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Drama at the 1960 Monaco GP: First Lotus victory 60 years ago

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Drama at the GP Monaco 1960
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E r is one of the most resounding names in motorsport. Until 25 years ago, Lotus knew every child. The English Ferrari. The team of trendsetter and cross-border commuter Colin Chapman. You won or died in your racing cars. Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Jochen Rindt, Emerson Fittipaldi and Mario Andretti became world champions in a Lotus.

13 drivers won a Grand Prix on a Lotus. Six drivers 'world championships, seven constructors' titles, 81 wins, 107 pole positions and 71 fastest laps are in a statistic that is only surpassed by Ferrari, McLaren, Williams and Mercedes.

The Lotus story begins with the GP Monaco 1958 and it ends in 2015 in Abu Dhabi. For purists, however, Lotus was buried in 1994. Between 2010 and 2015, other teams just walked the name. At least two victories with Kimi Räikkönen were enough in this era.

The very first victory in 1960 in Monte Carlo with a Lotus was exactly 60 years ago this weekend. Clive Chapman, son of the company founder, speaks in the back of a 'David versus Goliath story'.

Strictly speaking, it wasn't a straight Lotus success either. Not the factory drivers Innes Ireland, Alan Stacey or John Surtees got into the royal box, but Stirling Moss, who was on a private mission. Whiskey King Rob Walker used his Lotus 18 in blue paintwork with white stripes.

The black and white pictures do not show that this is a privately used Lotus in blue and white paint.

The first real Lotus

So the success story began on May 29, 1960 a cloudy day in Monte Carlo.A few raindrops also fell. For Colin Chapman, the Lotus 18 was the first real Formula 1 car from his young racing team. It already had features of its design philosophy. Light, agile, efficient.

And for the first time the engine was behind the driver. Cooper had pushed ahead with his mid-engine concept of the T53. At Lotus and B.R.M. the shot was fired two years late. Back then, the Monaco GP was still a real long-distance race. It took the winner almost three hours to complete 100 laps.

Let's look back on an historic hour in motorsport: 24 entries, but only 16 starters. Sir Stirling put the Walker-Lotus on the best starting position. It was the first pole position for the English brand. As was customary at the time, qualifying was the first big hurdle at the Monaco Grand Prix.

From that point of view, it was not a good idea for Lance Reventlow to make his debut with his new Scarab team at this race of all places. The first appearance of an American Formula 1 car ended in non-qualification. Chuck Daigh and Lance Reventlow were 11.3 and 12.2 seconds short of the fastest training Stirling Moss in their beautiful but sedate Scarabs with a front engine.

The Americans asked Moss to give their car a quick test. Something like that was still possible back then. The Lotus driver drove five seconds faster in the strange car. His verdict: The suspension was set way too hard.

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There were protective fences or safety bands it wasn't back then. Behind the advertising tarpaulin, bales of straw were supposed to cushion an impact.

A Lotus driver in the Scarab

The Scarabs weren't the ones only new release at the second Grand Prix of the year. Stirling Moss finally had the new Lotus 18 on hand. Ferrari entrusted the 246P, a prototype with the engine behind the driver, to its debutant Richie Ginther. The Italian team bought a Cooper as visual material and based on this knowledge made a 246P out of the 246 Dino. Ginther qualified Ferrari's test balloon for ninth place on the grid.

The freckled American lost just three tenths toWolfgang Graf Berghe von Trips, the fastest man in the stable. The training result should have prompted Maranello to vigorously push the mid-engine project forward, but it fell asleep again. After Jack Brabham won the World Cup in the Cooper in 1959 at the latest, it had to be clear to everyone where the journey was going.

But Enzo Ferrari didn't care about the concept of the car. For him, technology was defined solely by the engine. The three front-engined Ferraris for Wolfgang Graf Berghe von Trips, Phil Hill and Cliff Allison all had different wheelbases. From 2,160 to 2,220 to 2,320 millimeters.

Moss did not expect the greatest resistance from his brand colleague Innes Ireland, but from various Cooper Climax in the field. World champion Brabham placed his factory T53 on starting position 2. Next to him, homecomer Tony Brooks took his place, who was on a B.R.P. had called the previous year Cooper. His team mate Chris Bristow followed in 4th place.

After the promising performance in Buenos Aires, the B.R.M. by Joakim Bonnier, Graham Hill and Dan Gurney. The trio took the starting positions 5, 6 and 14. The seven-time motorcycle champion John Surtees made his GP debut almost unnoticed. He drove the third works Lotus alongside Innes Ireland and Alan Stacey and was able to easily qualify in 15th place.

A serious accident during training

The weekend began with bad news for Ferrari . Cliff Allison had a serious accident in the chicane. The Englishman sailed out of the car in a high arc and suffered a complicated broken arm, dented ribs and serious injuries to the spine. The Brough car dealer was in a coma for 16 days. It is said that he spoke fluent French afterwards, although he only knew a few bits of the language before.

Allison's accident was a second warning shot in a season marked by many serious accidents. It was only 14 days before the Monaco GP that Harry Schell had a fatal accident in a non-World Championship run at Silverstone. The American overturned on a wet track in Abbey Curve and crashed into a wall. Three weeks later, Chris Bristow and Alan Stacey fell to their deaths in Spa.

The big car roulette on a rainy Sunday began with an exciting three-way battle between Stirling Moss, Joakim Bonnier and Jack Brabham. With his rear-wheel drive B.R.M. placed at the top at the start. He was able to defend them against Moss until round 17. Then the rain set in.

That was the strongest phase for Brabham. The world champion closed a seven-second gap to Moss and took the lead. There were numerous slips on the greasy slopes. Bruce McLaren in the tunnel and the gasometer curve. Phil Hill at the casino. Tony Brooks and Jack Brabham in Ste. Dévote. Roy Salvadori in the Gasometer corner.

After Brabham spun in the41st lap and the subsequent disqualification due to the use of outside help was out of the race, the action concentrated on the duel between Moss and Bonnier. Moss had to have a spark plug changed on the pits, which gave Bonnier the lead. But only for eight laps. Then Moss was over again.

In this phase the rain had increased significantly. Under the treacherous conditions, Moss flashed his entire class. In the 78th lap, Bonnier had to give up. A broken rear axle forced him to pit. But the race was not over for the Swede.

Honor in the royal box. Stirling Moss celebrated the first of 81 Lotus victories in Formula 1.

Wounded people are cared for

Als From the 79th lap only four vehicles circled the course, the big work began in the pits. Cars that had long since failed have been revived. Others waited until Stirling Moss was shown the checkered flag and then pushed their cars over the line. There have recently been points for the first six, but only for drivers who crossed the finish line on their own.

So Joakim Bonnier at 17 and Richie Ginther in the mid-engine Ferrari, 30 laps behind, made it to the World Championship. Counters. Bonnier was rewarded with two World Cup points. The B.R.M. troop had his car back on the road. Ginther maneuvered his immobile mid-engine Ferrari over the finish line to secure the last championship point.

The recently deceased Moss celebrated his first win of the season. Bruce McLaren finished second, 52 seconds back. The Argentina winner thus defended his World Cup lead. Phil Hill lost ten seconds to the New Zealander in the final. Tony Brooks finished an inconspicuous race in fourth.

There should have been points for Innes Ireland as well. Shortly after halfway through the race, the Lotus driver stopped up on the slope to the casino. A short circuit had paralyzed the ignition coil. The Lotus driver began pushing his car up the hill the rest of the way. The drama dragged on to the last round. from the point of failure over 2.5 kilometers. When Ireland finally onWhen he arrived at the finish, he was 44 laps behind the winner.


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