Scuderia Ferrari stood at the top at the end of the 1956 season. This would be followed by a truly depressing season in which the car would seemingly lack that the pace to compete. However, toward the end of the '57 season the team would begin to find its legs and would become competitive again. As it would turn out, the memory of Enzo's lost son would help Ferrari reach the top once again.
While Juan Manuel Fangio would carry Scuderia Ferrari to victory and the championship in 1956 it would not be a season of joy and celebration for Enzo who would lose his son Alfredo 'Dino' to muscular dystrophy in June of that year. Already grieving from the loss of his son, Enzo would become rather bitter when Fangio decided to leave the team for the other Italian firm challenging for the championship—Maserati.
While Dino's death would greatly impact Enzo, the rest of the Ferrari team would also seem to be affected with some troubles as well as the '57 season would see the team struggle mightily. Even when they appeared to turn things around they would end up being bettered by another, usually Fangio in the Maserati.
The 1958 season, however, offered the team a great deal of hope. Not only had Fangio been nearly impossible to beat, but the British Vanwalls were routinely the fastest cars on track. Heading into 1958, though, some changes would happen the provided Ferrari a great opportunity. First of all, Maserati would withdraw from Formula One, right along with Fangio. The Argentinean would still take part in a couple of events during the early part of the season, but he would well and truly retire after the French Grand Prix. Furthermore, the move away from exotic alcohol-based fuels for more routine avgas caused a great deal of consternation within Vandervell's camp.
Ferrari believed they were making further progress with the introduction of its new chassis, the 246 F1. Before he would pass away, Dino would have an idea for a 1.5-liter V6 engine. It would become known as the Dino. The V6 engine was not only light, it was also rather powerful. Used in Formula 2, the Dino 156 F2 would make its debut in 1957 and would be quite successful keeping pace with its Formula One brethren in a number of different events. As a result, Ferrari would scrap trying to evolve the old Lancia-Ferrari and would build a Formula One version of the 156 F2.
With an increased engine size of 2.4-liters, the V6 engine would be capable of about 280hp. Combined with the compact 246 F1 chassis, the V6 engine helped Ferrari claw back a lot of the speed it lacked in '57. Enjoying a stable driver lineup that included Mike Hawthorn, Peter Collins and Luigi Musso, Ferrari appeared ready to assume its place at the top.
The first race of the '58 season would take place in the southern hemisphere. Therefore, the team would pack up all of its cars and equipment and would have it all shipped from Italy across the Atlantic to Argentina. The team would arrive in Buenos Aires around the start of the new year and would set to work preparing for the Argentine Grand Prix held on the 19th of January.
Ferrari had arrived in Argentina in 1957 with a fleet of Lancia-Ferraris. However, one by one, they would falter until just two of the six would actually finish the race, and both of them would be well down in the order. Returning to Buenos Aires in '58, Scuderia Ferrari would be an immediate favorite what with Vandervell's absence and the withdrawal of Maserati.
Work on the new 246 F1s had to be done quickly. Unfortunately, the team would not fully complete work on a fourth car before it was time to set sail for Argentina. Therefore, the team would arrive with three examples of the 246. Hawthorn, Collins and Musso would be present to drive. A fourth car was to be entered for Wolfgang von Trips. Unfortunately, it would not be ready in time to make the trip. Scuderia Ferrari would arrive in Buenos Aires with its new cars and would find its main competition would come in the form of privateer teams driving older Maserati 250Fs and the mid-engined Cooper. Ferrari would have to be an instant favorite prior to the race.
The race would take part around the familiar 2.42 mile circuit number two at the Autodromo Municipal Ciudad de Buenos Aires. Consisting of a fast outer section and a twisty infield portion, the Buenos Aires circuit was technical and challenging. In spite of driving an aged 250F, Fangio would prove his talent was not waning as he would take the pole after posting a lap time of 1:42.0 in practice. Hawthorn would show the 246 F1 was certainly taking Ferrari in the right direction after he managed to lap the circuit six-tenths of a second slower than Fangio and earned 2nd on the grid. Starting beside Fangio and Hawthorn would be Collins. His lap time would be nearly identical to his friend Hawthorn, but he would still end up 3rd on the grid. The final spot on the four-wide front row would go to Jean Behra driving a Maserati. Luigi Musso would miss out on a front row starting spot by just two-tenths of a second. As it stood, the Italian would start from the first position in the second row, right behind Hawthorn and Fangio.
Unlike in years past, the weather was not unbearable as the teams prepared for the start of the 80 lap Argentine Grand Prix. This would be a blessing to the drivers given the new regulations prohibited cars being shared over the course of a race. The cars would be lined up in their grid positions and the drivers would slowly begin to take their places behind the wheel.
The start of the race would be fantastic for some and truly terrible for others. In the case of Behra starting in 4th, it would be a fantastic start as he would leap into the lead. For Collins, on the other hand, the start would be utterly terrible as his driveshaft would fail right at the drop of the flag. The failure would see him coast a few feet before retiring for good. The Brit would be left cheering on his compatriot and friend who would also get away well chasing Behra from 2nd place.
The first lap would go to Behra. However, Hawthorn would be showing the pace of the 246 and would soon move into the lead and would hold onto it for the next handful of laps. Meanwhile, Musso, who would lose a number of places at the start of the race, would be gradually making his way forward. After just a couple of laps he would be up to 5th place and in a battle with Stirling Moss in the Rob Walker Cooper.
Though Fangio was up there in age, right along with the Maserati, there was nothing Hawthorn could do to hold back the Argentinean before his home crowd. The five-time World Champion would take over the lead and would stay there for more than 20 laps. Hawthorn then would become embroiled in a battle with Behra and Moss for 2nd place while Musso would hang around 5th place for most of the first-third of the race.
In the past, weather had played a big part in the Argentine round of the World Championship. Whether it was tire wear or fatigued drivers, the race usually served up some sort of challenge the drivers and teams had to deal with over the course of the race. Sure enough, and most likely because of the move toward avgas, the Maseratis began to overheat. This caused Fangio and Behra to slip out of contention. Then there were oil pressure problems on Hawthorn's car. He would be forced to pit to have the issue checked, which would also drop him down in the order. Suddenly, Moss would be in the lead of the race with Musso holding onto the 2nd spot. Fangio would stop for new tires and to allow his Maserati to cool a little. Most everyone else would also make a stop for new tires believing the need given conditions of the past.
Moss would not stop however and would carry on in the lead. Musso would trail along behind Moss by more than a few seconds, but was not rushed in any way as he believed the Cooper would have to make a stop for new tires.
The laps continued to disappear; still, Musso was confident that at some point he would be handed the lead. Walker's own mechanics began laying out equipment for a pitstop giving Ferrari reason to believe it would soon be in the lead. But Moss would have other ideas.
Perhaps persuaded by the cooler than usual conditions, Moss carried on. There would be only about 10 laps remaining in the race when it finally dawned on Ferrari and Musso that Moss was not going to pit. Musso needed to respond and would by setting some fast lap times. None would be as fast as Fangio's set on the 30th lap but they would be effective in reeling in the distance. However, the remaining laps were more of the concern than the gap.
Fangio's Maserati would fade in the last 30 laps of the race helping Hawthorn up to 3rd place. Then Behra would run into trouble dropping him well down in the field and promoting Hawthorn to 3rd. Ferrari was within reach of a one-three finish. They just needed Musso to catch Moss in the remaining couple of laps.
Musso would give it everything he had in his effort to catch Moss, but it wouldn't be enough. Despite threads showing in the tires, Moss would hold on to carry the Cooper to victory, the first victory in Formula One by a mid-engined car. Musso had tried valiantly but would come up 2.7 seconds short. Hawthorn would be a further ten seconds adrift of his teammate and would finish 3rd.
A lack of awareness had cost Ferrari victory. However, a 2nd and a 3rd in the first race of the season would go a long way to helping the team in the new Constructors' Championship that would make its debut in 1958.
Following the near miss in the Argentine Grand Prix, Ferrari would remain in Argentina to take part in the Gran Premio Ciudad de Buenos Aires non-championship race held on the 2nd of February. And, though the race would also take place at the Autodromo Municipal Ciudad de Buenos Aires, a different circuit layout would be used for this race.
Instead of using the usual circuit layout number 2, the non-championship event would use layout number 4, which measured 2.91 miles in length and included a second in-field section. The race itself would be broken into two heats with the final scoring being determined in the aggregate.
Neither of the Ferrari drivers, which included Musso, Collins, Hawthorn and even Phil Hill, would start from pole in either heat. However, Hawthorn would come through to win the first heat by more than 30 seconds over Fangio. Musso would finish in 3rd while Collins and Hill failed to finish.
In the second heat race, only Musso would manage to finish as Hawthorn ran afoul of transmission problems. Fangio would end up taking the win with Carlos Menditeguy crossing the line 2nd. Therefore, when the aggregate times were determined it would be Fangio taking one more win in his illustrious career while Musso would finish in 2nd place more than a minute off the pace. None of the other Ferrari drivers would be classified as a result of failures.
Ferrari's final race before heading back to Europe would not end with a bang, in spite of Musso's strong 2nd place showing. Nonetheless, the team would head back to Europe confident their new car could contend. The only question that really remained was just how good was the car compared to the Vanwall?
The team would try and find an answer to this question as quickly as possible. Therefore, the team would dispatch a single car to England in early April. On the 7th of April, Goodwood hosted its famous Easter Monday Races. This all-day racing event was a usual showcase of the best and brightest throughout Europe, but especially Britain. Though the Vanwalls would not be in the entry list, the BRMs from Owen Racing would be. This would allow Ferrari to get an idea where it stood compared to one of the British teams.
Hawthorn would be the driver for the single entry for Ferrari. He would be at the wheel of the Dino 246 F1 in the 6th Glover Trophy race, which was a 42 lap race around what had formerly been RAF Westhampnett during the Second World War.
Moss would be there at the wheel of a Cooper and, again, would prove a real thorn in the side as he would qualify on pole. Jean Behra would put his BRM 2nd on the grid. Hawthorn would end up 3rd while Roy Salvadori would complete the four-wide front row in another Cooper.
The BRMs had proven to be fast historically, but they also suffered from poor reliability and this race would be no exception. Behra's BRM would last all of 4 laps before brake failure would lead to the Frenchman suffering an accident that took him out of the race. Three laps later, Harry Schell would also run afoul of brake failure. Both BRMs would be out of the race before even 10 laps had been completed. This opened the door for Hawthorn, but he would have to do battle with a whole gaggle of mid-engined Coopers.
Hawthorn and Moss would set the fastest lap of the race but Moss would end up falling out of the race around the mid-point. Still, there were plenty of other pilots driving Coopers. Hawthorn would have some hard work on his hands. Still, the 246 F1 would prove its superior pace around the fast Goodwood circuit and Mike began to pull away from the rest of the field.
Averaging nearly 95mph, Hawthorn would cruise to an easy victory defeating Jack Brabham by some 35 seconds. Roy Salvadori would finish in 3rd place, more than a lap behind. Ferrari had faced some of Britain's best, on their home soil, and had come out on top. There was reason to be confident, but they still hadn't faced the threat from Vandervell yet.
While Hawthorn would be dispatched to Goodwood to take on his fellow countrymen, Luigi Musso would be dispatched, some six days later, to Syracuse to take on his fellow countrymen on the island of Sicily.
When allied to Sparta and Corinth, Syracuse was one of the most powerful and influential cities in the whole of the Mediterranean region. Tactically important seemingly all throughout its history, Syracuse would become of lesser importance to the world of motor racing as time went on. However, it would still host a popular non-championship race, the Gran Premio di Siracusa.
The race in 1958 would be held on the 13th of April and would be filled to the brim with privateer Maserati 250F entries. Musso would be left all alone with just his 246 to fend them all off. However, by the end of practice it seemed clear that, attrition aside, there wasn't anybody in the field that would be able to keep pace with Ferrari's latest car.
Musso would start from the pole having set a lap time around the 3.48 mile circuit of 1:58.4. This time would end up being more than three seconds quicker than Giorgio Scarlatti's time in one of the later 250Fs. Jo Bonnier would start 3rd having been just two-tenths of a second slower than Scarlatti, but he too wasn't even close to Musso's time.
The race would be 60 laps around the Syracuse circuit that was comprised of city streets and concrete-lined country roads. The circuit was fast and that played into the hands of the Ferrari.
Musso knew he had the pace in hand to overcome the competition. Therefore, Musso would be up at the front of the field pushing as hard as he desired. This pace, in and of itself, would be more than enough to pull away from the competition.
Posting a fastest lap less than a second off of his best time in practice, this pace would be more than enough for Luigi to pull clear. The year before he had to follow Peter Collins around Syracuse. This time, it was him showing the way, and in just a dominant fashion.
It would take Musso only about two hours and three minutes to complete the 208 mile race distance and the results would be devastating to the competition as Musso would cross the line more than a lap ahead of Bonnier finishing in 2nd place. More than two laps would be the gap to Godia-Sales finishing in 3rd in another 250F.
Over the course of a week, Scuderia Ferrari had dominated its competition in two different races. Unfortunately, it was yet to face its main rival for '58. But while the team had been unable to go up against its strongest competition, each of its main drivers would get experience carrying the mantle on their own…well all but one, and his turn would come in early May.
Peter Collins was the only one of Ferrari's main drivers that had not seen any action in a single-seater since Argentina. That would change on the 3rd of May when he would be found in Silverstone, England representing Ferrari in the 10th BRDC International Trophy race.
In 1956, Collins had been Fangio's closest challenger for the World Championship. The Brit appeared to be one of Britain's brightest hopes right along with Moss and Hawthorn. However, the '57 would be a poor one for the man from Mustow Green. However, arriving in Silverstone as the team's lone entry in the International Trophy race would give the man an opportunity to kick-start his season and get a bit more motivated.
The race also presented Collins with a great opportunity. The British round of the World Championship would take place at Silverstone and this race would provide him some valuable track time, even an advantage knowing how to hustle the 246 F1 around Silverstone quickly.
As usual, the field for the 50 lap race would be large, partly as a result of the race including Formula One and Formula 2 cars running at the same time. Collins' main competition would come from the same sources Hawthorn had faced in Goodwood. The Vanwalls were not present again, which meant the Coopers and BRMs presented the clearest danger. This fact would be highlighted in practice.
Roy Salvadori would be on the march in practice. He would take his Cooper and would lap the 2.92 mile circuit in 1:40.8. This would be a second quicker than Collins. Amazingly, Jack Brabham and Stirling Moss would both set times faster than Collins. As a result, Salvadori would start from pole with Brabham starting 2nd and Moss 3rd. Collins would complete the front row starting 4th.
It would be the 10th edition of the International Trophy race, the first to make use of just the perimeter road around the former RAF bomber training base. The wide open airfield was fast and very tough on cars. This would bring the crowd out in droves for the race on the 3rd.
In spite of being on pole, Moss would have a terrible start and would actually stall. This would drop him well down in the field. Collins would not have any such troubles at the start and would actually manage to get ahead of Behra into the first corner. However, after a few laps in the lead, Collins would find Behra breathing down his neck. The BRM would be just too fast and Jean would move into the lead.
Collins would find himself in tough battles behind Behra and seemed unable to battle for the lead. Behra continued to charge on and began opening up a bit of an advantage over Collins and the rest. It appeared the BRM was in good form for the day. However, Behra would get struck with a stone and would be forced to return to the pits suffering from the damage.
Collins would have a little fight with Brabham in a Cooper but would finally be able to break free. The Ferrari driver would be in the lead and would find his advantage quickly lengthened when Brabham was forced into the pits. Once in the lead, Peter would steadily pull away and would look to be cruising.
Collins would continue to throw down some fast laps and would even manage to hold onto the Ferrari when he kicked sideways coming through Copse as his car slid on some oil down on the track. He would hold onto the car and the victory crossing the line a little more than 23 seconds ahead of Roy Salvadori in 2nd place. More than 35 seconds would be the gap to Masten Gregory finishing in 3rd place.
Over the course of a few weeks each of Ferrari's main drivers would be forced to go it alone in rather important non-championship races and would come out on top in each of them. Confidence would be running high within the team as the second round of the World Championship was just a couple of weeks away.
The success Ferrari had been enjoying over the previous weeks had all come at fast circuits. The next race on the team's calendar would take place on one of the slowest circuits in all of grand prix racing. The second round of the 1958 Formula One World Championship would be the crown jewel of the whole season—the Monaco Grand Prix.
The important Monaco Grand Prix would afford Ferrari its first opportunity to square-off against the Vanwalls. This wasn't necessarily the best place to get an indication as to which was fastest, but it would give Ferrari the opportunity to see if the poor handling of the Vanwall had been addressed.
The weather around the tiny principality would be beautiful all weekend long. Unfortunately, this pleasant weather would not translate into great pace for either of the Ferrari drivers. Still, the team's goal was to overcome the embarrassment that was the '57 Monaco Grand Prix in which Collins' Ferrari would end up parked on top of Hawthorn's along the harbor front.
As the cars took to the circuit in practice, the British cars, particularly the Coopers, would be quite quick around the 1.95 mile Monaco circuit. Concerns about the Vanwalls would be well-founded though as Brooks would end up going quite fast in practice and would end up on the pole having set a lap time of 1:39.8. Jean Behra would take 2nd on the grid in the BRM and Jack Brabham would make it an all British car front row by claiming 3rd.
There would be some reason for concern at Ferrari as the fastest of their runners would be Hawthorn. His best lap of 1:41.5 would be less than a couple of seconds off the pace but it would result in him only managing a third row starting position. Peter Collins and Luigi Musso would start in the fourth row, right behind Hawthorn. Collins would get the better of Musso by just two-tenths of a second. The fourth Ferrari in the field would belong to Wolfgang von Trips. He would be in the middle of the fifth row starting 12th. The first five on the grid would be British cars. If the 246 was going to prove to be a championship contender, it would likely need to do it here.
The usual pomp and circumstance would lead up to the start of the 100 lap race on the 18th of May. Brilliant sunshine meant it would be a beautiful day for a race along the Mediterranean. The cars would be lined up on the grid and engines started. At the drop of the flag, there would be a tremendous drag race to the first corner in which Salvadori would win, but would enter too fast to be able to make the turn. Therefore, Behra would actually emerge from the corner with the lead. Brooks followed in 2nd place with Moss lying 3rd. None of the Ferraris would be amongst the top five. However, all four would be fighting for spots within the top ten.
Brooks would continue to follow along behind Behra. Hawthorn's rather poor showing in practice would seem like a ploy during the race as he would soon find his legs and started to push his way past those ahead of him on the course. By the time the field took off around the circuit for what was the 10th lap, Hawthorn was already sitting in 3rd place trying his best to catch up to Brooks in 2nd place. Musso, who had been ahead of Mike, would remain just outside the top five while Collins and von Trips followed along in order.
Through the first quarter of the race Behra would be leading the way. His race would come to an end shortly after, however, and Hawthorn would find himself leading the way ahead of a very close Moss. Brooks was already out of the race as a result of ignition troubles. Though not setting the world on fire, all of the Ferraris would find themselves in the points before the halfway mark as Hawthorn and Moss battled for the lead.
The battle would seemingly come to an end when Moss retired on the 39th lap due to engine troubles. Hawthorn had the lead and seemed to have the pace to fend anyone else off. However, after 7 or 8 laps in the lead, a fuel pump on Hawthorn's Ferrari would fail causing his race to be run. Maurice Trintignant would end up taking over the lead of the race in none other than the Rob Walker Cooper, the very same team that had captured victory in Argentina all the way back in January.
It seemed like a case of déjà vu all over again as a Rob Walker Cooper led the way and Luigi Musso followed along in 2nd place, a little ways ahead of Peter Collins and von Trips. Scuderia Ferrari would be running 2nd through 4th, but there appeared to be plenty of time to make inroads on Trintignant's lead.
Half of the race remained for Musso to try and attack Trintignant and his lead. However, as the laps dwindled, it would become apparent Luigi could do little in the 246 against the nimble little Cooper, especially around the tight and twisty streets of Monaco. Luigi would steadily drop the lead from around 45 seconds down to 20, but Maurice would pick it up at key moments to ensure the gap remained steady.
The tiny Cooper against the might of three Scuderia Ferraris would be more than enough on this day. After two hours and 52 minutes, Trintignant would appear around Tabac for the final time. The Frenchman would power his way across the line to take his second victory at Monaco. Engine troubles for von Trips with less than 10 laps remaining meant he would fail to finish costing Ferrari 2nd through 4th. Once again, Musso would be bested by a Cooper. The Italian, who was beginning, apparently, to come under some pressure for personal debts, just could not keep it together throughout the last half of the race to prevent Walker's Cooper from claiming the top step. Instead, Ferrari would have to be content with Musso finishing in 2nd place and Collins finishing 3rd.
Enzo was never one to accept anything less than a victory. However, 10 points for a 2nd and 3rd would be certainly very important for the team, especially since the Vanwalls would come away with nothing.
Leaving the Mediterranean coast, Scuderia Ferrari would then head to the coast of the North Sea and, in particular, the 2.60 mile road course at Zandvoort. There, on the 26th of May, would be held the Dutch Grand Prix.
Situated, literally, within yards of the North Sea, the Zandvoort Circuit would be wind-blown, sandy and fast. Lined with sand dunes and some forestation, the circuit would be a rather intriguing setting for a race. But if the blowing sand wasn't dangerous enough, the very layout and nature of the circuit itself gave very little room for error without there being terrible consequences.
As a result of the two 2nd places in the first two races of the season, Luigi Musso actually led the championship with Hawthorn sitting in 4th place ahead of his good friend Collins in 5th. Being a fast circuit, Zandvoort would provide the best indication to date as to where Ferrari and the Vanwalls stood in relation to each other. The championship would really start then.
Ferrari would get an eye-opener in practice when the entire front row would be awash in Vanwall green, led by Stuart Lewis-Evans. Stirling Moss would start 2nd and Tony Brooks would complete the Vanwall domination of practice by starting 3rd. As in Monaco, the first of the Ferraris would not be found until perusing the third row of the grid. Mike Hawthorn would end up 6th. Peter Collins would be on the fourth row of the grid in 10th while Musso would round out Ferrari's attack by starting from the fifth row in 12th.
Blowing sand would have to be of even greater concern heading into the 75 lap race on the 26th. The winds off the North Sea would be kicking-up terribly. Therefore, every single one of the drivers would need to take care, especially in the fast, sweeping corners.
The start of the race would actually be on a Monday as it would be a bank holiday in the Netherlands, and, as a result, a large crowd would come to watch the race hoping for a memorable affair. However, it would prove to be anything but as Moss would take the lead at the start. He would be followed by Lewis-Evans. Harry Schell would be electrifying at the start and would be up to 3rd place as Brooks would be forced down to 4th. The best of the Ferraris at the start would be Hawthorn. Adorned in his usual bowtie and single windscreen, Mike would be struggling just to make it up to 5th place by the end of the first lap. Collins would follow his friend through around 9th place while Musso would be stuck hanging around outside the top ten.
Moss continued to show the way as Schell continued his movement up the order. He would be up to 2nd place by the 12th lap and would remain right there. His BRM teammate, Behra, would find his way up to 3rd just past halfway. Hawthorn would use the attrition of Lewis-Evans and Brooks to his advantage. He would move up to 5th place. Unfortunately, Collins would already be out of the running as a result of a spin in the slippery conditions. Collins would spin the car on the 33rd lap and would stall the car causing him to have to retire.
Moss would be absolutely indomitable leading every single lap of the race and cruising to an easy victory. Hawthorn would give himself some help taking away a point from Moss for setting the fastest lap of the race. Harry Schell would lead home a BRM two-three finish while Hawthorn would never be able to catch Roy Salvadori and would have to settle for 5th place, one lap behind Moss. Luigi Musso would never get going. Aided by attrition, including his teammate Collins, Musso would only manage to finish in 7th place more than two laps behind.
In the first real encounter against the Vanwalls at a higher-speed circuit, the Ferraris still struggled to match their pace. However, not all was lost. Had it not been for Collins' spin, all three of the Ferraris would have finished the race compared to the lone Vanwall covering the distance. It was clear the Vanwall was fragile and that appeared to be its greatest weakness as the calendar approached the break surrounding the Indianapolis 500.
The Ferraris had not shown well in the higher speed environment at Zandvoort. In early June, the team would make its way into the Ardennes region of Belgium. They were on their way to Spa-Francorchamps, a veritable cathedral for speed. The team needed to show well there in order to have any hope over the course of the season.
Due to disputes the year before, the Dutch and the Belgian Grand Prix were absent from the racing calendar. One year later, both would be back on the schedule, and, as the teams arrived in Spa and began settling into their garages in preparation for the Grand Prix de Belgique on the 15th of June, they would soon find the circuit had undergone some changes and improvements in that time.
The first impression would come from the resurfacing. A part of this resurfacing including removing the jumps toward the top of the rise at Eau Rouge. After that, there would be some minor route changes to the circuit. All told, the 8.77 mile Spa circuit would now be considered the fastest on the World Championship calendar, and that would even include the next stop at Reims and Monza later on.
The Ferrari drivers would be at the circuit awaiting their cars. The weather would actually be pleasant and with very little hint of the usual unpredictability. One by one, the 246 F1s would be unloaded. Hawthorn, never one for a wraparound windscreen would find his car with a bit of a compromise with a small windscreen in between himself and the wraparound. The air scoop on the top of the car would also be updated allowing more air to the inlets than what had been in place at Zandvoort. This would be important around Spa.
Taking to the circuit, the Ferraris would quickly show a pace that had been missing at Zandvoort. Peter Collins would appear relaxed and unfazed after his spin in the Netherlands although Enzo himself had felt the Brit had been lacking in passion and focus and that the spin was evidence of the fact.
Hawthorn would prove he was passionate and focused as he would end up setting the fastest lap time around the circuit and would take the pole by only a little more than four-tenths of a second from Musso. Stirling Moss, over the same 8.77 miles would be just a half a second slower.
If Collins lacked focus he certainly could have fooled everyone after he would end up on the second row of the grid in 4th place with a time just six-tenths slower than Hawthorn. Ferrari would actually enter four cars in the fray. The fourth would be painted Belgian yellow and would be entered for Olivier Gendebien. Gendebien would end up on the third row of the grid in the 8th position.
Beautiful weather would again great the Ardennes region as the large crowd awaited the start of the 24 lap race. The drivers would take their places, including Marie-Therese de Filippis, the first female driver in Formula One.
The flag would drop and the race would start. Moss would beat the two Ferraris to Eau Rouge and would be followed by his teammate Brooks. Both Hawthorn and Musso would be lost day-dreaming as they would drop a number of places before they headed up the hill for the first time. As the field makes its way through the first couple of miles, the only Ferraris to make any kind of impression would be Gendebien sitting in 3rd place and Collins, who would make his way up to 4th.
However, the start would mean very little to the end of the race, the end of the first lap even as it would be Brooks coming through in the lead with Moss creeping along slowly. Clearly his day had been run after just one lap. This meant a Vanwall still led the way but it would be the Ferraris of Collins and Gendebien in 2nd place and 3rd while Hawthorn would move back up into 4th place.
Collins would show some great signs of life as he would battle with Brooks for the lead. Something he would take over within the next couple of laps. The Ferrari and Vanwall driver would battle it out closely on the track while Hawthorn sat content in 3rd place. Gendebien would slip behind Hawthorn while Musso would struggle to get up inside the top five.
The attrition would begin to mount. Not only would Moss already be out of the race but Behra would follow on the 5th lap when the engine let go in the BRM. Events seemed to be playing into Ferrari's hands. However, at the same time Behra would retire with engine trouble, half of the Ferrari attack would be lost.
Brooks had gone back into the lead but had no less than four Ferraris within the top seven. However, on the 5th lap Collins would find that it is his Ferrari that has suffered from the pace the most. He would end up retired from the race with an overheated engine. Hawthorn would take over 2nd place. Just behind Hawthorn, Gendebien would have to make a pitstop as a result of contact with Stuart Lewis-Evans at La Source. This would drop the Belgian well down in the order, but he would still be in the race, which is more than could be said for Musso who would lose control going through Stavelot. The crash would make it impossible for Musso to carry on and would leave Ferrari with just Hawthorn to carry on the fight up at the front of the field. Just like that, in a matter of moments, Ferrari's four car attack would be left, in all reality, with just a single car to take on the rest of the field.
The Vanwalls would show absolutely no signs of trouble with the avgas as Brooks would steadily pull away from Hawthorn. Sandwiched between two Vanwalls, Hawthorn's best hopes would be for finishing 2nd and taking an extra point for the fastest lap of the race. This he would promptly do on the 24th, and final, lap of the race. Letting it all hang out on the final lap of the race, Hawthorn would post a lap time just a little more than a second slower than his best effort in practice.
Unfortunately, the fastest lap meant Hawthorn only finished 21 seconds behind Brooks in the end. Lewis-Evans made it a rather good day for Vandervell by finishing in 3rd. Olivier Gendebien's fantastic early start would end up in a rather disappointing 6th place, one lap behind the leaders.
The 2nd place and fastest lap would help Hawthorn leap up to 2nd place in the standings, trailing behind Moss by just three points. Ferrari itself would hold onto the lead in the constructors' battle by a single point still over Cooper.
Leaving Spa, there would be a break for the rest of the month. This would coincide with the running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The break would also help Ferrari to prepare its cars for another fast, tough race. The French Grand Prix had been dominated by the Lancia-Ferraris the last time it had been held at Reims. Well, in 1958, the French round of the World Championship would be back at the 5.15 mile road course. And, Ferrari would need to return to that level of dominance if it were to have any chance against the Vanwalls.
The French Grand Prix had been held in Rouen the year before and would be utterly dominated by Fangio in the Maserati. One year later, Fangio would make a rare appearance at the wheel of a privately-entered 250F. However, it was more than obvious the Maserati was not going to be the car that ended up the victor. Ferrari's job was to make sure it wasn't the Vanwall though after their struggling performance in Spa. To help in this endeavor, Ferrari would redesigned the suspension of the car and would make some further improvements in other areas.
The Reims circuit, comprised of public roads just to the west of the city's center, would be of the same ilk as Spa, just without the elevation changes. Situated in the Champagne-Ardenne region of France, Reims would be much more of a rolling plain. The greatest amount of elevation change over the course of a single lap of Reims would come along the long Route Nationale 31. Exiting the tight Muizon hairpin there would be an impressive climb that would result in a gradual drop into the Thillois hairpin. This was an area routinely judged incorrectly by the drivers and made for some interesting moments.
Prior to the race, Musso would be in an interesting fix. It would be highly rumored that his personal debts were only getting worse. Furthermore, his situation would be only more frustrating given the fact Collins and Hawthorn would have an agreement between the two of them to share any prize money. No such agreement existed between them and the rest of the Ferrari drivers and that made life difficult for Musso, especially coming off his accident at Stavelot in the Belgian Grand Prix. To top everything off, Musso was an Italian driving for the famed Ferrari team. This was a lot of pressure to bear and it would have devastating effects.
Musso would do his best in practice, but would come up a little short of the pole. That honor would go to Hawthorn with a lap time of 2:21.7. Harry Schell would make sure that none of the Vanwalls made it onto the front row when he put his BRM on the front row in 3rd.
Ferrari would again enter four cars in a bid to take the constructors' crown as well. Von Trips would impress in practice by ending up on the second row of the grid in the 4th position. Collins would struggle compared to his teammates and would find himself on the fourth row of the grid in the 9th position.
Bright sunshine shone down on the area as the 50 lap French Grand Prix got prepared to start on the 6th of July. At the start, Schell would make a fantastic getaway and would actually be in the lead heading through the fast right-hander for the first time. However, Hawthorn's 246 would be handling much better and would allow the Brit to remain close to the BRM so that he could slip-stream by the American-Parisian before the end of the first lap. Musso would complete the first lap in 3rd place and at the head of a whole group of cars locked together in their own slip-streaming battle.
There was nothing Schell could do against the whole fleet. But amongst that large gaggle, Musso, Collins and Brooks would manage to break away, but only slightly. Hawthorn, meanwhile, would be up front and actually increasing his advantage.
The fighting would be fierce behind Hawthorn. Von Trips would have an absolutely terrible start and would be nearly at the tail-end of the field before he got his race going. Musso would be leading a group that included Collins and the three Vanwalls. However, Hawthorn was getting away and Musso really needed to score victory. He had laid back two times before and end up 2nd. He wasn't about to lay back and have that happen again.
Musso would push harder and harder with each lap. Unfortunately, on the 10th lap of the race, Musso would heading into a fast corner even faster than what he, or anyone else, would have deemed proper. Sure enough, the Italian would lose control of the car and it would clip a curb throwing the Ferrari into the air and into a series of somersaults. Thrown into the air, Musso's body would come down hard to the ground. A rescure helicopter would be brought in, the first time in which a helicopter would be used in a racing accident. But, the race would go on.
Hawthorn was in the lead and only growing his advantage as the other drivers swapped positions back and forth. Collins would lose out and would drop well down in the field while von Trips had made his way all the way back up to 4th place with about 10 laps remaining. Collins would also recover and would be trailing along behind von Trips, but too far back to make much more headway.
There would be some tremendous scraps amongst some very good drivers and cars. But, the Ferrari of Hawthorn appeared in a league of its own as it would never be challenged over the course of the race. Setting the fastest lap of the race with just five laps to go, Hawthorn was certainly en route to a big result.
After the poor showing in Spa, Moss needed to leave with some points. Therefore, the Brit would sit content in 2nd place trailing Hawthorn to the checkered flag by some 24 seconds. Von Trips would recover from a poor start to finish a minute down to Hawthorn in 3rd place. Back in 1956, Collins would give Fangio his Ferrari to help ensure the Argentinean would earn his fourth World Championship. Peter had tremendous respect for the champion and he knew, like everyone else, that Fangio was going to retire. As a result, it would not be at all surprising to see Fangio move ahead of Collins with a few laps remaining in the race. Collins would finish well back of his teammate in 5th place.
It would be a great day for Ferrari, but the mood would be terribly muted as Hawthorn and Collins paid the ailing Musso a visit in the hospital. Musso would quickly die from his injuries and the loss would result in a terrible rift between the Italian's fiancée and the two British drivers because of their 'agreement'.
Ferrari was now in a strong position in both championships, but it would come at the cost of one of its popular drivers. Heading into the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on the 19th of July, Ferrari would do its best to move on as the team would come with its usual three cars and von Trips promoted to the third driver role.
A couple of months before, Collins had driven to victory in the International Trophy race. However, as all the cars were being unloaded from their transporters, the Ferrari driver would be lost somewhat behind the talk of Hawthorn, Moss and Brooks.
Having made updates to the car prior to Reims, Ferrari would also fashion a car perfect for Silverstone as well given its fast 2.92 mile layout. In spite of this, the Vanwalls would be back on form, right along with the BRMs and Coopers, who certainly looked to do well before the home crowd.
Moss would end up on pole with a lap of 1:39.4. This time, incidentally, would be more than two seconds quicker than Collins' fastest for the International Trophy race and clearly hinted as to why most of the talk centered around Moss and Hawthorn. The remainder of the front row consisted of Schell starting 2nd in the BRM and Roy Salvadori lining up 3rd in the Cooper. Ferrari needed one of its drivers on the front row and it would be Hawthorn that would oblige. He would be a second slower than Moss around the circuit, but would still line up on the front row.
Peter Collins would keep himself in the fray with a lap time just two-tenths slower than his friend. This would result in Collins starting 6th from the middle of the second row. Von Trips would round-out Ferrari's attack starting from the third row of the grid in the 11th position.
Amazingly, the weather would be fantastic for the race on the 19th. Some 75 laps, or 219 miles, would be the race distance and the grandstands would be overflowing with British fans looking for their countrymen to dominate.
The year before, Moss, Brooks and the Vanwall had made history, but that had happened at Aintree. At Silverstone, the place where Ferrari had earned its first Formula One World Championship victory, the Maranello outfit would be looking to reassert its dominance on English shores, with its English drivers.
The start would see the only front row starting Ferrari, that of Hawthorn, get away poorly while Moss would be up at the front leading the way, or so all the Vanwall fans thought. Collins, who was under some pressure himself from none other than Enzo, would spring from his second row grid position and would force his way to the front by the time the field streamed down Hangar Straight and through Stowe.
Ferrari would lead the way at the end of the first lap, but it would not be who everyone expected. Collins would be on point while Moss would follow just ahead of the Ferrari driven by Hawthorn. Wolfgang would be lying back around 8th place battling with Salvadori and Lewis-Evans.
The order at the front would remain unchanged throughout the first-third of the race. Von Trips would be ahead of Schell, Brooks and Behra, but could do nothing to catch Lewis-Evans, who was embroiled in a terrific battle with Salvadori in the small Cooper.
If the race ended as it looked through the first-third of the race, the championship would remain locked in a tight battle. However, the engine in Moss' Vanwall would let go leaving Collins in lead and Hawthorn following along in 2nd. This would be both delightful and upsetting to the British fans that despised the 'red' cars.
It seemed certain Hawthorn would move up to challenge his friend and teammate for the lead in an effort to widen his championship advantage. However, Collins would be flying in the Ferrari. Hawthorn would end up earning an extra point for setting the fastest lap of the race, but Collins would be consistently quick each and every time around the circuit. This held Hawthorn at bay.
Ferrari would start to look forward to a tremendous day of success. However, all thoughts would be quickly reigned in when von Trips retired from a points-paying position with a bearing failure. Then, only laps later, Hawthorn would make a surprise visit to the pits declaring he needed oil. The mechanics would rush into action. Eyes would be on Woodcote hoping that Salvadori would not appear before the Ferrari was on its way. The work would be completed quickly and Hawthorn would be away with 2nd place still firmly in his grasp.
No such troubles would befall Collins over the course of the 75 laps. Challenged in the early going by a hard-pressing Moss, Collins would perform brilliantly matching his every move, and the, finally, helping to break the fragile Vanwall. Peter would cruise to victory proving he very much still had that edge that made Enzo adopt the Brit as one of his own sons. Hawthorn would come across the line 24 seconds later to take a strong 2nd place. Salvadori would edge out Lewis-Evans for 3rd place which meant Ferrari further padded its advantage over Vandervell in the Constructors' Championship as well.
Ferrari appeared to be hitting its stride while the Vanwalls seemed to be getting tripped up over reliability issues. Hawthorn and Ferrari had clear advantages in both championships, and, the series was heading to a circuit where it would have won before had it not been for the drive of the century by Fangio.
The German Grand Prix would be next on the calendar and it would take place on the 3rd of August. It had been the scene of perhaps Fangio's greatest drive the year before and that robbed Collins and Hawthorn of a potential victory. One year later, Fangio was not present. It was time for the Ferrari drivers to assert themselves and take another victory.
Changing conditions would greet the teams and drivers around the infamous 14 mile long Nurburgring over the course of that weekend in early August. Hawthorn would time everything just right and would be flying in the 246 around the more than 170 corners and more than a thousand feet of elevation changes. Fangio had set the lap record around the circuit the year before. Mike would better it the next. Posting a lap time of 9:14.0, Hawthorn would be flying around the Nurburgring with only Brooks able to stay within reach. Mike would take the pole with Brooks occupying 2nd on the grid. Then there would be Moss in 3rd place. This put two Vanwalls on the front row. Peter Collins would do his part to help out his friend by claiming the final spot on the front row. This made it two Vanwalls and Ferraris on the front row. Wolfgang wouldn't be far behind. He would line up 5th on the second row of the grid while Phil Hill would be on the third row of the grid in a Formula 2 Dino 156.
The changing conditions would give way to beautiful weather in the splendid Eifel Mountains. The large field would form up on the grid, and, when the flag dropped to start the race, it would be Moss and Brooks that would lead the field into the first couple of corners. Close behind them would be the Ferraris of Collins and Hawthorn not all that far behind.
By the end of the first lap it would be Moss in the lead. However, he would be hurried by the presence of a resurgent Hawthorn and Collins. Brooks would lose out and would be in 4th fighting off von Trips. A little further back, Hill would be in the midst of a battle for the lead in the Formula 2 field. He would be running right around 10th place after the first circuit and would move up as events within the Formula One field began to take effect.
Hill would manage to move up as a result of Moss retiring from the race after leading the first three laps of the race. Collins had been truly reinvigorated by his victory on home soil and would battle to take over 2nd place from his Ferrari teammate.
Collins and Hawthorn would continue their friendly battle until Peter got the best of Hawthorn and would remain on point for the next half dozen laps while Hawthorn sat still in 2nd place willing to take the points and extend his championship lead.
But, just when the Ferrari pilots began to really settle in, Brooks would find some speed and would make quick inroads against his fellow Brits. Then, on the 11th lap of the race a tragedy would be enacted. Brooks would be on the fly and would quickly make his way by Hawthorn, then a surprised Collins, for the lead. Peter undoubtedly thought the race was his to win as he would immediately set off after Brooks in an effort to retake what had been stolen from him. Unfortunately, this would cause Peter to take some chances he may not have otherwise. Heading through Pflanzgarten, he would misjudge the crest and the following right-hander. He would lose control of his Ferrari but would nearly save it when the front wheel caught a ditch throwing the car high in the air similar to that suffered by Musso in Reims. Peter would be ejected from the car and thrown hard up against a tree right in front of Hawthorn's passing Ferrari. Mike would witness the whole thing and knew immediately what it meant.
Moments would pass and Brooks would appear as the clear leader. There was no Collins. Then, slowly, Hawthorn pulled into the pits visibly distraught by what had just happened. Collins' wife of just 18 months was there and she knew by Mike's actions that Peter had been killed. Ferrari would retire Hawthorn's car citing, officially, 'clutch' failure as the reason for the abandonment. But everyone knew the real reason why. Hawthorn would leave and would rush to the hospital holding out hope for his friend, but he knew there was really no chance.
The race would go on, but it would be a processional affair all throughout the field. Brooks would take the win providing Vandervell with some very valuable points, especially given Hawthorn's retirement from the race. Moss' fastest lap gave him a point to help him in his cause against Hawthorn. Salvadori and Maurice Trintignant would complete the podium while von Trips would finish 4th in the lone Formula One Ferrari. Phil Hill would bring his 156 home 9th overall and 4th amongst the Formula 2 runners as well.
The mood at Ferrari following the race would not be a good one. First Musso, then Collins, how many more would Ferrari lose before the end of the season. Furthermore, it was well known Hawthorn's time was rapidly drawing nigh with his health problems, could he cope with the loss of his friend as well? Though Ferrari left the Nurburgring still leading both championships they would leave with more questions than answers.
The questions would keep coming as the next race on the calendar would be a brand new one for the Formula One World Championship. Most of the drivers had taken part in races of some kind around the Boavista Circuit in Oporto, Portugal, but now, on the 24th of August, they would do so with the results counting toward the World Championship.
There was little time for Hawthorn to grieve the loss of his good friend and teammate Collins. And this may have been a good thing for there was still a championship to be finished and Mike was still at the head of the list. Though his desire for motor racing may have been waning, to go out on top would be the best way to do it, especially to honor his friend. Therefore, this meant he needed to regroup quickly and get back to putting his foot down.
Arriving in Oporto, it would be more than obvious the Vandervell team were intent on winning the championship as they would unload their cars with additional air scoops adorning the nose of their cars in the attempt to help the overheating issues. And, at 4.60 miles in length, the Boavista Circuit was certainly some place where cooling would be very important.
To start out with, the circuit would feature some long straights that would push the engines to their limits. This would be followed by a technical section filled with twisty turns going back and forth. This too would put tremendous strain on the engine as the rpms would need to remain high, and, because of the lower average speeds, the cooling would be restricted. Still, situated right along the Atlantic coast, it would be hard to come up with a nicer setting for which to hold a race.
If the race for the championship wasn't already seen as the closest in a couple of years, then practice would help to tell the story. Moss' updated Vanwall would be quick enough to take the pole but by a mere five-hundredths of a second over Hawthorn. Stuart Lewis-Evans' presence on the front row, however, also suggested the Vanwalls were back and ready to fight to the bitter end.
The loss of Musso and Collins would deeply impact Ferrari and they would come to the race with just two cars: one for Hawthorn and the other for von Trips. While Hawthorn would start from the front row, von Trips would find himself on the third row of the grid nearly three seconds adrift of the pace of the front-runners.
Situated along the Atlantic coast, Oporto could have changeable weather at times and this would be evident on the day of the race. Leading up to the start of the 50 lap race on the 24th it would be raining. This would make a circuit, complete with tramlines and cobblestone sections ultimately treacherous. Even as the cars took to their grid positions, the rain would be long gone but the circuit itself would be quite wet still.
In the tricky conditions, it would be Moss that would be out of the blocks first, but Hawthorn would be right there ready to challenge. Von Trips would get a fantastic start to the race and would actually be in 3rd place at the end of the first trip around the circuit.
Moss would lead the opening lap of the event but Hawthorn would quickly move to take over the point, which he would do for the next five, or so, laps. Then, while von Trips began a slow and steady decline in the running order, Moss would retake the lead from Hawthorn. In the changing conditions, Stirling would seem to be in his element as he would steadily draw away from his closest competitor in the championship.
Moss would continue to open up a bigger and bigger margin over Hawthorn. Jean Behra would be running in 3rd place. He wouldn't be close enough to really challenge Mike in the early goings, but he would be close enough to take advantage of any misstep. Wolfgang, who had started out the race brilliantly, would struggle in the tricky conditions. By the halfway mark of the race he would be down fighting for the final championship point while Hawthorn would be fighting just to stay on the same lap as Moss.
Behra would end up getting by Hawthorn as he would lose control of his Ferrari in the still wet conditions. The problem was that he stalled the car at the same time, and at a point where the circuit went up hill at a descent enough of a grade there was no hope of push-starting the car. Therefore, Hawthorn would make the decision to point the car in the opposite on a portion of pavement that wasn't even a part of the circuit but that ran downhill. Traveling a short distance, Hawthorn would re-fire his Ferrari and would head back into the race.
Moss would dominate for more than 40 laps. He would cruise to an easy win having nearly a full lap in hand over Hawthorn after his little excursion. Stuart Lewis-Evans would bring Vandervell right back into the Constructors' championship fight when he managed to finish in 3rd place a little more than a lap behind. Wolfgang's fantastic early start would be muted over time and he would end up finishing the race more than a lap behind in a very quiet 5th.
Everything seemed straight-forward until after the race when the officials threatened to disqualify Hawthorn for his driving against the flow of the circuit in an effort to restart his car. Suddenly, his 2nd place seemed destined to end with just a single point for setting the fastest lap of the race. Amazingly, Moss would step into the situation and would let the officials know what he thought about what he witnessed. He would actually fight on Mike's behalf saying he had completed the maneuver on a section of pavement that wasn't even a normal part of the circuit. The officials would buy Moss' argument and hawthorn would be allowed to keep his 2nd place result. This event could not have been more important for the championship.
Ferrari was now trailing behind Vandervell by a single point, but, Hawthorn's lead in the championship diminished to a lesser extent. The next race on the calendar would be an important race as it would take place on home soil, but it would be so much more poignant than that.
The Italian Grand Prix would be set to take place on the 7th of September and it could not have been more important to Scuderia Ferrari. The team had endured some tough races as of late and had watched its championship lead shrink in each case. However, the race would be on home soil. The team would try and tap into the power of the tifosi to help the team keep the pressure on Vandervell.
Ferrari had been blown away at its own race in '57. The sheer pace of the Vanwalls dominated nearly everyone, except Fangio. But, as Ferrari arrived in Monza one year later, the situation would be much different. Their cars had the pace and the handling to compete, they would just need the Vanwalls to run into some more trouble, as they had done throughout the season.
The Monza circuit would be unchanged from the previous season. This benefited the Vanwalls, who again would show themselves to be the superior car around the 3.91 mile circuit. By the end of practice it would be Moss on pole with Tony Brooks starting 2nd. Vandervell seemed on cue for another sweep of the first three positions on the grid. However, Hawthorn was not about to let the championship slip through his fingers. He would push his 246 hard and would come away with the 3rd spot on the front row. Still, Hawthorn would have no less than three Vanwalls to deal with on the front rank. He would need some help. Thankfully, his backup could be found on the row behind him. American Phil Hill would be promoted to the grand prix team and Olivier Genedebien would also get a ride right alongside von Trips. Gendebien would be fast earning the 5th starting spot. Von Trips and Hill would end up 6th and 7th respectively.
Twenty-two cars would line up on the grid for the start of the 70 lap race. Grandstands bursting with excitement, the race would get underway. Moss and Brooks would get away well but Hill would make the best start of all splitting the two Vanwalls and following Moss through the first turn in 2nd place. This wouldn't be good enough for the talented American driver and he would soon move ahead of Moss for the lead. A little further back, von Trips would be wheel-to-wheel with Harry Schell. The two would touch sending the Ferrari flying through the air. Suddenly, thoughts would stray to Musso and Collins and the fear of another driver being lost. Von Trips would be throws out of the car, but, thankfully, when his body came to a rest, he would be left with just a broken leg. Schell's BRM would go through its own self-destruction, but he would be unhurt. In total, three cars would be caught up in the first lap melee. Ferrari would be down one of its cars, but its others would be in rather fine shape.
At the completion of the first lap, Hill would show his future World Champion form as he would lead the way over Moss and Lewis-Evans. Hawthorn would be sitting in 4th place at the end of the first lap when Gendebien would be well down outside of the top ten.
Slip-streaming amongst the top four or five would shuffle the order more than a few times. Hill would hold onto the lead through the first few laps. Then it would be Hawthorn that would sling his way to the front. Moss would continue to hang around the front of the field while Gendebien would find his race come to an early end as a result of a broken suspension.
Tire problems would hinder Hill's performance. He would be forced to make a stop within the first 10 laps of the race and would end up right around 10th by the time he re-emerged on the circuit. Hawthorn and Moss, meanwhile, would battle it out on the track. Moss would hold the advantage for the majority of the laps using his superior pace to stay ahead. Unfortunately for him, and fortunately for Hawthorn, the gearbox on the Vanwall was becoming a little ragged. Moss' race would last some 17 laps, and it would leave him hoping and praying for some help.
Hawthorn would be in the lead and cruising right along. Hill would recover from his tire problems and would soon be setting fast lap after fast lap in an effort to claw his way back to the front. Hill's fastest lap of the race would enable him to come up and challenge Hawthorn for the lead, which he would take right around the mid-point of the race. At that time Hawthorn would peel into the pits for new tires. Hawthorn's stop would be routine, an especially nice break from most of the stops he had encountered over the course of the season, and he would be back in the fray looking to possible clinch the championship.
Hill's time in the lead would be short-lived as he would again run into tire trouble and would have to stop. This would hand the lead back to Hawthorn. The championship appeared within his grasp. However, Tony Brooks would be lurking a little ways back in 2nd place, just ready to try and help his teammate out.
Hawthorn ran steadily in the lead. He would not want to do anything that would cost him his chance at winning the championship. Therefore, his pace wouldn't be what it could have been. This would open the door to Brooks, who was absolutely flying throughout the last half of the race.
Typical Brooks, he would let the first half of the race unfold to enable any potential gremlins to get out of the way. Then, in the last half of the race he would push his car asking everything it could give. He would be doing just that in the remaining 25 laps of the race. The result would be that he would be reeling in Hawthorn. Hawthorn was under no threat. He knew the Vanwall was fragile. There was every reason to believe that even if Tony caught him, the Vanwall would have paid too high a price to come away with the victory. Besides, he would still be in a strong position to dictate events in the final race even if Brooks were to take the victory.
So Hawthorn would be unruffled when he looked in his mirrors and saw Brooks right there. Nine laps remaining in the race, Brooks would make his move to take over the lead of the race. Hawthorn would put up little fight and would slot into 2nd place. Hill would be back up to 3rd place, but he would certainly hold his position so as not to make it any easier for Moss and Vandervell.
Brooks charge in defense of his teammate would be a very commendable one. The Vanwall would respond averaging nearly 121mph in its pursuit of the lead. Once he took over the lead, Hawthorn well and truly backed off the gas. The margin would open up quickly. There was still plenty of opportunity for the Vanwall to fail before the end, but it would do no such thing.
Brooks would defend his teammate masterfully taking the victory by some 24 seconds over Hawthorn. Phil Hill would overcome his terrible tire difficulties to come away with a 3rd place result in his very first race with the Formula One team. Finishing 4 seconds behind Hawthorn, Hill would help Ferrari keep the fight for the Constructors' Championship close as well.
By the end of the race, Hawthorn's advantage over Moss would be 8 points. In the constructors' fight, Vandervell would be ahead by 6. This championship would go down to the final race of the season with both championships up for grabs. In one respect, Ferrari dictated the terms. In the other, Vandervell did. It would be an electrifying championship and Ferrari was at least at the center of it.
Following the Italian Grand Prix in early September there would be a rather significant break before the 11th, and final, round of the World Championship. This meant both teams would be taking the time to check and recheck their chariots for the final event. Both Ferrari and Vandervell had reason to feel confident, and nervous. They would be in a rather equal position, it just depended upon which championship was being discussed.
Finally, after a month of waiting, the teams would begin the process of shipping their cars and equipment to the final destination of the season. For Hawthorn and Ferrari, they hoped and prayed they would be heading off toward a double World Championship.
The final round of the 1958 Formula One World Championship would also take place at a new venue, at least for Formula One. The Moroccan Grand Prix would be held on the 19th of October. Teams would be visiting the circuit for the second time after it had been a non-championship event. In 1958 however, the race would play a very significant part in the World Championship.
The site for the final round would be Casablanca, the largest city of the North African nation. The city would gain in prominence by being the country's chief port and industrial center, even more so than Tangiers further to the north.
Initially settled by the native Berbers, the area would become a port used, initially by the Phoenicians and then, later, the Romans. Though a part of North Africa, Morocco's proximity to Europe would always result in there being Italian, French and Spanish influence on the country, and it would be one of the major reasons for Casablanca's importance as a tourist destination as well.
French colonialists would arrive in the late 1800s and the population of the city would really begin to takeoff. In 1942, the city would be the site of Operation Torch where British and American forces invaded in attempts to push back the Germans. However, the European invasion would be in full swing well before the Second World War. It would be during this period the city would host its first grand prix.
Casablanca would be the site of the first grand prix, which would take place in 1925. In 1930, the race would be moved to the Anfa Circuit comprised of public roads and streets just to the west of the city.
Anfa would host the race for about four years until the race ceased to exist for nearly 20 years. In 1954, a new Moroccan Grand Prix would be arranged. This time the circuit would be located in Agadir, some 500 kilometers south from Casablanca, but still right along the Atlantic coast. However, in 1957, Formula One would pay its first visit to the new site for the Moroccan Grand Prix. The circuit would be Ain-Diab and it would be located back in Casablanca, with literally a portion of the circuit being comprised of the former Anfa circuit.
The Ain-Diab circuit would be similar in its character to that of Zandvoort in that it would be quick, but it would also be very slippery with sand blowing in over the circuit from the beaches nearby. Measuring 4.72 miles in length, the circuit would be first conquered by Jean Behra in a Maserati. Mike Hawthorn would know he didn't have to conqueror the circuit to come away World Champion, but he certainly needed to take things seriously.
He would do just that in practice as he would end up posting the fastest lap time and taking the pole. Moss would be within a tenth however and would start right alongside in 2nd. Stuart Lewis-Evans posed a serious risk to Hawthorn as well as he positioned his Vanwall in the final slot on the front row. Hawthorn would have some help from the row directly behind, for, in 5th place would be Phil Hill. Olivier Gendebien would be back driving for the Scuderia. He would start from the third row in the 6th position.
A great deal of ceremony would precede the race. King Mohammed V would make his appearance amidst a circuit awash in highly trained and sharply-dressed officers. Tens of thousands would be on hand for what seemed to be the first season in which Fangio was not going to be crowned World Champion.
The drivers would take their places. The cars would be started. It was time for the final round of the '58 World Championship. Tension would build to unbearable levels as Moss knew he had to do everything possible just to come away with a shot at the title…He would get the start right as he would be the first one out of the blocks. Having Lewis-Evans alongside heading into the first turn, Hawthorn's championship hopes already seemed in rough shape, especially since he would get away poorly from the grid.
Hill would give Hawthorn hope however as he would make a sterling start of his own and would actually get ahead of Lewis-Evans before the completion of the first lap. So, the order after the first lap would be Moss in the lead with Hill following in 2nd place. Lewis-Evans would have a moment and would slip backward while Brooks would be busy trying to find his legs in an effort to hold off Hawthorn for that all-important 2nd place.
Though Hill was occupying the spot Hawthorn needed, the race would be 53 laps, plenty of time for the man from Farnham to move up. Furthermore, Hill was doing Mike a favor by pressing Moss, trying to break the fragile Vanwall so that his Ferrari teammate wouldn't have to work so hard in the process.
It would be Hill that would push himself a bit too hard, for, as he challenged Moss for the lead, he would go into a corner too hot and would end up going off the circuit. Moss would hold onto the lead and Hawthorn would move up to 2nd, but the American was far from being done playing a role in the day's proceedings.
Moss knew what he needed to do and he was getting on with it picking up the pace in earnest. Hawthorn would run in 2nd place for a handful of laps before Hill would get back by and set off after Moss. Still, Hawthorn would be in no real hurry until Brooks made his appearance up toward the front of the field. Around the 20th lap of the race Brooks would make his move passing Hawthorn for 3rd place. Now the Ferrari driver was in a difficult situation.
As it stood, Moss was en route to his first World Championship. Hawthorn needed to pick up the pace and do some battle with at least Brooks sitting in 3rd place. So Mike would get to it. After more than a half a dozen laps in 3rd place, Brooks would begin coming under fire from Hawthorn. It had to be Hawthorn pushing the issue because he really needed the position, and, because Gendebien would be trying to make his way forward after completing the first lap around 10th place.
By the 30th lap, Moss would already have a lap time that was likely to remain unbroken throughout the rest of the race since he set a lap of 2:22.5, some six-tenths of a second faster than Mike's own pole-sitting time from practice. However, Hill sat in 2nd place and Hawthorn would be fighting with Brooks for 3rd. Gendebien would also be up to 6th place at this point in time. Hawthorn's forces were assembled. However, both he and Ferrari needed something to happen with the Vanwalls to ensure that either one or the other, or both, left that day with a championship. And, on the 30th lap, there would be some twists in the plot.
The first twist would come with an accident between Gendebien and Tommy Bridger in a Formula 2 Cooper. The two of them would come together and would result in both being lost for the rest of the day due to the damage suffered in the accident. This appeared very bad for Ferrari. But, mere seconds later, Brooks' day would come to an end with an expired engine.
Not all was well at the front of the field as well. Moss may have set the fastest lap of the race but the team would have to be concerned about his Vanwall following Stirling's run-in with Wolfgang Seidel's car causing the nose of the Vanwall to be severely crumpled. Moss couldn't really do anything about it, so he would carry on.
Hill kept up his pursuit of Moss but would soon find himself a good distance ahead of Hawthorn in 3rd. The team would let Hill know he had to slow in order to be able to hand his position to Mike when the time was necessary. This eased the pressure from Moss and his wounded Vanwall, but it helped Ferrari's chances much more.
Slowing the pace allowed Moss' last line of defense, that of Lewis-Evans, to become a factor. After starting out so well, Stuart dropped down and struggled to fight his way forward. Perhaps saving his Vanwall for the latter stages of the race, Lewis-Evans would begin to push with a little more than 20 laps remaining in the race. He needed to get by Jo Bonnier first, but he would be making up some ground. Then, on the 42nd lap, another act of tragedy would strike when the engine in the Vanwall seized throwing Stuart and the Vanwall into the air. Stuart would emerge from the wreckage seemingly okay, but he would be alight from the burning avgas. It would take some time to get the flames out as he would have to throw himself to the ground to help rid his body of the scorching flames. Removed from the circuit, the Vanwall driver would be flown directly to London to be treated for his terrible burns. Though not known at the time, Stuart would pass away from the burns some six days later.
The air had gone out of the Vandervell team. Though Moss led the way and had likely set the fastest lap, he had no more help from behind to prevent Hawthorn from easing past Hill for that important 2nd place. In fact, Hawthorn would already be ahead of Hill before Lewis-Evans' terrible accident. All the Ferrari driver needed to do was to make sure the car made it to the finish in the spot it was at. This was not necessarily an easy task for Mike who was notoriously hard on clutches.
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