TeamsOfficine Alfieri Maserati: 1957 Formula One Season By Jeremy McMullen
In spite of the factory earning a couple of victories at the hands of Stirling Moss, Maserati would come up short in the World Championship once again. However, 1957 promised Maserati its best opportunity at championship glory since 1954.
Enzo Ferrari would be just a little upset with the four-time World Champion from Argentina. While most everybody loved Juan Manuel Fangio, especially his humble nature and supreme talent, Ferrari would be less than enthusiastic.
Fangio had come to Ferrari when Mercedes-Benz pulled out of motor racing. This would excite Ferrari as he would take the Lancia-Ferrari to the pinnacle earning the first World Championship since its dominant 1952-1953 period. However, because of reputation and abilities, which any team would salivate over the proposition of having at their disposal, Fangio didn't struggle to find a ride, and therefore, didn't necessarily have any loyalty to a particular manufacturer. Ferrari would find this out first-hand when the Argentinean left his team for Maserati in'57.
Fangio had been with the team back in '54 and had secured a couple of wins before Mercedes-Benz made their debut in the World Championship. Mercedes-Benz's appearance short-changed Maserati. But Fangio would return to the team to make it right. Fangio and Moss would be together again, but only for a short period of time.
Maserati would have a powerhouse of a team heading into the start of the '57 season. Fangio would join a team that already included Stirling Moss, Jean Behra and Carlos Menditeguy. A number of other talented drivers would come along and drive for the team over the course of the season.
Although the team would have a driver lineup that would make most teams envious, the 250F chassis was by no means a new car. While Ferrari was developing their new derivative of the Lancia D50, and Vandervell had their potent Vanwalls, the evolutions of the 250F were starting to reach their limits, and the costs associated with designing and building a new chassis would be too much for the factory effort.
Even though the 250F had been years in service, Maserati continued to do what it could to keep the car competitive. The '57 evolution would include a lighter-weight chassis. This lighter weight was as a result of thinner gauge tubes used in the chassis. Though disc brakes had been a handful of years in use, Maserati stayed with the drum brakes but they would be enlarged. Engine development would continue and the sleek bodywork would be made lower in profile. One of the developments that would come along later in the season would be a 12-cylinder engine meant to increase the car's top-end speed.
Three of the new T2 chassis would be developed in time for the team to load them up and head across the South Atlantic. The team was on its way to Argentina for the first round of the '57 World Championship.
Unlike the previous season, where turmoil still resided around Buenos Aires following the ousting of President Peron, a greater sense of stability existed. In spite of the turmoil the previous season the race went on without much difficulty. It would be third year in a row in which Fangio would come away the victor. Maserati would be hoping and praying there would be a repeat of 1954, the first year Fangio was victorious in Argentina, and with Maserati.
Following the ousting of Peron, the circuit in Buenos Aires would have its name changed to the Autodromo Municipal Ciudad de Buenos Aires. But despite having a new name, the circuit would not change. It would still be 2.42 miles in length and a mixture of short straights and medium speed corners.
Officine Alfieri Maserati would enter four cars for the 100 lap race. Of course the entry the Argentineans would be most concerned about would be the number 2 car entered for Juan Manuel Fangio. Stirling Moss would be at the wheel of number 4 while Jean Behra and Carlos Menditeguy would be driving cars 6 and 8.
Fangio may have been on home soil but Scuderia Ferrari was intent on making sure there wasn't going to be a home victory. Ferrari would enter no less than six cars and would have a driver lineup of no less than eight drivers. Ferrari wasn't happy with Fangio's departure, and he was bent on thwarting any happy home victory.
In spite of the presence of so many Ferraris, almost the entire front row would be occupied by 250Fs. Moss would end up being fastest over the course of practice and would take the pole with a lap time of 1:42.6. Fangio would start from 2nd place being just a little more than a second slower. Jean Behra would line up in 3rd place being just three-tenths slower than Fangio. Eugenio Castellotti would manage to grab the final spot on the front row with the Lancia-Ferrari. He would be two-tenths off of Behra's fastest lap.
Maserati already had three of its four cars lining up on the front row of the grid. Unfortunately, the fourth, the one driven by Menditeguy, would be a bit further down in the order. In fact, he would start from the third row of the grid in the 8th position overall. Still, he would be close behind Moss and would have the ability to move up quickly if he made a quick start.
The usual hot, sunny day greeted the first round of the World Championship on the 13th of January. A large throng of fans would descend upon the circuit for the race, just waiting to watch their hero Fangio go on to victory. The cars would be lined up on the grid and the drivers would soon take their places behind the wheel.
But although all hopes would be on Fangio, at the start of the race it would be Behra that would power his way into the lead ahead of Fangio and Castellotti. Moss was on pole but would wrongly judge the drop of the flag. In a bit of a panick, the Brit would end up damaging his throttle and would be all the way at the tail-end of the field before even the first lap had been completed. Menditeguy would make the kind of start he needed. He would be a couple of positions up from his grid slot, but he would be hard-pressed to hold onto the position.
At the end of the first lap it would be Behra in the lead over Castellotti and Fangio. Behind the Argentinean came a fleet of Ferraris followed by Menditeguy in 7th place and Moss pulling into the pits in 14th position.
Behra's lead would be short-lived as Castellotti would move into the point by the 3rd lap. Fangio, meanwhile, would stay put behind his French teammate, in no hurry to press the issue. Menditeguy's fast start would also be short-lived and he would be down to 10th place by the time the race had reached 10 laps. Moss still remained in last place struggling to get his Maserati working properly.
Castellotti began to run into trouble with his Ferrari. Behra would end up taking the lead back from the Italian but would later be usurped by Peter Collins. By the quarter distance mark, Fangio would be in gear and moving up. He would take over the lead of the race just past quarter distance and would have Behra running in 2nd place ahead of Mike Hawthorn. Collins would end up out of the race do to clutch failure, a problem that would plague Ferrari all afternoon. Castellotti had been moving back up after some early problems. However, a spin would cause him to fall right back down the running order.
About the same time Castellotti made his error, Luigi Musso was pulling up lame in his Ferrari as the clutch failed in his car. Just a few laps later, Mike Hawthorn, who was already notoriously rough on his equipment, would run afoul of clutch failure and would retire. This left Fangio out front with Jean Behra coming along in 2nd place. Menditeguy would ride the wave of attrition and would find himself up to 4th place by the midway point of the race. Moss also continued in the race but he would still be running dead-last in his stricken Maserati.
Approaching the last quarter of the race, Behra would pick up his pace and would actually challenge Fangio for the lead. The Frenchman would spend a period of time in the lead. Menditeguy would take advantage of Castellotti's failure to move up to 3rd place. Maserati had three of its factory cars sitting one-two-three in the running order. Furthermore, Moss' persistence had seen him move up off the ropes to 8th place. Harry Schell, driving another Maserati 250F, would overcome a spin to take over 4th place in the running order. This meant Maseratis were running in the first four positions out on the circuit.
In spite of Behra's best efforts, Fangio would move back into the lead of the race and would go on to prove unbeatable on home soil as he took his fourth win in a row in the Argentine Grand Prix. It was 1954 all over again. Maserati was certainly glad to see the Argentinean back behind the wheel of one of their 250Fs. But while they would be thoroughly happy with Fangio's victory, they would be utterly beside themselves when Behra crossed the line 20 seconds later in 2nd place and Menditeguy followed along a little bit more than a lap down in 3rd place. It was a sweep of the podium for Officine Alfieri Maserati! Moss' race would be a story of what might have been. Still, he would fight hard and would recover to finish 7 laps down in 8th place.
The season could not have started out much better for the factory Maserati team. The only blemish on that record would be Moss' troubles. But still, a victory by Fangio in the first round of the World Championship seemed to signal that Maserati might finally enjoy its year in the sun.
The Argentine Grand Prix would take place on the 13th of January. Following the race, the teams would not pack up and head back to Europe, at least not right away. There were other races to be run in South America before the teams needed to make their way home. One of these races would be the 11th Gran Premio Ciudad de Buenos Aires.
The Buenos Aires Grand Prix, which would take place on the 27th of January, was one of just a number of non-championship races for 1957. But even though it was a non-championship race, it would end up nearly a mirror copy of the first round of the World Championship. But although the race would be taking place at the same location as the first round of the World Championship, the circuit layout that would be used would be different. Instead of the 2.42 mile circuit number 2 that was used for the Argentine Grand Prix, the 2.82 mile variant would be used for the non-championship affair. Another major difference between the two events would be the formats employed.
The format for the non-championship race would consist of two heat races measured in aggregate. The two heat races would each be 30 laps in length. The final results would be determined from the finishing times from each respective heat race.
Maserati would enter the same four cars that had lined up for the Argentine Grand Prix. The difference would be the starting order. This time, it would be Fangio that would prove fastest in practice. His lap time of 2:17.9 would end up more than a second and a half faster than Moss in the 2nd place Maserati. Mike Hawthorn would claim 3rd place on the grid while Jean Behra would complete the front row in 4th. Menditeguy's positioning would be rather close to the previous race. He would line up on the third row of the grid in the 8th position, once again, not far behind the pole-sitter.
The weather heading into the race would be hot and promised to test car and driver alike over the whole of the race. Still, it seemed to both Fangio very little as he would go on to set the fastest lap of the heat and take the win by 25 seconds over Jean Behra and Eugenio Castellotti. Stirling Moss would end up dropping out of the race after 24 laps. He would be thoroughly exhausted by the exceedingly warm temperatures. But he wouldn't be the only one to suffer in the tough conditions.
No less than three other cars would see their original drivers fail to make it the whole 30 lap distance. Maserati's fourth driver, Carlos Menditeguy, would make it through the first 30 lap heat, but he would be well down in 6th place and over two minutes behind Fangio in finishing time.
The results from the first heat race meant Fangio started from the pole in the second heat race. Behra would start in 2nd place while Castellotti and Hawthorn would complete the front row. Menditeguy would line up on the second row of the grid in the 6th position while Moss would start the second heat well down in the 12th position.
Fangio knew he had the race in hand as long as he managed to stay close to his competition and complete the whole of the second heat. Therefore, he would not be the quickest away from the grid, but he would certainly be in a strong position right from the beginning. Behra would look strong at the start, but it would be Peter Collins that would look the best in the Lancia-Ferrari. He would go on to set the fastest lap of the heat and would actually take and extend his advantage over Behra.
Further back, Fangio would be sitting in a strong position in 3rd place. He would be able to control the race from this position as Collins and Behra really needed to escape into the distance to even get the Argentine's blood pressuring rising. Menditeguy would be running right around where he started but would end up handing his car over to Moss for the remainder of the heat. Moss had not started the race as he was still suffering from the effects of his exhaustion. However, he would not turn down the opportunity to jump behind the wheel of Carlos' Maserati.
Though Collins was fast, Fangio had his well covered. The Englishman would go on to take the victory beating Behra by a margin of 20 seconds. Behra had Fangio all over him heading into the final portion of the race as the Argentinean made sure of his lead. As it would turn out, Behra would cross the line just a second ahead of Fangio. Moss would take Menditeguy's Maserati and would finish about a minute and thirty seconds behind Behra and Fangio in 6th place.
Fangio had the race well in hand. The aggregate results would prove Fangio the winner by the margin of 24 seconds over Jean Behra. Luigi Musso and Peter Collins would partner to finish in 3rd place just a little more than two seconds adrift of Behra. Carlos Menditeguy and Stirling Moss would combine to finish overall in 6th place about three and a half minutes behind Fangio.
The season could not have started out much better for either Fangio or Maserati. Both had scored victories in the first two races of the season. Furthermore, Maserati would finish in first and second in those first two races as well. The season looked promising with Fangio and Behra behind the wheel. And that was good because the team was about to lose Moss.
By the end of the 1956 season, Vandervell Products was coming on strong with their Vanwall. Moss had driven for the team a couple of times throughout 1956 and had shown strong each time out. But now, the team had had more time to evolve and prepare the Vanwall chassis. Moss was aware of this and would be enticed to join the British marque for the '57 season. This left Fangio and Behra as Maserati's two strongest drivers. However, the team would add a very capable driver to its lineup when it rehired Harry Schell.
Schell had always shown great speed and it was him that hurried the Lancia-Ferraris at Reims the previous season before troubles dampened his performance in the Vanwall. Therefore, the Parisian-American was more than capable. So Maserati still had a strong lineup. But it was near impossible to replace Moss.
Returning to Europe, the factory Maserati team would look forward to the start of the grand prix season in Europe. The first event would come on the 7th of April just outside the ancient Sicilian city of Syracuse. It would be the 7th Gran Premio di Siracusa, and it would provide a glimpse of Formula One after Juan Manuel Fangio.
Fangio's success not only made him nearly a household name the world over, it also made him quite wealthy. Therefore, he had no need to go racing each and every time possible. Furthermore, the feelings of responsibility for fellow drivers would really begin to weigh down upon him. The sport had just lost Eugenio Castellotti on the 14th of March. Fangio had lost countrymen like Onofre Marimon and a number of other friends. It had been taking a toll for a while. Therefore, Fangio would not make the trip to Sicily.
Maserati would still enter three cars for the 80 lap race on the 7th. Behra and Schell would be two of the drivers present. The third entry would be for Giorgio Scarlatti. Scarlatti was certainly better known among the sportscar ranks but more than capable behind the wheel of a single-seater.
The Syracuse circuit favored speed. Measuring 3.48 miles in length, the Syracuse circuit was comprised of public roads traversing the countryside just to the northwest of the city. Relatively flat around the start/finish straight, the circuit then kinked right and descended toward the city before making a sharp left hairpin turn and beginning a climb past the Commonwealth War Graves cemetery and around to the backstraight. On a whole, the average speeds around the circuit would be quite high and made the circuit quite technically challenging as there were more than enough places to get things wrong and throw a race away.
The circuit would seem to favor the latest Lancia-Ferrari as Peter Collins would take the pole. Luigi Musso, driving another Lancia-Ferrari, would take 2nd place on the starting grid. Stirling Moss, now driving for Vandervell, would manage to capture the final starting spot on the front row. All told, just eight-tenths of a second would separate the whole of the front row.
The first of the factory Maseratis would be found on the second row of the grid with Schell behind the wheel. His best lap would be a 1:57.5 compared to Collins' 1:55.5. Overall, Schell would be 5th while Behra would be on the third row in the 6th position.
Scarlatti had agreed to come and race for the team following Moss's departure to Vandervell and Fangio's failure to show for the race. Scarlatti would take part in practice but not much more as the engine in his Maserati would fail causing him to miss out on the race.
Connaught had pulled off a surprise victory here back in 1955. However, as the flag waved to start the 278 mile test, there wouldn't be a Connaught within sight of the front. Instead, it would be the Ferraris of Collins and Musso leading the way. Moss would do his best to mount a challenge, and, for more than a good portion of the race, Moss would challenge for the lead.
Further back, Behra would and Schell would be struggling. Schell's strong showing in practice would not be followed-up with a strong showing in the race. In fact, it would all come a cropper after just one lap when his six-cylinder engine gave up the fight. Behra's race wouldn't last much longer. The lone Maserati left in the race would see his race come to an end after 17 laps when his front brakes failed.
Moss would push hard from the very beginning of the race. He would challenge for the lead and would even manage to set the fastest lap of the race at one point. However, as the race headed into the final half, the Vanwall driver would have absolutely nothing for the two Ferraris. Collins would take off in the lead and Musso would hold up the challenge of any other comers. Actually, as the race wore on, there would be no other car and driver combination that could mount a challenge. All that was left for the two Ferrari drivers was to take care of their machines and the top spots on the podium would be theirs.
Collins would run away with the race. Crossing the line after two hour and 40 minutes, Collins would average 102 mph en route to his minute and 15 second victory over his teammate Musso. Stirling Moss would manage to finish in 3rd, but would be absolutely destroyed in the process. Moss would cross the line to finish in 3rd place but would be more than three laps behind.
Moss' destruction would still be a welcome finish for the Maserati team that failed to have any of its three cars finish the race. The worst stat of the race would be that Maserati would go from two straight victories to not having a single car make it more than a quarter distance in Syracuse. Suddenly, the season didn't seem as much a lock as what many might have been thinking. But then again, Fangio wasn't behind the wheel of any of the entries.
The race in Syracuse would be a setback, but it would not destroy the team's confidence. And, if the team's confidence was wavering at all the next race on the calendar was sure to bolster faith.
In June of 1955 motor racing suffered its greatest tragedy when the Mercedes of Pierre Levegh disintegrated and went flying into the crowd at Le Mans. Mercedes would pull out of motor racing at the end of the year and many other races would be cancelled over the course of the year to address safety concerns. The Grand Prix de Pau had already taken place that year, and therefore, was not necessarily affected by the tragedy. However, in response to what had happened organizers would cancel the event for the following season. Therefore, 1957 would see a return of Pau to the grand prix calendar. And, it was an opportunity to see if Jean Behra could keep his run of dominance going.
Behra had pulled off a surprising victory in 1954 with a Gordini. The following year, he would manage to out-duel Alberto Ascari in a Lancia to claim yet another Pau victory. Returning to the circuit in 1957, Behra was out to keep his streak alive.
Though situated on the northern edge of the Pyrenees Mountain in the Aquitaine region of southwestern France, Pau would be very much like Monte Carlo circuit situated along the French Riviera. Measuring 1.71 miles, the Pau circuit consisted of streets that wound back and forth upon itself making for a tight and slow circuit where handling, acceleration and braking were of uttermost importance. In addition to the twisty nature of the circuit, the course would actually rise and fall a considerable amount leading to a number of corners to have blind entries and apexes that made for a very challenging circuit.
The 110 lap race on the 22nd of April would see a lot of familiar sights. Jean Behra would consist of the only entry for Officine Alfieri Maserati. However, the Frenchman would prove more than enough as he would take the pole for the race with a lap of 1:35.7. This lap time would end up being more than two seconds faster than Harry Schell in the Scuderia Centro Sud Maserati. Masten Gregory would complete the front row in yet another Maserati 250F.
Behra had the pace in practice. This would give him great confidence heading into the race. He knew he had the pace in hand so he could train his mind to think about reliability and ensuring the Maserati completed the whole race distance.
Behra would certainly have the pace in hand. He would take the lead heading into the first right-hand hairpin turn that led to a short uphill straight. Schell would follow along with the rest of the field filing into order behind. Winding around the casino and down through the challenging left-right kink that led downhill and back around to the start/finish line, Behra would be in the lead and looking quite comfortable.
Behra was in control and untouchable over the course of the race. Schell would put up a fight but it would quickly fizzle against Behra's outright pace. Posting what would end up being the fastest lap of the race, Behra's lap that would be just two-tenths of a second slower than his pole-setting effort would destroy Schell's attack and would enable the Frenchman to escape into the distance.
Behra would run away with the race. Averaging 63mph, Behra would blow away the competition crossing the line over two laps ahead of Schell in 2nd place. Another lap would separate Behra to Ivor Bueb finishing in 3rd place.
Though on his own, Behra would prove strong enough to take on the competition and continue his streak of dominance. It was his third win in a row. Behra was certainly a king around the streets of Pau.
With Behra's victory on the streets of Pau, Maserati's woes would be brief. And it would be good as a very important race loomed on the near horizon. It would be the second round of the Formula One World Championship and that meant the Monaco Grand Prix.
The Monaco Grand Prix would take place on the weekend of the 19th in the month of May. It would be just the fourth time the Monaco Grand Prix had been a part of the World Championship, but it was already considered the crown jewel of the series, and for good reason. Situated along the Mediterranean and overflowing with affluence and wealth, a victory on the streets of Monaco would be very much akin to achieving status as a royal.
Maserati would be returning to Monaco with a great deal of confidence and excitement. Stirling Moss had performed a near flawless drive to take a dominant victory. It was just his second Formula One World Championship victory and would be just one of two victories earned by the Brit over the course of the season. But as far as Maserati was concerned, Moss' two victories would be the only two victories the whole of the season. So the victory at the Monaco Grand Prix would be certainly very special.
One year later, the factory Maserati team already had one victory in a World Championship race. Furthermore, the team had been enjoying a great deal of success in non-championship races. Therefore, though the 250F was no longer a youthful chassis, it still had the competitive blood coursing through its veins enabling it to remain very competitive.
As the team arrived in the tiny principality, they would have further reason to be confident. Over the previous couple of races Fangio had not been with the team to take part in the races. However, the Argentinean would be in Monaco just looking for an opportunity to become the first of the Formula One era to earn more than one victory around Monte Carlo.
The factory Maserati team would come to Monaco with no less than four entries. Maserati would actually have five entries but would be unable to field all five. Fangio's name would be joined by Jean Behra and Carlos Menditeguy. There would be a problem though. At the Mille Miglia that year Jean Behra would suffer an accident and some serious injuries. Therefore, the Frenchman would not be available for the race. As a result, the team would turn to Giorgio Scarlatti and the German ace Hans Herrmann to fight it out for the fourth seat. Maserati would bring one of the biggest fleets of cars. However, with Scuderia Ferrari and Vandervell, Maserati would certainly have a difficult task ahead of itself if it had any plans on defending its victory.
Work around the circuit would carry on in preparation for the important grand prix weekend. Grandstands would be built and the pits would be prepared. Maserati would come to the circuit with its three cars carrying the usual six-cylinder engine. However, one example would carry a twelve-cylinder model.
The cars would be unloaded from the train and would be prepared for practice. Brilliant sunshine would drench the circuit as the cars headed out on the circuit for practice. The first practice session would see Stirling Moss set the pace with the stub-nose Vanwall. However, by the end of practice on Saturday, it would be Fangio sitting on the pole having posted a lap time of 1:42.7. Peter Collins would also go faster than Moss in the Lancia-Ferrari. His best lap would be a little more than half a second slower than Fangio but it would be three-tenths faster than Moss in the 3rd, and final, starting spot on the front row.
Besides Fangio, Maserati's drivers would struggle to get to the front end of the grid. Menditeguy would be the second-fastest of the Maserati drivers. He would start in the middle of the third row in the 7th position. Herrmann would struggle in practice and would actually fail to make it as one of the 16 starters. Giorgio Scarlatti would make it onto the grid, but only just. His best lap time of 1:49.2 would leave him down on the sixth row of the grid in the 14th position. But as far as Herrmann was concerned, 14th would have been just fine.
The scene on that Sunday would be a somewhat reserved electricity. A great number of people would spill out of the buildings and all around the circuit. However, all would be waiting eagerly for the Prince to come and clear the course denoting the race was about to start. Then the Prince would head off around the circuit where he would be greeted by great cheers. Of course, it is more than likely the cheers and enthusiastic welcome was for Princess Grace sitting beside him.
The course cleared. The cars would be lined up on the grid. The drivers would take their places behind the wheel while the crews made final adjustments and made sure the cars were ready to go. The engines would be brought to life. The race was ready to start.
The flag would drop and the field would roar away in a cloud of dust and engine noise. Fangio would stay down to the inside while Moss would squeeze out Collins. Moss would stay rather tight, but Fangio wouldn't move either. Fangio would be tight along the wall but he would put the power down to have the tail-end walk around the hairpin and keep him in the race for the lead. Menditeguy would make a good start. He would round the hairpin in 5th place and looking strong very early on. Scarlatti would get a little tangled through the hairpin and would be struggling to move forward.
By the time the field made it halfway around the circuit on the first lap of the race it would be Moss leading the way ahead of Fangio. Peter Collins and Harry Schell would be following along behind. At the end of the first lap, the order would remain much the same with Moss on the point and Fangio under pressure in 2nd place. Collins and Schell would cross the line in 3rd and 4th place. Menditeguy would lose out over the course of the first lap and would end up crossing the line at the end of the first lapin 6th place, a single place improvement upon his starting position. Scarlatti would lose out to Jack Brabham to complete the first lap in 15th place.
Fangio would lose out to Collins would sit back in 3rd place while Brooks and Hawthorn sat behind in 4th and 5th place. Fangio was amongst four Brits, but that was about to change very quickly when Moss would lose control of his Vanwall coming out of the tunnel in preparation for the chicane. Moss would crash into the protective barriers causing a pole to fall over and strike Collins' Ferrari. Peter would lose control and would end up crashing into the wall to the outside of the chicane. Fangio would carefully pick his way through followed by Tony Brooks. Mike Hawthorn would end up losing control and would end up plowing up over the top of Collins' Ferrari. Just at that moment three Brits would be taken out of the picture and Fangio would be in the lead of the race. Menditeguy would manage to pick his way through the carnage to move up to 4th place. Scarlatti too made it through but he was still struggling at the back of the field.
Fangio would accept the lead and would promptly begin to pull away from Brooks. Menditeguy would do his best to hold onto 4th place but he would suffer trouble and would drop down the order. He would be making up for lost ground and would be looking quite impressive doing it until Carlos suffered a crash that would take him out of the race.
While Menditeguy would be extracting himself from his broken car, Fangio would extend his lead to about 15 seconds. Scarlatti would be the only other factory Maserati left in the field along with the leading Fangio. Scarlatti would remain behind the wheel of the Maserati until just before Menditeguy's accident. At that time he would come into the pits to hand his car over to Harry Schell for the remainder of the event.
Fangio continued to lead and expanded his lead to more than 20 seconds over Brooks. Schell would take over for Scarlatti and would be rapidly moving up the order. He would be up to 5th place by the 60th lap of the race. But, mechanical problems with the 250F would cause the number 34 Maserati to retire from the race.
Fangio would be the only factory Maserati left in the race. But he was thoroughly in control enjoying more than 20 seconds in hand over Brooks in the Vanwall. Fangio would set the fastest lap of the race, but he would hardly need to concern himself as he would enjoy a very comfortable margin. On top of that, heading into the final few laps of the race, he would be more than a few seconds off of his pace in practice, and therefore, had everything firmly in hand.
Averaging nearly 65mph over the course of 105 laps, Fangio would inherit an easy victory completing the race distance in a little more than three hours and 10 minutes and having 25 seconds in hand over Tony Brooks in 2nd place. Masten Gregory would also benefit from all the chaos and attrition to finish in 3rd place, albeit more than two laps behind.
Though Maserati was left with just one car, it would be the most important one. Fangio would show his mastery once again as he would come through the early chaos of the race to earn his second victory of the season. By the end of the Monaco Grand Prix Maserati had already managed to equal its success from a year ago, and there were more than a few rounds of the World Championship left. Could Maserati finally achieve its aspirations of having a World Champion.
There had been a couple of other rounds of the World Championship intended for the schedule in 1957. In the month of June there was to be the Belgian and the Dutch Grand Prix. However, disputes over money and other such issues would lead to both events being left off the schedule. Therefore, about the only major race in the whole of June would be the 24 Hours of Le Mans held toward the end of the month. This meant Maserati would have plenty of time to prepare its cars for the fourth round of the World Championship, which wouldn't come until early July.
As the calendar turned to July, the grand prix season was about to kick into high gear. The first stop would come on the 7th of July just south of the city of Rouen in France. The race was the French Grand Prix, the fourth round of the World Championship and the second visit of the series to Rouen-les-Essarts.
The last time the French round of the World Championship had contested the public road course to the south of Rouen it had been 1952. The teams and drivers enjoyed coming to the circuit as it boasted of more modern amenities and facilities from those available in Reims. However, when the World Championship returned in 1957 there would be one major change. In 1952, the circuit made the turn at L'Etoile and measured 3.16 miles. In 1957, the circuit would be lengthened. Instead of making the turn at L'Etoile, the circuit would continue straight before making a fast, sweeping right-hand bend at Gresil. The result was a circuit that measured 4.06 miles and had a slightly higher average speed.
Scarlatti had proven to be the wrong choice for Maserati. Therefore, as the team arrived at the circuit and began unloading its four cars, Harry Schell's name would be seen as the driver of the fourth car. Behra would be healthy once again and would be back to join Fangio and Menditeguy. The team from Modena would end up facing an equal size fleet from Maranello and a couple of Vanwalls, as well as, a couple of entries for Cooper Car Company and Owen Racing.
Ferrari continued improving its Lancia-Ferrari, which had long since lost the pannier tanks. They would be quick around the circuit and would appear to pose a threat to take pole. However, Fangio would set a lap time of 2:21.5 and just could not be beat. Jean Behra would resume his speedy ways taking the 2nd spot on the front row being just a second off of Fangio's pace. Luigi Musso would prevent the sweep of the front row by sticking his Lancia-Ferrari into 3rd place. Schell would enjoy his return to the factory team. He would end up on the second row of the grid in the 4th position having been just under two seconds slower than Fangio. Menditeguy, on the other hand, would suffer a bit. He would end up nearly five seconds off the pace and would find himself down on the fourth row of the grid in the 9th position.
A huge ensemble of spectators would take their places along the sides of the hill down near the Nouveau Monde hairpin. Brilliant sunshine would bathe the circuit. It would be a beautiful day for a race. The cars would be put in their places on the grid. The flag would be readied.
The flag dropped and the race started. Behra would break off the line quicker than the rest of his front row compatriots. However, as the field swept around the left-hander and headed on downhill to Nouveau Monde for the first time, Musso would get around Behra for the lead. Fangio would be back in 3rd place while Schell would lose out and would be trying to get his bearings in 5th place. Menditeguy would break from the grid and would be caught in the middle of the pack trying his best to move forward.
At the end of the first lap it would be Musso in the lead ahead of Behra and Fangio. Schell would lose out on a place crossing the line in 5th place. Meanwhile, Menditeguy would run steadily in 9th.
Behra's fast start would go bad quickly. By the 5th lap of the race he would be down to 4th place. Meanwhile, Fangio would get himself righted after a relatively poor start and would pass Musso for the lead. Schell remained steady in 5th place while Menditeguy would be making his way forward rapidly. By the 5th lap of the race he would be up to 7th place. A lap later, he would be up to 6th. Over the course of the next dozen laps he would begin an inter-team fight with Schell.
At the front of the field the order would be unchanged and rather reticent. However, behind the leading group there would be a good fight between Schell and Menditeguy. Ron Flockhart would be flying in the BRM until he lost control of the car and suffered a dramatic crash. He would emerge unhurt, but his race was over.
Menditeguy's push to get up the running order would end up having negative consequences as his engine would expire after 30 laps leaving Schell all alone in 5th place. Schell would end up slipping down the order a couple of spots and would be soon joined by Behra as he struggled to maintain his pace. By the halfway mark of the race, Schell would be recovering after slipping down to 8th place. Behra would be in 4th place but rapidly losing ground to Mike Hawthorn.
Just prior to the 50th lap of the race, Fangio continued to hold onto the lead and had a very comfortable margin over Musso and Peter Collins. Behra would be passed by Hawthorn giving Ferrari second through fourth in the running order. Schell would be back up to 6th place and would have his sights set on his struggling teammate. Just prior to the end of the race, Schell would end up getting the position from Behra as the Frenchman failed to be able to hold onto his position.
Fangio would absolutely run away with the race earning his third World Championship victory on the season. Crossing the line nearly 51 seconds ahead of Musso, Fangio would enjoy a comfortable drive throughout the Seine river valley. Only Musso and Collins would remain on the leading lap with Fangio as the two Ferrari drivers gave their team something to be excited about. Schell would end up more than 7 laps behind by the end of the race as trouble and a slower pace hindered his race. Still, he would complete the race and would end up in the points finishing in 5th place. At the last moment, Behra would slip back to 6th place finishing more than 8 laps behind Fangio.
The disparity between the pace of the Maserati factory cars would be intriguing. Fangio would run trouble-free destroying all challengers. Meanwhile, Schell, Behra and Menditeguy would have to fight hard to finish in the top five. Still, it was a good result for the team having three out of its four cars making it to the end of the race. What's more, the victory only stretched Fangio's margin in the championship to an incredible 18 points over Luigi Musso, and 19 points over Jean Behra and Tony Brooks. Fangio was well on his way to a fifth World Championship, the first for Maserati.
Right after the victory in the French Grand Prix the Maserati team would pack everything up and would head to the more usual site of the French round of the World Championship—Reims. Reims would not host the World Championship in 1957 but the ultra-fast circuit wouldn't be left out of the grand prix season altogether. Instead, the circuit would host the 23rd Grand Prix de Reims on the 14th of July, just one week after the race in Rouen.
At just about 180 miles apart, the trip from Rouen to Reims would be short and would enable teams like Maserati to settle in and prepare for the arduous test that awaited on the 14th. Though the 5.15 mile Reims circuit was roughly a triangle-shaped circuit comprised of public roads and featured very little in the way of technical difficulty, the high average speeds would test man and machine as much as any other circuit.
Fangio would actually remain with the team and would take part in the 61 lap race. He would be joined by the usual members: Jean Behra, Carlos Menditeguy and Harry Schell. The last time the team had been to Reims, which had been the previous year as part of the French Grand Prix, the Maseratis were vastly out-gunned on the long, fast straights. One year later, the team would be relying upon the lighter-weight chassis and improved engines to keep their cars in the fight.
As they had in Monaco and Rouen, Maserati would bring a 12-cylinder variant to the race. Menditeguy would end up taking to the wheel of this car after Fangio, Schell and Behra stuck with the more balanced six-cylinder version.
The real concern heading into practice had to be the Vanwalls. The car had proven strong in the speed department the year before, and with their improved streamlined shape and suspension layout they promised to be a potent challenger whether Moss and Brooks were missing from the team or not. Still, Fangio would prove the better of all in practice and would take the pole having completed a lap of the circuit in 2:23.3. He would barely beat out the Vanwall driven by Stuart Lewis-Evans who would end up just two-tenths of a second slower. Jean Behra would bookend Lewis-Evans claiming the third, and final, spot on the front row.
Menditeguy would end up needing even more than twelve cylinders to get himself to the front of the grid. He would end up all the way down on the seventh row of the grid in the 16th position while Schell would be stuck practically in the middle of the grid with his fourth row, 10th place starting spot.
The race would be plagued with dark clouds even before the start as a result of Herbert MacKay-Fraser losing his life in a Formula 2 race over the same weekend. This would lead Owen Racing to withdraw from the race. However, the rest of the field would line up ready to go. At the drop of the flag it would be Lewis-Evans that would get the jump in the fast Vanwall. Fangio would be right there along with Mike Hawthorn, Jean Behra and others.
Lewis-Evans would lead the way using the speed of the Vanwall to draw away slightly. Peter Collins would find his race come to an end after just two laps while Fangio would become embroiled in a battle with Hawthorn. Back in 1953, Hawthorn and Fangio had dueled beautifully to make one of the most memorable races of Formula One history. In that race the two men swapped places, would go wheel-to-wheel, always showing the other great respect and a playfulness that made the battle that much more enjoyable. Four years on, the two would be locked in a battle once again and the thousands of fans would be utterly delighted at the sight, no doubt recalling the tremendous battle of a few years earlier.
Menditeguy would continue to struggle in his race. Gearbox problems would finally bring an end to the difficult weekend. Schell would make a good start and would be quite fast. Last year he had taken the fight to Fangio in his Lancia. Schell had been in the Vanwall at the time but was showing he had not lost much of the speed as he climbed steadily up the order.
Lewis-Evans continued to lead the race until his pace fell off, opening the door to however wanted the lead. Behra would end up turning the fastest lap of the race but he would not be able to prevent Musso from taking the lead following Fangio's crash on the 56th lap of the race. Fangio's duel with Hawthorn had long since passed when the Brit retired from the race in his Ferrari as a result of engine failure. But on this day, the maestro just wouldn't have it and the crash enabled Behra to move up and Schell to draw ever-closer.
But there was nothing the Maserati drivers could do. Musso, averaging more than 123mph, would be flying over the course of the race and would come away with the victory enjoying a little more than 27 seconds over Behra finishing in 2nd place. Lewis-Evans great charge at the beginning of the race would turn into a gallant 3rd place result. Harry Schell would be the first of those to finish a lap down. However, after starting the race from 10th on the grid, the 4th place result would be certainly quite welcome.
The retirements of Fangio and Menditeguy would be bitter disappointments. With just a week before the fifth round of the World Championship the crew had some major work to do to, and just one week in which to do it.
Reims would be bitterly disappointing for the team considering it had just come from victory at Rouen only a week earlier. Following the race in Reims the team would gather everything together and would make the short jaunt to the Channel coast, and then, over to England. Upon reaching English shores, the team would head toward the city of Liverpool and Aintree, for it would be in Aintree, on the 20th of July, the British Grand Prix would be held.
Aintree would be famous for the Grand National steeplechase. The first time the 3.0 mile grand prix circuit would be used to host a Formula One World Championship race would come in 1955 and it would bear a truly wonderful moment when Stirling Moss earned his first-ever Formula One victory, and on English soil on top of that. The 1955 season was the last time the World Championship had paid a visit to Aintree. At the time, the Silver Arrows of Mercedes were running rampant all over the scene. The year before that, Fangio had left Maserati to join Mercedes. One year later, Moss would have a rather loose contract with Maserati and would end up departing to go and join the Argentinean at Mercedes.
Moss had come back but was now on to Vandervell. But Maserati did have Fangio. And, to that point in the season, his presence was proving to be more than enough. The Argentinean was enjoying a large lead in the World Championship standings and had shown no signs of being beatable at any moment over the course of those races.
Consisting of some technical areas and some medium speed corners, the Maserati seemed ideally suited to the Aintree circuit. However, teams like Vandervell and Owen Racing would be on home ground, and thus, their cars would suit the moment more than anything else.
The four Maserati horseman would arrive in Liverpool ready to take on the best the British had to offer. Vandervell would be offering a good deal of patriotism as its drivers would consistently prove quickest around the circuit during practice.
Stirling Moss would be full recovered from his sinus conditions and would end up on the pole with a lap of 2:00.2. Jean Behra continued to show a great deal of speed as he would capture the middle spot on the front row. His best would be two-tenths of a second slower than Moss, but fast enough to prevent Tony Brooks from starting alongside his teammate.
Fangio would not end up on the front row of the grid, but it wouldn't be as though he was slow. His best lap would be just four-tenths of a second off of Moss, but it would be enough to only give the multiple World Champion a second row starting spot. While Fangio would start 4th, Menditeguy would be much further down the field. Though just five seconds off the pace, Carlos would end up on the fifth row of the grid in the 11th position. Once again, Schell would find himself toward the middle of the field. He would line up on the third row of the grid in the 7th position being just a second off of Behra's fastest lap time.
The usual English weather would greet the spectators and the teams as they headed closer to the start of the 90 lap race on the 20th of July. Nonetheless, the rain would leave the area as a result of high winds forcing the weather out of the area. The morning of the race, Maserati's chief mechanic Bertocchi was seen driving the older Gilby 250F up Preston Road. The small privateer British team had borrowed an engine from Maserati and it was fitted overnight. Bertocchi would be taking the car out to run the engine to make sure the car was thoroughly ready for the race.
A great crowd would assemble at Aintree for the British Grand Prix. The field would be ready. The race would get underway with a roar and it would be Behra that would leap out of the blocks first and would lead the way through Waterway for the first time. Behind Behra would come Moss and Brooks. Fangio would have a terrible start to the race and would be close to falling out of the top ten before the end of the first lap. Menditeguy would get a good start and would be following along behind Fangio. Schell would also get away well at the start and would be looking to move up the order by the time the first lap of the race was completed.
Although Behra would sprint into the lead from the very beginning, he would not maintain the point by the end of the first lap. Moss would actually get up to speed and take the position away over the course of the first lap. Behra would be in 2nd place at the end of the first lap while Schell would be just outside of the top five. Fangio would be struggling down in 8th place while Menditeguy would complete the first circuit right behind in 9th.
Fangio was not well as he was dealing with stomach issues. This was very obvious as the Argentinean struggled to mount any kind of a challenge. Moss would have absolutely no troubles as he would lead the race and would add to his margin over Behra in 2nd place. Brooks would lose out to Mike Hawthorn and Schell would end up dropping down to 9th place behind Fangio and just ahead of Menditeguy.
Moss was in the lead and pulling away, but he would soon run into trouble. A misfire would rear its head causing him to come into the pits and drop down the running order. Behra would be handed the lead as a result of the troubles. Fangio's clearly out of the fight, would determine to push his Maserati as hard as it could go and see just what he could come away with. Schell continued to follow along, still just inside the top ten. Menditeguy made it three factory Maserati's running together just inside the top ten.
At one-third distance, Behra would still be in the lead with a healthy margin in hand over Hawthorn. Collins would be in the 3rd place. Fangio would push hard and would eventually make it up to 6th place before he was forced to retire after 49 laps as a result of engine failure. Schell had been running well following along behind Fangio. However, a water pump failure would lead to Harry having to retire from the race after 39 laps.
Moss would take over Tony Brooks' Vanwall and would immediately push his way back toward the front of the field. Menditeguy would be ahead of Moss on the circuit when he took over from Brooks, and should have been able to limit the Brit's progress. However, Carlos' race would come to an end after 35 laps with transmission failure. Suddenly, Behra was all that Maserati had, and there was still half a race to be run.
There had been a couple of times throughout the season in which Maserati had been left with just one factory car in a race and they had still come away victorious. Behra was a very capable driver and he was out front with a comfortable lead. Moss would recover and would charge back up through the field. However, he would reach as high as 4th place and then become stalled.
Behra seemed en route to victory. He was approaching the last 20 laps of the race, and he had led for nearly 50 already. There was no reason to think anything would prevent him from taking victory. However, on the 70th lap of the race chaos would reign as the clutch in Behra's Maserati would utterly disintegrate on the Frenchman leaving him literally powerless and parts showered all over the circuit. The result of the near explosion would have ramifications beyond just Behra. While Behra would come to a rest by the side of the circuit, Hawthorn would run over the debris and would find he had a puncture in his tires. At the same time, Moss would be completing a pass on Lewis-Evans. As it would turn out, Moss would be merely passing Lewis-Evans for position. He would actually cross the line once again in the lead of the race.
Maserati's hopes had looked strong in the early going of the race. However, it would be rather fitting and ironic Behra's clutch exploded taking him out of the race, for it would seem as though Maserati's hopes had exploded with each retirement.
Moss was in front and had the pace. All he needed to do was avoid the same kind of drama and the victory would be, surprisingly, his. In just a little under three hours and seven minutes, Moss would cross over the line to take a truly historic win. Luigi Musso would capitalize on all of the troubles to finish in 2nd place while Hawthorn would recover from the tire puncture to complete the race in 3rd place.
The scene around the circuit would be thoroughly electric as the British crowd would erupt in adoration for its British team and driver that came through to win the British Grand Prix. Those within the Maserati factory would appreciate the achievement for the British team and the British fans, but it would not help with the bitter feelings of having had a victory literally explode in their hands. What's more, Fangio's fifth World Championship was not sewn up by any means. Moss was more than capable of putting together a streak of success of his own. If Fangio didn't come through soon, the World Championship could literally explode in his hands.
The factory Maserati team would load their broken equipment up and would head back across to the European mainland and on to Modena. The factory would have a lot of work to do preparing new cars for the next round of the World Championship, which was just a couple of weeks away. Needless to say, with the championship within Fangio's grasp, Maserati would not concern itself with the non-championship grand prix that took place in Caen, France just a week after the debacle in Aintree. Their focus was on home and preparing for the German Grand Prix, which would arrive very quickly on the 4th of August.
As the year approached August, Maserati would have its cars prepped and ready to go for the German Grand Prix held at the infamous Nurburgring. The team would load up and head off to the other side of the Alps. Making their way past the Alps, the team would arrive in western Germany and would carry on into the Eifel Mountains and the small village of Nurburg.
Lying concealed in the wooded mountains of Eifel was a beast of a racing circuit. Later to be known as the 'Green Hell', this infamously dangerous circuit would actually be a response for safer racing. However, the creators of the 14 mile long circuit would manage to capture the essence of a true road circuit, even the danger. Like any great, the Nordschleife would be either loved or hated, but very few would ever earn the nickname of ‘Ringmeister'.
One of those that absolutely loved the circuit would be behind the wheel of a Maserati—Juan Manuel Fangio. The Argentinean had fallen in love with the circuit from the very first moment he had ever seen it. Maserati would be relying upon this affection to carrying them to their first, and a long overdue, World Championship in Formula One.
Maserati would come to Nurburg having put in five entries for Jean Behra, Harry Schell, Giorgio Scarlatti and Carlos Menditeguy, but all of the attention would be on the man behind the wheel of the number one 250F.
The German Grand Prix in 1957 would be something of a mixed bag in that the event would run a Formula 2 race concurrently with the Formula One race. Therefore, the field would be quite large with a total of 27 entries.
While the layout of the circuit would not be changed from '56 to '57, the circuit would be entirely different as a result of new tarmac having been laid down on a good portion of the circuit. And, as the cars headed out onto the circuit for practice it would become immediately obvious the greatest change from one year to the next would be the lap times. Fangio had reset the lap record during the race in '56. As the cars began getting up to speed around the resurfaced track it was clear the lap record was going to fall again, and very quickly.
Ultimately, the one to reset the lap record would be the man that had broken it the year before. Fangio would end up fastest in practice taking the pole with an incredible lap of 2:25.6. This time was already 16 seconds faster than the previous lap record. But what if Fangio was harried during the race? What could he achieve then? Fangio would end up nearly three seconds faster than his closest rivals in practice. Still, with Hawthorn lining up 2nd, Behra 3rd and Peter Collins in 4th, Fangio could take nothing for granted.
Harry Schell would keep himself in the picture by earning a second row starting position. Starting 6th overall, Schell had also broken the previous lap record, and therefore, had the potential of doing something really great in the race. Scarlatti would also look much stronger in practice for a circuit he knew quite well. He would end up on the fourth row of the grid in the 13th position following his posting a fastest lap of 10:04.9. And, although he had been on the entry list, Menditeguy would not appear in the race as a result of a car not being prepped in time for him.
The weather, which has the potential for being quite unpredictable and nasty, would actually be beautiful each of the days. The sun would shine down brilliantly as the cars began to be lined up on the grid. As usual, an incredibly-large throng of motorsports fans would come to the Nurburgring to watch the sixth round of the Formula One World Championship. The race would be 22 laps covering a total of 311 miles. For sure, a long day of racing awaited.
The signal would be given and the large field would stream along the front stretch on a drag race to the first corner. Fangio would be a little slow getting away from the grid and would lose out to Mike Hawthorn and Peter Collins into the first turn. Hawthorn and Collins would lead the field back along the backside of the pits and then off into the woods. Fangio would try and settle into a pace. Behra would trail a little ways behind while Schell would follow closely behind the Vanwall of Moss and the Ferrari of Musso. Scarlatti would be a little further back settling into a long day of racing.
At the completion of the first lap it would be Hawthorn just a car length or two ahead of Collins. A couple of seconds later, Fangio would flash across the line holding onto 3rd place. The problem was that Fangio needed not to hold onto 3rd place. He needed to get to the lead and as quickly as possible. It had been decided prior to the race the Maseratis would try a different strategy. Fangio and Behra would start the race on tanks half full. This meant they would be faster, but that they would need to pit halfway through the race. Though seen as a wrong strategy, there was the further benefit of new tires being added to the car for the final half of the race. This meant Fangio and Behra could push as hard as they wished.
As Behra crossed the line in 4th place at the end of the first lap, his strategy wasn't as important as the man ahead of him on the road. However, he needed to stop at the right time so as not to slow the Argentinean. Schell would complete the first lap in 6th place having made his way past the struggling Moss. And Scarlatti ran down in 17th place, struggling to find his way in the Maserati once again. Still, Maserati was looking strong in early goings of the race.
Fangio would get things finally going. He would take the lead on the 3rd lap of the race and would immediately pick up his pace to put some distance between himself and the two Ferraris. Behra would hold station in 4th place while Schell would do the same in 6th. Even Scarlatti would remain stagnant in the early going. It appeared as if all of the team's drivers, with the exception of Fangio, were letting the race come to them. And who could blame Behra after having gone after the victory in Aintree only to have it stolen in the last minute.
Fangio would increase his lead. The halfway point was approaching. Behra would come in to make his stop. All would go well until he jumped back into the car and broke off the fuel filler cap. It would be replaced and he would be sent on his way. Unfortunately, the Frenchman would find himself down in 8th place. Two laps later, Fangio would come into the pits for his stop. His lead coming into the stop had been around 30 seconds. The crew would set to work, but the hub nut would get lost under the car. A lot of time would be lost in the stop. The two Ferraris would come and go. Fangio would finally get back on the road, but well down.
All eyes would be trained on Fangio and what his response would be. Maserati, on the other hand, would have to look to its other drivers. Schell had made his stop prior to Fangio and was down in 7th place following behind Behra in 6th place. Scarlatti had ridden the wave of Formula 2 attrition to find himself in 13th by the completion of the 12th lap.
There was the potential for the World Championship slipping through his fingers. Therefore, Fangio would take control of the situation and would begin to rattle off some truly remarkable lap times. He was certainly harried, and he would respond with one of the most remarkable performances of his great career. The track record would be reset and reset nearly each and every time he would come back around. The times continued to fall, right along with Hawthorn's and Collins' advantage. There was a fear he would run out of laps, but, as the cars streamed up the long straight at the end of the 20th lap, Fangio would be in Collins' slipstream and looking poised to take 2nd place.
Fangio would wait and make his move coming out of the first turn. It would be demoralizing for Collins. He would almost immediately back off the pace. Hawthorn, on the other hand, had had many battles with the Argentinean in the past. He wasn't about to give up. However, the advantage of new tires and a switched-on Fangio would be too much for Hawthorn. Fangio would be back in the lead at the end of the 21st lap, and there would be just one more lap to go.
If not since the very beginning of the race, all attentions were trained on Fangio as he carried on his way through the final lap of the race. Waved on by adoring fans nearly every bit of the final miles, Fangio was clearly on his way to victory, his fourth on the season, and the victory that would sew up his fifth World Championship.
Finally, Maserati had reached the top with Fangio. It took a second go-around but the factory had done it. Fangio would on hold by a little more than 3 seconds to take the victory in Germany. Hawthorn would finish in 2nd while Collins would finish a disheartened 3rd. But if the day wasn't already turning good for the team from Modena, Behra's 6th place followed by Schell's 7th would only add to the delight. And then there was Scarlatti. Mired down in the field all race, he would continue to get helped out by troubles in the Formula 2 field and would end up coming home a lap down in 10th place. So Maserati would have all four of their cars finish in the top ten.
But it would be Fangio that almost everyone cared about. Amazingly, the Argentinean had done it again, and perhaps in one of the most dominant seasons he had ever had, and in a car that was believed to be well past its prime. Everything from here on would just be icing on the top of the cake.
Just two weeks after Fangio retained his World Championship title, Maserati and the rest of Formula One would arrive in Pescara, Italy for the seventh round of the 1957 Formula One World Championship. It would be the first time the Pescara circuit would be included in the World Championship, and, after some politics about holding road races, it would be the last. The race would take place on the 18th of August and would it would held around the longest grand prix circuit to ever be used in Formula One.
While the builders of the Nurburgring would achieve a balance of purpose-built and authentic-feeling road course, the Pescara circuit would be all public road course and was about as authentic to the old-style grand prix as could be found at the time. Originally, grand prix would take place on course sometimes hundreds of miles long and boasting of just about every kind of element conceivable. Measuring 15.9 miles, the Pescara would also offer plenty of everything.
The circuit would start out in the heart of Pescara, right along the Adriatic coast. This flat coastal plain would be long and fast. But then the circuit turned inland and toward the Maiella mountains. Climbing up in the mountains, the circuit would turn to twisty and very slow, much like a rally stage. This lasted for a while before the circuit descended sharply back downhill toward the coast where top speed would again make a difference.
Ferrari would protest the discussions of the Italian government and would only make allowances for Musso to attend the race. Maserati would come having five entries in the race. This time, however, Scarlatti and Francisco Godia-Sales would join Fangio, Behra and Schell.
Despite the slow mountainous sections, the circuit still favored speed. This seemed to favor the Vanwalls. However, the Maestro would master the circuit and take pole by 10 seconds over Moss in his Vanwall. Musso would complete the three-wide front row. Behra and Schell would lock-out the second row while Scarlatti would be found on the fourth row of the grid in the 10th position, one row ahead of Godia-Sales starting 12th.
The day of the race would be quite hot and the 18 lap race distance promised to test both man and machine. Tragedy would strike right at the very start when Horace Gould would strike a mechanic who was slow to get away from the grid when the flag dropped. Unaware of the trouble, Musso would power his way to the lead followed by Moss and Fangio.
Musso would barely hold onto his lead through the first lap of the race. Moss would be threatening while Fangio would be sitting back just slightly. Behra would be sitting still in 4th place while Schell would be forced to do catch up after a very poor start. He would be down in 9th place just ahead of Scarlatti and Godia-Sales.
Moss would take over the lead and would edge out an advantage over Musso and Fangio. Fangio was content for the time being. Behra seemed content until his engine gave up after 3 laps. He would join three others that made early exits. Schell, on the other hand, would be flying the warm temperatures. By the 5th lap of the race he would be up to 4th place bringing Scarlatti and Godia-Sales forward as well. Once again, Maserati would have a majority of its cars well inside the top ten.
At the halfway mark Moss was still in the lead and opening up an even larger gap. Time would go by and many would be thinking as to just how the Brit opened up such an advantage. It was clear there were problems out on the course. Then Fangio would appear. He would pull into the pits with a broken wheel. Details emerged that Musso's engine had let go and oil was laid down on the circuit causing Fangio to lose control and damage his car. It would take nearly ten minutes for repairs to be made but Fangio would return to the race, still in 2nd place.
Musso wouldn't be the only one to lose his engine. At the same time, Godia-Sales would retire with a blown engine. This left just two factory Maseratis in the race, but they were running in 2nd and 3rd at that moment.
Moss had an enormous advantage. Just a couple of laps from the end, the Vanwall driver would have enough time to come into the pits, get a drink, have the fuel topped off and tires changed and even enough time to have the oil topped off. He would return to the race still with three minutes in hand.
When the accident happened the race came to a figurative end. Moss would complete the remaining distance with ease and would cross the line to take the victory in just under three hour's time. Some three minutes and 14 seconds later, Fangio would cross the line to finish in 2nd place. Another three and a half minutes behind him would come Schell in another factory Maserati.
It was the second victory of the season for Moss, but it was already too late for the Brit. There was really nothing the team could do about Fangio's accident, even the incredible warm temperatures that tested their machines. So, all-in-all, the team would have another strong showing finishing with two drivers on the podium. The stage was set for the eighth, and final, round of the World Championship.
Leaving Pescara, Officine Alfieri Maserati would have enough time to head back to Modena to repair and prepare its cars for another important round of the World Championship. The race for the title had come to an end, but the Italian Grand Prix loomed on the horizon, and there was a deep desire within the Maserati team to arrive and end its season with one more victory.
As usual, the Italian Grand Prix would be spotted in the month of September, on the 8th. It was the final round of the World Championship and an important race for the machines in red. Maserati would dispatch five cars to the event with Fangio, Behra, Schell, Scarlatti and Godia-Sales as the team's lineup once again.
Arriving at Monza, the layout of the circuit for the race would revert back to just the 3.91 mile road course. The bumpy concrete banking would not be used. Still, the circuit was all about speed. Maserati would bring four of its six-cylinder model chassis, as well as, a twelve-cylinder model.
Fangio would try out the twelve-cylinder car in practice but would find the six-cylinder car quicker for him. The warm temperatures made it quite hot, but compared to the pace of the Vanwalls, the heat would have nothing on either Maserati or Ferrari. The Ferraris just could not come up to speed. The Maseratis would be quick but they would be very careful in the conditions.
The pace of the Vanwalls would force everybody out onto the circuit but no one could touch Stuart Lewis-Evans. He would take pole by half a second over Stirling Moss in another Vanwall. And then there was Tony Brooks lining up in 3rd place on the front row. The first three positions on the front row would be occupied by British cars. It was unprecedented in Formula One, especially at Monza. Thankfully for the Italians, Maserati would have an Argentinean behind the wheel and he would take the final spot on the front row. Both Behra and Schell would be on the second row of the grid. They would start 5th and 6th, while Scarlatti would be found on the fourth row of the grid in 12th place followed by Godia-Sales on the fifth row of the grid in the 15th position.
Nearly everyone would be taken back by the sight of three green cars on the front row, but at leas there was Fangio. At the start of the race, however, even Fangio could do little against the Vanwalls. Behra would get a great jump from the second row of the grid while Schell would again get left behind and forced to do catch-up.
Moss would be leading at the end of the first lap but he would have Behra right behind. Lewis-Evans, Brooks, Fangio and, later, Schell would join a group that would put together one of the most impressive displays Formula One perhaps had ever seen. Throughout the first 20 laps of the 87 lap race, each of those in the top five would spend some time leading the field. The racing would be furious, and often side-by-side. It would be utterly entertaining as neither driver would give up, but neither threatened the other either. They would put on a show that would enthrall the crowd. Sometimes places swapped hands more than a couple of times in a single lap. It seemed a never-ending assault and it included Behra and Fangio. Schell was close but couldn't quite join the fight. Scarlatti's fight was to get inside the top ten while Godia-Sales would struggle to stay inside the top fifteen.
But the fight wouldn't carry on the whole race. Both Brooks and Lewis-Evans would run into trouble leaving Moss to fend for himself. Behra would kind of settle down into 3rd place while Fangio would take over 2nd place. Schell remained close and would actually take over for Behra in 3rd place for a little while when the Frenchman dropped out of the race with engine troubles. Attrition was picking up and it was helping to move Scarlatti up to 5th place by the 40th lap. Godia-Sales, meanwhile, continued to languish. He had been on a run up through the field and got as high as 9th before problems dropped him back down to about 13th place.
The speed of the Vanwall was telling. Moss would pull away from Fangio hand over fist. Schell would end up out of the race with another water pump problem. He would then take over for Scarlatti just passed the 50th lap and would be forced to make up for lost ground. Godia-Sales continued to circulate but well out of the picture.
Even Fangio would be well out of the picture when it came to Moss in the Vanwall. Ten laps to go in the race, Moss would make a pitstop. Routine, the Brit would return to the race with still around 30 seconds in hand over Fangio. And so the last round of the World Championship would run out. Moss would take the victory convincingly over Fangio by 41 seconds. Wolfgang von Trips would finish more than two laps down in 3rd place, such was the pace at the front. Schell and Scarlatti would combine to finish the race in 5th place giving Maserati two cars in the points. Godia-Sales looked like a pedestrian for much of the race. But though he would finish more than six laps behind he would still manage to come home in 9th place.
The season had come to an end. Moss had mounted an epic charge in the Vanwall but it would prove to be too much too late. Fangio, though he didn't win the races, still brought home his car and stood on the podium. Despite the fact the factory team was seriously thinking about leaving Formula One, the team still seemed to have the momentum it had garnered in the early part of the season. This would be helpful as the factory team ventured into the two final races of its grand prix history.
Maserati would be heading home after Monza. They would head home as champions. But they would also head home a champions looking to defend its home ground. Prior to the outbreak of the Second World War, Maserati's headquarters had moved to Modena. And, on the 22nd of September, the city would host the 5th Gran Premio di Modena.
Fangio would not take part in the race, and since he was nearing his retirement, the race would provide another glimpse of grand prix racing without the Argentinean. Maserati would enter just three cars in the race. Behra, Schell and Scarlatti would be the drivers.
The race itself would follow a rather different format. The race would be comprised of two heat races with the final results being determined in the aggregate. Each heat would be 40 laps of the 1.47 mile circuit. And, in preparation for the first heat, Luigi Musso would line up on pole with Schell in 2nd place and Behra lining up 3rd. Scarlatti would also be rather impressive in practice and would end up on the second row of the grid in the 5th position.
The factory Maseratis looked strongly poised for the first heat race. The first heat would see Behra and Musso battle it out around the circuit. Both would be quick setting equal fastest lap times. However, as the race wore on, Musso would not be able to keep up with Behra, not with his Formula 2 Dino 156. Musso would be able to stay ahead of Schell however. Scarlatti, over the course of the first heat, would prove to be the quickest of the rest. His main concern would be staying on the lead lap.
Behra would sustain an average speed of more than 80mph over the course of the first heat and would end up pulling out a victory margin of 20 seconds on Musso. Schell would be more than 20 seconds behind Musso in 3rd place while Scarlatti would be more than a lap down in 5th place.
Behra needed to take care. He was fast in the first heat but the final results would be determined in the aggregate. If his race came a cropper in the second heat he would be all done. And if that would be the case than his judgment of defeating Musso by some 20 seconds would be questioned.
Behra would put such thoughts out of his mind as his car was lined up on the grid for the final. The starting order for the second heat would be reversed. Therefore, even though Schell would finish the first heat in 3rd place, he would start the 2nd from on pole. Musso would remain in 2nd place while Behra would line up on the front row in 3rd place. Scarlatti would again find himself on the second row of the grid, but in 4th place this time.
Second heat; same old story. Behra would head into the lead at the start of the second 20 lap heat race. He would be chased by Musso, who would have Schell trailing along behind him. Musso would give it everything he had in the Dino 156, and the car would prove fast over the course of a single lap. But when faced with the reality of 40 laps, the car just could not sustain the kind of pace of the bigger Formula One cars.
It would be remarkable just how consistent both Behra and Musso would be over the course of the second heat when compared to the first. In the second heat, Peter Collins and Harry Schell would battle it out. This would put a tremendous amount of pressure on Musso that he didn't face in the first heat race. Schell would be harried at every opportunity and would have to keep his pace up over the whole of the race. Amazingly, both Behra and Musso would remain consistent, and still faster.
Once again, Scarlatti would prove to be the best of the rest. He would find himself all alone in 5th place. Heading into the final lap of the second heat, Behra would also find himself all alone. The Frenchman would carry on to finish the second heat in the lead. He would take the victory having crossed the line just one second slower than his first heat finishing time. Sure enough, 20 seconds later, and also just one second adrift of his former time, would come Musso in the Ferrari.
But the wait wouldn't be that long for the 3rd place finisher. Schell would come along just three seconds behind Musso but he would have Collins all over his backside. The Ferrari driver would try but he just wouldn't have the distance to pull off the pace. As a result, Schell would finish in 3rd place just three-tenths ahead of Collins. Scarlatti would ensure that all three factory Maseratis completed the race. He would finish in 5th place, again more than a lap behind.
When tallied, the results would prove what had been seen in both heats. Behra cruised to an easy victory having about 40 seconds in hand over Musso. Schell would make sure two Maserati drivers ended up on the podium meaning Maserati had successfully defended its home turf. Scarlatti would also offer his little bit to the equation when he finishing 5th in the standings, albeit more than two laps behind Behra.
The season wasn't over just yet. There was one more, very important, race still left on the calendar. In 1958, there would be a new race to make its debut. The Moroccan Grand Prix would make its World Championship debut in October of 1958. However, teams and drivers would get a foreshadowing of things to come on the 27th of October in 1957 when it hosted the non-championship 6th Grand Prix de Maroc.
Casablanca was the site of the race. The 4.74 mile Ain-Diab circuit was located just to the west of the city's center and would be comprised entirely of public roads and streets. Morocco had actually hosted races in the past. The first of these would be held in Casablanca in 1925. During the 1930s, the new Anfa Circuit would host grand prix. Motor racing would fall by the wayside throughout the Second World War years and well into the 1950s. It wouldn't be until 1954 when grand prix racing returned. When it did return Agadir would be the host city of a sportscar race that would see Formula One's inaugural World Champion, Giuseppe Farina, come out the victor.
Following that race in 1954, a new circuit would be devised, back in the original home for grand prix racing in Morocco—Casablanca. This gave birth to the Ain-Diab circuit. Situated with a portion of the circuit nestled right up to the Atlantic coast, the circuit would be terribly sandy and dusty at times. This made the circuit very slippery and dangerous. Loaded with kinks and slight changes in direction, there was very little of the entire circuit that was actually straight. But the circuit certainly didn't lack one thing—speed.
Since the race provided a preview for the upcoming season, the Moroccan Grand Prix would be an important race and one that wasn't to be missed. The Maserati team, despite the fact that it would end its factory team at the end of the season, would bring four cars to the race. Fangio, of course, would get one entry. Then there would be Jean Behra and Harry Schell. The fourth entry would again go to Giorgio Scarlatti.
In the first practice sessions Stirling Moss had proven quite fast in the Vanwall. However, he would fall ill during the night and would be unable to set a time for qualifying. It wouldn't seem as though the team needed him much though as Tony Brooks would take the pole with a lap of 2:23.3. Jean Behra would put together a strong showing however and would capture the 2nd place spot having been just two-tenths off of Brooks' best. The final spot on the front row would end up going to Brooks' teammate, Stuart Lewis-Evans.
Fangio would be found in the unusual position of the second row. Starting in 5th place he would have Peter Collins lined up beside him on the two-wide second row. Schell could be found in the middle of the third row in the 7th position while Scarlatti was all the way back on the fifth row in the 13th position.
Having been under French control for many years, the Moroccan Grand Prix would be organized by many French officials. One of those that would be present and at the head of the whole thing would be Raymond Roche.
A brilliant sunlit day would blanket the whole of the circuit in preparation of the 55 lap race. A great deal of ceremony would take place and the drivers would slowly take their places behind the wheel. The engines would be brought up to song. The race was ready. Then the flag dropped and the event was under way. The field would dive downhill slightly before facing a steep, quick uphill at turn one. Behra would be the first through the turn delighting the numerous French spectators assembled around the circuit.
Behra would hold onto his lead through the first lap and would continue on his way throughout the first few laps of the race. The racing would be close throughout the early going and a number of cars would run into trouble early. Jack Brabham would run into trouble and would work on his car in an effort to get it going again. A little while later, Hawthorn would retire from the race. His car was alright but he wasn't.
Jean continued in the lead of the race when a controversial moment took place that directly affected Fangio and the Maserati team. Surprisingly, the black flag would be shown and Fangio's number, 6, would be displayed beside it. This caught the team, and Fangio, by utter surprise. They had no idea what he had done wrong. Still, being the gentleman that he was, Fangio would come into the pits in response to the flag. Roche would scatter to figure out what the problem was. Surely, Fangio couldn't have done anything wrong. And, he hadn't. The car number would get confused. Problems with Brabham's car caused the 18 to be covered in such a degree that the officials believed it looked like a 6. The situation would be rectified finally and Fangio would be allowed back in the race. But it would be of little consolation as he was well back and had very little chance of reeling in his teammate.
The factory Maseratis would run the best of any team. Not only would Behra remain at the head of the field, but Fangio, Schell and Scarlatti would also still be in the race. Every other team would end up with just one car by the time the race headed into the last couple of laps.
Fangio would make a show of things. He would go on to set the fastest lap of the race in an effort to claw back what he had lost, but the error would certainly cost him any chance of victory, of even ending up on the podium.
The victory would go to Behra who would run a superb race averaging over 112mph en route to the win. Lewis-Evans would finish in 2nd place 30 seconds behind. The final spot on the podium would go to Maurice Trintignant in the Owen Racing BRM 25. He would be more than a minute and 26 seconds behind. Fangio would do his best and would finish in 4th place while Schell would cross the line more than a lap behind in 5th place. Scarlatti would still be off the pace of his teammates but he would still manage to come home three laps down in 7th place.
All four cars would finish what would be the final race for the factory Maserati team. Had it not been for the confusion with the officials, the team likely could have had two drivers on the podium. Still, in a race where many teams would be fortunate to have a single car finish, to have every single one make that last journey would be truly something special.
The 1957 would see the final straw for Maserati. The terrible incident in the Mille Miglia that year would resign the company to withdraw its factory effort. The company, on a whole, was shifting its focus more to production cars and sportscars; Formula One was no longer seen as viable. This would be incredible and would send a clear signal Maserati was certainly no longer bearing any resemblance to the men bearing the same name that had originally founded the company.
Maserati would slip away from Formula One never to return as a factory effort. Privateers would continue to receive spare parts, teams would receive Maserati engines to run in their single-seaters, but Maserati as a works team was no more. Still, it would finally go out a winner. All throughout the days when the Maserati brothers owned the company their designs had shown great promise but it seemed life and economics was always set against them. But now, with the help of a legendary Argentinean, the Maserati name stood alone at the top of grand prix racing. Officine Alfieri Maserati