TeamsJoakim Bonnier: 1957 Formula One Season By Jeremy McMullen
It is said those who can't, teach. In the same way, those who can't drive, write about it. However, in the case of Jo Bonnier, it would be publishing that would birth his talents as a racing driver.
Joakim Bonnier would be born on January 31st, 1930 in Stockholm, Sweden. He would be born into a wealthy and influential family. The family had earned its wealth via Bonniers Aktiebolag Publishers.
Being born into great wealth, Jo would travel a good deal, and at a very young age. Throughout his early years he would spend a good deal of time in Paris and would even live in Switzerland.
Although he would be born into great wealth, Bonnier would not be unmotivated. Already having tasted motor racing, Bonnier would still go on to attend Oxford University. Able to speak six languages and having been born into publishing, it seemed as though Jo was destined to take up the reigns of the family publishing company. His parents; however, would want their child to become a doctor. Unfortunately for his parents, and to the surprise of many within the family's social circle, Jo would not choose either profession.
Bonnier had become interested in racing, particularly racing motor bikes. Just about all of Bonnier's time would be taken rebuilding old Harley-Davidson motorcycles. As a result, he would not earn his certificate as a doctor. Fearing their child was aimless and wandering in life, Jo would be pushed into a career in banking. This wouldn't last too long. Realizing he wasn't going to be good in the banking industry, Jo would be sent to live in Paris to study journalism and everything involved in newspaper publication.
In an attempt to be diplomatic with his son, Bonnier's father would purchase an MG for him to use while living in France. This would be a mistake as Jo would almost immediate enter the car in a 12-hour race. However, before the race, Bonnier would be involved in an accident that would result in a deep cut to his upper lip. In an attempt to conceal the injury from his parents he would grow a moustache.
There would be another delay to his racing career. It was mandatory that Bonnier serve in the military, which he would do between 1950 and 1951. Following his time in the Swedish Navy, Joakim would make his move. Bonnier had made up his mind and would go on to establish a firm for selling cars. Bonnier would continue to enter some races throughout 1953, but the results certainly wouldn't be noteworthy.
While his results would not be worth print, his car business would be. The car business would continue to grow by leaps and bounds. His racing career, on the other hand, would become an effort not to embarrass himself. The embarrassment couldn't have been any greater than at the Swedish Grand Prix in 1954 when he jumped behind the wheel of the car following the Le Mans-style start. The sprint to the car would be great. However, Bonnier would not realize he had put the car in reverse and would end up crashing into his pits.
Success would begin to come. In 1955, Joakim would have the opportunity to face the likes of Fangio, Moss and Behra in the Swedish Grand Prix. This time there would be no embarrassment and the affluent youth would come through to finish victorious in the 2.0-liter category. This would be one of those moments that would convince Bonnier about an international career.
The 1956 season would be an impressive experience for the young driver from Stockholm. As admitted by Bonnier, 1956 would be a life spent living like a gypsy. But then there would be the Italian Grand Prix on the 2nd of September.
Bonnier would be at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza to take part in a sportscar race. However, prior to the grand prix, Luigi Villoresi would come down ill. Suddenly, and without even having set foot in a grand prix car, Bonnier would be asked to replace a grand prix great.
Villoresi would complete the first three laps of the race while Bonnier tried to settle himself about the coming prospect. Then Villoresi pitted and handed the car over to Joakim. Suddenly, the Swedish youth that seemed to have no direction in life would be thrust into onto one of the biggest stages in all of Formula One.
His appearance in the drama would be brief as it all came to an end after 7 laps due to an engine failure. But despite the failure it would be all Bonnier needed to realize single-seater grand prix racing was for him.
Bonnier would still be focused on his sportscar career following his impromptu introduction to Formula One. Still, having the family resources behind him, he would begin to attract the interest of factory efforts. Despite being a private entry the vast majority of the time, Bonnier would have the resources to travel great distances to take part in races. This ability not only enabled him to keep racing but it also opened the door to other last-minute opportunities like that which presented itself at Monza.
In November of 1956 Bonnier would be in Venezuela to take part in a sportscar race with his own Alfa Romeo 6C 3000. This would result in a 5th place finish and would open up a door with the factory Maserati team at the end of January.
Being in South America already, Bonnier would be contracted to drive for Scuderia Centro Sud in the Argentine Grand Prix on the 13th of January. In only his second Formula One World Championship race, Bonnier would come away with an impressive 7th place result. What's more, he would end up beating Stirling Moss in the race. Granted, Moss would suffer trouble over the course of the race, but it would still be a great result given Bonnier's lack of experience.
Joakim would not take part in the non-championship Buenos Aires Grand Prix held on the 27th of January but he would partner with Harry Schell in a Maserati 300S in the 1000 Kilometers of Buenos Aires.
The two would start the race from 10th on the grid and looked to have a promising opportunity. Unfortunately, Schell and Bonnier would fail to finish the race as a result of clutch problems.
Following the disappointing failure in the 1000 Kilometers of Buenos Aires race, Bonnier would be listed as a potential driver of a Maserati 200S for the Gran Premio de Cuba. Entered by Scuderia Madunina, Bonnier would lose out on his opportunity to take part in the race as Stirling Moss would be given the chance to drive the car. Therefore, Bonnier would need to look toward to his next opportunity. This would come on the 23rd of March at the 12 Hours of Sebring.
Driving a Maserati 150S entered by A.V. Dayton, Bonnier would partner with Giorgio Scarlatti. Unfortunately, yet another early retirement would strike and Joakim would be left without a race finish besides the 7th in the Argentine Grand Prix.
Returning to Europe, Joakim would have a couple of months before he would be seen taking part in a motor race of any kind. However, on the 12th of May, he would be in Helsinki preparing to take part in a couple of sportscar events.
Bonnier would finally come through with an Alfa Romeo 1900 and would earn a 5th place result in the GT race. Then, during the Elaintarhanajo sportscar race Bonnier would be driving a Maserati 200S against a number of Ferrari 750 Monzas and a lone Ferrari 500 TR. Putting the struggles behind him, Jo would come through to take the victory having nearly 14 seconds in hand over a Ferrari 750 Monza driven by Gunnar Carlsson.
The victory in Helsinki presented a great opportunity to have some momentum before heading to the second round of the 1957 Formula One World Championship, the all-important Monaco Grand Prix. However, there would be a problem.
Bonnier would be listed as a potential driver of the Maserati 250F, chassis 2505. However, the owner of the chassis would be Andre Simon. Simon had entered the Maserati under Ecurie Rosier at times and had even lent it to other small teams, as he did when Bonnier drove the car for Scuderia Centro Sud in the Argentine Grand Prix. However, the Monaco Grand Prix was still the crown jewel of Formula One, and this would be a very attractive draw for the Frenchman. As a result, 2505 would show up in Monaco but Bonnier would not.
However, by the time the weekend had come to an end, Bonnier would be set to own his very own Maserati 250F. The reason for this would be simple. Simon would do his very best to be one of the 16 cars that would make it into the Monaco Grand Prix. However, the Frenchman would not have the pace to pull it off and would be excluded from the race. This would be Simon's sign to depart from grand prix racing. Simon would take part in one more grand prix only but he would do so without his Maserati. Following the Monaco Grand Prix, Simon would sell the car. Bonnier would become the proud new owner.
Now the owner of his very own Formula One grand prix car, Bonnier would look toward his first opportunity to compete with his new acquisition. Though the French Grand Prix at Rouen-les-Essarts presented a great opportunity, he would wait until the 14th of July when he could take part in the 23rd Grand Prix de Reims.
Although he wouldn't take part in a grand prix until the middle of July, Bonnier would not sit idly by. At the end of May he would partner with Giorgio Scarlatti, Stirling Moss and Harry Schell to secure a 15th place in the Nurburgring 1000 Kilometers.
He would also take part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans driving a Maserati 300S with Scarlatti. While being behind the wheel of the Maserati 300S seemed to promise good potential, Bonnier and Scarlatti would suffer a failure of the clutch and would be forced out of the race.
Arriving in Reims, Joakim would be taking part in more than just the grand prix. There would also be the 12 Hour of Reims event in which Bonnier would take part driving a Porsche 356 along with Claude Storez.
Situated just to the west of the city's center, the Reims circuit consisted of public roads running between the small villages of Thillois and Gueux. In fact, the original circuit once travelled into Gueux. However, the 5.15 mile circuit that would be used for the Grand Prix de Reims would not travel into the small village. Instead, the circuit would bend around a fast right-hand bend that would lead through a series of S-bends to the hairpin at Muizon. From there, the circuit would turn onto the long, relatively straight Route Nationale 31. This very long and fast straight offered the only real elevation change over the whole of the circuit. The road would ascend rather sharply until cresting with the Thillois off in the distance ahead.
Reims had become a center for French motor racing. Holding one of its first races in 1925, the original Reims circuit would consist of public roads to the east of the city but still offered the same kind of ultra-fast circuit as the circuit for which Reims would become famous.
Reims itself would be a place of importance in France's history. Reims would be the site of monarchical crowning for many years. The city would also be one of the first to host an airshow. The Grande Semaine d'Aviation de la Champagne would be one of the first events displaying the growing field of aviation. The city would also be the site of the formal surrender of the German Wehrmacht to the allied forces.
Following a 7th place finish in the 12 Hours of Reims race, Bonnier would be hoping the grand prix would also surrender to him as well. Taking to the circuit for practice, Bonnier's first element of conquest would be making it into the race.
The field for what was formerly the Grand Prix de la Marne would be impressive. Not surprising, the name that would rise to the top of the order in practice would be Juan Manuel Fangio. Already well on his way to a fifth World Championship, the Argentine driver would take pole for the 61 lap race having posted a fastest lap time of 2:23.3. Stuart Lewis-Evans would be substituting for Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks at Vandervell. Lewis-Evans would prove an adequate substitute as he would end up just two-tenths of a second slower than Fangio and would line up 2nd. Jean Behra would complete the three-wide front row posting a time just under two seconds slower than Fangio.
The Reims Grand Prix would be just the third race in which he would contest at the wheel of a single-seater grand prix car. Therefore, it wasn't at all surprising Joakim would end up further down in the order at the end of practice. As it turned out, he would end up on the seventh row of the grid in the 17th starting position.
Being a circuit where average speeds easily exceeded 120mph, a great deal of care needed to be taken by drivers as the engine, brakes and gearbox would undergo a severe test. After just a couple of laps trouble would begin to rear its ugly head. Peter Collins would be the first to fall. His race would last just a couple of laps before the engine in his Lancia-Ferrari gave up the ghost.
Unfortunately for Bonnier, his Maserati would also flinch at the 61 lap proposition. Bonnier would make it through the first 13 laps of the race before mechanical maladies began to show up from within the Maserati. He would try but it would become more than obvious the car was not able to go on any further.
A number of competitive drivers would run into trouble over the course of the race. Chico Godia-Sales, Olivier Gendebien and even Mike Hawthorn, a former winner at Reims, would fall out of contention.
The battle up at the front seemed as though it would have to be between Fangio and whoever else managed to put up a fight. However, with just five laps remaining in the race Fangio would end up crashing out of the race. Therefore, the front of the field consisted of a battle between Luigi Musso and Jean Behra.
Musso would need every bit of speed he could manage from his Lancia-Ferrari as Behra would be pushing hard right from the very beginning of the race. Behra would manage to post the fastest lap of the race with a time of 2:27.8. Pushing past an average speed of 125mph over the course of the fastest lap, Behra would apply a great deal of pressure upon Musso. However, as the race carried on, Musso would prove to be consistently fast each and every lap and would even manage to pull out a lead over Behra and the rest.
Despite having, potentially, the fastest car in the field, Lewis-Evans appeared to be hanging on by the skin of his teeth. Harry Schell, running in 4th place, would end up a lap down before the end of the race so this put a good deal of pressure on Lewis-Evans just to stay on the lead lap.
The pace would destroy all challengers. Musso, completing the race distance in two hours and 33 minutes at an average speed of a little more than 123mph, would leave Behra behind. Taking the well-earned victory, Musso would enjoy a margin of victory nearly 28 seconds in duration. Lewis-Evans would manage to hang on to the lead lap. The Brit would end up finishing in 3rd place a minute and 16 seconds behind.
The 1957 season had been a difficult one so far. Bonnier had managed the 7th place in the Argentine Grand Prix but many of the other races in sportscars had resulted in failures or lower placements. Being that this was his first race as his own entry in Formula One, the early retirement was not to be unexpected, but to only make it a little more than 13 laps would be certainly disappointing and would be cause for a great deal of work to be done before heading into the next race.
Bonnier would have very little time to prepare before taking part in his next race. The next race on the calendar would be the following weekend after Reims. The race would take place on the other side of the English Channel and just outside the city of Liverpool. The ultimate destination would be the Aintree Racecourse. Aintree would be the destination as it would be there, on the 20th of July, that the British Grand Prix would be held.
Aintree had first hosted the British Grand Prix in 1955 and it turned out to be a truly historic affair with Stirling Moss winning his first Formula One World Championship race. It was all the more historic in that it would prove to be the first time in Formula One history when a British driver had won his home race. Returning to the circuit in 1957 there was a potential for even greater history to be made.
Aintree was accustomed to historic moments. Becoming the site of the famed Grand National Steeplechase race, the circuit would be a place contested by the best of equine bloodlines. Arduous, Aintree would already be famous before the mechanical thoroughbreds would make their first appearance in 1954.
Drawing from Saxon origins, Aintree would mean 'one tree' and that lone tree would still be standing when the grand prix teams made their pilgrimage to the site near the potentially foul-smelling powerplant.
Bonnier would arrive with his Maserati 250F. He would find the factory Maserati team had brought four cars to the race while another four would be brought by Scuderia Ferrari. Most all of the attention; however, would be upon Vandervell Products and their entry of three Vanwalls. The 3.0 mile Aintree circuit wasn't necessarily suited to the Vanwall, but being before the home crowd it would be important for the all-British lineup of drivers to maximize the opportunity.
Bonnier would find the surroundings unfamiliar and would struggle a fair bit during practice. Fighting hard just to get under 2:10 seconds around the circuit, Bonnier would be fighting a losing battle. Meanwhile, the Vanwalls would be showing well with Moss posting what would end up being the fastest time with a lap time of 2:00.2. This would be just two-tenths of a second quicker than Jean Behra in his Maserati. In fact, the entire front row would be separated by a margin of just two-tenths of a second. When it was all said and done it would be Moss on pole, Behra starting 2nd and Tony Brooks lining up 3rd.
In the case of Bonnier, his best around the unfamiliar circuit would still be outside of the 2:10 barrier. His best effort of 2:12.6 then would leave him on the seventh row of the grid in the 17th starting position overall.
Despite just making it into the race, Bonnier would qualify for his first British Grand Prix. His focus would then shift to the 90 lap race held on the 20th. Making final preparations for the race, Bonnier would have to be concerned since suffering a failure in Reims just a week earlier. The overcast conditions appeared ominous then in more ways then one.
The cars would be pushed into position for the start of the race. An immense crowd would stand to its feet all around the grandstands. The race held a lot of hope for the British faithful having two Brits starting from the front row in a couple of the strongest cars in the field. The flag would drop and the race would get underway with a great bellow of engine nose and tire smoke.
Tearing away from the grid, Behra would make the best start of all and would lead the way ahead of Moss and Brooks. Being inexperienced around the Aintree circuit, Bonnier would slot in at the back of the field taking care to make it through the first few corners and the first lap without incident.
Despite leading the way through the first half of the first lap, Behra would end up losing out to Moss for the lead of the first lap. Behra would be pushed back to 2nd place while Brooks barely held onto 3rd place ahead of Mike Hawthorn. Much further back in the field, Bonnier would take the first lap relatively careful. Crossing the line in 17th, Bonnier would be just ahead of Ivor Bueb for last place.
Once in the lead, Moss would begin to open up an advantage over Behra and the rest of the field. Hawthorn would be up to 3rd place as an ailing Brooks would slip all the way down to 6th place and would stay there throughout the first quarter of the race. The same would be said of Bonnier. Driving an older Maserati and lacking a great deal of grand prix experience, the Swedish driver would find it hard to move up the order. It would turn out; however, that his real race was against attrition, a fight he would eventually lose.
Moss continued to build up an advantage over the rest of the field. Bonnier, in contrast, would find the going more and more difficult. Finally, after just 17 laps, transmission troubles would make it impossible to carry on at all.
Bonnier's retirement would be just the beginning of what would end up being a wild and memorable British Grand Prix. There would be a couple of retirements that would not attract all that much attention from the crowd. This would be because all attention was trained right on Moss in the lead. All eyes wouldn't be on Moss because of his incredible advantage he had built up but because of the struggles that suddenly began to rear their ugly head. Moss would make a quick pitstop to have a misfire issues addressed. Checks would be made and he would head back out. Unfortunately for him and the British fans the misfire would only get worse. By this time he was well back in the field and looking increasingly unable to carry on.
Moss would come into the pits but would find condition no better. The sign board would go out to pull Brooks into the pits. The two men had agreed before the race, given Brooks' poor health, that if Moss ran into trouble he would come into the pits and hand his car over to Stirling. Brooks would happily comply and would pull into the pits. Barely able to extract himself from the car, Brooks appeared to have been on the verge of having an accident. Moss would jump into the car and would set off after the lead he had once enjoyed.
Moss would rejoin the race all the way down in 9th place but would quickly begin to gain lost places. Moss would take over for Brooks around the 30th lap of the race. By the time the race neared the halfway mark Moss would be on the verge of passing Collins for 4th. Behra; however, was comfortable out front leading ahead of Hawthorn and Moss' teammate Lewis-Evans. Over the next 20 laps Moss would gradually reduce the gap to Lewis-Evans, but this was just for 3rd place. It seemed the victory had slipped through his fingers.
But then, with 20 laps remaining in the race, a dramatic turn of events would take place. Behra's clutch had been gradually getting worse and worse. Then, suddenly, the clutch seemed to explode showering parts of itself all over the circuit. Immediately Behra would be out of the race. Moss would be making his move on Lewis-Evans at the same time that Hawthorn waded through the debris and suffered a tire puncture. Coming around Tatts one more time, Moss would suddenly find himself in the lead, British hopes would be restored.
The dramatic plot twist would propel Moss, Brooks, Vandervell and Britain to victory. Completing the race at an average speed of nearly 87mph, Moss would enjoy a margin of victory of nearly 26 seconds over Luigi Musso. Hawthorn would recover from his cut tire and would charge back up through to finish in 3rd place another 17 seconds adrift from Musso.
It would be an incredible and memorable moment in Formula One as an all British team would come through to secure victory in the British Grand Prix. What's more, the race would be a spectacular display of humility and teamwork as Brooks and Moss partnered together to take the win.
Bonnier would be a part of the memorable moment but would serve as a brief bit player in the larger drama. However, the Swedish driver should not have felt all that bad as Fangio was also just a mere extra in the Shakespearean story.
The British Grand Prix was just the fourth Formula One grand prix of Bonnier's career. The one thing he needed was more experience. The problem is that, with the exception of the Argentine Grand Prix, none of them had really lasted long enough for him to garner a great deal of experience. However, the next race on the calendar not only offered an opportunity for more experience; it also had the potential of be a confidence-builder.
The next race on the calendar wouldn't be all that far. Joakim would need to cross the Channel to France, but once he hit the Normandy coast he would be nearly there. The race would be the 5th Grand Prix de Caen. The race took place on the 28th of July and was in the week between the British and German grand prix. Therefore, it was more than likely the field for the non-championship would not be all that big providing Joakim a great opportunity at a great result, as long as he could last the whole of the 86 laps.
Arriving for the race, Bonnier would have to be confident that if his car could make it the entire race distance he was likely to earn a top result, maybe even stand on the podium. The reasoning wouldn't necessarily be flawed. The field would mostly consist of privateer entries in Maserati 250Fs just like Bonnier. There would be just two factory efforts at the race. They would be Cooper with their Formula 2 T43s and the ever-struggling Owen Racing Team with their BRM 25s.
The circuit in Caen would be comprised almost entirely of streets. The start/finish straight would run northeast along Boulevard Yves Guillou before making a 90 degree right-hand turn onto Cours General de Gaulle. Another right-hand bend would lead to a narrow road running alongside the L'Orne before sweeping around to a hairpin turn that led back onto the start/finish straight. Besides the final hairpin and the kink along the L'Orne, the 2.18 mile Caen circuit would be quick. This would provide a good experience for Bonnier and he began to show a comfort with the circuit as he pushed below the 1:30 mark.
Unfortunately, Jean Behra and Harry Schell would be employed by Owen Racing for the race. Behra would immediately set to work making adjustments to the BRM. Suddenly, the car that struggled would look like the fastest car in the world. Behra would fly around the Caen circuit and would end up proving too quick for the rest of the field. Posting a lap time of 1:21.1, Behra would take the pole by more than two and a half seconds over Tony Brooks in a Cooper-Climax T43.
Setting a best time of 1:29.2, Bonnier would be progressing but would still be eight seconds slower than Behra around the same circuit. As a result, Bonnier would end up on the third row of the grid in the 6th position. Yes, he would start the race from the third row of the grid, but his lap times seriously put a victory in doubt.
Right from the very start of the race, Behra would put any thoughts of victory right out of the heads of his fellow competitors. Almost immediately lapping around the same time as his best in practice, Behra would quickly and easily pull away into the distance. The only hope the rest of the drivers would have would be if the Frenchman ran into mechanical trouble.
Mechanical trouble was something Bonnier was trying to avoid and at 86 laps this would be a hard enough struggle. Attrition would be there in the back of his mind, especially as it began to claim its victims. The first to go would be Jack Brabham. He would be followed by Marc Rozier and then Tony Brooks. The race was showing no favoritism, which boded well for Bonnier and the rest, but it also was just as concerning. Therefore, Bonnier would just try and put his head down and focus on what was at hand.
What was at hand was a potential top five result, especially when Harry Schell retired from the race with engine problems after 58 laps. The lead, however, would be well out of the Swede's mind as Behra would post a fastest lap time quicker than his best in practice. Behra would be destroying the field. Roy Salvadori and Bruce Halford would hold onto strong positions and would be promoted by the troubles of others. However, neither one could do anything with Behra. Both drivers would be on damage control as the race neared its end.
Bonnier would get more than enough opportunities to see if Behra was struggling with any mechanical maladies. Put down another lap just about every 17 or 18 laps, Bonnier would find the Frenchman was doing just fine and certainly appearing indomitable. Putting Behra aside, Bonnier would concentrate on his race and nursing his Maserati home to the finish. The steady performance would be rewarded and he would be on course for a top five result as long as he could make it through his final lap.
Jean Behra would fly through his final lap when he could have gotten out and enjoyed a baguette and some cheese and still won. Completing the race distance in just under two hours and two minutes at an average speed of nearly 93mph, Behra would enjoy a margin of victory of more than a lap over Roy Salvadori. Bruce Halford would finish in 3rd place also more than a lap behind Behra.
Bonnier would do it! Though he would finish the race more than 5 laps behind Behra, Joakim would still manage to finish a race and in 4th place. He was unable to challenge Behra, but so too was everybody else. It had been a busy stretch for Bonnier and it had been filled with a lot of frustration. However, he would have the opportunity to leave Caen with more experience than what he already had and with a confident result as well. After the tough and difficult stretch it would not be surprising at all that Bonnier would take the good result at Caen and would sit out for a couple of weeks.
Bonnier would not be absent from all motor racing. He would still take to the wheel of sportscars throughout early August. One of those races he would take part in would be the Rheinland Nurburgring driving an Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce. Joakim would build upon his momentum from Caen and would come through victorious.
This victory at the Nurburgring would be followed up with a 3rd place result in the Sverige Grand Prix sportscar race. Co-driving a factory Maserati 300S along with Giorgio Scarlatti, Harry Schell and Stirling Moss, Jo would help the foursome climb from an 11th place starting spot on the grid to finish in 3rd place behind the Maserati 450S of Jean Behra and Stirling Moss and the Ferrari 335 Sport driven by Phil Hill and Peter Collins.
One week after the Sverige Grand Prix would be the Pescara Grand Prix. This would see Bonnier's return to Formula One World Championship racing. It would also see the driver's return to Scuderia Centro Sud.
Being with a small team, though it wasn't a factory effort, still had its advantages. This would be evident during practice when he managed to move forward from the back of the grid. In fact, he would start the race from the middle of the field.
Unfortunately, the move to drive for Centro Sud would do little to ensure a race result. Instead, the usual story of mechanical trouble would visit the Swedish driver. Not even making it to half-distance mark in the race, Bonnier would find the 16 mile circuit and the incredible heat too much for the engine in his Maserati.
Following the failed race in Pescara, Bonnier would sit idle until early September when he would celebrate the anniversary of his first appearance in a Formula One World Championship race with a return to the very same circuit with the very same team. This meant travelling to Monza for the Italian Grand Prix and entering the race under the Centro Sud team banner once again.
New year, same story…well nearly. Bonnier would find himself a little more than seven seconds off the pace of the pole-sitter Stuart Lewis-Evans. It would matter little as Bonnier would again suffer overheating during the race and would make it just 31 laps before his race came to an end. The one bright spot to his return to Monza would be the fact his second Italian Grand Prix would last a far bit longer than what his first had.
Bonnier would stick with Centro Sud following the end of the Formula One World Championship season. There were still a couple of non-championship events left on the calendar and one of them would come about on the 14th of September, just one week after the Italian Grand Prix.
The crisis in the Suez would contribute to the BRDC International Trophy race being moved from its more-usual date in May to the middle of September. Although the date of the race would change, the format would revert back to an older arrangement.
Instead of a 60 lap race, the event would consist of the old two heats and a final arrangement. Bonnier would be one of the few Formula One cars entered in the second heat. Starting the heat from 14th on the grid, Bonnier would show great progress in the 15 lap heat race finishing in 3rd place behind Schell and Jack Brabham.
The final would see Bonnier line his Centro Sud-entered Maserati up on the second row of the grid in the 6th position overall. The race itself would end up proving to be a rerun of the race in Caen as Behra would disappear into the distance behind the wheel of a BRM 25. But, unlike Caen, Behra would manage to have his Owen Racing teammate go with him. Schell would be in a solid 2nd place position. The only question mark would be who would finish in 3rd place. Surprisingly, this would come down to a battle between Ron Flockhart in a third BRM and Bonnier in the Centro Sud Maserati.
Behra would cruise to victory. Bonnier, on the other hand, would fight hard with Flockhart for the final spot on the podium. Unfortunately, he would end up a second short. Still, the 4th place result would prove to be the best of the season for Bonnier in a Formula One race of any kind. The race would also see Joakim make a very important career decision.
Joakim had had a front and center view of the vast improvement of the BRM 25. In Behra's hands the car had demolished the field at Caen and repeated the same kind of dominance at Silverstone in the International Trophy race. Therefore, it seemed Owen Racing was finally making BRM into the challenger it was always intended to be when Raymond Mays first pitched the idea just prior to the start of the 1950s.
Having been thoroughly trounced by Owen Racing on a couple of occasions, and given Maserati's news of withdrawal from Formula One at the end of the '57 season, Bonnier would begin to develop a relationship with those at Owen Racing.
Bonnier would then be asked to drive fro the team at the final non-championship event of the season, the 5th Gran Premio di Modena held on the 22nd of September. The opportunity would present itself because Jean Behra and Harry Schell would have one more race with the Maserati factory team.
Benefiting from Behra's influence on the setup of the car, Bonnier would start the first heat race from the third row of the grid in the 7th place spot. The first heat race would see Bonnier struggle to move forward. However, Bonnier would still manage a 6th place result one lap behind Behra in the factory Maserati.
Despite having a solid first heat race, the second heat race would see the same old story repeat itself. After 26 laps the universal joint on the BRM 25 would fail leaving Bonnier out of yet another race.
Although the first experience with Owen Racing would prove to be quite disappointing the groundwork would be laid that would end up having a rewarding a payoff a couple of years later.
The 1957 season, Bonnier's first real season in Formula One, would prove to be very difficult and would severely test the young man used to getting his way and having the means to do just about whatever he desired. This difficult season would be a great experience and would help to grow Joakim as a driver. And, come 1959, Owen Racing would have reason to be thankful for the experience as well.
In spite of the trouble experienced throughout the season there was more than one occasion where Bonnier proved he had the talent to compete in Formula One. He had proven to have the talent to avoid merely being a journalist. Instead, he would begin writing a story of his own, his own way.