After reading in your September and October issues certain remarks regarding Italian sports-car and Grand Prix racing, I feel that I must take Motor Sport up on the following points.
Looking back at the results of the past eight years, one realises that the red cars of Italy have won 57 per cent. of the major sports-car races*, held either on billiards-table circuits like Le Mans or on open roads like the Mille Miglia, Carrera-Panamericana, etc. The Le Coupe de la Commission Sportive Internationale has been won by the red cars three times out of four; the “Gold Cup,”+ “Challenge Cup “~ and the European Hill Championship for 1957 have also been won by Ferrari and Maserati. Now, if these achievements do not represent a serious attempt at sports-car racing, one wonders what Mr. D. S. Jenkinson considers by “serious attempts at such racing.”
Out of nine 1957 Grands Prix, with works entries by Vanwall, B.R.M., Maserati and Ferrari, the red cars have recorded six wins and five lap records. These successes were achieved by cars four to five years old in terms of design, on different types of circuits, and driven not only by Fangio but also by Musso, Behra and Collins. I heartily agree with Mr. D. S. Jenkinson’s view that there is nothing like Grand Prix cars. I think I was one of the first Italians to congratulate the Vanwall on its achievements (see letter in Autosport dated 23/8/1957), but without wishing to appear unnecessarily destructive in my comments, I find it technically very difficult to agree with the statement that “to the B.R.M. must go the honours for setting the seal on the downfall of Italian Grand Prix racing.” Rushing into print a disputable statement of this type is unlike Motor Sport. Eating one’s own words can be a rather unpleasant experience.
I would now like to quote some past Italian statements on British prospects in Grand Prix racing:
“Look out for the Vanwall” (May 1956).
“It is now obvious that not only the Mercedes can challenge Ferrari and Maserati” (Monza, 1956).
“Alarm bell at Siracusa” (Siracusa, 1957).
“These English cars are ready, fast and reliable. Maserati and Ferrari will have to reckon on them” (Monaco, 1957).
“The Vanwall has proved to be equal if not superior to Maserati and Ferrari” (Reims, 1957).
I hope that these statements will kill once and for all the ridiculous charge that the Italian Grand Prix racing world has in the past under-rated performances by the green F.I. cars.
I have no particular wish to start any controversy, but I venture to suggest:
(a) Italian Grand Prix racing has managed quite successfully to survive worse seasons than that of 1957.
(b) What really counts in the end is not how many “nails have been put in the coffin of Italian Grand Prix racing,” but the ratio between “nails” and laurels. I do not think that in the case of Maserati** and Ferrari++ there is any need to quote this ratio, as it is so very obvious. — Umberto Perelli.
* Results obtained from Motor Sport and The Motor; races shorter than 75 miles have not been taken into consideration.
+ For best results in the “Mille Miglia” “Nurburgring 100-km.” and “Le Mans 24-Hours.”
~ For best results in the “Mille Miglia” and “Le Mans 24-Hours.”