TeamsJoakim Bonnier: 1958 Formula One Season By Jeremy McMullen
Jo Bonnier had written his first full chapter in Formula One history in 1957. His season had started with a strong drive in the Argentine Grand Prix for Scuderia Centro Sud. After that strong debut, the wealthy and affluent Bonnier would decide he could go it alone starting Joakim Bonnier Racing Team. Unfortunately, Maserati would be departing the Formula One scene. Bonnier would have a drive for himself and others, but it was clear the greatest hopes rested with other teams.
Bonnier's first race in Formula One in 1957 had come at the Argentine Grand Prix in January. Driving for Scuderia Centro Sud, Bonnier would go on to finish his first race of the season just outside the points in 7th place. This was a very impressive start to the year and it would serve as great encouragement to the Swedish driver he could do it all by himself. Therefore, Bonnier would start his own racing team.
Bonnier would quickly find operating his own racing team was much more involved and by no means a guarantee for success. Just finishing a race would end up being a big achievement as the season carried on.
Bonnier would see the Maserati as an investment of sorts as well. Purchasing 2505 from Scuderia Centro Sud, Bonnier would compete with the car but he would also make the car available to other drivers as well. There would be costs involved in this but if there was some prize money earned he would receive a portion of that. This would be the case when Andre Simon raced the car to a 4th place finish at the Grand Prix de Caen at the end of July in 1957.
Bonnier would retain chassis 2505, the very same chassis Fangio had used to score victory in the Belgian Grand Prix in 1954, for the 1958 season. Bonnier would return to his mount when there wasn't another ride offered, or at least one that offered any kind of chance of success. However, heading towards the first race of the new season, such an offer would be presented to Bonnier. This meant the Bonnier Maserati would be available for another driver.
The first race of the season, as had been the case for the previous few years, would be the Argentine Grand Prix. The race in South America would be held on the 19th of January in 1958. Bonnier would attend the race but would be entered in a car owned and operated by Scuderia Centro Sud. Bonnier's car would make the trip across the Atlantic as well. Bonnier would have it on hand for possible use in the non-championship Gran Premio Ciudad de Buenos Aires race held a couple of weeks later. But since he already had a drive with another team, the seat in his private 250F was left open. It would be soon filled by Harry Schell.
Although Bonnier would seemingly have an entry for the first race of the season, the Centro Sud entry would be withdrawn toward the last minute. Bonnier would be without a drive while Schell would be busy preparing for the first round of the World Championship.
Though renamed, the circuit used for the first round of the 1958 Formula One World Championship would still be the same. The same 2.42 mile circuit would be employed for the Argentine Grand Prix as had been used since the very first race back in 1953. The 1958 race would feature a mixture of Formula One and Formula 2 cars in the field. While the Formula One cars had bigger, more-powerful engines, the nature of the circuit was such that Formula 2 cars had the potential of keeping up. Granted, it would take perfect laps each and every time, but it was certainly possible there compared to other circuits.
The Maserati 250F was now many years old by 1958 and withdraw of Maserati as a concerted effort would begin to show itself over the course of the season. However, at the start of the season, the 250F was still a strong competitor. And, in the hands of Juan Manuel Fangio, the car was still capable of some impressive lap times. Therefore, it was of little surprise Fangio would earn pole in an aged 250F. But, unlike the year before, the Ferrari contingent was much stronger. The entire front row of the grid would be separated by just seven-tenths of a second. Mike Hawthorn would start 2nd posting a time just hundredths of a second quicker than his Ferrari teammate and friend Peter Collins. Jean Behra would complete the front row in another Maserati. He would be just a tenth slower than Hawthorn.
Schell would be impressive in Bonnier's Maserati. Lacking the concerted effort that was still in place helping Fangio and Behra, Harry would still put together an impressive lap just a little more than two second slower than Fangio. Still, Schell would start the race from the third row of the grid in the 8th position overall.
The withdrawals and the entries that failed to show for the race meant the field would be rather small. In total, just ten cars would take to the grid in preparation for the start of the 80 lap Argentine Grand Prix.
The trouble would start right at the start of the race as Collins' Ferrari broke as the flag waved to start the race. This left just nine cars in the race with a full race distance still yet to be run. Amazingly, it would end up being the only retirement over the course of the race. Normally unreliability was a hallmark of the early races of a season. But on this day, there would be great reliability all throughout the field. This meant some great racing.
In beautiful conditions, the small field of cars streamed away at the start of the race. Behra would break first off the line and would be leading the way with Hawthorn right behind followed by Stirling Moss and Fangio. Schell would make a great start as well and would be in a good position over the course of the first lap.
At the end of the first lap it would be Behra still leading. However, Hawthorn would be quickly moving up and would end up making a move to take over the lead of the race. Behra would slip back to 2nd place while Fangio continued to give chase of his former Mercedes-Benz teammate. Schell would be impressive at the conclusion of the first lap. After starting in 8th place, the Bonnier Maserati would be up to 6th place and battling with Luigi Musso.
Hawthorn would lead throughout the first 10 laps of the race. Behra would try his best to hold onto 2nd place but would soon give way to Fangio who had managed to get by Moss after just a couple of laps. Schell would be running well early but would soon drop down a couple of spots. He would be running steadily in 7th place but would soon find himself having to work hard to keep going.
Fangio would take over the lead of the race. Hawthorn would run well until his Ferrari started to suffer from a lack of oil pressure. In time, he would stop in the pits to have the issue looked after. This would drop him down the running order a bit. The Ferrari driver could afford to do this though as the Maseratis began to run into overheating problems. Sweeping regulations coming into the season included the change from alcohol to avgas. Alcohol burned and operated at lower operating temperatures than regular aviation gasoline and this was beginning to wreak havoc on the Maseratis, including Schell in the Bonnier 250F.
After nearly 30 laps in the lead, Fangio would stop for new tires. By the time he reappeared on the circuit, Stirling Moss would be in the lead in a privateer Climax-powered Cooper. It was a remarkable sight to see, especially when the Ferrari seemed so heavily favored coming into the race.
At the same time Moss took over the lead of the race, Schell would be still stuck down in 7th place. He would be unable to make any kind of progress as a result of the overheating and the fact he was driving a Maserati for a much smaller team. The overheating issues were handicapping the Maserati drivers, but at least it was much cooler than previous years. Had it been much hotter, most of the Maseratis faced the very present danger of not being able to finish.
As it stood, the Maseratis, even that driven by Fangio, remained in the race. However, because of the concerns, the pace would be severely limited. This would allow Moss to assume the lead just before the 40th lap of the race and hold onto it heading into the final ten laps.
Most would not take Moss and the Cooper serious, despite the fact they were in the lead. It was widely believed Moss would have to come in at some point for fresh tires. Luigi Musso had been running a strong, but conservative, race. He would be in 2nd place with still some 30 laps remaining in the race. He was in perfect position as Moss' pitstop would hand him the lead. However, the laps would continue to tick by, and still, Moss would not peel off into the pits.
Suddenly, with just 10 or 15 laps remaining in the race, it would become apparent Moss wasn't going to pit for new tires. Though Musso was faster, Moss still had a commanding lead. He just needed to make it to the finish and the victory would be his.
While Musso would be scrambling to try and reel in Moss in the last moments, Schell would be locked in a battle of his own. With only a little more than 10 laps remaining in the race, Schell would be right behind Carlos Mendteguy. He had been battling with Jean Behra and Behra finally retook 5th place. However, this battle would enable Schell to close up and battle with Menditeguy as well. Schell would pressure and would end up taking over the 6th place spot with just a little more than 10 laps remaining. After nearly a whole race of needing to be careful, Schell was finally able to battle in the last few laps remaining.
Musso would continue to close on Moss but it would too late. Despite crossing the line with thoroughly worn out tires, Moss would still manage to take the win by a little less than 3 seconds over Musso. Mike Hawthorn's early troubles would come back to haunt him as he would end up finishing in 3rd place. Fangio, in one of his final races, would finish 4th.
Schell would manage to finish the race. However, the cooling issues would cause the American to finish more than three laps down. Still, it would be a strong result for the small team under such conditions. Schell had driven a smart and thoughtful race and be rewarded with a finish just outside the points.
Even though the ride for Bonnier would not materialize, it would still be good news seeing Schell power his car to a strong result in the first round of the 1958 World Championship. On the 2nd of February, two weeks after that first race of the season, Bonnier would actually be behind the wheel of his own Maserati preparing for the Gran Premio Ciudad de Buenos Aires.
The Ciudad de Buenos Aires was a non-championship that took place at the Autodromo Municipal Ciudad de Buenos Aires like the first round of the World Championship. However, the circuit layout used for the non-championship race would be different. Instead of the 2.42 mile layout, the non-championship race would make use of a 2.91 mile arrangement. The race distance would be 60 laps covering a total distance of 175 miles, and therefore, would be just about 20 miles shorter than the Argentine Grand Prix.
The race itself would be broken into two heat races covering 30 laps each. The results would then be determined by aggregate scoring stemming from finishing times earned in both heats.
The first heat race would see Hawthorn defeat Fangio by more than 30 seconds. Luigi Musso would then finish in 3rd place about 13 seconds further adrift. Bonnier would complete the first heat a couple of laps down but would still be in the race, which is something that could not be said of Stirling Moss, Peter Collins and others.
The second heat would see a dramatic change. Hawthorn's race would come to an end after just a single lap as a result of transmission failure. This handed Fangio the advantage and he would take advantage leading the way over Menditeguy and Musso. Bonnier would be in a much stronger position in the second heat as well. He would be amongst the top five and would be noticeably quicker than what he had been in the first heat.
Fangio would cruise to an easy victory defeating Menditeguy by some 17 seconds. Musso would complete the podium finishing in 3rd place about a minute and a half behind. Bonnier would finish the race a bit more than a lap behind. Still, he would finish the event in 5th place.
When tallied, the aggregate results would delight the Argentine faithful as Fangio would come through to earn yet another victory. Musso would finish the race in 2nd place as a result of a better result in the first heat. Francisco Godia-Sales and Menditeguy would combine to finish in 3rd place. Bonnier would ride his performance in the second heat to a 5th place result.
This would be a great debut for Bonnier after his first ride of the season fell through. Furthermore, it was two top ten finishes in the first two races of the season for his team. This was certainly a welcome result considering the struggles the previous season and the fact Maserati was really beginning to withdraw from the picture.
Before Maserati really disappeared from Formula One there was still some unfinished business to which the company wanted to attend, and it would directly involve Bonnier. At the end of the day, Bonnier's Maserati had been one of the first victorious 250F in history and had been driven by the great Fangio on a number of occasions. The car, therefore, was a museum piece and Maserati wanted it back. Bonnier would agree to their request giving them 2505 back. Bonnier wouldn't be left empty-handed though. Francisco Godia-Sales had taken chassis 2524 and had it rebodied during the 1957 season. He would agree to sell it Bonnier for his own use. This was good for Bonnier as he now had a newer 250F for his use. It was a car he had driven before to make his Formula One debut back in 1956. So it was fitting it would be the car he would carry on with.
Receiving his Maserati, Bonnier would not waste time looking for his next opportunity to go racing. The first race with this newer 250F would come on the 13th of April on an island in the Mediterranean. The race was the 8th Gran Premio di Siracusa.
How fitting it was that Syracuse would play host to a grand prix being the birthplace of the mathematician and engineer Archimedes. Arriving for the race in 1958, the Maserati 250F was as much a museum piece as much as the ancient architecture and other features found all throughout the ancient city. However, the car was still capable in the right hands. And, with just one factory Ferrari making an appearance at the circuit, it was likely a 250F could come away with one more victory.
Only two other make of car would be entered in the 60 lap race at Syracuse. One of those would be the new Ferrari Dino 246. The other would be an OSCA, which, at least in name, was still a Maserati.
Measuring 3.48 miles, the Syracuse circuit was fast. The lightened Maserati had improved its top speed greatly, but it would need every mile an hour it could get against the Ferrari driven by Luigi Musso. Musso would end up taking pole posting a lap time of 1:58.4. It would be only lap in the sub-two minute category. Giorgio Scarlatti would find himself starting 2nd with a lap time of 2:01.7. Bonnier would take the new Maserati and would put it to good use turning a lap fast enough to capture the third, and final, spot on the front row of the grid. Bonnier was in a good position for the start, but in a difficult position as long as that Ferrari continued to run.
Bonnier would realize very quickly just how much trouble he would be in when Musso took the lead right at the start of the race and then went on to set the fastest lap of the race. Musso would pull away steadily from Bonnier. This would be a little disheartening considering Bonnier was also able to pull away from the rest of the field himself.
A number of cars would run into trouble. Seidel, Scarlatti and Gregory would be amongst those that would fall out of the race. The rest of the field would split apart until there was not a car remaining on the same lap with another.
Musso would run away with the race. While others hoped and prayed for unreliability, the Dino 246 only seemed to get stronger as the race went on. Musso would cruise to an easy victory taking the win by a margin of nearly two laps. Bonnier would be destroyed by Musso but would still manage to come home in 2nd place. Bonnier's result would be impressive in its own right as he would end up a lap ahead of the car's former owner Godia-Sales.
So though Bonnier would lose 2505 to Maserati, which would later become a museum piece, the replacement would prove very adequate as a 2nd place ensured an improving record to that point in the season and yet another top ten result. The season was really starting out strongly for Bonnier. Unfortunately, support from the Maserati factory was only going to fade away as the season wore on. It would be up to him to keep those results coming.
While the grand prix season had started in Europe, Bonnier's first race would not actually take place on the continent itself, but on an island in the middle of the Mediterranean. Ironically, his second race of the season would also take place on an island, but on the other side of the Channel from the continent.
Having recovered from the effects of the Suez Crisis, the BRDC International Trophy race would move back to its more usual date in May. But even if there had been a change in the date from 1957 to 1958, the location for the race would not. As it had been from the very first edition of the race back in 1949, Silverstone would be prepped and ready to host its tenth edition of the popular non-championship race.
The field for the non-championship race on the 3rd of May would be large given the acceptance of Formula 2 entries and the fact the circuit played host to the British Grand Prix a couple of months later. The race format would also change when the date returned to normal. The year before, the format had reverted to the heat race and final that had been a part of the race from the very beginning. However, there had been a spell in which the format had changed to just a single lap distance. When the race reverted back to its date in May for 1958, the format would also revert back to the single race distance. The race distance would be 50 laps of the 2.92 mile circuit and certainly favored the car that could get down the road the fastest.
The mid-engined Coopers were really beginning to make their mark and this was certainly obvious when Roy Salvadori took the pole with one. Starting in 2nd place on the front row would be another Cooper driven by Jack Brabham. Stirling Moss would be behind the wheel of a Cooper as well and would start in 3rd place. The only true Formula One car on the entire front row would be found in 4th place. It would be a Dino 246 driven by Peter Collins.
Bonnier could not approach the pace of the Coopers with the larger engines. His best lap around the circuit would be a mere 1:47.4 and would result in the Swedish driver starting the race from the fourth row of the grid in the 13th position overall.
At the start, Moss would stall his car and would end up dead-last by the time he got going. Collins, in contrast, would get away well and would actually hold onto the lead heading into the first corner. He would be chased by the BRMS of Behra and Ron Flockhart. Bonnier would also make a strong start and would be inside the top ten heading around on the first lap of the race.
Collins and Behra would break away from the rest of the field. The pace between the Ferrari and BRM would be remarkable as the two pushed each other hard, but cleanly. Bonnier remained in a strong position throughout the first few laps of the race. Up to this point in the season his team had not suffered an early retirement. However, the race made it very evident very early on that it was on the prowl for even the strongest car and driver combination.
Flockhart would be the first retirement from the race having pushed a little too hard in the BRM. However, he would be joined by some very good drivers, including Maurice Trintignant and Tony Brooks. Then, right around the 10 lap mark, Bonnier's rear suspension would fail causing his name to be added to those that had retired from the race.
Meanwhile, Behra had been running in the lead and looked incredibly strong. He looked to be en route to another victory in the race until, right about the time Bonnier was forced out with his suspension failure, a rock would be kicked up shattering Behra's goggles ripping a cut into his head just above his eye. Bleeding and in pain, Behra would continue until he could stop in the pits for some new goggles and a bandaid.
Collins had come under pressure from Brabham at the same time Behra had a run-in with a rock. However, just as the Frenchman made his stop in the pits for new goggles, Collins would shake free from Brabham and would begin to pull away. Once Collins got a sniff of the lead, that was it for the rest of the field.
Collins would take over the lead and would never have to look back any time after that. Salvadori would give chase but just could not match the pace of the Ferrari that day. Behra's fastest lap would come to nothing as he was now well down in the field and in need of a quick pace just to make his way back to a podium result.
Collins would dominate the remainder of the race. Completing the race in a little more than an hour and 26 minutes, Collins would take the victory having had 23 seconds in hand over Salvadori in 2nd place. Masten Gregory would bring his aged Maserati home in 3rd place, but he would be more than 37 seconds behind.
The suspension failure would be very unfortunate for Bonnier. He had been running a good race early on and likely could have carried that on to another top result. Still, one retirement out of the first four races of the season still wasn't that bad. The important thing was how Bonnier and his Maserati could respond. And if there was ever a place to have a strong response after a disappointing result it would have to be where the calendar turned to next.
As he crossed the line and the times were beginning to be placed in their respective positions, it would become clear that just making it into the race would be no small accomplishment. The fact of the struggles just to make it into the race was a response of Formula One to Bonnier and the rest of the Maserati drivers. Times were changing and the 250F's glory days were now over.
Bonnier had arrived in Monaco intent to respond positively to the early exit he had suffered two weeks earlier at Silverstone. However, the Monte Carlo circuit was an extremely different beast in a 250F if one's last name didn't end in Moss or Fangio.
The 1.95 mile circuit didn't really play to the strengths of the Maserati, which was drifting through corners. There were very few fast sweeping bends and a seemingly-endless array of tight hairpin corners. The smaller, more nimble the car, the better. The 250F, by 1958, was neither. The car was lighter but it had actually grown in length and was a handful around the streets of the principality.
In spite of its short-comings, the Maserati had enabled Bonnier to remain one of the 16-fastest cars. Granted, Bonnier was 16th-fastest, or dead-last, but he was still hanging in their to make it into the race. Heading into the final practice session, Bonnier was still very much on the bubble. He was only about five seconds slower than the pole-sitter, Tony Brooks. Still, those five seconds were drastic in their effect. In stead of starting on the front row, Bonnier was tentatively on the seventh row of the grid all by himself.
The front row includes Brooks on pole with Jean Behra lining up 2nd and Jack Brabham completing the front row in 3rd place. As practice drew to a close, there wasn't another that would draw close enough to challenge him for the 16th, and final, spot on the grid.
A beautiful day greeted all as the grid assembled itself. The drivers would take their places as the engines would come to life. The flag would drop and then there would be an all-out sprint to the tight hairpin at the end of the short straight. Chaos would ensue as Salvadori tried to go down the inside of the corner. Cars would strike each other as they tried to make it around the hairpin for the first time. Behra would make it through while Brooks would slot in 2nd place just ahead of Brabham. This order would remain the same when the cars came around and crossed the finish line at the completion of the first lap. Bonnier's tail-end-Charlie starting position would not hinder him as he would make a fantastic start and would claw his way further forward over the course of the first lap. He would come through for the first time in a remarkable 12th.
The chaos would calm down slightly as Behra continued to hold onto the lead over Brooks. Hawthorn had a terrible start to the race but he would make up ground throughout the first few laps of the race. He would be up to 3rd place, and then 2nd by the 20th lap of the race. Moss would be another of those that would make a great start. He would be inside the top five at the end of the first lap and would be in 2nd place by the 30th lap when Behra faltered right along with Brooks.
Bonnier, meanwhile, would be quietly, and steadily, making his way up the running order. Aided by the retirements of Brooks, Behra and Stuart Lewis-Evans, he would be all the way up to 8th place by the end of the 32nd lap. He had moved halfway to the front, and before the halfway mark of the race. If the attrition continued he likely would continue to ascend the order.
Not being on the pace of others, Bonnier needed to let the race come to him and only push when the opportunities presented themselves. He would continue to do this perfectly throughout the first half of the race. While Hawthorn and Moss battled each other hard at the head of the field, Bonnier was keeping well within himself and continuing to make progress. By the halfway mark he was sitting in 5th place. Points were in the offering if he could just make it to the finish.
Points had come his way as a result of a steady pace and a fierce battle at the front that would result in both Moss and Hawthon retiring from the race. It was a remarkable turn of events that would result in Maurice Trintignant, that ever-fortuitous Frenchman, taking the lead by the halfway mark. The attrition was terrible. There was really no reason why Bonnier could not take victory if those at the front of the field continued to fall foul of trouble.
The reality was though Trintignant now had the race well in hand. Not known for asking too much from his equipment, or, making an error in judgment, Maurice carried on in his way looking entirely at ease. Bonnier also looked at ease, but he was coming within striking distance of a podium result. He had a choice: he could either push and try for something better, or stay put.
Bonnier was not going to sit back. He would push his Maserati in the closing stages. This was a calculated risk. On the table was a better result. The down side was that it opened the door for mistakes. Unfortunately, after having completed 72 laps, Bonnier would make that error in judgment. Sitting in 5th place at the time, Bonnier would make an error and would end up crashing out of the race. He had thrown away a 5th place and some very valuable points, but he at least showed the Maserati could still put on a show around the tight streets of Monaco.
When Moss had earned victory in Argentina, most considered the victory by a privateer team a fluke. But as the end of the race neared, and the fact Ferrari could do nothing to mount a challenge against the small Cooper, it was abundantly clear the revolution in Formula One had arrived.
There was nothing Musso and the other Ferrari drivers could do. The light, small and nimble Cooper was more than a match in this setting. Trintignant would ease his way through the final couple of laps to take his second Formula One victory, both of which would come in Monaco. Musso would finish a very quiet 2nd while Peter Collins would complete the podium in 3rd.
The Walker team needed to prove its victory in Argentina was no fluke. There was no better way than to have back-to-back victories. And they would deliver. Bonnier, on the other hand, could not deliver his points-paying opportunity. This would be bitterly disappointing considering the 250F would not get too many chances like that again. Still, he had performed well. There was still very good reason to be confident moving forward.
The Monaco Grand Prix would be followed close behind by another round of the World Championship in 1958. The third round of the championship would come on the 26th of May, just a week after the race in Monaco. It was the Dutch Grand Prix and it would be the first time in a couple of years in which the race had been a part of the calendar.
The Dutch Grand Prix would not be held in 1957 as a result of a dispute. However, when it returned to the calendar in 1958 not much would be changed. The race would still be held at Zandvoort and the circuit's length would still be 2.60 miles. With the improvements to the Formula One cars, the fast Zandvoort circuit was even faster.
Being located right along the coast of the North Sea, the Zandvoort circuit was always rather blustery and dangerous given the sand dunes that surrounded the circuit and that served as observation mounds for the spectators. Jo Bonnier would enter his car for himself and he would take to the dangerously-fast circuit in hopes of a better starting spot than what he experienced in Monaco. It would be better, but not by much.
Starting on pole would be the Vanwall driven by Stuart Lewis-Evans. He would be just one of three Vanwalls to occupy the front row of the grid. In fact, the entire front row would be locked out by Vanwalls. Moss would be in 2nd place while Brooks would start 3rd.
Lewis-Evans would post a lap time of 1:37.1. This would be nine-tenths of a second quicker than Moss and five seconds quicker than the best Bonnier would manage around the same circuit. As a result of the five second difference, Bonnier would start the 75 lap race from the sixth row of the grid in the 15th position overall. So while it was an improvement upon Monaco, it wouldn't be by much.
Flags around the circuit would be snapping in the heavy winds. Still, the cars would take their places on the grid. The flag would drop and the race would start with Moss sprinting into the lead heading into Tarzanbocht for the first time. The huge crowd along the front-stretch would lose sight of the field as they streamed over the rise toward the backside of the circuit.
At the end of the first lap it would be Moss leading the way with Lewis-Evans in 2nd place and Harry Schell in 3rd. Bonnier would enjoy another strong start and would be in 12th place at the end of the first lap. Unfortunately, this strong start would be lost as he would lose a couple of spots over the next couple of laps. However, as the race wore on, he would fall into a comfortable pace and would begin to follow the same gameplan he had in Monte Carlo. He would be nearly in the top ten by the 25th lap of the race. However, his forward progress would become stalled as he became locked in a battle with Trintignant.
Moss continued to lead the way as Schell moved into 2nd place. Lewis-Evans would run strong in 3rd place until engine troubles handed the position to Jean Behra. Neither of the Ferraris could really find their pace and Peter Collins would end up out of the race after suffering a spin that led to a stall.
Heading into the final 25 laps of the race, Moss continued to dominate with Schell and Behra giving Owen racing their best hope in years. Bonnier would lose out in his battle with Trintignant but would look to be thinking about making it to the end of the race instead of really fighting for places. He had thrown a race away at Monaco. At a place like Zandvoort with its very sandy and slippery surface, that was something that was easy to do. Therefore, his consistent nature seemed to be the best policy for himself and the team. He was still running inside the top ten. There really wasn't much more that could be asked after someone started all the way down in 15th position.
Moss would dominate the whole race. Leading every single lap of the race, Moss would take 8 points losing out on the fastest lap to Mike Hawthorn. Moss' dominance would be complete as he enjoyed a margin of victory of more than 47 seconds. Jean Behra would make it a good day for Owen Racing as he finished in 3rd place.
It would be a good day for Bonnier as well. He had lost an incredible opportunity in Monaco. On this day, all the race was serving up was a spot just inside the top ten, but Bonnier would take it. He would run a careful, but strong race, improving on his 15th starting spot on the grid to finish in 10th place. He would finish 4 laps behind but he at least still did finish and inside the top ten. The result offered a nice break for Bonnier and would help to halt the loss of momentum after the strong early start.
Believing to have turned the tide after two straight early retirements, Bonnier would be eager to build upon the result at Zandvoort. The time of the 250F was running short and he undoubtedly wanted to make the most of it. Therefore, Bonnier's team would be present in Spa, Belgium on the 15th of June in order to take part in the Belgian Grand Prix.
Though Brussels had served as the site of the World's Fair in 1958, the real attraction would be found amongst the dark forest of the Ardennes. It would be amongst this setting the Belgian Grand Prix would be run. Formula One would be back at Spa, a circuit perfectly suiting the character and nature of the sport itself.
Measuring 8.77 miles to the lap and boasting of a number of elevation changes and some incredible high speeds, the Spa-Francorchamps circuit was not for the faint of heart and demanded a real focus and attention to detail. Taking place on some of the most dangerous public roads to be found anywhere in the world, the circuit was both beloved and feared at the same time.
The skies would be overcast as the cars and drivers took to the circuit for practice. The circuit was the fastest in the world at that time and meant the drivers required real courage to be fast. In spite of the conditions, everything would come out sunny for Hawthorn as he would take pole in the Dino 246. He would fend off his Ferrari teammate Musso by just four-tenths of a second while Stirling Moss would take the 3rd, and final, spot on the front row.
Bonnier wouldn't be without his troubles. A broken prop shaft would leave a nice gapping hole in the floor of the car. However, the issue would be resolved in time for Jo to take to the circuit for practice and set some good lap times. The Vanwall and the new Ferrari were certainly leaders of the pack when it came to out-right pace. Bonnier would end up more than 18 seconds slower around the circuit by the end of practice. The result would be a sixth row starting position.
Sunny skies and a large crowd would all serve as a backdrop for the fifth round of the 1958 World Championship. Holding the brakes while on the downhill grid, the drivers would be ready, looking for that fast start that would lead the way to the fast uphill bend at Eau Rouge. The flag would be out and the cars would stream away from the grid. The 24 lap race was underway.
On the run down to Eau Rouge, it would be Moss that would make the best start. He would lead the way through the quick left-right combination. Behind him would be Tony Brooks followed by Hawthorn. Gendebien would delight the home crowd as he would move up to 3rd place while Bonnier rode along right around where he sat on the grid.
Moss had been holding onto the lead throughout the first half of the lap, but he would not make it the rest of the way. Masten Gregory would already be out of the race and Moss would soon follow. He would coast by the pits but would soon make a hard right turn before the red water stream. He made his way to the paddock and an early retirement. Bonnier would complete the first lap of the race but would be down in 13th position.
Brooks led the way but he would have Peter Collins all over his backside while Hawthorn occupied himself in 3rd as Gendebien slipped to 4th. Brooks and Collins would continue to battle it out over the next few laps until Collins retired from the race due to overheating issues.
Trouble with Collins, Gendebien and others would enable Bonnier to move up the running order, but only just slightly. The Maserati lacked the speed and performance of the newer cars. As a result, Bonnier would be only up to 11th place as the race headed into the last half.
Meanwhile, at the front of the field, Brooks would be in control with Hawthorn sitting in 2nd place. Stuart Lewis-Evans, the third Vanwall driver, would be up to 3rd place while the middle of the field remained locked in a tough battle. Bonnier, meanwhile, would be up to 10th place and looking strong for another race finish.
In spite of the fact Hawthorn had been quickest in practice and ended up on pole, Brooks would prove to be more than capable of fending off his fellow compatriot. At the wheel of the Vanwall, Brooks would draw away and enjoy a comfortable margin as he raced toward the checkered flag. Two laps further behind, Bonnier was in 10th place and just as comfortable as he had a healthy lead over the lady Marie-Therese de Filippis.
Brooks would power his way to victory completing the race distance at an average speed of nearly 130mph. Hawthorn would finish in 2nd place about 21 seconds behind. Stuart Lewis-Evans would help to overcome Moss' bad news by making it two Vanwalls finishing on the podium as he crossed the line in 3rd place a little more than three minutes behind Brooks. Bonnier would remain a little more than two laps behind by the end of the race. But most importantly, he would make it to the end, and inside the top ten. A late engine failure for Godia-Sales meant the Swedish driver finished the race in 9th place.
Even though the Maserati could not carry Bonnier to the front of the leaderboard, it was still performing well enough to provide some strong results. The improvement upon the Dutch Grand Prix meant Bonnier's confidence was running high. The confidence was important as Bonnier now headed to another similar circuit.
Following the Belgian Grand Prix there was Le Mans and then the sixth round of the Formula One World Championship, the French Grand Prix. Held on the 6th of July, the French round of the World Championship would return to Reims. And while the circuit's layout and features were not all that similar to Spa, the high average speeds certainly were. Therefore, the good result in Spa would offer Jo Bonnier's racing team some hope as it arrived for the race.
The French Grand Prix would return to Reims, one of the most important and influential cities in France. The site of so many historically-important scenes, Reims would be well-known even outside of France. Of course, Reims would have a very well known reputation amongst racing teams and drivers. Measuring 5.15 miles in length, the circuit was all about speed. Mile long straights and sweeping esses meant drivers kept their foot firmly planted to the floor around the circuit. The only real break to be found around the unforgiving circuit would be found in the two hairpins that would begin and end the long Route Nationale 31 straight.
Arriving at Reims, Bonnier, himself, would find a ride. He would be driving Giorgio Scarlatti's Maserati. This left his own Maserati open to another driver to use. The Maserati presented a perfect opportunity for a young American, by the name of Phil Hill, to gain some valuable Formula One experience. Hill had already been driving sportscars for Scuderia Ferrari, but drives in Formula One were a little short to come by with Collins, Hawthorn and Musso already firmly ensconced within the team.
Despite the fact he was making his Formula One debut, Hill would show everyone why he would become a future World Champion when he managed a lap time of 2:29.5 around the circuit. This would be nearly a second and a half faster than Bonnier in Scarlatti's Maserati. That difference of one and a half seconds would end up being huge when the grid was finally set. Hill would find himself on the fifth row of the grid in the 13th position overall. Meanwhile, Bonnier would end up on the seventh row of the grid in the 16th position. On pole for the second time in two races would be Hawthorn. The suspension on the Dino 246 had been changed prior to arriving at the circuit and the effect would be obvious as he would end up seven-tenths of a second quicker than his Ferrari teammate, Musso. The final spot on the three-wide front row would end up going to Harry Schell and the Owen Racing BRM.
The grid would be set while the large crowd in the grandstand looked on. The flag would wave and the race would get underway with cars roaring off into the distance toward the long right hand bend at Gueux. Schell would get the upper-hand as the field headed off on the first of the 50 lap race distance. In spite of the BRM getting the jump at the start, Hawthorn would be confident at the wheel of the Ferrari. He would end up getting by Schell to lead the first lap while Schell barely held off Musso for 2nd place. Hill would make a good start to the race and would end up just outside the top ten at the end of the first lap.
Hawthorn was in the lead of the race and was already beginning to pull away as Musso took over 2nd place and Schell dropped well down the order. Because of the long straights at Reims, slipstreaming was very important and this would lead to an incredible jostling among those running in 3rd down to about 8th place. This gaggle of cars would include Collins, Brooks, Behra, Moss, Fangio (who was in his final race) and Schell. These drivers would be locked in an incredible fight that would see each of them spend time in each of the top ten positions as the trading of places would be, at times, quite furious. However, this would not concern Hawthorn as he pulled away at the head of the field. Musso would be in 2nd place and enjoying a comfortable advantage over the fleet running behind him. However, he too would begin to be pulled into the fray.
Hill, meanwhile, continued just outside the top ten but was running incredibly strong in the Bonnier Maserati. Chasing Jack Brabham, Hill would be performing that delicate balancing act of speed and reliability. But then, just off the side of the circuit, Hill would notice a helicopter landing. This was not a good sight.
Musso had done his best to pull away from the gaggle trying to draw him in. He was desperate to get up to Hawthorn. However, in his desperation he would put a wheel wrong, which resulted in the Ferrari being launched into the air and somersaulting out into a field. Musso would be thrown out of the car but would suffer terrible injuries as a result. Musso would be taken by helicopter to the hospital. Unfortunately, there would be nothing the doctors could do for him. He would die from his injuries.
The race went on with Hawthorn still leading the way. The incredible battle still raged behind. Moss and Behra would be locked in an incredible fight while Fangio would be fighting time and time again to overcome being reshuffled to the back of the train. The attrition, and the unfortunate tragic events, would enable Hill to move forward. However, as the last ten laps neared, Hill would find himself locked in a battle with the car owner—Bonnier.
Bonnier had been running a strong race. He had sat back from the start of the race and allowed the race to come to him. Heading into the final ten laps, Jo would see this as his opportunity to push hard. This would enable him to draw up on Hill in his own Maserati. The two would slip-stream against each other and would fight it out for a couple of laps. However, as the race entered its final five laps, Hill would gain the upper-hand and would keep Bonnier behind him for the remainder of the race.
Hawthorn would never be bothered over the course of the 50 lap event. Averaging a little more than 125mph, Hawthorn would cross the line to take a demonstrative win over Stirling Moss by about 24 seconds. Wolfgang von Trips would perform a flawless, yet quiet, race to finish in 3rd place a minute behind Hawthorn.
In spite of the fact he would lose out to Hill, it would be a good day for Bonnier. Not only would he finish in 8th place in Scarlatti's Maserati, but Hill would come through to finish in 7th place nearly a lap ahead of his car's owner. Neither would result in points earned toward the World Championship, but it would be nearly just the same. Unfortunately, with the retirement of Fangio and the loss of Musso, there wouldn't be much of a mood for celebrating.
Everyone would want to move on from the unfortunate incidents that surrounded the French Grand Prix. A trip across the Channel to England seemed to provide just the amount of distance everyone needed in which to move on. Silverstone would be the destination. The race would be the British Grand Prix.
The British Grand Prix would be the seventh round of the World Championship in 1958 and it would take place on the 19th of July. The two weeks between the French and British rounds would be welcome as it would allow all the opportunity to move on after Musso's death at Reims. An enthusiastic British crowd having many a British driver and manufacturer in which to get behind also made for a lighter mood. Having been shown up by his own car in the hands of Phil Hill at Reims, Bonnier would arrive at Silverstone ready to take part in the race with his own car and team.
Silverstone had first hosted the British Grand Prix back in 1948, just about two years after it had been decommissioned from service with the Royal Air Force. At that time, British drivers and cars were few and far between. However, just a decade later, the field would be full of British drivers. There would also be a number of strong British makes in the field as well with Vandervell, Cooper and BRM being the most dominant names.
Throughout the decade there would be a number of changes that would take place around the circuit. However, the 2.92 mile circuit would remain almost entirely unchanged. Of course the biggest change from that first British Grand Prix in 1948 to the one in 1958 would be the circuit layout as the runways had been abandoned in favor of a circuit entirely made up of the perimeter road.
The nature of the Silverstone circuit favored the strengths of the Maserati. Fast corners in which the 250F could be power-slid were in abundance and the result would be obvious in practice. It was clear Formula One cars were advancing. This would be proven by Stirling Moss' pole time of 1:39.4 in the Vanwall. However, Bonnier would end up the fastest of the 250Fs in the field. His 13th starting spot on the grid would be one of his best of the season when it came to World Championship races. Still, it meant he started the race from the fourth row of the grid and had plenty of cars starting ahead of him on the grid. Ahead of him, on the front row of the grid, would be Moss on pole, Harry Schell in 2nd place with the BRM, Roy Salvadori in 3rd with one of the Coopers and Mike Hawthorn in 4th place with the first of the Ferraris.
The skies over Silverstone would be bright and beautiful, most unusual for most British Grand Prix held at the circuit in the past, but certainly most welcome by all of those assembled within and without the track. Assembled along the front row of the grid would be three Brits and one American. Bonnier would take his place behind the wheel of his Maserati on the fourth row of the grid ready for yet another strong performance.
The cars would get away from the grid in a flurry of noise and dust. Unlike in the International Trophy race, Moss would actually manage to get away from the line well, but it wouldn't be good enough as Collins would streak into the lead from the start. Hawthorn would fall into 3rd place while Schell sat 4th in one of the BRMs. Bonnier would end up making another fantastic start. He would jump a number of places right from the drop of the flag, but would have his work cut out for himself to hold onto the spot, even at the end of the first lap.
At the completion of the first of 75 laps it was Collins in the lead with Moss not far behind in 2nd. Hawthorn followed in 3rd. Three Brits set the pace at the front. The Swedish driver in the field, by the way, would come through to complete the first lap right around 10th place. Unfortunately, Brabham was about to make a move, and then there was Behra who had made a poor start.
Collins would continue to lead the way while Moss did his best to give chase in 2nd place. Hawthorn was content to let his good friend lead the way while he took things easy in 3rd place. Bonnier's fast start would end up being lost one by one until he was barely running inside the top 15 at the end of the 10th lap. He would recover from his lost momentum and would actually begin to ascend the order as he put together some good consecutive fast laps. Approaching the 25th lap of the race he would be nearly inside the top ten. Of course his performance would be aided by troubles with Behra's BRM, Graham Hill's Lotus and a couple of others. He was running strong, setting up the last half of the race.
Moss could not set up the last half of his race as his event would be run by the one-third mark. This would promote Hawthorn to 2nd place, a position he was more than happy to inherit from his closest championship rival. Roy Salvadori, in one of the Coopers, would recover from a very bad start to the race to find himself in 3rd.
Past the halfway mark of the race, the chaos would settle. Collins led Hawthorn while Salvadori looked impressive in 3rd place ahead of the Vanwall of Lewis-Evans. Bonnier was also looking quite impressive. He was inside the top ten and looking to make his run when the opportunity presented itself.
Unfortunately, Bonnier wouldn't be around long enough to see his opportunity come. Having completed 49 laps, Bonnier would be struggling. The gearbox in the Maserati was not sound and hadn't been for a couple of laps. He would try and carry on but it just wasn't worth it. He would pull over and retire. It would be another shame as he had been within reach of the points had he been able to mount a challenge toward the end of the race.
Even though he would set the fastest lap of the race, Hawthorn would not be concerned with mounting a challenge of his good friend Collins. Peter had done everything right. He had led from the very beginning and hadn't put a wheel wrong the entire race. Hawthorn wasn't about to try and spoil it. There, he would fall in and would just carry on to the checkered flag.
The first to see the checkered flag would be Collins completing the race distance of 219 miles in just over two hours and nine minutes. Some twenty-four seconds later, Hawthorn would appear around Woodcote to take 2nd place. Nearly another 30 seconds after that Salvadori would come through to finish in 3rd place.
It would be a great day for Collins, Hawthorn and Ferrari, but it would be a bitterly disappointing one for Bonnier. Maserati continued withdraw more and more from supporting its customers. Therefore, a gearbox failure was not something Bonnier would have wanted to contend. Furthermore, it hindered some of the progress he had been experiencing at the other rounds. A great result would do wonders to reinvigorate Bonnier and keep momentum rolling. Just across the Channel lay that opportunity.
Bonnier would leave English shores and would head back over to France. Arriving in Caen, he would travel no further, for on the 20th of July, just one day after the gearbox failure in the British Grand Prix, he would be busy preparing to take part in the non-championship 6th Grand Prix de Caen.
The Grand Prix de Caen was one of only a few non-championship races for 1958. It had also turned into Jean Behra's personal playground the year before as he romped to victory at the wheel of a BRM. He would be back. There would be plenty of rumors that a repeat was in the offering.
Only 12 cars would be in the field for the 86 lap race. Besides the Owen Racing BRMs, and a couple of Coopers, the race held a great opportunity for Bonnier as the majority of the field would be comprised of privateer teams. Still, with Stirling Moss, Jean Behra and Harry Schell in the field, those great results were not going to come to Bonnier automatically.
The circuit itself would be a challenge. Measuring 2.19 miles, the Caen circuit was quick but very challenging. A lot of 90 degree corners and quick chicane-like corners meant there were plenty of opportunities to carry a little too much speed into corners, and therefore, end up wide and even off the circuit.
The year before, Behra had managed to get the balance of speed and handling down perfectly to be untouchable. One year later, Behra was nearly just as fast, but there was Moss to spoil the day. Moss would end up taking the pole while Behra would complete the front row in 2nd place. Bonnier would have one of his best starting positions of the season as he would end up 6th overall, which meant he started the race from the third row of the grid.
The fallout would start nearly right from the very beginning. Two cars would crash out of the race after just a single lap completed. Bonnier would make a good start and would find himself up towards the end of a field he had only visited really one other time over the course of the season. Harry Schell, looked quick overcoming a bad starting spot on the grid. And then, of course, there was Moss and Behra.
Behra would be flying in the BRM. Pressured by Moss, Behra would go on to set the fastest lap of the race. However, the BRM had a tendency to be fragile and times, and this would be one of them. Having been up at the front throughout the first half of the race, Behra's chance at a repeat would come to an end when his engine showed signs of giving up the ghost. This would allow Moss to disappear into the lead while Jean pulled over out of the race.
Once Jean departed the scene it was up to Bonnier to take over the challenge of keeping up with Moss. This was nearly impossible for the Swedish driver with the aged Maserati design. He would give it his best, but he would only lose ground hand over fist to Moss as the laps continued to dwindle down.
During the Second World War, Caen had proven to be a strategic target the British just could not lay hold of when they wanted. However, 14 years later, a solitary Brit would master its streets and would cruise to a triumphant victory. Moss would arrive at the finish line triumphant enjoying a performance of total domination. When Behra's challenge ran afoul of engine trouble, the Brit had no alliance to worry about and would stroll across the line all by himself to take the victory in just over two hours time.
Bonnier would have no answer for Moss and would end up finishing more than a lap behind. However, it was still a 2nd place result for the privateer in the 250F. This was just what he needed before he prepared for the stretch-run. The momentum had built back up. Now it was time to ride that wave through to the end of the season.
Following the 2nd place in Caen, Bonnier would pack everything up and head out. He had achieved a good result in the strategic target of Caen. Now it was time to turn eastward and go ahead with the assault plans of Germany. Ahead of him lay a very tough defensive stronghold surrounding a small and very old village in the Eifel Mountain region of western Germany. The defensive position would be known as the Nurburgring.
Once again, the 14 mile long Nordschleife would serve as the setting for the German Grand Prix. This epic gauntlet was one of the severest tests known in motor racing and would rightfully come to be known as the 'Green Hell' by all of those that had come to witness its brutality and ruthlessness. Mind-numbingly difficult to master and always ready to spit out even the bravest of pilots, the Nordschleife would be considered the ultimate, most-demanding purpose-built road course in the world.
As with the year before, the German Grand Prix would serve as both the eighth round of the World Championship and a Formula 2 race. This meant a very large field would be on hand for the 15 lap race. Even still, the large field would be dwarfed terribly by the titanic size of the circuit and there would be plenty of time in between cars passing by.
In total, twenty-six cars would qualify for the race. Bonnier would be present for the race but he would not be behind the wheel of his car once again. Instead, Jo Bonnier racing team would have two entries for the race. Bonnier would be behind the wheel of chassis 2529, this is the same chassis that once belonged to Scarlatti. It now belonged to Bonnier. Chassis 2524, Bonnier's regular chassis, would be prepared for a special guest driver.
Troy Ruttman had won the Indianapolis 500 in 1952. Born in California, Ruttman would race almost all of his career in the United States. However, at the French Grand Prix, just a month earlier, he would make his Formula One debut. Now at the German Grand Prix, at one of the most difficult circuits in the world, he would make his second Formula One start at the wheel of Bonnier's Maserati.
The lap times around the circuit the year before had been incredible, but they only fell further the next year. By the time practice had come to an end the lap times were pushing sub-9:14.0. That time would be posted by Hawthorn. Tony Brooks would end up 2nd being exactly a second slower in the Vanwall. Stirling Moss would line up 3rd while Peter Collins would bookend the Vanwalls in a second Ferrari. Two Ferraris and two Vanwalls dominated the front row. Bonnier would be quite a bit further back. In fact, there would be a number of Formula 2 cars that would start higher on the grid than he. Bonnier would end up on the sixth row of the grid in the 21st position overall. Still, Bonnier would actually be able to start the race unlike Ruttman. Troy would take to the circuit and would begin setting some lap times. However, he would be unable to start his second, and last, grand prix as a result of an engine failure.
The start of the race would see Moss break first into the lead. He would have his teammate Brooks right behind him with Hawthorn and Collins not far behind the two of them. This would be important for Moss and the championship implications. Bonnier, starting well down in the field, would make his way carefully through the first couple of turns and then would settle into a rhythm. He would be fighting to climb up inside the top 20 but with 15 laps ahead of him there was really no hurry or reason to push the car too early.
Moss would continue to lead the way through the first couple of laps though Hawthorn and Collins would both get by Brooks. Bonnier would complete the first lap around 20th position and would look to hang around until it was time to mount a charge at the end. However, he would never make it to the end of the race. In fact, he wouldn't even make it to the end of the second lap.
Ever-dangerous and just waiting to take advantage of even the smallest misstep, the circuit would bite down hard on Bonnier when he made a mistake over the course of the second lap. Just like that, he would be out of the race. Two early retirements in a row. The confidence and the momentum were escaping.
Moss' race would also come to an early end. This would hand Hawthorn the lead, but Collins would be right there also looking for victory. If he could win the remaining races he too would be in the hunt for the championship. His main concern was helping his friend but he would get around Hawthorn to take the lead with about 10 long laps still to go.
Collins continued to show the way while Hawthorn contentedly followed in 2nd place. Brooks, after being shoved down after a great start, was regaining his footing and was on a charge. Then, with just 5 laps remaining, Brooks would manage to get by both Hawthorn and Collins to take over the lead of the race. This would greatly upset Collins after he had led the most laps of the race and believed the victory should be his. He would set off after Brooks and this would end up being a very bad move.
Pushing too hard, Collins would arrive at a sharp right-hand bend too quickly. He would nearly regain control of his car before it hooked a wheel and catapulted Collins out of the car and head-first into a tree. Collins would later die from the injuries. Having seen the whole thing happen, Hawthorn would pull into the pits emotionally distraught. His best friend had died and he no longer had the stomach to carry on, though clutch failure would be listed as the reason for the withdrawal.
The two Ferraris out of the race, Brooks would be left to himself to carry on to victory, which he would do at an average speed of 90mph. Roy Salvadori would finish in 2nd place some three and a half minutes behind while Maurice Trintignant would finish in 3rd place a further minute and a half behind.
Not only would the whole paddock be mourning the loss of Collins, but it would just cap-off what was nothing short of a disastrous weekend for Bonnier. It would undoubtedly give him pause and make him rethink this whole idea of going it on his own.
There were just three round of the World Championship remaining for 1958. Despite failing to finish the last two races, Bonnier would be present for the 9th round, the first of these last three, the Portuguese Grand Prix.
The Pescara Grand Prix was no more, but the Portuguese Grand Prix held at the Oporto circuit would take its place. The Oporto circuit had hosted grand prix before. However, the race on the 24th of August would be the first time in which the race counted towards the World Championship, and it would certainly be a memorable one at that.
Bonnier would bring just his one car to the race and would enter it for himself. All of the other usual players would be present for the race, unlike the Pescara Grand Prix the year before when just a single Scuderia Ferrari entry appeared in protest.
Oporto is Portugal's second-largest city and it rests straddling the Duoro River estuary, and therefore, features both low-lying coastal areas, as well as, some steep banks. Famous for its port wine, it would be after the name of the city from which the type would draw its name. having a known history dating back to the 4th century and Roman occupation, the city certainly appeared the perfect setting for the modern sport of Formula one.
The circuit itself, measuring 4.6 miles, would be situated just a mile to the west of the city's center and would make use of the coastal roads and city streets. The start/finish line would have a tremendous view of the Atlantic off in the distance. The first turn would literally pass within yards of the beach before it turned back inland and began to rise ever so gently. This opened up a very long, fast straight that gave the drivers plenty of time to sit back and catch a break before a quick left-hander led to yet another long straight. This offered about the only real elevation change over the course of the lap. The circuit then wound around amongst tightly-packed apartments and other buildings before completing a lap all the way back out by the coast. A lap of the circuit was fast and the last third was easy to get wrong.
In practice, Moss would get everything right and would take the pole. His championship rival, Hawthorn, would start in 2nd place while Lewis-Evans made it two Vanwalls on the front row as he started 3rd. Bonnier would struggle around the circuit. He would not be able to carry the speed through the fast esses as they swept back and forth. As a result, he would be 12 seconds slower than Moss and would end up on the sixth, and last, row of the grid in the 14th position.
Heading into the race, Bonnier was already in trouble. He was feeling ill, but he would still try and tough it out. He would line up on the grid already feeling down about his grid position and his health. The circuit was wet as it rained over night and into the early morning hours. The rain would stop before the start of the race and the circuit itself would be dry in spots by the time the cars lined up on the grid.
At the start, it would be Moss in the lead. Everyone knew that if Moss got the lead he was likely not to let go of it unless he had car troubles. Therefore, Hawthorn would push in order to try and make the Vanwall break. The first lap would go to Moss while Hawhtorn ran close behind. The ailing Bonnier would make another fast start and would look very good despite his condition. He would complete the first lap just outside the top ten.
Hawthorn would do what he needed and would take the lead on the 2nd lap and would hold onto it over the next few laps while Bonnier also improved his position further down in the field. However, the back-and-forth esses were not particularly kind to the ill Swede. He was trying with everything he had to stay in the race but it was a difficult task with a heavy car in the warm conditions. Bonnier would make it 9 laps, but he could do no more as he retired from the race. It counted as another early retirement but at least this one could have an asterisk beside it.
Fighting for a championship, Hawthorn and Moss pulled away from the rest of the pack. Moss would retake the lead and Hawthorn would end up falling behind Behra. Hawthorn would run into further problems when he would lose control and stalled his engine. In an attempt to get the car going again he would point the car in the opposite direction and roll downhill slightly. This would be deemed as reason for disqualification. This would be huge as Moss carried on in the lead of the race and only pulled away from everyone else.
Moss' pace would be incredible. He would leave everyone else behind and would end up seeing the episode with Hawthorn. Destroying the rest of the field, Moss would cruise to an easy victory winning the race by more than a lap over Lewis-Evans and Behra. However, Moss would go an speak with the officials about Hawthorn's maneuver. He told them he considered the disqualification a bit rash since he had done it on a portion of tarmac that was not a part of the circuit. The officials would then agree with Moss lifting Hawthorn to 2nd place and pushing Lewis-Evans to 3rd. The result would be that Hawthorn left Portugal with 7 points having set the fastest lap of the race as well. This would be incredibly important to the championship battle.
As far as Bonnier was concerned, he just wanted to get well after having felt too ill to carry on. This was three early retirements in World Championship rounds in a row. The time of being his own team was rapidly coming to an end. But he had started it. He was at least going to see it through to the end.
Bonnier would be recovered from his illness and would be heading to the penultimate round of the championship. It was now September and that meant a trip to Monza where the Tifosi
would be out in force in hopes of urging a Brit ever-closer to a championship.
The Italian Grand Prix would be held on the 7th of September and would remain the only race on the calendar to have been in existence since that inaugural year in 1950. Prior to 1957, the race had been dominated by Italian entries. There would be the two years in which Mercedes-Benz had control, but that would pale in comparison to the utter dominance the Italian marks had enjoyed on home soil. Of course that would all change in 1957 when the first three spots on the front row would belong to Vandervell's Vanwalls.
One year later, everyone expected more of the same though many would hope for a better showing from Scuderia Ferrari after a terrible performance the year before. Bonnier, keen to drop the role of being his own team, would arrive at the circuit with a contract to drive for Owen Racing. Ron Flockhart would be hurt in an accident and this would open the door for Bonnier to take a big step forward on the grid. However, he would still bring his own Maserati to the circuit and would open the door of opportunity to another driver. Actually, Bonnier would come to Monza with two cars.
Bonnier would actually take part in some practice with 2529 before he would come over to Owen Racing. After that, Hans Herrmann would take over control of the car. The other car, chassis 2524, would be entered for Giulio Cabianca. Herrmann had plenty of experience having driven for Mercedes-Benz a few years earlier. Cabianca was a racing driver from Italy who had taken part in a number of races in the lower formulas.
Bonnier would enjoy his ride with Owen Racing. Herrmann and Cabianca would be left wanting. Stirling Moss would lead the way in practice in one of the Vanwalls. He would end up taking pole with a lap time of 1:40.5. Starting right beside him would be Tony Brooks in another Vanwall. If it were not for Hawthorn and his Ferrari, the first three positions on the grid at Monza would have, again, been occupied by Vanwalls. Instead, Hawthorn would start 3rd and Stuart Lewis-Evans would occupy the final spot on the front row.
Herrmann would struggle to match the pace of the front runners over the course of practice. He would even struggle to come within eight seconds of the pole-sitter. Hans' best lap would be a rather uninspiring 1:49.8. This would result in the German starting the race from the fifth row of the grid in the 18th spot. Cabianca would end up on the sixth, and final, row of the grid in the 20th position as a result of a lap time nearly five seconds slower than Herrmann.
Bright sunny skies would shine down on the circuit as the fanatical Tifosi gathered in the stands and all around the circuit prior to the start of the 70 lap race. As the cars assembled on the grid, it would be important for Moss and Hawthorn to score good results. Having a Ferrari driver so deeply involved in the championship would lead many an Italian to look to the head of the field as the race prepared to start.
When the flag dropped to start the race, Brooks would get away slightly better than either Lewis-Evans or Moss. Hawthorn would also get a good start, but he would not get as good a start as his new teammate Phil Hill. Moss would end up streaking to the head of the field and would lead the way through the first couple of corners. Hill would be in 2nd place. Everyone would be looking to the front of the field and would nearly miss the dramatic events that would unfold just a little ways back.
The racing would be close throughout the first lap. This would lead to a terrible moment when Wolfgang von Trips and Harry Schell came together. The wheels would touch and both cars would be sent flying into the air turning over a number of times. Von Trips would be thrown out of the car and would end up suffering a broken leg. Schell would also be thrown clear be he would emerge unharmed. These two would then by joined by Jack Brabham, who suffered a crash of his own, and Carroll Shelby who would retire with mechanical trouble.
The rest of the field would manage to make it through to complete the first lap. And, as the cars streaked over the line for the first time, it would be Hill leading the way over Moss, Lewis-Evans and Hawthorn. Herrmann would make his way through the chaotic start and would put together an impressive first-lap performance to run himself in 12th place. Cabianca would also have a great start to the day as he would go from 20th place on the grid to complete the first lap in 13th place a little ways behind Herrmann. Bonnier was running well. His cars were still in the race. It was a good start to the day.
The fight at the front would be just getting going. Hill would lead for a couple of laps, but then, Hawthorn and Moss would pick up the battle for the lead as Phil would be pushed well down the running order as a result of tire trouble. Hill would stop for a new tire and would seem to be out of the running very early. However, his troubles would be just a sign of things to come.
Two more cars would end up retiring from the race before even the 5th lap of the race had been completed. Then, on the 15th lap of the race, Bonnier's BRM would be seen ablaze. He was out of the race. This hot sight would be followed by Moss' retirement due to a gearbox failure and would be followed by Trintignant's retirement, also due to a gearbox failure. The race was reaching the one-third mark and Hawthorn would be in the lead while Behra ran in 2nd place while Lewis-Evans struggled to stay in the race just ahead of a rejuvenated Hill in the second Ferrari. Herrmann and Cabianca would be running very quiet races, but this would keep them out of trouble. While Bonnier had already retired as a result of his hot seat, Herrmann and Cabianca would be running in order on the circuit and would be up inside the top ten. It appeared their cautious approaches would come through in their benefit.
But attrition would not be prejudice. Herrmann had been running a strong, quiet race. However, it wouldn't be enough to please attrition. Herrmann would be approaching a place in the top five when his Maserati engine gave up its fight leaving the German out of the race. This would, however, promote Cabianca to an incredible spot on the leaderboard.
Hawthorn had been comfortably in the lead, though he would give-way for his teammate Hill to lead a few more laps. Vandervell would find the only car he still had in the race belonged to Brooks. The new regulations about substitutions would be greatly hurting Moss at this point. Cabianca would be suffering no such troubles. The order, with just 20 laps remaining, stood at Hawthorn leading over Brooks. Hill had slipped to 3rd place while Cabianca was within reach of a points-paying result.
Unfortunately, those 20 laps would prove to be 19 too many. Just when it seemed the unknown driver would slip through to earn a couple of championship points, the engine in his Maserati would give up leaving the Italian dejected and wondering what might have been.
Brooks would fight hard to save his teammates championship hopes. And, with just about 10 laps remaining in the race, he would make his way by Hawthorn for the lead. Hawthorn would not put up much of a fight as a result of the points he would earn for a 2nd place result. Content with his position, Hawthorn would allow Brooks to run away with the victory.
Brooks would do his job. He would come through to take the victory finishing nearly 25 seconds ahead of Hawthorn. Hawthorn would be followed home by his teammate Hill. The American would be just four seconds behind at the finish and would give Ferrari two drivers on the podium in front of the Italian faithful.
Like Moss, Bonnier had come into the Italian Grand Prix rather hopeful. Not only was he driving a strong car in the BRM, but he also had two cars in the race. All three would make it through the chaos at the start of the race and throughout those early laps. It appeared as if it was going to be Bonnier's day. It would end up proving to be anything but. Like his BRM, his hopes as a car and team owner would go up in smoke. Whether he felt this way or not, the difficult season was nearly over.
Just one round of the World Championship remained for 1958. And, like Portugal, this round would feature a brand new location. It was now the middle of October. Given the time of year, the final round would take place in a much more temperate area. The teams and drivers would make their way across the Mediterranean to the North African nation of Morocco. Just outside the city of Casablanca, at the Ain-Diab street circuit, would be held the Grand Prix de Maroc.
Casablanca and Ain-Diab had played host to Formula One cars the year before. In anticipation of its place on the 1958 World Championship calendar, the circuit would play host to a non-championship race, a race that would be won comfortably by Jean Behra in a factory Maserati.
Maserati was now gone and Ferrari would come to the circuit with its new and potent Dino 246. Hawthorn led the championship, but the circuit would play to the strengths of the Vanwalls. This gave Moss' championship some hope, but a very slim one.
Bonnier would again be with Owen Racing having signed to drive with the team heading into 1959. However, he would come to Morocco with his Maserati to make it available to another driver. Hans Herrmann had been running a strong race at Monza before engine trouble cut the performance short. Convinced he could earn retribution, Herrmann would have the drive in 2524.
Bonnier had one last turn behind the wheel of 2529. He had taken the car to the United States and to Watkins Glen. The new circuit there played host to a Formula Libre race and Bonnier would use the car to take part in the race. This would prove successful as he would go on to set the fastest lap of the race and would also end up taking the overall victory when it was all said and done.
It Bonnier was a used car salesman he certainly understood what it took to make a sale. As a result of the performance at Watkins Glen, Bonnier would be able to sell 2529 to Team Camoradi and Chuck Daigh. Therefore, Jo Bonnier's racing team would be down to just the one 250F.
Situated along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, Casablanca is Morocco's largest city and actually draws its meaning from 'white house'. Once a Portuguese settlement, Casablanca would come under influence of the French during the late 19th century and would bear-out that influence as the teams began to arrive for the race. Of course, one of the biggest signs of French influence would be the Moroccan Grand Prix first held in 1925.
In 1930, a new circuit, Anfa, would be used for the Moroccan Grand Prix. This would continue to be the site for the race until racing was suspended as a result of the Second World War. Agadir would be the site for racing when it resumed following the war. However, the 1957 season would see the beginning of a new circuit, Ain-Diab. The new 4.72 mile circuit would actually be right beside the old Anfa circuit, and would actually make use of a portion of the circuit.
The championship battle had come down to two men and these two would occupy the first two positions along the front row. Hawthorn would be on pole in his Ferrari. Moss would start in 2nd place having been just a tenth slower around the circuit. Stuart Lewis-Evans, the man who finished 2nd at the race the previous year, would complete the front row in 3rd.
Herrmann would be about 12 seconds slower around the circuit than those on the front row. As a result, Hans would find himself on the seventh row in 18th position. However, he had been in this position at Monza and found himself making his way forward quite well.
The King Mohammad V would be on hand for the race as the cars took their places on the grid. The flag would wave to start the race and Moss would take his opportunity to take the lead. Moss needed to win the race and set the fastest lap to even have a chance. Recognizing this, Moss would make the best start possible and would be heading the field. Phil Hill would also make an incredible start. He would be up to 2nd place while Hawthorn sat comfortably in 3rd. Herrmann didn't need to have a great start as much as he needed a great finish. Still, he would get away well and would be in good position for the latter.
Moss crossed the line to lead the first lap of the race. Hill sat in 2nd place while Hawthorn ran in 3rd. Herrmann would make a good start and would end up near the top 15 at the end of the first lap. Herrmann needed to remain consistent and out of trouble over the course of the 53 lap race. He had managed to do that over the course of the first lap.
Moss continued in the lead of the race and began to pull away slightly from Hill and the rest of the field. As long as Moss was in the lead and posting fast laps, Hawthorn could not sit behind Hill. He needed the position. While Moss continued in the lead, Hawthorn would take over 2nd place. Hill would be given signs by the team he needed to move over and he would do just that. Moss had absolutely no help as Brooks sat unable to move forward n 5th place while Lewis-Evans set right behind in 6th. While Hawthorn was concerned with moving forward, Herrmann would be stuck right where he was, which was still just outside the top 15.
The pace, which would be set by Moss, would be fierce in the warm Moroccan sun. The result would be a number of retirements as attrition attempted to play its own role in the events of the day. While Herrmann managed to steer clear of problems, Maurice Trintignant, Ron Flockhart and Wolfgang Seidel would all be out of the event before the 20th lap of the race. Jean Behra, the winner of the race the year before, would suffer engine troubles with his BRM and would end up making it two Owen Racing team cars out of the race. A number of other drivers would find themselves out of the running as well, but none would be as tragic as that suffered by Lewis-Evans.
Brooks had retired from the race leaving just Lewis-Evans to try and help out Moss. Stuart would get on it in an attempt to track down those at the front of the field. He would be gaining ground heading into the final 10 laps, or so, of the race. However, as he pushed he walked a very fine line. Unfortunately, on the 42nd lap, he would cross that line and pay terribly. The engine in the Vanwall would seize causing the Vanwall to lurch into the air and tumbling. The violent reaction would cause oil to spew out of the car and catch fire. Lewis-Evans would climb from the car when it finally stopped but he would be alight with burning oil. Workers would try desperately to save the Brit, going to far as to fly him to England to recover. Unfortunately, he would succumb to the burns some six days later.
Though he would die days later, the mood was a somber one as nearly everyone believed there was little to no chance for Lewis-Evans to survive. It would be much like Moss' championship hopes as he was truly left alone at the front of the field chased by two factory Ferraris.
Hill had retaken 2nd place from Hawthorn and continued to stay right there until it was rather likely Moss would take the victory. Earning the fastest lap would push the team to pass out the signal to Hill to move aside so Hawthorn could take over the position and win the championship. The race seemed over.
In Herrmann's case, there was still time in which to improve upon his position. Twenty laps from the end he was running in 11th spot. Fighting and winning the battle with Cliff Allison, Herrmann would find himself promoted twice when Lewis-Evans suffered his terrible ordeal. Therefore, as the race headed into the final couple of laps, Herrmann was in 9th place and looking quite strong.
Moss had been indomitable over the whole of the race. He had led every single lap, including the last. He would come through to finish the race in a little more than two hours, nine minutes and 15 seconds. But, it would really matter little as the man that finished more than a minute and twenty seconds behind in 2nd place would take the championship. Hawthorn would be let through by Hill to take 2nd and the championship. He would then escort his new teammate home by just eight-tenths of a second.
Bonnier had a quiet but successful day as he would finish the race in 4th place for BRM earning 3 championship points. This result would only be made better by Herrmann finishing in 9th place a little more than three laps behind.
That last few races of the season had been difficult ones for Bonnier's team. However, success at the last would provide the perfect end to the season and would serve as the perfect send-off for the 250F with Bonnier. After the race in Morocco, Bonnier would sell 2524 to Scuderia Ugolini and would be driven by Maria-Teresa de Filippis on one occasion in 1959.
Jo Bonnier's race team would come to its first end. It would reappear under a new name years later, but its run during the 1950s with the Maserati 250F had certainly come to an end. The following year, Bonnier would race strictly for Owen Racing and would not offer a car to anyone else. This would be a welcome change and Bonnier would celebrate the change in the best way imaginable.