1957 Monaco Grand Prix race report: Fangio cruises through the carnage to make it two in a row
Juan Manuel Fangio keeps a level head to finish first as Moss, Hawthorn and Collins crash out; Tony Brooks takes second for Vanwall
Due to the short twisty nature of the circuit the number of starters for the Monaco Grand Prix was limited to 16, but in order to make sure of getting a full starting grid 20 cars were accepted for practice and the fastest 16 were to be allowed to start. Naturally enough, with it being the first big European Grand Prix of the season, everyone wanted to join in the fun, so that when the final lists were drawn up there were sixteen works runners and four private owners. This indicated that there would be some fireworks during practice, for apart from the private owners all having to beat each other they had to beat some of the works cars as well, and it would only need one quick private owner to upset the tranquility of the works drivers.
The first practice session was at 5:45am on Thursday morning and as some encouragement to get drivers and teams out at this unearthly hour there was a prize of £100 for the fastest time recorded on this first outing. There were two noticeable happenings that morning; first the Ferrari team did not arrive, the cars not being ready in time, and secondly the whole circuit seemed to be flooded with green cars. This was a fine sight, and whereas a Grand Prix field used to have a preponderance of red it now had a marked preponderance of green.
There were the two Vanwalls of Moss and Brooks, with the spare car standing by; the two Connaughts of Lewis-Evans and Bueb, with their spare car; Salvadori and Flockhart with the BRMs; and the two Coopers, but they were lacking drivers, neither Brabham nor Leston having arrived.
Maserati had their three new six-cylinder cars out, these being shared by Fangio, Menditeguy, Schell, Scarlatti and Herrmann, and as there were no private owners ready on this first day the three cars from Modena were feeling very overwhelmed. Collins was ready to drive but had to sit and watch as no Ferrari cars were out.
The bogey time for the circuit was 1min 44.4sec, set up by Fangio in the 1956 race, though he made 1min 44.2sec in practice that year, after the circuit had undergone some modifications at the chicane. As a comparative figure 1min 44.2sec was the aim, but the main object of everyone was to be in the first sixteen.
Along the promenade a new cement surface had been laid and the opening of practice saw the cars raising enormous clouds of dust, and though the weather was good the surface all round the course was a bit slippery. It was Fangio who was first to get below 1min 50sec and for the first part of the period laps in 1min 55sec were being considered pretty good.
The Vanwalls were running nicely and Moss was settling down when he overdid things at the chicane and clouted the edge, bending a wheel and the front suspension. He stopped at the pits and the spare car was brought out, being re-numbered to that of the bent car, and Moss went off again.
In the Maserati camp there was a race going on between Scarlatti and Herrmann, taking turns at using the third car, for the fastest of the two was to be chosen for the fourth Maserati entry. Menditeguy was going round learning the course and the two BRMs were not being very impressive, having trouble with handling and brakes.
Collins got tired of sitting watching and as John Cooper was getting tired of having two cars and no drivers, the Ferrari driver offered to give them a gallop round. He was soon lapping at under 2min in the 1,500cc car, and then Salvadori thought this a good idea so he too went and saw John Cooper and tried the 2-litre car.
Flockhart was still working hard for the Bourne team, but Salvadori was beginning to despair. The brake trouble caused Flockhart to spin at the corner before the pits, on the harbour front; by sheer luck he did not make contact with the walls and bravely carried on trying to approach times of 1 min 50 sec.
After the two Maserati rabbits had had a go Schell took over the third six-cylinder car, as it was rightfully his for the race, and then about 7.30am things began to stir up, for the £100 prize was still at stake. Fangio had been quietly getting faster and faster and had settled for 1min 45.9sec, while most people were still around the 1/50 mark, but then Moss went out and soon got down to 1min 46sec, and then tried hard and put in 1min 45.8sec, 1min 45.3sec and 1min45.1sec in quick succession.
“Vanwall had really gone motoring in a big way”
Fangio got straight back in his car, did a quiet lap to have a look at the road conditions and then did 1min 44.5sec, returning to the pits to see what Moss was going to do about that. Meanwhile Flockhart was still flogging round trying to make some sort of show for the BRMs which were not only handling poorly but were not even going fast.
Collins was still playing with the Coopers. He got down to 1min 55sec with the 2-litre-engined car, finding it good fun and surprisingly free from vice. Just before practice ended Moss went out again and when it was too late for Fangio to try again he did a lap in 1min 44.4sec, which gave him f.t.d. and the bag of gold. However, more important was the fact that the Vanwall had really gone motoring in a big way and given no trouble all.
During Thursday night there were some violent thunderstorms, and when practice started again at 5.45 am on Friday the roads were still quite wet. For this session the Ferrari team arrived in full force with Collins, Hawthorn, von Trips and Trintignant, and they brought with them three cars; two had the new narrow bodywork introduced at Syracuse and one the old full-width body.
Of the new cars one had Super Squalo Ferrari front suspension and brakes and the other Lancia wishbones and coil-springs, while they both had reversed-cone megaphones. In addition to the three lightweight cars Maserati brought along one of last year’s six-cylinder models and the 12-cylinder-engined 1956 car, while the four private Maseratis of Gould, Simon, Piotti and the Centro-Sud were present. Vanwall brought along only two of his cars, while Connaught used their spare car most of the time, keeping the other two cars at the pits as much as possible.
With the roads still damp the general pace was very slow to begin with, but as the atmosphere dried out the tempo got faster and faster. The Ferrari team were at a disadvantage, having missed the first practice they had to start where the others left off, but Collins and Hawthorn bided their time until the roads dried.
The V12 Maserati was proving to be a beastly thing, being quite incapable of running at low revs, so that it died right away on the Gasworks hairpin and popped and banged until the revs rose again. There was some assistance from the new five-speed gearbox but when things began to happen they all happened at once, which made its progress decidedly interesting. Fangio tried it out, and then Schell, but though it was fast uphill and along the harbour front it lost too much time on the hairpins. Fangio went out in a six-cylinder car, these new ones seemingly ideally suited to the circuit, and as the roads dried he got down to 1min 46sec.
After the previous morning’s performance the Vanwall team were sitting tight and watching, for Brooks had backed up Moss most ably with a time of 1min 46sec, which had given him third fastest time. The two Cooper drivers had arrived and were circulating steadily, with Leston in the 2-litre, and then Fangio began to set the pace, making 1min 45.6sec, while Menditeguy was now fighting with the 12-cylinder Maserati.
About 7:15am the Ferrari team went out, with von Trips and Trintignant sharing the spare car. It was obvious they meant business, for both Trintignant and Collins approached 1min 46sec in a very short space of running. Hawthorn was a bit slower on the Ferrari-suspended car for the Super Squalo steering-box ratio was much too low for the hairpins and he was losing time working away at the steering wheel; von Trips was feeling his way round on the circuit, which was entirely new to him.
Of the four private owners Gould and Gregory both did some quick laps which got them in amongst the works cars, ahead of both Connaughts and both BRMs, and then they sat back and kept an eye on everyone’s times. Simon was not going fast enough and Piotti lent his car to Gerini, but neither had any hope of qualifying.
The Coopers were not too happy, for Leston could make no sort of show at all and then Brabham took over the 2-litre and, after getting down to 1min 52.4 sec, went off the road and smashed the front suspension. Herrmann and Scarlatti were still continuing their feud with whatever Maseratis were available, and Scarlatti was continually coming out on top, showing a reasonable improvement in his driving.
The two Vanwalls continued to rest complacently at their pit until Collins got down to 1 min 44.6 sec, which made everyone sit up and take notice. With a half-hour of practice still to go both Vanwalls went out, Fangio set off in a six-cylinder Maserati and Collins went out in the Lancia/Ferrari practice car. Meanwhile Menditeguy was getting a bit irritable with Lewis-Evans and nearly elbowed him off the road at the Gasworks hairpin.
This final battle among the big-boys saw Fangio do 1min 43.7sec, which really made everyone try hard, and Collins took the lead with 1min 43.3sec while Moss was content with 1min 43.6sec and Brook’s 1min 44.4sec. Fangio, however, was not at all satisfied with the situation and, without showing any signs of thrashing the car, he made an all-time fastest on the 1956-57 circuit with an incredible time of 1min 42.7 sec, at which point all the young drivers decided to call it a day.
“Fangio made an all-time fastest on the circuit with an incredible time of 1min 42.7 sec, at which point all the young drivers decided to call it a day”
The final practice was on Saturday afternoon and everyone produced all they had, so that the pits and circuit seemed full to overflowing. The Scuderia Ferrari produced another pair of narrow-body cars similar to the day before, one with Super Squalo suspension and the other with Lancia/Ferrari, as well as the three cars from Friday, and in addition they brought out the Formula II car. The result was that the four Maranello drivers never had a moment’s rest, jumping out of one car and into another in rapid succession.
Almost as soon as practice started someone spilt a lot of fuel on the Ste Devote corner and there were some wildly exciting moments as cars went up on pavements and slid about all over the place. Hawthorn’s car had had its steering ratio altered and he was going much faster, while Collins was lapping in 1min 55sec with the Formula II car.
Coopers had taken the 2-litre engine from the crashed car and fitted it into the second car and Brabham was still driving, as he was so much faster than Leston. He was now going really well and had no trouble in disposing of Scarlatti in the V12 Maserati, and leading Bueb and Gregory.
This time it was the turn of Maserati to sit tight and watch the way things were going, though Herrmann had a go in the V12 car, but was not at all happy with it. The circuit conditions improved, but the air temperature was too hot to expect any improvement over the previous day’s times.
Eventually Collins did 1min 46sec in his own car and then took out the Formula II car again, and after that tried Hawthorn’s car. He had not done many laps in it before he lost it in the chicane and went off the road into a bollard on the harbour front and completely wrecked the front of the car. He escaped unhurt, though shaken, and returned to the pits to go out again in his own car. Hawthorn was a bit piqued about this and had to take the old spare car, whereupon he began to go really fast, finding that it was a much quicker car than the new one that had been bent.
Fangio had been working away with the V12 Maserati, sliding the hairpin with the clutch out and the engine revving hard and then letting it in with a bang. This process enabled him to negotiate the hairpin quickly, but sometimes the car shot off up the road like a bullet and at other times it practically spun round. By sheer hard work he eventually got the car round in 1min 45.3 sec and this set the ball rolling for another end-of-practice blind.
Hawthorn was really enjoying the hack car and did 1min 45.0sec, then Moss did 1min 44.8sec, to which Hawthorn replied with 1min 44.6sec; Brooks did 1min 44.9sec and then Moss equalled Hawthorn’s time. Fangio gave the 12-cylinder car to Schell and went out on a six-cylinder car, but did not join in the battle for f.t.d. and Collins was left out completely, the day ending with Moss and Hawthorn sharing honours, although neither could approach the time set by Fangio the day before, This was the final opportunity to improve on times and as a result four drivers were going to be non-starters.
Brabham was determined not to be one of them, and so was Flockhart, and these two tried really hard, the Cooper going round in 1min 49.3sec and the BRM in 1min 48.6sec. Salvadori kept going round, but he did not look to be putting any effort into his driving and was obviously not at all pleased with the car, so that he never broke 1min 50sec and in the final count was ruled out along with Simon, Piotti and Leston. The fourth place in the Maserati team was won by Scarlatti and the slowest time to qualify was that of Bueb who seemed to practice continuously without improving on 1/49.4.
On the Sunday heavy rainstorms swept Monaco and the outlook was anything but bright, but as the cars assembled at the pits the sun came out and things returned to normal, with blue skies and dry roads. On the way to the pits Bueb’s Connaught had the bottom of the gearbox ripped out by a concrete step and there was a last-minute rush to swap the car for the reserve one which had been driven almost continuously in practice.
The front row of the grid saw the interesting sight of three completely different Grand Prix cars lined up, in the order Maserati, Lancia/Ferrari and Vanwall, driven, respectively, by Fangio, Collins and Moss. In row 2 were Brooks and Hawthorn, then came Trintignant, Menditeguy and Schell, followed by von Trips and Gregory. In row 5 were Flockhart, Gould and Lewis-Evans, row 6 Scarlatti and Brabham, and in solitary state at the back was Bueb.
There was a slight panic at the start when the Moss Vanwall refused to start on the starter and had to be pushed at the last moment, but all was well and as everyone jumped the starter’s flag the sixteen cars rushed away towards the Gasworks hairpin. For a moment the Vanwall hesitated as the wheels spun and then they gripped and Moss shot off into the lead, cutting smartly across from the left on the road to the right as he took the hairpin and successfully blocking Collins and Fangio who were about to try and push him off the line.
Everything seemed set for Moss to run right away from the rest of the field on the opening lap as he did last year with the Maserati, but though the Vanwall did not hang about, it could not shake the two rivals off. The roaring pack went by at the end of the opening lap in the order Moss, Fangio, Collins, Schell, Brooks, Menditeguy, Hawthorn, von Trips and the rest, and up the hill to the Casino Collins went past Fangio into second place.
Lap two saw the order unchanged, but Collins was closing on Moss, and the next lap saw Schell drop back behind von Trips and Brooks in fourth place. As the cars left the tunnel towards the end of the fourth lap Moss was only a few feet ahead of Collins, while Fangio was some way back, followed by Brooks, Hawthorn, von Trips, Schell, Menditeguy, and the others being led by Gould.
This was clearly not going to be a runaway victory for Moss again, but there was the makings of a furious battle between Vanwall, Lancia/ Ferrari and Maserati. Down to the chicane came the leaders when, with very little warning, Moss went straight on into the barriers. Poles flew in all directions and Collins swerved to avoid the debris only to hit the barricades on the edge of the harbour.
In a flash Moss had jumped out and run, Fangio had gone between the two crashed cars and Brooks arrived, slowing down almost to a standstill. Next on the scene was Hawthorn who caught Brooks rear wheel, which tore the front wheel and brake drum off the Lancia/Ferrari. The wheel bowled away into the harbour and the stricken car slid into the back of Collins car and rode up the tail. The rest of the field got through the gap all right, leaving three shaken British drivers and three wrecked cars.
“With very little warning, Moss went straight on into the barriers”
What had looked like being one of the best Grand Prix races of all time had changed in a flash into a gift for Fangio, for Brooks was too wise to chance having a go at beating the old man, and was content to settle for second place, and none of the other drivers were either close enough to the leading Maserati, or capable of putting up a challenge.
After the dust and debris had settled down one could survey the situation more closely, and it was seen that Fangio was now settled down to a routine of lapping at 1min 50 sec, while Brooks ran smoothly along some 5 sec. behind. Then there was a gap and von Trips led Menditeguy and Schell and after the last Maserati there was a fairly long gap before a harassed Gould appeared with a screaming mob right on his tail.
In this bunch was Gregory, Lewis-Evans, Flockhart, Trintignant, Scarlatti and Brabham, while Bueb was bringing up the rear. It was pretty obvious that Gould was holding everyone back, for the cars were two and three abreast trying to get by on all sides. This went on for a number of laps until Trintignant got furious at being baulked, whereupon there was some short-sharp shoving and pushing which resulted in dented noses and crumpled tails, and the order was Brabham, Gregory, Trintignant, Flockhart, Scarlatti, Bueb, Lewis-Evans and Gould!
As a race the whole thing now developed into a procession, with Fangio, Brooks, von Trips, Menditeguy and Schell way ahead of the rest and this order remained until the end of lap 15 when Menditeguy stopped to change a bent wheel, the result of some kerb bouncing. Trintignant got past the cheeky little Cooper but that was about all, for he could not get rid of Brabham, the Australian having a real go and leading Flockhart in the BRM.
By 20 laps Fangio was still leading Brooks by 5 sec, then came a gap of 24 sec and von Trips who was leading Schell by 37 sec, the American in turn being 59 sec ahead of the Trintignant/Brabham/Flockhart trio. Bueb had stopped at the pits with a split fuel tank and the mechanics were busy blanking off the rear tank and arranging the piping so that he could continue on the side tanks only. Fangio had made a fastest lap in a leisurely 1min 45.6sec and was now touring along but still Brooks was sitting quietly behind the World Champion and losing no ground at all.
Schell arrived slowly at the pits pointing at the offside front wheel and as he stopped the Maserati curtsied onto the floor with a broken king-post. Trintignant’s car was beginning to misfire and he stopped at the pits to investigate, during which time the crumpled nose was straightened out.
The only driver who was really motor racing was Brabham, who was making the little Cooper fairly sing round the circuit; due to retirements it was now running in fourth place, though hotly pursued by Menditeguy who was making up time lost through having to change a wheel.
By 30 laps Fangio was lapping the end of the field and for a while was in some pretty heavy traffic and Brooks followed him through it all very skilfully, being only 6sec behind the leader when they were clear once more. Scarlatti handed over to Schell and Bueb rejoined the race when the leader was on lap 35.
“The cockpit was so cramped for Hawthorn that the huge Englishman could barely turn the steering wheel”
The Ferrari pit then flagged von Trips in and let Hawthorn take over, this car still being in third place, but after only three laps Hawthorn returned and gave the car back to the German driver, for the cockpit was so cramped for the huge Englishman that he could barely turn the steering wheel and could never find the gear-lever, his long legs being firmly wedged against the body sides.
This second pit stop for the Lancia/Ferrari let Menditeguy into third place, for he had at last managed to get past the flying Cooper, but it had taken an embarrassingly long time to catch Brabham.
Fangio was lapping like clockwork, while Brooks now began to lose ground, so that by lap 50, less than half-way, Fangio was going up the straight behind the pits while Brooks was coming down on the harbour side, a difference of some 20 sec.
On lap 51 von Trips was back in third place for Menditeguy spun off at the chicane and joined the collection of wrecked cars and Brabham was once more fourth, followed by Flockhart, Gregory, Lewis-Evans and Schell in Scarlatti’s car; many laps behind came Trintignant and Bueb. Brooks suddenly began to lose 2sec a lap until the distance between Fangio and he was 48sec and there he stayed, while at the same time the BRM sheared its camshaft drive as it went along the back of the pits. Brabham stopped to refuel and dropped behind Gregory and Schell, but was very soon back in the fray going as hard as ever.
He fairly shot past Schell, whose Maserati was losing oil, and then caught and passed Gregory who had no excuse for the situation except that the little Cooper was going splendidly and Brabham was really motor racing. Schell gave up after 65 laps when the Maserati eventually lost all its oil.
Fangio was going on and on, lapping quietly at 1min 50sec, as were Brooks and von Trips, and the distance between the first two cars remained at 48sec. One by one the laps ticked by, neither Fangio nor Brooks ever putting a wheel wrong and the order remained unchanged, with von Trips, Brabham, Gregory and Lewis-Evans all on the same lap, followed by Trintignant in his bent and ailing Lancia/Ferrari in last place, Bueb having given up as he was dropping too far behind for it to be enjoyable.
Towards the end the Vanwall pit speeded up Brooks, but it was rather useless, for Fangio was too far ahead and had plenty in reserve anyway, the Maserati never having been stressed. On the 96th lap von Trips had his engine blow to pieces as he approached the Casino and he skidded off the road and demolished a wall, but escaped unhurt, and this left only six cars in the race, with the persistent Brabham now in a very worthy third place, way ahead of Gregory and Lewis-Evans.
As Fangio reeled off the last few laps Brooks closed to a gap of 35sec and then when it all seemed to be over, the engine of the Cooper cut dead as Brabham went past the Casino. Still game, this tough Australian coasted down to the sea front and then pushed the car the rest of the lap to the finishing line, unfortunately being passed by Gregory, Lewis-Evans and Trintignant as he did so.
Fangio toured in to win a rather dull race, followed by Brooks who had proved that the Vanwall can last a full-length Grand Prix. Gregory, Lewis-Evans and Trintignant arrived and then the crowd gave Brabham a rousing cheer as he pushed the Cooper over the finishing line, a cheer that was not only for his final effort but also for the way the car had gone throughout the race, making many powerful cars look rather silly.
1957 Monaco Grand Prix race results
|1||Juan Manuel Fangio||Maserati||3hr 10min 12.800sec||9|
|3||Masten Gregory||Maserati||+2 laps||4|
|4||Stuart Lewis-Evans||Connaught Alta||+3 laps||3|
|5||Maurice Trintignant||Ferrari||+5 laps||2|
|6||Jack Brabham||Cooper Climax||+5 laps||0|
|7||Wolfgang von Trips||Ferrari||SHC||2|
|NC||Ivor Bueb||Connaught Alta||DNF||0|