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#85 1960 Argentine Grand Prix

2021-10-15 00:00

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#85 1960 Argentine Grand Prix

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In the particularly short winter hibernation between the 1959 and 1960 seasons of motoring, the only important event was at the end of December 1959: the traditional gathering with the announcement of the program of technical and competitive activities for the season 1960. Scuderia Ferrari was the first to announce its battle plans: we thus know that the Formula 1 machines that will defend its colors have been extensively modified in the rear suspension and in the weight distribution, while the engines will still be those of 1959; we then know that the official team will be formed by only three drivers: Phil Hill, Cliff Allison and Von Trips.

 

Wanting to draw a summary of the forces that will meet in the world championship trials, the single-seaters of Maranello reported in 1959 great difficulties in exploiting the enormous power of their engines. The upgrading work carried out by the Modenese technicians aimed to improve the grip of the drive wheels on the ground, as well as the stability of the machine on fast curves. Once this difficulty is resolved, the 1960 Ferraris should be able to validly oppose the formidable British Formula 1.

 

First of all Cooper, who in the 1959 season amazed technicians and enthusiasts for his exceptional - and partly not expected - performance. Needless to say, behind the wheel of a Cooper, Jack Brabham won the title of World Champion. No news is announced on these amazing machines built in a modest workshop in Surbiton; drivers of the official team will still be Brabham, McLaren and Schell. Stirling Moss, on the other hand, seems to continue to compete, always at the wheel of a Cooper, for the colors of the stable of Robert Walker, rich scion of a dynasty famous for his whiskey.

 

The B.R.M. has meanwhile prepared a new car with rear engine (it was possible to see the prototype at Monza, during the tests of the Italian Grand Prix of 1959), but it seems that its debut is postponed to spring.In the Argentine Grand Prix should be in the race two old models, entrusted to Bonnier and Dan Gurney, the North American who preferred to the Italian lira of Ferrari the British pounds of B.R.M. Even the Aston Martin, after the uncertain appearances of 1959, will be in contention starting from the Monaco Grand Prix. The House of David Brown won the world title for sports cars in 1959, and now decided to bet everything on Formula 1, with Roy Salvadori, Ron Flockhart and, probably, the champion of France, Maurice Trintignant.

 

Vanwall remains, which after a year of rest seems determined to re-enter the fray, if it is true that the racing department of Tony Vandervell, although reduced in numbers, He never stopped making studies and experiences around that single-seater that in 1958 constituted the spook of Ferrari. In 1960, the Scarab, the first American Formula 1 car, finally appeared on the circuit. But it seems that the difficulties encountered in its development are higher than expected by the optimist (necessarily: he has a fortune valued millions of dollars) Lance Reventlow, promoter of the initiative.

 

Finally, it should be noted that Maserati, although faithful to the program of officially abstaining from direct competitive activity, has prepared not only special engines for the machines (with Cooper chassis) of the Centre-South stable, but a new lightweight chassis. This is the situation on the eve of the resumption of hostilities, but everything will be clarified only at the beginning of the season, especially as regards the accommodation of pilots not yet installed. For example, the case of Tony Brooks: despite the proclaimed retirement from active sport, it is said that he can do something with Vandervell.

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After 1958, the car season began again with the Argentine temporary, which as in the past was divided into three races. The Mille Miglia in Buenos Aires, a race valid for the world championship sports cars, was held on Sunday, January 31, 1960. Following, after a week, Sunday, February 7, 1960, the most important event: the Argentine Grand Prix for Formula 1 cars, the first round of the world championship conductors.Finally, Sunday, February 14, 1960, will be held the City Grand Prix of Buenos Aires (Formula free) in Cordona, concluding the Argentine temporary. The series of Argentine races do not participate in the full manufacturers interested in the competitive activity, but there are brands that in the 1959 season were the protagonists of comparisons concluded only in December, Sebring, with the United States Grand Prix. 

 

The main interest is focused on the Argentine Grand Prix, in which the Cooper World Champions - also thanks to Jack Brabham, fifth runner arrived at the highest motor racing title after Farina, Ascari, Fangio and Hawthorn - they must demonstrate that they are able to contain the attack of the rejuvenated Ferrari. Scuderia Ferrari starts with only three official drivers: Phil Hill, Allison and Trips; others can be added for sports racing. Tony Brooks said he wanted to retire from racing and did not renew the contract with the manufacturer Modena. However, there are rumors of a possible agreement between the nice and elegant London racer with a House of the Channel, which could be the Vanwall. Mister Vandervell has not abandoned the ambitious project to conquer the World Championship with his cars, returning resoundingly to the scene after a year of rest.

 

In the Argentine Grand Prix, in addition to the Ferraris, the Coopers and the B.R.M. will certainly be in the race.At the first, after the spectacular performances of the 1959 season, it is no longer permissible to advance the minimum reserve, All the more so since it is claimed that they have still been improved in their only weak point: the exchange rate. The new World Champion Jack Brabham - flanked by Trintignant and McLaren - is entitled to the qualification of first driver of the Cooper officers, while Stirling Moss - who for several years vainly pursues the title - will continue to compete at the wheel of the Cooper-Walker, that is the same machines of Surbiton reworked in the Stables of the English millionaire Robert Walker, son of the king of whisky. However, the participation in the temporary Moss is not certain, who, accustomed as he is to make the most of the machines entrusted to him (and therefore often does not complete the races), complains of not being able to count on a mechanical means of secure hold for his foot. It seems, however, that between the English ace and the Argentine organizers, the agreement on the financial conditions required by one and offered by the others.

 

Cooper Schell and maybe Gregory will be in the race, while Menditéguy and Bonomi will run behind the wheel of two Cooper-Maseratis. The B.R.M. has prepared a new model with rear engine, whose first official release seems however postponed by a few months. For the race in Buenos Aires, the B.R.M. Type '59 registered are two, with drivers Bonnier and Gurney, the Californian who in the previous season was part of the Ferrari team. These are the forces that will be faced in the Argentine Grand Prix, to which must be added the not forgotten Froilán González (to whom Ferrari will entrust for the occasion one of its single-seaters), Gino Munaron and Giorgio Scarlatti on Maserati.

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Sunday, January 31, 1960, as mentioned, the Argentine temporary will begin with sports cars in the 1000 Kilometers, race that will run, as in previous years, on a circuit of 9476 meters that includes in part one of the various tracks of the municipal circuit of the Argentine capital, and in part the avenues adjacent to it: a quite fast and of considerable effort, that will have to be repeated eighty times for a total of 1004,489 kilometers. This first race of the temporary race should not escape Ferrari, the only official team registered with cars at the limit of displacement (which for sports, as we know, is three liters).

 

The other is the German Porsche with its 1500 normal or increased up to a maximum of 1700 cm³ . The remaining cars registered are all privately owned or European or American stables: mostly Ferrari, old-fashioned Maseratis, Porsche and Osca 1500. Then there is a group of Ferrari Gran Turismo (with standings apart, as well as 1500), mainly driven by pairs of young Italian drivers, invited to run this great adventure that for more than one could be the occasion of a definitive international launch. It is believed that Ludovico Scarfiotti will also be in the race, which seems even preached to participate in the 1000 Kilometers on one of the three official Ferrari. For the absolute victory, as mentioned, the Modena cars should have nothing to fear, even if the agile Porsche is not to be underestimated.

 

It will be interesting to follow the test of the special four-cylinder Maserati entrusted to Masten Gregory and an Argentine driver still to choose from the many members of the 1000 Kilometers. This car should have had as the first Stirling Moss driver, who instead reserved for the next two Formula 1 races, at the wheel of Cooper. Ferrari crews, on the 12-cylinder Testa Rossa notes, should be Phil Hill-Ginther, Allison-González and Trips joined by another driver hired on site. As you can see, for the occasion it is part of the Modena team of Froilàn González, the not forgotten Argentine ace who had been a great rival of Fangio. González will be running, always on a Ferrari, even in the two Grand Prix that will complete the temporary. Another well-known Argentine rider who returns to the limelight on this occasion is Carlos Menditéguy (an ace of the polo on horseback): he will race on a Maserati 3000 paired with Roberto Bonomi. Among the official Porsche team are Bonnier, Graham Hill, Barth, Herrmann, Seidel, Gendebien and Shelby; a fierce formation.

 

However, it is Masten Gregory (on Maserati) who is given the best time in practice in Buenos Aires. Many drivers will improve - during the day on Friday - their lap times, during the tests ahead of the 1000 Kilometers of Buenos Aires. The American driver completes an entire lap of the circuit in 3 '24", with an average of 166.802 km/h. After Gregory, the best times were obtained by the German Trips (on Ferrari) in 3 '26 ``, by the American Paul Ginther (on Ferrari) in 3' 26"9, and by the English Allison (still on Ferrari) in 3 '28"8.

 

But on Sunday, January 31, 1969, as expected, Phil Hill and Cliff Allison won the Mille Miglia in Buenos Aires on a Ferrari 3000. Another Ferrari, driven by the American Paul Ginther, paired with the German Trips, finished second at the finish line. The start of the Municipal Circuit is given at 17:30 in front of a huge crowd, despite the high summer temperature. The former World Champion, Juan Manuel Fangio, lowered the flag, starting the 22 cars. Dan Gurney’s Maserati 2800 (four-cylinder) took the lead, followed by Ferrari 3000 driven by Phil Hill and González (who had taken the place of the British Cliff Allison, who had fallen ill before the start).

 

The drivers have to travel along the circuit that winds partly on the track of the circuit, and for the rest along the Avenida General Paz, which goes up to the districts of Florida and Rivadavia, on the Rio de La Piata. It is precisely on this great avenue that a very serious accident takes place. Just before the end of the first lap, the American driver Harry Blanchard, at the wheel of a Porsche 1600, loses control of the car, which, after a few turns, bumps against a protection barrier and capsizes. The driver falls on the asphalt, while the car, bounced on the track, is run over by the Porsche 1500 of the Swiss Henry Walter. As the race continues, an ambulance transports the American to the Salaberry hospital; but as soon as the nurses deposit the stretcher in the rescue room, the pilot loses his life because of the skull fracture. Shortly after, in the same hospital, was also treated the Swiss Walter: doctors diagnosed a trauma to the chest, but without serious consequences.

 

Meanwhile, during the twenty-second lap, Dan Gurney is always in the lead and continues to proceed at very high speed, beating for the second time the track record at an average of 167.900 km/h. Then comes Hill’s Ferrari, which on lap 37 stops at the pit: Gonzalez gets out of the car, and Cliff Allison takes his place, recovering from the malaise. His condition is now perfect, and the English quickly manages to recover the gap and to overcome the same Gurney. The two Ferrari drivers are thus carried installed in the lead, and halfway through the race they have behind them the other Ferrari 3000 of the Trips-Ginther pair, the Maserati 2800 of Gregory-Gurney, the Porsche 1500 of Gendebien-Barth (who will retire after four laps) and the other Porsche 1500 by Hermann-Trintignant. At the fifty-seventh lap the couple Gurney-Gregory are forced to abandon the race due to mechanical troubles. At this point Munaron from Turin and Todaro from Veneto are at the top of the Grand Touring class, starting on a Ferrari 3000.  The American Phill Hill and the British Cliff Allison continue in their fast race, having no more opponents to the finish, as well as the other Italian car.

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The temporary Argentine car had its first episode with the Mille Miglia of Buenos Aires for the World Championship sports cars, and proceeded on Sunday, February 7, 1960 with the most important and awaited race of the beginning of the season: 7.000. Grand Prix of the Argentine Republic for Formula 1 cars, first round of world championship conductors. The engine actors and drivers - are the same as last year, while the debut of new or renewed single-seaters made in Great Britain (B.R.M. with rear engine, Aston Martin, Vanwall) and the United States is postponed to spring. We will see the Ferraris, the Cooper and the B.R.M. seen in the 1959 season, until the final round of Sebring in December. The overall dominance of Cooper, which allowed the revelation Jack Brabham to win the title, will renew even in 1960?

 

It is not yet possible to answer. Ferrari, not considering it convenient to prepare a completely new car, however, has made significant changes to its '59 single-seaters, trying to remedy the difficulty of using all the engine power, which is higher than that of the British cars. That is, improving the ground grip of the drive wheels. To this end, the Modena technicians have realized a new rear suspension and a different weight distribution. Unchanged, however, the engine, which in the four-shaft version in the head and double ignition provides the power of 280 horsepower.

 

The attack begins to oust the new champion Jack Brabham from the title. A lot of people will try, starting with Stirling Moss, who is the strongest of all but who has never been able to reach the top. First closed by the great Manuel Fangio, then conditioned by mechanical means too sensitive to the heavy foot of the English ace. The car of the British ace mounts suspension modified from the same Moss. But we will also try the drivers of Ferrari, led by Phil Hill who has now entered the narrow circle of champions. The Ferrari is presented with four models, of which the most recent (with rear engine, side tanks and independent wheels with Dino cam engine) will be entrusted to Phil Hill. Gonzalez will instead drive a modified model of '59, with a rear tank.

 

Also registered are the two B.R.M. by Bonnier and Graham Hill, which have modifications to the cooling system and engine power. Gurney’s the backup pilot. The lotus fielded three cars, cue of the traditional type, entrusted to Stacey and the Argentine Larreta, and a brand new type that will debut this season, entrusted to Innes Ireland. Lotus also follows the road started by Cooper, mounting the engine behind the driver. The engine adopted is the Climax. Two the official Cooper-Climax, entrusted to Brabham and McLaren. Trintignant will be the squire of Stirling Moss, while Harry Schell features the fifth Cooper engine with 2200 cubic centimeters. The Central-South Stable is also present on this occasion with two Cooper-Maseratis entrusted to Menditeguy and Bonomi. Five more Maseratis and Masten Gregory’s Porsche-Colotti completed the entry batch.

 

It should be noted, for the purpose of the score for the world ranking, the amendment made since 1960 to the regulation: will no longer be awarded the point for the fastest lap, while a point will also reward the sixth runner-up. In essence: 8 points in the first, 6 and second, 4 in the third, 3 in the fourth, 2 in the fifth and 1 in the sixth. It is a small variation, but of a certain weight in the general economy of the World Championship. It should be enough to remember that in 1958 the late Mike Hawthorn secured the title also by virtue of the 5 points won in as many fast laps, against the 3 of Stirling Moss (in the final ranking, only one point divided the two English drivers).

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During the tests, thirteen out of twenty-two drivers managed to beat the previous record scored by Fangio. The fastest is Moss, who during training lowers the record by 5.4 seconds, and in official practice by 4.9 seconds. Surprise Ireland with the new Lotus rear engine; the British driver scores the second time. Lotus is favored by the rear engine position, and by the modest weight of only 400 kilos. The tests were extended to give the two official Coopers and the two Lotus with front engine Stacey and Larreta the chance to do some laps.In fact, the ship carrying the cars had a strong delay due to an engine failure and arrived the night before the race. The first row is completed by the B.R.M. of Hill and Bonnier. Three Ferraris in the second row.

 

As usual, on Sunday 7th February 1960 the Argentine Grand Prix took place at the Autodromo di Buenos Aires on circuit number 2 of 3.912 meters for a distance of eighty laps. On the stands of the circuit, on a very hot day, in the middle of summer, more than fifty thousand spectators crowded. The track, all curves, does not allow high speeds; the main factors for each car are therefore the handling and recovery. Just before the starter lowers the flag and while the cars are already in place, a black cat crosses the track. Mechanics and policemen rush after him and make him quickly leave the circuit, but many, superstitious, look around with dismay. A few minutes later, the signal is given.

 

The English Ireland (on Lotus) takes the lead, followed by Bonnier and Hill, both on B.R.M., and the two Ferraris by Phil Hill and Gonzalez. Brabham is sixth. Stirling Moss, who proved to be the fastest in training, is delayed, in sixth position. Bonnier then takes the lead, as Ireland is the victim of a spin, but Moss, with a furious chase, overtakes him on lap 15. Even Bonnier, at ease with the new Lotus, starts the attack and the twenty-first lap returns to command the group. 

 

During lap thirty-sixth, Moss overtook Bonnier once again, and took the lead, while Graham Hill, who was fourth, was forced to retire due to the burping of a valve return spring. Stirling Moss leaves on lap 41: his Cooper Climax has broken the rear suspension. Shortly after he is followed by the Australian Jack Brabham, outgoing World Champion: his Cooper Climax has an irreparable loss of oil pressure. Phil Hill is also forced to pit, due to the rupture of a radiator sleeve; but the American driver, carrying out the necessary repairs, will start again. 

 

On lap fifty-six Moss returns to race on the Cooper Climax of the French Trintignant (who gives his place to the British because of a strong toothache that strikes him suddenly), and throws himself into a furious chase. Bruce McLaren takes the lead on lap 71, as Bonnier has to stop at the pit due to the rupture of a valve return spring, and keeps the lead up to the final finish. Meanwhile, Ireland begins to blame steering problems. Stirling Moss managed to recover until he finished ahead of Cliff Allison, third, but did not take points, as required by the new sports regulations.  

 

During the race, the Italian driver Giorgio Scarlatti, on Maserati, is forced to retire due to mechanical failure, due to an overheating of the engine, during the eleventh lap. Three other riders - the Spaniard Antonio Creus, on Maserati, the Englishman Allan Stacy, on Lotus, and the Italian Ettore Chimeri, also on Maserati - are instead forced to abandon because they were hit by sunstroke.

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The Argentine Grand Prix, the first round of world championship conductors, has kept faith with its traditions that want it very often characterized by a surprise result. In fact, he won the young New Zealand Bruce McLaren, over Cooper. Neither the indications of the tests, nor the development of the first three quarters of the race could suggest in him a conductor thrown towards such a resounding affirmation. It should be noted, however, that McLaren had won the United States Grand Prix in December 1959, held in Sebring, the final race of the world title of the previous year, revealing a considerable dose of class.

 

Both in Sebring and in Buenos Aires, the 23-year-old racer saw his way to victory as the cars of the opponents who had initially dominated: from the unlucky Stirling Moss (who had to change a mechanical means to finish third on the car of Trintignant, but according to the new rules his placement does not count even partially in the score for the world title), to the Swedish Bonnier (B.R.M.), brilliant in the fight with Moss and - twenty laps from the end - first with great advantage, up to the World Champion Brabham (Cooper Climax), who also did not have the allied fate.

 

However, the British cars, both older types such as the Cooper and the B.R.M., and the recent rear-engined Lotus, have shown a high level of efficiency. The renewed Ferrari, despite the second place of Allison, did not convince, reconfirming not suitable for very sinuous circuits. As for the Italian riders, you can remember the Munaron test of Munaron. The Italian raced with an old Maserati, managing to reach the finish line within the first thirteen. The exact location was only known a few days later, following a new rectification of the arrival order. In this regard, the Argentine newspapers strongly criticized the organization of the race by the Automobile Club of Argentina and, in particular, the confusion and delay in communicating to the press the positions of the various competitors. 

 

Bruce McLaren, the unexpected winner of the Argentine Grand Prix, is a young man of a not athletic build, but with a full face perpetually illuminated by a smile; he was born in 1937 in New Zealand, where he began his career as a racer from the ranks of mechanics, like most of the great drivers of the historical era of motoring. Good luck helped him by taking away his more experienced and gifted opponents, but it would be unfair to say that McLaren won only thanks to a shameless fortune. The truth is that the New Zealander is a shrewd and intelligent driver, who knows how to save the mechanical means until the appropriate time to draw the final effort (that’s why it is also important to be a good mechanic). In these qualities far from flashy, McLaren has many points of contact with the new World Champion.

 

Great favorite was Stirling Moss, who as usual had amazed in the rehearsals of Christmas Eve and, after a broken start, had definitely taken the baton of command, until the vehicle betrayed him. Something that happens to the English ace quite frequently: bad luck or even too heavy hand (and foot)? Meanwhile, Moss did not score any points for the world rankings. Despite having finished the race third, after getting on the car first driven by Trintignant, in these cases the regulations do not give points to either driver or the other. Even more sensational, however, was the misfortune of Joakim Bonnier. The Swede, after a long duel with Moss, at the withdrawal of these had remained only at the command with a very wide margin of advantage over all (and they were not lacking, at the end of the race, about eighty kilometers)when his B.R.M. accused a breakdown that forced him to stop at the pits, losing almost two minutes. It was these two twists that paved the way to victory for the attentive McLaren.

 

Allison’s Ferrari came in second place, Trips in fifth, but the Italian cars showed more regularity and tightness at distance than brilliance of behavior. These are qualities that count, but they cannot be enough in the face of opponents who have already shown great progress since last year. If Cooper has put another victory to the fore, the B.R.M. seems definitely grown (and a new car with rear engine is ready). Even the modest Lotus has drawn a new vehicle that with Ireland has long remained among the very first. It will therefore be a very hard season for Scuderia Ferrari.

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At the end of the temporary Argentine, Sunday, February 14, 1960 the French driver Maurice Trintignant, on Cooper-Climax, won the City of Buenos Aires Grand Prix held in Cordoba, 700 kilometers from the Argentine capital. At the start of the last race fourteen cars lined up; this is because the Scuderia Ferrari does not participate in the Grand Prix. In this regard, the president of the sports committee of the Automobile Club of Argentina, Baul Ferminovi Oguirre, asks the FIA to suspend the Italian team from the rest of the sporting events of 1960, But in environments close to Ferrari the withdrawal is justified by the fact that the Italian brand only has the cars that ran in Argentina on the first Sunday of February, and that must therefore be reset for the next activity. But it will be noted that with the agreement signed in December 1959 Ferrari would have committed to participate only in the two Argentine races qualified for the world title. 

 

The temperature in the shade is about 38 degrees; that of the track 55 degrees. The circuit presents many difficulties: numerous bends without protection, with continuous ups and downs, puts a strain on competitors along its 2117 kilometers. World Champion Jack Brabham (on Cooper) starts on pole, and at the end of the first lap is clearly in the lead. Behind him, in order, with various detachments are the New Zealand McLaren, the American Dan Gurney, the French Trintignant, the Argentine Menditéguy and the Swedish Bonnier. The Italian Gino Munaron, on a Maserati, is the victim of a slight delay at the start, but immediately goes in pursuit. The Englishman Ireland (on Lotus) leaves on the first lap due to mechanical troubles, but returns to the race on the twenty-second lap, in the car of the Englishman Allan Stacey. On lap 13 he left the Argentine Menditéguy, while Brabham set the best time in 1'29"1. Trintignant then takes the lead, taking advantage of a pit stop at the World Champion, which later will have to abandon in turn, together with McLaren.

 

Martina Marastoni

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