TeamsFrancesco Godia-Sales: 1957 Formula One Season By Jeremy McMullen
Having driven for the factory Maserati team throughout the 1956 season, the wealthy Spaniard would prove himself to be more than merely a man with a deep wallet. Scoring 6 World Championship points over the course of the season, Paco Godia would prove his talents behind the wheel. Armed with increased confidence and the means to pay for it, Godia would look forward to the 1957 season competing under his own name.
Throughout the 1956 season Paco Godia would enter races under his own name and under the factory Maserati team name. Having great wealth, Godia would be able to purchase his own customer Maserati 250F, the latest from the factory. Although Godia would purchase chassis 2524 and would go on to earn his 6 World Championship points during the 1956 season, he would still offer the car to the factory for use in other events.
At the end of the 1956 season Godia would put aside his Maserati 250F and would take some time off. Focusing on his business and other interests, he would have a single-seater Maserati just sitting around not doing anything. Therefore, when the factory Maserati team prepared to head across the Atlantic to Argentina for the start of the '57 season, Godia's Maserati would go with them and would end up being driven to a 3rd place result in the Argentine Grand Prix by Carlos Menditeguy. A couple of weeks later the car would earn a 6th place result in the Grand Prix Ciudad de Buenos Aires at the hands of Menditeguy and Stirling Moss.
While the Maserati was working hard in South America, Godia was taking things easy waiting for the start of the grand prix season in Europe. A while later the Maserati would return to Europe and to Godia-Sales. It was time to start thinking about the start of the season and the first race.
Despite living in the same region of Europe, Godia-Sales would have to travel out into the Mediterranean to Sicily and the ancient city of Syracuse. For there in Syracuse, on the 7th of April, would be held the first Formula One race of the Europe season.
The VII Gran Premio di Siracusa would be a non-championship event held just to the northwest of Syracuse. Featuring rolling terrain with some very fast sections, the 3.48 mile circuit favored cars that had good top speed and stable handling. The circuit would start out with a flat and fast run toward the Curva della Madonnina just outside the city's center. This hairpin turn would feature a diving right-hand bend leading into the hairpin and a climbing blast back out into the countryside. Lined by paved stone walls in a number of areas, the circuit had been the site of Mike Hawthorn's terrible accident that resulted in his, and Jose Froilan Gonzalez's, Ferrari erupting in flames as a result of contact with the walls lining the circuit.
Syracuse was also the site of the surprise victory by Connaught in 1955. This experience would wake the Italian teams up to the rapidly improving state of British grand prix teams. Therefore, the '57 edition of the non-championship event would be a mixture of Italian and British makes.
The fastest car in practice would be a Lancia-Ferrari and it would belong to Peter Collins. His time of 1:55.5 would earn him the pole by four-tenths of a second over Luigi Musso in another Lancia-Ferrari. Stirling Moss would complete the front row having switched from the factory Maserati team to Vandervell Products.
Godia-Sales' best effort in practice would end up being 2:04.8. This time would put Paco more than 9 seconds behind the pace of Collins. As a result, Godia-Sales would end up starting the 80 lap race from the third row of the grid in the 8th position.
At the start of the race it would be Collins and Musso sprinting away from the grid with Stirling Moss hanging right there with them. Godia-Sales would be a bit further back mixing it up with the front couple of rows and the mid-pack. Godia-Sales needed to be careful making it through the first couple of laps.
Harry Schell would be right there around Godia-Sales when his race suddenly went up in smoke as a result of an engine failure after just a single lap. Jean Behra would start on the same row of the grid as Godia-Sales but his race would last just 17 laps before brake trouble ended his run.
Meanwhile, at the front of the field, Moss would continue to press Musso and Collins. The pace by the front-runners would be tough on the rest of the field. Mechanical trouble would then come and visit more than a few of the cars over the course of the race. By the halfway mark of the race almost all of the factory Maseratis would be out of the running. Godia-Sales; however, would still be running in a strong position looking for a top finish.
However, the pace would be a little much and there would be a great toll paid by Godia-Sales' engine. Just past the 50th lap of the race the engine would give up the fight leaving Paco Godia out of the running. This would be disappointing after making it more than halfway through the race.
The race would also be over for Stirling Moss. Moss had pressed the two Ferraris right from the very beginning of the race. However, as the race went on it would be Moss that would begin to run into difficulty. Having enough in hand over Piero Taruffi, Moss would back off the pace allowing Collins and Musso to absolutely run away with the race.
Although Moss would post what would be the fastest lap of the race, Collins would be consistently fast throughout and would leave everyone else behind. After averaging a little more than 102mph over the course of the 80 lap race, Collins would be all alone heading to the finish line and the checkered flag. Crossing the line to take the victory, Collins would enjoy a margin of nearly a minute and 15 seconds over Musso in 2nd place. Stirling Moss would harass the Ferrari duo early on in the race. However, he would be blown out over the remainder. He would still manage to finish the race in 3rd place but he would be more than three laps behind.
Godia-Sales' season appeared to be starting off well with a third row grid position. The race would also start out well and look good for more than half of the race. Unfortunately, the engine would prove to be the weak link.
The month of April would be a busy month for Formula One events, at least non-championship races. However, Godia-Sales would have a much less hectic schedule and would take part in just two of the possible races offered over the course of the month. He had failed to finish in the race at Syracuse. He would hope the 17th Grand Prix de Pau would be a much better experience.
The Grand Prix de Pau would take place on the 22nd of April and would be the first time the race would be held on the streets of Pau in more than a year. The grand prix had been held in 1955, prior to the tragedy in Le Mans. Following the terrible events in the 24 hour race every French race would be cancelled. Since the Pau Grand Prix had already been run the decision would be made to cancel the event the following year. Therefore, teams, cars and drivers would return to the tight, twisty streets of Pau looking for the resumption of the old grand prix.
Situated along the Gave de Pau just north of the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains, Pau would be a picturesque little city in the southwest of France. Not only would the city be the capital of the Pyrenees-Atlantiques departement in France, but the city would also be, for all intents and purposes, the capital of grand prix racing. Filled with history stretching all the way back to the early 12th century and earlier, Pau would also boast of a long and proud racing history as well. It would be in Pau where the first grand prix would originate and end. Stretching all the way to the coast of the Atlantic and back, the first grand prix would be a grand adventure for sure.
Even though the circuit would change to become a 1.71 mile, tight and winding street circuit hosted right within the limits of the city, the race would continue to be a popular event that would attract some of the best teams and drivers in all the world.
Even though the circuit drew some of the best teams and drivers they all had to overcome Jean Behra who had an absolute grip on the event. Juan Manuel Fangio had won at the circuit two years in a row in 1949 and 1950. Jean Behra would win in 1954 and the previous running in 1955 outdueling the now deceased Alberto Ascari. Returning with a factory Maserati, it seemed Behra would have to be the favorite once again.
In practice, everyone of the drivers' fears would be realized as Behra would post the fastest lap time. His time of 1:35.7 would give the Frenchman the pole by more than two seconds over his Maserati teammate Harry Schell. Masten Gregory would post a time of 1:39.2 and would take the 3rd, and final, spot on the front row of the grid.
Godia-Sales would prove to be a little more than five seconds slower than Behra and would end up with a third row starting spot. Starting the race from 7th on the grid at Pau would be no easy maneuver and would require a great deal of care around the tight city streets.
The Pau circuit would be difficult enough. To take on competition and the circuit at the same time would be so much more arduous of a test and had to be on the mind of everyone starting behind the front row.
An incredible crowd would show up for the race. As the flag dropped to get the 110 lap, or three-hour, race underway all of the drivers would behave themselves and would make it through the first couple of laps without incident. This would be impressive considering the tight nature of the circuit and of the pack in the early going.
Behra would jump out to the lead and would begin to immediately draw away from the rest of the field. Godia-Sales would be still in the midst of a fight with the majority of the field starting from the third row of the grid. This meant even the slightest error could end his race. Sure enough, after completing just 4 laps, Godia-Sales would make a mistake and would end up crashing out of the race. The race hadn't been seven minutes old before Paco would be climbing out of his Maserati and heading back to the paddock.
Although the race had come to an early end for Godia-Sales' Maserati it would not quite be the end for Godia-Sales. He would approached by Luigi Piotti's crew about sharing the drive with Piotti. Francesco would agree to the arrangement, but it would matter very little as the engine in Piotti's Maserati would let go leaving Godia-Sales out of the race twice.
As it would turn out, just about everyone would be out of the race as long as Behra remained in the running. Posting the fastest lap of the race with a time just two-tenths off his effort in practice, Behra would leave everyone else well behind. Harry Schell would give chase but he would look as if he were driving a Formula 3 car instead of another 250F.
Averaging a little more than 62mph and completing the race distance in three hours and almost 14 seconds, Behra would destroy the competition. Schell would hold on to finish the race in 2nd place, however, he would come across the line more than two laps behind. Ivor Bueb would finish in 3rd place and he would be a lap further adrift of Behra.
Victories do not come much more demonstrative than what Behra had managed to achieve at Pau in April of '57. In constrast, Godia-Sales' inability couldn't have been much more demonstrative than failing to deliver when given two chances. Two failures in the first two races of the season meant Godia-Sales was starting out well on the back-foot. Needing to repair the Maserati, Godia-Sales would determine it was a good time to have the car sent back to the factory for the latest evolution of bodywork to be installed by the factory. This would take Francesco out of the racing scene for more than a few months in Formula One. However, in the meantime, he would partner with Horace Gould, Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss to come away with a 5th place result in the Nurburgring 1000 Kilometers at the end of May.
Having his car at the Maserati factory receiving the latest updates, Godia-Sales would not take part in another grand prix until July, and it would not be the French Grand Prix. On the 14th of July Godia-Sales would be in Reims, France preparing for the non-championship 23rd Grand Prix de Reims.
The French Grand Prix would change venues for '57. In 1952, Rouen-les-Essarts had hosted the French round of the World Championship for the first time. The event would return to Rouen. However, Reims could not be left out of a grand prix. In the past, the circuit had played host to the Grand Prix de la Marne. The race would return in '57 but it would simply be known as the Grand Prix de Reims.
If there was a circuit where Godia-Sales would need the latest bodywork evolution it would be Reims. Situated amongst the rolling countryside to the west of the well-known city, the 5.15 mile Reims circuit was all about speed and would feature very few bends where handling would play any kind of importance. Instead of feeling confident in a car's handling abilities, drivers needed to be confident within themselves and courageous enough to keep their foot buried on the gas peddle.
Taking place just a week after the French Grand Prix, many of the top teams and drivers would be Reims for the 61 lap race. By far and away, the most numerous chassis in the field would be the Maserati 250F. However, as seen during the French Grand Prix the season before, the Maserati was not necessarily the fastest car around the Reims circuit.
However, in practice, Fangio would prove that notion incorrect as he would post the fastest lap time and would take the pole by two-tenths of a second over Stuart Lewis-Evans in a very fast Vanwall. Jean Behra would complete the front row by posting a time just under two seconds slower than Fangio.
Even with the latest bodywork updates, Francesco would struggle a fair bit during practice. As it would turn out, his best lap in practice would be only good enough to give him the 13th starting spot, or what was an outside position on the fifth row.
Godia-Sales desperately needed a result following the rough start to the season. In only one race thus far on the season had he made it past the halfway mark. As the cars peeled away at the start of the race, it would be Peter Collins that would find his car unable to even reach the 10 lap mark.
Collins had come through to pull off a surprising victory in the French Grand Prix at Reims the previous year. No such result awaited him this day as his afternoon would come to an end after just 2 laps due to engine failure.
Meanwhile, Luigi Musso would be on it hard and early and would get himself up amongst the front-row starters. Fangio, Behra, Musso and Stuart Lewis-Evans would all be running well at the front of the field. Despite his Maserati bearing the latest evolution of bodywork he would be further down in the running order and would not be in very good shape once the first 10 laps of the race had been completed.
One-sixth of the race had been covered. Suddenly, problems would begin to show within the internals of Godia-Sales' Maserati. He would pull into the pits to find out the oil pipe had broken. His race, yet again, was over. This time he didn't make it quarter distance. This season was not shaping up to be very promising. Problem was, it was already the middle of July.
Just the fast nature of the circuit had an effect, but the pace up at the front of the field would make matters worse for more than a number of top drivers. Olivier Gendebien, Mike Hawthorn and Carlos Menditeguy would all be out of the race along with Godia-Sales. However, other promising drivers, like Masten Gregory and Harry Schell, were finding the pace over the course of the race to be a little too much for themselves and their cars.
Despite setting the fastest lap of the race, Behra could do really very little with Luigi Musso. The Frenchman wouldn't have to worry about Fangio as he would crash out of the race after 56 laps. So this left just Behra and Lewis-Evans on the lead lap with Musso. But neither one could really catch the Italian and his Lancia-Ferrari.
Like the year before, the Lancia-Ferrari would prove to be the class of the field as Musso would bring his car across the line in a little more than two hours and 33 minutes to take the victory. Behra would pull away from Lewis-Evans to finish in 2nd place about 27 seconds behind Musso. Lewis-Evans would impress in a substitution role. He would finish a minute and 16 seconds behind Musso in 3rd place.
Nothing was working for Francesco. He would just receive the latest updates and mechanical problems would let him down once again. He sorely needed and wanted a strong result. However, he wouldn't be willing to cross the English Channel to go and get it. Instead, he would remain in wait.
Godia-Sales couldn't be blamed for not wanting to make the trip across the Channel to England for the British Grand Prix at Aintree. Although he had gone on to earn an 8th place in the British Grand Prix the year before that race had been held at Silverstone. What's more, he didn't want to face the likelihood of another early retirement, which was entirely possible given the fact the car would have to be repaired in one week's time for the race at Aintree. Therefore, Francesco would wait until August before he would take part in another Formula One race.
When the calendar turned to August the next immediate race on the calendar would take place on the 4th of the month. It would be the German Grand Prix and it would take place at the Nurburgring in western Germany. Although his own Maserati 250F would be entered for the race he would actually enter the race under the Officine Alfieri Maserati team name.
Hoping the direct factory support would help his cause, he would find himself still well down on the grid at the start of the race. Lined up on the sixth row of the grid, Godia-Sales would find his race make it to just the halfway mark, yet again. Mechanical troubles would again bring his efforts to an early end and he would still be without a race finish in Formula One for 1957.
Following the German Grand Prix in early August there would be the 7th round of the World Championship coming up on the 18th of the month and it would be a rather fitting venue considering where the World Championship had just come from.
The Nurburgring had a fearsome reputation that would strike at the heart of just about every driver. At 14 miles in length, the circuit wore down drivers and cars and forced mistakes. However, the next round of the World Championship for 1957 would see competitors take part in a grand prix on the longest grand prix circuit ever to be used in Formula One. Measuring 15.9 miles, the Pescara Grand Prix circuit was an even more arduous and epic journey and offered just about every kind of possible scenario to car and driver.
Located right along the coast of the Adriatic, the city of Pescara would be flat and rather unremarkable. However, the views of the sea would make the city a wonderful destination for people all over Europe and the world. Looking inland a little further; however, and the terrain in the area offered dramatic rises from the flat coastal plain. Steep, cliff-like hills and mountains made for some very slow and tight hairpin turns. Elevation changes over the course of a single lap would be rather dramatic as well. The Pescara Circuit offered just about everything the Nurburgring did except it usually had much more stable and nice weather.
The World Championship had already been decided by Fangio's epic performance in the German Grand Prix a couple of weeks earlier. However, it wouldn't appear to be the case when the practice times started rolling in. Fangio would end up on pole with a lap time of 9:44.6. Stirling Moss would end up 2nd on the grid with a lap time 10 seconds slower. Luigi Musso had been showing a great increase in pace over the last couple of months. He would continue to show well posting a time in practice of just about 5 seconds slower than Moss. As a result, he would start in the 3rd position, the final position on the front row.
Once again, Godia-Sales would find himself well back in the grid. His best lap of 11:09.8 would be more than a minute and 25 seconds slower than Fangio. The time would be more than a minute slower than the final spot on the front row. This would result in Francesco starting from the middle of the fifth row in the 12th position.
The start/finish straight would be along one of the narrow city streets just to the north of downtown. The streets would be crowded with people awaiting the start of the race. Enthused, even with Scuderia Ferrari's absence, the crowd was expecting an incredible battle for victory. The flag would drop and the front row would tear away from the grid with Musso leading the way ahead of Moss. Godia-Sales would be starting right beside Horace Gould and would be unaware of the tragedy that was about to occur as he roared down the straight. The narrow streets would leave little room for the mechanics or anybody else. As the field rocketed away from the grid one mechanic would be slow getting off the grid and Gould would end up striking the mechanic. Godia-Sales would be unaware and would be on his way.
The day was absolutely hot as the sun beat down on the 200,000 people and the all of the cars and drivers taking part in the race. It seemed inevitable the race would have heavy amounts of attrition. This heat should have been a hint to Godia-Sales, and perhaps it was, but still he carried on.
Besides Gould's unfortunate incident with a mechanic, Tony Brooks would be one of the first to depart the race, his engine not enjoying the heat at all. Luigi Piotti would be another that would be out after just a single lap. The race was just 18 laps in length but the sheer length of the circuit meant those 18 would feel like a lifetime.
Musso would lead the field through the first lap of the race. However, Moss would be right there with the Italian and would actually take over the point heading around on the 2nd lap. Fangio sat comfortably still in 3rd place while Godia-Sales would be around 11th place and looking to carefully move up the running order.
Moss would add to his lead with every mile. Musso continued to run in 2nd place ahead of Fangio while Godia would march up the order all the way to 7th place. He would be running strongly until the 10th lap of the race, which is when the majority of those still remaining in the race seemed to fall into a black hole.
By the 10th lap of the race Moss was enjoying a comfortable lead and many other competitors were out of the running. Drivers like Behra, Bonnier, Salvadori and Brooks would all be out of the race. It seemed clear the intense heat was having a bearing. But then, Moss would come across the line to complete the 10th lap of the race. Time would go by and nobody was coming behind him. Finally, Fangio would show up and would immediately pull into the pits. He had a broken wheel. It would become known that Musso retired out on the circuit with a broken oil tank. The leaking oil would cause Fangio to lose control and end up breaking a wheel. At the same time chaos was breaking out toward the front of the field, Godia-Sales would be pulling out of the race with engine troubles. Bruce Halford would complete the bad news retiring with differential failure.
Suddenly, Moss' comfortable margin had become absurd and Godia-Sales would again be forced to walk back to the pits instead of driving back. With a couple of laps remaining in the race, Moss would pull into the pits and would leisurely climb from his cockpit for a drink and some refreshment while the crew went to work replacing the tires and fuel. The work would be done efficiently but not in a frenzied commotion. The lead would be such that Moss would even have time to watch the crew top off the oil in the car while he finished off his drink. Powering his way out of the pits, Moss would return to the race with a comfortable lead still in hand.
Moss would be all by himself as he crossed the line and took the victory. Even with the slow, leisurely stop he would finish the race three minutes and almost 14 seconds ahead of Fangio. Harry Schell would end up enjoying a great race coming from 5th place on the grid to finish in 3rd place.
Godia-Sales' season was drowning in frustration and great disappointment by this point in time. Out of five races, including one under the factory team banner, he still was without a race finish. The really unfortunate part to the whole experience was that things were looking any better for the near future either.
The season was heading into its final couple of months. This meant Godia-Sales was running out of time to turn his season around and to get at least one race finish. Heading into September meant one very important and difficult race. In early September, Godia-Sales would head to Italy once again. His destination would be Monza for on the 8th the fast circuit would play host to the 27th Gran Premio d'Italia.
Situated a short distance north of Milan in the Royal Villa of Monza would be the Autodromo Nazionale Monza. Built in 1922, the Monza circuit would be an integration of a road circuit and an oval track covering a total distance of 6.2 miles. Flat and featureless, the circuit would have one unavoidable characteristic—speed. Unfortunately, the speed would be dangerous and would soon lead to the oval section being abandoned in favor of just the 3.91 mile road course. This would be the layout used for more than a couple of decades. However, this would all change heading into the 1955 season.
After five years in the World Championship using just the 3.91 mile circuit the organizers at Monza would bring the oval back into the picture. The steeply-banked oval would be redone with concrete and would be re-integrated with the road course for the 1955 edition of the Italian Grand Prix. The full 6.2 mile circuit would be used for the 1955 and 1956 seasons. However, heading into the '57 edition of the race the banking would be abandoned once again in favor of the road course. This would make many teams and drivers happy as the bumpy banking was terribly rough on cars and drivers.
Godia-Sales would enter the race under his own name but would receive support from the factory Maserati team. His Maserati would be one of twelve 250Fs entered in the race. The rest of the field would be made up of the four Scuderia Ferrari cars and the three Vanwalls.
The conditions over the course of the weekend would be sunny but they would also be incredibly warm. Cars would head out onto the circuit on Friday and would set times and then look to avoid going out at any other time. Moss would be quickest on the first day. However, the pole would end up going to Stuart Lewis-Evans with a lap time of 1:42.2. Moss would start in 2nd place with Tony Brooks completing the sweep of the first three positions on the grid for Vandervell Products. The final spot on the front row would end up going to Fangio in his Maserati.
In spite of being a circuit where the driver merely had to be courageous enough to keep his foot firmly on the throttle, Godia-Sales would not be all that fast around the circuit. When the best times were all calculated Paco would be found to be exactly 10 seconds slower than Lewis-Evans with a time of 1:52.2. As a result of the difference in lap times, Lewis-Evans would start on pole while Godia-Sales would find himself sitting on the inside of the fifth, and final, row of the grid in the 15th position.
The grid would be set. Teams would set about preparing their cars for the race on the 8th. Facing 87 laps of hard racing, the teams needed to do everything they could to ensure their cars would make it to the end. In Paco Godia's case he didn't need to concern himself with victory. He needed to ensure that he'd finished. This had proven to be extremely difficult and would require everything with his car to be absolutely perfect.
The immense crowd would begin to spill in around the circuit. The warm weather would beat down on the circuit. The teams would perform final checks and would then push their cars out to their respective starting spots on the grid. The drivers would then come out onto the grid and the well-wishers and the privileged would form an entourage around a number of the drivers. Of course, Fangio would garner the most attention. Meanwhile, Godia-Sales would be in the back of the grid with a much smaller crowd around him.
The drivers would take their positions behind the wheel. The engines would come to a dull roar; everything would be set and ready for the start of the 87 lap race. The race official would take his place at the head of the field with flag in hand. Then the flag would drop and the race would get underway.
The three Vanwalls would streak out to the front with Jean Behra making a great start from the second row of the grid. Being at the back of the field, Godia-Sales would get away from the grid holding his position amongst Bruce Halford, Horace Gould and Andre Simon.
While Godia would be embroiled in a battle right from the very beginning with Gould and Halford for position, the front of the field would be absolutely frantic with Moss leading the way early on but coming under fire from a strong-starting Behra. It would be a remarkable sight. Moss, Behra, Brooks, Lewis-Evans and Fangio would break away from the rest of the field to create a small pack that would battle it out for every position each and every lap.
The racing at the front of the field would be absolutely remarkable throughout the first 20 laps, or so, of the race. The lead would change hands with each of the five drivers spending at least one or two laps at the head of the field. The Vanwalls would be the strongest having all three of their cars battling it out in the top five. Then there would be the factory Maseratis of Fangio and Behra. Both would be able to battle it out for the top positions as well. The cars from Scuderia Ferrari would be struggling just to stay within the top ten.
Through the first 20 laps of the race Godia-Sales would hang around the 13th and 14th positions in the running order. Gould's misfortunes and Paco's ability to stay ahead of Halford would enable him to stay inside the top fifteen. At the front of the field the epic battle would be about to come to an end as Brooks would end up heading into the pits as a result of throttle linkage issues. The problems with Brooks' car would result in the Vanwall dropping all the way down outside the top ten. Paco Godia; meanwhile, would be making his way toward the top ten, but the race hadn't reached the halfway mark yet.
More trouble would come to the field as the heat and the pace began to really take a toll. Luigi Piotti would last 3 laps, Jo Bonnier would drop out after 31 laps due to overheating issues. Harry Schell would run intro trouble with his Maserati and would end up out of the race after just 34 laps.
By the 30th lap of the race the dueling at the front of the field would settle out and Moss would be out front pulling away from Fangio and the others. Godia was also still in the hunt, even as he neared the halfway mark of the race. Chasing after Masten Gregory, Godia-Sales would be flirting with the top ten. Then, just when it seemed all was finally well with his Maserati, Godia would struggle with some issues with the car and would end up dropping down to almost 15th in the running order. Still, the car was running; his race wasn't over yet.
Moss would be using the strengths of the Vanwall to his advantage. Known for its ability to reach some impressive top-end speeds, the Vanwall would be out front and pulling away from Fangio with relative ease. Godia-Sales would begin his recovery from his issues and would be up inside the top ten by the 50th lap of the race.
Heading into the final 20 laps of the race, the Italian crowd would be somewhat heartbroken as Moss began to pressure Fangio just to be able to stay on the lead lap. More than a couple of laps behind, Godia-Sales would still be running and in a fight with Brooks for position for 9th place. Unfortunately for the Spaniard, Brooks would be flying. Posting what would end up being the fastest lap of the race, Brooks would break away from Godia. Still, Godia was running in one of the most difficult races on the World Championship calendar and would be inside the top ten. It was proving to be a good day. He just needed to ensure that he finished it.
Moss would come into the pits with 10 laps remaining in the race and would leave with his lead very much intact. Having more than a couple of laps in hand over Gould, Godia's position was also relatively ensured. Still, there would be enough time for things to go wrong.
Absolutely nothing would go wrong for Moss. Cruising across the line, the Brit would take an easy victory defeating Fangio by a margin of 41 seconds. Wolfgang von Trips would end up in the 3rd position finishing more than a couple of laps behind.
In one of the most difficult and grueling races of the season, Godia-Sales would finally find himself completing a race distance. Prior to the Italian Grand Prix he had not last more than 50 laps at any circuit. On this day; however, he would complete 81 laps. Though he would finish more than 6 laps behind Moss he would still manage to finish in the 9th position. It would be rather fitting the Italian car that had failed him so many times throughout the season, before its home crowd, would finally carry him home to a race finish providing the only bright spot on the grand prix season to that point in the year.
The Maserati had finally delivered for Godia. Unfortunately, it was the end of the season, well almost the end. Furthermore, the state of the company would be such that Maserati would withdraw from Formula One as a factory entry at the end of the season. This put many privateers, like Paco Godia, in a tough position. But that would come a little later.
Putting all things aside, there would still be one more race on Godia's calendar for 1957. Following the long overdue result in the Italian Grand Prix on the 8th of September, Godia would have a break of more than a month before what would be his final race of the season. Nonetheless, toward the end of October he would make his way across the narrow Mediterranean straight to Morocco. On the 27th of the month the city of Casablanca would host the 6th Grand Prix de Maroc, the final race of the season.
The Grand Prix de Maroc would be a non-championship race but it would be attended by all of the top teams and drivers as it would be on the World Championship calendar for 1958. Therefore, Godia-Sales would make the trip to the popular Moroccan city to get a taste of what was to come.
What Godia, and the other teams and drivers, would find would be a street and public road course positioned right along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. In fact, the main straight would run parallel to the coastline and would be relatively flat right around the start/finish line and the pits. The circuit would then turn inland in a climbing right hand turn that would prove difficult to a number of drivers during practice. After some quick esses, the circuit would again turn right heading onto another long straight that kinked back and forth. After another right-hand bend the circuit would climb slightly before making the plunge back downhill toward the finish line. In total, the circuit length would be 4.74 miles and would be fast with average speeds easily exceeding 110mph.
It would be an important event. The race would set the course for its appearance in the World Championship the following season. Therefore, a number of dignitaries would make an appearance over the course of the weekend.
One person that would not make an appearance, at least not in the race, would be Stirling Moss. Moss would actually take part in practice but would end up not starting the race as a result of feeling ill. It would be a shame for Vandervell as it was entirely likely his cars could have swept the front row leading up to the 55 lap race.
Moss' absence would be missed but Tony Brooks would do his best to fill his teammate's shoes as he would take the pole with a lap time of 2:23.3. Stuart Lewis-Evans would also start on the front row, but he would line up 3rd. Jean Behra would be the one to capture the spot in the middle of the front row. His best effort in practice was just two-tenths of a second slower than Brooks and suggested he would be a favorite heading into the race.
Godia would be considered far from the favorite heading into the race. His best lap time around the fast circuit would be 2:32.0. Being a little less than seven seconds slower than Brooks, Godia would find himself down on the fifth row of the grid in the 11th starting spot. This would be a difficult starting spot, but it would be a long race and he would be able to use the distance to his advantage, as long as the car made the distance.
The real favorite would be Fangio. The spectators would be very pleased at his presence despite the fact the World Championship was over and that the race offered him very little incentive. Still, he would be there and would be considered as much a royal among the racing fans as the King Mohammed who would come and inaugurate the event on race day.
Some 50,000 people would push their way to the edge of the circuit preparing for the start of the 55 lap race. There would be a good deal of pomp and ceremony leading up to the start of the race. Then the cars and drivers would be readied on the grid; the race was about to get underway.
The flag would drop and the field would roar away toward the steep climbing turn. Despite the out-right speed of the Vanwall, Behra would be in the lead heading into the first turn. In spite of the difficulty many experienced, all of the cars would make it through the first corner and the first lap of the race.
The laps would tick away with Behra still leading. Then, only about 7 laps into the race there would be some genuine confusion. Despite no obvious signs of trouble Fangio would be black flagged and signaled to come into the pits disqualified. This would come as a shock, especially to Fangio, but he would still obey the stewards. In time it would be found the actual car that should have been disqualified was Jack Brabham's Cooper-Climax.
Brabham had an excursion off track. Work would be done on the car that would be the result of the disqualification. However, the stewards would get the wrong car. The situation would be straightened out and Fangio would be allowed to get back into the race. Unfortunately, Fangio would be well out of contention by this point, not that he would see it that way.
A couple of drivers that would truly be out of contention would be Mike Hawthorn and Tony Brooks. Neither of them would be able to make it through 15 laps. This was usually when Godia-Sales ran into trouble, but now, suddenly, his Maserati would be running like a clock and he would continue on his way giving chase of Harry Schell.
Everybody would be giving chase of Behra who would be consistently running laps with an average speed in excess of 112mph. Lewis-Evans would do his best to chase after Behra but he would lose ground over the course of the race. One who would be actually gaining ground would be Fangio.
Able to return to the race, Fangio would have to perform record laps each and every time around if he even had any thoughts of ending up on the podium. That is exactly what he would do. Although he would still come up short of Brooks' pole-winning effort, Fangio would still be flying around the circuit. Posting what would end up being the fastest lap of the race, Fangio would draw closer and closer but would still be well back of the top three, even when heading into the final portion of the race.
Amazingly, after a season in which he was barely able to reach the halfway mark of just about every race on the calendar, Godia couldn't be stopped. Pushing hard, Godia would only be a lap off of Behra heading into the final couple of laps of the race and would be fighting desperately to pull in Schell and a 5th place.
Despite having perhaps the fastest car in the field, Lewis-Evans would be unable to threaten Behra. Completing the race distance in two hours, 18 minutes and 23 seconds, Behra would enjoy a margin of 30 seconds over Lewis-Evans finishing in 2nd place. Maurice Trintignant would be behind the wheel of the BRM 25. Similar to Godia's Maserati, the BRM had proven to be very fragile and unable to complete a race distance over the majority of the season. However, the car would come on late in the season earning a couple of victories. Trintignant would ride this increasing wave of reliability and speed to come across in 3rd place a little under a minute and 30 seconds behind Behra.
Godia-Sales would have a very quiet Moroccan grand prix. This would be welcome for the Spaniard as the alternative had been attracting a lot of attention by falling out of races. To finish a race quietly meant the Maserati was still running. Godia's performance would be a strong one. Despite the history experienced over the course of the season the Maserati would run without problems and Godia would finish only a little more than a lap down in 6th place.
Finally, after a truly horrible season, it would end with a couple of bright spots for Godia. His pace around the Ain-Diab circuit would be encouraging too. Unfortunately, the season was now over. The only option left before the Spaniard would be to prepare to leave in a couple of months to go to South America to take part in races there.
Travelling to South America between 1957 and 1958 would be a smart move for just about privateer still using a Maserati 250F. The useful life of the car was already practically past due and that lifespan would only get shorter when Maserati pulled out of Formula One at the end of the '57 season.
Many privateer drivers would be forced to make an important decision. Either alternate arrangements needed to be made when it came to competitive chassis, or else, really only one other option would be left on the table. This is the option Godia-Sales would face during the '58 season.