (Brabham, Moss, Surtees, and Brooks) did not hit the track, despite being the last practice session, Baghetti’s achievement is quite remarkable, having preceded drivers like Porsche’s Gurney and Bonnier and Emeryson-Maserati’s Gendebien in the classification and having equalled the circuit record for 1.5-litre cars, held by Moss, who set it in a Porsche at an average speed of 166.666 km/h (the all-time lap record also belongs to Moss driving a 2.5-litre Vanwall at an average speed of 173.288 km/h). Another element that adds value to the Siracusa Grand Prix is the presence of twelve Italian drivers, mostly youngsters (both in age and career-wise) and coming from Formula Junior. And credit must be given to the new formula, whose cars are cheaper in order to allow a higher number of competitors. A lot of foreign drivers also participate in the Sicilian race: among them Brabham, Surtees, and Salvadori for Cooper-Climax; Moss, Ireland, and Clark for Lotus-Climax; Bonnier and Gurney for Porsche; Brooks and Graham Hill for B.R.M.; Gendebien and Mairesse for Emeryson-Maserati. Practically, everyone is present except the drivers of Scuderia Ferrari: Richie Ginther was originally entered, but then Ferrari withdraws from the race due to the car not being completely ready. Despite Baghetti’s great achievement, British and Porsche drivers are still the favourite on the following day, but for the moment all that matters is that the young driver becomes accustomed to the Grand Prix atmosphere and that the new Ferrari can complete its preparation in a race ahead of the challenging rounds of the world championship.
On Tuesday 25th April 1961, after over three years of foreign victories, an Italian driver, nineteen-year-old Giancarlo Baghetti, wins a Grand Prix again, easily defeating the massive foreign coalition in the eleventh edition of the Siracusa Grand Prix; by winning in Siracusa Baghetti sets an enviable personal record, being able to take victory in his debut race among the aces of motorsport. Baghetti’s opening lap is quite unfortunate: maybe too excited, the driver sets off for a slow start, losing precious seconds that allow Gurney, Surtees, Bonnier, Trintignant, and Salvadori to be ahead of him in the first laps. On the third lap, however, the Milanese is already on the tail of the group formed by Surtees, Bonnier and Gurney; on the fourth lap he overtakes Bonnier and on the fifth starts leading the race to the end, except for 15-20 seconds on lap 25. In the final stages, Gurney tries to attack but Baghetti manages to hold off the American thanks to a very efficient vehicle. This duel practically lasts the entire race, and none of the other drivers can ever get in the fight between the two: Bonnier tries timidly to keep up with the leading duo up until the fortieth lap, when he starts losing power, allowing Baghetti and Gurney to lap him. Defending world champion Brabham finishes fourth and his skills are useless against his unchained rivals. Even Moss disappoints, as he is lapped four times; his Lotus is inferior both to Ferrari and Porsche, which have dominated the race. Excellent result also for the other Italian, Lorenzo Bandini, who follows Baghetti in the standings of the Italian Drivers’ Championship. The fastest lap is set by Gurney on lap 53 with a time of 1’54"9 at an average speed of 172.323 km/h.
The Targa Florio, which will be race on Sunday 30th April 1961 for the 45th time, is the oldest motor race in the world, whose foundation dates back to 1906. In over half a century of its long history, it has summed up all the technical progress and the evolution that has characterized the car industry. This year the race is once again valid for the World Sportscar Championship - second round of the season after the 12 Hours of Sebring - and for some classes of the sports and grand touring categories it is also valid for the Italian championship. As always, the race will be held on the Madonie street circuit: an extremely tortuous course which provides a very severe test ground both for drivers and vehicles. Ferrari, Porsche, and Maserati (entering their cars with Scuderia Serenissima) will fight for overall victory with modern cars and world-class crews. Ferrari, which dominated in Sebring in the first round of the world championship, fields its full team: Phil Hill-Gendebien and Trips-Ginther driving the new six-cylinder rear-engine sportscar, and Mairesse-Ricardo Rodríguez (on this occasion the young Mexican driver becomes an official driver of the Modenese team). Of the two cars entered by the Maranello-based manufacturer, the old 12-cylinder sportscars means playing it safe for Ferrari: the new one, protagonist of an excellent as well as unlucky race in Sebring, seems particularly suitable for the racing course of the Targa thanks to its better manoeuvrability. Maserati lines up two six-cylinder 3-litre rear-engine sportscars, vehicles capable of outstanding performance, provided they overcome the stability issues encountered in Sebring. They will be driven by the duos Vaccarella-Trintignant (the driver from Palermo gave a demonstration of his class refined by his experience the previous year) and Maglioli-Scarlatti.
The driver from Biella comes back to racing after a year of absence at that Targa Florio that saw him victorious already in other two editions: he is obviously one of the favourites for the win. To what concerns Porsche, the German manufacturer brings to Sicily its light and agile cars that seem to be specifically built for the Madonie circuit, despite the handicap of a smaller displacement (1.7 litres). Not to mention the drivers available to the Stuttgart-based manufacturer: Moss-Graham Hill, Bonnier-Gurney and Hermann-Barth: a formidable team. In other words, it will be a great, very uncertain battle, that will be decided on the last lap, as it usually happens in the almost uninterrupted tradition of the Targa Florio. Besides, it is possible that some outsiders manage to make their way to the top. The beginning of official practice brings into the mood of the 45th Targa Florio as the Porsches give a taste of their adaptability to the course by setting the fastest times. The classification at the end of the first day of practice (Friday 28th April 1961) states: first position for Bonnier (Porsche) running at an average speed of 102.694 km/h, followed by Stirling Moss also driving a car of the German manufacturer (average of 100.252 km/h). In third and fourth place we find the Ferraris of von Trips and Gendebien, with Vaccarella’s Maserati in fifth, all running at an average speed of around 98 km/h. So, Bonnier beats the lap record, that he himself held from the previous year with an average speed of 101 km/h. During practice an accident also occurs, but fortunately for Ferrari driver Willy Mairesse from Belgium there are no consequences: after his car skids down the hill of Collesano, the car ends up out of the road, damaging the right side, but the driver walks away unharmed.
In the evening of Saturday 29th April 1961, over fifty cars regularly undergo hallmarking procedures and will line up at the start of the 45th edition of Targa Florio on Sunday. The first car to hit the track of this challenging competition will be the Alfa Romeo Giulietta driven by Busso and Pernice marked by number #2. Thirty seconds later it will be the turn of Grand Touring cars up to a displacement of 1.3 litres. After the win in the 12 Hours of Sebring, Ferrari currently holds the lead in the world standings with 8 points, while Porsche is fifth with 2 points. The cars of the Stuttgart-based manufacturer will be driven by aces like Stirling Moss, Phil Hill, Bonnier, Hermann, Barth and Gurney. Besides, it should not be forgotten that the new rear-engine Maserati Type 63s will be part of the game: these are experimental cars, and technicians are anxiously waiting for them to be tested on the arduous Madonie circuit. And it is another great victory for Ferrari, who consolidate their leadership in the World Sportscar Championship. After a riveting fight against Stirling Moss and Graham Hill’s Porsche, von Trips and Gendebien truly deserve the triumphal laurel, even though they took advantage of an accident occurred to their strong rivals. So, another surprising turn of events at the Targa Florio: the number #136 Porsche driven by Moss and Hill was leading the race with an over-one-minute advantage and was probably heading towards victory, despite von Trips’s furious and magnificent chase, when it had to stop for a problem with the differential. This left the field open to the Italian car, which ends the race triumphantly setting two new records (fastest lap and fastest average speed over the race distance).
Another commendable performance was provided by Vaccarella and Trintignant at the wheel of the new Maserati, which finished in fourth place overall, while the Osca disappeared from the battle. Vaccarella is also the first among the Italian drivers. Also, Maglioli and Scarlatti put up a remarkable performance, finishing fifth in a Maserati. The fifty-seven cars previously hallmarked start regularly according to racing schedule. Already after a lap the positions are delineated, especially because of the furious pace imposed by Stirling Moss’s reckless driving, who takes the lead in his number #136 Porsche. On the opening lap the number #164 rear-engine Ferrari driven by American Phil Hill crashes off the road, luckily with no further consequences for the driver, who, however, is forced to abandon the race. This leads to the formation of a new duo. In fact, Gendebien, now without a car, joins von Trips, while Ginther is excluded from the race. Stirling Moss keeps leading the race when on the fourth lap realizes his first masterpiece, improving the lap record that he had previously set in 1958: it takes 40’58"2 to the British champion to cover the 72 kilometres of the Madonie circuit at an average speed of 105.442 km/h. At the end of this lap Moss leaves his car to Graham Hill, as Ferrari begin their comeback, despite being represented in the race by the sole rear-engine model driven by Gendebien and von Trips, since the 3-litre front-engine car driven by Rodríguez stopped in the pits due to an issue with the fuel tank on the third lap. With a very quick change at the end of the fourth lap, Gendebien takes over from von Trips and starts chasing the leading Porsche now driven by Graham Hill.
Gendebien keeps gaining ground second after second until he reduces his gap from the leader to only six seconds on lap five (half race). The Porsche driven by Bonnier and Ginther is third, 45 seconds away. Gendebien’s chase ends on lap six: as he drives past the grandstands, the Belgian Ferrari driver has a 35.2-second advantage on the number #136 Porsche. Then, Moss retakes the wheel of the German car, but Gendebien keeps extending his advantage, which reaches one minute on lap seven. Except for the lap times, the other positions remain unchanged. Clearly, Moss (who completes the seventh lap in 42’35"2) does not want to risk a mechanical failure. However, this will happen on the following lap (the eighth), when Moss beats the lap record again, annihilating all of Gendebien’s advantage and taking the lead for fifteen seconds. On the penultimate lap, the Porsche, still driven by Moss, extends its gap over the Ferrari, now with von Trips at the wheel. So, everything seems to be already decided, when, right on the last lap, the unexpected occurs, with a dramatic turn worthy of the oldest race in the world. Moss’s Porsche has to stop for a mechanical failure (a broken differential) before Buomfornello straight, while von Trips and his Ferrari provide an incredible exploit, covering the last lap of the race in 40’05"2, again beating the lap record at a staggering average speed of 107.807 km/h. The 2.5-litre Ferrari also breaks another record: the average speed over the race distance, with 103.433 km/h, having covered 720 kilometres in 6h57’39"2.
The Monaco Grand Prix, scheduled for Sunday 14th May 1961 on the characteristic street circuit of the small Principality, presents a double coincidence: it is the actual first round of the World Drivers’ Championship, since the original first round scheduled for January in Argentina has been cancelled, and it officially marks the beginning of a new Formula 1, even though in the previous weeks many cars that had been laid down according to the 1961-1964 regulations have been confronting each other in preparatory races. The new Formula 1 establishes two limits: the engine capacity (which must not surpass 1500 cm³) and the weight of the cars (450 kilograms minimum, including oil and water but without fuel). Compared to the obsolete 2500-cm³ formula, a 40% reduction in displacement and a minimum weight that did not exist before have been introduced. The main goal is to improve safety for the vehicles by decreasing their power and speed. Along the same lines, new accessory provisions are dictated, among them an obligatory on-board ignition (to avoid the mechanics pushing the cars on track), a metallic rollbar protecting the driver’s head in case of rollover, and fuel tanks, which are elastically connected to the chassis, with leakproof caps. At the Monaco Grand Prix twenty-two drivers are invited, twelve of them ex officio. According to a very unusual procedure, this complex mechanism ensures that two cars for each team are automatically qualified, in addition to the previous race winners and all the world champions. Therefore, Ferrari, Lotus, Porsche, Cooper and B.R.M. will each occupy two spots on the starting grid; they will be rightfully joined by Stirling Moss and Maurice Trintignant.
Then, only four places remain available. Porsche’s Bonnier and Gurney, B.R.M.’s Brooks and Graham Hill, Cooper’s Brabham, McLaren and Trintignant, Ferrari’s Phil Hill and von Trips, Lotus’s Clark and Ireland and Moss (who, during practice, will have the chance to choose from Cooper or Lotus the car to drive) all belong to this privileged group. Instead, those who will have to qualify on track are Ginther (Ferrari), Surtees (Cooper), Herrmann (Porsche), Gendebien and Bianchi (Emeryson-Maserati), May (Lotus), Gregory (Cooper), Allison and Taylor (Lotus). The only one left is Baghetti, who, according to his contract, this year is supposed to drive a Ferrari only in the rounds of the Italian Championship and, therefore, will be racing on Sunday in the Naples Grand Prix on the Posillipo Circuit, which will gather many drivers excluded from the Monaco race, among them Pirocchi, Botta, Bussinello, Alberti, Wall Ever, and the foreigners Campbell-Jones, Pilette, Parnell and Ashmore. Old and new teams are at the starting blocks of the twelfth Formula 1 World Championship: among them, Ferrari, Lotus, Cooper, B.R.M. and Porsche. The latter, German, debuts in the world championship and, judging by certain elements, it should be the most dangerous rival for Ferrari. After two years of British superiority, Ferrari has completely renewed its manufacturing philosophy, building 1.5-litre cars, which are quite original and extremely efficient, as it was demonstrated fifteen days before by the young Giancarlo Baghetti in his victorious race in Siracusa, at the wheel of a privately-entered Ferrari, which was not identical either to the ones racing in Monte Carlo, but had the same new six-cylinder engine that seems to be much more powerful than those built in Britain and Germany. The 1961 Monaco Grand Prix will be traditionally held on a 100-lap race distance on the twisty 3145 metres circuit, resulting in 314.500 kilometres in total. The record average over the race distance was set the previous year by Stirling Moss in his Lotus Climax with 106.599 km/h; the record average on a single lap belongs instead to Bruce McLaren with 117.694 km/h.
As it is the first Grande Epreuve of the season the Monaco race sees the appearance of the new-Lotus-Climax, the V120-degree Ferrari and the 1961 Porsche chassis, as well as many other interesting new technicalities. Colin Chapman and his workers produced two brand new cars, obviously evolved from the 1960 cars and the 1961 Formula Junior cars, but bearing little connection mechanically. An entirely new small-diameter space frame is used, the major longitudinal members being used to carry oil and water from the rear-mounted Climax engine to the front-mounted radiators, a stripped-down chassis frame looking most unusual, having some frame tubes ending in threaded oil-pipe unions and others being rusty inside. Front suspension was a major departure from what has become conventional practice, for the top wishbone is no longer an A-bracket welded up from tubing, but a boxed-in A-shaped member made from sheet steel. A threaded tube is welded into the apex, to carry the spherical steering joint on the top of the king-post, and the wide base is joined to a tube carrying needle-roller bearings, through which passes a long thin pivot pin, the suspension no longer being carried on overhung bolts. The fabricated A-shaped box extends inwards beyond the pivot centre to form a rocker-arm, the short inner end being attached to the top of a coil spring and damper unit, this being inside the frame, on each side, and under the bodywork. To the inner ends of these rocker-arms a very short anti-roll bar is attached so that all the suspension mechanism is out of sight. While being new to Lotus the principle is not new, having been used in 1948 by Maserati on the 4CLT/48, the inner end of the rocker-arms operating coil-springs exactly as used on this 1961 Lotus. The lower front suspension members are normal welded tube A-brackets and the resultant layout is a clean and tidy front end, but adjustment and servicing is much more difficult, though the front of the fibre-glass body is quickly detachable, held in place by spring clips.
The rear suspension of this new Lotus is a development of last year’s layout, retaining the very low tubular A-bracket, double radius-arms on each side and coil-spring damper units, but instead of using the drive shaft as a suspension member there is now a short tubular top link above the drive shaft. Normally this layout would call for a sliding-spline drive shaft but Chapman has gone one better, retaining the one-piece drive shafts, with a normal Hardy-Spicer universal joint at the outer end but using a flexible universal joint at the inner end. These have very large pitch-circle spiders coupled together by a doughnut-shaped rubber ring which allows a small amount of in-and-out movement, thus doing away with the necessity of a heavy sliding spline shaft ; the rear disc brakes are now mounted outboard, on the hub carriers. Both cars were fitted with Mk II Coventry-Climax engines, with two 45DCOE9 Weber carburetters, the engines being mounted upright in the chassis frame. An entirely new transmission is used, built by ZF of Freidrichshafen in Germany, to Lotus requirements. This comprises a unit construction gearbox and crown-wheel and pinion assembly, the gearbox naturally being behind the axle line, and having baulk-ring synchromesh gears, and there are 4-speed and 5-speed versions available, depending on the circuit, the outward appearances being identical and both are controlled by a right-hand conventional gear-gate in the cockpit, the 4-speed being a normal open-gate and the 5-speed having an inter-lock mechanism on the gate. As with the 1961 Formula Junior Lotus the driver’s seat in the new Grand Prix cars is very reclined and is surrounded by fuel tanks. The fibre-glass body is very closely wrapped around the mechanism, and is very shapely, resulting in one of the better-looking Lotus racing cars. The new rear-engined Grand Prix Ferrari was also making its first appearance at a race meeting, this being the V6-cylinder of 120 degrees cylinder block angle, though the 1961 chassis has already been seen at Siracusa, fitted with the 60-degree V6 engine. The new engine is of the same bore and stroke as the earlier one, the dimensions being 73x53.8mm, and each bank of three cylinders are in a monobloc casting, the cylinder heads having twin overhead camshafts and two plugs per cylinder.
Special downdraught 40-mm Weber carburetters are used, designed specifically for the engine and designated 40IF3C, being one-piece instruments with three chokes to fit direct onto the cylinder heads. With such a wide angle to the vee of the crankcase the centre of gravity of this engine is very low, as is the whole car. Ignition is by twin coils and distributors, the battery being in the nose of the car as on the 60-degree engine, and current consumption is compensated by a very neat pancake type generator mounted on the front of the right-hand exhaust camshaft, being about the size of a circular tobacco tin and looking very much like a vibration damper. On the front of the left-hand exhaust camshaft is mounted a fuel pump, insulated from the heat of the engine by fibrous blocks, while on the rear of both these camshafts are circular-bodied oil pumps for additional scavenging, a build-up of oil in the crankcase having been one of the initial troubles on this new engine. Testing of this new engine is proved satisfactory before the race but there was not time to prepare more than one car, so the team drivers Phil Hill and von Trips had V60-degree engines and the new one was given to test-driver Ritchie Ginther. As on the 60-degree car at Siracusa, the 120-degree car used a 5-speed gearbox with rear-mounted clutch and inboard disc brakes, the only outward differences being that the 60-degree-engined cars have three double-choke carburetter intakes just behind the driver, on the centre-line of the tail, and the 120-degree-engined car has two rows of triple-choke intakes, one on each side of the tail. The three double-chokes are covered by a single gauze cover in place of the Perspex previously used, and the two triple-chokes have separate gauze covers, both cars having perspex air scoops for the inboard rear brakes. It was originally intended that the 6o-degree engine should run to 9,000 rpm and the 120-degree to 9.500 rpm, but already the earlier engine is being allowed up to 9.600 rpm for short periods.
The factory Porsche team arrives with four cars, all fitted with the normal air-cooled flat 4-cylinder racing engine, but in place of carburetters they have a fuel injection system. This comprises a Kugel-Fischer injection pump mounted in front of the engine to the left and driven by an open internal-toothed belt drive from the left-hand inlet camshaft, these rubber belts being the same as B.R.M. used for magneto drives on their 21/2-litre engines. The injection pump delivers fuel via plastic pipes to injectors working at 440 lb/sq in, mounted in the inlet ports and air is fed in through tapering ram-pipes, one to each cylinder mounted downdraught as on a carburetted Porsche Spyder engine. These air inlets each have a throttle valve in the form of a circular plate in the orifice which swings sideways across the opening as the throttle pedal is actuated, small opening mixture strength being controlled by cut-away portions on this circular plate valve. This being a similar principle to the Amal GP motorcycle carburetter in that on full throttle the intake is completely free of obstruction unlike a normal carburetter where the butterfly valve and spindle are always in the intake. Two cars have the new chassis designed to take the flat 8-cylinder engine when it is ready, being similar to the old frames but wider at the back, one having a 6-centimetre longer wheelbase. These two have the new front suspension of double-wishbones and coil-springs the top wishbones having horrible-looking curved tubes for their front members. The two old cars are as raced at Bruxelles and Siracusa but the new ones have slightly sleeker nose cowlings but more bulbous tails due to the wider chassis frame. All have drum brakes and identical independent rear suspension by unequal wishbones and coilsprings, and sports-car 5-speed gearboxes, in which only the upper four ratios are being used. Gurney has to use an old car as he could not fit into the new short chassis, and naturally Bonnier has to have the long-chassis new car.
New mechanical features are not confined to factory entries for the two UDT-Laystall Lotus-Climax cars, one with a new Mk II engine, are both fitted with Laystall-built 5-speed gearboxes, with heavily ribbed barrel-shaped casings attached directly behind a new crown-wheel and pinion housing, the differential containing a limited-slip device on the ZF principle. These new gearboxes are controlled by a left-hand lever in an open gate in the cockpit and though this is the first time both cars have been fitted with these new gearboxes, one has already been tried out at Aintree in the BARC 200. The works Coopers of Brabham and McLaren are the cars used at Aintree, but naturally has the new Mk II Climax engines fitted, and Yeoman Credit has two Coopers for Surtees to try, a standard 1961 car with Mk II Climax engine and their special-bodied one. Parnell has cured the fuel pump trouble experienced at Siracusa by throwing the whole mechanical pump set-up over the hedge and fitting two Bendix electric pumps. There are two more 1961 production Coopers present, the Camoradi one for Masten Gregory, and the RRC Walker car as a spare for Stirling Moss, he using the Walker-owned 1960 Lotus with Colotti 5-speed gearbox, and, of course, having a Mk II Climax engine in it. B.R.M. also has one of these new engines fitted into Graham Hill’s car, Brooks having an old-type 4-cylinder Climax, the cars being identical and there being a spare car available. Altogether Coventry-Climax has produced eight new engines for this race, these being an interim model to tide people over until the new V8 is ready. The Mk II does not produce much more in the way of maximum bhp over the earlier enigines, but it revs higher and has a better torque curve as well as being more robust, the lower half being developed from the 21/2-litre engine.
With all the British Grand Prix cars relying on Coventry-Climax for engines there has to be some diplomatic apportioning of these Mk II units, so Cooper receives two, as did Lotus, and then there is one each for Yeoman Credit, UDT-Laystall, RRC Walker and B.R.M. To complete the list of cars there are two Equipe National Belge Emerysons with 4-cylinder Maserati engines and an old Cooper with similar engine for Trintignant from the Scuderia Serenissima, all three cars having Colotti gearboxes, and Seidel’s 1960 Lotus-Climax driven by the Swiss driver Michael May. In bright and sunny weather practice begins on Thursday afternoon, May 11th, and everyone is out with the exception of the Porsche team, the drivers and officials being there but no cars or mechanics. Jack Brabham is just in from Indianapolis, where he has been practising with the special 2.75-litre alcohol-burning Cooper-Climax, so he no doubt finds the 1.5-litre Grand Prix Cooper-Climax a bit tame, but the Monte Carlo circuit as difficult as ever. A new and sensible innovation this year is the moving of the pits to the other side of the island on which they are situated, that is, on the return road from the Gasworks Hairpin. With cars taking the Tobacconist Corner on the harbour front faster each year the beginning of the pits area was fast becoming an unhealthy place to be, for many of the cars were still sliding when they reached the old pits area. This change not only makes things a little less dicey, but also permits a much better line through the long curve down to the Gasworks Hairpin. Further to this, many guard rails have been put up around the edge of the circuit, consisting of I-section girders let into the ground with springy steel strips bolted to them, while at the Gasworks Hairpin an additional row of straw bales is placed on the outside, thus protecting the paying customers but making the radius of the turn slightly different.
If noise is anything to go by, the new 120 degree V6-cylinder Ferrari is most impressive as Ginther goes round, passing B.R.M.s and Coopers with ease, even though many of the British entries have now got new 4-cylinder Coventry-Climax Mark II engines. Surtees is in a bit of trouble with the selector mechanism on his 5-speed Cooper gearbox and Moss is not happy about the fuel feed system on his 1960 Lotus. Graham Hill is going well in the B.R.M. with Mk II Coventry-Climax engine, and the brand new works Lotus cars of Clark and Ireland are beginning to go very fast. Brabham is not in the picture at all, but nevertheless is quietly adjusting his Cooper to the conditions without any fuss, and Phil Hill and von Trips with the 60 degree V6 Ferraris are hot on the heels of Ginther with the new car. Practice begins with lap times around 1'48"0, but the faster drivers soon reduces this to under 1'45"0, and towards the end of the afternoon the three Ferraris are all below 1'42"0, as is Moss with his Lotus, the Walker team being back on form again. As practice neares its close the new Lotus cars really get into their stride and Ireland is down with Moss and the Ferraris and Clark is beginning to look fast as well as going fast. He does a terrific lap in 1'39"6, looking almost wild, and on the next time round he loses it at Ste Devote Corner and crashes heavily, wrecking the Lotus but escaping injury himself. While the dust is settling, practice ends and he is the only one to get below 1min 40sec, but this is small consolation for the amount of work required to sort out the wreckage. The Lotus factory has only just managed to get the two cars ready in time for the event and now there is a panic call to bring the workers down to Monaco to straighten everything out, the remains having to be stripped right down to the bare chassis frame and many bent tubes having to be cut out and replaced, and parts straightened or replaced.
Following the Grand Prix practice there is Formula Junior practice, the entry is divided into two groups for the Third Monaco-Junior race to be held on Saturday, and it is interesting to reflect that the winners of the two previous Junior races at Monte-Carlo, Michael May and Henry Taylor, are now taking part in the Grand Prix itself. The next Formula 1 practice is bright and early in the morning on Friday, starting at 7:15am, the Juniors already having practised at an even earlier hour. The Porsche team has arrived and has four cars with them, one as a spare, Moss has the Walker Cooper out as a spare and Yeoman Credit has their slim rebodied car as a spare for Surtees, both these reserve Coopers having old-type Climax engines. Needless to say there is only one works Lotus out, work on Clark’s car still progressing, and Ireland’s car now has a 5-speed gearbox in place of the 4-speed he used the day before. UDT-Laystall gives Allison the Mk II engined car for this practice, Taylor having had it previously, but Graham Hill still has the faster B.R.M. The Ferraris seem very happy, their engines requiring little in the way of attention, and Ginther puts in a lot of laps in the new one, this meeting being more in the nature of a test for the car than a serious race, but as it turns out the new car was faster and as reliable as the older ones. There is no doubt that Ginther is going to qualify for the start for he turns 1'39"8, and Surtees is equally sure of getting in as he does 1'41"1, but Herrmann is not going fast enough and young Michael May sees a golden opportunity and take it.Two of the fast boys have a little scrap and go by him, whereupon he tucks in behind them and thus inspires turns a lap in 1'42"0 with the old standard Lotus. This is well over a second quicker than he could hope to do on his own and he only did one lap with them, but it is all that he needed to get to the forefront of the qualifiers.
The Porsche engines on fuel injection are going well, pulling hard from 2.000rpm up to 9.000rpm, but they are handicapped by not having enough gears, the 4-speed arrangement being tried out not being too successful. Phil Hill is really working hard and almost equals Ginther’s time and von Trips is not far behind, and for a while the three Ferraris are fastest of the morning, but then Graham Hill goes out and broke things up with a lap in exactly 1'40"0, thus taking third place in the morning’s times. Clark is still second fastest overall and he, Ginther and Phil Hill are the only ones to get below 1min 40sec, and this has now become the target figure. Ireland causes the Lotus mechanics more work by ramming the back of Gendebien and crumpling the nose of the new Lotus, and later, for another reason altogether, the left rear suspension on Gendebien’s Emeryson later collapse and he arrives at the pits with the wheel leaning at a most unorthodox angle. The ENB are having a bad time for, apart from neither car being fast enough, Bianchi stops with oil pouring out of everywhere. After this second practice session the four qualifiers look like being Ginther, Surtees, May and Allison, but there is still another practice period. Saturday afternoon, at 2:00 p.m., conditions are perfect, being warm and dry but with a cloudy haze over the sun which reduces glare and prevents excessive heat. Brabham has missed practice on the Friday having flown back to Indianapolis in order to take part in the qualifying trials and he is naturally enough still absent for this final session, but his car is at the pits for McLaren to try and make sure all is in order. On Friday Moss has tried the Cooper briefly and soon realises that the Lotus is much easier to drive on the twisty circuit, so he only has one car out for this final period, as has Surtees, but whereas the Walker Lotus is going well, having twin Bendix electric pumps now fitted in its fuel system, the Yeoman Credit Cooper did not do many laps and the motorcycle Champion becomes a spectator, along with Jimmy Clark, whose Lotus is still being rebuilt.
Ireland’s fibreglass nose cowling has been repaired and is now painted yellow and Ferraris are wiring an additional 6-volt battery in with the normal 12-volt in order to increase the current at the coils at high rpm. McLaren in his usual quiet and unflurried way has been getting on with the job in hand, going progressively faster, and it is not long before he gets under the target figure of 1'40"0, this being evidenced by the way he is gaining on Ginther in the new Ferrari while they are both out on the circuit. Ireland is not happy with the gear change on the new 5-speed box and bits are being filed off the gear gate, but Moss is now going very fast in his older Lotus. Michael May borrows the spare works Porsche for a few laps and the Belgian drivers swap cars for a time, and Allison still has the new Climax engine as Herrmann has ousted him from the qualifiers’ list. Surtees is still well placed among the qualifiers with his Friday’s time so does not bother to wear his car out, though his pit are keeping a watchful eye on Laystall in case either of their drivers looked like approaching 1'42"0. The Walker Lotus is now going beautifully and Moss is making full use of it; suddenly putting all the Ferraris in their place with a lap in 1'39"1, gaining pole position on the grid. The third Ferrari, driven by von Trips, gets below the target time of 1'40"0, but so has Graham Hill who is well content with his B.R.M., equalling Clark’s very fast lap of the first day. While practice is at its height Ireland muffes a gear-change while in the tunnel and spins, bouncing along the guard rails, demolishing the Lotus as he goes and injuring a knee cap as well as suffering numerous cuts and bruises. Considering the speed, which was over 100mph, and the conditions, he was very lucky to escape so lightly, but it put him into hospital for a time. The organisation takes an absurdly long time to clear up the wreckage and pronounce the circuit ready for practice again, so that when it resumes there is only 10 minutes left, but meanwhile cement dust has been sprinkled on some of the corners where the road is looking oily, so that it is impossible for any more very fast times to be recorded. UDT-Laystall changes numbers and sends Taylor out in the Mk II-engined car in an attempt to qualify but it is to no avail. On times the four qualifiers are Ginther, Surtees, Herrmann and May, but as Ireland is now out of the race Allison is brought in.
Following this final practice the Formula Junior race takes place and the total of 40 cars are divided into two heats by ballot, 20 cars to each heat. Both groups race over 16 laps and then each first eleven go to the final, irrespective of their speed or race time and the 22 in the Final races for 24 laps for the III Grand Prix Monaco-Junior. In the first heat an immaculate Trevor Taylor in an immaculate 1961 Lotus-Ford drives an immaculate race, in a class by himself, while Heat two, which has only 19 starters, one Lotus failing in practice, sees the works Lola-Fords of Ashdown, Prior and Hine trying unsuccessfully to catch Maggs in Ken Tyrell’s Cooper-BMC, this heat being won at a slightly slower speed than the first. The finalists line up on the grid according to the time they took in their respective heats, so that Trevor Taylor is in pole position with Maggs and John Love alongside him. What would probably have proved to be a runaway win for the yellow-overalled Taylor in the gleaming Lotus 20 is spoilt when he spins on the opening lap and comes round next to last with water coming out of a split radiator. On lap two he sets up the fastest lap but then he sees his temperature gauge rising and stops before he blows up. This leaves Arundell and McKee in the other Team Lotus cars to do battle with Love and Maggs in Ken Tyrell’s Cooper-BMC cars so that the race takes on an interesting Dagenharn v Longbridge aspect and they both take turns at leading, Arundell and Love changing places and the average speed rising steadily to more than that in heat one. The outcome is finally settled when Love spins at Ste Devote corner and though this lets Arundell go on to an easy win it does not lose second place for BMC. Formula Junior drivers can be grouped into those who are going to make good racing drivers and those who will never be racing drivers whether they race Formula Junior, sports cars or saloon cars and some try all three, so that it is interesting to see two newcomers keeping up with the established Junior drivers these are the Swiss driver Josef Siffert in a 1960 Lotus-Ford and Philip Robinson in the Alec Francis-built very sleek Alexis.
The former finishing fifth and the latter having the misfortune to lose a certain sixth place when his engine seized just before the end of the race. Predictions for the race on Sunday are very difficult: the new Ferraris work perfectly, and the three drivers do not hide their confidence. But there also is Moss who might be able to close the efficiency gap with the Italian single seater thanks to his unparalleled class, provided that his car can handle the gruelling Monaco race. As always, the severity of the race distance will be judge of the final result. On Sunday 14th May 1961 a huge crowd gathers round the twisty racing track, which winds across the streets of the Principality of Monaco. As always, the princes Ranieri and Grace cannot lose the show for anything in this world. As the green flag is flown by the starter, Ginther gets away better than anyone else and takes the lead, followed by Moss, Bonnier and Gurney. The Grand Prix of Monaco is all set to start at 2:45 p.m. on Sunday afternoon and the weather is perfect for racing, being warm and dry with haze and clouds partly obscuring the sun. Jack Brabham has arrived at lunch time back from Indianapolis where he has averaged 145.14mph for his four qualifying laps, and everyone is preparing for the 100 laps of the Monte-Carlo circuit. Surtees is using a Mk I Climax engine in his Yeoman Credit Cooper in place of the new one he has used in practice and Moss has the cockpit sides removed from his Lotus, anticipating a hot race, also having a drinking bottle fitted on the left of the seat. Clark’s Lotus has been completed, fitted with a 5-speed gearbox but it has barely been run since the rebuilding is completed. Allison has the UDT-Laystall Lotus-Climax with the Mk II engine and altogether there are six of these new engines in the race, Ireland, of course, being a non-starter.
At 2:30 p.m. the sixteen starters line up on the grid with Brabham in the unusual position of last, due to having done only one practice for the race. While warming-up it is found that Clark’s engine is oiling the plug on one cylinder, presumably due to faulty or broken piston rings, so he is wheeled on to the grid with three hard plugs and one soft one in the engine and he waits until 10 seconds before the fall of the flag before he presses the button and starts the engine. Naturally the other 55 engines are running by this time and as the starter steps to one side to indicate the last 5 seconds Clark’s engine blows out a great cloud of smoke, a sure sign that all is not well in one of the cylinders. The start is perfect and all sixteen cars rush down to the Gasworks Hairpin with Ginther’s Ferrari leading. The little American is first out of the hairpin and the red Ferrari fairly streaks away past the pits and up the hill towards the Casino, with Clark and Moss following. At the end of the opening lap Ginther is already many lengths ahead, followed by Clark, Moss, Gurney, Brooks, Bonnier, Phil Hill, McLaren, Graham Hill, von Trips, Suttees and Brabham, the World Champion having already gained four places. Ginther’s start has left everyone gasping and wondering where he has gone, for he gained 5 seconds lead in three laps. On lap two Moss has gone through in second place and Clark is missing, though he coast towards the back of the pits long after everyone has gone by. A wire to the fuel pump has been hurriedly assembled in the rebuilding and has become trapped under a frame tube and has worn through and started the pump. This is fixed and Clark motors round the hairpin to the proper side of the pits and has a plug changed for the troublesome one has oiled again. He does one more lap and it oiled yet again, so a very soft plug is put in and he finally joins in the race on all four cylinders when the leaders are on lap seven. Ginther’s meteoric start with the 120 degree Ferrari has really shaken everybody and it took Moss five laps to recover and get into his stride.
Gradually he whittles down the gap and Bonnier, in the new Porsche, keeps with him, these two soon leave the rest of the field. After Bonnier comes a fast and furious pack of cars led by Gurney in the old Porsche and comprising Brooks, McLaren, Phil Hill, Graham Hill, von Trips and Surtees, these seven doing some pretty hectic pushing and shoving. Just behind sat Brabham watching all this and presumably waiting for it to sort itself out. By lap eight Moss is only 1.5sec from Ginther and Bonnier is still close to the tail of the Lotus. Gurney has detached himself from the pack and Phil Hill has scratched past Brooks but the other four are still nose-to-tail and arriving at the Gasworks turn in a struggling bunch, von Trips very nearly hitting McLaren amidships as he tries to cut in to the apex, only to come to rest and drop to the back of the bunch. At ten laps the pace is as hot as ever and Ginther goes round in just on 1min 40sec, but, Moss is right with him and properly in his stride now so that Bonnier loses a bit of ground. As the bunch in the middle of the field approaches the hairpin and starts lap 12 Graham Hill is leading them, but then his engine cuts and he pulls into the side and lets the others go past. He pushes the car along to the pits but his race is over; his engine is using a belt driven fuel pump, but the pump gland has leaked and let fuel into the pulley bearing which has seized and the belt has broken. On lap 12 Moss is right on Ginther’s tail and still there on lap 13 and Bonnier has closed up again and on lap 14 both the Lotus and the Porsche nippes by the Ferrari. Meanwhile Phil Hill has caught and passed Gurney and the tight little foursome has become sorted out, Brooks being at the back and the others pulling away, with von Trips leading them. Brabham is still in tenth place and beginning to look as though he is going to stay there, his face showing signs of the lack of proper sleep from which he has been suffering during the past week.
Moss has already lapped Allison and now begins to pull away slowly but surely, Ginther dropping back a bit after his meteoric opening laps. After a bit of a struggle von Trips got past Gurney so now the three Ferraris are line-ahead in number order 36, 38 and 40 and holding third, fourth and fifth positions. At 20 laps Moss has pulled out a six second lead over Bonnier and the three Ferraris are beginning to hustle each other along and close up on the Porsche, while Gurney could not keep up the pace and is dropping back to join Brooks at the end of the fast part of the field. Brabham is now beginning to miss upward gearchanges, a sure sign that fatigue is affecting him and added to this his engine is beginning to smoke, no doubt caused by over-revving as he missed third gear. Behind Brabham, and spread out, comes Herrmann, in the new short-chassis Porsche, Trintignant, Michael May and Allison, with Jimmy Clark now going all right but many laps in arrears. On lap 24 Phil Hill goes by Ginther and the three Ferraris are right up with Bonnier’s Porsche, but Moss is now 10 seconds ahead of them and looking very comfortable, though driving fast, lapping in well under 1min 40sec. On the next lap the three angry-looking Ferraris, with their shark-like noses, are crowding the silver Porsche and in the melee on lap 26 Phil Hill lead the group, with Bonnier almost alongside, and von Trips led Ginther, but it is all so close that for two laps any of them could have been in any position, except of course, in first place, for Moss is out on his own, but ominously not gaining any more ground. The foursome battling for second position are keeping a level 10 seconds behind Moss, and in view of the cutting and thrusting going on this is not much lead to have but he obviously could not increase it without stretching the Lotus a bit. At 32 laps Ginther gets by von Trips and the order is Moss, Phil Hill, Bonnier, Ginther, von Trips and then some way back McLaren and Surtees in very close company.
Surtees is driving his old engine very hard and McLaren is ill at ease for his fuel pressure is very high causing the carburetters to flood. Cooper has fitted electric pumps, like a lot of other people, but they are working too well, so now and again McLaren reaches over his right shoulder and turn off the electrical master switch which protrudes through the bulkhead thus switching off the pumps in an attempt to reduce the pressure to the carburetter. This little bother is slowing McLaren a bit and it allows Surtees to keep up and later go by and take sixth position. He did this very smartly as they approached the Gasworks righthand hairpin, for they came up behind Allison as they put the brakes on and McLaren went to the left of the light green Lotus and Surtees to the right so that all three arrived with the brakes hard on, wheel to wheel. By practically coming to rest on the very apex of the hairpin Surtees flicked round on the inside, while McLaren had to go wide. It was a superb bit of judgment on the part of the ex-motorcyclist for many famous drivers had tried a similar manoeuvre only to arrive too fast and go straight on across their opponent’s bows, or too slow and have their opponent cut across the front and block the turn. While this is going on, Brabham is about to be lapped by Moss but avoids this by stopping at his pit to change plugs, as his engine has been misfiring for some time. Already lapped are Trintignant, who is going as well as the old Cooper-Maserati could be expected, Herrmann who is having trouble changing gear, Michael May, and Allison; while many laps behind Clark is circulating regularly having rather a boring time with no one to race against. At 40 laps it looks as though stalemate has set in for Moss is still 10sec ahead of Phil Hill who is no longer being challenged by Bonnier, the Swede having given up trying to do anything about the leading Ferrari, but one man has not given up, and, in fact, has got his second wind, and this is Ritchie Ginther.
He closes right up on Bonnier, leaving von Trips behind and on lap 41 did the well known dive-to-the-inside at the hairpin, runs a bit wide coming out so that Bonnier is able to get across to the inside as they left the corner and then the cars go up the road past the pits absolutely side-by-side, there being little difference on low-speed acceleration. However, the power of the Ferrari tells and Ginther gets ahead and rapidly closes on Phil Hill. This manouevre has obviously “needled” Bonnier for he keeps with Ginther and the two Ferraris and the Porsche are soon nose-to-tail. Ginther is clearly forcing the pace now, pushing Phil Hill along and towing Bonnier and the three of them slowly but surely begin to gain on Moss, who is naturally being kept well-informed by his pit. At 45 laps his 10sec lead has been reduced to 8sec and by 50 laps, which is half distance it is 7sec and they are all lapping below 1'38"0, already faster than anyone has gone in practice. Bonnier is beginning to pant with the effort of keeping up and he loses his tow, while von Trips has been left quite a way behind. The Surtees/McLaren duel has ended, they are now running well apart, but Gurney and Brooks are running close together in eighth and ninth positions, but not doing anything very desperate. The rest of the field has been lapped twice or more by Moss, and May has stopped at the pits with a broken oil pipe on the gearbox. Brabham has reappeared for three more laps and then retired, while Jimmy Clark is still going round nine laps in arrears. Ginther now has the look of a very determined man and is pushing Phil Hill along very hard and by 55 laps has forced Hill on so much that Moss has only 4.5sec lead. Brooks has retired just before being lapped by the leaders, for he has got his nose cowling hooked on Gurney’s exhaust pipe and in the ensuing excitement had over-revved the BRM’s engine and it had burst.
By lap 58 Moss can see the two Ferraris clearly in his rear view mirrors and is now driving really hard for the two red cars has a relentless look about them. Using the Lotus to its fullest extent Moss is able to hold the gap at 5sec, but he is really scrabbling into the Gasworks turn, using all the brakes at his disposal and staying in front by sheer driving virtuosity, never wasting a fraction of a second anywhere, especially when lapping slower cars. On lap 60 Bonnier does not appear, his engine having died on him due to vapour-lock in the fuel pumps which upset the injection pump. He walked back to the pits not realising that as things cooled off the system returned to normal. Fastest practice lap now seems slow in comparison to the pace at which Moss and the two Ferraris are going. Every time the two Maranello cars gain a little ground Moss would nip by a slower car and the slight baulking would put the Ferraris back to 5sec. This is the luck of the game and on three occasions Moss just got by a slower car going into Ste Devote and the American drivers had to follow it round by the Casino, losing valuable yards. This sort of “traffic driving” is the saviour for Moss, for there is no one to match him at lapping slower cars and taking every opportunity with an uncanny foresight. Phil Hill is certainly no match and Ginther can hardly hope to compete with his limited experience. It is rather like a fighter-plane being chased by a superior enemy and being saved by dodging into clouds. It has been obvious for some time that though Ginther is setting the Ferrari pace from third position, he is being held up by Hill, for whereas Hill is looking hot and breathless, Ginther is looking cool and calculating, chewing his gum and driving with a very set expression on his face. At 70 laps the gap is still 5 seconds but Moss is looking in his mirrors as much as he is looking ahead, driving as only Moss knows how, holding off the inevitable by sheer skill and brilliance. Only two weeks before we have seen Moss driving at nine and a half tenths in Sicily and now he is doing it again in Monte-Carlo, not for a fleeting moment but continually, lap after lap, having no time to waste on waving to his friends.
So great is the excitement that the rest of the runners are forgotten and the disappearance of Surtees when his Yeoman Credit Climax engine blew up on lap 69 was almost missed. McLaren brakes heavily before the hairpin to let Moss through and Ginther is beginning to make Phil Hill realise he is in the way. On lap 72 the gap enlarged to 64 seconds and this makes Ginther get rough with his team-mate, who is out of his depth at this speed, and has been for some time. As they start lap 75 Ginther is alongside and elbowing him out of the way and by lap 77 he has closed the gap to 51/2 seconds and got away from Hill. On lap 78 he gets hung up by a slow car on the twisty part of the course and the gap returns to 6 seconds but by lap 80 it is down to 41/2 seconds and Ginther is giving all he has got, the Ferrari sounding really angry. On lap 82 the gap is 4 seconds, only half a second gain, but how the wiry-little American is working to gain those few yards on a superb Moss who is watching his mirror all the time. They are now lapping below 1min 37sec and the tension is terrific, Ginther is looking so determined that a lesser man than Moss would have given up, but not the “Golden Boy,” he is enjoying every minute of the battle, even if he is sweating a bit. Most people, especially a new driver to Grand Prix racing, would have settled for a safe second place behind the master-driver, but not Ginther, he pushes harder than ever, doing his 84th lap in 1min 36.3sec, only a tenth of a second off the absolute lap record set up last year by a 2.5-litre car. This reduces the gap to 3.5 seconds, but the superb Moss replies by recording an identical time on lap 85 and putting the gap back to 41/2 seconds. In the middle of all this excitement McLaren runs out of petrol as he rounds the hairpin, but is able to coast to the pits and take on more and rejoin the race, but it lets Gurney by into fifth place. At 5 seconds the gap stays, Moss having got the measure of the Ferrari by sheer driving skill for he is giving away over 25bhp. On lap 89 they lap von Trips and on lap 91 Ginther throws away his chewing-gum and determined to have one last desperate attempt.
He has no great hope of getting the lead, for even if he caught Moss he would still have to get by, but he keeps the pressure on in the hope that something would happen. It was too much to hope that Moss would make a mistake for even on the limit this rarely happens to the master, but there is always the hope that the Lotus-Climax would break, if pressed continuously; equally there is the risk that the Ferrari would break, but as Ginther showed last year at Modena he is a great believer in if you are going to race, then race to the bitter end, and be has been really racing. On lap 96 he chops half a second off and the gap is 41/2 seconds, on lap 97 he has gained a yard or two, on lap 98 it is 4 seconds and the same as they start their last lap. Not for a long while now have we seen such a race, where it was not going to be won until the chequered flag fell. All round that last lap Moss is watching his mirrors and Ginther is just as determined as ever and they cross the finishing line 3.6 seconds apart and the vast crowd sink back in exhaustion saying “What a race, and this new Formula 1 has only just started. A very harassed Phil Hill arrives third and on his slowing-down lap finds von Trips stopped by the roadside, the Ferrari having lost all its sparks on its last lap, so the German rides to the finish on the tail of his team-mate’s car. A very relieved and happy Moss goes to receive the winner’s cup, his third Monaco GP win and a happy and smiling freckle-faced Ginther says: couldn’t try any harder, but it wasn’t enough. When he switches the Ferrari engine off the left-hand bank of chokes gradually filled with petrol, the float chambers flooding badly, which explains the slight hesitation the engine has had on initial pick-up away from the hairpin. Moss has taken the Mark II Climax engine well up to its limit of nearly 8.000rpm, using every one of its 152 bhp and it has responded nobly, as has the Lotus chassis, Colotti gearbox, Dunlop tyres and Girling disc brakes. This is the third time that Stirling Moss wins the Monaco Grand Prix, an accomplishment that no one was ever able to achieve. The Briton now leads the drivers’ standings with 9 points, followed by Ginther with 6, Phil Hill, with 4, von Trips with 3, Gurney with 2 and, as previously mentioned, McLaren with 1.
Ferrari management and drivers accept the defeat at the Monaco Grand Prix with a certain tranquillity, even though, ahead of the race, they were convinced of the superior capabilities of the Formula 1 car built by Modena technicians. This feeling was shared by all the insiders who came to the Monegasque circuit, who, in the three days of practice, have had the chance to realise the entity and the quality of the progress made by Maranello’s single seaters in comparison with the British cars. The Ferraris built over the winter according to Formula 1’s new technical regulations appeared blatantly superior in comparison with the British and German cars in this very first race valid for the World Drivers’ Championship: as a matter of fact, the technical situation, which in the last few years has been in favour of the cross-Channel manufacturers, seems on its way to overturn. At least, this was the impression among those who have attended the Monaco race. Even during the Grand Prix, the keenest observers noticed that Ferrari appeared superior than their rivals, and the final classification indeed proves such theory, with the Italian cars claiming second, third and fourth place. The problem is that Ferrari drivers - Richie Ginther, Phil Hill and Wolfgang von Trips - have had to deal with a real giant of motorsport: Stirling Moss. The British ace has always been (not just today) better than everyone else in terms of class and temper, although he has always been – rightfully – reproached for his chronic inability to nurse the car to the chequered flag; in other words, he causes his cars to break down too often. But this time in Monaco that did not happen. Besides, with the new 1.5-litre engine required by Formula 1’s new technical regulations which has officially started its quadrennial cycle in Monaco, Lotus is not as successful as last year with the old 2.5-litre engine: at the moment, it seems that between Ferrari and Lotus there is a 30-horsepower gap. Nevertheless, the great racer from London was able to win the race, conducted authoritatively, firmly, always in control, and above all driving superbly, compensating his vehicle’s inferiority through the pitfalls of the twisty Monaco track: an authentic masterclass.
A win clinched more by the driver and his class than the car. The mechanical superiority of the Italian cars was not sufficient to avoid Moss’s victory: driving a well-prepared Lotus, once taken the lead after 14 out of the 100 scheduled laps, the Brit resisted the continuous attacks of the Ferrari drivers: first Hill, then Ginther in the last twenty-five laps. Every time the spectators had the impression that Ginther was going to catch Moss, the latter immediately set peremptorily fastest laps which maintained the gap over the cars behind unaltered. So, a win of the driver more than a win of the car, despite Lotus’s undoubted stability and handling capabilities that have always been a prerogative of the British cars. Now, the difference is made by the engines: Ferrari’s 6-cylinder has 20% more power than the engines of all the other cars. However, this fact should not be humiliating for Richie Ginther because the American drove his Ferrari to second place after a very long, tenacious, and sometimes moving battle against Moss. A little more than three and a half second separate the two protagonists at the end of the Monaco Grand Prix, after two hours and forty-five minutes of furious chase: Ginther, who took the lead of the race at the start and held it for the first thirteen laps, found in Moss an unbeatable rival, but the classification reflects the scale of values: behind the British champion (although still without a title), the best is Ferrari’s driver-tester, who might be reproached just for one thing: having relaxed in the central part of the race, settling for following his teammate Phil Hill who had taken second place. When he decided to play offensive, it already was too late. However, it is hard to believe that he could have surprised the very careful Stirling Moss. Among the drivers who delivered a good performance Bonnier should be taken into account: he maintained the lead of the race until the engine of his Porsche blew up; then, for long stretches, Phil Hill and Gurney, the latter at the wheel of the B.R.M. By contrast, defending World Champion Jack Brabham was almost invisible: he had arrived the night before from Indianapolis, where he was participating in the qualifications for the 500 Miles: a proper tour de force which is certainly not the best training.
Besides, Brabham’s Cooper was not perfectly balanced. Putting his vehicle’s inferiority aside, which caused a drop in performance in the second part of the race, John Surtees, proved his excellent skills also on four wheels. But the drivers defeated in the Monaco Grand Prix will not have to wait too long for a chance to have a rematch: the Dutch Grand Prix in Zandvoort is scheduled for Sunday 22nd May 1961 as the second round of the world championship. The circuit will be more suitable than Monte-Carlo for Ferrari’s characteristics, whereas it will be more difficult for Moss to defend himself. In Italy the Naples Grand Prix is held simultaneously with the Monaco Grand Prix and witnesses Giancarlo Baghetti’s one-man show: the young Ferrari driver has stepped into the limelight of world automobile racing in a very short time. The Italian driver, who started sure of his abilities and of the capabilities of his car, increases progressively his margin and wins the race reserved to Formula 1 cars and valid for the Italian Overall Drivers’ Championship with an over one-lap advantage on his rivals. In the first half of the race only Roy Salvadori tries desperately not to lose contact, but then surrenders to the Italian. Baghetti’s car, a Ferrari prepared specifically for this race, has responded perfectly. The Posillipo circuit is widely known to be very difficult for its numerous corners, many of which are hairpins, sweeping through roads with a remarkable gradient. To win in Posillipo drivers have to be expert and drive a good vehicle, because that devilish carousel wears down both men and cars. At the finish line Baghetti precedes Englishman Ashmore (Lotus) and Italian Lorenzo Bandini (Cooper), beaten by just a few metres. The duel between these two drivers is perhaps the most exciting episode of race, after Salvadori stopped for a problem and then resumed racing with a huge gap. At a certain point it seems that Bandini can catch Ashmore but the Briton, who on Saturday set the best laptime in qualifying, holds off the Italian, crossing the finish line in second place with a minimum advantage.