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#99 1961 British Grand Prix

2021-08-27 01:00

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#99 1961 British Grand Prix

Tirelessly, every week motoring presents new episodes of those events - always the same and always different - that characterize this difficult sport.

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Tirelessly, every week motoring presents new episodes of those events - always the same and always different - that characterize this difficult sport. There is still talk of the amazing victory of Giancarlo Baghetti in the French Grand Prix, but now in function of the future, of what the young Milanese driver will be able to do. Is it a champion? If it’s not yet, will it become a champion? And meanwhile the curiosity to see again Giancarlo Baghetti engaged in front of the elderly drivers who saw him happen in the middle, we do not know with how much enthusiasm. The opportunity will not wait: Saturday, July 15, 1961, will be held at Aintree the Grand Prix of Great Britain, fifth round of the World Championship, and Giancarlo Baghetti will be present, always with Ferrari loaned by the House of Maranello. First, however, on Saturday, July 8, 1961, the British Trophy Empire was held on the Silverstone circuit, an event reserved for Intercontinental Formula cars. It is a formula that provides engines with a maximum displacement between 2500 and 3000 cc and that should save the machines of the disappeared Formula 1 and at the same time lay the foundations for a rapprochement between the European regulation and that of Indianapolis. To capture the most attention is the debut of the Ferguson Project 99, built by Ferguson Ltd, a well-known tractor factory that has long dedicated itself to the design of revolutionary cars. This new single-seater expresses some advanced ideas from Harry Ferguson and is equipped with a four-wheel transmission with a special differential that automatically compensates for the resistance offered by each wheel and the engine is the well-known Coventry-Climax.

 

One of the first races to be held is the International Junior Race, with a slight rain to disturb the march of the drivers. During the competition, a car skids and involves five other cars, including that of Costey who is hospitalized in Northampton with numerous fractures, fortunately not alarming. Later, a dog escapes its master and begins to wander around the track, forcing riders to abrupt and dangerous maneuvers to avoid it until a race official fails to stop it. The podium was won entirely by Lotus, with Taylor winning in front of Rees and Piggott. The most awaited race is dominated by Stirling Moss, who walks and then crosses the finish line before John Surtees and Graham Hill. No one could compete for victory today, not even the two podium finishes despite an honorable defense against him. There was great anticipation for the debut of the new Ferguson with four-wheel drive, with Jack Fairman at the wheel, but expectations go out after just two laps with a withdrawal due to technical problems. Among the Italians should be reported the tests of Lorenzo Bandini on Cooper-Maserati and Gino Munaron on Cooper-Castellotti, respectively seventh and eleventh. After the fast straights of the Reims circuit, the Grand Prix scene shifts to the slow turns of the Aintree circuit, and all regular competitors, plus many others, register for the British Grand Prix scheduled for Saturday 15th July 1961 on the circuit of Aintree, near Liverpool, the British Grand Prix, fifth round of the World Championship. After the events and the unexpected outcome of the last race held in Reims by Formula 1 cars, the interest in motoring has suddenly revived.

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Thanks to the young Giancarlo Baghetti, quickly entered the Olympus of celebrity thanks to a series, short but very brilliant, of resounding claims, culminating in the amazing victory of two weeks ago in France. Many critics have not hesitated to call him a true champion: perhaps it is premature to say so, even if his class is evident. But no ace of the steering wheel, from Nazzaro to Bordino, from Nuvolari to Varzi, from Campari to Farina, from Fangio to Alberto Ascari, became a champion in the space of two months. The training is long, you have to know how to overcome great adversities, learn to suffer and to fight, perhaps with a pinch of malice. All things that Giancarlo Baghettl cannot have already assimilated. For this reason, the race of Aintree is awaited with particular interest, from which many would like the bright confirmation, while many are concerned about the great responsibility that the surrounding, the passion of sportsmen, The headlines ended with Baghetti. It should be added that this time the situation is more difficult than in the French Grand Prix for other reasons. The British drivers are very strong, regardless of the individual class and the efficiency of the mechanical means, especially on the circuits of their home, in which they compete with much more assiduity than foreign racers in their respective countries. The circuit of Aintree, moreover, is not very fast, and in a sense appears less favorable than others (such as Reims and Spa) to the exploitation of the power of Italian machines. It is therefore in other tracks that emerge the resources of the drivers that the superiority of mechanical means.

 

It would seem, in short, that this time the task of the Ferrari drivers (besides Baghetti), is not as easy as in the last two races of the World Championship, to finish the race in front of Stirling Moss, Jo Bonnier, Dan Gurney, Jack Brabham, John Surtees, Graham Hill, Jim Clark. Finally, curiosity is aroused by the presentation In corsa of the new revolutionary car produced by Ferguson, which made its disastrous debut last Saturday at Sllverstone, but which the technicians assure will become very fearsome. Ferguson will be piloted at Aintree by Jack Falrman again. Phll Hill is currently in the lead with 19 points, followed by Trips with 18, Moss and Ginther with 12, Baghetti and Gurney with 9. A new victory of a Ferrari driver could decide the issue of the 1961 world title. The opportunity will not be long in coming Scuderia Ferrari presents its usual team of Phil Hill, Wolfgang von Trips and Richie Ginther, with V6 engines at 120 degrees rear; but, above all, at the last minute Fisa signs Giancarlo Baghetti, to which Ferrari lends the car with rear engine at V60 degrees and takes care of both the car and the driver. In view of the probability of rain in Aintree, cars are equipped with Perspex covers sealed over the air intakes of carburetors, instead of the mesh normally used. Porsche brings to Britain the same three cars it had used in Reims, equipped with old oscillating arm suspension and 4-cylinder engines with Weber carburettors, since the new flat-8 is not yet ready, although it has undergone many test sessions.

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The cars are registered for Jo Bonnier, Dan Gurney and Carel Godin de Beaufort, who writes privately with the Ecurie Maarsbergen team, although the car is run by the factory mechanics. Jack Brabham and Bruce McLaren will have the usual Cooper, while Innes Ireland and Jim Clark will have the two new Lotus, with 5-speed ZF gearbox. Graham Hill and Tony Brooks will race with the B.R.M. equipped with Climax engines. Stirling Moss is driving the Lotus-Climax of the Rob Walker team used in Reims, while John Surtees and Roy Salvadori will drive the Cooper of the Yeoman Credit Team. The first has the Cooper special as a training car, now further modified to fit a Mark II Climax engine. The U.D.T.-Laystall enrolls its two Lotus remodeled for Henry Taylor and Lucien Bianchi, also manages to have one of the Lotus of old type as a training car, equipped with 5-speed Laystall gearbox, now modified internally and subjected to a thorough test on the test car. Camoradi enrolled Masten Gregory and his Cooper, and Ian Burgess with his Lotus, while the H. & L. Motors team of Stroud enrolled Jack Lewis and their 1961 Cooper-Climax. Private registrations with old Lotus-Climax cars also come from the R.H.H. team with Tim Parnell, Gerry Ashmore, Wolfgang Seidel, and from the Louise Bryden-Brown team, who has the car with which Dan Gurney has driven on several occasions, only this time it is loaned to the South African driver from Formula Junior, Tony Maggs. Tony Marsh has his extensively modified Lotus-Climax, while Keith Greene will participate with the Gilby-Climax, an intelligent looking car built on orthodox lines from Lotus, Coope and Lola, from Gilby Engineering. The Scuderia Centro-Sud signed Lorenzo Bandini with his 1961 Cooper-Maserati and Massimo Natili with the first configuration model similar to that driven by his teammate.

 

All these cars have already been seen in Formula 1 races, at one time or another, but an absolute novelty for racing and Formula 1 in particular is represented by the presence of Ferguson-Climax. This interesting car was built and curated by Ferguson Research Ltd. and registered by R.R.C. Walker Racing Team, being painted in dark blue with a white band around the nose. The week before the British Grand Prix this car debuted at Silverstone in the Intercontinental race, using a 2 and a half litre Climax engine, but now it has a 1.5 litre Climax engine, and once again Jack Fairman is the designated driver despite Stirling Moss having been very interested in the car, since he is registered as part of the Walker team. This interesting new car arrived in the races of the Grand Prix tramples a new ground, as it has 4 wheel drive and a front mounted engine. The engine is tilted to the right so that the crankshaft line is to the left of the car’s center line, and is driven by a normal clutch at a 5-speed gearbox built by Ferguson Research in collaboration with Colotti. From the rear of the gearbox, the transfer gears carry the transmission sideways to the center of the car and then the drive shafts bring the transmission back and forth to small chainring and pinion units. At the point where the drive shafts take motion from the transfer gears there is a system of freewheel and limited slip differential wheels that ensure that the front drive shaft cannot rotate faster than the rear one and vice versa, thus preventing the possibility of wheel slip. With the small amount of power produced by a Climax engine that is distributed among the four tires the result is that slippage, also due to lifting in the curve, is excluded.

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The two transmission shafts are offset from the centre line of the car, while the rear one runs alongside the driver’s seat. The tapered gears control the front and rear transmissions, placed at 90 degrees on two short shafts mounted in alloy supports of the frame width. At each end of these housings, both front and rear, Dunlop disc brakes are mounted and then short solid drive shafts with a universal platter type, bring the transmission to the wheels. These shafts are of the same length as the lower quadrilateral of the double arm and coil spring suspension units, and these lower quadrilateral shafts are actually on the same horizontal plane as the shafts, while the outer ends of the trees cross the apex of the quadrilateral. The high struts of the hub holder are joined to the upper quadrilateral, with helical spring units/shock absorbers providing the suspension medium. All this mechanism is mounted in a frame formed by small diameter tubes, while an extremely beautiful body covers the whole. The molded and rounded back is very similar to the Connaught, which is not surprising given that Tony Rolt directs operations at Ferguson Research. The car uses 16-inch Dunlop alloy disc wheels and, of course, Dunlop tires, and it’s a delightfully well-balanced, but surprisingly small looking car. However, the outstanding feature is that the weight has been kept so well that it is almost on par with Cooper, Ferrari and B.R.M., although it is not as light as Lotus, being the wonders designed by Colin Chapman of a higher class. This car is full of interesting features and new thoughts on the design of racing cars, and among them is the use of the Dunlop Maxaret braking system.

 

This consists briefly in the hydraulic pressure for the brakes which is of the system defined at total power, that is, a constant pressure provided by a pump driven by the motor, from which the rider takes the pressure he needs through a valve coupled to the brake pedal. In this system, the Dunlop Maxaret unit can be mounted, which prevents the brake from locking, regardless of the force with which the driver presses on the pedal. In the cockpit of the Ferguson there is a simple control wheel to activate or deactivate the Maxaret units, whose great advantage is on wet roads where normal braking systems, especially the powerful disc brakes, can easily block a wheel. The Ferguson research team does not intend to participate in the Grand Prix, but wants to use motor racing to promote the development of the 4-wheel drive for road vehicles, along with many other design features. The B.A.R.C., which runs the British Grand Prix for the R.A.C., leases Aintree Stadium from Mrs Topham for the occasion, and the smell of horses is overcome for some time by the smell of racing cars. Unlike Silverstone, which is invariably a party of speed and fun from morning until night, the B.A.R.C. offers a decent program, more in line with the British Grand Prix where Formula 1 cars are the main part of the event. As a side race a short challenge for Gran Turismo cars is organized, in which many of the presented models look more like 2-seater sports cars than GT cars. Rehearsals are divided into three hourly sessions, separated between Thursday afternoon and Friday afternoon. From 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. the Formula 1 drivers will practice, then there will be a break for the reordering of the circuit, before giving space to the drivers on board the GT cars that are practiced from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.

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Another short interval will follow, before Formula 1 cars return to the track again from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. This arrangement gives the mechanics the time to make adjustments or change axle ratios, or even change the engines if necessary. In fact, many think that the curves and hairpin bends of the Aintree flat circuit allow the under-powered British cars to challenge the Scuderia Ferrari cars and regain some confidence after the disappointments conceived at Spa and Reims, where pure power has counted more than anything else, but it doesn’t take much time - during the first hour of testing - to see that power counts on any circuit. In addition, Ferrari’s roadholding is more than adequate for dealing with a Cooper, a B.R.M. or a Lotus, and the possible problem regarding the fact that none of its drivers have ever been to Aintree before, does not turn out to be too great an obstacle. The Porsche enjoys a good condition, having already raced to Aintree previously, so he knows how well their cars should go; and in fact, not surprisingly Jo Bonnier is the only one who manages to disturb the Ferraris, equalling the fastest time set by Richie Ginther and Phil Hill. All three drivers score a time of 2'00"8. A good start, keeping in mind that the lap record for Aintree of a car equipped with a 1½ liter engine is exactly 2 minutes. John Surtees tests his two Yeoman Credit Cooper, while Tim Parnell makes adjustments and postpones the decision on which car to use for the race until the end of the tests. Innes Ireland with the new official Lotus is well in shape, despite having his right hand injured due to a collision with his airplane. Most of the drivers registered for the Grand Prix in this first session perform numerous tests, and the attached table shows how they performed in their best laps. During the first session a strong wind blows all the time along the circuit, but the track remains dry and the sun cheers up the mood.

 

The second session has the same climatic conditions, even if the wind drops a little before the end of the tests. As you have an hour to examine the circuit and adjust the machines, this second session sees some drivers very busy, and as a result the lap times are reduced considerably. It is surprising that Jack Lewis is able to score a good lap in 2'01"0, as well as cars equipped with Climax engine that improve up to the limit of 2 minutes scarce, or below in the case of the best. As the latter manage to fall below the 2-minute limit, Scuderia Ferrari, with the exception of Giancarlo Baghetti, falls well below the limit of 2 minutes and, surprisingly, Jo Bonnier manages to do the same with his Porsche. Jack Fairman managed to score a time of 2'03"4 with Ferguson; later, also Stirling Moss test the car equipped with 4WD and marks a sensational time of 2'00"6 after a few laps. If he had had as much practice with the 4-wheel-drive car as with his Lotus, there is no doubt that the British driver would have fallen below the limit of 2 minutes, which shows that the Ferguson has great potential. From time to time the car makes strange movements, but at any moment it seems very controllable. The technique with the 4-wheel drive is such that the car must be positioned exactly in the right way to make a curve, and subsequently this must be kept on the line planned with the use of steering and accelerator, which means it should be driven by the power of the engine. Since cornering engine power control is a normal Grand Prix practice, this is not unorthodox, but while with a normal rear-wheel drive oversteering car a driver can get into corners a little too fast and skid with the rear wheels out of trajectory, this cannot be done with the neutral all-wheel drive Ferguson; It is in fact this habit that causes convoluted movements of the car when driven by Stirling Moss.

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However, the incredible adaptability of the British driver to any type of car allows the latter to bring the Ferguson managing to be fast, proving that this car has no disadvantages compared to the classic Grand Prix car in terms of power loss, weight or handling, and that after a bit of practice with the most refined technique required for curves could prove to be a success. Meanwhile, the Scuderia Ferrari mechanics are surprisingly happy, because all their drivers record times from 1'58"8. Once equaled by Jo Bonnier, despite a remarkable effort with what is in fact last year’s Porsche. In team B.R.M. Tony Brooks begins to show that brilliance of form that many thought he had lost forever, and equals Stirling Moss thanks to a time of 1'59"0. From the timekeepers' sheets it would seem that their watches were read only at the fifth of a second closer, which would explain why so many drivers managed to score identical times. In fact, Innes Ireland and Jim Clark both recorded a time of 1'59"2, while Jack Brabham scored a time of 1'59"4 and John Surtees a time of 1'59"6. It was thought that a Grand Prix as important as that of Great Britain would justify the use of a timekeeping apparatus that read at least to the tenth of a second and preferably to the hundredth, as is done in Portugal. And yet, unfortunately, it is not. Friday, July 14, 1961, the climate in the north of England is conditioned by the rain and wind that lash the stadium, while clouds are so low that they mix with the smoke of the factories. However, just before the change of climate the tests begin, and with the track dry again Stirling Moss makes some laps with the Ferguson, turning in 2'01"6, although the car is trimmed in such a way as to get out of some bends at 4,800 rev/min, despite the fact that the engine could have developed well over 7.000 rev/min. They pass just five minutes before the sky changes color: so that from this moment on all hopes of making fast times vanish, as a result, the Thursday times decide the starting grid of the British Grand Prix.

 

Belgian driver Lucien Bianchi takes to the track in the reserve car of the U.D.T., which Masten Gregory had tested on Thursday, while Jack Fairman returns aboard the Ferguson. Innes Ireland is not happy with the behaviour of his car, while Giancarlo Baghetti is the victim of a spin at the exit of the fast section of Melling Crossing, ending up on the best ground for Mrs Topham’s horse racing. To make things worse, he drives around Tatts Corner on a racing line, on the grass and along the rails, leaving two deep grooves, before returning to the pits to get back on track and start spinning again. It is therefore not surprising, at the end of the tests, to hear Tannoy calling Giancarlo Baghetti and Romolo Tavoni at the office of the Race Director. Along the circuit there are numerous pools of water; the water drains, if they are present, are presumably blocked. Along the pit straight, the pools of water are so deep that the cars almost ride the waves, resulting in the slipping of the rear wheels. Jack Brabham’s car suffers from this problem to the point that the sound that comes from his car is similar to that of a sliding clutch. Despite these terrible conditions almost everyone gets on track to practice, and it soon becomes apparent that the Ferguson is remarkably stable on wet roads. Its braking capacity, even without the use of Maxarets, is clearly superior to rear-wheel drive cars. Jack Fairman is clearly competitive on track; therefore, after a few laps he is called back to the pits, to allow Stirling Moss to get on track. The British driver quickly recovers the Porsche of Jo Bonnier, overtaking it in braking and turning in 2'11"0, a time far faster than he can do with his Lotus in the wet.

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This encourages the Ferguson team, who leave the circuit at the end of the tests to change the gearboxes ready for the race, giving up taking part in the last test session. As the rain continues to fall and the track doesn’t dry well, the team doesn’t lose much, but most of the other riders continue the practice. It is certainly not possible to improve the time on Thursday, therefore all the drivers prepare the set-up for a wet race and take the opportunity to do a lot of practice on the track trying the new Dunlop D12 rain tires. B.R.M. briefly tests the German Dunlop SP tyres on Graham Hill’s car, which he tests with the rear anti-roll bar disconnected. Despite the weather, the Ferraris continue to be the fastest. The competitive motoring has had in Italy a sudden awakening of interest, and perhaps of popularity, thanks to the unexpected appearance of a young driver, Giancarlo Baghetti, who much to his credit and a bit because of favorable circumstances, won two Sundays ago the French Grand Prix on the difficult circuit of Reims. Baghetti had been chosen at the beginning of the year among a small list of candidates, to drive in the race the car made available by Scuderia Ferrari in order to find, among the many gifted young people who are dedicated to motoring, someone able to ensure the continuity of an all-Italian tradition, given that over time there have been generations of great champions who have honored the sport. In recent years, but perhaps a lower step, there were still Eugenio Castellotti and Luigi Musso, both fallen on the slopes: then the void.

 

Also, because, in the opinion of some, you could not give the opportunity to, some promising guy, to race on modern cars, prepared by a manufacturer and with the assistance of the latter. Probably the theory was right, since the initiative of Enzo Ferrari was immediately matched by the emergence of a driver like Giancarlo Baghetti, whose rise in sporting values was so rapid to leave amazed. Especially in the race, in Reims, the twenty-six-year-old Milanese rider - until last year simple gentleman driver of grand touring cars and junior - impressed for the way he blew right on the finish line the victory to a far more experienced and savvier foreign pilot. Since that day, perhaps a little hastily, Giancarlo Baghetti has become for fans and critics of motor sport a champion, the champion that Italy lacked. But he’s really a champion? It is difficult to say now, if you want to reason calmly, without letting yourself get carried away by rhetoric. The exaltation of sporting merits is right if contained in a human measure; it can prove dangerous otherwise. It seems that Giancarlo Baghetti is a quiet boy, resistant to the fumes of celebrity: it is desirable as armor to the inevitable disappointments that the career of the car driver can reserve. If Baghetti is worth as much as the great aces of the past, he will give us all the tests he wants with time, after having learned at the hard school of the circuits all the experiences that he cannot yet possess. Meanwhile, all eyes are on the young man who will face the British Grand Prix today, which will be held at the Aintree circuit, near Liverpool.

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Giancarlo Baghetti still has Ferrari at his disposal, even if he is not part of the official team. The Italian machine designed for the new formula that came into force this year has thus far proved to be much superior, especially on those veneers in which a large engine power is required. The Aintree circuit does not belong, however, to this category, being quite busy and interrupted by frequent curves, so the average speed on the lap does not reach 150 km/h. It is on this fact that British manufacturers and drivers are aiming to try to subvert the prediction favorable to Italian cars. The Lotus, the Cooper, the B.R.M. all have the same Coventry Climax engine, significantly lower in terms of power than Ferrari (the British company has a new one in preparation, which is not yet ready) but they are extremely efficient in terms of handling and stability. And it is precisely on this factor, together with the great class of a Moss, a Brabham, a Surtees, a Clark, etc., that the British count for the hopes of a victory in Great Britain. The men of the German Porsche, who have in the Swedish Joachim Bonnier one of the best guides in the world, have no less aspirations. Finally, there is the big, unexpected, unknown of the new revolutionary English machine Ferguson (built by the well-known tractor manufacturer) that in the tests, held under a heavy rain, has achieved a sensational performance. It’s okay that Stirling Moss was behind the wheel, but when you put a Phil Hill five seconds away on the lap, it means that Ferguson’s car, who’s most interesting technical solution is the four-wheel drive, It goes really strong, or at least stronger than the others on wet asphalt. Always in the last day of training, Giancarlo Baghetti has shown a certain concern for the slipperiness of the track, so as to get a time less than mediocre. After all, this is better.

 

Do not ask too much of the boy seems to us the wisest division, for his good and in his interest. The start of the British Grand Prix is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 15, 1961, following a parade of rather cold and unsatisfied drivers. At about half an hour from the start the weather seems very unstable and a few drops of rain threaten the circuit, so the drivers have to choose whether to start the race with the wet tires Dunlop or dry, since unless there is a real lake on the track the rate of wear of these high grip tires is impossible. Ferrari, B.R.M. and Ferguson, equipped with knock-off hubcaps, can afford to wait until 2:15 p.m. to make their decision, even on the grid, while cars with bolted wheels - and especially Lotus and Cooper, where bearings need to be disassembled for changing a tire - they need more time. The supply of these rain tyres by Dunlop is a good solution, but confusing, because since everyone uses Dunlop tyres, since there are no other manufacturers interested in Grand Prix races, they all have the same advantage, so the result is that the whole race can be speeded up in the wet, along with a greater safety factor for everyone, which makes things much easier. The rain starts to fall heavily around 2:15 p.m., so no one has any more doubts about which tyres to fit. Most teams opt for rain tyres. Scuderia Ferrari mechanics close the vents in the sides, while John Surtees is ready to use the lighter and more elegant of his two Yeoman Credit Cooper. The impressive array of thirty cars aligns on the grid, and one minute from the start all engines are turned on, as the track is free from officials and mechanics.

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As the flag of the mossiere rises, the rear rows move slowly forward so that the thirty cars form a solid group; when this is lowered, follows a roar of thirty engines and the group snaps into one of the best departures that have been seen over the past few years. The track is totally flooded with water and the rain continues to fall, so that at the start of the Grand Prix it is impossible to even glimpse the single seaters; being able to understand who is in the lead is impossible, if not before the group appears on the Railway Straight. When riders appear on the Railway Straight, in the direction of Melling Crossing, they line up in a row, but the splashes of water raised from the wheels are impressive. The three official Ferraris are leading, with Phil Hill leading the pack, followed by Trips and Ginther. In fourth place follows Stirling Moss, who precedes Jo Bonnier, Jim Clark, Tony Brooks, Graham Hill, Jack Brabham, Innes Ireland, Roy Salvadori, Dan Gurney and the rest of the group except Massimo Natili, whose Cooper-Maserati has a problem with the gearbox. Apart from the two B.R.M. that change seats, the order is the same for the second lap, even if the leaders begin to scatter. The car of John Surtees passes with the exhaust manifold dangling, clearly impressed by someone, and Innes Ireland slides among the last of the group of participants after leaving the track. In doing so not only did the English driver get scared, but he hurt his hand while trying to correct the trajectory. On the third lap there is a considerable gap after the car of Jo Bonnier, but it is obvious that the Swedish driver does not have the chance to stay with the leaders for a long time.

 

As for Stirling Moss, the story is different, because in addition to not having lost contact with the Scuderia Ferrari drivers, he even manages to gain ground on them, even if Phil Hill proceeds alone in the lead of the race. On lap five Phil Hill is still comfortably ahead of his teammates, while Richie Ginther follows Wolfgang von Trips and Storling Moss a short distance behind with the intention of not losing them. These four drivers move away from Jo Bonnier, who doesn’t seem to be very competitive in the wet. The Swedish driver is followed by Graham Hill and Jack Brabham, the reigning World Champion who is catching up after a very slow initial lap. Jim Clark and John Surtees follow in close company, preceding Henry Taylor, Roy Salvadori, Tony Brooks, Giancarlo Baghetti and Dan Gurney. Finally, Bruce McLaren arrives with Jack Fairman on the Ferguson, who follows the New Zealand driver closely. Gerry Ashmore returns to the pits to change a wheel due to a puncture, while the rest of the group continues in the wake of the fastest drivers. When the race leaders arrive at Tatts Corner, at the end of the sixth lap, a round of applause is raised because Stirling Moss manages to pass in third place; Richie Ginther was the victim of a mistake that allowed Stirling Moss to pass. Meanwhile John Surtees also manages to overtake Jim Clark, while Henry Taylor appears sideways at Melling Crossing, before getting lost in a spin and crashing heavily against the billboards outside the track, being injured by a wooden stake running across the side of the car.

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Bruce McLaren and Jack Fairman approach Dan Gurne, while at the bottom of the group Innes Ireland is involved in a battle that includes Masten Gregory and Lorenzo Bandini. One lap later Phil Hill adjusts the mirrors, but in doing so slows down slightly, allowing Trips and Moss not only to get closer, but to be able to challenge him. In fact, when the drivers get to the braking point Tatts, they manage to overtake the Gilby-Climax and in the fray that follows Trips takes the lead, so that the order at the end of the seventh lap sees the German Ferrari driver in the lead, followed by Phil Hill and Stirling Moss, with Richie Ginther back again. Apart from these four, no one else manages to finish a overtaking, despite there being many pilots in battle with each other. And in fact, shortly after Graham Hill overtakes Jo Bonnier, while John Surtees loses two positions for a spin at the exit of Tatts Corner. Gerry Ashmore came in and out of the pits, allowing Tim Parnell to join him, while on lap seven Jackie Lewis also returned to the pits, to retire due to a set-up problem in his car. During the eighth lap the two Ferraris of Trips and Hill and the blue Lotus of Moss are more or less close to each other, and on lap nine the British driver presses Phil Hill. Meanwhile, Jo Bonnier loses another position, while Jack Brabham approaches Graham Hill, and John Surtees stops at the pits to remove the broken exhaust manifold. On the tenth lap another big applause rises from the stands when Stirling Moss overtakes Phil Hill and takes second place, while in the middle of the group Giancarlo Baghetti responds passing Tony Brooks. Therefore, the order now sees in the lead Trips, followed by Stirling Moss, Phil Hill, Richie Ginther, while more detached follow Graham Hill, strongly pursued by Jack Brabham, and Jo Bonnier, who pulls back again and is threatened by Roy Salvadori. Further away, Jim Clark, then Giancarlo Baghetti, Tony Brooks, Dan Gurney, Tony Marsh, Bruce McLaren and Jack Fairman also reached the finish line.

 

Tony Maggs, John Surtees and Lorenzo Bandini follow. The rest of the contestants were voiced, while Gerry Ashmore and Jackie Lewis joined the retreating ranks. For the next three laps there were no changes in the order of the standings, but Stirling Moss was getting closer and closer to Trips and during the fourteenth lap he entered the fight to get ahead of the race. To the delight of the very wet crowd that encouraged him, during the fifteenth lap Moss tries to pass Trips: the two leading drivers now have ten seconds ahead of Phil Hill, who in turn has an equal advantage over Richie Ginther. For two laps Tony Brooks passes in front of the pits with his engine emitting a strange sound, since the British driver has crossed one of the puddles along the Aintree circuit in the company of some slower cars, compromising the use of engine spark plugs. During the fifteenth lap Brooks stops at the pits to mount other candles, as well as Tony Marsh, who with his Lotus returns to the race with a lap delay, while the B.R.M. driver returns to the track with two laps of delay. Jack Fairman’s car also had problems with the ignition system interrupting on the Ferguson, but after stopping on the circuit in the pouring rain the British driver managed to restart it and returned to the pits. Despite his insistence that his stop is due to an electrical short circuit, the mechanics change the candles and send Fairman back on track. The British driver returns to the pits after a few laps and this time it turns out that an electric wire is being short-circuited going to touch the chassis: a problem probably caused when the car had run over parts of Henry Taylor’s Lotus, since Jack Fairman came to the scene right after the accident. Meanwhile, Stirling Moss decides not to overtake Trips, while following Ferrari closely. From lap 16 to lap 24, the British driver remains within walking distance of the German driver’s Ferrari, while the rain continues to drop steadily.

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Trips and Moss lead to a gap of 12 seconds from Phil Hill, while Richie Ginther is - in turn - more or less delayed by 12 seconds, in fourth place. Instead, 45 seconds pass before Jack Brabham crosses the finish line in fifth position, having passed Graham Hill who is now in sixth place. Roy Salvadori is the author of a wonderful race, giving the idea of being very comfortable in the wet, and faces very convincingly Jim Clark and Jo Bonnier, while Dan Gurney regains speed and pushes Giancarlo Baghetti back a position. The young Italian driver is the author of a convincing race, but on lap 22 he is overtaken by John Surtees who is catching up. However, two laps later John Surtees is forced to retire due to the broken crown and pinion, so Baghetti returns to eleventh position. In the course of lap 24, Trips appears from behind the trees at Melling Crossing, followed by Moss' Lotus, but just as the rear of the British driver’s blue car slides to the left due to aquaplaning. In an instant, Stirling Moss corrects the trajectory of the car and slides sideways along the track. For a moment it seems that Moss' car would be lost shortly in a spin, but luckily the Lotus-Climax is speeding straight and crosses the road in the other direction. Still completely master of the situation, Stirling Moss continues to slide the car along the road sideways, with the tail of the car pointing towards the inside of the track. Then, just as quickly the Lotus tail slips again and this time it turns to the right. Moss, in a wonderful display of control, leaves the steering free, allows the car to complete a turn of 360 degrees clockwise, resumes the steering at the end of the turn, Select a lower gear and resume the route at the Tatts Corner as if nothing had just happened. The stands crowded with people show their appreciation for having seen a true champion at work.

 

During the 28th lap Trips, with ten seconds ahead of Moss due to the spin, double Giancarlo Baghetti. However, entering the Waterway Corner in a cloud of spuds of water in the company of Trips and some cars that both double, the Italian driver loses control and the car continues in the opposite direction to the march through the tracks, folding the Ferrari but leaving unscathed. The weather conditions cause chaos, since Lucien Bianchi is the victim of a spin at the Melling corner, ending up on the surrounding grass, and then spin again as he tries to start over the wet grass. Phil Hill is also the victim of a mistake approaching Melling Crossing, as the car goes sideways and points towards the gate uncontrollably. The American driver, frightened, slows down considerably later, giving way to Richie Ginther to close the gap on him, then losing the position during the thirty-fifth lap. Meanwhile Jack Brabham continues his run with steady pace and is now only eleven seconds behind Phil Hill, while Graham Hill is joined by Jim Clark. Starting from lap 30, the rain stopped falling on the circuit, and during the next quarter of an hour some parts of the track started to dry visibly, improving driving conditions. This is good for Jim Clark, who manages to reach Graham Hill, and for Tony Brooks who now starts to go as fast as the leaders, but unfortunately is still two laps behind because of his long pit stop, while Bruce McLaren closes the gap on Dan Gurney. The only driver who is not happy with the interruption of the rain fall is Jack Brabham, because when he starts to press on the accelerator while the track dries, he notices that the water temperature is quite high, then drive in relation to the temperature indicator rather than its rev counter. Richie Ginther moves away from Phil Hill and starts to close the gap on Stirling Moss and on lap 40 passes the blue Lotus, taking the second position. 

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The fact that Stirling Moss is unable to stay close to Ferrari, and during the next four laps he is even joined by Phil Hill, indicates that something is not working in Team Walker’s car. Shortly after, in fact, during the forty-fifth lap Stirling Moss enters his pits, no longer having the help of the brakes; the balancing tube through the caliper of the left rear brake has broken and quickly loses pressure and oily fluid. This is quite remarkable because the same thing happened to the rear brake on the other side in Reims, just two weeks earlier. Moss struggled gallantly with fewer and fewer brakes until he was forced to surrender: the only man who challenged the Ferraris got out of the race. Now the sun is shining and the track dries quite quickly. During the thirty-fifth lap Wolfgang von Trips double Bruce McLaren; shortly after, while the German Ferrari driver double Dan Gurney’s Porsche, Bruce McLaren takes the opportunity to overtake the American driver. A little further on Graham Hill begins to lose ground: his B.R.M. is constantly out of control and on lap 39 he passes in front of the pits making strange noises. The British driver continues until the forty-third lap, when the situation becomes so serious that he is forced to stop at the pits for consultations, and after making another lap he retires with what for all intents and purposes seem to be broken valve springs. After the retirement of Stirling Moss, the Ferrari team is in full command, and the three V6 engines sound wonderful. Richie Ginther slows down and allows Phil Hill to climb to his rightful second place, and the three settle to spin and complete the seventy-five laps that make up the total length of the race. Trips now has a 20-second lead, and Romolo Tavoni, from the Ferrari box, is now content to give his drivers signals that simply indicate how many laps still remain to be done.

 

Jack Brabham is still fourth, but almost a full minute behind the three Ferrari drivers, and the only others on the same lap of the leader are Jim Clark, Roy Salvadori and Jo Bonnier. Bruce McLaren and Dan Gurney are one lap behind, while Tony Brooks, Innes Ireland, Lorenzo Bandini and Masten Gregory are two laps behind. Three laps away followed Burgess, Maggs, Greene and de Beaufort, with the first two close enough to compete for 14th position. Many laps behind also Jack Fairman on the Ferguson, and even more late follows Wolfgang Seidel, who has spent a lot of time in and out of the pits. Ferguson had technical problems, because after a pit stop the mechanics pushed the car without thinking about it, which is obviously against the rules, and the Sports Commissioners had no choice but to disqualify Fairman. The stewards point out to the team that the car would not fall into the final results standings, which means that it can continue racing if the team so wishes. As the Ferguson team took part in its first Grand Prix, and of course the more races you can do the better, the car continues to circulate constantly with Jack Fairman driving. With Stirling Moss in the pits, the Ferguson/Walker team has the bright idea to put the British driver in the car for the remaining twenty-five laps, because while Fairman gives the car a good and constant endurance run, Moss probably goes fast enough to discover something useful, and give the team some data to compare with other racing cars. Therefore, Fairman was called to the pits, and Moss climbed the car, quickly turning at a pace of just over 2 minutes per lap, which is very impressive, bearing in mind that the track is not totally dry in all its parts. It is not long before Romolo Tavoni displays a sign for his drivers, saying: "Attention, Moss is in car 26".

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In case they thought he was still Jack Fairman and underestimated his speed if he happened to run into him in a corner. There is some excitement in the pits over the fact that Stirling Moss is on board the Ferguson and in a short time the team principals point out to the organizers that since the car has been disqualified, it should not be allowed to continue. This, of course, is perfectly true and under such pressure there is no other option than to recall the car and withdraw. If Fairman had stayed in the car, there would have been no protests, and it’s also pretty obvious that there are some teams that don’t want Ferguson to succeed, because if it turns out to be a serious challenger it goes without saying that the Walker team will sponsor it and Stirling Moss will be the driver, and he is already causing enough problems to his rivals, using an obsolete Lotus. Returning to the facts of the race, Lucien Bianchi retired during the forty-fifth lap with gearbox problems, while the Ferrari team continues its triumphal journey, with Trips clearly in the lead and Hill and Ginther in close succession, obeying the orders of the team as good guys. Meanwhile, Jim Clark begins to approach Jack Brabham, but never gets close enough because a particularly annoying oil leak puts him out of the race during the sixty-second lap. With the track well dry, Jo Bonnier joins and passes Roy Salvadori. The Yeoman Credit driver is unable to fend off his attacks now that the track is drying out. Similarly, Dan Gurney is also committed to reaching Bruce McLaren, which he does on lap 63. Even Tony Brooks starts to be incredibly fast, and during the final stages of the race he makes some extraordinarily fast laps, finally setting a new lap record with 1.5 litre engines in 1'57"8, which compares very favorably with the absolute lap record which is 1'57"0.

 

So the race ends with the sky clearing completely, but too late, and the three Ferraris, with their shark-shaped faces almost scraping the ground, win the British Grand Prix, scoring the fourth Ferrari victory in a row. The German Wolfgang von Trips, at the wheel of a Ferrari, won in front of 100.000 spectators the fourteenth British Grand Prix, completing the 75 laps of the Aintree circuit (equal to 322 km) in 2 hours 40'53"6, at an average of 135.04 km/h. The young Italian driver Giancarlo Baghetti who, after the victories of Syracuse, Naples and Reims, was very much awaited at the test, retired on lap twenty-seventh when his Ferrari, following a slip in the curve, crashed against the edge of the track. Stirling Moss, who held the second position for a long time, was also forced to abandon the race on lap 44 due to problems with the brakes. The success of the Ferrari was completed by the second and third place won respectively by Phil Hill and Ritchie Ginther, who on the finish line preceded in order the world champion Brabham on Cooper, the Swede Bonnier (Porsche), the Englishman Roy Salvadori, the American Dan Gurney and the New Zealander Bruce McLaren, all on Cooper. The Englishman Tony Brooks, on B.R.M., ranked in ninth position, towards the end of the race established the new lap record with a time of 1'57"8, at an average of 117.54 km/h. At the end of the race we learn that the British rider Henry Taylor was hospitalized because he was the victim of an accident, fortunately not serious. It was a race full of accidents and brought to mind the 1955 British Grand Prix at Aintree, when Mercedes-Benz dominated the Grand Prix, but at the bottom of the field there was a ray of hope for Britain, as the Vanwall went very fast for a short time. Two years later, in 1957, Vanwall won the British Grand Prix, also at Aintree, and the following year Vanwall won the Constructors' World Championship, beginning the supremacy of Great Britain in the Grand Prix races that Cooper carried out in 1959 and 1960.

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Can it be suggested that the ray of hope this year was Ferguson? Now the ranking sees Wolfgang von Trips leading the World Championship with 27 points, ahead of Phil Hill and Richie Ginther, respectively at 25 and 16. Fourth Stirling Moss with 12 points, while Giancarlo Baghetti is still at 9 after zero today. In the Constructors' World Championship, Ferrari consolidated its lead by gaining more points on Lotus, bringing the gap to 22 points. The great, almost morbid wait for Giancarlo Baghetti’s test at the British Grand Prix was disappointed. The Milanese boy arrived at the great test of Aintree followed by the spotlight of popularity and passion, bewildered (although of quiet temperament, reflex, measured) by an advertising certainly pleasant but equally harmful. By force of being told you are a champion, even the person most aware of their limitations ends up believing in it. Now we do not know if this was the case of Baghetti; but we know that with all the noise made after the resounding victory of Reims, the Milanese had been blamed for a responsibility probably greater than his forces. The most prudent had warned: Baghetti certainly has the makings of the champion, but before becoming one he will have to learn many more things, assimilate race by race the experience of which by force of things today is missing. So let us not ask him to do miracles; let him run the British Grand Prix in complete peace of mind, with no worries about classification. But despite everything, who was not hoping that the young rider could sweep the last reserves with a spectacular race in Aintree? And instead, his race wasn’t lucky. Already the rain that had made the circuit slippery does not seem to be too pleasant to Baghetti, who with much greater judgment of some of his recent censers had declared, the eve of the race:

 

"If it rains, I won’t risk it".

 

Very well, that means head on neck. In fact, for the first third of the race Baghetti remained half-hidden in the center group; then a skid from which his Ferrari came out damaged forced him to leave. But experience has certainly served him, and it does not matter if good luck has not been his friend. This also serves a young man at the beginning of his career. The rest will come later. The British Grand Prix, however, marked a triumphant victory for the official Ferrari team, reaching the top three places after overcoming the resistance of Stirling Moss, who, in a generous attempt to stand up to the Italian car drivers, complained of a bad road trip, fortunately without consequences. The track of Aintree seemed less favorable than others to the qualities of Ferrari, and for this reason there can no longer be any doubt about their absolute superiority of the Italian car in front of the British and German Formula 1 cars. There are still four races left at the end of the World Championship, but it is practically impossible that it is not a driver of the Maranello team to secure the title for 1961. It remains to be seen which of the three will succeed Jack Brabham. With the victory of Aintree, Trips overtook Phil Hill in the ranking, but since it seems that Enzo Ferrari has not yet decided to stabilize the positions, the final outcome is uncertain. The thing has a marginal importance, after all, while it will be very interesting if the three drivers of the Italian cars will continue up to the end to remain at the head of the world classification. Which is far from improbable.

 

Alessandro Cappelli


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