“The sportsman and the friendly spirit that (Moss and Hawthorn) have shown each other throughout the season has been a pleasure to watch and should settle once and for all any suggestion that motor racing is a cut-throat business in which there is little room remaining for finer feelings and good sportsmanship.”
Quite so:- And quite a contrast to the tabloid-style screaming headlines and dumbed-down reportage that we have to put up with from some of our more contemporary motor sports journalists in the 1990s!
Yes I know about Senna’s methods and the Michael Schumacher is The-Man-You-Love-To-Hate if many of our media persons are to be believed, but the reporters of the 1950’s would have known all about Farina while the Second World War, and in some cases the First, was not something they just knew about from films, TV, books and comics.
After some of the speculation concerning the possible roles or tactics open to David Coulthard and particularly Eddie Irvine before the recent Showdown in Suzuka I cannot help but wonder what some of our latterday experts might have been made of one particular incident from that Morroccan Grand Prix. Early on in the race Stirling Moss was nearly forced out when his Vanwall collided with a backmarker’s Maserati just as he was about to lap it. Any significance? Well the car was being driven by the German amateur racer Wolfgang Seidel. And why should that account for anything? Well, not only was Seidel a close personal friend of Wolfgang von Trips (absent from Casablanca following an incident at Monza) but he was also driving a work-assisted Ferrari 250GT in sportscar events as well as occasionally making up the numbers for the official Scuderia Ferrari in rounds of the World Championship of Makes!
The Vanwall continued with a damaged nose (fortunately neither the radiator nor the front suspension were hit) while Seidel retired in the pits with a very bent Maserati. But why was he in the race at all? It was only the fourth GP in an undistinguished career and a long way to go just to drive an obsolete car. It must have been expensive but who paid? Was the incident a genuine racing accident or an example of a driver out of his depth? Did he suddenly see an opportunity of ingratiating himself with the Commendatore or was it part of what Blackadder’s dogsbody would have called “A Cunning Plan”?
Or what about Sebring fourteen months later? Von Trips put paid to any realistic chance of team mate Tony Brooks winning the 1959 World Championship when their Ferraris contacted on the first lap. Did he hit the wrong car by mistake? Did one of the other teams bribe him to take Brooks out? See how easy it is become totally cynical where motor racing is concerned? Even I can do it! It must be because of some of the rubbish I have been reading over the last few years…
I am, yours, etc. David Cole, Oakham, Rutland.