If all goes according to plan the European season of Grand Prix racing will start on March 11th with the Siracusa G.P. This well-known road-racing circuit in the far corner of Sicily is famous for many things, in particular the incredible Connaught victory in 1955, the terrific lap record set by Stirling Moss in the Vanwall in 1957, and the remarkable victory of Baghetti last year, when this newcomer wiped the floor with all the acknowledged aces. With the season starting so early it is high time to review the teams and cars for the coming season.
In spite of all the fuss and furore last September when Ferrari was announced by the inexperienced to have withdrawn from racing, we can expect to see the 120-degree V6 cars starting the season, no doubt modified here and there to improve yet further the steering and cornering, while the engine should not be far off 200 b.h.p. Usually Ferrari does his withdrawal act and announcement in August, but in 1961 it was a little late, but took place nevertheless! His team for this year will be World Champion Phil Hill, Giancarlo Baghetti, and Lorenzo Bandini, with Willy Mairesse and Ricardo Rodriguez joining them far G.T. and sports-car races, or to increase the number of G.P. cars if required. It is unlikely that Phil Hill will start racing for the Scuderia before the Targa Florio, which is due on May 6th, so that we can expect to see Baghetti at Siracusa and any other pre-Targa events that Ferrari decides to support. No doubt he will be supported by Bandini, unless the F.I.S.A. have discovered another “Baghetti” and have persuaded the Commendatore to lend them a car like last year.
The fact that Bandini is joining the Scuderia is due to Signor Dei withdrawing his Scuderia Centro-Sud team from Grand Prix racing, in protest of some shady dealings meted out to his team last year by the Italian Federation. By one of the most “open” fiddles Baghetti was made Italian Champion in place of Bandini, and Signor Dei was justifiably incensed. However, having no bad feelings against Enzo Ferrari, he agreed to cancel Bandini’s 1962 contract and release him to join the Ferrari team,
No doubt for long-distance G.T. or sports-car events, we shall see various assorted drivers joining the Scuderia Ferrari for individual races, such as Michael Parkes for Le Mans, and some of the better “amateur” G.T. drivers such as Noblet or Tavano. The fact that many of the Ferrari organisation walked-out on the Commendatore is not likely to have any effect, for after all, Enzo Ferrari has been running a racing team for many years. There has been a long list of engineers coming and going, Colombo, Lampredi, Jano, Bellantani and so on, and team managers such as Ugolini and Sculatti, and yet Ferrari has gone on undisturbed, and it is my guess that he will continue in the same way.
German Grand Prix hopes rest on Porsche, for a Wankel-engined Mercedes-Benz is rather too much to hope for, but with Bonnier and Gurney as the mainstay of the team, things should be all right. They will be supported by Barth when a third car is deemed desirable, and Gurney’s performances last year with the old 4-cylinder cars were outstanding; when the new 8-cylinder Porsche gets on the starting line, American Dan Gurney will certainly make good use of it. It now seems that the first appearance of the 8-cylinder will be in 2-litre form in one of the long-chassis sports cars used last year, either the Targa Florio type or the beautiful Le Mans coupe. The 2-litre 8-cylinder was performing well on the test-bed last year, which made the unsatisfactory performance of the 1 1/2-litre Grand Prix version all the more infuriating to the designers. At the end of last summer the 2-litre 8-cylinder was giving more power than was anticipated.
In England all hopes lie with two 8-cylinder engines, both vee-formation, whereas the Porsche engine is horizontally opposed. The B.R.M. firm are in the happy position of being completely self-contained to get on with chassis and engine development concurrently, the V8 B.R.M. so obviously being a complete design, rather than a compromise. With Graham Hill and American Ritchie Ginther as drivers the Bourne cars should be well to the fore, and we can expect to see them racing as soon as the season gets under way, whereas the various versions of Cooper, Lotus and Lola, are all dependent on the whims of Coventry-Climax and if the V8 engines are not ready they will have to make do with old 4-cylinder Coventry-Climax engines. The B.R.M. team will be supplemented by a third V8 car running under a private team formed by H. & L. Motors of Stroud, and The Western Sporting Press, Cardiff, these two firms forming the Ecurie Gallois. With young Jack Lewis as driver they will be running a 1961 rear-engined V8 B.R.M., which might well cause the works B.R.M. boys to hustle along a bit.
Of the chassis-building firms, Cooper have Bruce McLaren and Tony Maggs as drivers, their cars being similar to the 1961 models, using Coventry-Climax V8 engines or 4-cylinders as the situation permits or demands. Lotus are also running a two-man team, With Jim Clark and Trevor Taylor, and just as the 1960 Lotus seemed to be Chapman’s last word, so did the 1961 car, but undoubtedly he already has an improved 1962 under way. This is indicated by the fact that the 1961 Lotus is considered obsolete and available to anyone not running on Esso fuel, such as Team Walker who use B.P. In 1961 there was a veto on the sale of the latest works cars to anyone not using Esso fuel like the Team Lotus cars were doing. This was because Esso pay for most of Lotus development and were getting tired of doing this and then having Moss win all the Lotus victories on B.P. fuel. Such is the “keen rivalry” in motor racing—stinks of petrol and oil to me.
So far Team Lotus have not raced a V8 Coventry-Climax, and have been doing quite well with the old 4-cylinder Coventry-Climax, but this obviously cannot go on, and we can expect to see them with V8 engines for the first Grande Epreuve, if not before. Stirling Moss will continue to drive for Rob Walker, with whatever cars that they can buy, and with the Ferguson 4-whee-ldrive, if Ferguson Research decide to go on racing. There is also rumour of a Moss/Walker/Maserati tie-up with a new rearengined Grand Prix Maserati. If Maserati are returning to Grand Prix racing I know I shall not be alone in being overjoyed, and the partnership of Moss and Maserati is one that has been very successful in the past. But these are early days, and for the start of the season we can expect to see Moss in a dark blue 1961 Lotus for most of the races, either with a 4-cylinder CoventryClimax, or a V8.
A new name that is going to appear in Grand Prix racing is that of Lola, the design of Eric Broadley, well known in club racing, and national racing, but as yet to make a mark in the top class. This effort is being financed by the Hire Purchase world in force, for what was last year known as Yeoman Credit, has now been joined by Bowmakers, and the team is now called Bowmaker-Yeoman. Reg Parnell continues to look after the team and retains his first-class pair of runners, namely John Surtets and Roy Salvadori, and the Lola cars will use 4-cylinder Coventry-Climax engines, and V8 Climaxes when they are ready, at all times using a Colotti gearbox. In the winter racing Surtees has not won anything, but he has been running close behind Moss and Brabham, and that isn’t bad by any standards.
In case one had the impression that Bowmaker-Yeoman have a monopoly on Hire Purchase we must remember that United Dominions Trust is probably bigger than both of them, and the U.D.T., in conjunction with Laystall, will continue to run their team. They have as drivers Innes Ireland and Masten Gregory, and for the lesser races Stirling Moss will drive one of their cars. However, their big handicap is going to be that they are only customers to racing car manufacturers, and as such are bound to suffer in not having the latest equipment. No racing team has ever sold its very latest cars to any customer, and never will while there is development in progress, which is the whole reason for running a factory racing team. Finally in this line-up is Jack Brabham, who intends to build his own Grand Prix car, under the name M.R.D., standing for Motor Racing Developments, a firm started by him and an Australian friend of his Ron Tauromac, who is doing the design. So far the M.R.D. has been seen but briefly as a Formula Junior car, and already Brabham is suggesting that he will have to start the season with a 1961 Lotus, as the M.R.D. will not be ready. One thing is certain, and that is that Brabham will get the pick of the Coventry-Climax engines, either 4-cylinder or V8-cylinder, for the Coventry firm quite rightly holds him in high esteem, as do many other suppliers of parts for racing cars.
After the Siracusa race, which should open the Formula 1 season, the scene moves to Bruxelles on April 1st, followed by the Lombank Trophy at Snetterton on April 14th, the Pau G.P. on Easter Monday and a race at Goodwood on the same day, while the Aintree “200” is due on April 25th, so that it is going to be a busy month for Grand Prix racing. The serious season starts very late this year, at Zandvoort, where the Dutch Grand Prix is to be held on Whit-Sunday, May 20th, by which time all the teams should be well sorted out, new designs and engines working well and drivers settled in with their teams. The Zandvoort circuit being well suited to the modern, light, underpowered, Grand Prix car it should be a splendid race.