1961 British Grand Prix race report - Another Ferrari triumph

Another Ferrari Triumph

Aintree, Liverpool, July 15th.

After the fast straights of the Reims circuit the Grand Prix scene moved to the slow corners of the Aintree circuit, and all the regular contestants, plus many more, entered for the British Grand Prix. The Scuderia Ferrari entered their usual team of Phil Hill, von Trips and Ginther, with the rear-engined 120-degree V6-engined cars, and at the last minute F.I.S.A. entered Giancarlo Baghetti, and Ferrari lent them the rear-engined V60-degree engined car, and looked after both it and the driver. In view of the likelihood of rain at Aintree the cars were fitted with the sealed Perspex covers over the carburetter intakes, in place of the wire-mesh ones normally used. Porsche had the same three cars they had used at Reims, which were the old trailing link suspension ones with 4-cylinder engines on Weber carburetters, the new flat-8 still not being raceworthy, though undergoing much test-bed work. These were entered for Bonnier, Gurney and de Beaufort, the last-named being a private entry though looked after by the factory mechanics. There was little or no change among the British entries, everyone waiting seemingly in vain for the Coventry-Climax V8 engine and in the meantime doing the best they could with the Mark II 4-cylinder. Brabham and McLaren had the usual works Cooper cars, Ireland and Clark the two new Lotus cars, with 5-speed ZF gearboxes, Graham Hill and Brooks with B.R.M.s, all with Climax engines. Moss was driving the Rob Walker Lotus-Climax as used at Reims, and Surtees and Salvadori had the Yeoman Credit Team Coopers, the former having the Yeoman Credit special Cooper as a training car, now modified still further to take a Mark II Climax engine. U.D.T.-Laystall entered their two rebodied Lotus cars for Henry Taylor and Bianchi and had one of the older-type Lotus cars as a training car, this being fitted with the Laystall 5-speed gearbox, now modified internally and being given a thorough testing on the practice car. Camoradi entered Masten Gregory in their Cooper and Burgess in their Lotus, and H. & L. Motors of Stroud entered Jack Lewis in his 1961 Cooper-Climax. Private entries with old-type Lotus-Climax cars came from R. H. H. Parnell, Ashmore, Seidel and Mrs. Bryden-Brown, this last being the car Gurney has driven on occasions, only this time it was on loan to the Formula Junior driver Maggs. Marsh had his much-modified Lotus-Climax and Keith Greene was entered in the Gilby-Climax, a smart-looking car built on orthodox Lotus-cum-Cooper-cum-Lola lines by Gilby Engineering. The Scuderia Centro-Sud entered Bandini with their 1961 Cooper-Maserati and Natili with the early model of similar layout.

All these had been seen before in Formula One racing at some time or other, but a complete newcomer to racing and Formula One in particular was the Ferguson-Climax. This interesting machine was built and looked after by Ferguson Research Ltd., and entered by the R. R. C. Walker Racing Team, being painted in dark blue with a white band round the nose. The week before the British Grand Prix this car had made its debut at Silverstone in the Inter-Continental race, using a 2½-litre Climax engine, but it now had a 1½-litre Climax engine, and once again Fairman was the nominated driver though Moss had a keen interest in the car, it being entered as part of the Walker Equipe. This interesting newcomer to Grand Prix racing treads new ground in having 4-wheel drive from a front-mounted engine. The engine is canted to the right so that the crankshaft line lies to the left of the centre-line of the car, and it drives through a normal clutch to a 5-speed gearbox built by Ferguson Research in conjunction with Colotti. From the back of the gearbox transfer gears step the drive sideways towards the middle of the car and then propeller shafts take the drive fore and aft to small crownwheel and pinion units. At the point where the prop.-shafts take their drive from the transfer gearing there is a system of free-wheels and limited-slip differentials that ensure that the front prop.-shaft cannot rotate faster than the rear one and vice versa, thus preventing the possibility of wheelspin. Either all four wheels must spin, or none at all, and with the small amount of power produced by a Climax engine being distributed between the four tyres the result is that wheelspin, even due to “lifting” on corners, is ruled out. The two prop.-shafts are offset to the centre-line of the car and the rear one runs alongside the driver’s seat. Bevel gears turn the front and rear drives through 90 degrees onto two short shafts mounted in alloy housings the width of the chassis frame. At each end of these housings, both front and rear, are mounted Dunlop disc brakes and then short solid drive shafts with a type of “pot” universal take the drive to the wheels. These shafts are the same length as the bottom wishbones of the double-wishbone and coil-spring suspension units, and these bottom wishbones actually lie in the same horizontal plane as the shafts, the outer ends of the shafts passing through the apex of the wishbone. Tall hub-carrier posts are joined to top wishbones, with short stubby coil-spring/damper units supplying the suspension medium. All this mechanism is carried in a logical space-frame of small-diameter tubing and a very pretty body covers the whole thing, the shapely rounded tail being very Connaught-like, which is not surprising as Tony Rolt directs operations at Ferguson Research. The car uses 16-in. Dunlop alloy disc wheels, and, of course, Dunlop tyres, and is a delightfully well-balanced looking car, yet surprisingly small, but the outstanding feature is that the weight has been kept down so well that it is competitive with Cooper, Ferrari and B.R.M. on all-up Grand Prix rule weight, though not as light as Lotus, the Chapman wonders being in a class of their own. This car is full of interesting features and new thoughts on racing-car design, and among these is the use of the Dunlop Maxaret system of braking (described in detail in Motor Sport for January 1959). This briefly consists of hydraulic pressure for the brakes being of the “full-power” system, i.e., constant pressure provided by an engine-driven pump, from which the driver taps such pressure as he needs by a valve coupled to the brake pedal. In this system can be fitted the Dunlop Maxaret unit, which prevents a brake locking on no matter how hard the driver presses on the pedal. In the cockpit of the Ferguson is a simple control wheel for switching the Maxaret units on or off, their big advantage being on wet roads where normal braking systems, especially the powerful disc brakes, can so easily lock a wheel.

The Ferguson Research team are not setting out as a Grand Prix contestant but intend to use motor racing to further the cause of 4-wheel drive for road vehicles, along with many other design features, and the Ferguson racing car is intended as a test vehicle. While “on test” it might well win a Grand Prix race, in which case Tony Rolt and his men will no doubt be highly delighted.

The B.A.R.C., who run the British Grand Prix for the R.A.C., hire the Aintree Stadium from Mrs. Topham for the occasion, and the smell of horses is overcome for a time by the smell of racing cars. Unlike Silverstone, which is invariably a fiesta of speed and fun from early morning to early evening, the B.A.R.C. put on a dignified programme more in keeping with the British Grand Prix in which the Formula One cars were the major portion of the meeting. As a “warmer-upper” there was a short Grand Touring race, in which many of the contestants looked more like 2-seater sports cars than G.T. cars and practice was very sensibly divided up into three separate hourly sessions on Thursday afternoon and Friday afternoon. From 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. the Grand Prix cars had practice, then there was a pause while things were tidied up, and the G.T. cars practised from 2.30 p.m. to 3.30 p.m. Another short interval for breath and the Grand Prix cars were out again from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. This arrangement meant that the Grand Prix teams had ample time between practice periods to effect adjustments or change axle ratios, even change engines if need be.

Many people had thought that the twists and turns of the flat Aintree circuit would allow the under-powered British cars to challenge the Ferraris and to regain some confidence after the beatings they had taken at Spa and Reims, where sheer horsepower counted above all else, but it did not take long during the first hour of practice to see that horsepower counts on any circuit; also, that the road-holding of the Ferraris is more than adequate to deal with a Cooper, B.R.M. or Lotus, and the Scuderia Ferrari’s handicap in that none of their drivers had ever been to Aintree before was no handicap at all. Porsche were well placed, having raced at Aintree before, so they knew how well their cars should go, and Bonnier was the only one to trouble the Ferraris, equalling the fastest time set up by Ginther and Phil Hill, all three of them doing 2 min. 00.8 sec., which was a good start bearing in mind that the lap record for Aintree by a 1½-litre car stood at a 2 min. exactly. Surtees was trying out his two Yeoman Credit Coopers, Parnell making adjustments and leaving the decision on which one to use for the race until practice was over. Ireland with the new works Lotus was well on form, in spite of an injured right hand where his aeroplane had savaged him. In fact, most of the entry were out for this first session and the accompanying table shows how they faired on their best laps, some achieving this very quickly, others having to flog round for lap after lap. There was a strong wind blowing all the time, but the track was dry and the sunshine cheered things up no end, and the second Grand Prix session saw conditions unchanged, though the wind dropped a little before the end. Having had an hour to survey the circuit and adjust the cars this second session saw some very hard motoring taking place, and lap times were reduced considerably, the only trouble being that as fast as one of the private owners, such as Jack Lewis, put in a good lap in 2 min. 01.0 sec., the works Climax-engined cars improved to 2 min. dead, or under in the case of better ones, and as fast as they got under 2 min. the Ferrari team, with the exception of Baghetti, got well under 2 min. and, surprisingly, Bonnier went along with them in his Porsche.

Fairman had got down to a steady 2 min. 03.4 sec. with the Ferguson, and then Moss had a go with it and did a resounding 2 min. 00.6 sec. after a very few laps. Had he done as much practice with the 4-wheel-drive car as he had with his Lotus there is no question that he would have got below 2 min., which by any standards proves that the Ferguson has great potential. Occasionally he got it into odd twitchy movements, but at all times it seemed most controllable. The technique with 4-wheel drive is such that the car must be placed exactly right for a corner and then kept on its intended line by use of the steering and throttle, which means that it should be driven through the corner on power and not on the over-run. As power-cornering is normal Grand Prix practice this is not unorthodox, but whereas with a normal rear-drive over-steering car a driver can enter a corner a bit too fast and scrabble round with the rear wheels out of line, this cannot be done with the neutral-steering 4-wheel-drive Ferguson, and it was this habit of “giving it a flick going into the corner” that was causing Moss to get the car into twitchy movements. However, his incredible adaptability to any sort of car enabled him to take the Ferguson round sufficiently fast to show that it has no disadvantages over the accepted orthodox Grand Prix car as regards power-losses, weight or handling, and that after some practice with the more refined technique required for cornering it might well prove successful. It would seem that tip-toe, light-finger driving is required rather like a Grand Prix motorcycle, but I would not be so rash as to suggest who should drive the Ferguson to get the best out of it!

The Ferrari team were all surprisingly happy, and well they might be, for they had all recorded 1 min. 58.8 sec., this time being equalled by Bonnier, which was a remarkable effort with what is in effect last year’s Porsche. In the B.R.M. team Brooks was beginning to show that brilliance of form that many had thought he had lost forever, and he equalled Moss (Lotus) with 1 min. 59.0 sec., and a great many people were very pleased to see this. From the timekeepers’ sheets it would seem that their watches only read to the nearest fifth of a second, which would account for so many drivers having identical times, Ireland and Clark both recording 1 min. 59.2 sec., Brabham with 1 min. 59.4 sec. and Surtees with 1 min. 59.6 sec., these being the only drivers to get below the 2-minute mark which was obviously “bogey” time for the circuit. One would have thought that the British Grand Prix justified timing apparatus that would read at least to a tenth of a second and preferably to a one-hundredth, as is done in Portugal.

On Friday the North of England really let its hair down and rain and wind lashed the Stadium, while clouds were so low they mingled with the smoke from the factories, and after the blazing heat of Reims it is remarkable that the Grand Prix “circus” did not lay down and die on the spot. However, just before this happened practice had begun and while the track was still dry Moss had done some laps in the Ferguson again, getting round in 2 min. 01.6 sec., and this in spite of the car being over-geared so that he was coming out of some corners as low as 4,800 r.p.m on an engine that should have been well over 7,000 r.p.m. There was barely five minutes of practice before the heavens opened and from then on all hopes of fast times were gone, so that the Thursday times were obviously going to decide the starting grid. The Belgian driver Bianchi was out in the spare U.D.T. car, which yesterday Masten Gregory had tried for a time, and Fairman was back in the Ferguson. Ireland was not too happy and Baghetti got into a spin coming out of the fast ess of Melling Crossing and finished up on Mrs. Topham’s best horse-racing turf. To make matters worse he then drove round Tatts Corner on a horseracing line, on the grass and hugging the rails, leaving two deep furrows, and returned to the pits to rejoin the course and start all over again. It was not surprising when practice finished to hear the Tannoy calling for Sig. Baghetti and Sig. Tavoni to visit the office of the Clerk of the Course!

Pools of water were lying on the track in the most dangerous and unnecessary fashion, the drains, if there were any, presumably being stopped up. Along the pits straight the pools of water were so deep that cars were “riding the waves” and getting wheelspin, Brabham suffering from this so badly that it sounded as though his clutch was slipping. In spite of these terrible conditions nearly everyone was out practising and it soon became very obvious that the Ferguson was remarkably stable on the wet roads, its braking, even without the use of the Maxarets, being very superior to rear-wheel-driven cars. Fairman was passing all sorts of unlikely cars and drivers, so he was called in and Moss went out in the car, promptly sorting-out Bonnier’s Porsche by outbraking it into Tatts Corner, and going round in 2 min. 11 sec., which was faster than he could do in his Lotus in the wet. This greatly encouraged the Ferguson team and they went away when practice finished to change the gear ratios ready for the race, and gave the last practice session a miss. As the rain continued on and off and the track never dried out properly they did not miss much, but most of the other runners were out. There was no hope of improving on Thursday’s times, but such is the reputation of Aintree that everyone was preparing for a wet race and took the opportunity of getting in plenty of practice on the wet track, trying out the new Dunlop D12 rain tyres. B.R.M. experimented briefly with the German Dunlop SP tyres on Graham Hill’s car, he running with his rear anti-roll bar disconnected. In spite of the weather conditions the Ferraris still remained fastest as conditions equalled for everyone during this last hour, so that by the end of practice the status quo of Ferrari being unchallenged looked as though it was going to remain that way, apart from the possibilities of Bonnier with the Porsche on a dry track. The times for all the drivers for the four practice periods follow, and the grid positions were arranged accordingly.

The start was due at 2.30 p.m. on Saturday, after a parade of the rather cold and unhappy-looking drivers in B.M.C. Midget sports 2-seater Sprites, but by 2 p.m. the weather was looking very unsettled and spots of rain were falling. The big problem was whether to start on Dunlop rain tyres or not, for unless the track is streaming with water the wear rate on these high-hysteresis tyres is impossible. Those cars with knock-off hubcaps, such as Ferrari, B.R.M. and Ferguson could leave the decision to nearly 2.15 p.m., even while on the starting grid, but those with bolt-on wheels, and especially Lotus and Cooper, where the wheel bearings have to be dismantled when changing a wheel needed much more time. The provision of these rain tyres by Dunlop is a good thing, but confusing, for as everyone uses Dunlop tyres, there being no other manufacture interested in Grand Prix racing, everyone has the same advantage, so that the result is that the whole race can be speeded up in wet weather, together with a much bigger safety factor for everyone, which makes things a lot easier. By 2.15 p.m. the rain came down heavily, but by this time most people had plumped for “rain tyres” and the changes had been made, so that those who had made the decisions breathed a very wet sigh of relief. The Ferraris had had their air scoops in the body sides closed up, to stop water being taken in on to the plugs, and Surtees was ready to use the lighter and sleeker of his two Yeoman Credit Coopers. The impressive entry of 30 cars was lined up as follows and with one minute to go all the engines were running and the track was clear of officials and mechanics.

As the flag went up the back rows crept gently forward so that the 30 cars were in a solid bunch and as it came down there was a roar as 30 clutches bit and the field got away to one of the most perfect starts seen for a long time. The track was streaming in water and rain was still falling, so that a few seconds after the start the whole entry disappeared from sight in a solid box of spray from the wheels. As they went towards Waterway Corner it was impossible to see a single car, let alone who was leading, and everyone round the circuit must have agreed that every single driver more than-earned his starting-money on that opening lap.

By the time they appeared down Railway Straight, heading for Melling Crossing they had strung out in line-ahead, but the spray from the wheels was fantastic. Already the three works Ferraris were in charge, in the order Hill, von Trips, Ginther, followed by Moss, Bonnier, Clark, Brooks, Graham Hill, Brabham, Ireland, Salvadori, Gurney and the rest, all but Natili, whose Cooper-Maserati had broken already. Apart from the two B.R.M.s changing places the order was the same for lap two, though the leaders were beginning to spread out. Surtees went by with his tail-pipe dangling, clearly having been struck by somebody, and Ireland arrived well down among the tail-enders having spun off the track. In so doing he had not only frightened himself, but hurt his bad hand while trying to correct, so that he lost all interest in the race and stayed right at the back. On lap three a sizeable gap appeared after Bonnier, but it was obvious that he was not going to stay with the leaders for long, and sure enough they had dropped him by the end of lap four. With Moss it was a different story, for apart from not being left by the Ferrari team, he was actually gaining on them, even though Hill was out in front on his own. On lap five Hill was still comfortably ahead, but Ginther was right up behind von Trips and Moss was clearly not going to let them out of his sight. These four had drawn well away from Bonnier, who was not going too well in the wet, and he was followed by Graham Hill and Brabham, the World Champion making up ground after a slow opening lap. Then came Clark and Surtees in close company, followed by Henry Taylor, Salvadori, Brooks, Baghetti and Gurney. Then McLaren with Fairman in the Ferguson close behind. Ashmore had already gone into the pits to change a wheel, having got a puncture, and the rest of the field were splashing along in the wake of the fast boys.

As the leaders came down to Tatts Corner at the end of lap six a cheer went up for Moss was in third place, Ginther having had a “moment” out in the country, which had allowed Moss to slip by, and it was very obvious that “Rain-master-Moss” was out to get the rest of the Ferrari team if it was humanly possible, though inhuman would have described the conditions more accurately. Surtees had got by Clark, and then Henry Taylor appeared sideways out of Melling Crossing, spun and crashed heavily into the hoardings on the outside of the track, being injured by a wooden stake that went through the side of the car. McLaren and Fairman had closed up on Gurney and at the back of the field Ireland was getting involved with Gregory and Bandini. On the next lap Hill began to lap the tail-enders and in so doing he was baulked slightly which allowed von Trips and Moss not only to close up, but to get right with him and as they braked for Tatts they leaped the Gilby-Climax and in the ensuing melee von Trips took the lead, so that the order at the end of lap seven was von Trips, Hill, Moss, with Ginther still some way back. Apart from these four no one else was getting a look in, but there were still plenty of struggles going on for places. Graham Hill got past Bonnier, and Surtees lost two places by spinning coming out of Tatts Corner. Ashmore was still in and out of the pits and Parnell had joined him, while on lap eight Lewis also disappeared into the pits. On lap eight the two Ferraris and the blue Lotus were more or less nose to tail, and on lap nine Moss was really pressing Phil Hill. Bonnier dropped back another place as Brabham came up to challenge Graham Hill, and Surtees stopped to have his broken exhaust system removed. On lap 10 another great cheer went up as Moss got past Phil Hill and took second place, but down in mid-field Baghetti responded by passing Brooks, so the order was now von Trips, Moss, Phil Hill, Ginther, then a long gap and Graham Hill hotly pursued by Brabham, with Bonnier dropping back still further and being challenged by Salvadori. On his own came Clark, and then Baghetti, Brooks, Gurney, Marsh, who had nipped ahead of McLaren and Fairman, then a very long gap and Maggs, Surtees and Bandini, the rest having been lapped, while Ashmore and Lewis had joined the ranks of the retired. For the next three laps there was no change in the order, but Moss got closer and closer to von Trips and on lap 14 he was right with him and trying to pass, much to the delight of the very wet crowd who urged him on. On lap 15 Moss was still trying to pass von Trips, and the two of them were now 10 seconds ahead of Phil Hill, who was in turn an equal amount ahead of Ginther. For two laps Brooks had gone by with his engine misfiring, having gone through one of the Aintree lakes in company with some slower cars and their wash had drowned his plugs. On lap 15 he stopped for more plugs, and Marsh had already done likewise, the Lotus rejoining the race a lap in arrears and the B.R.M. two laps behind. Fairman was having trouble with his ignition cutting out on the Ferguson and after stopping out on the circuit in the pouring rain he got it going again and came into the pits. In spite of his insistence that it was an electrical short somewhere his pit staff changed the plugs and sent him out again. He was back again after a few laps and this time it was discovered that an electrical wire was shorting on the chassis, possibly caused when the car had run over parts of Taylor’s Lotus for Fairman had arrived on the scene just after the crash.

Meanwhile, Moss had decided he was not going to get past von Trips so settled for “worrying tactics,” following the Ferrari closely, seldom more than a second behind, and as fast as von Trips nipped through gaps when lapping slower cars, Moss followed him through. From lap 16 until lap 24 he was always in the Ferrari’s mirrors, and the rain came steadily down, so that it said much for the German driver that he did not make a mistake and spin or slide on the very wet track or in any of the large puddles that lay about. They were now 12 seconds ahead of Hill and Ginther was still about the same amount behind, in fourth place, while it was 45 seconds before Brabham appeared on the scene, having disposed of Graham Hill who was now in sixth place. Salvadori was driving a splendid race, seeming to be very happy in the wet and he had dealt very convincingly with Clark and Bonnier, while Gurney had regained speed and pushed Baghetti back a place. The young Italian was driving a very steady race, looking confident, but on lap 22 was overtaken by Surtees who was making up time after his pit-stop to have his exhaust system sorted out. However, two laps later and Surtees disappeared out on the circuit, his crownwheel and pinion breaking, so Baghetti was back in eleventh place again. On this lap, the 24th, von Trips appeared from behind the trees at Melling Crossing as usual, followed by the Lotus of Moss, but just as it came into view the tail of the blue car slid out to the left on the sheet of water. In an instant Moss had correction on the steering and slid sideways down the road at around 100 m.p.h. with full left-lock on. For a moment it looked as though he would spin, but then the tail of the car flicked straight and across the road in the other direction. Still complete master of the situation Moss had full right lock on in an instant, and continued to slide down the road sideways, only this time with his tail hung towards the inside of the track, but then, equally quickly the tail flicked back again and this time went right round beyond full left lock, and in a wonderful exhibition of proprioception Moss unwound the steering, let the car complete a clockwise 360-degree spin, caught it at the end of the spin, by which time the speed had been dissipated down to about 40 m.p.h., selected a lower gear and took Tatts Corner as if nothing had happened. The crowded grandstands really showed their appreciation of seeing a Master Driver at work, and the Walker pit thought “Hmm, he’s a few seconds overdue,” having seen none of this feat of brilliance.

On lap 28 von Trips, with 10 seconds lead over Moss as a result of the spin, lapped Baghetti and going into Waterway Corner in a cloud of spray, in company with von Trips and some cars they were both lapping, the Italian “lost it” and went backwards through the rails, bending the Ferrari but climbing out unhurt. The terribly wet conditions were causing havoc, for Bianchi spun at the Melling puddle, as had Moss, but he went wildly off onto the grass, and then spinning again as he tried to restart on the soaking turf. Phil Hill had a really big “moment” approaching Melling Crossing, going sideways towards the gateway so uncontrollably that he really frightened himself and slowed up considerably after that, so that Ginther began to close on him, and on lap 35 went by into third place. In fifth place Brabham was going steadily and was now only 11 seconds behind Phil Hill, and Graham Hill was being caught by Jimmy Clark. By 30 laps the rain actually stopped, and during the next quarter of an hour patches of the track dried visibly and conditions improved. This was good for Clark, who soon caught Graham Hill, and for Brooks who now began to go as fast as the leaders, but unfortunately still two laps behind due to his long pit stop, while McLaren closed on Gurney. The only man who was not happy about the rain stopping was Brabham who, when he started pressing on as the track dried, found his water temperature getting rather high, so he had driven on his temperature gauge rather than his rev-counter. Ginther got away from Phil Hill and began to close on Moss and on lap 40 went by the blue Lotus into second place. The fact that Moss could not stay with the Ferrari, and during the next four laps was caught by Phil Hill, rather indicated that something had gone wrong with the Walker team’s car. Sure enough, on lap 45 Moss drew into his pit, having no more brakes; the balance pipe across the caliper on the left-rear brake had fractured and he was rapidly losing pressure and fluid. This was quite remarkable for the same thing had happened to the rear brake on the other side at Reims, only two weeks previously. He had gallantly struggled on with less and less braking until he just had to give up, and the only man to put up any sort of challenge to the red cars was out of the race. By now the sun was shining and the track was drying quite fast.

On lap 35 von Trips had lapped McLaren, who was dicing with Gurney, and as the Ferrari lapped the Porsche McLaren took the opportunity to slip by as well and get ahead of Gurney. A bit ahead of them Graham Hill was losing ground, his B.R.M. going steadily off colour and on lap 39 it went by making odd noises. He carried on until lap 43 when it got so bad that he just had to stop at the pits for consultations, and after one more lap he retired with what seemed to be broken valve springs. After the retirement of Moss the Ferrari team were in complete command, the three V6 engines sounding beautifully healthy, and making a lovely noise. Ginther slowed down and let Phil Hill move up into his rightful place of second, and the three of them settled down to tour round and complete the 75 laps which constituted the total length of the race. This put von Trips 20 seconds in the lead and the Ferrari pit were now content to give them signals merely showing how many more laps to go. Brabham was still in fourth place, but nearly a whole minute behind, and the only others on the same lap as the leader were Clark, Salvadori, and Bonnier. McLaren and Gurney were a lap behind, Brooks, Ireland, Bandini and Gregory were two laps behind, and another lap down came Burgess, Maggs, Greene and de Beaufort, the first two close enough to contest 14th position. Many laps behind came Fairman in the Ferguson, and even further back was Seidel, who had spent a lot of time in and out of the pits. The Ferguson was in technical trouble, for after one pit stop the mechanics had unthinkingly push-started the car, which is of course against the rules nowadays, and the Stewards had no option but to disqualify Fairman. It had been tactfully pointed out that the car would no longer figure in the results, which more or less said that it could go on running if the team wished. As the Ferguson team were running in their first Grand Prix, and obviously the more running they could do the better, the car continued to circulate steadily with Jack Fairman driving. With Moss out of the race and kicking his heels in the pits the Ferguson/Walker team had the bright idea of putting him in the car for the remaining 25 laps, for while Fairman would give the car a good steady endurance run, Moss was likely to go fast enough to find out something worthwhile, and give them some data to compare with other racing cars. Fairman was called in and Moss took over the car, soon lapping at just over 2 minutes, which was very impressive bearing in mind the track was not really dry all over. He was too many laps in arrears to have any hope of catching anyone, but it seemed worthwhile having a go with this interesting and experimental car.

It was not long before Tavoni produced a sign for his drivers which said “Look out, Moss is in car 26,” in case they thought it was still Fairman and underestimated its speed if they happened to meet it going into a corner. There was quite a bit of unrest in the pits over the fact that Moss was out in the Ferguson and before long it was pointed out to the organisers that as the car had been disqualified it should not be allowed to continue. This, of course, was perfectly true and under such pressure there was no option other than calling the car in and withdrawing. It was all very obvious that had Fairman stayed in the car there would have been no protesting. It was also rather obvious that there are certain teams who do not want the Ferguson to succeed, for should it prove to be a serious Grand Prix challenger it goes without saying that the Walker team will sponsor it and S. Moss will be the driver, and he is causing enough trouble to his rivals already, using an obsolete Lotus. Anyway, that is big business, or should I say motor racing, and the Ferguson was wheeled away, completely healthy and showing great promise.

To return to the race, Bianchi had retired with gearbox trouble and the Ferrari team continued on their triumphal way, von Trips well out in front and Hill and Ginther in close company, obeying orders like good boys. Clark began to close up on Brabham, but never got within striking distance, for a really messy oil leak put him out of the race on lap 63, so near the end, and comfortably in fifth place. With the track all nicely dried out Bonnier began to go motor racing again and caught and passed Salvadori, the Yeoman Credit driver being unable to hold him off in the dry, and similarly Gurney woke up and set about catching McLaren, which he did on lap 63. Still two laps behind Brooks was going incredibly fast, and during the closing stages of the race he put in some remarkably quick laps, finally setting a new 1½-litre lap record in 1 min. 57.8 sec., which compares very favourably with the absolute lap record which stands at 1 min. 57.0 sec.

So the race ran to a close, the weather clearing up well, but too late, and the three red Ferraris, with their shark-like noses almost scraping the ground, toured round to clean up the British Grand Prix, and make the fourth Ferrari victory in a row. It had been a race full of incident and brought to mind the 1955 British Grand Prix at Aintree, when Mercedes-Benz swept the board, but at the back of the field there was a ray of hope for Britain when the Vanwall went very fast for a short time. Two years later, in 1957, the Vanwall won the British Grand Prix, again at Aintree, and the following year Vanwall won the World Championship for Manufacturers, starting Britain’s supremacy in Grand Prix racing which Cooper carried on during 1959 and 1960. Dare one suggest that the ray of hope this year was the Ferguson? – D.S.J. 


14th British Grand Prix – Formula One – 75 Laps – 362 Kilometres – Wet and dry

1st: W. von Trips (Ferrari V6-120) – 2 hr. 40 min. 53.6 sec. – 135.040 k.p.h.

2nd: P. Hill (Ferrari V6-120) – 2 hr. 41 min. 39.6 sec.

3rd: R. Ginther (Ferrari V6-120) – 2 hr. 41 min. 40.4 sec.

4th: J. Brabham (Cooper-Climax 4-cyl.) – 2 hr. 42 min. 02.2 sec.

5th: J. Bonnier (Porsche 4-cyl.) – 2 hr. 42 min. 09.8 sec.

6th: R. Salvadori (Cooper-Climax 4-cyl.) – 2 hr. 42 min. 19.8 sec.

7th: D. Gurney (Porsche 4-cyl.) – 1 lap behind

8th: B. McLaren (Cooper-Climax 4-cyl.) – 1 lap behind

9th: C.A.S. Brooks (B.R.M.-Climax 4-cyl.) – 2 laps behind

10th: I. Ireland (Lotus-Climax 4-cyl.) – 3 laps behind

11th: M. Gregory (Cooper-Climax 4-cyl.) – 4 laps behind

12th: L. Bandini (Cooper-Maserati 4-cyl.) – 4 laps behind

13th: A. Maggs (Lotus-Climax 4-cyl.) – 6 laps behind

14th: I. Burgess (Lotus-Climax 4-cyl.) – 6 laps behind

15th: K. Greene (Gilby-Climax 4-cyl.) – 6 laps behind

16th: G. de Beaufort (Porsche 4-cyl.) – 6 laps behind

17th: W. Seidel (Lotus-Climax 4-cyl.) – 17 laps behind

Retired: M. Natili (Cooper-Maserati), lap 1; H.C. Taylor (Lotus-Climax), lap 6; G. Ashmore (Lotus-Climax), lap 8; J. Lewis (Cooper-Climax), lap 8; R.H.H. Parnell (Lotus-Climax), lap 13; J. Surtees (Cooper-Climax), lap 24; A.E. Marsh (Lotus-Climax), lap 26; G. Baghetti (Ferrari), lap 29; G. Hill (B.R.M.-Climax), lap 44; S. Moss (Lotus-Climax), lap 45; L. Bianchi (Lotus-Climax), lap 46; J.E.G. Fairman/S. Moss (Ferguson), lap 57; J. Clark (Lotus-Climax), lap 63.

30 starters – 17 finishers  

Fastest lap: C. A. S. Brook (B.R.M.-Climax), in 1 min. 57.8 sec. – 147.540 k.p.h.


Aintree asides

Yes, we will suggest Surtees for the Ferguson.

Full marks to the B.A.R.C. for putting on a proper and dignified meeting most suited to the British Grand Prix.

Full marks also to the timekeepers and lap scorers who produced really detailed results sheets, unlike some Grand Prix races we won’t name.

We didn’t notice the superior road-holding of the British cars over the Italian ones. that we’ve heard so much talk about; nor did we notice the abundance of corners and lack of highspeed straights making much difference to the outcome of Ferrari v. Coventry Climax.

Good old Salvadori, the only Englishman in the first six. He was headed by German, Americans, Australian and Swede, a truly International result.

The press service was good, but we feel the press stand dates back to Victorian times. However it commanded a good view.


The G.T. race

The B.A.R.C. quite rightly had but one race as an appetiser for the Grand Prix, this being a 17-lap, 51-mile G.T. event. Both Ferrari 250 G.T.s were non-starters, due to crashes, Whitehead’s having been pranged by the mechanic on the way to the circuit, so Sears, who was to have driven it, took over Coombes’ Jaguar E-type. E-types, all open 2-seaters, hoods up, were driven by Parkes and Dennis Taylor. Parkes broke his gear-lever on the first lap and retired, but Sears, sliding the corners in fine style, kept his E-type in the lead until the very last lap, when Davison, who had been handling the Essex Racing Stable’s Aston Martin Zagato splendidly; having closed up steadily on the now-smoking Jaguar, went into the lead, to win by 1.2 sec., under the very nose of Sir William Lyons, watching from the apron in front of the stands.

Whitmore brought the other Essex Aston Martin Zagato home third and a considerable distance behind came Taylor, on his first race in an E-type. The 1,301-2,500-c.c. class was won by Hahnl’s Porsche Carrera Abarth, a lap down on the big cars, but ahead of Lawrence’s Morgan and Stoop’s recently re-bodied (and so very smart) Porsche Carrera. Leston’s Elite went very fast, as usual, to win the 1,001-1,300-c.c. class, finishing the full distance, fifth in the race as a whole; whereas Allen’s Elite was a lap down, but ahead of Fergusson’s Turner.

Uren’s noisy G.S.M. Delta has been showing great promise and it won the up-to-1,100-c.c. class from a trio of Sprites. – W. B.

1st: L. Davison (Aston Martin Zagato) – 81.86 m.p.h.

2nd: J. Sears (Jaguar E-type)

3rd: J. Whitmore (Aston Martin Zagato)