'10 exhausting laps': the 1957 British GPby Damien Smith on 5th July 2018
A series taken from the 162-page Motor Sport special 100 Greatest Grands Prix (other specials are available here).
“Those last 10 laps were exhausting,” wrote Tony Brooks in Motor Sport. “I was listening anxiously to the engine, changing gear with exaggerated care, and giving the cars I was lapping a generous berth.” All from the confines of the Vanwall pit, not the cockpit…
Brooks had long given up his car for team leader Stirling Moss; now he joined the massed crowd in crossing his fingers. Surely this would be the first World Championship GP victory for a British car?
The driver-share scheme had been pre-arranged, with Brooks’ unquestioning blessing. Tony had been stuck in bed just a week before Aintree, after his Aston Martin Le Mans shunt. He’d survived a heavy DBR1 rolling on him, yet here he was a month later outpacing the great Moss in practice. But a GP distance? That was a different matter.
Brooks was running fifth when the call came. Moss had charged past Jean Behra’s Maserati to build a strong lead, only for a misfire to thwart his progress. Now on lap 26 Tony hauled his aching limbs from the cockpit – and Stirling set off on another signature charge.
At half-distance the gap to Behra was a full minute, with Mike Hawthorn, the third Vanwall of Stuart Lewis-Evans and Peter Collins between them. But soon Collins would be gone, his Lancia-Ferrari suffering a water leak, then Behra’s Maserati engine detonated – and Hawthorn picked up a puncture on the debris. Vanwall was back in the lead!
Moss was by Lewis-Evans before they’d even passed the giant grandstand, and now the tension began to rise. Nerves tightened further when Lewis-Evans slowed with gear-linkage problems, but Great Britain would not be denied today.
For Moss, Aintree ’55 had been special, but this was something else again. Instead of foreign silver he’d done it in his beloved British Racing Green. DS
About 100 Greatest Grands Prix | From the editor Damien Smith
The Grand Prix motor races we can never forget…
This was a special one-off magazine, dedicated to our love of Grand Prix racing and produced by the same team that brings you Motor Sport each month.
It seemed a good idea: whittle down 107 years of racing history to come up with 100 GPs that could be considered the ‘greatest’ – then rank them in meritocratic order. By week three, the old grey matter was beginning to ache…
Defining greatness was the first task. There were the obvious races – the wheel-to-wheel duels, the comeback classics. But there were also individual performances of supreme dominance, races that might not necessarily have been the most exciting to witness. Greatness goes way beyond thrill-a-minute, we decided.
Choosing which races should make the list was hard enough; ranking the top 100 in some sort of order was even tougher, especially when it came to the crunch: which should be number one? We never did agree unanimously on the ‘greatest’, but if the magazine was to be finished a decision had to be taken. And that’s what I’m here for!
Will you agree with our choice and order? Probably not. But if steam begins to issue from your ears, take a deep breath. In any exercise such as this, there is no definitive list – because there can’t be. Our top 100 is based on opinion, nothing more, designed to be a bit of fun and to spark good-natured debate among fans of the world’s greatest sport.
You can download 100 Greatest Grands Prix in PDF form in the Motor Sport app.