1960 British Grand Prix race report - A lucky win for Brabham

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A Lucky Win for Brabham

Silverstone, July 16th.

AMID the jollifications of the fiesta of motoring that the B.R.D.C. organised at Silverstone on Saturday, July 16th, there took place the British Grand Prix, the 13th in the series, and Great Britain’s contribution to the 1960 World Championship races. Presumably because most of the competitors in the G.P. were Silverstone habitues, the time for practising was not very long, and on Thursday afternoon was for a bare one hour’s duration. As it came on to rain during that hour, anyone who was late off the mark had little hope of registering any useful times.

As is becoming their custom, the works Coopers were quickly away and registering good times, it being only nine weeks since they were last on the circuit, as with most of the other competitors. Brabham and MeLaren were driving the 1960 works cars from Surbiton, and they were accompanied by Reventlow in a works-entered 1959 Cooper, as his Scarabs had returned to America for further development work. B.R.M. had Bonnier, Graham Hill and Gurney, as usual, all in rear-engined cars, that of Gurney’s being a brand new one and, in consequence, was receiving last-minute adjustments. The Lotus team comprised Ireland and Surtees with rear-engined cars with the long air intakes running from the nose of the car to the carburetters, and Clark with the latest car wit ft canted engine that Flockhart drove at Reims. Rather surprisingly, the Scuderia Ferrari entered only two cars, both front-engined Dino 246 models, with Phil Hill and von Trips as drivers. This was possibly due to the fact that. Silverstone is very much a ” local-boys” stamping ground and with so little practice time available there would not be much hope of a newcomer to the circuit learning very much. Both cars sported fancy chromium exhaust extractors on the ends of the tail-pipes which looked as though they had been bought at the local Modena “soup-up shop.” With Brooks terminating his association with Vanwall he returned to Yeoman Credit, which meant that Halford was dropped from the team, and was given a Cooper-Climax fitted with five-speed Colotti gearbox. Gendebien had a similar gearbox on his car and in addition had wire-spoke knock-off wheels on the rear. The third member of the team was Henry Taylor with a standard Cooper-Climax. The Scuderia Centro-Sud had two of their Cooper-Maseratis, for Gregory and Burgess, and Aston Martin entered two 1960 short-chassis lightened cars, for Salvadori and Trintignant. On the Thursday afternoon only one car was ready, that being the one for Salvadori, and this was interesting in that it had been fitted with an experimental independent rear suspension, utilising the same torsion-bar springing and the same gearbox/differential unit, but a short top wishbone was used in conjunction with the wide-based lower one, while an anti-roll bar was fitted. Since the car’s appearance at Zandvoort the engine had been put back on Weber carburetters. The rest of the field was made up of private owners, there being Greene with the Gilby Engineering Cooper-Maserati, Fairman with C. T. Atkins’ ex-works Cooper-Climax, Bianchi with Fred Tuck’s ex-works Cooper-Climax, and Piper with his front-engined Lotus Climax.

On this first brief outing Brabham soon established his position with a lap in 1 min. 36.4 sec., more than 2 sec. slower than the record, while Graham Hill indicated how things might go by being second fastest with 1 min. 37.4 sec. The only other driver to get below 1 min. 40 sec. was McLaren. with 1 min. 39.4 sec., and as the course record set up in May by Ireland was 1 min. 34.2 sec., anything not in the thirties could hardly be considered as Grand Prix motoring.

On Friday morning competitors in the Grand Prix were allowed 1 1/2 hours’ pract’ice, and luckily the weather stayed fine, so everyone had an equal chance of putting up some fast times. In addition to those out the day before there was a second Aston Martin for Trintignant, being a de Dion-suspensioned 1960 car, also on Weber carburetters, and Naylor had his four-cylinder Maserati engine repaired after its disastrous blow-up in the Leinster Trophy Race, so that his J.B.W.-Maserati was motoring once more. Of the 2S entries only the two Cooper-Ferraris of the Scuderia Castelotti failed to arrive for this last practice session, and efforts to get on the front of the grid were producing some very rapid motoring, the first 15 cars all being below 1 min. 40 sec. It s, interesting that this year’s development in Grand Prix cars, which has had such a startling effect on all the European circuits in the various World Championship races, was completely absent at this British Grand Prix, for though Brabham made the fastest practice lap in 1 min. 34.6 sec., it did not beat the record set up in May, so that one can assume that 1960 racing car development was settled by then. As most of the advance in lap speeds has been produced by the 1960 Dunlop racing tyre it is understandable, but using the same circuit twice in one year obviously takes away some of the excitement from the second time. On the Continental circuits which are only used Once a year, there have been startling increases in lap speeds at each race this season, but the British Grand Prix was lacking this interesting flavour. However, there was some hard driving going on and Graham Hill was still up amongst the works Coopers, while Jo Bonnier and Ireland were not far behind. Lotus could not repeat their May-time speeds, and Ireland could only do 1 min. 36.2 sec., which did not match up to Brabham’s 1 min. 34.6 sec. The two Ferraris were very much down on lap times, in spite of some really lurid cornering on full opposite lock, especially by von Trips, and though he beat his teammate he could only equal Clark’s time with the works Lotus, which was 1 min. 37.0 sec. Particularly outstanding amongst the lesser lights were the times set up by Gregory in a Cooper-Maserati and Fairman in a Cooper-Climax, both of them recording 1 min. 39.8 sec. Surtees was not too happy with his works Lotus, a persistent misfire causing him to suspect the fuel pump, but later it was found to be caused by plug leads chafing on the bulkhead, such is the casual design and building of Grand Prix cars these days. Reventlow was not being too inspiring in the works Cooper so Daigh was given a try-out. and he immediately improved the car’s times by 4 sec., so it was decided that he should drive it in the race.

After a veritable orgy of motoring sport consisting of races, demonstrations and sideshows, the serious business of Grand Prix racing was attended to and the cars were lined up in rows of four-three-four as follows, with B.R.M. feeling very confident with two cars on the front row. Although he had not practised due to late arrival, Munaron was permitted to start in the back row.

1. Brabham (Cooper-Climax) 1 min. 34.6 sec.
4. G. Hill (B.R.M.) 1 min. 35.6 sec.
2. McLaren (Cooper-Climax) 1 min. 36.0 sec.
6. Bonnier (B.R.M.) 1 min. 36.2 sec.
7. Ireland (Lotus-Climax) 1 min. 36.2 sec.
5. Gurney (B.R.M.) 1 min. 36.6 sec.
11. Von Trips (Ferrari) 1 min. 37.0 sec.
8. Clark (Lotus-Climax) 1 min. 37.0 sec.
12. Brooks (Cooper-Climax) 1 min. 37.6 sec.
10. P. Hill (Ferrari) 1 min. 37.8 sec.
9. Surtees (Lotus-Climax) 1 min. 38.6 sec.
14. Gendebien (Cooper-Climax) 1 min. 39.2 sec.
18. Salvadori (Aston Martin) 1 min. 39.4 sec.
16. Gregory (Cooper-Maserati) 1 min. 39.8 sec.
23. Fairman (Cooper-Climax) 1 min. 39.8 sec.
15. H. Taylor (Cooper-Climax) 1 min. 40.0 sec.
24. Bianchi (Cooper-Climax) 1 min. 40.2 sec.
25. Naylor (Cooper-Maserati) 1 min. 41.2 sec.
3. Daigh (Cooper-Climax) 1 min 42.4 sec.
17. Burgess (Cooper-Climax) 1 min. 42.6 sec.
19. Trintignant (Aston Martin) 1 min. 43.8 sec.
22. Greene (Cooper-Maserati) 1 min. 45.8 sec.
26. Piper (Lotus-Climax) 2 min. 05.6 sec.
21. Munaron (Cooper-Ferrari) —

The sky was dull and overcast as Stirling Moss dropped the starting flag, he being out of hospital for the first time since his Spa crash, and to everyone’s surprise after the field had rushed away, Graham Hill, Brooks and Taylor were left sitting on the line with stalled engines, all three getting away when the leaders were nearly at Becketts Corner. It was the two works Coopers that went into the lead, with Brabham in front, but Bonnier and Ireland were pressing hard, and on lap three they both got past McLaren. Racing round this short “grass track” like circuit, it a long while before anyone could really establish any sort of lead over anyone else, and on lap four they went by in the order Brabham, Bonnier, Ireland, McLaren, Surtees, Clark. P. Hill, Gurney, von Trips, Gregory. Then there was a slight gap and Salvadori led the rest of the runners, amongst which were Graham Hill and Brooks, both of whom were gaining ground rapidly after their bad starts. On lap six the usual groups began to form up, the first one comprising Brabham, Bonnier, McLaren and Surtees, though the “motorcycle king” was trying hard to get by the New Zealander, which he did on the following lap. Then came Clark, Gurney, Phil Hill and von Trips, and Gregory with Graham Hill hot on his heels, having pulled up from the end of the field to 11th place, and was about to go higher. Brooks was making progress through the field, but nothing like as quickly as the B.R.M. driver, while already Greene had been into the pits for water, due to his engine overheating. Clark was not content to be left behind by the leading group and speeded up to catch McLaren, and Bonnier found he could not hold Ireland, though the Lotus driver was making no impression on Brabham, and the two of them began to draw away from the rest.

On lap eight Bonnier had Surtees, McLaren and Clark right behind him, and the two Ferraris, which were now nose-to-tail, had Graham Hill about to pass them. In one lap Hill went by both of them and was just about to catch Gurney when the American had gear-lever trouble and dropped right back to 11th place, letting Graham Hill up into seventh place. Bonnier could not keep Surtees at bay, and on lap 11 as the Lotus went by McLaren followed through, so that Bonnier was down to fifth place, having once been second. Inspired by Surtees’ example, Clark went by the B.R.M. as well and then went by McLaren, so that on lap 13 the Lotus team were second, third and fourth, but always the inevitable Brabham was out in front. Graham Hill had left the two Ferraris way behind and was now in pursuit of Bonnier, and it was pretty obvious that muffing his start had needled him and he was out to catch everyone, driving very hard but completely unruffled, as always. Back in 10th place Gregory was doing a very spirited drive, simply throwing his Cooper Maserati through Woodcote in one glorious controlled slide on opposite lock, and keeping up with the Ferraris. Gurney had stopped to have his gear-lever attended to and Keith Greene had retired the Cooper-Maserati before the overheating caused more serious trouble. Brooks was slowly making progress, and had passed Gendebien and Salvadori and was now in 11th place, but each car he caught seemed to be taking him a long time, unlike Graham Hill, who was flashing past people. Fairman was going great guns and keeping up with Gendebien, and down at the back of the field Burgess was leading a close formation including Daigh, Bianchi, Taylor, Piper and Trintignant, and by now Brabham and Ireland had lapped the last man, who was Munaron. By lap 19 Graham Hill was up with Bonnier, and one lap later he was by and away after McLaren, while Clark had got in front of Surtees, so that the Lotus team were now in numerical order of 7, 8 and 9, the only fly in the ointment being Brabham, who was still leading and looked like going on doing so for a long time. Having disposed of Bonnier, with very little difficulty, Graham Hill attacked McLaren and within two laps had passed him, and was now after Surtees, and it began to look as though Brabham’s lead was not so secure after all. Brooks had caught Gregory, but the American’s full-lock sliding through the corners was obviously making the cautious Mr. Brooks even more cautious, as it took him a number of laps before he got past. Fairman’s run was coming to an end as a persistent misfire slowed him, and he dropped from being right behind Gendebien, to down amongst the tail-enders.

On lap 28 Graham Hill was right up with Clark and Surtees, and on the next lap the three of them went by the pits in a bunch, so that some shuffling of positions was inevitable. By now Brabham was 4 sec. ahead of Ireland, and both of them were getting worried about the progress of Graham Hill. On lap 30 the order was Surtees, Hill, Clark, and on the next lap, Hill, Surtees, Clark, and as the B.R.M., now in third position from 21st at the start, began closing on Ireland, Surtees and Clark went along with it. Meanwhile Brooks had left Gregory and was now on the tail of the two Ferraris, which were still in close company, occasionally changing places with each other but always in eighth and ninth positions. Graham Hill disposed of Ireland about as easily as he had the other two Lotus drivers, but while this was going on Brabham was lapping the middle of the field and was profiting from the traffic to increase his lead over the second man. While Brooks was trying to get past the Ferraris Brabham went by all three of them and between laps 42 and 46 there was some pretty concentrated traffic with the leaders lapping the faster runners in the middle of the field. While all this was going on Salvadori stopped at his pit to complain of indifferent handling, and the steering and suspension was kicked and pushed, but nothing was obviously wrong and he went on again, only to return later and retire, and Fairman also retired as his misfire had become desperate. By the time the leaders had sorted out the traffic and everyone had got past everyone else, Brabham had 7 sec. lead over Graham Hill, who in turn was dropping Ireland and the other two Lotuses, while Bonnier was in sixth place and McLaren was dropping back, in seventh place and in danger of being lapped by Brabham. In the general excitement of all this lapping Brooks had managed to get by the two Ferraris, and Gregory’s splendid drive had stopped when he came into the pits to have his throttles looked at as they were sticking open. With a clear run Graham Hill made surprisingly short work of Brabham’s 7-sec. lead and on lap 51 he was a mere 1 1/2 sec. behind. On lap 52 he was right behind Brabham, on lap 53 he was alongside, and on lap 54 Brabham was doing all he knew to keep the B.R.M. from passing, but on lap 55 it was the B.R.M. in the lead, and Graham Hill now led the race, having come right through the field from virtually last place at the start. Ireland now began to hear noises, at first in a front hub, then in a back hub, and he was overtaken by Surtees and Clark, so was now fifth. Right at the back of the field Piper was having a splendid private race with Trintignant, and not so far back Taylor and Daigh were engaged in some hand-to-hand fighting, with Gendebien and Bianchi trying to keep up with them, but not too successfully. On lap 58 the Lotus team broke up still further when Clark called at the pits with broken front suspension, and though a repair was effected he could only carry on at reduced speed, and then on lap 60 Bonnier crept slowly into the pits with the top mounting of one of the rear coil-springs broken, so that the rear of the car was trailing on the ground.

Although Graham Hill had caught up and passed Brabham fairly easily, it was another thing altogether to get rid of him, for the nut-brown Australian was not going to give up that easily, and he hung on to the tail of the B.R.M. all the way round, following Hill through gaps when lapping slower cars and keeping the pressure on as hard as he could, so that although the rest of the leading group were now spaced out, first and second positions were still very close. In third place was Surtees, driving an immaculate and steady race, followed by Ireland spending a lot of time looking back at his left rear hub, and then came McLaren, in fifth place and very content. There were still a surprisingly large number of cars still running, both Munaron with the Cooper-Ferrari and Naylor with his J.B.W. Maserati both still going strongly, and running non-stop, while Gurney had picked up a few places since his pit stop, though Daigh had dropped out, leaving Taylor just ahead of his team-mate Gendebien, and Bianchi had stopped out on the circuit with a sheared magneto drive. On lap 68 the leaders lapped McLaren and on lap ’70 Graham Hill had but 1 1/2 sec. lead over Brabham and they were about to lap some of the slower cars for the third or fourth time.

Always Brabham was hanging on to the B.R.M., never missing a chance when they passed a slower car, and by now the pace was telling on Hill, who had not driven so hard and so far for a long while, so that with physical fatigue from his race-long efforts, mental fatigue from watching other cars, and driving on the limit with Brabham always in his mirrors, and the excitement of knowing that the British Grand Prix was almost within his grasp, it was no surprise when he overdid things going into Copse corner while passing some slower cars, and spun off the track and out of the race. His brake adjustment bad long since been lacking and for a long time he had been giving two or three pumps on the brake pedal as he applied them, and this, together with the general strain, caused him to make a mistake of perhaps one-tenth of a second, but under the circumstances, and with Brabham hard on his heels, that slight error was too much and his race was over, luckily without any serious consequences, for the B.R.M. merely spun to a standstill, and a very unhappy Graham Hill had to walk back to the pits, while a smiling Brabham went on his way to win his fourth Grand Prix in a row. Surtees finished in second place, almost unnoticed as he had driven such a smooth and unspectacular race, but one of such precision and smoothness that it put many accepted stars to shame. Ireland was third, and these three were the only ones to complete the full 77 laps of the race.

Result, 13th British Grand Prix —Formula 1–Silverstone-77 Laps-362 Kilometres
Overcast and Dry

1st: J. Brabham (Cooper-Climax)… 2 hr. 04 min. 24.6 sec. — 174.920 k.p.h
2nd: J. Surtees (Lotus-Climax)… 2 hr. 05 min. 14.2 sec.
3rd: I. Ireland (Lotus-Climax)… 2 hr. 05 min. 54.2 sec.
4th: B. McLaren (Cooper-Climax)… 1 lap behind
5th: C.A.S. Brooks (Cooper-Climax)… 1 lap behind
6th: W. von Trips (Ferrari Dino 246)… 2 laps behind
7th: P. Hill (Ferrari Dino 246)… 2 laps behind
8th: H.C. Taylor (Cooper-Climax)… 3 laps behind
9th: O. Gendebien (Cooper-Climax)… 3 laps behind
10th: D. Gurney (B.R.M.)… 3 laps behind
11th: M. Trintignant (Aston Martin)… 5 laps behind
12th: D. Piper (Lotus-Climax)… 5 laps behind
13th: J.B. Taylor (J.B.W. Maserati)… 5 laps behind
14th: M. Gregory (Cooper-Maserati)… 6 laps behind
15th: G. Munaron (Cooper-Ferrari)… 7 laps behind
16th: J. Clark (Lotus-Climax)… 7 laps behind

Fastest lap : G. Hill (B.R.M.) on lap 56, in 1 min. 34.4 sec.-179.64 k.p.h.

Retired : K. Greene (Cooper-Maserati), overheating. lap 13; R. Salvadori (Aston Martin), loss of power, lap 45; J. Fairman (Cooper-Climax), misfiring, lap 45; I. Burgess (Cooper-Maserati), broken spring valve, lap 57; C. Daigh (Cooper-Climax), overheating, lap 57; J. Bonnier (B.R.M.), rear suspension, lap 60; L. Bianchi (Cooper-Climax), magneto drive, lap 61; G. Hill (B.R.M.), spun off lap 71.

24 starters — 16 finishers

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