When Behra spelled trouble

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Current page

165

Current page

166

Current page

167

Current page

168

Current page

169

Current page

170

Current page

171

Current page

172

Current page

173

Current page

174

Current page

175

Current page

176

Current page

177

Current page

178

Current page

179

Current page

180

The Frenchman’s demands at Reims ’58 prompted team-mate Harry Schell to pen a furious (and somewhat muddled) missive to BRM’s boss

I have never particularly rated top-class racing drivers as being the most literate people around. Nor need they be. Literacy counts for nothing wheel-to-wheel round the outside at Curva Grande, or braking into Les Combes. But I was once greatly impressed to find a letter from Harry Schell to Sir Alfred Owen of BRM concerning goings-on in the 1958 French Grand Prix at Reims. It read in part – and I quote verbatim – as one-finger typed:

‘As you kjnow for the past three races Ihave allways been doing the best time in traing; due to better cars or better driving Ii don’t know butb the facts are there… On Friday the last day of training I did a few laps with my own car in 2.24 6/10 going very carefully; Behra was doing 2.27 2/10 with his own car and with the new engine which came at nite with Mr Berton XXXX I was asked by Mr Berha to try his own car I accepted this offer and put a time of 2.24 2/10 whih is three seconds dffaster than him.’

One can sense that ’Arree is building up a good head of steam, as he witters on: ‘Then five minutes before the end of practice Mr Behra asked for my car; Mr Berthon ansered no so Mr Berha said in these conditions he was not started in the race and that he could not drive any more such a bad car anymore etc. etc.

‘The next day from 10 am in the morning till 4pm Mr Behra stayed at the garage tryingto persuade Mr Berton to give him my car by saying he wanted to cancel his contract and anyway he was not goingto start in the race at all.’

Finally the Franco-American driver’s safety valve blows off its seat: ‘I was then called in the garage by Mr Spear [chief engineer of BRM-owning company Rubery Owen] and Mr Berthon told me ‘Harry .
you must take another car as Berha refused to start in the race if he has not you car. He has Threatened us to cancel his contract you understand the situation so Which car do you prefer of the remaining two cars’… Everybodyd was furious of theattitude taken by Mr Berha. I hope that all thefacts will be told to you exac t ly theway the y happened…I am sure I could have won the race for you or at least be second anyway…’

That was one very upset F1 driver, and in the French GP the following day Behra broke his BRM Type 25 “plainly through overrevving” as Berthon reported to Owen. “This I think he did, possibly justifiably, to confirm his view that the Schell practice car was faster…” Meanwhile ’Arree’s car broke its clutch and vibrated badly enough to fracture a water pipe.

Behra was very self-consciously Champion of France and to him performing well before his home crowd meant everything. He had hurled a Gordini around Reims to beat the Ferrari 500 fleet there in 1952, and the year after his BRM team tantrum – having joined Ferrari – he became so overheated by what he saw (again) as having been provided with an inferior car, that he punched innocent team manager Romolo Tavoni. In that case the absent team owner was Enzo Ferrari, but his wife Laura witnessed the attack. While Peter Berthon of BRM had been able to gloss over a little of Behra’s behaviour, Tavoni had no such choice – had he even wanted to. The Old Man’s justice was swift and emphatic. Behra was sacked. One month later the hair-trigger Frenchman crashed his sports Porsche at AVUS in Berlin, and was killed…

But it had not only been Harry Schell who had trouble spelling ‘Jeannot’s’ surname. At the Monaco Grand Prix in 1955 his Maserati works mechanics had brush-painted his name on his 250F. That’s right, they spelled it ‘Bhera’.