23rd June 2011

GROTE PRIJS van NEDERLAND

MOSS WINS ON B.R.M.s
GREATEST DAY

ENTRY

For some reason, the organisers of the Dutch Grand Prix have decreed that only 15 cars will run in their race around the sand dunes on the circuit of Zandvoort, on the North Sea coast near Haarlem. A small but very select group of cars have been invited, although the Cooper team were taken aback when they found that they had been granted only two slots. These will be taken by Jack Brabham and Masten Gregory, with Bruce McLaren missing out on this occasion. Oddly, although there will be only two works Coopers, there will be four full F.1 engined Ferraris.The Maranello outfit hoping to make some inroads into the dominance enjoyed by the British cars so far this season. Behra, Brooks, Phil Hill and Allison will drive the red cars.

We are delighted to see that the two works Aston Martins have arrived to make their Championship debuts in the hands of Roy Salvadori and Carroll Shelby. Lotuses will be driven by Innes Ireland and Graham Hill, the Scot getting his first taste of Grand Prix racing after Pete Lovely took his seat at Monaco.

Jo Bonnier and Harry Schell will pilot the swift B.R.Ms while Stirling Moss has opted to drive the British Racing Partnership B.R.M this time, while Trintignant will look after Rob Walker's Cooper. The Walker team have brought both their F.1 cars to Holland in case Stirling decides that he does not fancy the B.R.M around the sand dunes but judging by his performance at Silverstone recently, plus the excellent performance of the factory B.R.Ms at Monaco, this seems unlikely.

The 15th and last car on the entry is that of the Dutchman Carel de Beaufort who will, for reasons known only to the organisers, be allowed to start in the RSK Porsche which, as most are aware, has only a 1.5 litre engine.... Well, he is Dutch!

There will be three practice sessions to determine the starting grid for the 75 lap race.

1st PRACTICE

Compared with the lap times from the 1958 race, on an identical circuit, the times from the first session were rather on the slow side. Harry Schell set the pace early on but was soon pushed down the list by both Behra and then Brooks in their Ferraris. The red cars seemingly going much better than at Monaco. Soon after Tony Brooks set the then-fastest time, it was beaten by Jack Brabham who remained top of the list until the last few minutes of the session. Then Stirling took to the track and in four laps had set a time 1.5 seconds quicker than the Cooper driver. It was a stunning example of the speed and balance of the B.R.M, not to mention the skill of its pilot.

Jo Bonnier put the factory B.R.M into 5th place, split from his team mate by a splendid effort from Graham Hill in the Lotus. After Schell, in 8th and 9th came the two Aston Martins, both running very nicely. Unexpectedly, de Beaufort was not last. The Porsche was not very quick - nobody expected it to be - but he was not far behind Masten Gregory who couldn't get his Cooper working properly and the Dutchman was actually ahead of a Ferrari. Phil Hill had a terrible time. The car stopped after a few laps with electrical gremlins but prior to that the handling was simply awful. The car kept falling over on right-hand bends. The trouble was traced to a broken shock absorber on the left front corner. This was repaired for the second session, as were the electrics.

2nd PRACTICE

Virtually everyone improved by four to five seconds in second practice; the circuit obviously settling in and rubbering up. But the status quo remained, as once again Moss left his run until the very end and repeated exactly what he did in the first session. Four laps and he was 1.2 seconds quicker than Tony Brooks' Ferrari. Brooks headed a group of five cars within a second of one another with the two works B.R.Ms finishing 3rd and 4th, just ahead of Jean Behra in the second Ferrari. Jack Brabham was rather taken aback when he found himself down in 6th place. The Cooper felt quick, apparently, but the watch told otherwise.

Roy Salvadori improved one place to 7th, while Masten Gregory found the Cooper much more to his liking with a time that put him 8th. Cliff Allison made a big improvement to jump from 12th to 9th while Shelby in the second Aston went the other way, dropping from 9th to 13th, despite improving his time by over two seconds. Phil Hill jumped from last, in his repaired car, up to 4th early in the session but then everyone else got going and Phil ended up down in 12th place, albeit twelve seconds faster than in P.1.

This time, de Beaufort was slowest, by almost six seconds although he did knock a second and a half from his first time. Whether the track will speed up any more for the final practice is yet to be confirmed but anyway it seems that whatever the other 14 drivers can do, Stirling Moss can do even better.

FINAL PRACTICE

SENSATION! Stirling Moss NOT on pole! After looking an absolute certainty for the top spot, the B.R.M driver just couldn't find enough speed to beat his fellow Aston Martin sports car colleague Tony Brooks, who set a scintillating fastest lap near the end of the final session. Moss went out late, as always, but although he lapped fast enough to move back to the front row, Brooks' time was just too quick and Tony took pole position by 8/10ths of a second. It was a stunning return to form - indeed, not a return because thus far this season Ferrari have had no form.

Jean Behra underlined Ferrari's resurgence by clocking the 5th best time, only half a second shy of Stirling. Between them we find a much happier Jack Brabham and a reasonably contented Jo Bonnier. The Swede is confident that he can run at practice pace or near to it, for the whole race. As in the second session, everyone improved their times and most by a large amount. Even the local hero managed to shave almost a second from his best but de Beaufort is seven seconds slower than the next slowest man on the grid.

For a brief time Roy Salvadori was in top spot with the Aston Martin but eventually wound up 6th; this was a fine effort that left him ahead of Harry Schell's B.R.M and a couple of seconds ahead of his own team-mate who is 10th. The other two Ferraris both went much better although when everyone had finished their runs Hill P. and Allison found themselves in 11th and 12th places. It is hard not to feel a little sorry for Innes Ireland and Maurice Trintignant, both of whom improved their best times by four seconds or so over the three sessions but still wound up at the back with only the little Porsche behind them.

THE RACE

It's not often that any make of car finishes a Grand Prix in 1st, 2nd and 3rd places, but that's exactly what the Lincolnshire outfit achieved at Zandvoort. Granted the winning car was not in factory dark green, because Stirling Moss in the British Racing Partnership's pale green example simply disappeared over the sand dunes as soon as the Dutch tricolour signalled the start of the race. And that was the last anyone saw of him other than when he came up to lap them, as he frequently did throughout the race.

At the start, Jack Brabham went into second place, relegating pole sitter Tony Brooks to third. However, the two works B.R.M.s were on the move pretty quickly and by lap 18 Bonnier and Shell had passed both Brabham and Brooks. The two dark green cars ran close together for the whole of the race, never more than 10 seconds apart and usually much closer than that. Brooks hung on well but was singularly unable to match the pace he showed in final practice. He did briefly get ahead of Shell around lap 55 but 'Arree soon regained third and was 5 seconds ahead of the Ferrari at the finish. Brabham had slipped to 6th at one point, behind Behra but the Cooper repassed the Ferrari after 20 laps or so behind it. Brabham got a wake-up call when he saw Moss appearing in his mirrors towards the end of the race and found pace from somewhere, setting the fastest lap of the whole race just a few laps from the end. His time was identical to that which Moss achieved in practice, which possibly begs the question why Jack was almost lapped.

Behind Behra, Salvadori and Gregory had a race long battle which the Aston Martin driver eventually won by 2.6 seconds. Graham Hill was a steady 9th for the entire race... while Trintignant, Ireland and Shelby argued over 10th, 11th and 12th from the moment Phill Hill's Ferrari spun off on lap 14 - they finished in the aforementioned order. The only other retirement was Allison whose Ferrari was pretty dire for the 47 laps he was out there and the man from the Lake District called it a day at that point.

Maybe the success story of the whole race centred around Carel de Beaufort and his little Porsche. Yes, he was lapped six times and was three laps behind anyone else, but he finished and he went quicker and quicker as the race wore on, finally posting a best lap of 1.45'04 which was 6.5 seconds faster than his best lap in practice. Good for him!

HERE IS THE FULL RESULT OF THE 75 LAP RACE:

   1.   11 S. MOSS B.R.M Type 25     2. 07. 35'75
   2.     7 J. BONNIER B.R.M Type 25     2. 08. 50'54
   3.     6 H. SCHELL B.R.M Type 25     2. 08. 56'50
   4.     2 T. BROOKS FERRARI Dino 246     2. 09. 01'26
   5.     8 J. BRABHAM COOPER CLIMAX T.51     2. 09. 17'15
   6.     1 J. BEHRA FERRARI Dino 246       74 laps
   7.     4 R. SALVADORI ASTON MARTIN DBR4-250       74 laps
   8.     9 M. GREGORY COOPER CLIMAX T.51       74 laps
   9.   14 G. HILL LOTUS CLIMAX 16       74 laps
 10.   10 M. TRINTIGNANT COOPER CLIMAX T.51       72 laps
 11.   12 I. IRELAND LOTUS CLIMAX 16       72 laps
 12.     5 C. SHELBY ASTON MARTIN DBR4-250       72 laps
 13.   15 C. de BEAUFORT PORSCHE RSK       69 laps

Fastest lap:   J. BRABHAM, COOPER CLIMAX T.51,   on lap 73,   1.38'58

Retired:
  16 C. ALLISON FERRARI Dino 246       47 laps
    3 P. HILL FERRARI Dino 246       13 laps

ZANDVOORT ZAYINGS: (with apologies to Jenks!)

  • The first two practice session should have told us what was going to happen. The third session was a red herring.
  • Tony Brooks was not surprised at the way his race went. He still doesn't believe that his pole winning time was correct.
  • Still, it was a slightly better performance from the red cars but they still have a way to go to compete with the green ones.
  • Brabham says that the handling of the Cooper was poor until the last quarter of the race. No reason has been forthcoming.
  • Meanwhile, Masten Gregory in the other Cooper cannot believe he had to drive so hard and still only came 8th.
  • A big 'well done' to both Lotus and Aston Martin who started and finished two cars each; as of course did B.R.M and Cooper.
  • Rob Walker was pleased for Stirling but probably a little sad that SCM was not in his blue Cooper.
  • De Beaufort is looking forward with relish to his next outing now that he has the F.2 Porsche running so well.
  • One Championship race follows another as the F.1 boys move to Reims for the French Grand Prix.
  • Meanwhile, the F.2 cars from 1959 are due at Crystal Palace for the London Trophy Race.

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