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#92 1960 Portuguese Grand Prix

2021-10-08 00:00

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#92 1960 Portuguese Grand Prix

As seen on Friday and Saturday’s official sessions, the new Ferrari 1500, driven by Wolfgang von Trips, showed impressive pace and was unbeatable duri

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As seen on Friday and Saturday’s official sessions, the new Ferrari 1500, driven by Wolfgang von Trips, showed impressive pace and was unbeatable during the Solitude Grand prix. The race was held on Sunday 24th July 1960 on Solitude circuit, according to Formula 1 regulations. Let’s give the right context to the Modena constructor win. First of all, it is important to remember that, starting from next year, the new formula will take over the old Formula 1. The reason behind this is that the latter had fulfilled its technical purposes. Thus, the Solitude race was a sort of preview for the official sessions of the 1961 World Championship. Without indulging in exaggerated optimism, it can be asserted that the Maranello team wants to put a lot of effort into next season. The new Ferrari creation, according to founded rumours, should develop around 180 horsepower per litre. At the tricky Solitude trac, it crossed the line in perfect conditions without having sort of technical inconvenience, in terms of efficiency. Wolfgang von Trips is satisfied:

 

"I could have done 100 km more by taking my hands off the steering wheel at the end of the race".

 

In terms of collective performance, Porsche has generated a very good impression. The honorable positions were taken by the German manufacturer. Herrmann finished 2nd ahead of Bonnier, Graham Hill and Guirney. Surtees’ car was the only one to not finish the race due a transmission failure. Furthermore, team leader Herrmann led the race for 10 laps out of 20. In the end, he had to give way to the offensive Ferrari German driver. In terms of engine power, it is still evident that the silver Porsche car cannot compete with the new Italian creation.


At the start of the race, Jim Clark leads the pack in the Lotus, after sealing the juniors win. Porsche and Ferrari follow. In the meantime, Jack Brabham’s Cooper does not seem to function correctly. At the end of the 7th lap, Hermann is still leading in the Porsche ahead of Trips’ Ferrari. Clark is 100 meters further back. During the 16th lap, Trips’ car is much faster than the Porsche. The German thus overtakes his fellow compatriot for the lead. Surtees, who also took part in the motorcycle race, is able to take part in the Grand Prix but is then forced to retire for a transmission problem. The race, as previously said, thus crowns Trips and Ferrari. The Italian team have demonstrated to have built a very solid car. The following week, on Sunday 31th July 1960, the German Grand Prix is scheduled at the Nürburgring. It is reserved for the Formula 2 category. This event is important because, during the course of the last testing day, there is a scary shunt involving Masten Gregory. The American driver goes off track and the car overturn several times. Luckily the driver has minor injuries. Stirling Moss makes his comeback after that horrendous accident at Spa. Three Ferrari cars will also take part in this event. Phil Hill, Richie Ginther and Wolfgang von Trips are at the wheel of the Italian cars. The organizers of the race are forced to say no to the Formula 1 cars and consequentially to the qualifying session that would have given points for the constructors’ championship. The participation of the cars, in the Formula 2 series and in the Solitude Grand Prix di, is still significant. 

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These - as said before- are similar cars to the ones that are in the 1961 Formula 1 World Championship. The Portuguese Grand Prix is more relevant. It takes place at the Porto City on Sunday 14th August 1960 between the street of Porto city. The last race in Portugal was in 1958. The track is considered a real road race one. It is fast and represents all dangers of a race held in a street circuit. Stirling Moss makes a racing comeback on board of his Lotus-Climax for Team RRC Walker. It is the same car that, after the Spa shunt, was completely rebuild. It now has a sensible modification to the front suspension. The anti-roll bar, which is usually coupled in the pins of the upper transverse arms, had twice given problems. Thus, it had been designed again in order to be paired to the pins of the lower transverse arms with short tie-rod, thus avoid a car design problem. The Walker team also has an old Cooper-Climax to its disposal, with the function of a car and a spare engine. Team Lotus is instead present at Porto with three rear-engine cars. Jim Clark will have a model with the inclined engine and closed fuel. In the meantime, Innes Ireland and John Surtees will race with cars that have vertical engines and Weber garburator. Both cars will not have long suction tubes, that were previously used. Furthermore, Ireland’s car has rear disk brakes fit on the wheel hubs instead of being arranged inboard. The B.R.M. team arrives at Porto with the rear-engine cars, driven by Jo Bonnier, Graham Hill and Dan Gurney. It also has a fourth spare one. Scuderia Ferrari, instead, only has two Dino 246 model cars that will be driven by Phil Hill and Wolfgang von Trips. Both are front-engine ones.

 

The Centro-Sud team presents two Cooper-Maserati cars. Masten Gregory and Mario Araujo de Cabral are at wheel. The Portuguese drives subs Maurice Trintignant. The latter was waiting to drive an official Aston Martin. However, at the last minute, the English cars were not fielded, leaving him without a drive. Cooper-Climax bring two official cars on track that are driven by Jack Brabham and Bruce McLaren. The reigning championship has an additional spare one just in case. The Yeoman Credit Team instead brings three cars: Tony Brooks’ one, equipped with the 5-gears Colotti gearbox, and Olivier Gendebien’s one that has a a four-speed Cooper gearbox and spoked wheels at the rear. Trevor Taylor has a standard Cooper; the latest 2½ liters engine is fitted in all three cars. The Portuguese race weekend will be characterized by two free-practice sessions. Each one last two hours. Free practice is from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. On Friday 12th August 1960, the B.R.M. team has a driver missing since Jo Bonnier has a fever. Dan Gurney is able to compensate the absence of the Swedish driver by doing the fastest lap. It is well below the record of the circuit, which was previously held by Mike Hawthorn in the Ferrari. In the meantime, Brabham and McLaren do some insight laps to understand the circuit. Team Lotus is forced to solve some issues with the gear ratios. John Surtees also spends most of his time in the pits to wait until the mechanics resolve the issue that is affecting his car. It is related to the gear-selection mechanism.

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At the same time, Stirling Moss does not feel comfortable with the Lotus car and decides to do some laps with the old Cooper. Ireland, as well, tries the Lotus in order to compare it with the official one. Yeoman Credit Team is unable to find enough speed to set quick lap time. Furthermore, one of the drivers is involved in an incident. Henry Taylor lost control of his car while going through the open space after the pits. The English driver hits a pavement and has a massive shunt. The driver luckily only has some minor injuries to the arm and fingers. During the free practice, Jack Brabham has the fastest lap in 2'28"43, followed by McLaren with a 2'28"97 lap time. Towards the end of the session, Dan Gurney goes even faster in the B.R.M., by lapping in 2'27"81. Many have doubts regarding Stirling Moss’ conditions after his incident during the free-practice sessions in Belgium. The English driver demonstrates that he is still competitive by finishing 2nd in free practice. The two Ferrari cars are also quite competitive, lapping quite close to the leaders. Time goes by and Surtees’ team is still looking to resolve the gear-selection issue. Only towards the end of the first-free practice session, John is able to get out on track. Although, not even a couple of laps later, the sprocket and the pinion break down. Once again, the Englishman is forced to come back to the pits. The second free-practice session is on Saturday 13th August 1960, from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. During the afternoon, the weather is not excessively hot but the wind has changed direction.

 

It is now unfavourable to cars that will be go through the start/finish straight. Due to this, it is noted that the times set during second free practice are slower than the ones set on the previous day. A couple of minutes before the start of the session, Jim Clark goes into the corner, beyond the pits, to try a new line with the intent to avoid the tram routes. However, the British driver hits the left kerb with the rear tyre and through the circuit and over the hay bales. Clark is unscathed yet the car is severely damaged. Jo Bonnier, in the meantime, has recovered from the flu and does some laps with the B.R.M. car. On the other hand, the Yeoman Credit team is struggling. During the session, a main shaft nut on Tony Brooks’ car is unscrewed, allowing the shaft to move and the gears to move out of the system. This leaves the wheels to have no drive. There is no damage fortunately but the car will be stuck off-track for the rest of the session. The team is thus stuck with Gendebien’s car. As time goes by, the wind starts to pick up more which is favourable for the cars that are on the start/finish straight. Brabham and McLaren go out on track together. The Australian driver is faster than his teammate and leaves behind with a 2'26"05 lap time. Stirling Moss registers a good time in 2'26"19, which is not enough to beat Brabham’s one. John Surtees, who had to skip most of free practice on Friday afternoon, is behind Dan Gurney on track. The two follow each other closely for many laps, improving the sector times lap after lap. 

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Surtees sets a time that surprises everyone: a 2'25"56. Gurney is 2nd, lapping in 2'25"63. Before the other drivers exits the pits, rain starts to pour on track. While the majority of the paddock starts to leave the circuit, Dan Gurney decides to leave the pits to try new tires. Following this attempt, the American driver does not appear to be at all satisfied. The two Ferrari drivers are much faster than the previous day. Nonetheless, Wolfgang von Trips and Phil Hill will line up from 9th and 10th position for the start of the race, Masten Gregory is happy with his Cooper-Maserati and is able to be much faster than rival team Cooper Yeoman Credit. The American driver sets a 2'29"16 time which is not distant from the two Ferrari drivers. At the end of FP2, the local guys are able to do some National GT races in order to give way to Formula 1 on the following day. On Sunday 14th August 1960, at 2:00 p.m., the Formula 1 cars are submitted to the final technical checks. In view of the Portuguese Grand Prix, the tanks have the 100/130 Avgas fuel. During the night, the Team Lotus mechanics worked on Jim Clark’s car. They managed to straighten it out through the use of puff lamps, tourniquets, screw jack and wooden blocks. All is done under the Colin Chapman’s order, although the owner of the Portuguese garage claimed that they would have never been able to repair the Scotsman’ s car in time for the race. In fact, the car repair ends during the lunch break. The slits in the fiberglass bodywork are tied with duct tape. One thing to note is that, apart from a slight steering stiffness and the tendency to over-steer in some corners and to under-steer in other, the car is in very good condition. Thus, it is brought to the FIA for technical checks.

 

The start, scheduled at 4:00 p.m., is postponed for a couple of minutes. A contractor had optimistically constructed a footbridge in Dexion but was starting to break. Thus, an intervention to repair is thus needed. With this out of the way, the 15 cars are finally able to line-up on the grid. Henry Taylor is in the pits and will watch the race as a spectator due to an injury, suffered during the first free-practice session. On the front row of the grid, there are three different car manufactures. It is time to start the 55-laps race. When the 30-seconds signal appears, Graham Hill starts to advance forward and goes in between Gurney e Brabham. The duo also starts do the same, followed by Surtees. The starter still has the flag up but from the front row, there are already four cars that are moving off the line. The cars behind are also starting to get closer to the leaders. A couple of second before the start, the first row of the grid, consisting of Surtees, Gurney, Graham Hill and Brabham, is now a car length over the starting line. A couple of seconds later, the drivers leave behind the starter, who still has the flag raised. Thus, he decides to drop it. With a roar, all cars move towards turn 1. At the start, Gurney is slight ahead but Brabham is able to take the lead of the race through the Avenue Boa Vista corner. Then, Gurney is able to overtake the Australian’s Cooper under breaking. When the pack descends the winding hill towards the promenade, Gurney is still leading ahead of Brabham, Moss, Surtees, Ireland, Phill Hill, Graham Hill, McLaren, Bonnier, Brooks and Clark. Before the start of the race, the Scotsman is being given the rigid instruction to not enter the top-10 for at least 6 laps. This is until the car is able to behave properly.

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At the end of the 1st lap, Wolfgang von Trips has vanished. Half a lap later though, he re-appears in front of the pits with the nose of the car bent and twisted. This is the aftermath of a shunt against some hay bells. After a pit-stop, the German driver is able to do the same lap times as before the incident. The top-8 cars are in a tight group going through the tram lines. Breaking left, the drivers are then arriving into the twisty section. Braham misjudges the breaking point and is overtaken by six cars. At the end of the 3rd lap, Ireland, as well as Trips, is far pack from the leading pack and dives into the pits. Ireland’s car has a fuel supply issue that is shutting the engine repeatedly. At the end of the 4th lap, Gurney has a 4-seconds lead over Moss, who is followed closely by Surtees and Phil Hill. Further back, a train starts to form: Bonnier, Graham Hill, McLaren and Brabham are part of it. During the following lap, Bonnier abandons this group for an engine blow-up at the back of the B.R.M. Whilst this is happening, Brabham overtakes McLaren. On lap 6, Gurney extends his lead out front, which is now 6-seconds. Surtees, in the meantime, is able to overtake Moss for 2nd place. Those two are followed by Phil Hill. This demonstrates that Ferrari, even with a front-engine, is still able to keep up with the other cars. At the end of lap 6, Bonnier goes back to the pits. There is vapour coming out of the B.R.M. exhaust pipes. When oil starts to pour out from the carburettor, the car sadly grounds to a halt. Meanwhile, Innes Ireland is also stuck in the pits in order to let the mechanics repair the power supply system.

 

A couple of minutes later, Brabham and Graham Hill are running side-by-side at the start/finish straight. the Cooper-Climax and the B.R.M. have the same top speed. On lap 9, the British driver gets overtaken by McLaren, before he starts to hear a noise coming from the rear of the car. Thus, during the same lap, Graham Hill is forced to retire for a gearbox issue. Onto the 10th lap, Dan Gurney slips on what he thinks is oil. Thus, he starts to believe that this oil is pouring out of his car and into the track. His advantage over Surtees, Moss and Phil Hill drops down to 1.25 seconds. At this point of the race, Ireland is back into this race. Trips is lapped by the leaders. Queuing up behind them, the Ferrari driver is able to have the same race rhythm. Onto lap 11, Gurney is still fearing for the oil loss. Surtees, Moss, Phil Hill and Brabham quickly dispatch the B.R.M. driver. A lap later, it is also McLaren’s turn to overtake the American driver for 5th. The latter has thus dropped down to 6th, with Brooks pursuing ever more closely. At the end of the 13th lap, Surtees is one seconds ahead of Moss. Phil Hill is closely following the two blue Lotus. Brabham is 10 seconds behind, in 4th, and unable to gain ground on the Ferrari driver. Onto lap 16, Surtees’ Ferrari is starting to struggle, unable to with Lotus’ race pace. Meanwhile, Gurney’s engine starts to fall apart. Brook takes advantage of this to overtake him for 3rd place. At the same time, Trips overtakes the two Centro-Sud team’s cars to then progressively approach Gendebien. At the back of the field, Ireland does some good lap times but is too far back to say anything in this race anymore.

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The only goal for him is to finish the race. Back to the front, there is an apparent stalling condition going on. This last until lap 19. Halfway through, it is time for the pit-stops. Surtees is now running alone at the start/finish straight since Stirling Moss has pitted. The Ferrari driver accumulates a 10-seconds advantage over Phil Hill. Brabham soon closes down this gap and start to appear on Surtees’ rear-view mirrors. Moss does a slow out-lap before coming in to the pit for a second time in order to let the mechanics change all spark plugs in the car. He goes back out on track in 9th place, behind Trips, a lap down on the leaders. The engine, though, still raises concerns. On lap 21, Masten Gregory disappears from the racing scene for a transmission failure. Meanwhile, Brabham is right behind Phil Hill. The American is able to defend his position for two laps. On lap 24, Dan Gurney is forced to pit for an engine malfunction. Not even a lap later, Jack Brabham gets ahead of Surtees. Moss pits again while Gurney, after completing yet another slow lap, retires. John Surtees maintains a 10-seconds advantage and seem unbeatable. At the start/finish line, Stirling Moss comes back on track albeit two laps down on the Englishman. At the end of the 13th lap, Phil Hill is forced to retire for a hydraulic clutch problem. The American driver changes gear when he goes wide into a corner. As a result, he hits the hay bells. Jack Brabham is running on his own yet he is unable to get close to Surtees, who is stretching the advantage out front. Onto lap 29, Tony Brooks comes into the pits with gearbox issues. His intent is to let his mechanics repair the issue.

 

Immediately after, Gendebien also has a broken gearbox. He has the same intension as the British colleague. At the end of the 14th lap, John Surtees has a 22-seconds advantage over Brabham and 19 on McLaren. Clark is 4th, a minute behind the leader. Meanwhile Phil Hill, a following the hay bell incident, restarts with a crumpled nose fairing and bent steering wheel. Gendebien dives into the pits again, having only 3rd and 4th gear at disposal, while Moss cannot get the four-cylinder engine to start properly. On lap 30, John Surtees starts to slow down. Almost since the beginning of the race, he indicates the front fuel tank in every single pit-stop. Nobody understands what he means since there is no apparent reason. In reality, though, it is discovered that the fuel tank leaks oil from a racked seam. Hence, the British driver tries to keep his mechanics informed in case that he has difficulties with the fuel level. In fact, as the race goes on, the leak gets worse. It starts to pour out on his feet and pedals, making them very slippery. Thus, as Surtees approaches the cobblestone turn in order to go into the tight and narrow part of the track, his feet slips from the brake. A fraction of a second later, Surtees ends up hitting the pavement and onto the hay bells. In the following moments, Surtees tries to re-start the car whilst Brabham is able to take the lead of the race. What Surtees does not know is that the radiator is damaged. Thus, on the following lap, the Englishman is forced to retire the coolant-free Lotus on the side of the track. 

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With 18 laps to go, the two Cooper drivers, Jack Brabham e Bruce McLaren are now running 1-2 with a good race pace. The worrying expression, that John Cooper had until that moment, finally disappears. Jim Clark is 3rd, a minute behind McLaren. Trips is 4th, less than a lap behind the leader. After the Ferrari mechanics finish checking the steering wheel, Phil Hill decides to still finish the race. The American comes back on track and, before crossing the start/finish line, stops in order to be lapped by Brabham. However, the organizers do not allow this abnormal stop and invite Hill to re-start. Thus, he does so with the hope of stopping on a downhill point of the track until Brabham finish the race. He would then re-start the Ferrari engine to complete the lap. After a long push, Hill climbs in the cockpit, engages the gear and starts the engine. However, the clutch is stuck and does not function. At this point, though, the flat stretch of the road ends and he is forced to retire. Just before the finish line, Wolfgang von Trips is able to un-lap himself from Brabham. Following the first-lap incident, the German was able to drive the car with great skills. At one point of the race, he was up to 4th, not very far behind Jim Clark. Moss is unable to finish the 51st lap due to a lock-up of the front brakes at the fateful left corner, where every driver had problems. As a result, the engine stops as he goes into the escape route.

 

As Brabham completes the last two laps of the race, Moss vainly tries to re-start the uphill Lotus. When he notices that the race is over, the British driver turns the Lotus car around and goes downhill in the opposite direction to the track. Jack Brabham wins the Portuguese Grand Prix. It is his 5th win of the season. Bruce McLaren finishes 2nd. Jim Clark takes an impressive 3rd-place finish with a car that should have lasted only a handful of laps. Wolfgang von Trips is 4th after an impressive comeback race. Stirling Moss is classified 5th. Afterwards, it is discovered that the latter violated article 6 of the regulation and is disqualified. Thus, it is given to Tony Brooks, followed by Olivier Gendebien. With this win, Jack Brabham is very close to become World Championship for the second consecutive time. Bruce McLaren missed two races but is not yet arithmetically out of the championship fight. However, it is practically improbable that the Neo-Zeeland driver succeeds in this track. Brabham leads the standing with 40 points, whilst his teammate has 33. Innes Ireland is 3rd and has no chance for the championship with 12 points. Regarding the constructors’ championship, Team Cooper is mathematically World Champion with 48 points (even if the real score should have been 54). Team Lotus is 2nd with 28 (29 if the worst-case race is not calculated). The 1960 World Championship is coming to an end, with two Grand Prix left to go. Next up is the Italian Grand Prix, at Monza, on Sunday 4th September 1960. By now, this upcoming race does not seem to have much to say.

 

Giulia Pea

 

Translated by Ylenia Lucia Salerno

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