by KEN WHARTON, Britain’s Best All-Round Racing Driver
THE 1953 season of Grand Prix racing has ended. What has this season taught us ? One immediately thinks of “Ferrari.” It is true that these fine cars have been virtually invincible, but towards the end, the Maseratis had narrowed the gap considerably, and with the exception of the disadvantage caused by inferior rear suspension. the Maseratis were more than a match for the Ferraris.
The British cars have, in many ways, acquitted themselves quite favourably, but for the lack of sheer horse-power to propel them along the straights. At Berne, in the Swiss Grand Prix, I was pleased to find that my Cooper-Bristol was as fast on the swerves as most, only to be left miserably by the Maseratis and Ferraris on the straights. I have not had an opportunity of driving a Connaught this year, but it would appear, after studying them at close quarters, that their suspension is extremely good, but again they lack horse-power. At Monza, during the Italian Grand Prix, it was noticeable that the nitro-methane Alta-Cooper of Moss was as fast on the straights as the Ferraris, but for some inexplicable reason was very poor on the swerves. However, the price one pays in fuel consumption, in bringing a British car up to the performance of the Italians, is too great a handicap to be practicable.
Having mentioned nitro-methane, perhaps a few further words on this subject would be of interest. It is the feeling among many of the designers and development engineers of this country, that nitro-methane should be barred from racing. The main reason for this is the view that we shall inevitably become involved in a war of chemists, rather than practical development of the internal combustion engine. Speaking for myself, and after having driven behind cars with this fuel aboard, I must confess that I for one would be happy to see it discontinued. After all, if we achieve the higher power output with nitro-methane, the Italians will obviously obtain a proportionate increase, should they use it, so it is rather pointless anyway.
In conclusion, one cannot help but wonder what will become of the numerous Formula II cars which have been produced in this country. In Paris last week, the F.I.A. had not made any plans for a Formula in addition to Formula I. Does this mean that our British races next year will be Formula I, with all the Formula II cars stringing along behind, or can we expect the many national races to continue events specifically for Formula II ? This is a point which should be clarified at an early date, as I feel certain that many owners would proceed with plans and preparations if they knew the exact position for the 1954 season.