Notes On The Cars At Monte Carlo

Ferrari had five cars for his team of drivers, Fangio, Castellotti, Musso, and Collins. They were all modified Lancias, three of them with the Syracuse body style where the pontoons merge into the body, and two with the Argentine layout. Mechanically the cars were unchanged from previous races, the V8 engines still using double-choke downdraught Solex carburetters. In view of the possible temperature in Monte Carlo and the relative low speed of the race the small aero-screens had semi-circles cut out of the lower edge to allow fresh air to blow on the driver. The Scuderia was housed in the basement of a large Esso garage on the very edge of the circuit within walking distance of the pits, which was very convenient for practice as the drivers could leave directly from the garage and join the circuit.

The Maserati team had four cars for their team of Moss, Behra and Perdisa and all were normal 250/F1 chassis, three with five-speed gearboxes and one with a four-speed. By way of making an effort to satisfy their number-1 driver and at the same time make full use of him, Maserati had three cars fitted with right-hand throttle pedals for Moss refuses to drive a car with a central throttle pedal. The three available cars for Moss were a five-speed model with an engine using Weber carburetters, a four-speed one of the same type and a five-speed model fitted with a fuel-injection engine. This was the type used at Goodwood and Syracuse and mechanically was a normal 2 1/2-litre Grand Prix unit. In place of the Weber carburetters each port was fitted with an air-intake in which was located a vertical cylindrical throttle slide, very much like an Amal motor-cycle carburetter. These six slides were coupled to a throttle rod by short levers and cables, the rod being coupled to the pedal. Each of these intakes was a pure ram-tube with no venturi shape, and into the side of each was set the injector nozzle, pointing downstream towards the inlet valve. The injection pump was an in-line unit of Maserati design and was mounted on the opposite side of the engine to the inlets, actually under the exhaust manifolds, and was driven by an open triple-roller chain from a drive by the near-side magneto on the front of the engine. The six injection pipes ran in a cluster round the back of the engine and under the intake pipes to the side-mounted nozzles. To regulate the six pumps in the injection unit a rack working on cams was made to slide in and out of the base of the pump unit by means of a large cam wheel and spring which was coupled by rods to the throttle rod on the opposite side of the engine. The whole system was very much an experimental adaptation and though working satisfactorily was not giving much gain over the normal Weber carburetter layout, while the pick-up was not so good.

In addition to the four cars the works team came prepared for trouble with spare engines of both normal carburetter type and the fuel-injection model. Like the Scaderia Ferrari the Scuderia Maserati were garaged on the edge of the circuit, but at the opposite end to the pits, being on the downhill section between the station and the sea. This enabled their drivers to change cars halfway round the lap during practice if the need arose.

Nearby was another garage containing the private owners, these being Gould with his Maserati direct from his second place at Naples, and the Scuderia Centro-Sud from Rome, who work in close co-operation with the factory teams. They had their Maserati 250/F1 which Chiron was to drive and the early 2-litre four-cylinder Ferrari for Scarlatti.

The Gordini team had two of the new eight-cylinder cars and one six-cylinder model, with four drivers to choose from – Manzon, Bayol, Pilette, and da Silva Ramos. Two eight-cylinder cars were running on normal straight petrol, as Gordini was using Grand Prix racing to develop the unit for the Le Mans sports cars. The two cars were identical, with tubular ladder-type frames, independent suspension all round by torsion-bars and Watts-llink geometry, and disc brakes, the rear ones being mounted inboard on each side of the differential unit. The five-speed gearbox was like Maserati and Lancia, being a four-speed with a low “starting gear” or “under-drive”, and was coupled to the rear of the engine and controlled by a long lever on the right of the spacious cockpit. One car had the eight exhaust pipes arranged in pairs terminating in four stubs out of the side of the body and the other had them ending in two stalks in a similar position. Both cars had the wide bulbous body with the cowled front covering up the wheels. The six-cylinder was an old-faithful from way back at the end of 1954. The team was a bit late in gathering itself together after dispersing to Naples and Silverstone the previous weekend, and was housed in a garage in a quiet mews at time back of the town.

From Bourne came the B.R.M. team with two cars, for Hawthorn and Brooks, these being as raced at English meetings recently, though one was a brand-new car, the third to be built, and the other was one of the Aintree cars. Both were now fitted with Lockheed disc brakes and Dunlop wheels and tyres, and Weber carburetters on the four-cylinder engines. Outwardly they were identical but for the steering wheels. Hawthorn having a four-spoke for personal preference, and Brooks being content with the normal three-spoke type. These cars were unchanged basically since their first appearance at the end of last year, having twin-overhead camshaft four-cylinder engines, four-speed gearbox in unit with the differential assembly, all mounted in a large-diameter tube space-frame of not very pleasing aspect, having rather a lot of bends in the tubes. Front suspension was by double wishbones with oleo-pneumatic air struts, the steering pivots being cup and ball in place of the more usual king-pin arrangement. At the rear a simple and straightforward de Dion layout is used, with similar air-strut suspension as used at the front. The disc brakes at the front are normally mounted, but at the rear a single brake unit is mounted on the rear of the gearbox, the one brake being sufficient to deal with both rear wheels via the transmission. This brake is fitted with a turbo-fan ducting drawing air from a scoop on the right-hand side of the tail. Fuel is carried in five separate tanks, two on each side of the cockpit and one in the tail, and the whole car is notable for its small size and light weight. Like the Gordini team the B.R.M. team housed themselves in the centre of the town.

The Vanwall team came with the two Silverstone cars, the drivers being Schell and Trintignant. These both used the Chapman-inspired chassis, of space-frame type using the correct sizes of small-diameter tubes in the right places, the Trintignant car actually using thinner-gauge tubing than the Schell car, this being the second one to be built and the one used by Moss at Silverstone. The front suspension was as used on last year’s cars, being double wishbones and coil springs, with the addition of an anti-roll bar, while at the rear was de Dion with a high-mounted transverse leaf-spring and negative camber on the rear wheels. The de Dion tube runs behind the gearbox/differential assembly and is located by a transverse Watts-linkage attached to the centre of the tube. Fore and aft location is by double radius-rods at each end. The engine remains the twin-overhead camshaft four-cylinder, with exposed hairpin valve springs, inspired by the Norton motor-cycle designers. Fuel-injection into the ports, very close to the inlet valves, is used, being a Bosch high-pressure system, with Amal carburetter bodies used to provide the throttle slides for each of the four intakes. The gearbox is Vandervell built, with four speeds and it starting-gear, from knowledge gleaned from Ferrari, and the drive shafts to each rear wheel obviously owe their derivation to the Grand Prix Lancias. These cars were fitted with three fuel tanks, one on each side of the bulkhead and one in the tail, while the oil tank was part of the front chassis cross-member between the suspension units, a long ribbed oil-cooler running along the right-hand side of the car. The body obviously owes a great deal to aircraft knowledge and to Colin Chapman and the Lotus designers, being remarkably functional but not aesthetic; in fact, it would be hard to design an uglier shape for a Grand Prix car. However, close inspection reveals some pretty sound reasoning, for the long tapering nose provides excellent initial penetration, the tiny air entry is carefully calculated to pass the right amount of air to cool the radiator, the passage being beautifully ducted, with a ducted exit behind the radiator to an opening under the car; the header tank is in the scuttle. The wide flat bonnet has an aircraft-type air intake let into the top to feed a sealed box containing the ram pipes for the inlet ports, while on the left-hand side the four exhaust pipes join into one tail-pipe and the whole lot are sunk into the body panels, producing a large flat area which benefits from surface cooling. The cockpit has very high sides with wrap-round Perspex screen blending into a high tail-cum-headrest. The design of this part of the body is such that the driver is completely within the car, even the top of his crash-hat being out of the wind, and the flow over the top is such that it causes a low-pressure area within the cockpit. This has the faculty of drawing hot air and fumes out of the cockpit and at the same time assisting the cooling of the inboard-mounted rear disc brakes. These brakes are of Goodyear design, as used by Vandervell on his cars for many years now, and the rear ones are mounted on each side of the differential housing. A turbo-duct is fitted round the upper half of each disc and is fed by a tiny air intake let into each side of the body just in front of each front wheel. Due to the low-pressure area provided by the flow of air over the top of the cockpit, an additional forced draught is provided for the brakes on top of that normally drawn in through the side intakes. The tail of the car is high and bulbous but, like the rest of the car, is functional. Unlike the other teams, the Vanwall team preferred the peace and seclusion the tiny village of Eze-sur-Mer, just outside Monte Carlo.