TeamsDavid Brown Corporation: 1959 Formula One Season By Jeremy McMullen
David Brown's concerted efforts in sportscar racing would make Aston Martin among the best. However, Brown had his sights set on something more. The foundation had already been laid for a successful sportscar program. It seemed entirely logical that same foundation could help Aston Martin become a successful Formula One program.
The beginning stages of David Brown's Formula One efforts would start in 1955. In Australia there would be a glimpse of an Aston Martin open-wheel race car. The company was already fully invested in the sportscar program, but that would not stop Brown. Still, the company could not over-extend itself to the point that it could not be effective in either discipline.
Therefore, the car that would become Aston Martin's hope in Formula One would begin with elements closely related and founded in the DB3S sportscar. Using spaceframe construction and aluminum bodywork, the team would have a strong and lightweight chassis. Completed double wishbone suspension, De Dion rear, Girling disc brakes and a double overhead cam straight-six engine the new DBR4 was streamlined and looked fast. But, it was a dying breed even before it came into existence. It had been started in earnest all the way back in 1957, and the design reflected this. However, the efforts of sportscars and Formula One were quickly becoming too great and Brown would shelve the Formula One idea to make sure the assault on Le Mans would come to fruition. The sportscar program would take precedence, but there would be no overall victory to show for it. Nonetheless, the efforts had been strong and there appeared to be a confidence the overall victory wasn't too far away. Therefore, the Formula One program was taken back up. The 1957 design was about to make its debut, but in 1959.
The previous season Cooper had shown the way forward in Formula One scoring more than a couple huge victories with its mid-engined car. For 1959, Cooper would have an updated model of its already race-winning design. David Brown would make its debut with a car that was at least three or fours years too late.
In spite of the realities, David Brown's outfit would unveil its new Aston Martin DBR4 in April of 1959. The car would actually be seen on the track at Goodwood in very early 1959 getting its feet wet in preparation for the start of the season. The team would need it as its first race would come in very early May, and it would be, by no means, a milk run. It would be a trial by fire. But, the results suggested good things were in store.
The first race of David Brown's team within Formula One would be a non-championship affair. However, it would be, by no means, an easy endeavor. The race was the BRDC International Trophy race held at Silverstone. The date of the race would be the 2nd of May.
The race distance would be 50 laps of the 2.92 circuit. The old bomber training base had already seen some exciting years of racing and the wide-open setting meant for some truly high speeds around the old taxiways.
The field for the non-championship race would be, as expected, rather large and overflowing with British entries. However, there would be a couple of Ferrari Dinos present in the field that would add a little color to the mix.
Although the Formula One program had been started, shelved and started again, there would be a great deal of excitement leading up to the race as it would provide the British public the best means by which to witness the unveiling of Aston Martin's Formula One challenge.
David Brown would turn to a Brit and a Yank to get its program off the ground. The all-around challenger, Roy Salvadori, would be at the wheel of one of the new DBR4s. Meanwhile, Texan Carroll Shelby would be given the responsibility of the other.
Stirling Moss would be driving a BRM and would prove the fastest in practice. Tony Brooks, Moss' old teammate at Vandervell, would be right on his heels. Roy Salvadori would give the crowd what they hoped and expected by being mere ticks slower than Brooks. Shelby would also prove to be on the pace, but only just slower than his teammate. Aston Martin looked good in practice. The race would seem to hold a lot of promise as Salvadori lined up 3rd on the grid beside Moss and Brooks and just slightly ahead of Jack Brabham. Shelby would end up on the second row of the grid in the 6th position sandwiched between Ron Flockhart and Pete Lovely.
If practice had been an exciting affair, then the start of the race would be even more so. The great Juan Manuel Fangio would be on hand to wave the Union Jack to start the 50 lap race. And, at the start, it would be Brabham that would sling-shot into the lead. However, Brown's troop would be energized seeing Salvadori slotting in behind in 2nd place and Shelby sitting fourth.
Down the long straights the strength of the straight-six engine in the Aston Martin would demonstrate itself more than capable. However, the difference between the front and mid-engined arrangement would come to the fore through the corners as Brabham not only maintained his lead, but also increased it ever so slightly.
A little further back, Shelby continued to impress, but he would soon come under attack from a fellow American. Phil Hill had made a poor start to the race but had recovered. He was now pressuring Shelby and would soon displace the Texan to 5th place in the order.
Stirling Moss had enjoyed a turn in the lead of the race, but that would dramatically come to an end in typical BRM fashion—failing brakes. Crashing headlong into a ditch, Moss was out of the running and Brabham only continued to stretch out his advantage over Salvadori who seemed to be struggling with the gearbox on the DBR4.
Heading into the last 20 laps of the race, Brabham continued to extend his advantage enjoying a comfortable margin over Salvadori. Nevertheless, with Shelby still running strongly around 6th place, the team looked on pace for a truly wonderful start to its existence.
To prove Aston Martin's case, Salvadori would remain on the attack as best he could. This would include turning the fastest lap of the race and keeping the margin to Brabham respectable. Just a couple of laps from the checkered flag, Brown's camp would receive its only bad news of the day when Shelby was forced to retire from the race with oil problems. Still, Salvadori was holding onto 2nd place in the order and looked good to carry that on through to the checkered flag.
The Cooper would be nearly untouchable throughout securing the win by nearly twenty seconds over Salvadori in 2nd place. Ron Flockhart would cross the line in 3rd place another seven seconds adrift of the Aston Martin.
While it would be all smiles around the Australian's Cooper, there would be plenty of smiles around the David Brown camp as well. It had been years in the planning, but Aston Martin's Formula One debut had been truly a successful one. The victory may have been within reach for a moment, but Salvadori would be his ever-consistent self and would bring home a fantastic 2nd place to start the team's career. In fact, despite Shelby's late-race misfortunes, the whole team had run well and had reason to be excited for the season ahead.
Leaving the success at Silverstone behind, David Brown's outfit would turn its attentions towards its first championship event within Formula One. Therefore, toward the end of May, the team would make preparations and would head across the English Channel and on to the Netherlands. For it would be on the 31st of May, at Zandvoort, the Dutch Grand Prix would be held.
The absence of the Argentinean Grand Prix in January meant there would be few rounds of the World Championship that would actually play to the strengths of the new Aston Martin. It was clear the mid-engined Cooper was the way forward within the sport, but there were still some circuits that didn't handicap the front-engined cars nearly as bad. Zandvoort would be one of those circuits.
Measuring 2.60 miles in length, the circuit was by no means a tight city circuit like Monaco. The circuit was fast, flowing and rather technical. Overall, the circuit required a car with good horsepower. Handling was very important, but not necessarily playing against cars like the DBR4.
Set among the sand dunes of the North Sea coast, Zandvoort was ready to play host to the third round of the World Championship. The conditions would be ideal for some fast laps in practice and the fastest of them all would be Jo Bonnier. Remarkably, Bonnier would lap the circuit in 1:36.0, just eclipsing Brabham's time in the Climax-powered Cooper. Stirling Moss would complete the front row starting in 3rd place in another Cooper, this one entered by Rob Walker.
Up against the best teams and drivers in the world, the Aston Martins would end up a little off the pace. Among Shelby and Salvadori, it would be the Texan that would be the quickest lapping the circuit in 1:38.5. Two and a half seconds off the pace of the front row, Shelby would end up on the fourth row of the grid in the 10th starting spot. Salvadori would be a little more than a second slower than Carroll ending up a row back in the 13th starting spot.
The day of the race would break with sunny skies and a large crowd assembled around the circuit ready to witness the present, and the future, of Formula One. Escorted around the circuit in brand new Mercedes convertibles, Shelby and Salvadori looked forward to Aston' Formula One debut. However, the team's pace in practice suggested the potential of a repeat debut performance looked more and more unlikely.
In spite of the seeming lack of performance, David Brown's pit would be full of hope and smiles as the Duke of Kent was a welcomed guest. The Duke would look on as the flag dropped to start the 75 lap race. And, at the start, Bonnier would lead the way while Masten Gregory slipped through from the third row of the grid to run in second place. Moss would make a terrible getaway and would end up well down in the field, just ahead of the Astons.
Speaking of the Astons, Shelby would be the highest runner of the two. However, this would be of little reason for celebration as Salvadori ran right behind his teammate by the conclusion of the first couple of laps.
Surprises could be found from the front to the end of the running order. Masten Gregory would take over the lead of the race and would hold onto the position for more than a dozen laps. Moss would be struggling just to get up to fifth place while Salvadori would be the first casualty losing his engine as a result of overheating. Still, David Brown had Shelby in the race, albeit well toward the back of the field.
The International Trophy race had seen a remarkable debut for the David Brown Corporation. Less than a month later, the team would be struggling to keep pace with the others, and, after just 25 laps, would be out of hope.
While Bonnier would resume the lead of the race as Gregory's Cooper began to run into gearbox troubles, Aston Martin would see Shelby retiring from the race as a result of engine troubles. There would be no magical World Championship debut.
The Aston Martins had been well off the pace throughout the few laps completed. One who was on the pace was Stirling Moss. Though he had fallen well back at the start he had fought his way all the way up to 3rd place in the field behind Bonnier and Jack Brabham. Brabham had scored victories in the first two races of the season and looked on target for another great result. However, a fastest lap time just seven-tenths of a second off of the pole meant Moss would displace Brabham to 3rd. The next target was Bonnier.
Just 25 laps from the checkered flag, Moss would be gaining chunks of ground on the BRM. It had been an impressive performance by Bonnier in the BRM, but it seemed to be coming to an end. On lap 60, Moss would take over the lead while Brabham remained in 3rd.
Moss' charge to the front had inspired the crowd. The spectators would be looking on in great excitement. And, while things were going well for Moss, Jean Behra's run in the Ferrari was about to come undone as he would spin and lose touch with Innes Ireland in the Lotus.
Stirling was in the lead and looking good. However, after just three laps in the lead, the gearbox in the Cooper would be shot and the Englishman would be out of the race after a tremendous effort. Suddenly, BRM and Jo Bonnier were back in the lead with a commanding advantage over Brabham.
It seemed strange, and impossible, BRM had become the expatriated team from England. And now, it was within just a few laps of earning its first Formula One victory. Raymond Mays' vision was about to be fulfilled.
Running a consistent race, Bonnier would cruise to victory crossing the line some 14 seconds ahead of Brabham in the Cooper. It was a remarkable performance. There were suggestions and rumors that Moss, who had been impressed by the car, did not trust Owen Racing to prepare the BRM for him in other events. And yet, here was one of Owen Racing's BRMs taking the top honors while Moss looked on from the paddock.
It was meant to be a special, and memorable, debut for Aston Martin in Formula One. Instead, it would be the ugly stepchild, the ugly duckling that would march to victory. David Brown's outfit had been tested and found wanting.
David Brown's first World Championship outing would end in terrible disappointment. However, the team would soon find reason to smile again. Aston Martin's assault on Le Mans was about to be renewed again.
At the end of May, Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori would find themselves watching their first Formula One World Championship race with Aston Martin from the pits. Each one was undoubtedly wishing, hoping it was them receiving all of the adulation. However, on the 21st of June, these two would lead home a dominant one-two victory at Le Mans. Brown's vision had finally come to fruition. Now it was time for his Formula One aspirations to come true.
The overall victory at Le Mans would be a dream come true for the Aston Martin contingent and would give a boost to the whole team as it looked forward to the rest of the season. It would be ideal timing. The first Formula One World Championship race for the team had not gone well at all and the team was making its assault with a design that was some years old. There was very little encouragement on the Formula One side of things. But, the victory at Le Mans would give the team hope and, with the British Grand Prix right around the corner, it could not have come at a better time.
David Brown Corporation would return to England and would set its sights back on Formula One. The next race on the calendar for the team, which arose on the 18th of July, was the home grand prix, the British round of the World Championship. The host circuit for the event would be Aintree, and this afforded Aston Martin some further hope.
Brown's team would identify one huge glaring problem at the Dutch Grand Prix. In all reality, it had been diagnosed earlier, but the hope had been, especially following the good result at Silverstone in the International Trophy race, the issue would not hurt them all that much. The problem was a deficiency in power output from the engine. It was realized, as their cars struggled to keep pace around Zandvoort however, the deficiency was going to be an issue. Aintree offered some hope.
Measuring three miles, the Aintree circuit was not necessarily a horsepower-hungry circuit. Average speeds during the race hovered around the 90mph range and this was possible for the DBR4. It would require the driver to be smooth and not scrub off any extra speed, but at least it was possible. The reason it was possible was rather straight-forward.
Another brainchild of Raymond Mays and some other investors, the Aintree circuit would not be one of the many former airfield circuits that dotted the English landscape. Instead, Aintree meandered its way amongst the famed Grand National course just outside of Liverpool. This would be a popular setting for a race as the large grandstands afforded good views of the circuit and the technical nature of the track meant nimble cars could compete with the more powerful cars. The only drawback to the location was dependent upon the direction of the winds. Blowing one way, it would be an ideal location for a circuit. Blowing the other and the smells were not…say…the most appealing.
Brown's outfit weren't really paying attention to this. They were still on a high following the victory at Le Mans. The team would arrive with their two chassis for Salvadori and Shelby—the winners at Le Mans.
Preparing for practice, the conditions would be challenging. They had been wet at times and then drying at others. Stirling Moss would be the quickest on the timesheets. However, the Aston Martins would be impressive ending one of the practice sessions 2nd and 3rd. The wet conditions had neutralized the horsepower advantage of some of the other cars.
The final practice sessions would see the track dry out. It would have seemed the drier conditions would have worked against Brown's drivers, but it really wouldn't. In fact, there would be a huge battle for the pole between Jack Brabham's Cooper and Roy Salvadori in the DBR4. In the end, Brabham would end up on the pole with a lap time of 1:58.0. Salvadori would post the very same lap time, but would do so latter on, and therefore, would be forced to start 2nd on the grid. Harry Schell, driving one of the BRMs, would round-out the front row of the grid.
Shelby's effort around the 3 mile circuit would not be in vain either. His best effort would be a little more than a second and a half slower than his teammate, which would seem like an enormous margin. However, it would translate into Shelby starting from the third row of the grid in the 6th position overall. Compared to the Dutch Grand Prix, the size of the grid for the British Grand Prix would be respectable with 24 cars lining up on the grid to take the start of the 75 lap race. The field would have been even larger had there not been a strike in Italy preventing Scuderia Ferrari from making the trip.
The prestige of winning Le Mans would bring the crowd out in support of Aston Martin. What's more, the absence of Ferrari meant the race would likely be a very British affair.
The day of the race would see overcast skies and a rain-soaked track surface. Still, the crowd would show up in droves, ready for a splendid race. Before the race would get underway the spectators would be given the treat of a drivers parade conducted with a fleet of Sprites. In honor of Aston Martin's presence in Formula One, and their achievement at Le Mans, Salvadori and Shelby would lead the way in the parade through the wet grounds of the famed Grand National racecourse.
Finally, it was time for the race and the 24 cars would take their place on the grid. The crowded grid would see drivers talking amongst each other and seemingly negotiations happening between drivers and team bosses from other teams. Gradually the sun began to break through to the scene below. It was setting up to be a beautiful day.
At the start of the race, Brabham would leap ahead into the lead while Salvadori would appear stuck momentarily before he got rolling. Shelby would try his hand along the outside going into Waterways for the first time. A couple of cars would need to be pushed-started and would be left far behind.
While Brabham would clearly be in the lead through the first couple of corners, Salvadori would clearly misstep at the start and would be struggling to keep it in the top ten after starting from the front row of the grid.
Brabham would be in the lead over the two BRMs. Salvadori would be just inside the top ten while the outside line would not work for Shelby at the start and he too would be dropped down the order. The first few laps would see him fighting to stay inside the top fifteen.
Trouble would come immediately for Brown's drivers. Salvadori would come into the pits after just a couple of laps. He would be convinced there was trouble with the engine as he was being sprayed in the face by oil. A quick check in the pits would reveal the tank was just very full and he was being sprayed with excess. While comforting, the stop would be terrible for Salvadori's race as he would drop outside of the top ten very quickly.
Shelby would run into the same problem and he too would come into the pits. Unfortunately for the Texan, the stop would be very costly and he would be fighting his way back just to get into the top twenty. The day had looked so promising for the Aston Martin crew. Now though, the team had a lot of hard work ahead of it.
Brabham continued in the lead and continued to stretch the margin over the BRMs, which now included Stirling Moss. Moss would be making his way from about 5th place at the end of the first lap. And, by the time the head of the field crossed the line to start the 10th lap, he would be running 2nd doing his best to give chase of the Cooper.
The Aintree circuit suited the Cooper and Brabham maintained a healthy distance over Moss. The real battle was for 3rd place. Trintignant would be at the wheel of Rob Walker's Cooper and he would enjoy the handling the mid-engine car. He would come up to 3rd and would soon be joined by another Cooper, that of Bruce McLaren.
Thankfully for Brown's drivers, the slower corners were of benefit to the DBR4. The car handled well and this enabled both drivers to recover from their early moment of panic. At quarter distance, Salvadori would be back inside the top ten. Shelby would be just a couple of places behind having recovered beautifully from his oil check.
McLaren would supplant Trintignant for 3rd place and there would be a sense of contentedness throughout the field. Salvadori would be gaining on 8th and 7th places while Shelby would be on the prowl for a top ten position. Brabham continued at the head of the field, relatively unchallenged by Moss. The stage was being set for the last few laps.
Brown had to be pleased somewhat. Yes, his drivers had given up valuable track position very early on in the race as a result of concern over an oil leak that wasn't there. However, both cars were still running well past the halfway mark of the race. It was the home grand prix and there was the potential of some points if things went their way.
Everything was going Brabham's way. McLaren would come up to challenge Moss, and would even take away 2nd place for a brief moment. Moss would regain the position, but this meant the Australian could slip away into the distance. Salvadori and Shelby had fought hard. They had come up through the order and had benefited from attrition to find themselves within reach of a championship point with twenty laps remaining.
Salvadori was charging his way forward and was on the cusp of a championship point. Shelby's performance was even more spectacular. He was next in the running order behind his teammate. He was well back, but had fought his way through the last remaining moments of the race with just six of his twelve plugs firing. The engine that was already down on power compared to expected estimates was even less effective now.
Brabham would be untouchable. Leading every single lap of the race, the Australian would come through to score yet another victory on the season. He would cross the line in the Cooper some twenty seconds ahead of the 2nd place man. The question that remained was 'who was going to be that 2nd place man?'
Moss had had to stop to change a tire. This had dropped him well behind but it meant he had a least one fresh shoe when he rejoined. Brabham had slowed to preserve his tires. Moss was flying, but McLaren was flying even faster. Bruce had managed to take 2nd place from Moss, but this would only serve to wake Stirling up and he would retake the position. Still, the young New Zealander would show his metal sticking with Moss, challenging him to the very end. And, over the course of that last lap there was the potential for McLaren to take the position. Moss had been in this position before, and he would keep McLaren behind him as they crossed the line. Just two-tenths would be the difference.
Salvadori had recovered nicely after his unfortunate pit stop. He would cross the line a lap down but in 6th place nearly earning a couple of championship points for himself and Aston Martin. Shelby had been on course for a 7th place finish at one point. However, with just six laps remaining he would come into the pits. The ignition problems had gotten worse and worse. The mechanics would set to work. Frantically they would do their best to better the situation. In spite of a quick high-five from Bonnier as the mechanics pushed the DBR4 down the pitlane, Shelby could not get the car to fire. He would be forced to retire from yet another World Championship race.
The early pit stop taking by Salvadori and Shelby would be most unfortunate. Salvadori's splendid drive to 6th place would be somewhat mooted by the misstep for it seemed obvious an even better result, even a podium finish, wasn't necessarily out of the question. Still, the team had reason to be pleased. They had followed up the victory at Le Mans with something of a victory in their Formula One program. Now it was a matter of keeping the momentum going. And this was going to be easier said than done.
The season was now heading into the final few months. The opportunities to play to the strengths, whatever they may have been, of the DBR4 were rapidly running out. Just a quick glance at the remaining schedule and it was more than obvious the tracks remaining didn't really suit the car. But, if Aston Martin was to improve, get stronger, they needed to challenge at such circuits that presented a test to the team.
The team would forego the German Grand Prix held at Avus. This was an ideal race to avoid. Not only would the weekend by marred by the death of Jean Behra, but the Avus circuit was nothing but speed. This meant horsepower was of utmost importance and the DBR4 lacked it.
Bypassing the German Grand Prix meant there were just three rounds of the World Championship left. The round following the German round would be the Portuguese Grand Prix. However, unlike the previous year, the race would be held at the Monsanto road course situated in the Monsanto Forest Park just to the northwest of Lisbon. The Boavista circuit, the site of the controversial finish for Hawthorn the year before would be out.
The Monsanto circuit offered perhaps the best opportunity for Aston Martin since Aintree. Covering 3.37 miles, the circuit was a mixture of high speed straights and some slower technical corners. It was not an idea circuit for the DBR4, but not terrible at the same time. Set not far from the coast, the circuit was relatively unknown to all of the drivers. This too had the ability of helping Brown's camp.
Once again, Aston Martin would come with two cars that were to be driven by Salvadori and Shelby. They would be behind the wheel of their usual DBR4s. However, there would be some modifications made to help the car to handle the higher speeds and cooling needs.
Scuderia Ferrari would be present, despite the death of Behra. This meant Dan Gurney would take over the drive making it five American drivers in the starting field at Portugal.
Sun shining and dry conditions greeted the teams as they prepared for practice. Up hill and down dale, the Monsanto circuit presented a challenge to the drivers and cars, especially since the technically challenging circuit was so unknown. Not surprisingly, the nature of the circuit suited the nimble handling of the Coopers. Stirling Moss would end up on pole in a T51. His lap time would be 2:02.89. Moss was about the only one of the drivers that had any idea of the circuit and it would show having posted a time two seconds quicker than 2nd place qualifier Jack Brabham. Masten Gregory would complete the front row. His time was a second and a half slower than Brabham's.
Brown's team would quickly find out the circuit did not hold any hope for them. Salvadori would prove the quickest of the two, but even he would be more than ten seconds slower than the time posted by Moss. This resulted in Salvadori starting from the fifth row of the grid, 12th overall. Shelby's best effort would be just three-tenths slower and would result in a 13th starting spot, right beside his teammate.
Heading into the race on the 23rd of August there were serious concerns about the heat. This was not good news for an Aston Martin team already struggling for power as it was. Thankfully for everyone involved, especially the spectators, the race would be held at 5pm on that Sunday. This would help avoid the most terrible heat of the day and provided Brown's team a chance of remaining in the race against the much better-suited Coopers.
The race distance was to be 62 laps. The sixteen cars would take their places on the grid, set to make the run down the rather steep hill toward the sweeping left-hander. Moss would suffer yet another poor start and would be moved further back in the field straight-away. Jack Brabham would lead the way with Masten Gregory close behind. Moss would recover coming down the hill and would line up in 3rd place while the Astons would be found toward the back of the field as they streamed through.
Before the field re-emerged to complete the first lap, Moss would be back in the lead with Brabham heading the challenge. But, while Moss would recover to take his position at the head of the field, Salvadori and Shelby would quickly find themselves outpaced all throughout the 3.37 mile circuit. About the only hope they had would be attrition.
They would get some help rather early on. Innes Ireland's gearbox would fail on his Lotus taking him out of the race after just 3 laps. He would be followed by the Hills, Graham and Phil. Phil would spin in his Ferrari and would end up collecting Graham taking both of them out of the race. Up until this point, Shelby had been running higher than Salvadori. The Texan had been ahead of Graham Hill up inside the top ten. Unfortunately, he began to slip down the order until there was the coming together of the Hills. This helped to promote Salvadori to 10th and Shelby to 11th.
Over the next twenty laps of the race, the Aston Martins would run in order with Salvadori continuing to lead the way for his teammate. Moss could still be found up front in the lead while Brabham was running into trouble and would eventually retire from the race giving 2nd place to Gregory.
Brabham's accident after 23 laps meant both of the Aston Martin DBR4s ran inside the top ten. They were well off the pace, but they were staying out of trouble and it was beginning to make all the difference.
Cars continued to run into trouble. Bruce McLaren had managed to climb up to 3rd place. However, transmission ailments meant he would retire after 37 laps. Moss was in a commanding position over Gregory and both of the Aston Martin drivers were continuing to slide up the order further and further.
The BRMs were running into trouble. Bonnier had already retired from the race with engine troubles. No doubt related to the heat. Then, in the latter-stages, Ron Flockhart would begin to slip down the order. This presented Salvadori with an opportunity. Roy had taken care of his Aston all race long, as there was really nothing more he could do, but now he had an opportunity to capture yet another championship point. Shelby was out of the picture having fallen a lap behind his teammate. So, it was up to Salvadori. And he would make the most of it.
Moss was completely in control and indomitable at the head of the field. He would power his Rob Walker Cooper through the turns and on down the straight. His nearest challenger, Gregory, would never be in the same shot with Stirling. However, a little further back, Flockhart was being challenged by Salvadori. The two front-engined cars were producing a fine scrap that would eventually see Salvadori slide ahead and into 6th place.
In a truly demonstrative performance, Moss would begin his final lap of the race with a lap in hand over the entire field. It would be an astounding, and extremely impressive performance. Taking care on the final circuit, Moss would have everything well in hand. Setting the fastest lap of the race and averaging 95mph over the course of the 62 lap race it would be little wonder why he crossed the line with the advantage he did. Still, nothing could really be taken away from Gregory's performance. Narrowly missing Brabham when thrown from his car, the American driver did not have the smoothest of days. However, he would still manage to easily defeat his fellow American, and Ferrari driver, Dan Gurney for 2nd.
The Aston Martin pairing was well off the pace all weekend long. Nonetheless, the performance by Brown's pairing would still have to be highly regarded. Salvadori would look after his car and would manage to come through to finish 6th again giving the team yet another fine finish, though just outside the points. And, after the disappointing late retirement at Aintree, Shelby would have to find himself content with an 8th place finish a lap ahead of Tony Brooks in the Ferrari.
Considering the short-comings of the car, it had been a good day for the team. They were not challenging the Coopers at the front of the field. Still, for the team's first season in Formula One it could not have been considered all bad. They had come mightly close to some championship points in two different races. However, this pleasure would be tempered by the simple fact the front-engined cars were simply outclassed. They were operating at a deficit, and they had just got started.
Portugal had been disappointing before the race got underway, and yet, despite the deficit, the team had managed to come through to its best results of the season. Therefore, while there certainly had to be some hesitations heading into the final two races of the season, there was still reason to hope attrition could reward them with even more points-paying finishes.
There were just two rounds remaining in the World Championship for 1959. Considering the two rounds, between Monza and Sebring, neither one really offered the team a great deal of confidence. However, if the team was going to take part in Formula One they would need to step onto Italian soil and face the tifosi. Therefore, the team would make preparations and would make the trip from England to the European continent and on to Monza.
Situated just to the north of Monza, the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza was the Mecca of Italian motor racing in the 1950s. Unlike in years past, the circuit had been made quicker through the addition of the Parabolica in 1957. This made the 3.56 mile circuit extremely quick, and therefore, of detriment to the DBR4.
Brown's team would arrive in Monza fresh from its Tourist Trophy victory at Goodwood the week before. This had made it three victories in a row for Brown's sportscar effort. This undoubtedly motivated and inspired the team to face perhaps its toughest test and see what might be in store.
Although the Ferrari team still had a front-engined car many believed the Italian Grand Prix would be an opportunity for the scarlet team to come through victorious. Practice seemed to suggest this point with Tony Brooks lapping the circuit in 1:39.8. However, this time would be eclipsed by Moss by a tenth of a second giving the pole to the winner of the Portuguese Grand Prix.
Not surprisingly, the DBR4s struggled for pace throughout practice. Salvadori would be the fastest of the two team cars. This would be a little surprising given the fact he still had his hand wrapped in bandages as a result of a fire suffered in a crash during the Tourist Trophy race at Goodwood. His best lap would be exactly five seconds slower than Moss' and would lend to Roy starting the 72 lap race from the seventh row of the grid in 17th. Shelby would struggle even more lapping the circuit nearly two seconds slower than Salvadori. As a result, Shelby would start from the eighth row of the grid in the 19th position.
Leading up to the start of the race, there would be the usual drivers' parade. However, this time it would be a little more humbling as each driver would be driving little two-stroke midget cars along the front stretch before their 2.5-liter machines were rolled out for the start.
There would be a great deal of concern heading into the race. The fast circuit, combined with some terrible heat, had been destroying tires. This caused concern up and down the paddock, and therefore, was a much a concern for Aston Martin as anybody else. In order to come through the race in the points they would need those concerns to leave them alone and focus on everyone else.
Amidst bright sunny skies, the flag would drop to start the race. This time Moss would get away well along with Brabham. Tony Brooks, who had started the race from the middle of the front row, would have smoke pouring from his engine. The piston had gone, the race was over in the first hundred feet. This left Phil Hill and Dan Gurney the leading Ferrari duo. As for the Aston Martin duo, Salvadori would be most impressive. Despite his injuries he would get an absolute flyer of a lap and would be just outside the top ten at the conclusion of the first lap. Shelby would also make a fine getaway and would complete the first lap a couple of spots ahead of where he started on the grid.
Moss would complete the first lap with a rather healthy advantage. He would be chased by Brabham, Hill, Gurney and Harry Schell. As in years past, small groups of cars would hook up and would slip-stream forward. Within a couple of laps it would be Phil Hill in the lead while Moss slotted into the group in 2nd place. Positions would swap back and forth. Brabham would slip down to around 5th place but would slip his way back forward within the first 30 laps of the race. All in all, the battle for the lead would come down to Hill and Moss. Gurney would be right there but would only mount a challenge heading into the final half of the race.
Salvadori continued to be impressive in the underpowered DBR4. He would use the traffic to his advantage and would stay right around the top ten using the slip-stream to keep up. Shelby would do the same, but would have a much harder go of things. Nonetheless, approaching the halfway point of the race Brown's drivers would both be inside the top fifteen and Salvadori continued to inch closer and closer toward the points. Though they were still struggling, the Aston Martin duo were going far better than they had at any other point of the weekend. They just needed it to continue all the way to the end, and that would be a tall order amongst the heat and the sheer speed.
A number of competitors would run into trouble. Of course, there was Brooks' retirement without having completed a single lap. However, he would be joined by Graham Hill, whose race would only cover a lap before engine trouble ruined it. Innes Ireland's retirement meant both of the Lotuses were out of the running and engine troubles for Bruce McLaren meant Jack Brabham had to be a little concerned.
The pace throughout the first half of the race would be torrid. Hill would set the fastest lap of the race on the 32nd circuit and would keep the pressure on Moss. Despite Hill's pace, Moss would be back in the lead and looking strong. Hill would help Moss' efforts having pushed too hard at one point and needing to pit for tires.
Hill's Ferrari teammates would follow suit giving Moss a clear advantage at the front of the field. Brabham would seize his opportunity and would slide up the order breaking up the fleet of Ferraris running up toward the front. About the same time, Salvadori was running right around 7th place in the order and just waiting for a couple more retirements so that he could slip into the points.
Sadly, the next retirement would be his own. On the hot day, and with a power deficiency, to maintain the position Salvadori was running meant asking too much from the DBR4. Therefore, after 44 laps, the engine would have enough and Aston Martin would be left with Shelby to try and salvage the trip to northern Italy.
This would not be an easy task for Shelby. He needed to push in a car that was lacking power and likely to suffer from being asked too much. There was really very little Shelby could do. He needed to be patient and look for his opportunities. Unfortunately, time was rapidly running out.
Moss continued in the lead of the race. Everyone expected Moss to have to pit. Suddenly, those at Ferrari would find itself victim of the same kind of strategy Moss had pulled on them the previous year.
In Argentina, in 1958, the temperatures would be great, though slightly less than what they had been in previous years. The Cooper was still relatively new among the Formula One runners and everyone expected Moss to pit to change tires heading into the latter-half of the race. However, Moss would outfox Ferrari and would take advantage of the handling of the Cooper, which was less rough on the tires. Though the tire would be terribly blistered and showing through when he crossed the line, Moss would take the surprise victory.
One year later, Stirling was about to pull the same trick, and Ferrari would fall for it. The Scuderia had shown its hand first. It had played the hand it was dealt. Stirling was now able to judge his situation a whole lot better. He was not forced into anything. Those at Ferrari were now forced to deal with their situation, and that was a sizable gap to Moss.
Moss' advantage would be around 50 seconds at the time the Ferraris made their stops. Now he needed to nurse his tires while losing as little time as possible. There were still about 30 laps remaining in the race and that meant he needed to be extremely careful.
Shelby also needed to be careful. He had made it past halfway in a car that was undoubtedly feeling the strain. Still, he was in the running and hovering right around 10th place. Too much more and the car would likely fight with him. He needed some help to move forward.
Moss found the help he needed. He would slip in behind Cliff Allison's Ferrari and would remain right there for a number of laps. He would not have to push his car all that hard and his tires would also benefit. It appeared absolutely providential he came across the Ferraris when he had. It was his competition that was now going to help carry him.
The ruse would work. The Ferraris were trying to catch Moss in the Cooper. By slotting in behind them, Moss not only maintained his advantage, but also conserved his tires as well. It would be a brilliant race and one that would be rewarded with the checkered flag after just a little more than two hours and four minutes of driving at speeds in excess of 124mph. Phil Hill would be rendered powerless and would cross the line in 2nd place around 47 seconds behind. Jack Brabham would run a quiet race. He would complete the distance in 3rd place more than a minute behind Moss.
The impressive performance by Moss would be lost on David Brown. Carroll Shelby would be incapable of moving forward any further. Though he would finish the race, he would do so some two laps behind Moss in 10th place overall. This would be a truly disappointing performance for the team, but not something that could have been entirely unexpected. All throughout practice the cars had been off the pace. In fact, in many ways, the race went well. The DBR4 showed greater pace and the reliability also appeared strong given the battle Shelby certainly had to endure just to finish.
The Italian Grand Prix would serve as a wake-up call to a team already well aware of their situation. Their car was just not fast enough, and, until that situation could be rectified, it seemed pointless to continue and make the trip across the Atlantic to take part in the final round of the championship. Given the team's lack of performance, Brown would make the unsurprising decision not to travel to Florida and Sebring. Aston Martin's inaugural season in Formula One had come to an end. David Brown Corporation