The 250F was one of those great racing cars that was pretty much right straight out of the box. It had some initial problems and did benefit from development like the re-location of the De Dion from behind to ahead of the rear axles and the move to disc brakes but essentially it was a cracking design.
The great thing was that it was so well-balanced. It was terrifically user-friendly not vicious in any way. It was easily the nicest Grand Prix car to drive. The only car that came close to it was the BRM P25, and that had failings that the Maserati didn’t.
The engine’s characteristics were good it didn’t have dreadful flatspots like the Vanwall but it gave away about 15bhp to the Ferraris. The chassis made up for it by letting you balance it on the throttle to a remarkable degree. To try to get the most out of it, I ran mine on nitro-methane. If you added 10 per cent nitro, you got a 10 per cent power increase very rewarding. I used 7000 as a rev limit but the factory cars got up to 7800rpm with development.
Another 250F good point, especially at places like Monaco, was the gearshift, which was very nice. I ultimately switched to discs but the brakes were always very good too.
But it was the chassis that really shone. It was so sensitive, in exactly the right way. If someone had put an extra 2lb in the rear tyres, or took 2lb out of the front, I’d have known. It was that sensitive. So you could work on the shock-absorber settings and try different tyre pressures until you got exactly the set-up you wanted. That made it a lovely car to chive, especially if the conditions were difficult.
For example, when it was pouring so hard in the second practice session for the Swiss Grand Prix at Bern in 1954 and the visibility was diabolical, I managed fastest lap ahead of Gonzales and Hawthorn in the Ferraris and Kling, Herrmann and Fangio in the works Mercedes not had for a private entrant. It was that wet pole that secured my drive with Mercedes for 1955.
My best race in a 250F was the Monaco Grand Prix in 1956 when I got into the lead from second on the grid and was able to stay out in front, finally beating Fangio by six seconds. Denis jenkinson wrote in his MOTOR SPORT report that “Moss was driving with a relaxed precision that was a joy to watch”. It was the 250F’s balance and lovely character that let you do that.
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