TeamsFrancisco Godia Sales: 1958 Formula One Season By Jeremy McMullen
Francisco 'Paco' Godia Sales would follow up his first World Championship points in 1956 with a rather disappointing 1957 season. Godia Sales was now on his own with his own Maserati 250F. He still had support from the Maserati factory due to his close relationship, but it wouldn't be enough. The 1958 season, and the withdrawal of Maserati offered even less hope.
Maserati would withdraw from Formula One as a factory entry but would withdraw as a supplier much more slowly. Even by the beginning of the 1958, the factory were still updating existing chassis. Godia would take his Maserati 250F, chassis number 2524, back to the factory during the course of the '57 season. The car would then be updated starting with making it lighter and with the more aerodynamic nose. The changes would help Godia, but only slightly as he would earn a 9th place result in the Italian Grand Prix at the end of the season.
Paco would end up having greater success in 1957 in sportscars, of course he would get some top-flight help in that regard. At the Nurburgring 100o Kilometers it would take Godia, Horace Gould, Stirling Moss and one Juan Manuel Fangio just to finish in 5th place in a Maserati 300S. However, he would end his season in Europe with a victory in the Coupes du Salon.
Being a successful businessman, Godia could afford the best equipment available and he would develop a very special relationship with Maserati despite the fact the company was withdrawing from Formula One and motorsports. Nonetheless, the factory would do what it could to provide him with the best and latest it had. Therefore, the factory would continue to make evolutions to his cars before he headed across the Atlantic for the winter months.
Though a privateer entry, Godia would be ready to start his 1958 in the very same location as the other factory teams—Argentina.
The first round of the World Championship, as it had been since 1953, would take place in Argentina. The Gran Premio de la Republica Argentina would take place on the 19th of January, which would present yet another early start to the motor racing season.
Godia would arrive in Buenos Aires with his own Maserati 250F. However, Scuderia Centro Sud would also arrive with a Maserati 300S for him and Juan Manuel Fangio for the sportscar race later in the month. Godia's 250F would be chassis 2524, the very same chassis he had received brand new from the factory back in June of 1956.
The entry field for the first round of the 1958 Formula One World Championship would be rather small. In spite of the fact Vanwalls had earned more than a couple of victories over the course of the '57 season the team would not be present. Then, of course, there would be no factory Maserati team. Vandervell didn't make the trip with his Vanwalls as a result of troubles with the regulation-shift to avgas instead of the alcohol-based fuels teams had been allowed to run.
Because of the struggles and concerns with the new regulations, factory teams would be few and far between in Argentina. In fact, the only team that qualified as a factory effort would be the other Italian manufacturer—Scuderia Ferrari. The vast majority of the field would be comprised of privateer entries, like Godia, driving Maserati 250Fs.
Fresh from his fifth World Championship, Fangio would seemingly pick up right where he left off behind the wheel of the 250F. In practice, the Argentinean would prove the fastest around the 2.42 mile circuit. This would be impressive as he would manage to take pole beating out the new Ferraris driven by Mike Hawthorn and Peter Collins. The final spot on the front row would end up going to Jean Behra in another privately-entered 250F.
Fangio's best lap around the circuit would be a 1:42.0. Godia would end up with a best time of 1:49.3. This difference of seven seconds would leave Paco on the third row of the grid in the 9th position overall.
Previous editions of the Argentine Grand Prix had seen the weather become absolutely oppressive. In some cases, teams would end up having two or three driver changes over the course of a race. This presented a problem in 1958 as it was prohibited for more than one driver to drive a particular car. Approaching the start of the race on the 19th, the weather would be cooperating providing rather comfortable temperatures. This presented the daring with an opportunity. The cooler temperatures meant tires might just actually last longer than what is believed.
The cars and drivers would take their places on the grid. The large throng of spectators would be ready with anticipation. Could their hero earn another victory on home soil? At the start, Behra would make a statement by taking the lead ahead of Hawthorn and Moss. Fangio would struggle off the line and would be a little ways back heading around on the first lap of a scheduled 80 lap race. Peter Collins' day would come to an end right at the start when his rear axle failed. This promoted everyone behind him, including Godia.
At the completion of the first lap it would be Behra in the lead with Hawthorn in 2nd place. Moss would be impressive early in the Walker Racing Cooper. And then there would be Fangio. Godia would have a consistent start. He would hold position throughout the first lap and would complete the first lap in 8th place. As it stood, if he could merely stay in the race he would have a top ten finish.
The real pace of the Ferraris would begin to show as Hawthorn took over the lead from Behra. Fangio would steadily make his way up to 2nd place and would take over the lead from Mike after 10 laps. Meanwhile, Godia remained solidly in 8th place, not bothered at all with fighting for a higher position.
Godia would remain right there in 8th place throughout the majority of the race. Fangio, on the other hand, would lead more than 20 laps before pitting for new tires. The conditions in past races had been tough on tires, and so, many would make stops for new rubber. Hawthorn would drop down the order throughout the first half of the race. This enabled Moss to take over the lead of the race when Fangio made his stop.
Moss was chased by Behra. However, the threat from Behra would end up spinning wildly out of control when the Frenchman lost control of his Maserati. He would drop well down in the order leaving Luigi Musso to take up the challenge against Moss.
Musso didn't see much of a challenge as he was convinced Moss would have to make a stop before the end of the race. Convinced the mid-engined Cooper would end up in the same position as everyone else, Musso wouldn't press the issue but would wait for the race to bring the lead to him. Moss, however, had other ideas.
While Moss ran tactics through his head, Paco sat content in 8th place, unable to make any impression on Harry Schell who ran ahead of him in 7th place. Of course, Godia wasn't known to be of the same ability as Moss, and so, this was not at all surprising.
The thing was, nearly everyone, except himself and those at Walker, expected the Brit to drive in a manner not much unlike Godia. Everyone expected him to go with the flow by stopping. It would be a risk, but Stirling would make the decision to go the distance without stopping. Convinced Stirling would do no such thing, Musso sat unperturbed in 2nd place.
But Moss had an advantage. Not only were the conditions cooler than usual, but the mid-engine layout meant the Cooper didn't spin its rear wheels or slide like what the 250F and the Ferraris did. This meant he was lighter on his tires.
It wouldn't dawn on Musso until near the very end of the race that Stirling was not going to make a stop. Therefore, the Italian would begin his push, but Moss enjoyed a sizeable margin. His biggest concern in the remaining few laps was not the Italian but the German rubber that shod his car.
Clearly, the tires were fading on Moss' Cooper. His lap times dropped off and Musso was gaining ground at a rather large rate. However, it appeared Stirling's lead would be enough to maintain the lead all the way to the checkered flag. He just needed his tires to hang on. Though he would undeserved reputation for being tough on his cars, Moss would guide his Cooper gingerly through the remaining couple of laps until he appeared coming through the final left-hand kink toward the checkered flag.
Moss would do it. He would coax his tires through those last tense moments to take an impressive victory, the first for a privateer team in Formula One and first for a mid-engined car. A little less than three seconds later, Musso would come through to finish a rather disappointing 2nd. Mike Hawthorn would finish a quiet 3rd some ten seconds behind Musso.
Godia would take it easy on his car throughout the whole of the race, not just the end. He would end up finishing the race in 8th place but it would be with a distance of more than five laps between himself and Moss. The performance was not all that surprising given the fact it was his own entry and the fact he struggle to even finish a World Championship round the season before.
It would be a solid performance for Godia but not nearly as memorable as what it would be for Moss who would cross the line with the treads clearly showing in his tires. It would certainly be debatable whether he could have completed another lap or not.
Godia would start his season out with a solid, but rather unimpressive performance in the Argentine Grand Prix. Still, he had finished and inside the top ten in a Formula One race that counted toward the World Championship. This had been something he struggled to do the year before, therefore, the result was still a good one. He would then have the opportunity to follow this up with another good result, this time in the non-championship Formula One race, the Gran Premio Ciudad de Buenos Aires on the 2nd of February. However, before this race, Godia would have the opportunity to partner with Fangio in the Buenos Aires 1000 Kilometers.
The two men would partner together to drive for Scuderia Centro Sud at the wheel of a Maserati 300S. At first glance, it would seem as though Fangio would be the one that would provide all of the memories. However, as the race got underway, it would end up being Godia that would provide the quote that would last through the generations.
Fangio would be at the wheel of the Maserati at the start of the race. He would have a poor start and would be forced to push a little. He would go into the curve Ascari a little quick, but not so fast that any problem should arise. However, when Fangio reached the curve it was apparent there was some oil down in the curve. This would result in the Argentinean losing control and crashing head-first off the course. It would take some time before he could get the car restarted and make his way back to the pits. Fangio felt terrible and struggled with what to tell Godia. Leave it to Paco to finish the story in a truly memorable way. Upon being told what happened, Paco would respond to Fangio, 'You don't have to be a World Champion to do that. I could have done that.'
It was clear Godia saw his opportunity at victory slip through his fingers. It would later be confirmed when Fangio returned to the circuit but later reappeared in the pits complaining of overheating as a result of the body damage. Their race was over.
Godia would look for some retribution on the 2nd of February when he took part in the non-championship Formula One race. This race would consist of 60 laps around the 2.92 mile circuit arrangement.
This time, Fangio would not put a wheel wrong and would go on to take victory holding off Luigi Musso for the top step of the podium. So certainly Fangio earned some retribution, but so would Godia.
Sharing his car with Carlos Menditeguy, Godia-Sales would finish the race a lap down but in a splendid 3rd. This would be a fantastic finish for the privateer considering he overcame the Ferraris driven by Peter Collins, Mike Hawthorn and Wolfgang von Trips.
Following the events in Argentina, Godia would remain in the west taking part in the infamous Gran Premio de Cuba on the 24th of February. Once again, Fangio would be the big headliner having been kidnapped by rebel forces demonstrating against Batista's reign. The race would be delayed in hopes of Fangio's return in time for the race, but it was not to be and the race would go on, but for a short time before Armando Garcia Cifuentes crashes his Ferrari into a crowd of people killing six and injuring many others. The race would last just six laps before it would be red flagged. Stirling Moss would win the race, Godia would finish 21st, but very few really cared.
The disaster in Cuba signaled that it was a good time to head back across the Atlantic to Europe. In the meantime, Godia would sell his 250F, chassis 2524 to Jo Bonnier. Knowing that he needed a more competitive car, Godia would end up buying chassis 2528, the very same car he and Menditeguy used to finish the non-championship race in Buenos Aires in 3rd place. It was also the same car in which Fangio used to finish 4th in the Argentine Grand Prix. The car consisted of the lighter-weight T2 frame, one of the lightest ever to be produced by Maserati.
Godia would take delivery of his new car and would set his sights on the start of the racing season in Europe. Upon returning to Europe, Paco would have to wait until April before he would take part in another grand prix. Then on the 13th of April, he would be busy preparing for the start of the 8th Gran Premio di Siracusa.
The Syracuse Grand Prix had been the scene of a coupe of a different type when, back in 1955, the British Connaught team came and stole victory away from the factory Maseratis. Three years later, Connaught would be hanging on by a thread no owned by Bernie Ecclestone. The factory Maserati team was also no more. However, as the cars began arriving for the 60 lap race on the 13th it was clear it was going to be an all-red affair as only Italian makes would arrive to take part in the event.
Taking place around the 3.48 mile circuit comprised of country roads and streets just to the northwest of Syracuse's city center, the Syracuse circuit was certainly a mix and a challenge for even the best drivers. Fast and technically challenging in spots, there were many areas around the circuit that even the slightest error got punished in terrible ways.
Only one factory car appeared for the race and that would be a Ferrari Dino 246 entered for Luigi Musso. One year earlier, Musso followed Peter Collins around the circuit in one of the most dominant performances ever in the Syracuse Grand Prix. One year later, it seemed there would be a repeat as Musso would take the pole with a lap time of 1:58.4. This lap time would be more than three seconds quicker than the best lap posted by the 2nd place starter Giorgio Scarlatti in a Maserati 250F. Jo Bonnier would take Godia's old car and would show him up by qualifying on the front row in the 3rd position while Paco would have to settle for starting on the second row of the grid in the 4th position. He would be just beat out by his old car.
Heading into the race, Godia knew he was amongst the five-fastest in the field. Therefore, he knew he just needed to keep the car pointing straight and wheels on the road and he would likely come away with a strong result.
Musso would be in the lead right from the beginning. Scarlatti would fail after 33 laps due to ignition-related troubles. Bonnier would be strong, as would Godia. These two would constitute the challenge Musso would have to face over the course of the race. However, it would prove to be no threat at all as Musso would disappear into the distance with the new 246 Dino.
Throughout the race, Godia would only get close to Musso twice and in both cases it would come as Luigi came around to put him a lap down. Paco was under little threat from behind and was unable to mount a challenge against Bonnier in his old car. Therefore, Paco would look to the finish of the race.
Everyone would look to the end of the race precisely because Musso was untouchable over the course of the race. The closest to Musso by the end of the race would be Bonnier, but even he would end up more than a lap behind as Musso took an easy victory. Another lap would be the difference back to Godia as he would finish in 3rd place, a lap ahead of Horace Gould in 4th.
Francisco had earned another podium result but it was a result muted by the sheer dominance of Musso and the Dino 246. Musso had set the fastest lap of the race with a time that was still faster than Godia's qualifying effort. There was practically no chance for Godia to come through and challenge. Still, it was another podium result, and some welcome prize money. The result helped to fund his racing efforts and helped him to look forward to the next race of the season.
The next race of the season, for Godia, wouldn't come until the middle of May, but it would be a very important race for the Spaniard. In fact, it was an important race for the whole of Formula One. It was the Monaco Grand Prix.
The Monaco Grand Prix would be the second round of the Formula One World Championship for 1958 and it would take place on the 18th of May. It started the World Championship in Europe and was, as it is now, the jewel in Formula One's crown. Heading in the race there would be some changes, but not to the circuit.
The same 1.95 mile circuit would await the teams and drivers. No, the changes would come in the form of teams and drivers. Fangio wouldn't be present for the first time since the race had become a part of the World Championship. Vandervell's Vanwalls would be present at Monaco. This meant Moss was back driving a Vanwall. Jean Behra and Harry Schell would take their places at BRM. Former winner, Maurice Trintignant, would take Moss' place at Walker driving their Cooper.
What wouldn't change would be Godia arriving with a Maserati 250F. Another aspect that would not change would be the need to qualify just to get into the race. Open to just 16 starters, there was no guarantee for the numerous entries that they would ever make it into the race. As practice unfolded, there was no guarantee that even Moss would make it into the race as he would be delayed in posting a lap time.
Heading into the final practice on Saturday, Godia would be looking at a familiar, but frustrating sight before him. The 16th, and final qualifier that the rest of the entrants had to try and beat was very familiar to Paco as it was his old Maserati driven by Bonnier. Bonnier had qualified higher than Godia in Syracuse and threatened to do the same heading into the Monaco Grand Prix. Unfortunately, Bonnier would do it again as he would prove to be the final qualifier for the race. Francisco, like eleven others, would miss out.
The front row would consist of a bit of a surprise. Tony Brooks, the 2nd place finisher a year ago, would start from pole with Jean Behra sitting in 2nd place. The final spot on the front row would be occupied by Jack Brabham in a factory Cooper. The front row was filled with British manufacturers. The highest starting Italian car would be found on the third row in Mike Hawthorn's Dino 246. In addition, three rear-engined Coopers would be found in the first two rows of the grid. The revolution in Formula One was in full-swing.
Godia would miss out on a beautiful day for racing. Instead of taking to the wheel, the Spaniard would be left taking to more pedestrian activities. The ceremonies would start; the excitement would build. The cars would assemble on the grid, then, slowly, the drivers would make their way to their mounts. Ahead of them existed 100 laps of the tight and twisty streets of Monaco.
It would be a wild scramble into the tight Gazometre hairpin for the first time. Salvadori would be the first to arrive but he would end last to come out as a result of losing it due to going in too hard. The first out of the corner would be Behra. He would be closely followed by Brooks and Brabham. Behra would maintain the lead through the first lap and throughout the first 25 laps, or so, of the race.
Brooks remained in 2nd place for nearly 20 laps before spark plug problems brought his race to an end. Stuart Lewis-Evans was already out of the running, which meant just Moss remained for Vandervell. Behra remained at the front until the usual brake problem sidelined his BRM. This gave the Brits, Moss and Hawthorn, the opportunity to battle it out for the lead. It would be a fantastic duel, but it would also prove short-lived as Moss would be out after 38 laps due to engine problems and Hawthorn was to follow after 47 laps with fuel pump problems.
Suddenly, many of the major players were out of the race. Peter Collins and Luigi Musso maintained Ferrari's hopes, but they would be chasing Maurice Trintignant who, ironically, was driving the same Rob Walker Cooper that had won in Argentina.
Musso was again in 2nd place following the privateer Cooper. He had been fooled once before. Though this time he would not be fooled, around the tight Monaco streets, he was just unable to mount any kind of challenge against Trintignant in the nimble little Cooper.
Both Collins and Musso struggled to keep pace with the lesser-powered Cooper. Trintignant was a talented driver, but he didn't compare to the likes of Collins and Musso, but, in a Cooper and around the streets of Monaco, he was more than their equal. Musso couldn't stand to let the Cooper get away from him again, so he would mount a charge toward the latter-part of the race. Musso's efforts would pay off as he would begin to reel in Trintignant. Maurice's lead had been nearer to 45 seconds at one point. Musso would cut that lead down, but he was coming dangerously close to running out of laps.
Tried as he may, Musso just could do nothing with the oldest driver in the field. Trintignant had been in this situation before, around these very streets. Aided by a lap time near to Hawthorn's fastest lap, Maurice was able to maintain his lead all the way to the finish. Trintignant would take his second World Championship victory, and second on the streets of Monaco. Musso would again follow home the Walker Cooper to a 2nd place finish. He would cross the line 20 seconds behind. Peter Collins would give Ferrari two finishers on the podium when he crossed the line nearly 19 seconds further back of Musso in 3rd place.
Given the rate of attrition, had Godia stayed out of trouble, he likely could have finished well inside the top ten. But, as it stood, he would have to stand by and watch the events unfold just like many of the other top drivers. It was clear the venerable Maserati was reaching its end. But surely there still had to be a couple more opportunities for the 250F to compete.
As far as Formula One was concerned, Godia had issues besides the age of the 250F. The number of non-championship events in 1958 was few. Formula 2 was again popular. The rear-engined Coopers signified the way of the future and everyone knew it. Therefore, many would compete in Formula 2 events instead of concerning themselves with non-championship Formula One races. In addition, the 1958 season would see the largest number of rounds for the World Championship ever. The inclusion of the Dutch and Belgian Grand Prix, right along with a round in Portugal, meant the championship had eleven rounds that year. Therefore, many of the top teams and drivers would only take part in the rounds of the World Championship and nothing else. Many of the teams and drivers would then fill their schedules with sportscar races like the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Paco would do the same. He would skip the Dutch Grand Prix. He would also not make the trip back across the Atlantic to take part in the Indianapolis 500. He would make plans to take part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans on the 21st and 22nd of June, but there would be one other race that would take place the week before then.
On the 15th of June, the 8.77 mile public road course known as Spa-Francorchamps prepared to play host to the Grand Prix de Belgique. This would be a great opportunity for Godia as the Belgian Grand Prix not only accepted more than 16 starters, the very nature of the circuit also welcomed the power of the 250F.
Monaco could not have been followed up by a much different circuits than the Zandvoort Circuit, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and that which was used for the Belgian Grand Prix. Set in the heart of the Ardennes, the 8.77 mile Spa-Francorchamps circuit was long and fast and featured only one really slow corner, that being La Source. The circuit was a classic road course. Comprised of public roads, the Spa circuit included dramatic elevation changes, fast sweeping turns and such intriguing elements as houses located dangerously close to the edge of the circuit.
Situated in the Ardennes, the Spa circuit also played host to strange and unpredictable weather. However, as the teams arrived and began preparing for the start of the first practice the weather would be pleasant. It would be a relaxed affair. Many of the drivers could be seen talking with one another and joking around. Godia would be seen speaking to Marie-Therese de Filippis. This would be her first race as part of the actual World Championship. She would have the distinction of being the first woman ever to compete in a round of the Formula One World Championship.
Godia really had no comparable distinction he could list on his resume except for his first grand prix and first championship points scored in 1956. By the time of the Belgian Grand Prix, he was not really concerned with such novel records. He merely wanted to take part in a race and have it go well.
One-by-one, the cars would take to the dramatic Spa circuit. The drivers and cars would find the resurfaced circuit much more enjoyable as the bumps going up Eau Rouge would be no more. After the left and right bends at the end of the straight the circuit opened up to its usual high-speed affair that included such famous landmarks as the Masta Kink and Stavelot before winding up back at La Source and the completion of a lap.
It wouldn't take the cars long before average speeds reached in excess of 130mph, making Spa the fastest circuit in Europe, even faster than Monza. When practice came to an end, it would be Hawthorn that would end up on pole. His best effort would be a lap time of 3:57.1, which would be just four-tenths of a second faster than that of his Ferrari teammate Musso. Stirling Moss would take his Vanwall and would complete a lap of the circuit in 3:57.6 to ensure that there would be at least one British car on the front row of the grid.
Paco, on the other hand, would not be in a fight for a spot on the front row. He would struggle comparatively. His best effort would be 4:24.5. Being more than 27 seconds off the pace, Godia would end up on the seventh row of the grid in the 18th position overall.
Amazingly, the day of the race would end up as beautiful as what it had been for practice. A large crowd would descend upon the circuit taking part in picnic lunches before the race starts. Just prior to taking their places behind the wheel, the drivers would take part in a parade that would enable the spectators to spot their favorite driver. Godia could be found sitting on the back of a red 300SL convertible followed closely behind by Moss in another 300SL.
Cars ready, the flag would drop to start the 24 lap race. Moss would get the jump and would be in the lead. He would lead the field up through Eau Rouge for the first time followed by his teammate Brooks. The two Ferraris would struggle to get away as Gendebien would take over the 3rd slot in his yellow-livered Ferrari. Godia would also be slow away from the grid. He had started the race second-to-last, and that is right where he would be throughout the first lap.
It would be Moss leading the way ahead of his Vanwall teammate Brooks throughout most of the first trip. However, it would be Brooks leading the way across the line ahead of Collins. What happened to Moss? It would end up being a very short trip for Moss as the Vanwall would barely make it around La Source and would end up being pulled off to the right before reaching Eau Rouge for the second time.
Godia wouldn't look much quicker than Moss by the completion of the first lap. Paco would not be last, that unfortunate placing would be reserved for de Filippis. Still, coming through the first circuit in 16th left Godia with a long day ahead of him. Still, he was in the race and had the potential of moving up.
Brooks and Collins would begin to duke it out for the lead of the race. Both would share about equal time at the head of the field. However, Collins would drop off the pace, and eventually out altogether, when his Ferrari struggled with overheating problems. This would give Brooks the outright lead, a lead he would never relinquish the rest of the afternoon.
Godia would sit still around 15th place but would soon begin to move up the order much more quickly through his own efforts and the struggles of others. At around the 10 lap mark, Brooks would still be in the lead but Godia would benefit from the struggles of others and would be up to 10th.
At the front of the field, Hawthorn's Ferrari would be sandwiched in the running order by the Vanwalls of Brooks and Lewis-Evans. Godia would end up getting by Bonnier for the 10th spot but would be followed by his co-driver for Le Mans from then on.
Throughout the course of the race, the new Ferraris showed a tremendous turn of speed, something they had been lacking the year before. However, the pace was proving to be too much and while Collins would be forced out with overheating problems, Hawthorn would also have to back off to ensure his Ferrari could make the distance. This left Brooks firmly in control of the race. He just needed to make sure he didn't make a mistake before the end.
Hawthorn would save his car till the end and would try to put together some fast laps in the hopes that Brooks would make a mistake under pressure, or, would be just off the pace enough that the pole-sitter could come through to take a surprising victory. At the same time Mike began to drop the hammer on his Ferrari, Godia would be up to 9th place.
It was not to be for Hawthorn. Brooks had held off the challenge of the factory Maseratis in Syracuse back in 1955 to earn the monumental victory, so he wasn't about the crack, especially when he had a comfortable lead in hand.
Brooks would stay calm and would keep his sights on the road ahead of him. He would complete the final lap of the race without incident and would come through La Source for the final time with more than enough in hand to take the victory. Hawthorn's charge would not be enough to earn him the victory but it would be good enough to give him the fastest lap of the race en route to his 2nd place result. Stuart Lewis-Evans would complete the podium finishing in 3rd place some three minutes behind his Vanwall teammate.
Everyone would be distracted by Brooks' effort up at the front of the field and they likely missed the effort Godia was putting in at the back. Heading into what was his final lap, or so, of the race his Maserati would begin struggling with engine troubles. The Spaniard would fight and struggle with his car in an effort to coax it to the finish. He was two laps behind Brooks at the time. He just needed to cross the finish line. Unfortunately, just as there would the bridge too far, the finish line would prove to be too far for Paco. His day would come to an end nearly within sight of his goal. It would be terribly frustrating to have come so far and to fail so close.
Having come so close to finishing the Belgian Grand Prix would be frustrating for Godia, but he would have to turn his attentions quickly to a much more arduous test. On the 21st and 22nd of June, one week after the Belgian Grand Prix, would be held the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Certainly Bonnier had bragging rights and opportunities to jab Godia since he finished the race at Spa and Paco didn't, but the two needed to come together and focus on the task at hand, especially since it was Godia's own Maserati Bonnier was going to be driving in the race.
The failed result in Spa would end up being more prophetic than what Godia would have liked. Entered in the S3.0 category, the Maserati would end up developing engine troubles over the course of the race and it would leave Godia and Bonnier unable to make it to the finish of the race.
Le Mans would hold little encouragement for Godia. Therefore, he would have to look to another opportunity. He wouldn't have to wait too long. The only problem was whether or not this particular event would hold any different result or not. The event would be the French Grand Prix held at Reims on the 6th of July.
The problem was that Reims was very similar in character to Spa. It was a relatively long circuit measuring 5.15 miles in length. But, the greatest carry-over between the two would be average speed. Boasting of the Route Nationale 31 straight and then the start/finish straight, Reims was practically nothing but long straights interrupted by hairpin turns. The only portion of the circuit that would be different would be that section immediately after the start/finish line. This would include fast sweeping turns going back and forth from right to left. They were fast and demanded a good handling car to keep the speed up.
There was the other problem. Going back to 1956, the Maseratis were no longer the fastest cars. They would struggle to compete against the Lancia-Ferraris, even though they would have drivers like Moss at the wheel. The race would be held at Rouen the following year, so it was difficult to tell just where the 250F stacked up to the latest Vanwalls and Ferraris. But, Spa was a pretty good indication and that event showed the Maseratis lacked the pace.
Paco would put this truth aside and would make the trip from Le Mans to the east toward Reims. He would end up being one of seven Maseratis to enter the French round of the World Championship.
The Ferraris were showing their pace, and, when practice had come to an end, it was Hawthorn sitting on pole once again with a lap time of 2:21.7. Luigi Musso would start alongside in 2nd place having posted a lap less than a second slower. Harry Schell would complete the front row in the BRM. He would be a second and a half slower than Mike.
Juan Manuel Fangio would make his first appearance in a grand prix since his home grand prix back in January. He would come to Godia and would borrow his car for some practice. It wouldn't take long before Fangio would be turning laps in the 2:27 range. It would end up being that his lap of 2:27.1 would be quicker than any lap posted by Godia. And, because the times were associated to a car and not a driver, Paco would use the time to vault himself up to the fifth row of the grid and an 11th place starting spot overall. Fangio would start from 8th.
The sun would be shining heading into the race. There would be some excitement for Godia starting from the fifth row of the grid. Starting nearer to the front, he had the potential of coming away with an even greater result if he could keep out of trouble over the course of the 50 lap race.
At the start, Schell would take the lead. He would be chased by Hawthorn and Musso. Godia's great starting position would turn sour very quickly as he would get pushed all the way back to where most considered he belonged before the completion of the first lap.
Schell couldn't hold off Hawthorn and it would be the Brit that would lead the way at the end of the first lap. Schell would quickly find himself under attack from Musso who was leading a slip-streaming train that included Moss, Brooks, Fangio and Collins. Godia would come across the line, after starting 11th, in 16th spot. It seemed that only Fangio's touch with the 250F returned any kind of other-worldly results.
Under pressure from off the track problems, Musso would quickly dispatch Schell and would break away in his pursuit of his teammate. Hawthorn continued to stretch his advantage. Musso pushed harder and harder to keep pace. Unfortunately, Luigi would push a little too hard, and, after 10 laps, would lose control of his Ferrari. The car would overturn a number of times off the circuit. Musso would be flown to the hospital and would later die from his injuries. It would prove to be that final nudge Fangio needed to call it quits for good.
Throughout the first 10 laps of the race, Godia remained right around 15th, but he was slowly moving forward. Fangio would be in the hunt during the first half of the race but he would end up fading over the last half of the event. This opened the door to an intense battle between Stirling Moss and Jean Behra for 2nd place. At the same time, Paco had moved his way up to 13th and looked good for the last half of the race.
It wasn't meant to be, however. Godia would make a mistake after 29 laps of solid running. He would lose control of his Maserati and would end up retiring from the race as well. Providence would be on his side and would certainly capture his attentions after Musso's terrible and unfortunate accident only about 20 laps earlier. This made it two retirements in a row and a failed qualifying effort in Monaco. The season was not going all that well. It was clear the Maserati was well past its prime. It was perhaps time for Paco to make some important decisions.
The Spaniard would put aside his 250F for the moment and would turn to his Maserati 300S to see if he could find some good news. He would take and enter the car in the Vila Real on the 13th of July. He would start the race from the 3rd position on the grid and would end up coming through to finish in 3rd place. It would be a welcome result, but it would also help him make an important decision.
It was clear the 250F was no longer competitive. There were also no non-championship events following the Grand Prix de Caen on the 20th of July. This meant Paco's only option was to take part in World Championship rounds where he would be going up against much more capable cars than what he had available to him. No one wants to spend their life as a racecar driver at the back of a field. Therefore, Godia would make the decision to retire. His Formula One career would come to an end right then and there. His career would conclude with the 6 championship points he had earned back in 1956 at the German and Italian Grand Prix.
Although Paco would make the decision to retire from Formula One, he would not retire from racing. He would end up selling the 250F over the winter of 1958 and 1959. It would end up in Venezuela for a couple of years before its return to Italy.
As for Godia, he would return to Spain and would pursue his other passion, which was art. He would collect fine art and would also keep his hand in motor racing, however, most all of the events he would take part in from then on would all take place in Spain.
This decision would end up being a fruitful one as his racing career would extend all the way to the end of the 1960s. It would start out with a 2nd place in the Trofeo Nuvolari Montjuich in 1959 and would be followed by a victory in the same event in 1962 and again in 1965. At the wheel of a Ford GT40 he would take victory in the Barcelona 6 Hour race in 1968 and would follow that up with a victory in the Barcelona 12 Hour race one year later, this time at the wheel of a Porsche 908. His final result would come in the Jarama 6 Hour race. Again at the wheel of a Porsche 908, he would finish in 2nd place capping off a long and impressive career.
Following his complete retirement from motor racing, Godia still would never stray very far. He would have a hand in the efforts to design and build the Circuit de Catalunya and he would open his own gallery that would feature fine artwork from his collection, as well as, pieces of artwork and memorabilia from his racing days.
On the 28th of November, 1990, Francisco Godia-Sales would pass away at his home in Barcelona. He had taken part in 13 Formula One World Championship races and became one of the few to ever score a point. His 8th place in Argentina in 1958 would provide him his final Formula One highlight. However, he would leave a legacy frozen in time in the history books and in pieces of art.