TeamsR.R.C. Walker Racing Team: 1958 Formula One Season By Jeremy McMullen
After having taken part in three seasons of Formula One, the only result Rob Walker's privateer had to show for itself would come in the very last race of the 1957 season. By this time Walker had made the switch to using a Climax-powered Cooper. And though the first two attempts for the team over the course of the season would end in early retirements, the Pescara Grand Prix would yield a fine 7th place finish. This result was just outside of the points and rather innocuous. Little would anyone realize, but that 7th place would be a sign of the good fortune heading the team's way the following season. Everyone remembers the name of Cooper in Formula One being the first mid-engined car to take victory in a Formula One race, but few would remember that it would be the man born of wealth and luxury, who just happened to have a passion for motorsports, that would make it all happen.
There would be a number of regulation changes between the end of the 1957 and '58 seasons. One of the most influential would be the switch from alcohol-based fuels to avgas. Avgas ran hotter than the more exotic alcohol fuel and this raised some concerns with Vandervell's team and their fast Vanwalls. Vandervell's Vanwalls would show signs of weakness with the switch to avgas and would need more time to prepare their cars for the upcoming season. However, as with previous years, the '58 Formula One World Championship season would start out soon and there wouldn't be enough time for the team to prepare the car and make the trip.
Being an heir to the vast Johnnie Walker whiskey empire, and an astute businessman man himself, Rob Walker would have no such limitations on himself financially and the much smaller privateer team would be able to make the trip to South America. Coming with Walker would be a huge asset. The troubles with the Vanwalls would lead Vandervell to give permission to release Stirling Moss to Rob Walker's team for the Argentine Grand Prix. This would be huge, but nobody would realize just how huge this would be.
Toward the end of the '57 season the rear-engined Coopers were coming on stronger and stronger. Besides the Lotus, the Cooper T43 and T45 were the cars to have in Formula 2. And, with an enlarged engine, the Cooper represented the future of Formula One. Being lighter and more nimble, the cars certainly handled better than their larger front-engined counterparts. And, with an enlarged engine, the cars were capable of some respectable top speeds. The revolution in Formula One was well underway before the start of the '58 season. However, after just the first round of the championship it would be surprising if any team raced with a front-engined car from then on.
The first race of the season, as usual, would be the Argentine Grand Prix. The race would be held on the 19th of January at the Autodromo Municipal Ciudad de Buenos Aires situated just to the south of Buenos Aires' city center. The circuit itself would be designed in such a way that a number of different circuit arrangements were possible. The Argentine round of the World Championship would make use of what was known as circuit number 2. Its length was a little more than 2.42 miles and featured a fast outer section and a slower in-field area. All-in-all, average speeds for a lap of the circuit in 1958 ran around 83mph and this played into the hands of the 2.0-liter, four-cylinder Climax-powered Coopers.
Walker would have just one entry. The number 14 Cooper T43 would be entered for Stirling Moss. And though Moss would be behind the wheel, the undisputed favorites coming into the race would be the fleet of four cars entered by Scuderia Ferrari. The Dino 246 had made its first appearance very late in the '57 season and showed great promise. There would be three of the Ferraris that would make the trip to Argentina and they would be driven by the very capable Mike Hawthorn, Peter Collins and Luigi Musso. Of course, Juan Manuel Fangio would be present, but he would take part in a privately-entered Maserati 250F following Maserati's withdrawal from Formula One as a result of the economic troubles the company was suffering.
Although the Maserati factory effort would no longer be in existence, Fangio would show little signs of coming to the end of his racing career as he would end up going the fastest in practice. His best lap in practice would be 1:42.0 and would end up six-tenths of a second faster than Hawthorn's time in the Dino 246. Starting in 3rd place on the front row would be Peter Collins. He would be flanked in the final spot on the front row by Jean Behra in another privately-entered Maserati 250F.
Though everyone sensed the revolution coming to Formula One, the fact Moss started from the 7th position on the second row with a lap time two seconds slower than Fangio meant, perhaps, the front-engined cars weren't going to be disappearing so soon.
The size of the field would be small with the absence of Vandervell's team and that of Owen Racing with their BRMs. There would be a gaggle of Maserati 250Fs but it seemed the Ferraris had the legs on everyone, though of course the Argentines would have their favorite behind the wheel of a 250F.
Approaching the start of the 80 lap race on the 19th of January, the weather would be much more pleasant than in recent years. The temperatures would not be unbearable and this would end up coming into play over the course of the afternoon. Rob Walker's mechanics were busy making last minute adjustments to Moss' Cooper while the drivers would take part in the mandatory drivers' meeting. A large crowd, as usual, would be on hand for the race and they would end up witnessing history as nervous excitement settled over the whole of the circuit.
Engines straining, the flag would be dropped to start the race. Straight-away, problems would be had for one of the drivers. The rear axle on Collins' Ferrari would break as he tried to break-away from the grid. His day would be over after just a few feet. Behra, however, would get off the grid in fine fashion and would lead the way over Hawthorn. Stirling Moss knew he needed to make a great start to ensure the others did not escape him. Unfortunately, this he would not do so well, and the Brit would actually fall down the order throughout the first 10 laps of the race.
Moss would end up slipping down the order over the course of the first 10 laps of the race. Behra would also lose out on the lead as Hawthorn would come up on point followed by Fangio. This, of course, delighted the Argentine faithful hoping and praying for just one more win for their hero.
Fangio would take the lead and would look strong leading more than 20 laps. Hawthorn had slipped back and was under pressure from Behra. Luigi Musso was quite throughout the first 20 laps of the race and appeared to be merely hanging on and not posing a threat for those at the front. Another that wasn't appearing to pose a threat was Moss. He had fallen down the order in the early going. However, as the laps continued to click-off, he came to be much more comfortable and confident in the car and he was beginning to make strides toward the front. He would get by Musso around the same time Fangio took the lead from Hawthorn. Moss would then begin to challenge Behra. Less than 10 laps later, Moss would have Behra's position and looking for more.
Moss would quickly gain ground on Hawthorn as the Ferrari driver would have concerns about the 246's oil pressure. This he would try and have rectified by coming into the pits. This handed Moss 2nd place behind his former Mercedes-Benz teammate Fangio. Fangio, however, was out front and looking strong.
But not all was well for Fangio and those at the wheel of Maseratis. Though the day was cooler than what it had been in the past, the 250F had still been designed to run on alcohol-based fuels. Therefore, Behra would show signs of struggling with overheating. Fangio would not struggle with it as much, but he would have another concern on his mind.
In previous years, the terrible heat had blistered and destroyed tires. It had been absolutely necessary to pit for new tires just to be able to make the entire race distance. At least that had been the case in the past. Fangio would heed this warning from the past and would end up making a pitstop after more than 30 laps had been completed in the race. Just like that, Moss would be in the lead! A rear-engined car would be in the lead of a grand prix for the first time since before the Second World War.
Such was the influence of Fangio that the rest of the drivers either had already stopped for tires, or were about to, save for one. Moss had an advantage and he knew it. Furthermore, the conditions were ripe for a surprise strategy move, and, against such competition, it was all Moss had in his favor to try to give Walker, Cooper and Formula One a surprise victory.
Being lighter and much more nimble, the Cooper wasn't as hard on its tires as the other cars. In addition to this, the temperatures were cooler than what they had been in the past. In the past, the heat had made it impossible to finish a race on the tires one started the race with, and that is what everyone knew. But, this day the temperatures would be less. There was the possibility of making it work without stopping. Only Moss and Walker knew this as their strategy though.
Moss took over the lead of the race just prior to the halfway mark of the race. As far as the other drivers were concerned that was more than enough time to sit back and wait for the race to come to them. After Behra faltered with overheating and the desire to change his tires, Luigi Musso would find himself in 2nd place. He was well back of Moss, but he would be one of those that believed there to be plenty of time, and that it would be just a matter of time before Moss peeled off into the pits for tires.
The laps would continue to fall one by one. Still, Moss held onto the lead. Musso was gaining, but it was a matter of feet and not yards. Even more laps would pass, and still, Moss would be in the lead controlling events. Musso waited patiently in 2nd still believing he would inherit the lead in due course.
Ten laps remaining in the race, it would finally dawn on Musso that Moss was going to attempt to go the distance on his tires. Though he may have considered it a fool's errand, Musso now had to get on it in order to try and give himself a chance at victory since Moss' Cooper was still a fair distance up the road. Now the gap would be disappearing by the yard. The Ferrari was gaining ground quickly and the tires on the Cooper were well-worn, but the strategy would work.
Sweeping through the final left-hander for the final time, Moss would approach the line with hand raised in the air. He had fooled them all, and in one of his best drives, Moss had come out triumphant in a car that wasn't quite ready to triumph. On the slowing down lap Moss' arm would continue to be raised to the sky in triumph in recognition of his achievement.
Musso would cross the line to take 2nd place. He would finish a little less than three seconds behind Moss but would only later realize just how close he came to victory. Pulling in to receive the adulation of the fans and those within the paddock, it would be found that Moss' tires actually had the threads showing. He had completed that final lap within mere miles of his tires coming apart. They had lasted just long enough to signal the arrival of the new era in Formula One.
Surprise one-off victories were not unheard of in grand prix racing and Formula One. In fact, they were a part of what made the sport so intriguing and fascinating. And, after Moss crashed, and therefore, failed to repeat his endeavors in the non-championship Gran Premio Ciudad de Buenos Aires, a race which would see Fangio take his final victory in a grand prix car, Walker's victory in the Argentine Grand Prix would seem to many to be exactly that—an anomaly instead of a sign.
Following the crash in the Buenos Aires Grand Prix, the Formula One circus would return to Europe to begin preparations for the start of the season there. The actual start of the season would come with some traditional non-championship events. One of those traditional events would be the Easter Monday Races held at Goodwood. In 1958, the events would be held on the 7th of April and would feature, as usual, a number of different events meant to demonstrate for the spectators the many different types of motor racing that existed. There would be a sportscar race and a Formula 2 race amongst others. However, one of the highlights of the day would be the 6th Glover Trophy race, and this was an event for the Formula One cars.
Though Owen Racing would be present for the 42 lap race, Vandervell's Vanwalls would not. This meant Moss would still be with Walker driving their T43 Cooper. Walker would actually have two cars entered in the race. The other would have been for Maurice Trintignant. However, Trintignant would take Walker's Formula 2 car and would leave for the south of France. The Frenchman would take the Cooper and would take part in the Pau Grand Prix that was the same weekend. Though Walker would be down to just one car, the foray across the Channel would prove quite successful as Trintignant would come through to take a convincing and dominant victory ahead of Hermano da Silva Ramos in one of the newer T45s.
The Goodwood circuit, located near Chichester, and formerly RAF Westhampnett during the Second World War, would be a fast circuit measuring 2.37 miles. And, though it boasted of a high average speed, the nature and make-up of the circuit itself did favor the Cooper and this meant Moss would have the opportunity to challenge the other, more powerful, front-engined cars that also made up the field.
The entry field for the race would be dominated by British-built Coopers and Lotuses. There would be the BRMs, the Maseratis and a lone Ferrari, but it would be the Coopers that would be the most plentiful in the field. Yet, amongst all of the Coopers there would be just one for Rob Walker's team and this was certainly risk. But, of course, that lone entry was being driven by Stirling Moss and he would demonstrate in practice that a single entry could do a whole lot of damage if everything went its way.
Everything would go Moss' way in practice as he would take the pole for the race. He would be joined along the four-wide front row by Jean Behra, Mike Hawthorn and Roy Salvadori respectively.
The cars would take their places before a huge, and very excited, crowd. The possibility of seeing Moss succeed again in a British car against Hawthorn in the Ferrari tickled the British fancy. However, when the flag was about to drop to start the race many would feel deflated when Moss' car stalled on the grid. Though he should have been penalized for the maneuver, Moss' mechanics would come out and would push-start the Cooper. He would be underway, but would be dead-last and a good distance behind.
While Moss would be getting pushed like a bobsled beginning a run, Behra would be on the run in the lead with Hawthorn following close behind. Harry Schell had made a strong start but his race would come to an end at the end of the first lap as brake trouble ruined his race. Behra's race would also be ruined when he misjudged the entry into the chicane. He would slide out wide and would end up plowing hard into a nearby concrete wall. The BRM would be virtually destroyed but the Frenchman would emerge unharmed.
All this early action meant Hawthorn was in the lead with nobody really to challenge him, and there were still some 35 laps remaining in the race. However, the race would not be processional for very long. Out front was a British driver, but he was behind the wheel of an Italian car. The British crowd would be pleased, but not as pleased with the British driver in the British car charging through the field.
Moss was finally on his way and was certainly driving in anger trying to make up for the time lost stalling on the grid. He would go on to match Hawthorn's fastest lap time and would be picking up places left and right. By the 10th lap of the race he would be up to 2nd place already and beginning to bear down on the Ferrari. Hawthorn would have cause for concern as Moss caught up to him very quickly.
By the 22nd lap, Moss was all over Hawthorn looking to take over the lead of the race. Rob Walker's single entry was making good and on the verge of demonstrating what happened in Buenos Aires was no fluke. However, just when things were looking so good, they would turn terribly bad. Right then and there the engine would expire leaving Moss powerless against Hawthorn and his Ferrari. The Italian car would escape.
Moss and Hawthorn had pushed each other so mightily that when Moss retired there would be a huge gap between Hawthorn and Jack Brabham and Roy Salvadori. All that was left was the mere formality of completing the laps, which Hawthorn would do without incident.
Hawthorn was the lone Ferrari entry in the field and he would hold off all challengers en route to a dominant victory. Mike would cross the line with 36 seconds in hand over Brabham in 2nd place and would have more than a lap in hand over Salvadori finishing in 3rd.
Despite falling well short of the goal, Moss would demonstrate the victory in Argentina was true. For a dozen laps he had harried Hawthorn's Ferrari and likely could have challenged for victory if the car could have completed the distance. What's more, against the factory Cooper team, Walker's privateer interest was certainly holding its own.
The early spring months of 1958 would be busy months for motor racing in England and Europe. Just six days after the Glover Trophy race at Goodwood there would be the Grand Prix of Syracuse in Sicily. Then, just six days after that, at Aintree, would be held the 13th edition of the BARC ‘200'. And, whereas Walker would split up his team with one entry heading to Goodwood and the other to the south of France, the whole effort would show up at the site of the Grand National for the ‘200'.
Aintree had always been good to Stirling Moss. He had won his first Formula One World Championship race at the 3.0 mile circuit back in 1955 when he barely edged out Fangio when the two men were teammates at Mercedes. Then, in 1957, he would partner with Tony Brooks to earn yet another victory in the British Grand Prix, the first win the British round by a British manufacturer. Rob Walker would be looking forward to similar success when he employed Moss and Brooks to drive for him in the non-championship event. To further supplement the team, Walker would bring on Trintignant to also drive one of his Coopers in the race. Intermixed with the Formula One cars would be a number of Formula 2 cars. Two of these would be Walker entries. Brooks would pilot one while Trintignant, the winner in Pau, would drive the other.
Heading into the event, Moss had to feel good about his chances. Following the engine failure at Goodwood, the Cooper needed to be repaired. Therefore, Walker would get a new T45 for Moss. This car was bigger than the T43, which was necessary for 50 extra cubic inches of engine that would come with the car.
Around Aintree, Moss had been virtually unbeatable. However, at the end of practice, it would be Jean Behra that would prove quickest. His lap time of 1:59.8 would earn the BRM driver the pole by four-tenths of a second over Roy Salvadori in one of the factory Coopers. Moss would end up in the final spot of the front row having set a time eight-tenths slower than Behra.
Tony Brooks would be driving a Formula 2 Cooper and would end up with a 4th row starting spot. Lining up 10th overall, Brooks would be amongst the fastest of the Formula 2 entrants. The consistent Trintignant would not be far off Brooks' pace. Just a second slower, Maurice would end up on the row behind Brooks in the 13th spot overall.
The day of the race would be cold and this would lead to spectators being few and far between. Sadly, with Moss present the end seemed predictable. Such thoughts would prove absolutely correct as Moss would put on a clinic, however, the end result would take every bit of Moss' ability to pull off.
Moss would get the best start of all. He would make up for his stalled effort at Goodwood and would end up at the head of the field at the conclusion of the first lap. He would stay right there throughout. By the 6th lap, his lead would be nearly five seconds. Therefore, all the attention would begin to stray to those running behind.
Many of the Formula One entries looked strong early on. The BRMs would be quick but, in the case of Behra, would be the first of the front-runners to retire. Jack Brabham would then be left to chase down Moss. The trouble suffered by many of the Formula One runners also enabled Brooks to move up the order. Around the halfway mark of the 67 lap race, Brooks would be up to 4th place while Trintignant would struggle a little further back. Still, Walker had all three of his cars running, and quite well too.
Moss had been so untouchable it seemed he would run away with the race. Really, the only thing that could slow the great driver down was an issue with his own car. Unfortunately, such trouble would visit him.
Clutch trouble would begin to show itself in Moss' driving and lap times. It seemed a matter of time before the car gave up the fight. Still, Stirling's lead was such that even with 10 laps remaining he was still some 30 seconds ahead of Brabham, who was now firmly in 2nd place. Roy Salvadori would be another to develop clutch trouble and this would benefit Brooks.
Ten laps remaining in the race, Walker had one car in bad shape and another in a strong position to take advantage. The third was just running consistent laps trying to make it to the end of the race. Moss, sadly, was at the head of the whole train and he wasn't sure he was even going to make it another lap.
Brabham had been sure he would be handed the victory. He didn't press but gradually made up the distance to Moss. This meant Brabham closed the distance to Moss rapidly, but not as quickly as he could have. A little further back, Salvadori had already lost his fight with Brooks for the final spot on the podium. So the only question left was whether it was going to be a one-three or a two-three finish.
Brabham would be tucked up underneath Moss heading into Tatts for the final time. Stirling had been in this position before. Back in 1955, Fangio had been closing hard on the last lap. It took Moss getting off the corner quickly and powering to the line for him to hold onto the victory. Three years later, he would repeat the same maneuver. Barely holding on, and with a clutch that was ready to blow up at any moment, Moss would throw the power in early coming out of Tatts. The resulting tail-slide would be caught by the talented driver and he would leap ahead of Brabham enough to take the hard-fought victory by just two-tenths! A little over a minute later, Brooks would come through to make it two Walker cars finishing in the top three. Finishing a little more than two laps behind, Trintignant would bring the third Walker Cooper home in 10th place overall and 4th place amongst the Formula 2 entrants. It would be another great day for Rob Walker's privateer team.
The finishing order would be Walker-Cooper-Walker-Cooper. So far, the privateer team had been getting the better of the factory effort. Unfortunately for Walker, he was soon to lose Moss and Brooks back to Vandervell. It seemed the success could not continue.
Walker would have reason to believe the success could continue after Moss held on to take victory at Aintree. He would take his team to Silverstone, the sight of the British Grand Prix that year, in order to take part in the non-championship BRDC International Trophy race. The race, which would take place on the 3rd of May, would see Walker arrive with his three cars and the same driver lineup that had dominated at Aintree just a couple of weeks earlier.
There would be no reason to believe Walker's team could not come away with similar results to those earned at Aintree. The race would consist of Formula 2 cars running concurrently with the Formula One cars and with the same three drivers. Furthermore, the team would have the time to repair and prepare the cars. This would be important given the fact the field for the 50 lap race would be quite large.
The BRDC International Trophy race in 1958 would be the 10th edition of the race that had been the first to make use of the 2.92 mile perimeter road around the old RAF Silverstone bomber training base. By 1958, the Silverstone circuit, which such names as Copse, Hangar Straight and Woodcote would be well known. The original circuit, the one first used for the British Grand Prix back in 1948 would be a distant and nearly forgotten memory. And, given the success of the rear-engined Coopers, the front-engined cars seemed a similar relic of the past about to have its days come to an end.
The format of the International Trophy race would change again. The heat races and final would again be dropped. Instead, the race would consist of a single race covering a total of about 150 miles. The race would serve as a great warm-up for the British Grand Prix coming up in a couple of months.
Despite the presence of Peter Collins and the Ferrari 246, the fastest man in practice would be Roy Salvadori in the factory Cooper. He would take pole with a lap time of 1:40.8. Jack Brabham would make sure two factory Coopers started in the first two slots on the front row. However, Stirling would add his presence on the front row starting in 3rd place while Collins would round-out the front row in 4th. Brooks would be in a similar position to that which he had been when he started the race at Aintree. He would end up on the third row of the grid in the 11th position. Trintignant would again be the model of consistency and patience. He would be a couple of seconds slower than Brooks and would end up on the fifth row of the grid in the 15th position.
The day would be beautiful as the field formed up on the grid. Having made an incredible start in Aintree to help give him the victory, Moss would have another blunder on the grid at the start of the 50 lap race. Moss' car would stall forcing him to have to wait until the entire field went by before he could get underway. Collins, on the other hand, would make a great start and would be in the lead ahead of the BRMs. Brooks and Trintignant would be caught up in the middle of the field where the battles were tight and chaotic. Moss would finally get going, but would be well back of the field.
Moss had been in this position before. He had put together an impressive display powering his way back up through the field before, ultimately, coming up short. Nonetheless, he would set to work trying to make his way up through the field.
Collins and Behra would pull away from the rest of the field. Meanwhile, Moss' teammates would find their races to be short endeavors. Trintignant wouldn't even make it a third into the race before overheating brought his race to an end. Sadly, Brooks was soon to follow as engine would also give up the fight. Moss was the only Walker entry left in the race, but there were some serious concerns he too would fall short.
These fears would be well-founded as, after completing 18 laps, Moss' gearbox would again fail. Unfortunately, this time, Moss would not be able to nurse the car through the remaining two-thirds of the race. His day, and that of Walker Racing, was done.
The drama was also pretty much gone after Moss retired. Behra would manage to get by Collins for the lead. Behra was in the lead and pulling away from Collins about the same time Brooks was finding his race coming to an end. The Frenchman looked unbeatable, until, one of the strangest events occurred to change the complexion of the race. Following along behind a soon-to-be lapped car, Behra would be struck in the goggles by a rock. The rock would not only shatter the goggles, it would also cut Behra, forcing him to come into the pits for some attention and new goggles. This handed Collins an insurmountable lead. All that was left was figuring out who was going to fill out the rest of the leaderboard.
Collins would cruise to an easy victory defeating Roy Salvadori by 23 seconds. Masten Gregory would provide one last highlight for the 250F crossing the line in 3rd place a little more than 35 seconds behind Collins.
Walker certainly had to be looking forward to the race at Silverstone. He knew it would be the last with Moss and Brooks in his driver lineup. Sadly, the result would not prove to be very memorable, but the next race would more than make up for it.
Having three cars retire from the race at Silverstone, Walker would have some bills to pay repairing his cars. Though he would have the finances, he would take seriously the next race on the calendar and the challenge that confronted him. The next race would be the second round of the World Championship and one of the most important races on the championship calendar, also one of the toughest on equipment. The race was the Monaco Grand Prix, and, around the tight and twisty 1.95 mile circuit more than a few shunts and run-ins could be expected. Having lost Moss and Brooks back to Vandervell, Walker had to carefully weight his options. He would therefore depart with his team across the Channel and across Europe with just two cars.
Realizing consistency and an ability to stay out of trouble would be important, Walker would turn to Maurice Trintignant to head up his driver lineup. Ron Flockhart had been released from BRM for the weekend as there would be just two BRMs. Therefore, Walker would hire Flockhart for the weekend. It wasn't Moss and Brooks, but, as the weekend would prove, such big names were necessarily guarantees for victory.
The layout of the 1.95 mile circuit would not be any different from the previous couple of years. However, many teams would come to the circuit with some adaptations to help counter the inevitable shunting that goes on around the circuit. Walker's team would have a bit of an advantage given the small size of the Cooper. Not only was the car nimble on its feet, but it was also small enough to avoid most of the trouble.
Walker would come to Monaco with his new T45 and the very same car that had won the race in Argentina. Trintignant would be given the T45 to drive while Flockhart would have the Argentine car for his use. Despite the fact the car had won in Argentina, with just 16 spots available on the starting grid, there was no guarantee it would even make it into the field for the race on the 18th of May.
A late shower in Friday's practice would mess with more than a few drivers trying just to make it into the field. Trintignant would have no such difficulties as he would find himself on the second row of the grid when practice finally came to an end. Posting a lap time of 1:41.1, the Frenchman would be just a tenth off the time set by the two factory Cooper drivers, including Brabham who would have the new 2.2-liter Climax engine. Tony Brooks would end up on pole with a time of 1:39.8. Jean Behra would be in the middle of the front row while Brabham would be third. Trintignant would start 5th overall right behind Behra and Brabham.
The man on the bubble in practice would be Jo Bonnier. His lap time would be 1:45.0. Flockhart would come over from Owen Racing and would find it rather difficult to get up to speed in the Cooper despite the fact it was the very same car that had won in Argentina. Sadly, Flockhart's best effort of 45.9 would be nine-tenths too slow and Walker would end up with just one car in the field, a field replete with Italian Ferraris, Vanwalls, BRMs and other Coopers. Victory seemed a far-fetched hope.
The crowd all around the circuit would be large and excited. The front of the field awash in British Racing Green, it was believed anybody could win in 1958. This wide open feel would be amplified by the beautiful weather. Everyone would be excited for the 100 lap race to get underway.
The field would be formed up with Walker's lone entry within reach of the front. The flag would drop and the cars would begin a short drag race to the tight hairpin. The first to arrive would be Salvadori. However, he would carry so much speed into the corner he would come out of the hairpin dead-last. Trintignant, however, would keep his calm and his place as he headed into the hairpin for the first time. He would not come out in first, but he would be well placed for the start of a 100 lap adventure.
The leader at the end of the first lap would be Behra leading the way in the BRM with Brooks close behind in the Vanwall. Brabham would cross the line in 3rd place while Moss would make a great start and would be in 4th. The steady Trintignant came through a very solid and very good 5th. The race would begin to settle down and Trintignant would battle with Brabham and Hawthorn to hold onto 5th place.
Behra would lead the way throughout the first quarter of the race. However, brake issues would rear its head causing Jean to have to retire. This, in turn, would spark off a great battle between Moss and Hawthorn for the lead. Both would spend a number of laps in the lead while Maurice would ride the wave of attrition suffered by others and would find himself up to 3rd place by the 30th lap of the race.
Moss attempt at victory would come to an end just short of the 40th lap. Engine problems would end up dropping him out of the race and handed Hawthorn the lead. Trintignant was now up to 2nd place and was followed a good ways back by Luigi Musso in one of the Ferraris. Hawthorn would go on to set the fastest lap of the race. As a result of such lap times it seemed another Italian car would dominate and win around the streets of Monaco. However, Hawthorn's time in the lead would last until the halfway mark when a faulty fuel pump brought his race to an end. And with that, the demure Trintignant, the Frenchman would played the role of the tortoise perfectly, would find himself in the lead on the streets of Monaco. He had been in this position before. He knew what to do.
Back in 1955, Trintignant's only victory in a Formula One World Championship race had come in Monaco. A series of chaotic and memorable events transpired to hand the Frenchman the lead and the victory. Just three years later, the same thing had happened. However, there was still half a race left to be run and the man in 2nd place had been in this position before as well, and certainly wasn't about to let the possibility of victory slip through his fingers again.
Heading into the final 40 laps of the race, Luigi Musso found himself around 30 seconds behind Trintignant. Musso had been behind Moss in Argentina and was tricked into thinking the victory would come to him. Realizing the situation, Musso would set about doing what he could to make up the difference to Maurice.
Trintignant had been performing well having passed the pole-sitter Brooks earlier. At the same time, Musso had shown he could do little to catch up to Trintignant. It would be the same when Trintignant was in the lead. Musso would gain some time here and there but at little concern of the Frenchman. Then, with about 15 laps remaining, Luigi would manage to bring the gap down even more. Trintignant would respond and would stabilize and even increase the gap back to an earlier margin.
Crowds overflowing the banks of the hills all around the course, Maurice would show himself to be a master around the streets of Monte Carlo as he would be all alone and under no threat as he headed into what was to be the final lap of the race. Trintignant had been consistent and this consistency would prove greater than the threat of red Ferraris that had far superior numbers compared to the privateer team based in Dorking in Surrey.
Stirling had joined the Walker pit throughout the remaining 20 laps or so. He would stand with Rob and Betty Walker encouraging Trintignant on to give the privateer team two-straight victories in the 1958 World Championship.
Coming around Tabac for the final time and driving toward the line, Trintignant would put on a demonstration in steadiness as he would cross the line to take the victory 20 seconds ahead of Luigi Musso in 2nd place. Peter Collins would make it two Ferraris finishing on the podium, but it would be the tiny little Cooper that would get the better of the mighty Scuderia on this day.
It would be a remarkable day for Rob Walker's team. The team had never finished better than 7th in any other round of the World Championship, and yet, the team would score victories in the first two rounds of the '58 championship. Suddenly, when all attention was on Ferrari and Vandervell's Vanwall for the championship, it would be Rob Walker's team that would put Cooper as the clear leader in the constructors' championship standings. What if the streak continued?
It didn't seem possible Rob Walker's team could keep its string of victories going, not with the departure of Moss and Brooks back to Vanwall. Nevertheless, Walker would decide to give it a whirl. The team would pack everything up after enjoying its time in the Monaco sun and would head north. They would carry on to another coast, this time the coast of the North Sea. The final destination would be Zandvoort. The race would be the Dutch Grand Prix held on the 26th of May.
The 26th of May would be a holiday in the Netherlands and would be the perfect time to host a grand prix. The race had been left off the calendar the season before as a result of some disputes but it would be back.
The Zandvoort circuit, which measured 2.60 miles in length, would be relatively unchanged despite the time away from the calendar. The circuit was still fast and technically demanding with its blind crests and high average speeds. Then there were the issues with the blowing sand. Being built amidst the sand dunes overlooking the windswept coastline the circuit would often be pelted with blowing sand that would make the circuit slippery and dangerous. Such blustery winds would greet the teams as the race approached on Monday the 26th.
The circuit favored the more powerful Formula One cars and Walker seemed to realize this as just one car would be entered under the Rob Walker name. Not surprisingly, the car would be entered for the winner in Monaco. In fact, it would be the very same car that had carried the Frenchman to his second victory on the streets of Monte Carlo.
Around the Zandvoort Circuit, Trintignant would still be rather impressive. The Frenchman, known much more for his mistake-free, consistent driving and not out-right speed would find himself at the end of practice on the third row of the grid for the 75 lap race. Overall, he would be starting 8th, but this would not be that bad of a starting spot for the Frenchman in the privateer Cooper.
The man on pole would be Stuart Lewis-Evans in the Vanwall. The cooler temperatures of the Netherlands coast would play into the hands of the Vanwall drivers as they would end up sweeping the front row. Beside Lewis-Evans on pole would be Moss in the middle and Brooks in the final spot on the front row.
The day of the race would be absolutely beautiful but the winds would be even more blustery as the drivers took their places behind the wheel. Flags would be whipping in the breeze as the flag dropped to start the race. Moss would make the best start and would lead the field heading into Tarzan for the first time. Lewis-Evans slotted in behind Moss while Harry Schell would delight the huge crowd by getting an incredible start from the third row of the grid. Coming out of the first time for the first time he would be in 3rd place with the BRM. Maurice would have a very conservative start to the race and would actually lose a couple of places through the first turn. This was not a great start to the race, especially given the circuit didn't necessarily play to the strengths of the Cooper, but there was always attrition to help.
Moss would lead the way at the end of the first lap. Lewis-Evans would hold onto 2nd place while Schell would be 3rd. Trintignant would gather himself and would end up completing the first lap right around the top ten. He had lost a couple of places, but it would be a long race.
Amazingly, the race for the lead would prove to be over on the run down to Tarzan on that very first lap. Moss would be in the lead and would never look back throughout the 75 laps. Schell would end up getting by Lewis-Evans after about a dozen laps but the American would be unable to do anything about Moss in the Vanwall. Trintignant, meanwhile, would continue to struggle. He would lose a couple more places throughout the first 20 laps of the race, but would be helped forward as attrition started to come into play. A third of the way into the race, Moss was pulling away at the front of the field while Trintignant would be battling to get back into the top ten.
The only Cooper actually performing well throughout the first half of the race would be Roy Salvadori. He would hang around the top five throughout the first half while Brabham and Trintignant fought hard to stay around the top ten. The retirements of Peter Collins as a result of a spin, Tony Brooks as a result of a rear axle failure and of Lewis-Evans as a result of engine failure meant Trintignant would be just inside the top ten with only about 15 laps remaining. Moss would have two BRMs chasing in 2nd and 3rd, but they would be far enough back the Vanwall driver could take it rather easily heading to the finish.
Trintignant would be left chasing Jack Brabham and, this time, Luigi Musso. The fast flowing sections played to the larger engines, like that which powered Musso's Ferrari and it was clear that Rob Walker's winning streak was about to come to an end. All that Maurice could really focus on in the late stages of the race would be praying for some cataclysmic event to take place so he could even finish in the points.
No such event would take place. The whole affair would be thorough dominated by Moss in his Vanwall. He would put on a clinic in control as he crossed the line to take the victory by nearly 48 seconds over Harry Schell. Jean Behra would provide BRM to cars on the podium when he finished nearly another minute behind his teammate in 3rd. Trintignant would struggle. The Frenchman would try his best to defend Walker's honor but he would come up well short. He would achieve a good result having finished, but that would be about the end of the highlights as the number 9 Cooper would cross the line more than three laps behind in 9th place.
Still, the race could have been much worse. The team, after two-straight victories, would come away with a top ten result. Though the factory Cooper team finished better than Walker in this race, they still didn't have two victories to their credit. Walker's team, therefore, was still very much one of the prominent players in Formula One in 1958.
A part of being a strong or influential businessman is recognizing strengths and weaknesses. Walker had played to the strengths of the Cooper chassis brilliantly and had come away with his first two victories in Formula One. However, Walker would realize that from the Dutch round of the championship onward the circuits did not play to the strengths of the Climax engine and Cooper chassis. Furthermore, he no longer had Stirling Moss or Tony Brooks to make up the deficit. For that reason, Walker's team would be absent from the Formula One scene for the next month or so. However, the British Grand Prix was on the horizon. There was no way the British team that had scored two victories in the World Championship, back-to-back even, could miss its home grand prix. Therefore, Walker's outfit would ready its cars at its base in Dorking and would make the one hour trip north to Silverstone in order to take part in the British Grand Prix on the 19th of July.
Walker's outfit had not been out of action the whole of the time. The team would compete in a couple of Formula 2 events leading up to the British round of the championship, but the results would not be very encouraging. Therefore, the team would be looking to race before its home crowd and regain some of that momentum that had been so strong early in the season.
It would be the ninth time the British Grand Prix would be held on the 2.92 mile Silverstone circuit. The circuit had become the home of the grand prix following its first role as host to the race back in 1948. The circuit had been a part of a number of firsts throughout its short history. Of course one of the biggest would be in 1951 when Ferrari would earn its first grand prix victory on the circuit. By 1958, Scuderia Ferrari was one of the powerhouses of Formula One. Rob Walker's privateer effort already had two victories to its credit. No doubt a number within the team would be hoping Silverstone could go a long way to cementing the team as one of the major players in Formula One as well.
Walker's outfit would find the going challenging. Besides the favored Vanwalls, there would be Owen Racing, Team Lotus and the factory Cooper team all vying for the title as Britain's best. Vanwall held onto the title for the time being but Cooper certainly looked in strong position for the future.
Walker's effort would be further challenged by the fact it came with just a single entry for Trintignant. Furthermore, he would be at the wheel of one of the older T43 chassis for the race instead of the newer T45 that had carried him to victory in Monaco.
Back in May, the Coopers looked strong against a field that was void of many of the top teams. With those top teams present for the World Championship race, the short-comings of the Climax-powered Cooper would be rather apparent. Stirling Moss would end up on the pole. This was not all that surprising. His lap time of 1:39.4 would be four-tenths quicker than the impressive Schell in the BRM. Then there would be Salvadori in the factory Cooper. He would be very impressive lapping within six-tenths of Moss to take 3rd on the grid, but it seemed obvious he could not expect to keep the same pace and last during the race. Then there would be Mike Hawthorn in the final spot on the front row. He would be exactly a second slower than Moss in his Ferrari. It was clear the Coopers had the pace for a single lap, but reliability over the whole of the 75 lap race was certainly a huge question mark. Never amongst the fastest man on a qualifying grid, Trintignant found himself a good ways back on the fourth row of the grid. Lining up 12th, Maurice would have a difficult race before him.
A strange thing would happen leading up to the start of the race on the 19th. The usually overcast weather would be nowhere to be seen. Bright blue skies and brilliant sunshine would rain down upon the circuit as the huge throng of spectators began to take their places around the circuit. The British element would be very strong. Whether it was British drivers, cars or teams, there were a lot of things the British public would be excited about preparing for the start.
And, at the start, it would be Moss getting away from the grid well, but nowhere near as good as Peter Collins who would find himself in 2nd place going through Copse for the first time. The Ferrari would be quick around the Silverstone circuit and Collins would end up sliding by Moss into the lead well before the completion of the first lap. Trintignant would nearly hold station throughout the first circuit. There would be a mad dash up near the front of the field and it would be important to try and settle down to get into a rhythm as soon as possible.
Collins' rhythm would be apparent right from the very beginning. He would press as hard as he could in order to help out his friend and teammate Hawthorn with his championship hopes. Collins would have Moss in 2nd place pushing hard in the Vanwall, just what he would want. Meanwhile, Maurice would be settling in just inside the top 15. He would be embroiled in a fight with Bonnier in his Maserati and would be looking to take care of the Cooper given Silverstone's reputation for being extremely difficult on machinery.
Collins would continue in the lead and would push his pace even higher. Trintignant, as a result, would be left behind. Not having someone like Moss behind the wheel would hinder Walker's chances. While Salvadori would be busy fighting with Stuart Lewis-Evans in the closing stages of the race for 3rd place, Trintignant would be struggling to stay inside the top ten.
Maurice's efforts would be helped when Moss' race would come to an end after 25 laps with engine failure. A puncture for Jean Behra and engine troubles for Wolfgang von Trips would all help Walker's lone entry climb up the order, albeit rather tentatively.
Collins firmly held onto the lead though Hawthorn led the championship fight for Ferrari. It seemed logical that Collins would allow his friend to come through into the lead, and Hawthorn was gaining in the latter-stages. However, with the race well in hand, Hawthorn would make a surprise stop in the pits for oil. The change would be done quickly and he would be on his way, still with 2nd place firmly within his grasp. Trintignant, meanwhile, firmly ran inside the top ten and was all alone. Unfortunately, he also lagged behind those ahead of him on the road. There was no hope of further improvement unless something happened very late in the race.
The event wouldn't happen and Trintignant would carry on in his usual consistent manner. Heading into the final lap of the race the Cooper would be running well and the team looked more than good to secure its fifth World Championship race finish of the season. The team had never finished more than one race in either of its previous years, so even this rather uninspiring performance would be a blessing for the team.
The late stop by Hawthorn allowed Collins to carry on in the lead. He would round Woodcote for the final time and would power his way over the line to take his first victory of the season. Hawthorn would set the fastest lap of the race and would finish in 2nd place meaning he earned 7 points toward the World Championship while Moss would end up with nothing. The best fight on the circuit would be for 3rd place. Amazingly, Salvadori would manage to hold off Lewis-Evans in the Vanwall by two-tenths of a second to claim the final spot on the podium. The ever-steady Trintignant would not set the world on fire with his performance, but his mistake-free performance would enable the Walker car to come across the line in 8th place just a couple of laps down on Collins. It would be a pretty good performance for Trintignant given the simple reality the Cooper he was driving simply was suited to Silverstone as well as the Dino 246s, even Salvadori's factory Cooper.
Following the British Grand Prix, Walker and his team would look forward to a busy time of racing. The team would have to pack everything up very quickly and head to the English coast. They were prepared for a time on the road as there would be a couple of stops in Europe before the team would find itself back in England for any length of time. Crossing over the Channel, the first stop for the team, thankfully, would not be very far. In an effort to regain some momentum and to earn a little prize money, Walker would enter two of his cars in the non-championship 7th Grand Prix de Caen. The team would need to arrive quickly however as the race would take place the very next day, the day after the British Grand Prix.
Walker's team would need to quickly prepare its cars. Thankfully, he would have some driving help. Trintignant would make the trip of course. Stirling Moss would have some time to kill, and so, he too would join Walker's team for 86 lap event that took place around the hippodrome nearly right in the heart of the coastal city.
Moss would be ready as soon as he arrived. Setting off in practice he would go on to set the fastest time around the 2.18 mile circuit and would be on pole. He would be joined on the front row by Jean Behra in one of the BRMs. Trintignant would be behind Moss, but on the third row of the grid. Starting in the 5th position, Maurice could move up and follow Moss if both managed a good getaway at the start.
Behra and the BRMs had performed well at Caen the year before and it wouldn't be all that surprising that Behra would turn the fastest lap of the race. However, the engine would give up in the BRM leaving Moss all by himself in the lead. Trintignant, meanwhile, would be locked in a duel early on in a battle for 3rd place, but well off the pace of Moss at the head of the field.
Behra's departure meant Moss was free to run, and run he would. He would demonstrate over the course of the 86 lap race just what could have been had Walker had him behind the wheel at the other races in which Trintignant drove solidly, but rather uninspired. Moss would leave everyone else behind making the rest look as though they were racing smaller formula of race cars.
Moss would demolish the field en route to victory. It would take a little more than two hours for him to complete the race distance and take the win. Jo Bonnier would manage his 250F well to take 2nd place but not even he could manage to stay on the lead lap with Moss. Bruce Halford would break away from Trintignant to earn 3rd place. Trintignant, though part of the same team, would be left behind by his teammate. Maurice would finish a fine 4th but would be more than two laps behind in the end.
The victory would provide some momentum to the team, but it wouldn't really help with the confidence all that much as Stirling would be back driving a Vanwall for the next race on the calendar.
Leaving Caen, the team would head further east until it made its way into western Germany and the tiny village of Nurburg. Though small and quaint, Nurburg held a secret. Hidden amongst the wood was a real beast that was certainly ominous and lethal. Sadly, it would demonstrate just how lethal it truly was.
Walker's team would arrive in the Eifel Mountains in the west of Germany. They would be there to take part in the German Grand Prix held on the demanding Nurburgring on the 3rd of August. Though measuring 14 miles in length and having the impressive Dottinger Hohe straight, the Nurburgring was actually a circuit in which the Climax-powered Cooper could register a good lap time compared to the 2.5-liter machines. Nonetheless, Walker would take a realistic look at his chances and would enter just a single car for Trintignant. Without the skills of Moss, Brooks or someone else there was really very little reason to enter so many cars and take the risk of having that many to repair when it was all over.
In practice, Trintignant would prove the Cooper was really pretty good around the 'Ring' when he managed to set a lap of 9:36.9. A couple of years ago that would have been good enough to sit on pole for the German round of the championship, and, in 1958, it still wouldn't be that bad, but it certainly wouldn't be good enough for pole. That honor would go to Mike Hawthorn having easily broken Fangio's lap record of the previous year. Hawthorn's time of 9:14.0 would be a second quicker than Brooks in the Vanwall. Stirling Moss and Peter Collins would ensure that the starting order would be Ferrari-Vanwall-Vanwall-Ferrari. Trintignant's impressive time would ensure that he started the race from the second row of the grid. The only non Vanwall or Ferrari that would be quicker would be Roy Salvadori starting in 6th place with the factory Cooper. Maurice would line up 7th. Just about a second and a half would be the difference between the two Cooper pilots.
Witnessed by a large crowd, the 15 lap German Grand Prix would get underway with Stirling Moss leading the way into the first turn. Right behind him would be Brooks in another of the Vanwalls. Further back, Trintignant would not be anywhere near where he started on the grid. An absolutely poor start and first lap would leave him all the way down outside of the top fifteen at the completion of the first circuit. There was still a long way to go, but the Frenchman needed to collect himself and get moving forward.
Moss would end up being collected by magneto troubles that would bring his day to an end after leading the first three laps of the race. This handed the lead to Mike Hawthorn and Peter Collins who managed to move ahead of Brooks in the running order. Trintignant, meanwhile, would ride the misfortune of Moss and many others and would make his way forward. Combined with his own efforts, Maurice would take the attrition and would be inside the top ten by the completion of the 4th lap. In fact, he would continue to move forward a couple more places until he became locked in a bit of a battle with Bruce McLaren in another Cooper.
Peter Collins would ride his success at Silverstone and would take over the lead from Hawthorn. Collins would have control of the race for six laps and would look firmly in control at the front. However, Tony Brooks would be lurking just behind the two Ferraris. And, around the 11th lap he would decide it was time to push his Vanwall in an effort to keep Moss' championship hopes alive. Quickly Brooks would catch and pass Hawthorn for 2nd place and he would soon afterward line up Collins.
Brooks would surprise Collins as he swept by the Ferrari into the lead. Collins had been sitting steady at the head of the field. Brooks' pass would not sit well with the man who had led the most laps of the race. Peter would try and respond, and this is where things would turn truly tragic.
Pushing too hard, Collins would crest a portion of the circuit and would not be able to make the next corner. The car would hook itself and would be thrown up into the air. Collins would be thrown out of the car up against a tree and would almost immediately die from the injuries. Hawthorn knew right then and there had had lost his friend. It was the second fatality for Ferrari on the season and it would be too much for Hawthorn who would pull into the pits at the end of the lap. Slowly emerging from his car, Hawthorn would officially retire with ‘clutch' troubles.
The tragic events would lead Brooks in the lead all by himself. Sadly, the events would also help Trintignant's forward movement. At the time of the accident the Walker driver had been around 6th place and in the points. The loss of Collins and the retirement of Hawthorn meant he would now be in 3rd place and following along behind another Cooper chassis.
With nobody left to challenge him, Brooks would cruise to a rather easy victory. He would take the victory with nearly three and a half minutes in hand over Roy Salvadori. About a minute and a half later, Maurice Trintignant would come along providing Walker yet another podium result. Unfortunately, there would be little celebrating for the British team following the loss of the British driver Collins. Trintignant would not be 6th in the championship standings but that wouldn't seem to matter all that much.
In spite of the rather depressing events in the Eifel Mountains, Walker's team would leave Germany and head west with some confidence and good momentum. Though just a privateer, Rob Walker was really proving his team was one to take seriously and the hope would be, as the team pulled into Oporto, Portugal for the Portuguese Grand Prix, the already great season would continue all the way to the very end.
The Portuguese Grand Prix would be a brand new venue on the World Championship calendar and would consist of a 4.59 mile Boavista circuit that had just about everything from long straights to sweeping esses to tram lines and cobblestoned sections of track that made a quick lap somewhat tricky, especially in wet conditions. Such tricky conditions would exist on the day of the race, the 24th of August. They would also come into play during practice beforehand.
The Vanwalls had been showing weakness with their engines but would look strong in Portugal when Stirling Moss claimed pole with a lap time of 2:34.21. Hawthorn would miss out on the pole by just five-hundredths of a second, but would still be in good position being in the middle of the front row. Stuart Lewis-Evans would complete the front row in another Vanwall. His best around the circuit would be only four-tenths of a second slower than Moss.
Having come away from the German Grand Prix with good results despite having just a single car entry, Walker would decide to try it again entering just one car for Trintignant. In the conditions, Trintignant would show well. Jack Brabham would be the quickest Cooper in the field but he would have a slightly larger engine than what Trintignant had in his T45. Brabham's best effort would land him on the outside of the third row. Maurice's best would be just four-tenths of a second slower than Brabham's and would result in the Frenchman starting the 50 lap event from the 9th position, or what was the inside of row four.
Heading to the start of the race, rain would fall all over the circuit during the night and would be still falling as the 50,000 spectators and the drivers took their places. In spite of the rain, which was lessening by the time the flag dropped, Moss would be the first away and would be in the lead. He would have, however, Hawthorn all over his backside throughout the first lap and the few that would follow. Knowing his lap times were very similar to Brabham's, Trintignant knew he just needed to shadow the factory Cooper driver at the start of the race. However, Brabham would make a poor start to the event and Trintignant would be left to battle it out with Jean Behra and Tony Brooks. In the wet conditions the Cooper handled well and this enabled the Walker Cooper to fight in the early stages.
Moss would lead the first lap but Hawthorn would push in the wet conditions and would take over the lead. The early laps would still have rain falling and this made the circuit very treacherous. Moss would have little trouble though and would actually make his way back by his championship rival to retake the lead. From then on, Moss would begin to pull away. Trintignant would be running well in the early going but would have a moment that would cost him dearly. He would slip down the order all the way behind Brabham. So Trintignant would be with the Australian after all. From that moment on these two Cooper drivers would run together on the circuit waiting for better opportunities to present themselves.
One opportunity would come with the track beginning to dry up. Brabham would slowly make his way forward while Maurice would remain rather stuck right around 10th place. Up at the front of the field, Moss would be extending his lead while Hawthorn sat content in 2nd place ahead of Jean Behra in the BRM. Struggles for Brabham meant he would not only slip behind a struggling Harry Schell in the second BRM, but even Trintignant would come through to grab a better position. Sadly, over the course of the remaining 20 laps Walker's driver would be unable to hold onto the position. Still, the team was on target for yet another top ten result.
Hawthorn would run into brake problems and would be forced to pit. This would hand 2nd place to Behra. Hawthorn would need to get to it when he returned to the circuit. The track was now dry in pretty much every area so the Ferrari driver would push hard in an effort to get back what had been lost. This would lead to some risks being taken. And, at one point, Hawthorn would push a little too far and would end up spinning off the circuit and stalling the car. In an effort to get the car restarted and back into the race, the Englishman would head the wrong way on a portion of road off the edge of the circuit. He would get restarted and would right himself in an effort to catch Behra. This would bring the Ferrari driver under scrutiny from the officials and it would prove to be an unnecessary move as Behra would be slowed with ignition troubles.
Brabham was back under control of his Cooper and this meant Trintignant had to follow along, and even lost ground to the factory Cooper over the remaining few laps of the race. It was clear from that moment on the best Walker could really expect would be a result well within the top ten.
Moss would be untouchable over the course of the race. He would complete the race distance in a little more than two hours and eleven minutes and would practically have a full lap in hand over Hawthorn at the finish. Hawthorn would finish, but his result was very much in doubt were it not for his rival Moss actually coming to his defense. Stuart Lewis-Evans would benefit from Behra's last minute struggles and would come through to finish in 3rd place helping Vandervell's constructors' championship prospects immensely. Trintignant would not be able to help Walker's, nor his, championship prospects with an 8th place finish a little more than two laps behind Moss, but the finish would maintain Walker's incredible consistency of 1958.
It was now six for six when it came to Walker cars completing World Championship races. The team was performing absolutely brilliantly and would look nothing like a privateer team. Though the Portuguese Grand Prix would not be one of the highlight races for Walker in 1958 it would continue to usher in the reality of what was coming and Walker's team appeared to be on the forefront of the revolution. It seemed entirely likely, if the team could keep up the positive results, that it would become one of the bigger teams in Formula One. And that meant drivers like Stirling Moss would actively seek out drives with the team.
There were just a couple of rounds of the 1958 Formula One World Championship left. The penultimate round would be another that certainly didn't suit the Climax-powered Cooper all that well but it was just one of those races Walker could not resist. The calendar had turned to the month of September and that meant the Italian Grand Prix and the ultra-fast 3.56 mile Monza circuit. If Walker's car could finish here, it could finish anywhere.
Walker would make the trip from Portugal across most of Europe to the nation of Italy. Arriving at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, which sat amongst the Royal Villa of Monza just north of the city Monza itself, Walker would unload his single car which, of course, would be driven by Trintignant.
Before Trintignant and the whole team would be a gauntlet of 70 laps of a circuit that was all about speed. This was going to stretch the tiny Cooper and its petit four-cylinder Climax engine to its absolute limits. This would be one event in which having the steady Frenchman behind the wheel could actually pay big dividends.
The cars would all begin to take to the circuit for practice and it was certainly fully expected the Vanwalls and the Ferraris would be the class of the field and this assumption would be fulfilled when Stirling Moss took pole for the race on the 7th of September. His time would be nearly a second quicker than his teammate Brooks' 1:41.4 effort and would be more than a second quicker than the time posted by Hawthorn lining up in 3rd. The final spot on the four-wide front row would go to Stuart Lewis-Evans who, incidentally, was the pole-sitter of the race the previous year. As for Trintignant, he would show extremely well in the Cooper. When it came to Coopers and rear-engined cars he would end up being the quickest with a lap time of 1:46.4. This would earn him a 13th starting spot overall and a position in the middle of the fourth row of the grid. Trintignant was there heading into the start of the race. He just needed to do whatever he could to make sure he would be there at the end as well.
The man there at the very beginning would be Moss in the Vanwall. Amongst an overflowing crowd of Tifosi hoping and praying the Vanwall would be out front. However, Ferrari's latest grand prix driver, Phil Hill, would apply more than enough pressure on Moss. Trintignant's start would be an absolute flyer. He would be pushing his way toward the inside of the top ten by the end of the first lap. It seemed as though Maurice was a wholly different person as he would come through to complete that first lap.
Moss would find the latest Ferrari driver to be a real handful. Hill would be all over Moss heading through the first turn of the first lap and he would be looking to make his way past just a little bit later. By the time the two men appeared along the backstraight, Moss had lost the fight and Hill was in the lead. The Italians would be going crazy at the sight of the Ferrari going by at the head of the field. Hawthorn would also like what he was seeing as it applied a good deal of pressure on Moss and this meant the likelihood of a failure increased. Mike, therefore, would sit back and wait and watch.
Trintignant would do anything but sit back and wait and watch. Despite being in a Cooper with a smaller engine, the Frenchman would be on the move in the early going of the race. After a few laps holding a steady place in the running order he would begin a march to the front. This would be aided by Phil Hill's Ferrari developing tire problems causing the American to have to pit and lose a number of places. However, Maurice himself would be on the charge. He would surmise the pace of those around him to be too slow and he would make his way by Graham Hill and then Tony Brooks would lose ground as a result of problems as well, which would help the Walker driver to come within striking distance of a points-paying position within the first 15 laps of the race.
Hill's misfortunes opened the door to a great battle between Moss and Hawthorn. Immediately following Hill's stop Hawthorn would come on the charge and would slip past into the lead. However, Moss would need to stay with, and remain ahead of, Hawthorn if he had any hopes of winning the championship. Therefore, the Vanwall driver would battle with his rival producing a brief moment of sheer ecstasy for the crowd longing for some good strong racing.
Hawthorn's tactics would work though. The pressure of the pace would get to Moss' Vanwall. Gearbox problems would bring the battle and the race to an end for Moss. It seemed right then and there his championship hopes were dashed. At the same time, Trintignant was coming on even stronger. For a man not known for out-right speed, Maurice would be making his way forward as though he was one of Formula One's fastest drivers.
Trintignant's pace would certainly feel right to him. Unfortunately, his Cooper would not agree. After an impressive 24 laps of making his way toward the front, gearbox problems would immediately cause him to back out of it and end up out of the race. Up until the retirement Trintignant had been putting together a most impressive display. That run would come to an end right along with Walker's streak of World Championship race finishes, but there would be absolutely nothing but respect for Maurice and Walker for what they had managed to achieve for so much of the season. To drop out in the Italian round of the World Championship, when Italian machinery had dominated Formula One for so long, would be disappointing, but there was no taking away from the team what it had managed to achieve and, as a result, its special place in Formula One history.
Speaking of history…it appeared as though Moss' championship hopes were just that as Hawthorn assumed the lead and held a comfortable margin over the field, especially when Lewis-Evans and Jean Behra faded from the scene. The only major challenger to Hawthorn during the middle stages of the race would come in the form of his own teammate Hill, who had managed to recover from his early tire problems.
If Trintignant's performance in the early going would be impressive, then the performance by Tony Brooks, the sole remaining Vanwall in the race, in the latter-half of the event would be nothing short of astonishing, and it was sorely needed.
Early problems had cost Brooks dearly. He had slipped well back during the first-third of the race. He had been making steady progress back toward the front but Moss needed him direly. Though aided by some attrition, Brooks would pick up the pace and would set off in search of the Ferraris at the head of the field. Systematically he would make his way forward. Heading into the final 20 laps of the race he would be well behind Hawthorn's Ferrari, but he would be in 2nd place nonetheless, and faster.
Ten laps from the end, Brooks would be all over the back of Hawthorn. It would be a truly remarkable performance by Brooks. There would be nothing Mike could really do. All of the momentum was with Tony and he would sweep by into the lead and would never look back for the rest of the 10 laps. Hawthorn had the championship practically sown up, but Brooks would play the role of the teammate perfectly as he powered his way across the line to take the victory and silence the pro-Italian crowd.
Brooks' well-timed victory would keep Hawthorn at bay and Moss' hopes alive. It would be a convincing win for Brooks, his third on the season. Brooks would easily hold off Hawthorn by a margin of 24 seconds and this gave Vandervell's effort 8 more points toward the Constructors' Championship. Ferrari would have the victory slip through its fingers, but Hawthorn's 2nd place and Hill's 3rd, after suffering with tire issues all day, meant the team was within striking distance of the Constructors' title.
Cooper's efforts in the championship would also remain strong with a solid 3rd place. Unfortunately, Walker's team would not be able to take any credit for helping that situation, not after the race at Monza. Still, Walker's privateer effort had been doing a lot to sustain Cooper throughout much of the season so they were not deserving of any bad feelings.
The retirement in Monza would be disappointing, but not detrimental to the team. It had been on an incredible run that had lasted longer than either of the championship hopefuls at Ferrari and Vanwall. Walker's ability to put together a strong team, albeit a small one, was showing itself to be on genius levels and the time in between the final two rounds of the 1958 Formula One World Championship had to leave Rob confident his guys could get the cars in shape for the final contest of the season. The team would leave Italy having lost, but they were far from beaten.
The Italian Grand Prix took place in early September. The final round of the World Championship would not take place until the middle of October. Therefore, the Rob Walker team would make its way back across Europe to the Channel coast. The team would make the short jaunt across the waters to Dorking and would set to work preparing its cars for the final challenge of the season.
While none of the races on the '58 championship calendar would be easy affairs, the final round would be quite challenging. The final round of the '58 season would be a brand new one for the World Championship. The Grand Prix du Maroc would make its first, and only, Formula One World Championship appearance in 1958. The race would take place on the 19th of October, and so while the temperatures would be warm, they would not be unbearable. In fact, it would not be for this reason the drivers and teams would have to take care. It would be the circuit itself that posed perhaps the greatest challenge.
Grand prix racing was not something new to Morocco. The first grand prix would be held in the city of Casablanca in 1925. The first race would be held at an unknown circuit outside Casablanca. Then, in 1930, the race would be moved to a new circuit known as Anfa. Anfa would host the race for a few years before it would later move further down the Atlantic coast to the city of Agadir. Agadir would become the host in the mid-1950s, nearly a decade after the end of the Second World War, and the first site for the race since Anfa last hosted the event in 1934.
Agadir would host the grand prix, which would be for sportscars, from 1953 until 1956. In each case, Scuderia Ferrari would be the eventual winner. Morocco had been a French-held territory right up to the 1958 season. Morocco had often been a destination for French vacationers. Therefore, there were many French patriots that knew the North African nation well. Trintignant wouldn't necessarily know very much about Morocco but he would have the distinction of being the victor of the last Grand Prix of Morocco held at the Agadir circuit.
In 1957, a new circuit would be devised to host Morocco's grand prix. The new circuit would be a bit of the old. The old Anfa circuit was located to the west of Casablanca right near the Atlantic coast. When organizers began planning to bring the Moroccan Grand Prix to prominence and to take its place in the World Championship, a return to Casablanca would be determined as the best course of action since the city was and is the largest city in Morocco. So a return to Casablanca would be set upon, but where to build the new circuit?
The most logical choice would be to take it right back to the very place it had really found a home back in the 1930s. This meant Anfa, but yet, something new. A new circuit layout would be decided upon. It would make use of about a third of the originally Anfa circuit but would be much longer. Overall, the new Ain-Diab circuit would measure 4.72 miles. However, like Zandvoort, it too would be sand-blown because of its proximity to the Atlantic coast. Besides the slippery conditions because of the blowing sand, the circuit itself would never really trend in a straight line for any period of time. It would constantly switch back and forth and demanded constant attention from the drivers. Otherwise, the combination of high speeds and slippery conditions could end up a tragic combination. The race would prove deadly, but it wouldn't be as a result of that deadly combination.
The grand prix had been a non-championship race the year before. At the time, Trintignant had been driving for Owen Racing with their BRM 25. Even in that event Maurice would do well finishing in 3rd place ahead of none other than Juan Manuel Fangio. Being victorious in the last sportscar race in 1956, Trintignant had enjoyed success on Moroccan soil and Walker would seriously hope and pray for more top results.
Walker would enter one car for Trintignant. There would actually be a second car entered in the race as well. Walker would enter one of his Formula 2 Coopers in the race and it would be raced by Frenchman Francois Picard.
The championship fight was tight. Moss still had a chance at taking the championship if everything went his way. Hawthorn had one hand on the championship and merely had to take care he didn't lose it in the end. Hawthorn, however, would seem to throw caution to the wind in practice and would end up the fastest around the Moroccan circuit. His lap time of 2:23.1 would be an incredible one-tenth of a second quicker than Moss and would demonstrated just how close the championship was, and how it would end up. Stuart Lewis-Evans starting from the third position on the front row posed a serious challenge to Hawthorn as the Vanwall driver could run as blocker for Moss and help ensure the title slipped through Mike's hands.
Trintignant had been finding the Cooper to his liking and had managed to discover some hidden speed. He had earned a very well placed spot on the grid for the Italian Grand Prix and would end up doing the same thing for the Grand Prix de Maroc. Maurice's best lap in practice would be 2:26.0. This lap time would be just three seconds slower than Hawthorn's best. And, as a result, Trintignant would start the race from the 9th position on the fourth row of the grid. He would be, in fact, the fastest Cooper driver in the field by a full second.
Given it was North Africa in October, it was not at all surprising the weather was bright and sunny the day of the race. A great deal of ceremony would surround the event, all of which would be capped off by the arrival of King Mohammed V. Tens of thousands would be on hand to watch the best drivers in the world battle it out for one more time in 1958. Everything was still to play for as far as Vanwall, Ferrari, Hawthorn and Moss were concerned. But, there would be a great deal at stake for Walker and his team too. His team had helped Moss' title challenge get started all the way back in January. Then there was Trintignant. He could not end up in the top three in the drivers' championship standings but he could pass the deceased Collins and Roy Salvadori for a firm 4th place if everything went his way. So, Walker would have a vested interest in a lot that would be going on, right from the front of the grid to the back.
The flag would drop to start the race. Moss knew the task before him and he would get straight to it taking the lead. Stuart Lewis-Evans would break off the line with Moss but would give way by the first corner. Unfortunately, Lewis-Evans would also give way to Phil Hill who would make a tremendous start from the second row of the grid. Hill's role would be the same as what it had been at Monza: press Moss until he broke. Hill would take his role seriously and would be all over Moss all throughout the first lap of the race.
Trintignant would not get the flyer he got at Monza, but he wouldn't lose ground either. By the completion of the first lap the Frenchman sat right around where he started the race. He was the fastest of the Cooper drivers and seemed well-placed for the long 53 lap race. In Monza, Trintignant had turned on the speed and came up well short. This time he seemed to be holding steady, as usual, and was waiting to see how the race unfolded and was waiting until that moment he believed he could push the car hard without fear of it not being able to finish.
Hill would push Moss a little too hard and would end up sliding off the circuit after just a couple of laps. The slippery conditions would catch the Ferrari driver out slightly. He would be able to continue but he would be in 4th place behind an impressive Jo Bonnier. Maurice settled into his race. He was sitting right around the top ten, which was about all he could really dow given the field of Ferraris, Vanwalls and BRMs making up the front-runners.
Despite the fact Hill was no longer harrying him, Moss knew he could not back off. He not only needed to win but set fastest lap of the race as well. He knew very well that it was near impossible to pick up the pace after one settled down. Therefore, he would press with every single lap. It was going to be 'make it or break it'.
Trintignant, on the other hand, looked to be settling into a comfortable pace. Sadly for Walker, the consistent pace would prove to break the Cooper. After just 11 laps, the engine would let go in the Cooper retiring Trintignant from the running. The team had gone nearly the whole season without a failure, at least in the World Championship rounds. And now, in the last two of the season, Walker would suffer two-straight mechanical failures. It would be a heart-braking end to what had been a truly fabulous and memorable season.
Walker would be undoubtedly gutted after Trintignant's failure and very early exit. But then, when he allowed himself to look ahead and put behind what was he would find himself conflicted. Rob Walker was good friends with the Hawthorns. He also had a good relationship with Stirling Moss and had helped supply him his first victory of the season, a victory that very much made this day possible. For whom would Walker cheer?
Perhaps, as both drivers circulated the circuit in a fight for the championship, Walker found himself in a non-losing proposition. The reality was, either one could win it and Walker would be undoubtedly pleased, especially given the fact that either one would give Britain their first World Champion.
Moss was doing everything he could to ensure that it was going to be him. He would be lapping the circuit at speeds faster than what Hawthorn had managed in practice and was only increasing his lead by the lap. However, he would have to feel more than a bit out of control. He was doing everything he could, but no matter how hard he worked, Hawthorn could sit right where he was and the championship would be his. He didn't have to fight with Moss or anything like that. He just had to last and be properly placed.
Phil Hill would actually recover and would be placed between Moss and Hawthorn for a good majority of the race. Tony Brooks would come and would try and battle with Hawthorn for a little while to ruffle the Ferrari driver's feathers, but, when Brooks retired from the race after 29 laps, all that Hill had to do was slow down and give his position to Mike and the championship would be Hawthorn's.
The slow signal would be given to Hill and Hawthorn would be quickly closing on his teammate for the all-important 2nd position in the order when Lewis-Evans would suffer a terrible accident that would leave him fighting for his life. Brooks' retirement meant all hope was left with Lewis-Evans to try and come up and challenge Hawthorn. Lewis-Evans would try and respond. But then, with just about 10 laps remaining in the race, the engine would seize. Sliding off the circuit and crashing, Lewis-Evans would manage to get away from the wreckage in good order but he would be on fire all over his body. Without the help of many marshals, Stuart would have to put himself out. He would be taken from the circuit and would be immediately flown to London to be treated. Sadly, six days later, he would succumb to the burns.
Even though it would be days before Stuart would actually die, many already sensed his life had come to an end. Moss would do everything he could to win his championship and he too would feel a sense of loss and helplessness as he crossed the line to take a somewhat hollow victory. Hawthorn slid ahead of Hill in the final dozen laps and stayed right there ensuring he would make it all the way to the finish. Though he would finish a minute and a half behind Moss, the championship would be his. Sadly, after a season filled with tragic deaths, there would be very little celebrating knowing that now Lewis-Evans was fighting for his life.
It had been one of the best championships in Formula One's brief history, and yet, just like Walker's last couple of races, it would end under a bit of heaviness and oppression after som many had perished during the course of the season. In Walker's case, it would end up being a fantastic season, despite the last couple of races. It would be hard to celebrate with there having been so many deaths over the course of the season, but it would be near impossible for the privateer not to beam with some pride after what they had managed to achieve throughout the course of the season.
Terribly, after such a remarkable and successful season, the sad times would keep coming for Walker. Just when his focus was beginning to switch toward the quickly-approaching '59 season, he would find himself approaching the A3 road when a green Jaguar passed him. Suddenly, the Jaguar would lose control and would crash off to the side of the road. Behind the wheel of the Jaguar would be Walker's friend, Mike Hawthorn. Just a couple of days before Hawthorn had been honored at a banquet for becoming Formula One's latest World Champion. And just like that, he would be gone. It would be a terrible moment for Walker and would remind just how quickly fortunes can change.
Fortunes had changed for Rob Walker in 1958 and the success would cement the name of Rob Walker in Formula One lore forever. His privateer team was on the rise. But all it would take would be one event and those fortunes could reverse all over again.