XVITH Grosser Preis Von Deutschland
APART from being the eighth round in the World Championship, the German Grand Prix is a special event in itself, for it is held on the fabulous Nurburgring circuit with its multitude of gradients and corners throughout its lap of 22 kilometres. At most Grand Prix events the circuit is merely the ‘Beene upon which the rival teams and drivers battle against each ether for honours. but at Nurburgring a driver must first of all do battle with the circuit, endeavouringto learn and conquer as many of its twists and turns as possible, and then the matter of personal Or team rivalry can be attended to. It is true to say that to be successful on the Nurburgring a driver must first of all like the circuit and have an inner determination to beat it at all costs, or otherwise he will either finish in the hedge or make deplorably slow times. Fortunately Nurburgring is not a dangerous circuit, even though the average speed is high. and though many people get caught out by its tricky corners and come to grief, there is seldom any damage done, fOr the whole route is bordered on both sides by comparatively soft hedges and grassy banks. Being a Championship event, everyone was there. or nearly everyone, the only notable omission being the I I.\ .7t1. team, who, though they were placed second and third in the Fifelrennen meeting earlier
in the year, were refused admission to t t;rand Prix, their places being taken by various German-owned to?i-seater Veritas sports ears. Ferrari entered their usual team of 1seari, Farina, Hawthorn and Villoresi with the regular four-cylinder ears, and were opposed by Maserati with Fangio., Gonzalez; Bonetto and Marimon. Unfortunately the plump Gonzalez could not drive as he had crashed a sports Lancia in Portugal the week before and was not fit, this appearing to put a bit of a damper on the Maserati team. The Maseratis were the same six-cylinders that ran at Silverstone, supported by Graffentied with the Plate-owned car. while Ferrari were supported by the private cars of Rosier, Ecurie Franeorchamps, driven by Swaters, and Kurt Adolf driving the Feurie Espadon car driven last year by Fischer. Connaught Engineering were running three works cars; with MacAlpine, Bira and Salvadori as drivers, Clues driving his own yellow car, and Gordini entered his three regulars Trintignant, Schell and Behra with the hard-worked six-cylinder cars. Normal Cooper-Bristols were driven by Brown and Nuckey. Moss had his Alta engine and an E.N.V. gearbox in a normal Cooper Formula n chassis, while Glockler was loaned the Bob Chase Cooper with de Dion rear end, now fitted with a Bristol engine and gearbox in place of the touring 1,900 Alfa unit. To complete the list there was a collection of assorted Veritas and B.M.W.-engined ears, including one from the Eastern Zone of Berlin. now named an E.M.W.
Cold weather and rain marred the first two practice periods and discouraged most people from doing more than t he necessary qualifying laps, and on the first day only one Maserati appeared. while Ferrari had five ears out, practised, covered them up with waterproofs and sat back to watch. In between showers Hawthorn tried out a 41.1itre open two-seater, in readiness for the forthcoming 1,000-kilometre sports-car race. On this day no Gordinis appeared. nor did the Coopers Of Moss and Glockler. though Brown and Nuekey suffered the rain. Friday was again wet, though dry periods allowed some fastish lappery, but it vsas not until Saturday morning when conditions were perfect that the starting-grid times really took shape. On a long lap such as the Nurburgring the battle for starting positions can be viewed in seconds rather than split seconds, and Ascari showed his Mastery over all by being 3.9 sec. faster than Fangio, with Farina only 0.4 sec. behind, followed by Hawthorn another 8.5 sec. to the bad. These four formed the front row and behind came Trintignant, Villoresi and Bonetto, but only the first two had any hope of keeping the front row in sight. The fastest English car was the Cooper-Alta of Moss. 4L5 sec. behind Ascari, while Salvadori led the Connaughts being 9.2 set. behind Moss. Ascari’s time was 9 min. 59.8 sec., the fastest yet recorded for a Formula II car, and, while brilliant, it must he remembered that the out-and-out record for the circuit is still held by ‘Hermann Lang With the 1939 Mercedes-Benz, with a lap in 9 min. 53 sec. Altogether 33 ears came to the starting line, the notable absentees being the fourth Maserati—it having been offered rather late in the day to Lang and Pietsch, but both turned it down as there was insufficient time to accustom themselves to a very potent Mere of machinery— and Glockler’s borrowed Cooper, looking rather niee in a coat of silver paint but minus a con.-rod, a big-end bolt having broken before he could do the necessary qualifying laps. The race was to be run over 18 laps of the circuit and every driver on the starting line was fully aware that it was going to be a matter of endurance as well as racing. It was Fangio who led away. the Maserati out-accelerating Ascari’s Ferrari, and as the field streamed round the Sudkerve, preparatory to coming up the return leg past the back of the pits, Ascari and Fangio had already made a slight gap between themselves and the rest of the entry. It took the” maestro” less than half a lap to get past the Maserati and when they returned to the starting area a little over 10 minutes later, to Complete the first lap, Ascari was a clear 10 sec. in front. Fangio followed, but to everyone’s joy Hawthorn was right on his tail, just as at Reims, and 16 sec. later Farina came by and then the rest of the field, already strung out, in the order Villoresi, Bonetto, Graffenried, Schell, Debra and Hermann, a promising new German driver of a single-seater Veritas owned by Hans Klenk, the Mercedes-Benz team driver. Salvadori’s Connaught was the first British car to appear but he came into his pit and retired with his water and oil mixed together. MacAlpine also came in to change an oiled plug, and long after the tail end of the field had gone by Trintignant limped in with the sound of a broken crown-wheel and pinion, while Stuck did not complete a lap. Ascari was obviously quite uncatchable, his mastery of the Nurburgring being superb, and he steadily increased his lead by around 10 sec. per lap, so that he started on his fifth lap with 37 sec. lead over Hawthorn, who was now leading Fangio by a mere length, with Farina always 16 see. behind. Last year Ascari completed a “hat trick” on the Nurburgring, a thing never before achieved, and he now looked all set for a Fourth successive win. As the minutes ticked by while he went round on his fifth lap all eyes turned to the brow of the Tiergarten hill that leads onto the plateau where the starting area i8 situated. It was just a matter of seeing how much more he had gained on the Hawthorn-Fangio duel, everyone thought, when three cars appeared over the brow in a bunch, two Ferraris and a Maserati, and one of the Ferraris was heading for its pit, with the driver, waving his arm. It was Ascari and there was no wheel or hubnut on the off-side front hub—he was motoring on three wheels and a brake drum ! Not daring to apply the brakes for fear of locking the front drum and wearing away the elektron, he Coasted into the pit area and rolled past to come to rest at the very end of the long line of pits, Ferraris being in the first one, unfortunately. Keeping the engine running, he calmly waited while a mechanic rushed the length of the pit area with a ” quick-lift” jack, which was thrust under the front, Ascari then reversing back to his own pit while the mechanic steered the jack. The brake drum was given a quick cheek over, a hubnut borrowed from Plate, another wheel put on and, after losing 4 min. 12 sec., Ascari rejoined the race amid the cheers of the crowd. While all this had been going on Hawthorn was now driving all he knew to keep the lead, but for some unaccountable reason Farina now began to go like the wind and made upmore than 10 sec. on the leaders in one lap, so that after Ascari had gone and the leaders appeared again, Hawthorn and Fangio were still within touching distance but Farina was only 3 see. behind, and the end of the next lap saw the three cars go by in a bunch and as they started lap eight the order WOB Farina, Fangio, Hawthorn. Farina was now driving superbly and it: almost seemed that he was inspired by Ascari’s misfortune as he outpaced Fangio by as much as 10 see. a lap. Hawthorn began to tire and, feeling that the others were pressing on in a rather dangerous manner, wisely eased up, letting Fangio get as much as a half-minute lead. This urgent battle for the lead, and Ascari’s missing-wheel episode rather overshadowed the rest of the field, in which some spirited driving was going on. Villoresi was all on his own, not being able to keep up with the leaders. but outpacing the followers, while Schell had been driving brilliantly and had caught and passed Graffeuried’s Maserati, only to have the Gortlini head gasket blow. Last year IIarry Schell was regarded as rather a comic turn, not really justifying a place in the Gortlini team, but since the beginning of this season he-has made remarkable progress, getting better and better with each race. Marinum was not showing up too well on this difficult circuit, awl was delayed by a punctured rear tyre, while Debra, having worked his way up to sixth place, retired with a broken gear-change. After fitting the new wheel Ascari restarted in ninth place a long way behind Graffenried, but he needed less than a lap to catch him and Sehell’s retirement at the same time put him into seventh place on the next lap, and on the eighth lap he set a new record for Formula II cars with a time of 9 min. 57.1 see, and was now after Bonetto for fifth place. This he managed on the next lap, hut he was still a long, long way behind
Villoresi, who was holding fourth position. Farina, in his inspired flight into first place, equalled Ascari’s record lap and at the end of lap nine Ferraris did a complicated shuffle. Ascari finished his ninth lap in fifth place while Villoresi was halfway round his 10th lap, and at that point Alberto stopped at his pit and got out. Farina, Faiagio and Hawthorn completed their 10th lap in that order, now spaced out, and Villoresi completed his 10th lap in fourth position, stopped at the pits, gave the engine a fierce blip on the throttle. Ascari jumped in before the revs, died and was away, now in fourth place and not too far behind the leaders. Villoresi got into Aseari’s car and set off a few seconds later, now in 13th place and about to start the car’s 10th lap, having already completed that lap in his own car. On the 12th lap Ascari set another new record in 9 min. 56 sec. dead, a speed of 137.78 k.p.h., getting remarkably close to Lang’s all-time high of 138,$ k.p.h. As lap 14 was completed by the leaders Farina had 48 sec. over Fangio, who in turn had 42 sec. over Hawthorn, while Ascari now had Hawthorn in sight, but as he came up the return road at the back of the pits he slowed down to gesticulate to his pit, and as he started off an ominous cloud of blue smoke rose from the cockpit. He was a long time completing that lap, and Bonetto passed into fourth place, and when the Italian champion at last appeared it was to drive into his pit and stop for good, the Ferrari engine had weakened under the strain of the last lap record. Having driven over a kilometre and through three or four bends on three wheels at a speed higher than some people were doing on four wheels, rejoined the race and set up two lap records and got back within sight of being in the first three, fate had reached out and said “Enough.” As Meat’ packed his helmet and goggles into his little blue ease, donned his sports-jacket and walked slowly away to return to his hotel, the sympathy of everyone went with him, for today he had tried like never before, tried and failed, but he took with him the Formula II lap record, a record for inablown 2-litre cars that will probably stand for all time, with the introduction of the new Formula next year.
He was not alone in ill-fortune, for others farther down the field were having their troubles, Moss was running well in tenth place, being the first British car, and then lost a place due to having to refuel, while Hermann Was still in the running, showing good possibilities but also handicapped by having to refuel. Brown had worked his way up to the head of the tail-enders when his rear suspension began to fall to bits and he stopped to effect a repair at the same time that Nuckey was mending a rear shock-absorber on his Cooper-Bristol. Bite had retired his Connaught with a broken rocker, and MacAlpine in the remaining team car had a radius-arm anchor pin shear off, so that the rear axle was only held in place by the centre de Dion pivot. Determined to finish at all costs, he stopped to have some soft plugs fitted and toured round the last four laps with all four wheels steering. Marimon struggled along in seventh place until the 14th lap and then came to rest out on the circuit, having had a disappointing race, while Rosier in his usual manner was quietly going round in the middle of the field, moving up a place as each car fell by the wayside; on this lap Fangio lost both his tailpipes, but continued unabated. Towards the end Moss put on a spurt and caught the Belgian Ferrari, and moved up intoisixth place when Ascari finally packed in, and Villoresi, in the car with the tattered brake drum, worked his way up to eighth place by the finish. Farina, in the lead, did not ease up at all and finished over a minute in front of Fangio, who was still half a minute in front of Hawthorn, while al long way back, almost a lap from the leader, came Bonetto in fourth place and the last one not to be lapped by the winner. Graffenried was coasting into corners with no brakes, but holding fifth place, then came Moss, Swaters, Villoresi, Hermann, Rosier and the rest. Poor Brown, covering the last few laps with his rear suspension flopping about in an alarming manner, but determined to finish, had his engine blow up when within less than half a lap from the finish.
What had started off as a race true to current form had turned into one of drama and fantasy, notable for praiseworthy efforts of endurance from the fastest to the slowest runner. As remarked at the beginning of this report, a race on the Nurburgring is more than a race, it is an open battle between each driver and the circuit.
Results t XV1 CROSSER PRIES VON DEUTSCHLAND (August 2nd) 18 Laps-41058 Kilometres … ‘3 135.0
NURBURGRING SPORTS-CAR RACES
Before the Grand Prix was held a number of sports-car races took place, the only one of any real interest being the International class 1,100 c.c. to 1,500 c.c. In this were two Kieft-14.G.s entered by the Monkey Stable and driven by Alan Brown and Keen, but they were nothing like fast enough to cope with the works Porsches of Hermann and Glockler, or the works Borgwards of Bechem and Helfrich. Hermann, who has already been tried by Merce&s-Benz as a ” cadet ” driver for next year, ran away with the race in the open two-seater Porsche 1,500, followed by the two four-cylinder Borg. wards and Glockler, until lap four, when the last named retired. Keen led the two Kiefts, having a slight battle with Rosenhammer in an E.M.W. from East Berlin, but what the English car gained on the corners it. lost on the straight, the Russian car being so much faster. Brown was having similar trouble farther back, engaged in a tussle with Seidel in a I,500-c.c. Veritas-B.M.W. that was much faster than the Kieft-M.G. on the fast sections of the course. Although the race was a procession it was quite instructive and showed clearly the abilities of the works Porsches and Borgwards, which are run in typical German team style and really do go quickly.
Results SPORTS CARS, 1,100 e.e.-1,500 e.e.
A meeting at the Nurburgrirsg has an air of its own, for the Paddock is a stone-paved permanence surrounded by lock-up garages, and with all facilities laid on, so that all the. ennmetitors make use of it for preparation and repairs. The result is that after practice one has the opportunity to view all the cars in various stages of assembly and dis-assembly. At most meetings all the nu:thanks’ work is done behind the scenes in garages spread about the local town, which are often hard to find, so that the opportunity to view mechanical details otherwise covered with cowling was too good to miss.
Ferraris seemed to have little trouble, being content with routine maintenance and checking the cars over, but while they were fitting new shock-absorbers to some of their cars one was able to appreciate the incredible workmanship put into the building of the petrol and oil tanks, which were of an all-riveted 111/11111/1iIIM construction and, in comparison with a Cooper fuel tank that has all the seams welded, they looked works of art, yet both tanks do their job. Whether the weight of rivets is less than the weight of welding rod is a moot point. All the works Ferraris were fitted with the new carburetter layout, with the two double-choke Webers bolted to the ehassis frame with flexible connections to the engine. Those cars needing attention underneath were either run up the loading ramps of the O.M. transports, or run onto special portable raised ramps similar to those used by B.R.M. Maseratis, on the other hand, seemed less well equipped and also had far more trouble. The complete engine and gearbox was removed from Fangio’s car on Saturday afternoon by means of a portable crane, and similarly the power unit was taken out of the car Gonzalez should have driven, but which was then a spare. This engine and gearbox was put into Fangio’s chassis and prepared for the race while the Gonzalez car was hastily ” rough-assembled ” and pushed away in a corner. This operation provided an opportunity to see the bare chassis frame, consisting of two large-diameter tubes placed at their widest at the level of the clutch and converging towards the front and rear. Tubing of about 1-in. diameter forms the shape of the body and at the same time converts the chassis into a virtual space-frame with improved torsional rigidity. The engine sits on four ” feet” which are rigidly bolted to a tubular sub-frame within the main side-members, and the four-speed gearbox is bolted onto the. rear of the crankcase by a normal bell-housing surrounding
the beautifully finished and very ” watch-like ” clutch, which has a vast. number of small-diameter springs. Assembly of these cars is full of little difficulties, one of these being that the starting handle shaft is not detachable from the dog mechanism and has to be inserted through the hole in the radiator before that part is mounted on the chassis. Another one is that when fitting the complete gearbox and central remote control on these new cars, the gate has to be kept lined up with the operating mechanism that connects the left-hand gear-lever with the central gate, as this mechanism is bolted direct to the chassis frame. It is so easy to fit the radiator and find the starting shaft hanging down underneath; in fact, as easy as bolting the gearbox onto the bell-housing and finding the gear-lever ball and socket out of line. One oddity about the six-cylinder Maserati is that when it is all assembled anti tightened clown the prop.-shaft is seen to be running out of line by about four or five degrees; this, however, is intentional, the engine being set a few inches to the left of the car’s centre line. Graffenried’s Maserati was having its rear axle ratio changed and this involved removing the complete rear axle and double reduction drive, splitting the casing anti changing the crown-wheel and pinion, an interminable job, that the worthy Baron was assisting in himself, getting remarkably oily for a racing driver. In direct contrast to this, Connaughts were changing axle ratios by merely undoing a few Dzus fasteners locating the tail, removing the cover plate front the rear-mounted double redaction gear and inserting another pair of gears, all so simple and quick. This was being done on Bira’s car as the Prince felt that without the extra weight of the tail fuel tank he had been pulling in practice the car could pull a slightly higher top gear. The reason he was not going to use the tail fuel tank was the simple one that it had fallen off in practice anti he had done nearly half a lap with it trailing on the ground behind. The supporting brackets had sheared, letting the tank and mounting drag on the ground with only the fuel pipe connections holding it in place. After viewing the twin-cam alloy heads of Ferrari, Gordini and Maserati, the cast-iron push-rod Connaught cylinder head came as rather a rude shock, but nevertheless made one appreciative of the power they were obtaining from such mundane pieces.
As last year at this event, the Belgian Ferrari engine was spread all over the floor of its lock-up. It had lost a lot of power and when the block was lifted it was found that all the piston rings had disintegrated into tiny pieces, a source of wonder to the owners, but a sign of over-revving to the Ferrari mechanics. Like de Graffenried, Stirling Moss was busy helping his mechanics do routine maintenance on his brand new Cooper-Alta. This car consisted of a normal Formula II Cooper chassis, fitted with the Alta engine from the MossMartin creation that had failed to steer properly, with a preselector gearbox mounted under the driver’s knees providing a very simple connection to the operating control which was mounted on the dashboard frame; it also provided the shortest possible prop.-shaft, the two universals being only !i in. apart. The Alta engine was fitted with four S.U. carburetters with long organ-pipe intakes and a Ferrari exhaust system, even to the diameter of the tail pipe. The whole set-up seemed to be working remarkably effectively.
Gordinis were not in too much trouble, but one Car was having new valves fitted and provided an opportunity to study the valve gear on these powerful little six-cylinders. The twin overhead camshafts are driven from the front of the crankshaft by a train of gears, the inlet camshaft pinion being of double width, thereby transmitting the drive from the vertical train to the exhaust camshaft as well as turning the inlet shaft. The two camshafts lie close to the centre line of the engine and the valves are operated by very short rockers running on shafts carried in the same bearing blocks as the camshafts. After the head is bolted down the complete camshaft gear is fitted as a unit, being in three separate castings to provide the bearings for the rocker and the camshafts. These aluminium castings are located on the head by tall tubes running up from each sparking plug orifice, the tops of which are threaded and take locking rings to hold the whole lot in place. The valve gear cover is then fitted over the top and further locking rings hold that in place, the plugs being on long extensions as on the Lancia Aprilia. In the Porsche lock-ups was a very special open two-seater with fully enveloping body and fitted with an experimental o.h.c. engine, still on the same principle as the standard Porsche, but, as on the normal works cars, the power unit is in front of the rear axle instead of behind. The engine was fed by two enormous downdraught double-choke Solex carburetters but further details were well covered up, though the exhaust note was no longer Porsche, having a very healthy and crisp four-cylinder note in place of usual Porsche” bag of nails ” sound. This car was only used in practice, the push-rod o.h.v. works cars being used for the race. In the lock-ups of Henntollektiv E.M.W.. or the East German Zone of Berlin’s idea of an improved 328 B.M.W., their 1,500-c.e. sports car and 2-litre Formula
II car were being worked on. Mechanically the two were more or less the same, but the sports car had a very efficient-looking all. enveloping streamlined body, while the racing car, using the same type of chassis, had a left-hand drive normal type of body shell with the wheels exposed. The engine was basically 328 B.M.W., but, as with the works Bristols, the ignition drive from the centre of the camshaft was scrapped, and a magneto was mounted on the front of the timing case; no crankshaft damper was fitted, as with the Bristol engines. The front suspension was transformed by having upper and lower wishbones. the transverse leaf spring merely providing the suspension medium, doing no locating of the front assembly. The rear axle was a rigid type, mounted on 3-elliptic springs and located laterally by a Panhard rod, while the banjo casing was prevented from rotating about the spring anchorages under braking by a roller and guide mechanism rather similar to a de Dion tube location. Wire spoke wheels were being used on both cars, with normal Rudge-type knock-off hubs.
One of the most intriguing things about the Paddock was the number of standard Porsches mounted on trestles with the complete engine-gearbox unit removed, while spare units stood around in almost every corner. Also standing around the Paddock were two 300SL Mercedes-Benz, one a saloon and the other an open one, being used by the technical staff of that firm, who always attend Nurburg,ring meetings to watch how other people are tackling the racing problem. Naturally there were no signs of any exciting new 1954 Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix ears, for it is early yet, but. the next step from the 300SL to the G.P. car was there a few weeks before. It seems likely that the G.P. Mercedes-Benz will not be racing before next June or July, and my guess is that they will make the Belgian G.P. their first objective, Belgium being close at hand and a very friendly country. Obviously any sort of racing vehicle that one might see now will bear little relation to the eventual racing car, for if they tackle racing as they did in 1934-39 the cars will constantly change as their design department keeps ahead of the events. Looking round the Paddock one was constantly aware that there was little that was new; modifications yes, but the same basic designs as for at least two years now. The four-cylinder Ferrari, at the moment on top of the Formula 11 world, first appeared in 1951, while the Maserati A6G saw the light of day during the winter following that season, and here we are approaching the end of the 1953 season. Let us hope that the new Formula will see manufacturers taking the science of motor racing more seriously. •••••?•••