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#91 1960 British Grand Prix

2021-10-09 00:00

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#91 1960 British Grand Prix

Saturday, July 16, 1960 Formula 1 cars and drivers prepare to take part in the British Grand Prix, which is held at the Silverstone circuit. The route

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Saturday, July 16, 1960 Formula 1 cars and drivers prepare to take part in the British Grand Prix, which is held at the Silverstone circuit. The route is characterized by the absence of long straights, making important the braking and holding qualities of the road of the cars rather than just the power of the engine. A situation already seen in the 1959 edition, when the agile Cooper Climax of Brabham won in front of opponents who lined up more powerful single-seaters. The official track record is set by Innes Ireland, who in the International Trophy on 14 May 1960 completed a lap at an average of 180 km/h with his Lotus. Lotus had experienced reliability problems in the previous two years, with the Lotus 12 and the Lotus 16 front engine. Colin Chapman has therefore decided to adopt the concept of the central rear engine on his cars. The 1960 Lotus 18 is therefore extremely compact, with a height of about 67 centimeters and a weight of 440 kilos, using the same engine Climax FPF Cooper; apparently does not possess the same handling on the road in case of rain. 

 

Rain present during the first practice session on Thursday 14 July 1960, during the afternoon. Presumably because most of the Grand Prix competitors are Silverstone regulars, After driving right at the International Trophy in May, the time available for the practice is not very long, with the Thursday afternoon practice lasting only an hour. As it starts raining just before the first practice session, the competitors who are late with the preparation have little hope of recording useful times. As is becoming customary, the Coopers quickly took the lead and record good times, having only been nine weeks since the last time they were on the Silverstone circuit, as with most of the other competitors. The B.R.M. The team brings Bonnier, Graham Hill and Gurney, as usual, all in rear-engined cars. Gurney’s car, being new, receives last minute adjustments from the team’s mechanics. Team Lotus will see Ireland and Surtees in action with rear-engined cars. The cars have long air intakes ranging from the nose of the car to carburetors. In addition to them, Team Lotus will provide Jim Clark with the latest inclined engine car that Flockhart drove in Reims.

 

Rather surprisingly, the Scuderia Ferrari only registers two cars, both front-engined Dino 246 models, with Phil Hill and Trips driving. This is probably due to the fact that Silverstone is a typing ground for the local guys, and with so little time available there would not have been much hope that a new driver, arriving on the British circuit, would learn quickly. Both cars feature fanciful chrome exhaust extractors at the ends of the exhaust manifolds that appear to have been purchased from the local minister of Modena. Tony Brooks ends his adventure with Vanwall, returning to Yeoman Credit; the British driver will race aboard a Cooper-Climax equipped with five-speed Colotti gearbox. Gendebien has a similar gearbox on his car, and also has removable spoke wheels on the back. The third member of the team is Henry Taylor with a standard Cooper-Climax. The Scuderia Centro-Sud brought two of their Cooper-Maserati for Gregory and Burgess, and the Aston Martin registered two lightweight short-chassis cars from 1960 for Salvadori and Trintignant. 

 

In the afternoon of Thursday, only one car, that of Salvadori. The latter car is interesting, as it has been equipped with an experimental independent rear suspension, using the same torsion bar suspension and the same differential gear box; but a short upper oscillating arm was used in combination with the lower one with a wide base, while an anti-roll bar was mounted. Since the car appeared in Zandvoort, the engine has been replaced by Weber carburettors. The rest of the group of competitors is made up of private owners, with Greene racing with the Cooper-Maserati of the Gilby Engineering team, Fairman with the Cooper-Climax of the CT Atkins team, Bianchi with the Cooper-Team Climax Fred Tuck and Piper with his Lotus Climax with front engine.  In this first short exit Brabham marked the best time with a lap completed in 1'36"4, two seconds slower than the official track record, while Graham Hill is the second fastest driver with a time of 1'37"4.  The only other driver to drop below 1'40"0 is Bruce McLaren, with a time of 1'39"4. For the moment, the record set in May by Ireland of 1'34"2 is not endangered.

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Friday, July 15, 1960, during the morning the competitors of the British Grand Prix are granted an hour and a half of additional practice, since fortunately the weather is better than the previous day. In addition to those exits the day before, on the track there is a second Aston Martin for Trintignant. The car, of 1960, is equipped with suspensions de Dion and carburetors Weber. Naylor, who had had his four-cylinder Maserati engine repaired after it exploded in the Leinster Trophy Race, also managed to get on track. Of the twenty-five cars registered, only the two Cooper-Ferraris of Scuderia Castelotti were unable to arrive in time to take part in this last practice session. Since the efforts to gain pole position produce very interesting times, the first fifteen cars are all below the limit of 1'40"0.  Interestingly, this year’s development of grand prix cars, which had such an amazing effect on every European circuit in the various races of the World Championship, was completely absent at this British Grand Prix. And this explains why Jack Brabham, despite scoring the fastest lap in practice of 1'34'6, fails to break the record set in May. So it can be assumed that the development of the racing cars of the 1960s is now established, since most of the increase in lap speed is produced by the 1960 Dunlop racing tire.

 

The reason is understandable, but using the same circuit twice in a year obviously takes away much of the excitement on the second date. On the continental circuits that are only used once a year, there have been surprising speed increases on the lap this season; it is therefore for this reason that the British Grand Prix lacks this interest. At the end of practice, Graham Hill scored the second best time, followed by Bruce McLaren, Jo Bonnier and Ireland, third, fourth and fifth respectively. The Lotus Team is not able to replicate the speeds expressed in May, therefore Ireland can not go below the limit of 1'36"2, beating the time of his teammate Clark which is 1'37"0. The two Ferraris do not seem competitive, despite the drivers trying to face some corners aggressively: von Trips is seventh, Phil Hill tenth. Particularly exceptional are the times scored by Gregory on a Cooper-Maserati, fourteenth, and Fairman on a Cooper-Climax, fifteenth, since - respectfully - record a time of 1'39"8 and 1'39"9. Surtees, however, is not very happy with his Lotus Climax: a persistent ignition error leads the mechanics to suspect that the fuel pump may be defective, but later it is discovered that the problem is caused by the wires of the plugs rubbing on the bulkhead.

 

Reventlow fails to score good times with his Cooper, so he is given the car of Daigh and the American driver immediately manages to improve his time by four seconds. Given the results obtained, it was decided to give the Reventlow car to Daigh. After a series of secondary races, demonstrations and side shows, Saturday 16 July 1960 began preparations for the dispute of the Grand Prix. The cars are lined up in rows of four-three-four competitors. The B.R.M. The team is very confident for this race, as in practice they managed to position two cars in the front row, along with two Cooper-Climax.  Although he did not practice due to the delay of the arrival of the vehicles on the circuit, the Italian driver Gino Munaron is still allowed to take part in the Grand Prix starting from the last row. Brabham (Cooper-Climax), who scored the best time in 1'34'6, is in front of everyone. Next to him will be Graham Hill (B.R.M.), McLaren (Cooper-Climax) and Bonnier (B.R.M.). It is up to Stirling Moss to lower the flag that will kick off the British Grand Prix, finally being out of the hospital, for the first time, after the accident he suffered at Spa-Francorchamps. The start for the British Grand Prix is at 2:40 p.m. The twenty-five drivers entered in the race will have to complete seventy-seven laps of the circuit, equal to a distance of 362 kilometers. 

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To everyone’s surprise, Graham Hill, Tony Brooks and Henry Taylor get stuck on the starting line in front of the pits with the engines stalled: all three start when the group leaders are almost at Becketts Corner. Meanwhile, it’s the two official Coopers who jump in the lead, with Brabham in front of all, but Bonnier and Ireland press hard the accelerator pedal and on the third lap both manage to pass Bruce McLaren, until now second in the standings. After this particular start, Jack Brabham leads the Grand Prix, followed by Bonnier, Ireland, McLaren and Surtees. Running on this short circuit, it will take a long time for some of the competitors to really establish any kind of advantage over any other opponent, so much so that on the fourth lap pass in order Brabham, Bonnier, Ireland, McLaren, Surtees, Clark, Phil Hill, Gurney, Trips and Gregory, all paired up. He follows with a slight detachment Salvadori, who leads the rest of the group consisting of Graham Hill and Brooks, both busy quickly gaining ground after their unhappy departures. After five laps the reigning World Champion was always leading the race, while behind him Ireland managed to overtake Bonnier. In the sixth lap, smaller groups began to form, the first of which consisted of Brabham, Bonnier, McLaren and Surtees, although the latter struggled to overtake the New Zealander, which he succeeded in the next lap. A second group follows, consisting of Clark, Gurney, Phil Hill, Trips, and Gregory with Graham Hill on their heels, who climbed up to 11th place. Greene goes back to the pits because of the overheating of the engine, but starts again after a short stop.

 

Clark is not satisfied with his sixth place and decides to increase the pace to reach McLaren, while Bonnier can not contain Ireland; the Lotus Team driver can not even put pressure on Brabham, therefore the two begin to move away from the Australian driver. During the eighth lap Bonnier is followed by Surtees, McLaren, Clark, Gurney, and the Ferrari drivers who are now close to each other, but who in turn have Graham Hill about to overtake them. In just one lap Graham Hill overtook both, despite Phil Hill almost reaching Gurney, when the American found problems with the gear lever and dropped immediately to 11th place, allowing Graham Hill to climb to seventh place. Bonnier was unable to contain Surtees' attacks, and on lap 11 the Lotus driver moved up to third. McLaren, who joined Surtees in the overtaking phase, managed to do the same to Bonnier, who fell to fifth place, after being second. Inspired by the example of Surtees, Clark overtakes first the B.R.M. and then also McLaren, so much so that on the third lap the Lotus Team has its cars in the second, third and fourth place, while the impregnable Jack Brabham leads the race. Graham Hill leaves the two Ferraris behind and rushes after Bonnier. It is therefore quite obvious that the unfortunate departure of which he was a victim has annoyed him and at the same time loaded emotionally, now being willing to reach all the drivers in front of him, driving very hard but remaining at the same time completely imperturbable. Back in tenth place, Gregory leads his race with a very energetic drive, launching his Cooper Maserati through Woodcote with a glorious controlled slide, and keeping up with Ferrari. 

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During the twelfth lap Gurney stops to have the gear lever fixed and Keith Greene retires before the overheating of the Maserati engine can cause more serious problems. Brooks slowly makes progress, having overtaken Gendebien and Salvadori, and being eleventh. Fairman continues his race well keeping pace with Gendebien, while at the bottom of the group Burgess is leading a close formation of competitors that includes Daigh, Bianchi, Taylor, Piper, Trintignant, and Brabham and Ireland who double the last driver in the race, namely Munaron. On the nineteenth lap Graham Hill is now close to Bonnier, and one lap later he is even behind McLaren, while Clark manages to overtake Surtees, so that Team Lotus is now in numerical order also on track (#7, #8 and #9). The only drawback for the British team is Jack Brabham, who is still in the lead and seems impossible to overcome. After getting rid of Bonnier with little difficulty, Graham Hill attacks McLaren and overtakes him in two laps. After that, the British pilot throws himself in pursuit of Surtees. This makes it appear from the pits that Brabham’s advantage is no longer so secure. Brooks reaches Gregory, but the slip of the American driver’s car in the corners will make the cautious British driver even more careful. That explains why Brooks will take several laps to pass it. During the 28th lap Graham Hill is now behind Jim Clark and John Surtees, and during the next lap all three return to the pits in the group, bringing some inevitable reshuffling of positions. While Brabham is four seconds ahead of Ireland, they both start to worry about Graham Hill’s progress in the standings.

 

During the thirtieth lap, the order that follows Ireland sees Surtees ahead of Hill and Clark, but during the next lap Hill bypasses Surtees. With the B.R.M. of the British driver now in third position and approaching Ireland, the trio approaches the Lotus Team driver. Brooks meanwhile overtakes Gregory and is now on the trail of the two Ferraris, who are still very close, exchanging places from time to time, always remaining in eighth and ninth position. Brooks meanwhile overtakes Gregory and is now on the trail of the two Ferraris, who are still very close, exchanging places from time to time, always remaining in eighth and ninth position. Hill’s chase is truly spectacular: after thirty-seven laps, about half way through, the B.R.M. The driver is already in second position, a short distance from Jack Brabham. But while this happens, Brabham takes advantage of the traffic presented in the dubbing phase to increase his advantage over the British rival. As Brooks tries to overtake the two Ferraris, Brabham doubles all three cars between lap 42 and lap 46. Meanwhile, Roy Salvadori stops at the pit to complain about his car: after a short consultation, the steering and suspension are kicked and pushed by his mechanics, but obviously there is nothing wrong, so the British driver returns to the track, but he retired during lap 47, as well as Fairman, who retired because the persistent ignition error does not allow him to continue the race. When the leaders complete the voice-overs, Brabham has a seven-second lead over Graham Hill, who in turn moves away from the group of Ireland, Surtees and Clark, while Bonnier is in sixth place and McLaren comes back in seventh. In the general excitement, Brooks manages to overtake the two Ferraris, while the splendid drive of Gregory ends momentarily, being forced to return to the pits to control the behavior of his car.

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During the following laps, Graham Hill made a surprising work, and from the gap of seven seconds on Brabham he moved to only a second and a half late at the end of the fifty-first lap. During the fifty-second lap the British driver managed to bring his B.R.M. behind the car of Brabham, and on the fifty-third lap he joined his rival. During the fifty-fourth lap Brabham did everything to avoid overtaking and keep the B.R.M. behind him, but on lap fifty-fifth Graham Hill led the race. Meanwhile, Ireland begins to hear strange noises coming from his car: first from the front hub, then from the rear. Therefore, the British driver is overtaken by Surtees and Clark, thus falling to fifth place. In the last positions Piper is disputing a wonderful race, paired with Trintignant, and not far behind Taylor and Daigh are also engaged in some hand-to-hand combat, with Gendebien and Bianchi trying to keep up, but without great success. On lap 58, Team Lotus called Jim Clark to the pits, because his car broke the front suspension: but although the repair was made, the Scottish driver managed to continue only at a reduced speed. Shortly thereafter, during the sixtieth lap, Bonnier slowly approached the pits with the rear of the car touching the ground, as one of the rear coil springs broke. Although Graham Hill has reached and overtook Brabham quite easily, being able to distance the Australian driver is far from easy, because the Cooper team driver - in a brown outfit - is not going to give up so easily, Clinging to the tail of the B.R.M. On each lap, Brabham follows Hill by exploiting the moments when his rival’s car is slower, keeping the pressure high and creating a further distance from the rest of the group.

 

In third place follows John Surtees, author of a constant race, followed by Ireland who lost some time after having his mechanics check the left rear hub of his car, and McLaren, in fifth position. Although it is over half the distance, still a surprisingly large number of cars is present on the track. For example, although delayed, both Munaron with the Cooper-Ferrari of Scuderia Castellotti and Naylor with his J.B.W. Maserati continued regularly, while Gurney gained some positions after making the forced stop. In addition to the drivers already mentioned, only Ian Burgess and Chuck Daigh have retired, leaving Taylor just ahead of his teammate Gendebien, as well as Bianchi, who has stopped since the sixty-second lap due to the sheared magnet drive. On lap 68, Hill and Brabham rounded McLaren, and on lap 70, the British driver led a second and a half ahead of the Australian. The two are about to double some of the slower cars for the third or fourth time. Brabham continues to cling to the B.R.M. of Hill, never wasting time when overtaking a slower car. By now the rhythm maintained by Hill leads to think that the British driver can win, despite the fact that he has not been driving so much for a long time and with fatigue, due to his efforts, and mental fatigue due to the pressure of Jack Brabham that pushes him to run to the limit. But there is also the thrill of knowing that the eventual victory of the UK Grand Prix is favorable to him. For all these reasons it is no surprise when in the Abbey corner, while overtaking some slower cars, Graham Hill goes off the track due to a spin and is forced to retire. The brake adjustment had long been lacking and for a long time the British driver had given two or three pressures on the brake pedal to control its operation. This, together with the general effort, leads him to make a perhaps trivial mistake. But given the circumstances, and with Brabham on his heels, this small mistake becomes fatal and his race ends prematurely, fortunately without serious consequences.

 

His B.R.M. stops, and Graham Hill, very unhappy, is forced to walk back to the pits, while a smiling Brabham wins his fourth Grand Prix in a row. John Surtees finishes almost unnoticed in second place, because he was the author of a constant race and therefore not spectacular, but of such precision as to shame many colleagues much more experienced. Ireland, third, is the only one with Surtees to complete the seventy-seven laps. It follows Bruce McLaren, fourth, who precedes Tony Brooks and Wolfgang von Trips, who won the duel with his teammate. The only Italian driver in the race, Gino Munaron, finished 15th. The Australian driver is now leading the standings of the drivers' championship and seems set to a brilliant confirmation of the title. Three were the protagonists of today’s race: the winner Jack Brabham, always in the lead for the first fifty-seven laps and returned to the lead of the race in the final; the Englishman Graham Hill, who overtook the world leader on lap 58 after a good chase and was then forced to stop for a road exit; and the other Englishman John Surtees, who got a brilliant second place.John Surtees has always been in the top positions and his performance has been particularly appreciated, considering that he was so far better known to sportsmen as a motorcyclist. On two wheels, Surtees won numerous world titles and established himself as one of the best in the world. In the footsteps of Nuvolari and Varzi, the English rider switched from motorcycling to four wheels with some success in the first race. The second place in a race like the one held at Silverstone is very respectable, confirming the attitude of the many times world champion of motorcycling in this category.  If Surtees is an ace of this temper even on four wheels, it will be known anyway next season of Formula 1, when it will have the time to prepare, while this year’s one will start at the final stages.

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The winner is congratulated by Stirling Moss, the unlucky driver who is still recovering after a serious accident during the Belgian Grand Prix. Moss, warmly applauded, also made a lap of honor in an open car before the start. Jack Brabham is getting closer to the second world champion title. At Silverstone the Australian scored another important success and leads after this race the ranking with five points ahead of team-mate Bruce McLaren, the only one who theoretically still has a chance to pass him. But the class difference between the two drivers is so clear that, if everything will proceed regularly in the last three races of the season, that is the Grand Prix of Portugal, Italy and the United States, there can be no doubt about the man who will be awarded the World Champion for 1960. Apart from Stirling Moss, Jack Brabham was in 1960 the most brilliant and continuous driver, supported by a machine of rare functional balance. It should also be remembered that Brabham is also a test driver, and consequently knows the mechanical means to perfection, forming with it a kind of man-machine unit in which it is difficult to find weaknesses. In short, the Australian is certainly about to confirm himself as World Champion, a feat that, apart from Fangio, who has been so five times, has taken over only the late Alberto Ascari.

 

To return to the British Grand Prix, Brabham did not have an easy time on the familiar Silverstone circuit. This time it was Graham Hill who worried him and overtook him after a beautiful chase. It’s hard to say how the race would have ended without the unlucky British driver coming off the road. However, there is now an understandable lack of technical interest on the part of Scuderia Ferrari, which has peacefully accepted the superiority of British manufacturers this season. The decline of the Maranello team should, in other words, be only apparent. With the next regulation of Formula 1, starting from the 1961 season, which will equip the cars with engines of 1500 displacement and set the minimum limit of 450 pounds of weight for the car, it will be possible to witness the Italian rescue in a sector of technical activity-where rarely these have not been in the foreground. The standings updated after six tests, as mentioned, therefore sees Brabham first with 32 points, McLaren second with 27, Moss and Ireland tied with 11, and finally Gendebien fifth with 10 points. The world ranking of the brands sees instead the Cooper-Climax in the lead with 46 points, followed by Lotus with 25, Ferrari stops at 16, B.R.M. 6, and finally Cooper-Maserati with only 3 points. After a short break of about a month, the World Championship will continue Sunday, August 14, 1960 on the Boavista circuit, in Oporto, with the dispute of the Portuguese Grand Prix.

 

Carlo Poddighe

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