1958 Italian Grand Prix race report: Brooks outruns the Ferraris
Practice was due to be held on the afternoons of Friday and Saturday preceding race…
GRAN PREMIO SIRACUSA
A Good Victory for Ferrari
SIRACUSA, SICILY, March 39th. AS in 5959, the Grand Prix at Syracuse in Sicily was limited to Formula z and was held on Saturday afternoon, practice being on the afternoons of Thursday and Friday. An entry of 18 cars was received and on the first day of practice all but two appeared, these being Masten Gregory with the Camoradientered ex-Behra Porsche and Pirocchi with his Raineri-AlfaRomeo. Apart from a good deal of re-surfacing, the 5.5-kilometre circuit remained unchanged from previous years, still being a fast natural road circuit, and everyone set off with the F.2 lap record of
min. 59.0 sec. in their sights, which had been set up by Bchra with a works Ferrari in last year’s race. Being the first Formula 2 race of the season most drivers were feeling their way round, Moss never having sat in the new Porsche previously and von Trips not having raced the Ferrari as a F.2 car before. Trintignant was putting in some very consistent lap times with his bright blue Cooper, , being looked after by Equipe Walker mechanics, and Gendebien and Frere were doing a great number of laps in the two yellow Coopers of the Equipe National Beige. It was von Trips with the lone Ferrari who first began to approach the 2-min. mark. At the time, Moss was in the pits changing wheels but when the Ferrari got within a tenth of a second of breaking 2 min., Moss went out in the Porsche and recorded i min. 58.5 sec. Meanwhile Trintignant was showing up a lot of younger drivers and recorded I min. 59.9 sec., which beat the Ferrari, as von Trips went round in 2 min. dead. This had been done with long tail-pipes fitted, which gave more power at high revolutions but made the car difficult on the hairpin as the power curve went flat at low revolutions. Leaving everyone else to practise, the Ferrari was wheeled away and short tail-pipes of larger diameter were fitted, which gave better pick-up but less power at the top end. Shortly before practice finished von Trips went out again, and though hampered at Crst by a slight shower of rain, the track soon dried, but he could not improve on his time and preferred the long tail-pipes, in spite of the hesitancy in low-speed acceleration. Also in the last few minutes of practice, Schell went out again in the Yeoman Credit car but was brought to a very sudden stop when a connecting-rod broke and came out through the side of the engine.
Lotus had spent most of the time getting their carburation adjusted, having to juggle with S.U. carburetters on one car and Webers on the other, while Brabham and Flockhart were late in going out as their cars had not been ready. The two Belgian drivers recorded the identical times of 2 min. 01.5 sec., and a newcomer to Formula 2 racing, the Frenchman Schlesser, was shaping well with his Cooper with a time of z min. 06.4 sec.
On Friday afternoon all was set for another practice session, and although the sky was cloudy the track was dry and conditions were excellent. Schell could not practise as he was awaiting the arri% al of another engine, being flown out from England, and Trintignant was in trouble with his clutch. The factory Porsche and Ferrati were both sounding beautifully crisp and going fast, von Trips once more trying the difference between the two exhaust systems, while Moss was beginning to throw the Porsche about a bit. The rear-engined Lotus now seemed to be sorted out and Ireland was driving in a very determined fashion, though he was having some trouble with selecting gears, the positive-stop gear-lever mechanism seeming to defeat him. Brabham was more on form now and amongst the fastest, his brakes making a high-pitched whistling noise as he stopped for the hairpin. Gendebien was trying really hard and getting results, with laps under 2 min., and finding the small, light Cooper greatly to his liking after driving big, heavy sports and G.T. Ferraris for so long. Frere was extremely tidy through the corners but not quite so fast as his compatriot, while Bristow was now beginning to appear on the scene with some forceful driving. Moss was still faster than anyone, but then practice was delayed for a time as Tom Threlfall ran out of brakes on his Cooper and crashed heavily, being lucky to escape without so much as a bruise, but the wreckage of his car left a mess of oil and petrol on the road which had to be cleared up. When practice restarted things began to warm up and Ireland began forcing the rear-engined Lotus, 13rabham got going in tile under-z-min. bracket, and von Trips was cornering the Ferrari on the limit. Watching on a very fast right curve it was noticeable bow much faster and steadier the rear-engined Lotus was, cornering on almost a neutral-steer and showing no signs of being near ahe limit of adhesion. The Porsche seemed to be twitching all the ‘time, not sure whether to be over-steering or under-steering, while the Ferrari was coming out of the curve on a pronounced over
steer, but very steady. Gendebien was really racing now and got his time down to i min. 58.3 sec., using everything the Cooper had got and at one point elbowing Bristow right off line at the hairpin in a beautiful piece of cut-and-thrust road racing which rather surprised the new-boy. As practice was coming to a close Lotus did a rapid change of axle ratio on the rear-engined car and Ireland whistled round in 1 min. 58.1 sec., which made everyone sit up, and to the accompaniment of encouraging shouts from the crowd Moss got in the Porsche and put everyone in their place with a lap in 1 min. 57.6 sec., and with that practice came to an end.
After a Saturday morning of brilliant sunshine the sky clouded over, and as the 15 starters assembled on the grid, to the accompaniment of flags and national anthems, conditions were good for racing but did not look settled, so Ferrari fitted splash guards to their car. The spare engine for Schell’s car had arrived and an all-night session by the mechanics had got the car ready, and Trintignant’s car was serviceable once again. Brabham had fitted a new magneto to his Cooper, von Trips had settled for the long thin exhaust system, and Moss was using 600 x 15 in. tyres on the back of the Porsche. Threlfall was a non-starter as his car was too badly bent, so that 15 cars lined up on the grid for the start at 3.30 p.m.
It was Ireland with the Lotus who got away first, but before the first corner both von Trips and Moss went by him, and as the 15 cars jostled into the hairpin Flockhart was rammed by Frere and the nose of the Belgian Cooper chopped the head of the tyre valve clean off Flockhart’s near-side rear wheel. Ott the next fast righthand bend Flockhart’s Cooper leant on its outside wheel and, the tyre being flat, the car went into an almighty spin, bouncing off the stone walls but luckily staying upright, and the tail-enders had to dodge the spinning car. Meanwhile the leaders were racing down the back straight with Moss in front but von Trips, Ireland and Brabham close behind. As the first of the 56 laps was completed the order was Moss, von Trips, Ireland, Brabham, Gendebien and Trintignant one behind the other, then a gap, and Stacey leading the remainder of the field, now reduced to 13 cars as Branca had stopped on the opening lap as well as Flockhart. On the next lap Brabham moved up a place and a gap appeared after the first four cars, and on lap three Trintignant took fifth place from Gendebien. After his scuffle on the opening lap, Frere was beginning to gain ground from the back of the field, and Schell was in last place and stopped on lap three to complain that fuel was slopping out of the tank filler due to surge. This dropped him way behind, and on the next lap the Yeoman Credit team suffered another setback when Bristow stopped at the pits with their other car due to having trouble with the gear-selector mechanism on the Cooper gearbox. Moss was pushing the Porsche pretty hard in his efforts to get away from the trio following him and in doing so was setting up fastest laps, but none of them improving on Behra’s I nun. 59.0 sec. as yet. Slowly but surely he was establishing a lead, at the rate of nearly 1 sec. per lap, but it was not easy for there was a real dice going on behind him, first Brabham leading, then von Trips and then Ireland; sometimes they were side-by-side, at other times nose-to-tail. The Ferrari was easily fastest on the straights, but the English cars caught it on braking, and while Brabham would slip-stream the Ferrari, Ireland would pass them both on corners, only to lose his advantage as he got to the hairpin due to having difficulty in operating the unusual gearchange, although there was nothing wrong with it. Moss was also in difficulties with gear-changing on the Porsche six-speed box, the synchromesh making the change heavy, so that he was braking for the hairpin in sixth speed and then going direct into first as he rounded the corner, being agreeably surprised at the
power of the drum brakes. On lap seven Moss equalled Behra’s record and by to laps he had built up a lead of 8 sec., while Drabham’s Cooper had its nose poking up the odd tail-end of Ireland’s Lotus and von Trips was watching the two of them. Anyone thinking that Formula 2 racing is dull and uninteresting, or that the 1961 Formula cars will lack interest, should have watched this little scrap for it would be difficult to assemble four more diverse cars than Porsche, Lotus, Cooper and Ferrari, and the only reason the Porsche was leading was because Moss was driving it. However, such is motor racing that these scraps seldom last, and on lap 13 Brabham dropped behind the Lotus and Ferrari, and on lap 15 came into the pits with a misfiring engine. After fiddling with the carburetters he set off again but was soon back and the trouble was eventually traced to a faulty magneto and he withdrew on lap 18. Meanwhile, the Frenchman Collomb had retired when his fuel pump came adrift, and on lap 16 Raby came into the pits with the Hume-Cooper, by mistake, having misread a pit signal. On lap 19, Ireland, who was third, lapped his team-mate Stacey in the 1959 car, and on lap 20 Moss set a new K2 record lap with
min. 58.9 sec., and now had to see. lead over von Trips, who was still ahead of Ireland, followed by Trintignant, Gendebien and Frere, the remainder having been lapped. Of the tail-enders, Schlesser was leading and driving a very steady and regular race with his very standard Cooper. At this time Bristow came into the pits to retire, being so far behind due to his delay with gearselector trouble that he didn’t consider it worth while going on. Just as Moss set up a new F.2 lap record with I mill. 58.8 sec. the rain started to fall; by this time the fastest von Trips could do was min. 59.3 sec. The rain turned to a brief shower of hailstones, and Raby stopped with gear-lever trouble and no clutch, and Schlesser spun, while Most was finding the Porsche a real handful in the wet and von Trips began to gain ground, much to the joy of the Sicilian crowd. On lap 25 Moss had only 8 sec. lead and von Trips was gaining fast, while the rear-engined Lotus went on to three cylinders and Trintignant passed it to move up into third place. On the next lap, as Moss passed the pits the Porsche gave a puff of blue smoke from its exhaust and a valve broke, making a horrible grinding noise as Moss went by. The Sicilians rose as one man and cheered lustily as von Trips went by into the lead, and then when Ireland appeared in sight and drove into the pits they nearly fought each other in their excitement. It was suspected that a plug lead was loose on the Laus and it was sent off, but two laps later it was in again and a plug was changed. Meanwhile Moss had toured round to complete lap 27 before the Porsche engineers lifted the engine hatch and quickly shut it again, and the car was wheeled away.
During all this excitement the ruin had stopped and the track was drying fast, and von Trips was comfortably in the lead by Over half a minute from Trintignuns, while Gendebien was a minute and a half behind, in third place.
At 30 laps only von Trips, Trintignant and Gendebien were on the same lap, and behind came Frere, Ireland, Schlesser, Stacey, Schell and Ruby, in that order. On lap 32 Stacey stopped for fuel and on lap 34 he stopped for good, the head gasket having blown. With more than 20 laps still to go the race Was virtually over and all von Trips had to do was to circulate regularly. This he did in exemplary fashion, the red Ferrari sounding wonderfully crisp all the time. Trintignant, who had been driving a beautifully-judged race, began to speed up, but the Ferrari pit were on the job and speeded up their car accordingly, and though the gap was reduced to x 5 see, as the laps were reeled off there was no possibility ca the Cooper catching the Ferrari. Ruby had two more stops with the Hume car as he was having gear-lever trouble, and finally locked it in third gear to finish the race. All this time Trintignant kept the pressure on, so that right at the end von Trips was having to lap in 2 min. dead to keep the lead, but this did not bother the Ferrari, which was still revving to over 9,000 r.p.m. without any signs of stress. At lap 42 von Trips had lapped all but Trintignant, and on lap 47 Trintignant lapped Gendebien with nonchalant ease, the little Frenchman being at the top of his form in this real road race. To the waving and cheering of a delirious crowd, the Ferrari completed the 56 laps and von Trips was flagged home the winner, to record a very popular victory.
Results : GRAN PREMIO SIRACUSA—Formula 2-56 Laps-308 Kilometres Dull and Dry
Fastest lap : S. Moss (Pors,che), on lap at, in z min. 58.8 sec.—z66.666 k.p.h. (new 17.2 record).
Retired : R. Flockhart (Cooper), lap one, damaged tyre; A. Branca (Moretti), lap one, spun; R. Colliamb (Cooper), lap x6, fuel pump; J. Brabham (Cooper), lap ifI, magneto; C. Bristow (Cooper), lap 20, gear-change; S. Moss (Porsche), lap 27, engine; A. Stacey (Lotus), lap 34, head gasket.
15 starters — 8 finishers.
NOTES ON THE CARS AT SIRACUSA
Of the i8 entrica there were to Cooper-Climax, all privately owned. Schell .and Bristow were driving the cars of the Yeoman Credit Racing Team, of which the former had an F.I chasais with double wishbones at the rear, and the latter had an F.z chassis with single wishbones, and both were fitted with 1,500-c.c.
Climax engines and Cooper gearboxes with oil pumps on the rear, the engines using double-choke SAL carburetters fed from long ducts running forward to the nose of the car, this arrangement ,being as used last year on the cars when they were using I3orgward engines. Finished in light green. these two cars were immaculately turned out. Hockhart was driving the 1959 Cooper raced last year by Gregory and still entered by Alan 13rown, while nem and Gendebien had the two yellow Coopers of the Equipe National Beige, both /959 cars. Trintignant was driving his own privately-entered Cooper, thisbeing a car he purchased from the Walker Team and one used last year by them with a I3orgward engine. It now had a Climax engine fitted but retained the five-speed and reverse Colotti gearbox, and had double wishbones at the rear. Brabham had his own standard Cooper-Climax, running on S.U. carburetters, as did ifirelfall, white the Cooper contingent was completed by two privately-owned cars of the Frenchmen Schlesser and Coital-rib. Team Lotus entered two cars, one a 1959 front-engined car, using S.U. carburetters, for Stacey to drive, and the other dui interesting new rear-engined car that made its debut in the Argentine Grand Prix. These cars had only recently returned from the Argentine and there had barely been time to remove the 21-litre Climax engines and put ra-litre units in their place before setting off for Syracuse, so that both cars lo.oked a bit weary and travel-stained. ‘The rearengined car was using a pair of 451)CO3 Weber carburetters, and, as in the Argentine, this car waa entered for Ireland to drive. A most striking feature of this car is the low frontal area, the driver sitting on the floor of the cockpit and the bodywork being wrapped around the space-frame, fitting very closely. The Climax engine is coupled by a hell-housing to a Lotus five-speed gearbox and differential assembly. with the rear disc brakes mounted on each side of the finaldrive housing. The water and oil radiators are in one block at the front of the car, this unit deckling the frontal area of the car as it forms the widest part of the body. Both the water and oil pipes run outside the body and afford additional cooling, while over the driver’s legs is a large flat fuel tank, and in front of his feet is the oil tank. Front suspension is by double wishbones with interspersed coil spring/shock-absorber units, and at the rear a new layout of is used. Each wheel is carried on a large alloy casting that projects downwards to within an inch or two of the ground, and from the bottom of this a wide-band wishbone attaches to the chassis frame. The drive shaft on each side has two universal joints hut no sliding spline, so that it locates the wheel in a sideways direction and fore and aft movement is controlled by two long thin radius mill on cads tide, these being pivoted on the alloy hub carrier and being widely spaced, one above and one below the drive shaft centre line. From the bottom of the hub carrier, running diagonally upwards to the chassis frame, and behind the drive shaft, is a similar coil-spring/shock-absorber unit to that used at the front. As with the front suspension, a thin torsion anti-roll bar is mounted across the rear of the sitspenSiOn and coupled by long thin rods to the lower wishbones. The alloy hub carriers were made with extra lugs to accommodate the disc brakes ” outboard” should they show signs of overheating on the inboard mountings, but So Nr no trouble has been experienced. The tail of the car has a reverse taper and is completely open; air swirl behind the car enters this opening, passes over the gearbox and brakes, and is ejected through openings m the undertrav, and gearbox oil temperatures have been found to stay very low in spite of high ambient temperatures experienced in Argentina. With the gearbox being at the very tail of the car it is possible to change the ratios in a matter of minutes, a cover plate being removed from the rear, which exposes the change-speed gears: a layout as used by Ferrari on the “Squab” in 1954 and Connaught on their Syracuse ” model in 1955,
The Scuderia Ferrari entered only one car, for von Trips to drive, and this was it 196o chassis that made its debut in Argentina. The chaasis frame follows typical Ferrari practice of using large and small-diameter tubing to make a cross between ‘ ladder” frame and a” space “frame, and the front suapenaion remained as last year, with double wishbones and eoil-springs. At the rear the suspension is fully independent, as used at Sebring experimentally, and consista of double wishbones, of unequal lengths and unequal bases, with a coil-Spring unit mounted to the rear of each assembly and the strive shafts having two universals apiece and a ball-and-spline sliding joint. The engine of this F.2 car was a V6 Dino 156 as raced last season, and fitted with three double-choke downdraught Weber 36DCN carburetters. Last year, on the Dino cars the engine was angled to the left, but this year they have been mounted the opposite way, an that the prop-shaft runs across the floor of the cockpit from left to right, entering an entirely new five-speed and reverse gearbox/differential unit down in the right-hand rear corner of the cockpit. The layout of the gearbox unit is as used before but a mirror-image of last year’s unit. ‘The propeller-shall enters by means of a pair of bevels which turn the drive across the car, and then the gearbox main-shaft, lay-shaft and final-drive shaft are all in line and straight-spur gears arc used throughout. The propeller-shaft bevel has an extension protruding rearwards fitted with a starter dog which is engaged by a long starter motor shalt inserted in the right-hand aide of the tail of the car. The clutch, which is hydraulically operated, is mounted behind the input bevel of the gearbox, while the gear-selector mechanism is on the left, operated by a left-hand gear-lever, Fuel is carried in two tanks, one on each aide of the cockpit and forming the sides of the body; these tanks being-of riveted construction. Two types Of exhaust systems were available for the car, one having small-diameter manifolds and long thin tail-pipes extending beyond the end of the chassis frame, and the other having much larger-diameter manifolding and tail-pipes finishing underneath the car just forward of the rear axle line. Both systems ran low alongside the cockpit and under the (lid tanks. The long pipes give more performance at high revs., the short ones better acceleration. The car used 15-in. wire wheels with knockoff hubs, disc brakes, with the discs drilled radially, and was nicely finished in Ferrari red.
Another lone factory entry was a brand-new Porsche F.2 car for Moss to drive, this being brought by the factory mechanics and looked after by them. Apart from having 3 wheelbase to cm. longer than their 1959 car, it was virtually unchanged from last year, although the bodywork was altered slightly, having a much sleeker look, and the six-speed gearbox was now operated by a lever working in an open gate. The air-cooled flat-four engine, with four camshafts, used two douhle-choke downdraught Weber 48IDM carburetters, and fuel WaS carried in three tanks, one above the driver’s knees arid one on each side of the cockpit, while the oil tank and oil radiator are mounted in the extreme nose of the car, a small slot feeding air to the cooler. Suspension was as last year, by trailing links and torsion bars at the front and wishbones, radius arms and coil-springs at the rear. Drum brakes were used and normal Porsche bolt-on wheels, and the car was finished in dark blue with a white stripe across the nose, as it was clue to be handed over to the Equipe Walker after the race. There should have been another Porsche competing, this being the car built by Jean Behra last year and now owned by Lloyd Casner’s Camoradi Team, but it failed to materialise. To complete the entry Rally was driving the HumeCooper-Climax and Branca had a Moretti Junior chaasis slightly lengthened and fitted with an Alfa-Romeo Giulietta engine in the rear, enlarged to 1,5oo c.c. and driving through a Citroen ID gearbox. This car was the beginning of a National Italian Formula Senior, allowing larger engines than Formula Junior and also overhead camshafts. Another such car was entered by Pirotchi, hut this did
not appear. D. S. J.
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