18th April 2012

GROSSER PREIS von DEUTSCHLAND

TWO IN A ROW FOR BRABHAM

There really was no logic behind the A.C.v.D's decision to move the 1959 German Grand Prix from the magnificent Nurburgring to the ludicrous 'up and down the motorway' speed-fest that was the AVUS track in Berlin, but that's what they did.

However, it made no difference to Jack Brabham, whose excellent mid-season form saw him take a relatively comfortable victory in this two-heat race. Proceedings were enlivened in the second heat when Jean Behra threw caution to the four winds and drove what could almost be described a a reckless race to beat Masten Gregory's Cooper by a whisker and move himself up to third in the overall result, thus saving Ferrari from another total debacle.

Everyone was glad when it was all over.

ENTRY

The three-car works Cooper team headed the entry list with their regular drivers Brabham, McLaren and Gregory although Masten was given a brand new chassis for this race. Ferrari were originally intending to run just the three cars for Brooks, Phil Hill and Gurney but then added Allison and finally Behra, in what was to be his final race for the Scuderia, having fallen out with the management. Moss and Trintignant were in the Walker Coopers, Stirling opting for the smaller car over the B.R.M which had served him so well earlier in the season. That car was entered for German driver Hans Herrmann. The B.R.M brought cars for Bonnier and Schell. Team Lotus arrived with two 16s for Ireland and Graham Hill while the final two cars were a Centro-Sud Cooper Maserati for Ian Burgess and, for nationalistic reasons, one assumes, Wolfgang von Trips in the F.2 Porsche single-seater. Nice to see a bit of German silver on the grid although it was actually THE most unsuitable race in which to run an F.2 car.

There will be three practice sessions to determine the starting grid for the first 30 lap heat of the 60 lap race.

1st PRACTICE

At the end of the first timed seesion things were looking quite good for Ferrari. Phil Hill had gone quickest with Behra and Brooks 4th and 5th. Between the Ferraris were Brabham and Gregory with their Coopers, both going very smoothly. The two Walker cars sandwiched Schell's B.R.M while Ireland and Burgess did extremely well to finish 9th and 10th, ahead of several more fancied runners. Gurney was struggling with his Ferrari though, with only the F.2 Porsche behind him - and quite a long way behind him too.

Things did not go well for Bonnier who thus far this season has been a permanent front runner. JoBo could not get to grips with the circuit at all and was behind Burgess. Herrmann was playing himself in gently with the pale green B.R.M, never having driven the car before.

2nd PRACTICE

This time it was Tony Brooks who set the fastest lap, just over a second and a half quicker than his American team-mate had gone in session 1. Moss leaped up to 2nd, going very well this time, as was Harry Schell, by far the more comfortable of the B.R.M drivers on this ultra high speed circuit. Harry was 3rd fastest ahead of Hill and Behra who swapped places with the two Cooper drivers, neither of whom made as much progress as those ahead of them. Bonnier moved up to 8th and Cliff Allison got his Ferrari working much better, knocking 3 seconds off his best morning lap. Burgess retained 10th place but Ireland slipped from 9th to 14th with barely a half second improvement. Gurney went a few seconds faster and jumped ahead of Hill's Lotus while the little Porsche produced the most spectacular improvement of all, finding over seven and a half seconds - but he was still last.

FINAL PRACTICE

A few minutes from the end of final practice Jack Brabham produced by far the quickest lap achieved thus far. The Aussie went round almost three-quarters of a second faster than the previous best lap (by Phil Hill) and pole position appeared settled. But it wasn't, because right at the very end of the session, Tony Brooks produced a stunning lap, more than half a second quicker than Brabham's lap and that settled the matter. A Ferrari on pole. In addition, there was Phill Hill in 3rd with Stirling Moss, who failed to improve from P.2 completing the front row of the 4-3-4 grid.

Schell, Behra and Gregory made up row two with the trio all failing to improve from the earler session. McLaren had easily his best run to jump up to 8th ahead of a much-improved Dan Gurney whose time was virtually identical to that of Cliff Allison with whom he shared row 3. Hans Herrmann completed that row with the B.R.M.

Burgess was delighted to be ahead of both Bonnier and Trintignant, neither of whom excelled themselves in Germany. Von Trips found even more speed in this session and actually split the two Lotuses, leaving Graham Hill as the slowest car on the grid.

THE RACE - HEAT 1

Ferrari's hopes were shattered in the first heat when four of their cars retired before the first heat was over. Gurney's car never ran properly and he made a pit stop to fasten a loose front wheel but that made no difference and he retired a few laps later. Brooks lost his brakes, Allison had steering problems and Phil Hill spun off the road at the little right hand bend before the banking - trying just too hard, he said. Thus it was only Jean Behra who carried the torch for Maranello, but in a fairly low key fashion, coming home 5th, a minute and a half behind the winner. That winner being Jack Brabham who led all the way and eventually pulled steadily away from a hard charging Harry Schell who drove by far his best race of the season so far. For more than half of the 30 laps 'Arree was within five or six seconds of the Cooper but Brabham was able to ease away in the final 10 laps to win by 18 seconds.

Moss had slipped back into the pack after a poor start but following Phil Hill's retirement - the American had been the leading Ferrari from the start - Stirling moved into 3rd place and held it to the end. Early on he was actually behind Herrmann who was going splendidly in the car that Moss could have driven but Stirling got ahead of the German and beat him for 3rd by a considerable distance. Behind Behra came the other two works Cooper, with McLaren ahead of Gregory. Burgess had a strong run to 8th, ahead of Ireland, who went very well and Trintignant, who didn't. Bringing up the rear, predictably was von Trips but the Porsche had gone really well and surpassed his best practice lap by some margin.

There were only two other retirements apart from the four Ferraris. Bonnier spun coming off the banking while Graham Hill managed to somersault his Lotus, fortunately without falling out and even more fortunately, landing on it's wheels, but out of the race.

HERE IS THE RESULT OF HEAT 1 - 30 LAPS:

   1.
1
J. BRABHAM COOPER CLIMAX T.51
1. 05. 41'92
   2.
10
H. SCHELL B.R.M Type 25
1. 05. 59'66
   3.
7
S. MOSS COOPER CLIMAX T.51
1. 06. 24'38
   4.
11
H. HERRMANN B.R.M Type 25
1. 07. 10'23
   5.
12
J. BEHRA FERRARI Dino 246
1. 07. 12'31
   6.
2
B. MCLAREN COOPER CLIMAX T.51
1. 07. 13'81
   7.
3
M. GREGORY COOPER CLIMAX T.51
1. 07. 38'53
   8.
18
I. BURGESS COOPER MASERATI T.51
1. 07. 46'27
   9.
15
I. IRELAND LOTUS CLIMAX 16
1. 07. 57'59
 10.
8
M. TRINTIGNANT COOPER CLIMAX T.51
29 laps
 11.
14
W. von TRIPS PORSCHE 718
29 laps

Fastest lap:   J. BRABHAM, COOPER CLIMAX T.51,   on lap 8,   2. 07'40

Retired:
5
P. HILL FERRARI Dino 246
25 laps
16
G. HILL LOTUS CLIMAX
16 laps
17
C. ALLISON FERRARI Dino 246
16 laps
4
T. BROOKS FERRARI Dino 246
15 laps
9
J. BONNIER B.R.M Type 25
14 laps
6
D. GURNEY FERRARI Dino 246
8 laps

THE RACE - HEAT 2

The second heat was as thrilling as the first one had been dull. For Jack Brabham it was simply a matter of keeping Schell in sight because anyone else who might be in front of him was so far behind following the first race that there was never any danger of his losing the race. And that's what he did, running in 4th place within a few seconds of the B.R.M until 5 laps or so from the end when he cruised past to take 3rd in the heat and a very comfortable overall victory.

However, the excitement in heat 2 came mainly from an absolutely incredible drive by Jean Behra in the sole surviving Ferrari. Jeannot was only in 4th place after 10 laps but by 20 he had moved into 2nd behind the surprise leader, Masten Gregory, who was really getting the hang of his new chassis and was flying along. Caution was thrown to the four winds by the Frenchman who begun to whittle away the gap between himself and the number 3 Cooper. With 10 laps to go there was only 2 seconds in it but Gregory then drew away and the battle appeared to be over. Not so, for Behra began to take huge risks as he approached the banking and on lap 26 he went through the right-hander before the banking at what really appeared to be suicidal speed but the Ferrari held on and thus arrived at the banking at a speed nobody else had matched throughout the event. Again the Ferrari tyres gripped and as he shot off the banking and past the timing strip his lap time created gasps of astonishment because it was no less than 3 SECONDS quicker than anyone else had done during the entire meeting. This took him past Gregory and although the Cooper driver hung on it was the Ferrari that took the flag first, by a fraction over half a second. Phew!

Moss made a very poor start to heat 2 and slipped towards the back of the field, the Cooper not running very well although he was able, eventually, to pass Ireland, Herrmann and McLaren to get back into 5th place. Herrmann, Burgess and Ireland followed Moss home with the two tail-enders from Heat 1 who ran steadily and completed the full 30 laps in the same order as in the first race, bringing up the rear.

HERE IS THE RESULT OF HEAT 2 - 30 LAPS:

   1.
12
J. BEHRA FERRARI Dino 246
1. 05. 37'02
   2.
3
M. GREGORY COOPER CLIMAX T.51
1. 05. 37'58
   3.
1
J. BRABHAM COOPER CLIMAX T.51
1. 05. 58'34
   4.
10
H. SCHELL B.R.M Type 25
1. 06. 08'15
   5.
7
S. MOSS COOPER CLIMAX T.51
1. 06. 31'55
   6.
2
B. MCLAREN COOPER CLIMAX T.51
1. 07. 01'36
   7.
11
H. HERRMANN B.R.M Type 25
1. 07. 22'49
   8.
18
I. BURGESS COOPER MASERATI T.51
1. 07. 29'85
   9.
15
I. IRELAND LOTUS CLIMAX 16
1. 07. 49'10
 10.
8
M. TRINTIGNANT COOPER CLIMAX T.51
1. 08' 12'69
 11.
14
W. von TRIPS PORSCHE 718
1. 08. 50'42

Fastest lap:   J. BEHRA, FERRARI Dino 246,   on lap 26,   2. 02'55

Behra's heroics in Heat 2 enabled him to take an overall 3rd place ahead of Moss, with Brabham and Schell taking the first two places some distance apart but with Schell well clear of Behra. Gregory and McLaren took the final top six positions with the other five finishers from Heat 2 placing 7th to 11th in the same order that they finished Heat 2.

THE OVERALL RESULT FOLLOWING THE ADDITION OF TIMES FROM THE TWO HEATS - 60 LAPS:

   1.
1
J. BRABHAM COOPER CLIMAX T.51
2. 11. 40'26
   2.
10
H. SCHELL B.R.M Type 25
2. 12. 07'81
   3.
12
J. BEHRA FERRARI Dino 246
2. 12. 49'32
   4.
7
S. MOSS COOPER CLIMAX T.51
2. 12. 55'93
   5.
3
M. GREGORY COOPER CLIMAX T.51
2. 13. 16'12
   6.
2
B. MCLAREN COOPER CLIMAX T.51
2. 14. 15'18
   7.
11
H. HERRMANN B.R.M Type 25
2. 14. 32'72
   8.
18
I. BURGESS COOPER MASERATI T.51
2. 15. 16'12
   9.
15
I. IRELAND LOTUS CLIMAX 16
2. 15. 46'69
 10.
8
M. TRINTIGNANT COOPER CLIMAX T.51
59 laps
 11.
14
W. von TRIPS PORSCHE 718
59 laps

Fastest lap:   J. BEHRA, FERRARI Dino 246,   on lap 26,   2. 02'55

AVUS ASSERTIONS

  • Many drivers thought the flat out blinds up and down the straight road was quite silly and not a little scary.
  • Happily the only major incident was Graham Hill's flip but fortunately even that proved not to be serious.
  • With Ferrari's challenge falling apart in its usual fashion, Brabham's victory was actually very easy.
  • For B.R.M it was unusual in that Schell was the star and Bonnier was nowhere. Jo was particulary uncomfortable at this circuit.
  • Ferrari are planning to bring at least one brand new car to Portugal - maybe two or three but Behra is no longer a Ferrari team member.
  • It would appear that Brooks, Phil Hill and Gurney will carry the hopes of Italy at Monsanto Park and in Spain but expect more red cars at Monza.
  • Herrmann did a very competent job in the B.R.P B.R.M but one wonders where Moss would have been had he driven it.
  • Ian Burgess drove an excellent race and beat Innes Ireland's Lotus by half a minute.....
  • ...however, financial considerations will seem a Portuguese driver in the car in Portugal - Mario Cabral.
  • Following its splendid run it is hoped that the F.2 Porsche might be quite competitive in F.2 from now on.

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