28th April 2011

MONACO GRAND PRIX

JACK'S DAY IN THE SUN

AFTER A FAST AND EXHILARATING GRAND PRIX, JACK BRABHAM OUTPACED THEM ALL, EVEN STIRLING MOSS, TO RECORD THE COOPER FACTORY'S FIRST WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP GRAND PRIX VICTORY.

READ THE COMPLETE STORY OF THIS EXCELLENT RACE BELOW.

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At last, the first round of the 1959 World Championship has arrived and the cars are assembled in the delightful Mediterranean Principality of Monaco. The circuit runs alongside the harbour then winds its way up into the town, past the Casino and the Hotel de Paris before plunging down to sea level again, passing the railway station on its way down. But then, you knew that already, didn't you?

ENTRY

Heading the entry list are five Formula 2 cars. If this seems odd it must be remembered that the A.C. de Monaco numbers the entry in order of their nationality. Thus the German cars come first (Allemagne being French for Germany, of course) although the Behra-Porsche that is to be driven by the Italian lady Maria Teresa de Filippis is essentially a French-built car with a German engine. Anyway, Maria Teresa has #4 with Wolfgang von Trips, driving the first-ever single seater Porsche to come out of the Stuttgart factory at #6. Two Belgian Coopers come next with Lucien Bianchi in a brand new T.51 while Alain de Changy has an older T.45. The sole French entry is next on the list. Jean Lucienbonnet has a T.45 Cooper and a huge slice of optimism to go with it.

And so to the more serious entries.... B.R.M have three cars here, to be handled by Harry Schell, Jo Bonnier and Ron Flockhart. The three works Coopers will be in the hands of their regular pilots - Bruce McLaren, Jack Brabham and Masten Gregory while Stirling Moss and Maurice Trintignant will drive the Coopers belonging to Rob Walker. Ivor Bueb has a Cooper with a 1.5 litre F.2 engine - a strange entry, this one - though it is not his regular British Racing Partnership Borgward-powered car. Roy Salvadori will drive the Tommy Atkins Cooper T.45 with a Maserati engine and three Lotuses complete the entry from Britain. Graham Hill and American Pete Lovely have factory F.1 Sixteens while Bruce Halford has his F.2 powered version but with a similar chassis.

Finally we have the red cars. Ferrari bring four of their 1959 cars to this race although one of them, Cliff Allison's, has a 1.5 litre engine. Tony Brooks and Jean Behra will drive the cars that they have used a few times this season while Phil Hill is entrusted with a brand new, longer chassied car which it is hoped will bring the Scuderia closer to the British cars than they have managed so far this season. How times have changed! This year there is only one Maserati 250.F present. That of the Scuderia Centro-Sud with its Italian driver Giorgio Scarlatti. There should have been another Maserati for the Monagasque Andre Testut but this car, thankfully, is not ready and will not be appearing.

1st PRACTICE

Harry Schell was the first to set a quick time in 1st practice. The B.R.M setting a very competitive time that kept him up in 4th place by the end of the session. But it was his Swedish team-mate who set the fastest time of all, a couple of tenths quicker than Tony Brooks' Ferrari with Stirling in the Cooper, his car of choice this time, less than a tenth behind Tony. Behind Schell in 5th, 6th and 7th came the three works Coopers with McLaren ahead of Gregory leaving Jack Brabham a rather frustrated last of the three.

Flockhart and Trintignant, the back up drivers at B.R.M and Walker came next. Ferrari were rather disappointed as apart from Brooks' stering efforts, neither Behra nor Hill were particularly swift. Indeed, Phil was only one place and a few hundredths of a second quicker than Allison's F.2 car. The lack of a litre proving not to be too much of a handicap on this twisty circuit. Having said that, it was not really a surprise to see all the other F.2 cars failing to get into the top 16 - the number that will start the race. Both the Porsche powered cars went quite well with Signora de Filippis finishing the session 17th just ahead of von Trips. The two Belgian Coopers were slow and extremely slow with Bianchi, in the newer car, finding that it would not go very fast at all. He ended up last, twenty seconds slower than Bonnier.

2nd PRACTICE

Jo Bonnier retained pole position after the second session, improving his lap time by just about a second to stay ahead of Moss, who moved up to 2nd ahead of Brooks - both drivers improving their times from the 1st session. Schell retained 4th but Brabham was much happier with his Cooper and moved ahead of his team-mates. Gregory was quicker than McLaren this time, Bruce failing to improve on his time from the day before. Behra made a substantial improvement, jumping from 10th to 8th heading both Flockhart and Trintignant this time.

At the other end of the top 16 Roy Salvadori improved by over a second but that only lifted him to 15th (he had been 16th the day before) leaving Scarlatti to sit in the last qualifying position. Halford's Lotus had chassis problems again and he recorded no times while Lucienbonnet moved up two places to sit 18th. Von Trips went no faster in session two but some work on the car after practice gives the Porsche team hopes that he might just squeeze in. Bianchi's Cooper went over 8 seconds faster than in the 1st session but he is still the slowest of all. The final session could well see some very quick times indeed and a hectic scramble for a good grid position or indeed, any grid position at all.

FINAL PRACTICE

To a degree the words squib and damp might be applied to the final practice session. It appears that most drivers had just about reached their limits in session 2 and so there was very little movement between the second and third sets of times. However, there were two very significant exceptions. Harry Schell wound the second B.R.M up to such level that he surpassed Stirling Moss' best time even allowing for the fact that Moss himself went fractionally quicker than the day before. So Harry leapfrogged Brooks and Moss to put the Bourne machine onto the front row alongside Bonnier who himself took things fairly easily, secure in the knowledge that his time from day two was unlikely to be beaten.

The other big news is that Wolfgang von Trips got the little silver Porsche running really well and scraped into the race in 16th place, pushing Scarlatti's Maserati out. So, no 250.Fs in the race.... Other than these two, although several drivers actually improved their times, only Gregory improved his position, popping into 5th ahead of Brabham.

Amongst the non-qualifiers, de Filippis went quicker as did Bueb but Halford's week went from bad to worse and he was nowhere near the pace required to get into the field. Spare a thought for the Equipe National Belge mechanics who started the meeting with their new Cooper barely running at all and finished with it in 21st place, 12 seconds faster than it was on day one. There were long faces in the Ferrari area of the pits because none of their four cars was able to improve its time and indeed, Phil Hill was really struggling with the new car, his best lap would not have got him in the race. Midnight oil burning times for the men from Maranello.

THE RACE

Having struggled with his Cooper through all three practice sessions, Jack Brabham went to the grid with no great expectations for the race. Quite what happened to his car between qualiying 6th on the grid and the start of the 100 lap race, even the Cooper team are at a loss to explain. Certainly they did nothing to the car whatsoever, yet Jack was second into the Gasworks on lap 1 and in the lead by St. Devote. Thereafter, he was never really in any serious danger of being beaten.

Stirling Moss beat the two B.R.Ms off the line and he was passed between the first and second corners of the race by Brabham. Jack just screamed away over the first 10 laps, pulling out no less than 20 seconds over Moss. Stirling himself was embroiled in a scrap with Jo Bonnier's pole-winning B.R.M for the first quarter of the race, with Jo actually getting by around lap 15 although the Walker Cooper was back into 2nd place by lap 25 and from that moment on the first four places in the race remained unchanged. Harry Schell backed up his Swedish colleague with a fine, steady drive to 4th, while Bruce McLaren was an equally impressive 5th.

Behind the New Zealander came Graham Hill, giving Lotus a points finish while Hill's American one-race team-mate Pete Lovely soldiered on manfully into 8th. Between the two Lotuses came a delighted Roy Salvadori who started down in 15th but had an excellent race, the Atkins Maserati powered Cooper running superbly for the whole of its 97 laps. Indeed, Roy's fastest lap was 3.5 seconds faster than his best practice lap. The final finisher was, in some ways, the star of the race. The hastily finished F.2 Porsche was brilliantly driven by Wolfgang von Trips and although last does not look that impressive it must be stated that he passed two of the Ferraris during the race and was only last because both red cars later retired.

For Ferrari this was a new low. Following the excellent 1958 season that the Scuderia enjoyed, their 1959 car is being soundly trounced by the British machines. Brooks' engine went quite early; Phil Hill just gave up with the new car - saying that it was simply undriveable; Behra crashed at the bottom of the hill after the Station Hairpin while chasing the three B.R.Ms that were running 3-4-5 at the time; and finally, Allison in the F.2 car was totally outpaced by the Porsche but at least reached lap 74 before the car failed. He was last at the time.

The other retirements were Gregory who hit the wall at St. Devote, Trintignant whose car stopped at the Station and last but not least, Flockhart, who crashed at the chicane and nearly got wet, the B.R.M ending up teetering on the edge of the harbour side. Ron had been flying up to that point and had passed four cars, moving up to run just behind Schell. Over enthusiasm rather got the better of him, I suspect.

Meanwhile, up at the front, the gap between Brabham and Moss stabilised at around 30 seconds for almost half the race before Stirling began to whittle it away from around lap 70. By lap 80 he had reduced the lead to 16 seconds, but that was as close as Brabham allowed him to get, opening it up again so that by lap 90 the green car was 21 seconds ahead and there it stayed until the finish. By that time Bonnier had settled for a good 3rd place and was lapped. Schell finished on 99 laps also.

It is well worth noting that Brabham's average lap time for the whole of the 100 laps was 1.40'93. The best he could manage in practice was 1.41'24. 'Nuff said!

Here is the full result of the 100 lap race:

    1.   24 J. BRABHAM COOPER CLIMAX T.51  2. 48. 12'85
    2.   30 S. MOSS COOPER CLIMAX T.51  2. 48. 33'78
    3.   18 J. BONNIER B.R.M Type 25     99 laps
    4.   16 H. SCHELL B.R.M Type 25     99 laps
    5.   22 B. MCLAREN COOPER CLIMAX T.51     98 laps
    6.   40 G. HILL LOTUS CLIMAX 16     97 laps
    7.   38 R. SALVADORI COOPER MASERATI T.45     97 laps
    8.   42 P. LOVELY LOTUS CLIMAX 16     95 laps
    9.     6 W. von TRIPS PORSCHE 718 F.2     95 laps
Fastest lap:   J. BRABHAM, COOPER CLIMAX T.51,   on lap 89,   1.38'77

Retired:
    52 C. ALLISON FERRARI DINO 156 F.2     73 laps
    26 M. GREGORY COOPER CLIMAX T.51     56 laps
    20 R. FLOCKHART B.R.M Type 25     53 laps
    46 J. BEHRA FERRARI DINO 246     47 laps
    32 M. TRINTIGNANT COOPER CLIMAX T.51     41 laps
    48 P. HILL FERRARI DINO 246     19 laps
    50 T. BROOKS FERRARI DINO 246     16 laps

Non-qualifiers:
    54 G. SCARLATTI MASERATI 250.F   1.45'08
      4 M. de FILIPPIS BEHRA PORSCHE F.2   1.45'42
    14 J. LUCIENBONNET COOPER CLIMAX T.45 F.2   1.47'16
    34 I. BUEB COOPER CLIMAX T.45 F.2   1.47'63
    10 L. BIANCHI COOPER CLIMAX T.51 F.2   1.48'43
    44 B. HALFORD LOTUS CLIMAX 16 F.2   1.48'66
    12 A. de CHANGY COOPER CLIMAX T.45 F.2   1.51'47

MONACO MUSINGS

  • The Cooper team will have a look to see if they can work out how Jack's car was totally transformed on race day but they don't really care.
  • Stirling was full of praise for the winner. He said he had done eveything he could to catch Jack but simply could not do it.
  • However, the sweeps and swoops of Zandvoort will almost certainly see Moss driving the British Racing Partnership's B.R.M in the next race.
  • B.R.M were not disappointed with their 3-4 finish. Co-incidentally, Harry Schell came 4th in 1958, too.
  • Ron Flockhart was extremely fortunate not to end up in the harbour. His B.R.M had been flying up to that point - then it flew!
  • Tommy Atkins' team were also very happy after the race. At last they have sorted their Maserati engine and their car went very well.
  • There will be no Atkins car at the Dutch Grand Prix as Salvadori will be driving an Aston Martin along with Carroll Shelby.
  • I will gloss over Ferrari's troubles. They are in total disarray. Four cars are entered for Zandvoort - is this too many?
  • Possibly surprisingly, the predominently French crowd loved the little Porsche. We hope the car will race in F.2 regularly from now on.
  • After the large number of cars at Monaco, Holland has just 15 on the entry. There will be no Cooper for McLaren, his entry having been refused.
  • The next 1959 race will be another round-the-houses affair. The Formula 2 Pau Grand Prix.

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