1957 British Grand Prix race report - Vanwall achieves undisputed victory at last

Vanwall Achieves Undisputed Victory at Last

Aintree, July 20th.

The English motor-racing scene suffers from a split personality just as the French one does, for whereas France alternates between Rouen and Reims for its National Grande Epreuve, England alternates between Silverstone and Aintree. This year it was the turn of the Northern circuit to hold the British Grand Prix and, for what it was worth, it was also given the title of the European Grand Prix. This is a rather pointless title which carries no significance with it and is given to one of the major Grand Prix races in the World Championship each year by the F.I.A. and allows the organisers to pretend that their event is the most important of the season. In actual fact all World Championship events carry equal status.

It was rather remarkable that, after running in a full-length Grand Prix for the previous two weekends, the major teams were all ready on the first afternoon of practice at Aintree, which was on the Thursday before the race. The Vanwall team were the first to start practice on the rather damp track, and they had all three entries out, being driven by Moss, Brooks and Lewis-Evans, the number-one driver having recovered from his bout of sinus trouble, Brooks being more or less fit again after his Le Mans accident, and the new boy, Lewis-Evans, fresh from his excellent drive at Reims, while the cars were well turned out, as always. The Maserati team comprised Fangio, Behra, Schell and Menditeguy, and all four were using six-cylinder cars, the 12-cylinder being left at Modena after its poor showing at Rouen and Reims. The Scuderia Ferrari had four Lancia/Ferrari cars out, driven by Collins, Hawthorn, Musso and Trintignant, and the B.R.M. team had two cars running, driven by Fairman and Leston. As is becoming a regular sight at Grand Prix meetings now, John Cooper had two of his Formula II cars running, fitted with oversize Coventry-Climax twin-cam engines, and these were in the hands of Salvadori and Brabham. To complete the field for the first practice day there were the two privately-owned Maseratis of Gould and Gilby Engineering, the latter driven by Bueb.

The Vanwall team set the pace and Moss tried all three cars, making his best lap with Brooks’ car and only just beating Lewis-Evans in the same car, while Brooks was content to feel his way back into fast driving, still being sore and stiff after his accident. The Maserati team were soon having a go at the Vanwall standard and, surprisingly enough, it was Behra who was fastest, using Fangio’s car, which was No. 2, while on No. 4, which was Behra’s car, Fangio was fastest. The Ferrari team were also juggling about with their four cars, all the drivers trying all the cars except Musso, who stuck to his own car and did not let anyone else drive it. For no apparent reason Trintignant had obviously been allocated the fastest car, and as soon as this was discovered it was taken away from him and given to Hawthorn. In spite of this none of the Maranello drivers could get among the times recorded by the Vanwalls and the Maseratis, and the Ferrari team were not looking too happy. The two B.R.M. drivers were quite unspectacular, which was to be expected as neither of them had driven the cars before and were both using the first practice session to get accustomed to them.

It was interesting to see that the Vanwall team tried a car on Dunlop tyres in place of Pirellis, for since the Italian firm has stopped making racing tyres the Pirelli stocks for Vanwall and Maserati have been getting lower and lower. A Pirelli racing tyre is now becoming worth its weight in gold, and to see one of the Vanwall cars on Dunlop was a sign of the times. B.R.M., who have always used Dunlop’s racing tyres, were experimenting with different tread patterns front and rear to effect small changes in handling characteristics, and with the coil-springs front and back, as used at Rouen, they were handling a lot better, but had nothing like as much “steam” as they had last year, though this drop in power had obviously improved the reliability. Throughout practice the loudspeaker system did not operate and no times were released from the timekeepers until practice was finished, so that it was not possible to watch the improvements throughout the afternoon, apart from unofficial hand-timing checks. This complete silence in the pit area and around the circuit made a strange contrast with Continental races, where every fast lap is immediately announced; this tends to encourage drivers to try harder in the battle for grid positions. Added to this lack of loudspeaker service was the entire absence of music to fill in any lulls in activity, so that during those few occasions when cars were at the pits, or drivers resting, the Aintree atmosphere was a sombre one, with the surrounding factories casting an air of gloom and despondency over the whole scene, when compared with a French or Italian Grand Prix race. As if this was not enough the Northern rains came in a big way just as practice finished and the whole Stadium disappeared under a cloudburst. When the air cleared and the timekeepers issued official times it was found that Behra had equalled the existing lap record, with a time of 2 min. 0.4 sec., this record having been set by Moss in 1955 with the Mercedes-Benz W196. Fangio was next fastest with 2 min. 01.0 sec., which he recorded twice, using his own car and Behra’s car, and Moss was next with 2 min. 01.4 sec. using Brooks’ car. The British timekeepers had done a good job of work, unlike many Continental timekeepers, for they had carefully noted when a driver took out a car with another driver’s number on it, for all three major teams were shuffling their cars and drivers about, irrespective of the numbers painted on the cars. Usually this leads to chaos, in which the timekeepers say “Car number so-and-so has made fastest lap, but we do not know who was driving it.” The B.A.R.C. deserve a pat on the back for providing an intelligent spotter to sort out the drivers and numbers. It would be far better if the F.I.A. were to step in and prevent this chopping and changing, for if it is not watched it can lead to an entirely false starting grid with a slow driver in the front because the team leader did a few laps in his car.

Friday practice saw the weather much better and the track dry, but a strong headwind blowing along the straight prevented any really fast laps being recorded. Everyone was out again, the Vanwall team bringing out another car for Moss and relegating his Thursday car to the position of spare, all four Vanwalls being in the pits and in use. Additions to the list of runners were Bonnier with the ex-Simon Maserati and Gerard with his own version of a Grand Prix Cooper, this being a modified Formula II car with a Bristol engine squeezed into the rear. From the previous day it was obvious that the Maseratis and Vanwalls were most suited to the flat and uninspiring Aintree circuit, so a wander round the infield was made to observe the cars in action. Without doubt the Maseratis were the easiest cars for the drivers to get round the corners, these well-balanced six-cylinders appearing to enjoy being slid round the bends in powerslides with the rear wheels well out of line with the front ones. This meant that they left the corners on full power, even though they were on full opposite lock, and with so many “stop-and-start”-type of corners on the circuit their handling was giving them a definite advantage. Even on the fairly fast Waterway Corner after the pits, this tail-sliding technique seemed to pay. The Vanwalls, on the other hand, had very neutral-looking characteristics and the power could be fed in progressively as the corner unwound, there being just a small degree of understeer visible. However, pick-up from the middle rev.-range was not too clean and they made up with speed on the straight for what they lost in the corners. Not only were the Vanwalls going extremely fast down the straight, but a full side view at 160 m.p.h., from a distance, gave an excellent impression of the aerodynamic shape of the cars. The Lancia/Ferraris were, comparatively, in an unhappy state, for they had a high degree of understeer and if the drivers turned the power on too early in the corner there was a tendency to push the front of the car off the original line, which meant the power had to be taken off. Hawthorn was really trying and showing the perfect way to drive the 1957 Lancia/Ferrari, braking late and hard going into the corners, taking the bend on a neutral throttle and then giving it full power once the corner was finished. The two B.R.M.s were also suffering from too much understeer and any application of power was tending to push the front-end off line, Fairman going round on a smooth throttle control and Leston, jabbing at the throttle three or four times through the corner, looking rather jerky and untidy, but faster than Fairman, nevertheless. Both cars were unhappy with their brakes and had unpredictable snatching and locking, this bother eventually putting Fairman well and truly on the grass at Anchor Crossing. The little Coopers of Salvadori and Brabham showed no great consistency about their method of cornering, seemingly being adaptable to the driver’s requirements. Brabham in particular seemed happily able to make the car over- or understeer according to his wishes and the speed at which he arrived at the corner. Early application of power after braking would push the car towards the outside of the corner with the driver applying more and more lock, while if needs be the car could be tweaked sideways in a full-opposite-lock power slide through the corner. On one occasion Brabham was enjoying himself in a power slide when the little car got the better of him and spun, but the Australian continued unabashed, merely giving the marshals a sly grin. Schell was trying as hard as he knew how, sailing into corners with the brakes locked and winding away on the steering wheel, but Fangio never looked really confident and gave the air of not liking the circuit very much.

On a number of occasions during this practice period a strange occurrence happened, for Parnell appeared in an Aston Martin DB3S with a passenger wielding a movie-camera and proceeded to motor round amongst the Grand Prix cars. While he did his best to keep out of the way, there was no arguing the fact that he was causing an obstruction which must have made drivers over-cautious, and one wondered whether this was serious Grand Prix practice for the Grand Prix of Europe, or the Grand Prix drivers playing at film stars. No one minds a bit of fake filming when practice is finished, but to obstruct the course with a camera car in the middle of the official practice session seemed to be against the general idea of Grand Prix racing. The fact that the Aston Martin was flying a white flag, which usually indicates an ambulance on the course, was also strange.

Before the afternoon ended Brooks had equalled Behra’a time of the day before and Moss had broken the record by two-tenths of a second; Behra, Fangio and Collins all tried hard to beat the Vanwall right up to the end of the allotted time, but to no avail. With Moss recording 2 min. 00.2 sec. and Brooks 2 mm. 00.4 sec., the practice finished with two green Vanwalls in the front row, along with Behra, and the most unusual situation of Fangio relegated to the second row.

The morning of race day, Saturday, July 20th, saw rain and wind lashing the Aintree Stadium and the mechanics huddled in the transporters, while cars sat silent under waterproof sheets, and the outlook was grey and gloomy. However, around lunch-time the rain stopped, a wind dried the track very quickly, and by 2 p.m., when the cars assembled on the grid, conditions were not too bad. It was a fine sight to see the Vanwalls of Moss and Brooks on the front row of the grid, one on each side of the Maserati of Behra, while behind sat Fangio and Hawthorn, followed in row three by Lewis-Evans with the third Vanwall, Schell (Maserati) and Collins (Lancia/Ferrari), he having changed cars with Hawthorn at the last moment. In row four sat two more cars from the Rampant Horse stable, driven by Trintignant and Musso, in row five came Menditeguy (Maserati), Leston (B.R.M.) and Brabham (Cooper), then Salvadori with the other works Cooper, on his own as Gould was a non-starter due to a foot injury, quite unconnected with driving; in row seven were Fairman with the other B.R.M., Bonnier’s old Maserati, and Gerard in the rear-engined Cooper-Bristol that had had trouble in practice with carburetter fires, and right at the back on his own sat Bueb in the Syd Greene Maserati, having missed the Friday practice due to a broken piston on the first day. Unlike some recent Grand Prix starts, this one was perfection, everyone being ready when the flag was raised and the track clear of mechanics and equipment. In spite of some tyre-burning wheelspin Behra got off the line first and led away down to Waterway Corner, but before halfway round the first lap Moss had got the Vanwall into the lead. The end of the opening lap saw a very tightly packed follow-my-leader round Tatts Corner into the pits straight, in the order Moss, Behra, Brooks, Hawthorn, Collins, Schell, Musso, Fangio and the rest, with Bueb bringing up the rear.

Having got the lead, Moss did not mean to waste time and he drew away from Behra at a steady rate, while Brooks and Hawthorn battled for third position, the Lancia/Ferrari gaining the advantage round the sharp corners in mid-field and the Vanwall whistling by on the Railway Straight. After five laps Brooks realised he was not fully recovered yet, his leg still being stiff and raw, and he eased up a bit, letting Hawthorn safely into third position behind Moss and Behra, while Collins began to close on the second Vanwall. Fangio was nowhere in the running and Musso soon caught him and went by and then Lewis-Evans got into his stride and went by the World Champion and the first bunch of ten works cars were now fairly evenly spread out, with the Vanwall of Moss way out in the lead and widening the gap continuously. At the back of the field Leston was holding up the two Coopers, and first Salvadori had to fight his way by, and than Brahham, it being most noticeable that once the little rear-engined cars had got past they left the B.R.M. behind. Fairman was a long way back, having been motoring on the grass, and was in company with Bonnier, Gerard and Bueb, though the last of the quartet did not keep going for long and stopped at the pits on lap eight to change plugs.

By 10 laps Moss had settled down to a lead of 7½ sec. over Behra and was looking wonderfully relaxed and in command of the situation, while Hawthorn had his teeth clenched and his chin jutting forward as he was having a go at Behra for second place. Brooks was now being attacked by Musso, but the next lap the Italian had a moment on one of the corners and lost a lot of ground, dropping back behind Lewis-Evans and Fangio. The leading Vanwall had already started to lap the tail-enders and by lap 20 the lead was 9 sec., so that once more the Vanwall was showing everyone that it was the latest Grand Prix car, and Moss was demonstrating that he had fully recovered from his illness. The second position was still very open between Behra and Hawthorn, and these two were the only ones in Italian cars who could be considered to be motor-racing, for Collins was not really keeping his end up, Fangio was only just in the picture, and Schell, Menditeguy and Trintignant were way at the back of the major Grand Prix runners. Having shaken themselves clear of the B.R.M., Salvadori and Brabham were hanging on to the tail of the Italian cars, it being obvious that Trintignant was not going to be able to stay ahead of the Coopers much longer.

At the end of the 21st lap the sun began to shine, but not in the Vanwall pit, for Moss went by with an unmistakable falter in the exhaust note of his car and Behra was now only 7½ sec. behind. The next lap Vanwall hopes sank to bottom for Moss headed for the pits, thinking that perhaps the magneto switch might be faulty. In a matter of seconds the mechanics lifted the bonnet and ripped the magneto earthing wire off, and Moss rejoined the race, but not before Behra, Hawthorn, Collins, Lewis-Evans, Brooks and Musso had gone by, in that order. The trouble to the Vanwall was, however, much more serious, and at the end of the next lap Moss stopped again, the misfire not being traceable, possibly being due to misadjustment of the mixture or some internal fault in the engine. There being no cure for it, Brooks was flagged to come in and hand his car over to Moss, for he had made it clear before the start that he did not think he could keep going for the whole 90 laps but would do his best to keep his Vanwall “nicely on the boil” in case one of his team-mates should need it. That need now arose and Moss took over on lap 26, starting off in ninth position.

This high drama amongst the leaders rather overshadowed the fact that Salvadori had got his little Cooper past Trintignant’s Lancia/Ferrari and there was nothing the Frenchman could do about it. Schell now came into the pits with a steaming radiator, and this immediately let Moss into eighth place, driving the Brooks Vanwall, while Lewis-Evans was holding a very neat and confident fourth place and beginning to close on Collins. The lead was still in the hands of Behra, who was driving in a very polished style, and he had drawn a few seconds ahead of Hawthorn, so that he was firmly in command of the race. However, Moss had other ideas, and first he went by Menditeguy without any trouble at all, and then closed on Fangio, setting up fastest laps in the process. By lap 35 Moss had got by Fangio and the Vanwall was really being thrashed round the circuit in a win-or-bust effort, the Maserati pit getting very worried about the closing gap, in spite of the fact that there were four cars between Behra and Moss. The Lancia/Ferrari of Collins now began to show signs of sickness, and Lewis-Evans closed up rapidly, while Menditeguy retired at the pits with a badly vibrating prop.-shaft, due to a crack in the tube, and Schell was now boiling merrily for his water pump had broken. Brooks had restarted in the sick Moss car and was circulating at the back of the field, but having a miserable ride for the misfire was getting consistently worse.

The leading Maserati was sounding perfect and staying nicely ahead of Hawthorn’s Lancia/Ferrari even though the Englishman was well on form and driving with his characteristic forceful manner, and Collins was having yet another bad day, for his car was losing power and Lewis-Evans took third place from him. Moss dealt with Musso as quickly as he had with Fangio, and his next objective was the ailing Collins, but it now seemed unlikely that he would be able to catch Behra, for half-distance was approaching and he was a whole minute behind.

Schell retired at the pits with his very overheated Maserati, and the Salvadori-Trintignant battle continued unabated. Brabham followed them, still ahead of the two B.R.M.s, and Gerard and Brooke were bringing up the rear, Bonnier having retired and Bueb having made so many stops with the sick Maserati that he was nowhere in the running. At 45 laps, exactly half-distance, a gap of 9 sec. separated Behra and Hawthorn, then came Lewis-Evans driving a beautifully steady race, 20 sec. behind the Lancia/Ferrari, and then 21 sec. later came Collins, with Moss about to overtake him, which he actually did two laps later, thus moving into fourth position, behind his young team-mate. At this juncture Leston blew up his engine and retired at the pits, and only three laps more saw Fairman retire with the other B.R.M., a trail of vapour from the exhaust rather indicating internal maladies in the engine. Neither car had shown any speed capabilities and they had now lost reliability as well. On lap 49 Fangio coasted into the pits with broken valve gear and on lap 53 Collins went out with a water leak, so that the field suddenly became rather sparse. Aware that Moss was still pressing hard, Behra equalled the lap record, but Moss countered this by breaking the lap record well and truly, doing it again a little later and reducing the gap between the Vanwall and the Maserati to 45 sec. Hawthorn was continuing at his same speed, so that Behra’s added speed increased his lead over the second man, and it was now an easy matter to calculate just when Moss was going to overhaul Hawthorn and take second position. With Collins out of work at the pits and Trintignant still unable to deal with Salvadori, the Frenchman was called in and Collins took over. However, three laps later Collins came back into the pits and gave the car back to Trintignant, it obviously not being to his liking.

By lap 65 the two Vanwalls were closing rapidly on Hawthorn and the Behra to Moss gap was down to 36 sec., which was reduced yet again when Moss got the lap record down to 1 min. 59.2 sec. Musso, who was in fifth position, was now lapped by Behra, and Hawthorn, Lewis-Evans and Moss were in close formation, with second position available to all three. As they started the 69th lap Behra had a 22-sec. lead and Hawthorn, Lewis-Evans and Moss went by as quickly as that, but half-way round the lap everything happened at once. Moss was about to overtake Lewis-Evans anyway, when Behra’s crankshaft or clutch/flywheel assembly, it was never quite sure which went first, flew apart and he slowed right down. Hawthorn was following and before he could take the lead he ran over some of the fragments of the burst Maserati and punctured his left rear tyre, so that Lewis-Evans went by into the lead, but at that precise moment Moss was about to pass his team-mate, so that the two Vanwalls came down the straight towards the Melling Crossing, with Moss first and Lewis-Evans second, followed by Behra coasting in to retire and Hawthorn limping along on a flat tyre. The cheers that broke out all round the circuit as the two Vanwalls ran round in close company, with the opposition thoroughly defeated, were wonderful to hear, and at a signal from Moss the two cars slowed down to lap at around 2 min. 10 sec. There was now no opposition at all, for Musso was nearly a whole lap behind and though Hawthorn had had his punctured tyre changed, he was too far away to be a serious menace.

With 20 laps to go it seemed that all the two green cars had to do was to tour in to a magnificent victory but fate thought otherwise, and on lap 73 Moss came round on his own. Lewis-Evans had stopped out on the circuit and was seen working on the engine, and a groan-went up when it was announced that a ball-joint on the throttle linkage had come adrift. This was a joint that had never given trouble in the past, and its failure was no reflection on the design layout; this really was one of those strokes of ill-luck that attack the best-prepared cars. Moss was now on his own, nearly a minute and a half ahead of Musso, who in turn was about one minute ahead a Hawthorn. Behind came Salvadori, still ahead of Trintignant, and Brabham was lying sixth, but then his clutch flew apart and he retired, leaving Gerard sixth a long way behind, and Bueb seventh in the Gilby Maserati that sometimes sounded healthy and sometimes sounded about to blow up.

After the deception of Lewis-Evans falling by the wayside just when the Vanwalls were certain of first and second places, everyone kept their fingers crossed for the last 15 laps, but Moss made no mistakes and, lapping quietly and confidently, he stayed out ahead of the very depleted field. As a precaution, and having so much time in hand, he stopped on lap 79 and took on 10 gallons of fuel; he was still 40 sec. ahead of Musso when he rejoined the race.

As Moss was on his 80th lap Lewis-Evans suddenly reappeared, driving without a bonnet on the Vanwall, and after stopping at the pits to have his temporary repair made more secure he rejoined the race, going as well as ever, but now in seventh place and with no hope of catching anyone. The third Vanwall had been withdrawn long since, for it showed signs of breaking up, and rather than run the engine to death Brooks stopped. On lap 82 Salvadori stopped for fuel but the Cooper was making an ominous ticking noise from the rear, and two laps later the gearbox casing split open. After a really spirited drive Salvadori limped round to the finishing line and waited for Moss to complete the 90 laps so that he could push the Cooper in to finish.

With a feeling of relief that could be felt all round the circuit Moss crossed the line to win the first Grande Epreuve for Vanwall, a happening that was bound to come sooner or later, and it was very fitting that the climax of all Mr. Vandervell’s efforts should be achieved in the British Grand Prix.

Once the chequered flag had fallen enthusiasm for this hard-fought victory knew no bounds, and the crowds flooded on the track to acclaim the greatest British victory of all time, one which was achieved against the strongest possible opposition in a race that had put the greatest stress on mechanical endurance an well as on driver skill. The three Lancia/Ferraris of Musso, Hawthorn and Trintignant filled the next three places and Salvadori, Gerard, Lewis-Evans and Bueb brought up the rear.

Not since the Italian Grand Prix of last year had a race been run in which mechanical misfortune, sheer bad luck and the unknown-quantity played such a big part. But through it all, having had their own fair share of the drama, Moss driving Brooks’ Vanwall had triumphed, and everyone paid tribute to Mr. Tony Vandervell for getting together the team of drivers, mechanics andl technicians that made it possible for a thoroughbred British Grand Prix car to win the British Grand Prix. — D. S. J.

Results: see table

The Sports-Car Race

As a curtain-raiser to the G.P. d’Europe there was a sports-car race over 17 laps (51 miles), for cars conforming to Appendix C of the International Sporting Code. It was divided into over- and under-1,100 c.c. classes and run in the rain in miserable conditions. Archie Scott-Brown led all the way in the invincible Lister-Jaguar, which had a 3.8-litre Jaguar engine so new that the mechanics said they weren’t certain what compression-ratio it was running on — Archie also had a diminutive screen-wiper in action, as an appropriate ornament!

The only excitement was when the leader, who drove without vizor or goggles, was inadvertently given a premature “slow” signal, enabling Salvadori in the out-classed 3-litre Aston Martin DBR1 to close up. But it still finished second to the effective car from Cambridge, while Duncan Hamilton held third place in his 3.8 D-type Jaguar, Blond in the H.W.M. with 3½-litre Jaguar engine just unable to catch him. Fairman’s Jaguar was next but the Whitcheads in their DB3S Aston Martins didn’t care for the wet track and it was Hall’s Team Lotus 1,100 Lotus which finished in sixth place and led the 1,100-c.c. class, a truly praise-worthy drive. — W. B.

Results: see table

Aintree Asides

Hawthorn rarely suffered the worst misfortune by having trouble caused through no fault of his own car. Lewis-Evans and Behra deserved sympathy for their unrewarded efforts, while it was nice that Salvadori was still in the money in spite of blowing up.

Some people think that the Targa Florio and Monza have overcrowded pits, but you should have seen the hordes of unnecessary people swarming all round the Aintree pits, especially when Behra and Hawthorn pulled in.

Poor Horace Gould, be was only trying to help Gerard put out the fire on the rear-engined Cooper-Bristol, when he got his foot run over!

Not many drivers were heard to enthuse about the joys of racing at Aintree. The circuit was described by one of them as a flat Prescott.

Oh dear, the smell from the nearby factories!

Now we must see the Vanwall victorious at Nurburgring. Pescara or Monza, preferably all three.

We did not notice the Association of Professional Drivers getting anything done about the silly little wooden posts on the insides of the corners to stop grass-cutting. Nor did we hear complaints about the travelling cine-camera chicane in practice.

A Vanwall victory in a Grand Prix has been as inevitable as the classic period of 1951, when it was only a matter of time before the 4½-litre Ferrari beat the 159 Alfa-Romeo.

The Aintree circuit seems safe, if nothing else, for no one came to grief, or are Grand Prix drivers careful, as well as skilled?

Notes on the Cars at Aintree

The Vanwall team fielded three fresh cars for the race, such is the well-prepared state of the Acton Workshops, and during practice they used the car Salvadori had driven at Reims. It returned from France untouched and did a considerable amount of practice, which says a great deal for the Vanwall engine reliability. All three cars on race day were the normal long-nosed Vanwalls that we now all know so well.

Collins, Hawthorn and Musso drove 1957 Lancia/Ferraris, with the “Syracuse” narrow type of bodywork, with exposed exhaust pipes, and Trintignant drove one of the cars fitted with the Super Squalo Ferrari front-suspension wishbones and coil-springs this being the first of these modified cars which still uses an original Lancia D50 chassis frame. The other three cars all had Ferrari-built chassis frames, with larger diameter bottom rail tubes in place of the Lancia side-by-side double-tube bottom rails. Mechanically the V8 engines were unchanged, and were still running on Solex double-choke carburetters.

Maserati did not bother to bring any 12-cylinder cars, and Fangio, Behra and Schell each drove a 1957 six-cylinder car, with the lightweight chassis frame, steering-box mounted on the chassis instead of on the engine, as last year, and with the wide cross-ribbed front brakes. Menditeguy drove the 1956 Spa model with ducted radiator and old-type heavier chassis.

The two B.R.M.s were as run at Rouen, with coil-spring suspension all round, but the rear universals were of a new type that seems to have overcome the tendency to seizure that was prevalent in the past.

Salvadori drove the works Cooper with 1.9-litre Coventry-Climax engine, and Brabham drove Rob Walker’s car with similar power unit, both cars being fitted with disc brakes. Gerard’s Cooper Special, built by himself, was a normal Formula II Cooper with the centre chassis cross-member moved forward to make room for the Bristol engine, and the rear of the frame altered to lower the Cooper-Citroen gearbox in order to line up with the Bristol crankshaft. The engine was the 69.1 mm. by 100 mm. — 2,250 c.c. — unit used by Gerard in his earlier Cooper-Bristol. It was using a six-port head and three double-choke carburetters. The six exhaust pipes protruded upwards through the engine cowling, reminiscent of the early Auto-Unions.