TeamsCooper Car Company: 1957 Formula One Season By Jeremy McMullen
At the 1955 British Grand Prix, at the tail-end of the grid, there would be a curious but overlooked Cooper chassis driven by Jack Brabham. The car looked unlike any other and, before the crowd had any opportunity to consider what it was witnessing, the Bristol-powered Cooper was out of the race and gone from view. However, had anyone really paid attention they would have witnessed the future of Formula One.
Cooper Car Company would be founded in 1946, a year after the end of the Second World War. The company would be founded by Charles Cooper and his son John. Their first effort would be the Cooper 500 built for Formula 3. Based around a motorcycle engine, the Cooper 500 would be quite revolutionary in that it would have its engine placement in the middle of the car. This was more out of necessity since the car was chain driven and it made sense to have as little travel between the engine and the rear-wheels.
The Cooper 500 would be wildly successful in Formula 3 and some of the biggest names in motor racing at the time, including Stirling Moss, would all spend time behind the wheel of the tiny, nimble machine.
After a while of building and concentrating on the Cooper 500, the Cooper Car Company would look to make a step up into Formula 2. For this series, Cooper would create a much more conventional design. Bristol-powered, the T20 would provide Cooper its first foray into Formula One when the regulations changed following the 1951 season. Essentially operating by Formula 2 regulations, Cooper would be able to make its first appearance in the World Championship in 1952. And, at the Belgian Grand Prix that year a very young Mike Hawthorn would stun the crowd finishing the race in 4th place. In 6th place would be Alan Brown driving yet another T20.
The Cooper chassis appeared to offer a great deal of hope, especially for the likes of the patriotic Moss. The T20 would be followed-up with the T24 and T23. However, neither would prove very successful, and, by 1954, would be outdated as the new Formula One regulations would be introduced.
Coopers continued to be used in Formula One races throughout the 1954 season although the factory effort itself had withdrawn from the World Championship. In 1955, Cooper would build a small sportscar for the 1100cc class. The engine that would power the car would be the small Climax FeatherWeight Automotive engine. The engine was featherweight and about as light on horsepower. Producing less than 100hp, Charles and John realized the need for their chassis design to feature a highly aerodynamic body to take advantage of the compact and light engine. It quickly became apparent the conventional design ideas would not foster what the Coopers believed they needed. As a result, Cooper would strike upon an idea that would end up revolutionizing Formula One forever.
The idea would be to put the engine at the back of the car to create a stable-handling, sleek automobile. An Australian by the name of Jack Brabham would just show up at Cooper and would begin helping out around the place. Brabham's technical mind fitted in perfectly at Cooper. He would have the idea the Bob-tail sportscar could be a strong competitor in Formula One if it was prepared properly. Therefore, Brabham would set about building his own Formula One version of the Cooper sportscar. Installing a more powerful Bristol engine underneath the bodywork the new T40 would be ready to make its debut at the British Grand Prix held at Aintree.
The debut would be less than spectacular and its significance could have been easily overlooked. But it would not go unnoticed by Cooper. While Brabham would go on to drive a Maserati 250F to his great consternation throughout 1956, Cooper would set about creating a line of mid-engined cars for Formula 2. It was becoming abundantly clear the benefits offered by a mid-engined car, even with an underpowered engine, were certainly too good to be ignored.
Because of the driver position and the presence of the driver in the design of a car, a mid-engine placement enabled designs that were much more compact and lower in profile. The smaller engine and the improved handling characteristics of the mid-engine car enabled the cars to be much lighter and smaller.
Buoyed by the success of the Cooper 500, Cooper could take its time to develop a new rear-engined car for Formula 2. The company had designed and built the T39. However, further development and investment would lead to the Cooper T41 and T43. The T41 would earn victory in the very first race of the 1956 season, the RAC British Grand Prix Formula 2 race held at Silverstone. Driven by factory Roy Salvadori, the new T41 would go on to dominate the race beating Colin Chapman in his own Lotus 11 by nearly 30 seconds.
This victory at Silverstone would be followed up by three-straight victories for Salvadori and Cooper and set the stage for a very important and poignant '57 season.
The advantages and the successes of the mid-engined Coopers were beyond question. The seemed to be a good deal of potential with the Cooper design, even against the more-powerful Formula One machines. The horsepower deficiency and disadvantage could be overcome if a slightly larger engine was bolted to the back of the Cooper chassis. Therefore, the team would begin developing a 2.0-liter example of the new T43 Cooper. Determined by the size of the car and the ability of a larger engine to be mounted to the back of the chassis, the 1.5-liter Formula 2 Climax engine would be replaced with a 2.0-liter example Climax had been developing.
By the mid-1950s, the 1.5-liter Coventry Climax Formula 2 engine would be the engine to have. However, Climax would begin development of a 2.0-liter engine known as the FPF. This slightly larger engine had improved horsepower. This would be just the engine Cooper would need to combine with its T43 chassis for 1957.
As with many of the smaller manufacturers, like Cooper, the grand prix season would start, not with the first round of the World Championship in Argentina in January, but when motor racing kicked-off in Europe in early spring. And, when it came to grand prix in early spring it usually meant a trip to Goodwood near Chichester, England.
Goodwood had originally been nothing more than a portion of the Goodwood Estate. However, a portion of the estate would be turned into an auxiliary airfield known as RAF Westhampnett and would be attached to RAF Tangmere. The grass airfield would host a number of fighter squadrons over the course of its military career. When the airfield was decommissioned in 1946 the 2.39 miles of perimeter road around the airfield would become host to fighters of a different kind.
Besides being host to the Goodwood 9 Hour, the circuit would also welcome a number of other events throughout the course of a season, many of which were short events meant to provide spectators a wide variety of motor racing. One of those races was the Glover Trophy. Taking place over 32 laps, the race would be for Formula One cars.
Cooper would enter a single car in the race as it would be very early in the development of the Climax FPF engine. Jack Brabham would be entered as the driver of the new T43 with the new 2.0-liter Climax engine. Other entries included the Vandervell team with their fast Vanwalls and the struggling Connaught Engineering factory team with their B-Type Connaught.
Moss would set the pace in practice posting a fastest lap time of 1:28.2. Just eight-tenths of a second slower would be Tony Brooks in another Vanwall. The remainder of the four-wide front row included Archie Scott-Brown in 3rd place behind the wheel of a B-Type Connaught and Ron Flockhart in a BRM 25. Jack Brabham would be over 10 seconds slower around the Goodwood circuit in the 2.0-liter Cooper-Climax. As a result, the Australian would start the race from the third row of the grid in the 9th position overall.
At 32 laps, the Glover Trophy race would be a good test for the Cooper-Climax combination. As it would turn out, it would prove to be a good test for even the fastest of the Formula One machines as well, as Stirling Moss would find his early lead come to an end after throttle linkage problems ended his race after 13 laps. Roy Salvadori would be driving a second BRM 25 and his race would come to an end before even the first lap was completed. Brake issues would make it impossible for him to think about taking part in the race. Then there would be Scott-Brown's retirement after just 7 laps due to falling oil pressure.
As a result of Moss' troubles it would be expected the very capable Tony Brooks would take over Vandervell's charge at the front. This would be the case, but for a short time as well. Brooks would have about enough time to set what would be the fastest lap of the race before he too faded from view. Despite being out-gunned, Brabham would remain in the race and would be impressive in his performance behind the wheel of the Cooper. He would remain steady and relatively quick enabling him to climb up the leaderboard as the others faltered.
Stuart Lewis-Evans would take over the lead of the race from his teammate Jack Fairman. These two would be chased by Ron Flockhart and would manage to separate themselves from the rest of the field. Of course this wouldn't be entirely difficult to do given Brabham was in 4th place late into the race. Doing what he could with the 2.0-liter Climax engine, Brabham would find himself a little overwhelmed and would concentrate on holding position to bring home the fantastic result.
In just under 51 minutes, Lewis-Evans would come streaking around Woodcote and across the line to take the victory over Fairman and Flockhart. Each one of the top three cars would be Formula One cars powered by 2.5-liter engines. In 4th place, a little more than a lap down, would be Brabham in his small Cooper-Climax. Following the poor performance in practice, the 4th place result would be nothing short of spectacular and demonstrated the potential of the Cooper chassis.
Over the course of that same weekend, the weekend of the 22nd of April, Cooper would enter another race, this one being the 8th Lavant Cup race. This particular race lasted just 12 laps and was only for Formula 2 cars.
On pole for the race would be Tony Brooks in a Cooper T41 entered by the Walker Racing Team. Throughout the race, Brooks would be in a fight with Brabham for the lead. Brooks would make a false start and would be penalized 5 seconds at the end of the race. However, in spite of the penalty, Brooks managed to dominate the race and won easily by a margin of nearly 20 seconds over Brabham. Still, it meant Cooper cars finished one-two in the race.
Following the races at the end of April there would be practically no races before what would be the second round of the Formula One World Championship held on the 19th of May. This would be perhaps the most important round of the World Championship and it would offer the compact little Cooper perhaps its best chance at a top result. The race would be the Monaco Grand Prix, and, taking place around the tight street circuit located in the heart of the principality, the circuit played to the strengths of the Cooper chassis.
Bordered by France on three sides and hemmed-in by the Mediterranean Sea on the other, the principality of Monaco is not only small; it is also very tight as there is very little room for growth and expansion. Like the many cuts of a diamond intended to reflect a wealth of light, the tightly held city-state reflected its own importance and influence. As a result, even from its very beginnings, the Monaco Grand Prix was the jewel in the crown every driver wanted for themselves.
The 1956 edition of the Monaco Grand Prix had seen Stirling Moss dominate to earn his first win in the principality. He had achieved the victory driving a Maserati 250F. One year later, Moss was on to Vandervell and their rather ill-handling Vanwall. The reigning World Champion, Juan Manuel Fangio, would be with the factory Maserati team and had already earned victory in the first round of the World Championship for '57.
Cooper would like its chances around the 1.95 mile, tight and twisty street circuit and would dispatch a team with two cars for Jack Brabham and Les Leston. But even though the circuit suited the better-handling Cooper, there simply was no substitute for power in acceleration. Getting away from a tight corner required a good deal of power, something the 2.5-liter cars had in great amounts than the T43s entered by Cooper.
It would all start with practice and the need to qualify for the top 16 spots. Otherwise, a driver or team would be heading home. Despite having a Vanwall much more suited for higher-speed venues, Stirling Moss would be quickest on the first day of practice. However, the pole would end up going to Fangio who would take the prime position following a lap time of 1:42.7. Even Peter Collins would beat out Moss for 2nd place setting a time just over half a second slower than Fangio. Moss would manage to hold onto a front row spot taking 3rd place with a 1:43.6, nine-tenths of a second slower than Fangio.
Over the course of practice, Leston would be fighting just to get into the race. Struggling with the tiny Cooper, the best Leston could manage around the circuit would be a 1:58.9. This would be nearly 10 seconds slower than Ivor Bueb, the man that was on the bubble. Unfortunately for Cooper, Leston could get no better out of himself or the car and would end up failing to qualify for the race.
At least Cooper's other driver was not on the bubble, though he was close. Race organizers only allowed 16 of the fastest qualifiers to start the race. Ivor Bueb was the man sweating it out as he was on the bubble having set a best of 1:49.4. Jack Brabham would be ahead of him on the grid, but only after setting a best lap one-tenth quicker. Still, Brabham would start the Monaco Grand Prix from the sixth row of the grid in the 15th position.
Despite rain overnight, the skies would be bright blue come time for the start of the race. Following the usual pageantry, the cars and drivers would take their places on the grid in expectation of the start of the race. Engines roaring, the cars and drivers would be ready for the 105 lap race. Then the flag waved. The race was underway. Streaking along the harbor toward the tight hairpin first turn, it would be Fangio holding a tight position on the inside while Moss would be to his outside looking to power away heading to Sainte Devote as he had the year before. Power-sliding the Maserati around the tight hairpin, Fangio would stay side-by-side with Moss. Compared to the Formula One machines, the Cooper would look absolutely tiny. Brabham would wield the T43 around the tight hairpin toward the back of the grid and would charge off toward Sainte Devote.
Moss would gain the advantage over Fangio and would have Collins following along in 3rd place. Meanwhile, Brabham would make a good getaway from the grid and would actually manage to complete the first lap in 14th position.
Moss would have Collins in 2nd place by the second lap of the race. Fangio would settle into position in 3rd place while Brabham stayed put in 14th. All indications, despite the Vanwall, suggested Moss might run away with his second Monaco victory. However, coming out of the tunnel on the 5th lap of the race he would lose control under braking and would end up sliding into the temporary barriers to the outside of the chicane. Falling debris would end up taking Collins out causing him to plow into the wall protecting the cars from plunging into the harbor. Fangio and Brooks would manage to sneak through but Hawthorn, Collins' compatriot and teammate, would end up losing control trying to avoid the chaos and would end up running his Lancia-Ferrari right up the back of Collins' Ferrari. Just like that, three of the fastest Brits would be out of the race. Fangio would be in the lead chased by Brooks. Brabham would make it through the mess as well and would suddenly find himself up to 11th place.
The order would hold steady for a handful of laps. However, after another five laps, Brabham would now be found all the way up to 7th place. A number of those running ahead of Brabham in the race would stop due to problems. One of those that would stop would be Maurice Trintignant, a former winner of the race. This would enable Brabham to leap-frog all the way up to well inside the top ten.
Fangio would be in the lead and would pull out a bit of an advantage over Brooks in the Vanwall. Many would believe Fangio would destroy Brooks but the Englishman would keep things within reason only allowing the Argentinean to pull out to an advantage of about 10 or 11 seconds. Brabham would remain quite consistent himself around the tight and twisty Monaco circuit and would end up staying put throughout a period of more than 10 laps. However, more problems out on the circuit, like with Harry Schell's Maserati, would enable the Aussie to move even further up the running order. In fact, by the 30th lap of the race Brabhan would be all the way up to 4th place! This would be a truly remarkable performance considering he had started the race from 15th.
Brabham continued his remarkable run from 15th. After making his way all the way up to 4th place by about the 30th lap of the race, the Australian would find himself dueling with Formula One machines with his 2.0-liter Cooper. A battle with Carlos Menditeguy would cost him a position around the 40th lap but he would still be running in and around the top five. Furthermore, he would not give up. Keeping his foot on the floor as much as he could, Jack would remain within relative contact of Menditeguy and Wolfgang von Trips. Then, when Menditeguy retired near the halfway mark of the race, Brabham would be back up to 4th place.
Out front, it would still be Fangio comfortably leading over Brooks. Though Brooks would keep the gap between himself and the leader relatively stable, Fangio's lap times would show he really was not pushing anywhere near what he could have. He was out front and could control the pace. There was really no need to embarrass Brooks.
Brabham continued to run a strong pace and seemed to be the only one still actually racing. After a slip down a couple of places with about a third of the race left to run, Brabham would continue to fight hard. He would battle with Harry Schell and Masten Gregory for position. Schell would end up falling out of the race and Jack would manage to get back past Gregory to run in 4th place again. Then, when von Trips retired from the race with just about 10 laps remaining, the tiny Cooper would be sitting, although momentarily, in 3rd place.
Fangio would be under no pressure heading into the final couple of laps. The lead had stretched out and stabilized around 25 seconds over Brooks. But while Fangio would be under no pressure, Brabham would find the final ten laps of the race an absolute storm. After what was basically already three hours of racing, Brabham would again have to deal with an onslaught from Gregory in the more powerful Maserati 250F. Brabham would put up a gallant fight and would continue to hold onto 3rd place. The podium seemed within reach of the Cooper team until…
Already a number of laps behind the leader, Brabhan was approaching the end of his race. The podium was nearly in sight. Unfortunately, unlike Fangio and others, Brabham had had a full day of racing. The smaller 2.0-liter Climax was earning its keep. But it was also about to give up the fight. Rounding the Casino Square the engine began to let go. Brabham would coast the car all the way through the tunnel and through the chicane. He would not be seen from his team for a while until there he was rounding Tabac, pushing the Cooper to the pits. The team had come oh so close to an incredible podium, but instead, a delightful hand from the appreciative spectators would be all that was in the offing for the team.
Fangio would cruise to an easy victory defeating a delighted Brooks by a margin of 25 seconds. Masten Gregory would take Brabham's gift and would end the race more than two laps behind but in 3rd place.
The failure at what was basically the end of an incredible day of racing would be incredibly bittersweet for the team and for Brabham after it had been him that had fought so hard for so long, only to come up just short. Still, the team could take a good deal of encouragement from its performance. The mid-engined Cooper was certainly offering glimpses of the future.
At the same time Brabham was battling his way toward what was believed to be a podium result in Monaco, another part of the Cooper Car Company team would be at Brands Hatch for the 3rd BRSCC Formula 2 race. Cooper would enter just a single car in the 20 lap race. Ian Raby would be the driver. Raby had been in a strong position for a podium finish as well until the second heat race saw Raby suffer an accident taking him out of the race altogether. It would be remarkable the similarities between the two races for Cooper, especially the fact both had been on course for podium finishes only to come up short.
It would be until early June before Cooper Car Company would take part in another race. The next race, another Formula 2 event, offered Cooper a chance at revenge. On the 9th of June, Brands Hatch hosted the 4th BRSCC Formula 2 race. This time it would be Jack Brabham behind the wheel of a 1.5-liter Climax-powered T43.
Brabham would start the first 10 lap heat race from pole and would go on to score victory over Roy Salvadori in another Cooper team car. This meant Cooper started first and second for the second, and final, heat. Salvadori would end up retiring as a result of a broken steering arm. Brabham, on the other hand, would go on to post the fastest lap of the race and would cruise to victory by 15 seconds over Herbert MacKay-Fraser in a Lotus 12. Cooper got its revenge and helped the team gain some momentum before heading into the middle part of the season.
Following the Formula 2 race at Brands Hatch on the 9th of June, Cooper would make its way to London, specifically Crystal Palace park, to take part in the 6th London Trophy race, another Formula 2 event.
This race would see Cooper absolutely dominate as Brabham would go on to win the race having posted the fastest lap in the second heat. Roy Salvadori would finish in 2nd place after having started the first heat from on pole. When the aggregate results were tallied, Salvadori in 2nd place would have 20 seconds in hand himself over George Wicken the 3rd place finisher.
The dominant performance at Crystal Palace would then lead to yet another dominant performance on the 16th of June. That race would be the 2nd Prix de Paris and would be held at the old Montlhery circuit just to the south of the famous city.
The race would run in conjunction with sportscar and GT cars. Cooper entered two cars driven by Jack Brabham and Mike McDowell. Brabham would go on to set the fastest lap of the race and would take his second victory in a row while McDowell finished in 2nd place providing Cooper another one-two finish.
The race in Paris would come three weeks before the fourth round of the Formula One World Championship, the French Grand Prix. Cooper would go from its success at Montlhery and would head off, but not to Reims. For just the second time since the inception of the Formula One World Championship, Rouen would be the site for the French Grand Prix.
Situated along the River Seine and the capital of the Haute-Normandie region of France, Rouen's history extends all the way back to the time of the Gauls. Once the capital of the Duchy of Normandy until the days of the William the Conqueror, Rouen would also be the site for the execution of Joan of Arc.
Because of its location along the Seine, Le Grand-Quevilly area would actually feature some ravines and some hills compared to the more flat plains near its mouth. It would be here, amongst the valley and the hills the Rouen circuit would be created. All public roads, the Rouen circuit would be popular for its layout starting at the top of a small hill and then plunging down into a small valley. Accented with modern pits, the 4.05 mile Rouen-les-Essarts circuit would be one of the most popular with teams and drivers.
Unlike the Monaco Grand Prix that would take place around tight, twisty streets, the Rouen circuit would be much quicker, and therefore, didn't seem to favor the 2.0-liter T43s. Nonetheless, Cooper would enter two cars; one for Brabham and the other for MacDowell.
Not surprisingly, Fangio would set the pace in practice in his Maserati. He would end up capturing the pole with a lap time of 2:21.5. He would be joined on the front row by Jean Behra in another factory Maserati and Luigi Musso in 3rd place in a Lancia-Ferrari. While Fangio would be running at times dipping into the 2:21s, the best of the Coopers would be Brabham. His best time in practice would end up being 2:30.9. This difference of nearly 10 seconds would lead to the Aussie starting the 77 lap race from the fifth row of the grid in the 13th position. MacDowell, meanwhile, would end up being a further eight seconds slower than Brabham. As a result, the second Cooper driver would start dead last in the 15th position.
Brabham was faced with another three hours of racing. He had proven great at Monaco until reaching the three hour mark and then it all came undone. Cooper would hope and pray the same wouldn't be true of this race.
A great crowd and brilliant sunshine peered down on the circuit looking for to an afternoon of racing on that 7th of July. At the start, it would be Fangio up near the front. Despite his having never raced in a World Championship race at the circuit before, he would be up near the lead as he battled with Behra and Musso throughout the first part of the first lap. At the back, MacDowell would actually make a great start and would be occupying Brabham's place in the running order. Brabham's Cooper would be in trouble from the very beginning. The two drivers would come over the line with MacDowell running in 13th while Brabham was dead last and struggling.
Musso would continue to hold onto the lead and the running order would settle down early on with Luigi leading the way and Fangio following. Behra would slip down to 4th while Collins made his way up to 3rd place. Ron Flockhart would suffer a terrible-looking high-speed crash on the second lap of the race, but he would escape without too many injuries. MacDowell continued to hold onto 13th until Flockhart's accident when he would be promoted up to 12th. Brabham would continue to struggle until the 5th lap when he too suffered an accident and would be forced out of the race.
Brabham wouldn't be entirely out of the race as MacDowell would be ordered to come into the pits after 30 laps and would hand his car over to Brabham for the rest of the race. By that time it was Fangio in the lead with Collins and Musso swapping 2nd place back and forth amongst themselves. The real racing was going on in the middle of the pack with Mike Hawthorn in a heavy battle with Herbert MacKay-Fraser in another of the BRMs. Vanwall's replacement drivers of Stuart Lewis-Evans and Roy Salvadori would be right in that mix. This battle would rage until about the 30th lap as well, at which time Lewis-Evans followed Carlos Menditeguy, Salvadori, MacKay-Fraser and Maurice Trintignant into retirement.
Up at the front, Fangio would be pulling away from Musso continuously until he reached a point where he was no longer under any threat. The damage on the nose of the car would suggest that he was being harried, but that would come much earlier in the race. As a result of the battles in the mid-field that led to a number of cars retiring from the race, when Brabham took over for MacDowell, the number 24 Cooper would be running in 7th place, albeit the last car still running.
By the 45th lap of the race all of the racing would come to an end. Behra would be unable to keep Hawthorn at bay and would give up 4th place. As a result, the remainder of the race turned into a processional with Brabham being the final act.
Fangio would be under no pressure and would make no mistakes. Therefore, he would come around the final right-hander and powered his way toward the line and the checkered flag. It would be his third victory of the season and certainly putting him in a strong position to retain the title for the fifth time. Musso would hold on to finish in 2nd place some 50 seconds behind Fangio. Peter Collins would make sure it was two Ferrari drivers on the podium when he finished in 3rd over two minutes behind. Mike MacDowell and Jack Brabham would partner together to finish the race in 7th place. Although they would combine to finish more than nine laps down it was still a top ten result by a 2.0-liter Cooper and was a bit of restitution for the disappointment at Monaco.
Following the French Grand Prix at Rouen, the racing schedule would pick up for Cooper as the season headed into the heart of the summer months. The following weekend, the 14th of July, would see Cooper taking part in two major races. The ultra-quick road course just to the west of Reims would play host to a Formula One and a Formula 2 race on the same weekend. The Formula One race would be the 23rd Grand Prix de Reims, or what had been formerly known as the Grand Prix de la Marne. The Formula 2 event would be the 1st Coupe Internationale de Vitesse. Both races would use the 5.15 Reims circuit and both would prove equally challenging for Cooper.
The Formula 2 race would feature a starting grid made up almost entirely of Cooper T41s and T43s, as well as, a number of Lotus 11 and 12s. There would be one important challenger in the mix Cooper needed to pay attention to and that would be Scuderia Ferrari. They would come bearing their new Dino 156. Driven by the ever-consistent Maurice Trintignant, the 156 would prove to be quite quick and formidable. Still, Roy Salvadori would start on pole and Jack Brabham had proven to be quite fast himself.
Brabham would go on to set the fastest lap of the race. However, and most unfortunate for the team, Jack would fail to finish the race leaving Salvadori as a very capable lone remnant to carry on the Cooper banner. But though he would start from the pole, Salvadori would struggle a bit in the race. In the end, it would be Trintignant taking victory in the Ferrari 156. Salvadori would finish two laps behind in a very distant 4th.
The non-championship Formula One promised to be a bit worse for Cooper since it would be going up against much more powerful 2.5-liter cars around the very fast Reims circuit. The starting grid for the 61 lap race bore out the obvious. Fangio would start on pole. He would have Stuart Lewis-Evans in the Vanwall beside him in 2nd place and Jean Behra completing the front row in another Maserati. Starting 19th, and dead-last, would be Cooper's sole entry—Brabham.
The race would see a shake-up even before the flag waved to start it. The death of Herbert Mackay-Fraser in the Formula 2 race would remove him from the starting grid. Then, when the race did finally get underway, Peter Collins would make an exit after just 2 laps with engine trouble. Every few laps or so more cars would drop out of the race due to engine or other mechanical problems. As a result, Brabham would continue to move up the leaderboard, but not because of the might of the Climax-powered Cooper.
The power differences around the Reims circuit was blatantly obvious as Brabham would be paid a visit by Musso and the other front-runners about ever seven laps. Fangio would be up there with Musso and the others until the end of the race was near. Then, with just 5 laps remaining, the Argentinean would make a mistake. The resulting crash would take him out of contention and the race. Musso would be in the lead after having battled with Jean Behra for position earlier on in the race.
Behra would be keen on earning the win given the race was on French soil. He would be quick right from the beginning and would end up posting what would be the fastest lap of the race. However, he just would not be able to do anything with Musso and his Lancia-Ferrari.
Completing the race distance in a little more than 2 hours and 33 minutes, and at an average speed of more than 123mph, Musso would ease across the line to take the victory by some 27 seconds over Behra. Lewis-Evans continued to impress in his substitution role in the Vanwall. He would finish in 3rd place a little more than a minute and 16 seconds beind.
Though thoroughly overwhelmed in pace, Brabham would keep his head and would look to the finish. He would complete his race, though some 9 laps behind. Though he would be in 12th place at the end, the distance behind the eventual winner would lead Brabham not be classified in the results.
Still, the finish at Reims was an important step for Cooper in its testing of the chassis and the engine. Reims was a severe test given its high-speed nature and Brabham managed to bring the car home. This would be very important heading into the next race.
Crossing back across the wind-tossed English Channel, the Cooper team would be heading back to England for its next race of the season. Once reaching home soil the team would gather everything together and would head of to the north and west to Liverpool and Aintree, the site of the British Grand Prix on the 20th of July.
Aintree had been the site where the rear-engined Cooper first made its appearance in 1955. Admittedly, that run was as much an experiment as anything. Two years later, however, Cooper would return to Aintree much more determined to compete. And, unlike the last race in which the team competed, the circuit was much more kind to the 2.0-liter Climax engine.
Aintree had been completed in 1954 and would occupy the area within and without the famed Grand National steeplechase course. Measuring 3.0 miles in length, the Aintree circuit would be a mixture of medium and slow corners with a couple of straights of decent length. Even with some slower speed corners, the Aintree circuit's average speed usually pushed 90mph in the mid-1950s, so it wasn't necessarily ideal for the compact Coopers.
Cooper would enter two cars for the British round of the World Championship. Jack Brabham would be behind the wheel of one of the cars while Roy Salvadori would join him at the wheel of the other. Despite having two cars entered, Cooper would not be the largest British team in attendance, nor the one that would garner all the attention. That honor would go to Vandervell Products and their streamlined Vanwalls. The last time the World Championship had been hosted by Aintree it served up a British winner in Stirling Moss. At the wheel of the potent Vanwall, British fans would be hopeful of a repeat performance.
Practice would see the battle for the front row become an intense affair with very little separating each of the three spots. Stirling Moss would delight his home crowd by taking the pole in the Vanwall. His best effort would be 2:00.2. Jean Behra would again start from the front row at Aintree as he claimed the 2nd place starting position being just two-tenths of a second slower than Moss. The British faithful would be further overcome when Tony Brooks managed to claim the 3rd, and final, starting spot on the front row with a time mere hundredths of a second slower than Behra. In total, just four-tenths of a second would separate the top four.
Just under 7 seconds would be the difference between Moss on pole and Brabham, the fastest of the two Coopers. The 2.0-liter Climax would earn Brabham a fifth row starting position, 13th overall. Salvadori would find himself all alone on the sixth row of the grid. His best effort in the second Cooper would be just four-tenths slower than Brabham.
The day of the race would see overcast skies blanket the area, at least initially. As the ceremony and driver parade concluded and the cars began to take their places on the dummy grid, there would be signs of he clouds beginning to break. The temperatures would at least be a bit more comfortable than what they had been the last time the circuit played host to the British Grand Prix.
The cars would form up. Bob Gerard's own Cooper would struggle to get started. But then, all would be right, and the flag would wave to start the race. The front row would break somewhat evenly. However, by the time the field reached Waterway for the first time it would be Behra clearly in the lead over Moss and Hawthorn. Salvadori would end up getting the better of his teammate and would actually be in 12th position, just ahead of Brabham through the first turn.
Though Behra would break into the lead first, Moss would end the lap at the head of the field with Behra sitting in 2nd place ahead of Brooks, who managed to get by Hawthorn for the position. Salvadori and Brabham would slip one position each and would cross the line for the first time with Salvadori in 13th and Brabham 14th.
Over the next 20 laps the order would hold relatively steady, the only exception being problems with Les Leston's BRM leading to Salvadori and Brabham moving up to 12th and 13th. Moss carried on in the lead and was building up a comfortable margin over Behra. But the comfort would soon leave as the Vanwall developed a misfire bringing Moss into the pits to have the situation rectified. This handed Behra the lead and promoted Hawthorn and Peter Collins to 2nd and 3rd. At the same time, Salvadori would be up to 10th and 11th while Brabham followed suit in 11th and 12th place.
Salvadori would become embroiled in a good battle with Maurice Trintignant in his Lancia-Ferrari. It was a remarkable sight, watching the future of Formula One battle it out with the larger Ferrari. At the same time, Moss' misfire would not be rectified and he would bring his Vanwall back into the pits and, presumably, retirement.
Moss wouldn't be done. Brooks, still ailing from a crash at Le Mans, would come into the pits and would hand his Vanwall over to Moss for the remainder of the race. Moss would rejoin the race in 9th place but would quickly climb back up to 7th with two-thirds of the race still to go. At the same time, Salvadori and Brabham would be making good progress. Just past the 30 lap mark Salvadori would be up to 9th place. Brabham would be right there with him trying to catch up to Trintignant for 10th.
While most of the British public would be watching the progress of Moss and the three other Brits trying to chase down Behra, Salvadori would continue his epic struggle with Trintignant. From the very beginning of the race these two would swap positions back and forth and even by the halfway mark the two would still be going at it. Salvadori would finally gain the upper hand just past the halfway mark and would enable Brabham to come up and begin to mount a challenge of the Frenchman. Thirty laps remaining in the race, Brabham would also force his way past Trintignant but would be unable to hold onto the position for more than a few laps.
At the same time the two Cooper drivers were battling with Trintignant, Moss would find himself rather stuck behind Behra, Hawthorn and Stuart Lewis-Evans. Moss was gaining on the latter and would be in position to pass when, at the front of the field, the clutch on Behra's car would absolutely explode showering the circuit with numerous bits of metal. Just like that Behra was out of the race. The metal bits would cut Hawthorn's tire causing him to have to carefully make it back to the pits for new tires. The result would be Moss back in the lead with his teammate Lewis-Evans in 2nd place. As a result of the catastrophic events, Salvadori would find himself up 5th place while Brabham would continue to be held in check by Trintignant. Even though Brabham could not make his way by Trintignant, he would still be up to 7th place. Cooper had a car in the points. The end couldn't come soon enough.
The same could be said of Moss. Thankfully for him and Vandervell, his lead was comfortable enough he just had to take care and make it to the end. In the case of the Cooper teammates, a repeat of Monaco was just about to transpire.
Salvadori would actually make it up to 4th place. The result seemed assured. Brabham too seemed confident of making it to the end. However, Brabham would pull out of the race after completing 74 laps. His clutch was gone and he could get no more out of the car. Salvadori had been battling with Trintignant for a good deal of the race. Trintignant had conceded the fight, but only to hand his car over to Peter Collins. Collins would pick up the fight, and, with just a few laps left in the race, would manage to get by Salvadori for 4th.
Having more than a lap in hand over his next nearest challenger, Salvadori would actually pull his Cooper into the pits on what was Moss' final lap of the race. Moss would recover his early lead and would take the gift to finish the race with a victory of some 25 seconds over Luigi Musso. Mike Hawthorn would recover from his tire woes to make it two Brits on the podium.
Despite losing 4th late in the race, Salvadori would still finish the race in 5th place earning two points in the Drivers' Championship. The fact Cooper nearly had two cars finish in or near the points signaled the new mid-engine cars had plenty of potential. To have performed so well before the home crowd would certainly be a delight. Not that any would notice given the frenzy surrounding Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks.
Cooper would make plans for its next major race. Since the next round of the World Championship would be the German Grand Prix held at the Nurburgring in early August, the team would make the decision to leave England a little early. They would travel back across the Channel to France, for on the 28th of July, in the coastal city of Caen would be held the 5th Grand Prix de Caen.
During the Second World War, Caen would be a strategically-important target. To Cooper on its way to the German Grand Prix, Caen presented merely an opportunity; an opportunity to build confidence and further develop their cars.
Cooper would enter two cars once again, one for Salvadori and another for Brabham. On a whole, the field for the 85 lap Grand Prix de Caen would be rather small. Therefore, a great opportunity presented itself. Unfortunately, the 2.18 mile Caen street circuit played out much faster than one may have imagined. Average speeds easily reached above 90mph, and for an 85 lap event, this would be a huge test for the 2.0-liter Climax engines.
The Cooper-Climax, over one hot lap showed itself quite well when Tony Brooks managed to capture a front row starting spot in the Walking Racing T43. Salvadori would end up on the second row of the grid in 3rd place having turned in a lap time just three seconds than pole-sitter Jean Behra in a BRM 25. Brabham would struggle a bit around the circuit. He would start the race from the fourth row of the grid in the 8th position overall.
Brabham's problems would continue in the race. After completing just two laps his race would come to an end as magneto troubles hindered his abilities. Salvadori, on the other hand, would benefit from clutch problems on Brooks' Cooper and Harry Schell's engine letting go after 58 laps. Heading into the final stages of the race Roy would be in 2nd place with a comfortable margin in hand over Bruce Halford in his Maserati. Problem was, Behra also had a comfortable margin in hand over Salvadori.
Posting a fastest lap nearly half a second faster than his best from practice, Behra would prove untouchable over the course of the race. Averaging nearly 93mph, Behra would breeze his way to an easy victory defeating Salvadori by more than a lap. Halford would hold on to finish in 3rd place some 15 seconds behind Salvadori.
Salvadori would be on a roll. His confidence would be really high following two outstanding performances against 2.5-liter Formula One cars. Brabham was still showing well but was suffering from a bit of slump. He would need to get over this heading into the next race.
The Nurburgring would earn the nickname the 'Green Hell'. Though beautiful and inspiring from a motor racer's point-of-view, the circuit certainly took no prisoners. It required absolute confidence, otherwise, the dangers that peered around every one of the more than 170 corners just waited to make car and driver pay a heavy toll. Unfortunately for Brabham, he was not entirely confident heading into the joint Formula One and Formula 2 German Grand Prix. Roy Salvadori, on the other hand, had every reason in the world to be confident heading into the race on the 4th of August.
The joint Formula One and Formula 2 German Grand Prix added further intrigue to a race that already had more than enough coming into it. Despite the Vanwall triumph at Aintree, Fangio was still in a commanding position and a victory would absolutely seal his fifth World Championship. Teams, like Cooper, were looking more toward the future. Fangio and Maserati were looking to the immediate.
The weather around the Eifel mountains of western Germany had the ability to offer up some truly unpredictable conditions. However, from the moment the teams arrived at the circuit and started to take part in practice the weather would be ideal, the resurfaced track would make conditions even better.
The pace in practice would be utterly remarkable. The track record had only been beaten the year before. However, one year later it seemed just about every one was capable of eclipsing the old record. Fangio would make his old record look like a joke when he took pole with a lap time some 16 seconds faster than his fastest lap of the year before. Mike Hawthorn would start in 2nd place being just 3 seconds slower than Fangio and well inside the Fangio's record of a year ago. In fact, each of the cars starting from the front row, including Behra in 3rd place and Collins in 4th, would all post times faster than the best of the year previous. Even Roy Salvadori, would be impressive in the 1.5-liter Cooper. Though he would not be the fastest of the Formula 2 cars, he would still start from the fourth row of the grid in the 14th position overall. Brabham would continue to struggle compared to Salvadori. His pace in practice would still be well off of his teammate. In the end, being 12 seconds slower than Salvadori, Brabham would be forced to start the race from the fifth row of the grid in the 18th position overall.
A warm, brilliant day greeted the tens of thousands of fans that gathered around the 14 mile circuit to watch the 22 lap, 311 mile, race. At 22 laps, the race would be a grand test for the Formula One cars. For the Formula 2 entries, it would be an arduous adventure into the unknown. At the start, the cars would power away on the long run to the Sudkurve. Hawthorn and Collins would make the best start and would be just ahead of Fangio. And, though the Porsche sportscars would out-qualify Salvadori, Roy would be on the charge early on making up a number of positions on the run down to the first corner and throughout the course of the first lap. Even Brabham would make a good start and would be further up than where he started on the grid.
At the end of the first lap Hawthorn and Collins led the way by a couple of seconds over Fangio. Salvadori's remarkable start would turn into a 10th place at the end of the first lap while Brabham would cross the line in 16th. In the case of the Cooper drivers, both had improved upon where they started.
Salvadori's great start would begin to be reeled in by the Formula One cars. By the end of the second lap Roy would be down to 12th place while Brabham would be holding onto 16th. At the front, Fangio would go into the lead using his lighter fuel load to his advantage.
Over the next few laps things stayed relatively the same. Fangio increased his lead as he needed the gap so that he could pit. Salvadori would hold steady in 12th place and at the head of the Formula 2 field. Brabham would be in 16th still but would run into trouble yet again after just 6 laps. Transmission troubles would again ail him causing him to drop out of the race. Only Salvadori remained for Cooper.
But Salvadori would not back off. He would keep his position at the head of the Formula 2 field until around the halfway mark of the race. At that point in time the Cooper T43 he was driving was also beginning to show evidence of transmission troubles. This would enable Edgar Barth to catch and pass Salvadori for the lead in Formula 2. Just after completing 11 laps, Salvadori's race would also come to an end.
At the same time the second Cooper was retiring from the race, a great drama had just unfolded in the pits nearby. Fangio had come in for his pitstop with a 30 second advantage. He knew he would lose the lead, but he would still be relatively close to reduce the gap before the end of the race. However, trouble during the pitstop would cost him dearly. By the time he returned to the circuit he would be some 45 seconds behind. It would be great for the fans as the Argentinean would proceed to put on the drive of his life.
Fangio was already a legend, but on this day that legend would reach new heights as he would immediately go out and press, causing the lap record to be broken just about every time around the circuit. He would eat into the lead of Collins and Hawthorn hand over fist. Still, there was the question of whether or not there would be enough laps left for Fangio to catch and pass the Ferrari pairing for the lead.
Posting a remarkable lap of 9:17.4, a time more than 8 seconds faster than his own best effort in practice, Fangio would make it abundantly clear there was no hope for the Ferrari pair. Crossing the line with two laps remaining in the race, Fangio would be right behind Collins, sizing him up for a pass. This would be completed coming out of the Sudkurve. Hawthorn would fall just a little later on. It would be absolutely remarkable. Fangio had overcome a 45 second deficit to retake the lead.
Though Hawthorn would still try and fight, the race was over. Cheered on at every corner, Fangio would go on to take the victory by three seconds over Hawthorn. Collins would be further back in 3rd place. The fans would be utterly euphoric after watching the stupendous display of driving. The victory would secure the fifth World Championship. Everyone would be overcome with excitement following the spectacular display. Well…not everyone.
The German Grand Prix would be bitterly disappointing for Cooper. They were leading the race and Brabham was also looking good lurking not all that far back. Unfortunately, the Green Hell would claim its victims. Cooper, and especially Brabham, needed to rebuild some momentum and confidence. The team would head back to England and would turn its attentions to the 3rd Rochester Trophy race held at Brands Hatch on the 5th of August.
Brands Hatch was another quick circuit but it played to the strengths of a Formula 2 car in that being lightweight and nimble could overcome a lack of power. Maintaining momentum was the key to a fast lap time around Brands Hatch short course with all of its undulations. Momentum was needed not merely a fast lap time, but also, to make it up some of the steep rises around the circuit.
While he would suffer in the German Grand Prix, Brabham would be relieved the following day as he would go on to set the fastest lap of the race and would take the win over George Wicken. Brabham would win both heats. In the first he would hold on by a couple of seconds over Wicken. In the second, just a little more than a second would be the difference.
Salvadori would not fare so well as he would retire in the first heat race and would not take part in the second. But while the disappointing race would not be so quickly overlooked by Salvadori, Cooper and Brabham would at least be encouraged by the result. The victory was sorely needed by Brabham, but he also needed a good result in a Formula One race to restore his confidence there.
Cooper would go from one arduous test to another as it, again, headed back across the Channel to the European mainland. The next destination was much further than into France of western Germany. The ultimate destination was Italy and the 25th Gran Premio di Pescara, the seventh round of the Formula One World Championship for 1957.
Pescara would be the road course equivalent of the Nurburgring. Stretching 15.9 miles, the Pescara circuit would be the longest circuit Formula One would ever contest and would feature just about everything imaginable from very long, very fast straights to very tight and twisty mountainous roads. The circuit would start out at sea level right along the coast of the Adriatic and would climb up into the mountains just to the west. It really was the only remaining old-style grand prix circuit left in existence, and it was about to become extinct.
The Italian government proposed banning all public road courses in favor of purpose-built circuits. This angered Enzo Ferrari so his response was to withdraw from the Pescara Grand Prix. It mattered really very little as the championship had already been decided. Therefore, the only large factory team present for the race would be Officine Alfieri Maserati. The factory Maserati team would bring five cars to the race. Vandervell would be the next biggest and they would bring three of their Vanwalls. Cooper would come with its usual two entries and its usual two drivers: Salvadori and Brabham.
The circuit would be a case of give and take for the Coopers. Their smaller, more nimble, chassis would certainly make up a good deal of time in the twisty bits. But on the very long straights where out-right horsepower and speed was of uttermost importance, the Coopers would give everything they gained right back.
The five-time World Champion would set the fastest lap time in practice cruising around the circuit in 9:44.6. Stirling Moss would use the superior speed of the Vanwall to keep things close. He would start in 2nd place having been 10 seconds slower. Luigi Musso would complete the front row in a Lancia-Ferrari. Both of the Coopers would be at the back of the grid. Salvadori would be the quickest of the two and he would be positioned on the sixth row of the grid in the 15th position while Brabham would be 16th and dead-last.
The grid leading up to the start of the race would be extremely tight with the rows of cars, mechanics and well-wishers. Even when the grid cleared from well-wishers it was still rather tight and this would prove to be a lethal problem at the start when Horace Gould struck a mechanic that hadn't managed to get off the grid in time. Gould would only last a short distance before he would be forced out of the race. The same would be true of Tony Brooks in one of the Vanwalls. The engine would let go on him and he too wouldn't complete a lap.
Musso would lead the way at the conclusion of the first lap, though he would have Moss all over him fighting for the lead. Brabham would make the better start amongst the Cooper entries and would actually cross the line ahead of Salvadori. As a result of the early retirements, both Brabham and Salvadori would benefit and would be nearing the top ten.
Moss would take over the lead and would begin drawing away from Musso, who had Fangio not far behind him. Some mistakes would enable Salvadori to leap ahead in the running order, but for just one lap as suspension failure would compromise his race and lead to him retiring from the event altogether after completing just 4 laps. Brabham would still be in the race but would be able to do very little against the Formula One cars. As a result he would be last, be he would at least still be running.
Some 18 laps would be the racing distance for the day. Approaching the halfway mark, Moss would appear across the line. Heads would turn waiting for Musso and Fangio, but a long time would pass, too long. Then, suddenly, Fangio would appear in the pits. His wheel had a problem. The details would begin to emerge. Musso had lost oil and his engine causing him to be stranded out on the course. Fangio would spin in Musso's oil causing a good deal of damage to the wheel. A lot of time would be lost while the mechanics fixed the problem with the wheel. The end result would be Moss would come through having nearly a lap in hand over Fangio. That meant a gap of nearly 10 minutes, not 10 seconds! This enabled Moss to look after his Vanwall for the remainder of the race. It also enabled those present to look further down in the field for some action.
Unfortunately, and unlike at Monaco, Brabham could not oblige. The deficiencies of the Cooper at this particular circuit were more than obvious and Brabham would be not only concerned with just finishing, but also, being classified. There was really nothing he could do, and, despite the fact the circuit was nearly 16 miles in length, he would be paid a couple of visits by Moss before the day was done.
Moss' day was done as soon as Fangio appeared in the pits. With just a couple of laps remaining in the race the Briton would pit for fresh tires. He would have enough time in hand to enjoy a drink and even have the oil topped off to ensure the engine would be able to make it all the way to the end. This seemed a little drastic, but as hot of a day as it was, it was a smart move on the part of the team. Moss would get back in his car and would still be out three minutes ahead of Fangio.
The race was over by the halfway mark and Moss would just ride the car home the rest of the way. Crossing the line in just under three hours time, Moss would finish over three minutes ahead of Fangio. Harry Schell would be nearly seven minutes behind in 3rd place. Brabham could have been timed in minutes but it was certainly easier to do it by laps as he would finish more than three laps behind in 7th place. Still, the most important thing for Brabham at that moment was actually finishing a Formula One race and he had done exactly that. So it was mostly a good day for Cooper.
The deficiencies at Pescara showed the team it was a losing effort to take part in the Italian Grand Prix in early Septemeber. Therefore, the team would return to England to prepare for a non-championship race that had been rescheduled from its more usual date in May. Hitting English shores, the team would head home to prepare its cars. Then, the week following the Italian Grand Prix, the team would be in Silverstone preparing for the 9th running of the BRDC International Trophy race.
The International Trophy race was not merely a return to race on English soil the race itself would be a return to a format that once was. The race was usually held in early May but would end up being postponed as a result of the Suez Crisis. But while the date of the race would be changed from the norm, the format of the race would be a return to the norm. Instead of a single race, as had been used the previous couple of years, the organizers would return to a two heat and final format that had been used from the very beginning.
The British Grand Prix had been the first major race held at Silverstone, the old RAF bomber training base from World War II. However, the International Trophy race, held for the first time in 1949, would be the first major race to use the 2.9 miles of perimeter road as the circuit. Before that, the perimeter road and a couple of the runways would be used to comprise the course.
Given the World Championship had drawn to a close and the British Grand Prix had been held at Aintree, the International Trophy race would be rather light in international entries. Though there would be Maseratis in the race, they would all be entered by privateers, not the Maserati factory itself. So, it was very much a British affair with Owen Racing being the biggest of the Formula One entries. Cooper-Climax would be, by far, the greatest number of cars in the race as the event would put Formula One and Formula 2 together.
Cooper would change things up for the race. The team would enter more than one car for each category. Brabham would drive the 2.0-liter T43. The other 2.0-liter T43 would be driven by Graham Hill. The 1.5-liter Formula 2 T43s would be entered for Roy Salvadori and Ian Burgess. The entire field would be divided up between the two heats. Salvadori and Burgess would be positioned in the first heat while Brabham and Hill would be in the second.
Salvadori would be quick around the 2.9 mile circuit in practice but would still end up on the second row of the grid in the 5th position. On the front row would be Tony Brooks, Jean Behra, Ron Flockhart and Masten Gregory. Ian Burgess would end up on the third row of the grid in the 9th place spot having been a little more than three seconds slower than Salvadori in practice.
Though Brooks looked threatening, in the race, his threat would come a cropper when wheel problems ended his day before completing a single lap. It really wouldn't matter as Behra would take over the lead and would run away from the field posting a fastest lap time a full second faster than Brooks' effort in practice.
Despite starting from the second row of the grid, Salvadori would not be able to repeat the performance in the 15 lap heat race, not even amongst the other Formula 2 entries. Burgess would even manage to go ahead of Salvaldori before the end.
In the end, it would be Behra coasting to an easy victory having nearly 44 seconds in hand over his BRM teammate Flockhart. Gregory would complete the top three finishing nearly a minute behind. Burgess would finish in 11th place overall and 5th amongst the Formula 2 entries. Though a lap behind Behra, Burgess would manage to finish ahead of Salvadori who would finish in 12th place overall, and also a lap behind.
The second heat race would see Harry Schell on pole joined on the front row by Keith Hall, Ivor Bueb and George Wicken. Neither Hill nor Brabham would set a time in practice, and therefore, both would start from the fifth, and final, row of the grid. Brabham would line up 15th. Hill would line up 16th.
Brabham would not need practice to be fast in the actual heat race. After a fast start, the Aussie would be quickly up toward the head of the field giving chase of the leader Harry Schell who was running comfortably in another BRM 25. Hill would have a bit tougher heat race. Though he would make up a good deal of positions he would not be able to climb as high as what Brabham had. Still, he was running consistently and was well on his way to making it into the final.
Schell would have the race well in control and would go on to win the heat by seven seconds over Braham. Brabham would manage to finish in 2nd place just three seconds ahead of Jo Bonnier in a Maserati 250F. Graham would also make it to the finish of the heat race. Though his would be nearly two minutes back, he would still manage to finish in 8th place.
All four Coopers would be in the 35 lap final. The grid positions for the final would be determined by finishing time of each driver in their respective heat. This meant Behra would start on pole with Flockhart lining up 2nd and Masten Gregory 3rd. The final spot on the front row would go to the third BRM driven by Harry Schell. Brabham's effort in the second heat would net him a second row starting spot, 5th overall. Hill would start from the fifth row of the grid in the 18th position while Salvadori and Burgess would both find themselves on the sixth row of the grid. Salvadori would be 21st while Burgess would be 20th.
Brabham certainly looked the strongest of the Cooper contenders and he would be in a good position at the start being right behind Behra and Flockhart. If he made a good start he had the potential of being right up there with the leaders. The race would start and it would be the three BRMs that would streak into the lead with Behra leading the trio. Brabham would be strong at the beginning but would end up suffering another failure. His race would come to an end after 22 laps. Burgess wouldn't last much longer either. This left Cooper with just Salvadori and Hill. Salvadori would recover from his poor heat performance to take the lead amongst the Formula 2 cars. Hill would be further back of Salvadori fighting just to make it to the end of the race.
There was no catching Behra. Posting the fastest lap, the Frenchman would pull away from his teammates and would enjoy clear sailing all the way to the checkered flag, which he would see after one hour, one minute and 30 seconds of racing. Schell would slot into 2nd place and would stay there throughout the race. He would end up finishing a minute and a half behind Behra. The real battle would be for 3rd place overall. Flockhart would have Bonnier all over him but the third BRM driver would make sure it was a sweep for Owen Racing finishing 6 seconds behind Schell.
The only question remaining was who would win amongst the Formula 2 entries. That honor would end up going to Salvadori. Though he would perform terribly in the first heat, he would be unbeatable in the final finishing just a lap down overall and one lap up on George Wicken. Graham Hill would finish the race a distant 13th, two laps down, but at least it was a second finish for Cooper and his team.
Trouble continued to plague Cooper, but there was real potential there. The reliability of the cars needed to be figured out and the best way to do that was to keep racing and pushing. The team would have an entry in the Gran Premio di Modena on the 22nd of September, but, following the trouble the team experienced, even with the victory in Formula 2 by Salvadori, the race followed along too closely. As a result, Cooper would not show for the race in Modena. Instead, the team would fix its attentions on a couple more Formula 2 races.
The first of these Formula 2 races would be held at Goodwood on the 28th of September. The race was the 9th Woodcote Cup and it would feature a field of good size, mostly comprised of Cooper-Climaxes and Climax-powered Lotuses.
The 2.39 mile Goodwood circuit certainly did suit the Cooper quite well. The last time the team had been to Goodwood it had been all the way back in the spring. Taking part in the Lavant Cup, Brabham would come away with a 2nd place result while Salvadori earned the fastest lap of the race.
Fast and featuring mostly high speed and medium speed turns, the circuit maintained speeds quite well and didn't rely upon horsepower so much for acceleration. The main concern the driver had around the circuit was to be smooth and error-free. Otherwise, even the slightest bobble would result in a loss of momentum. And, given the tight racing in Formula 2, a loss of momentum meant a loss of everything.
Cooper would enter two cars for the race. The usual drivers, Salvadori and Brabham, would be behind the wheels. The field would feature a whole list of talented drivers and one of them was Tony Brooks. At more than one race he had proven to be the fastest and in practice for the 10 lap Woodcote Cup he would prove fastest again earning the pole with a lap time of 1:29.4.
Brooks had proven to be quite fast, but providence had not been on his side throughout many of those races and it wouldn't be on this day as well as Brabham would be incredibly quick setting the fastest lap of the race with a time just six-tenths off of Brooks' pole. However, even Brabham wouldn't be as consistently quick as what Salvadori would prove to be. He would grab the lead and would not let go over the course of the race. Salvadori would take the win with his teammate coming in 2nd place. Cliff Allison would even manage to out-duel Brooks for the final spot on the podium.
In the strictly Formula 2 events, Cooper usually had the opportunity to strut its stuff, and would. Their Formula 2 season was certainly quite successful. The team looked to carry that good fortune over to the last Formula 2 race of the season in Europe.
The final race of the season in Formula 2 would take place at Oulton Park in Cheshire, England. The event was the 4th International Gold Cup. When the new Formula One regulations were just coming online and were allowed to take part in the International Gold Cup a couple of years previous, the event would be dominated by Stirling Moss. Even though the event would become strictly a Formula 2 race, it would still draw a large field of talented teams and drivers.
Oulton Park would be opened in 1953. By the following year, the circuit had grown to include a circuit measuring 2.761 miles in length. Sporting a number of blind corners and apexes, the circuit is technically very challenging and demands great focus. Originally, the area was just part of the Oulton Estate and would serve a role as a staging area during World War II. When it became a motor racing circuit, Oulton Park would become an important staging area for young talent.
The International Gold Cup race would be 50 laps in length and a strong final test to the season. Salvadori and Brabham would be behind the wheel of T43s for Cooper. The team would also have two more cars in the race. One of those two remaining would be driven by Ian Burgess. The fourth car would be driven by Jim Russell. These four Cooper entries would be going up against Team Lotus and Walking Racing, among numerous other small teams and privateers.
The pole for the race would end up going to Tony Marsh in his own Climax-powered Cooper T43. But although the pole would go Marsh's way, the race would not.
Tony Brooks would again suffer an early setback as he would not complete even one lap before a rear axle failure led to his retirement. He would be followed by a couple more retirements just a handful of laps later. Graham Hill would be flying with the Lotus 12, but even he would not be able to challenge for the lead over the course of the whole race.
Nearly all of the Cooper Car Company entries would be doing quite well early on in the race. However, Jim Russell would make a mistake after completing his 9th lap and would be forced out of the race altogether due to damage sustained by his T43. Roy Salvadori would end up suffering the same fate when, after completing 35 laps and having just 15 left to go, he too would lose his focus for a moment and would crash out of the event.
Cooper would be left with just two cars, but they would prove to be more than enough. Over the course of the race Marsh would lose ground to Cliff Allison and Jack Brabham. Ian Burgess would even begin challenging Marsh from behind.
Despite fastest lap going to Graham Hill, nobody would be as fast, over the course of the whole 50 laps, as what Brabham would be. The Australian would be in the lead and stretching his advantage nicely over Allison and Marsh. The only concern in races of this length would be whether or not the Cooper would actually make it to the finish. There had been more than one race over the course of the season where Brabham had come up just short as a result of a mechanical problem.
No such problem would exist this day as Brabham would ease his way to victory defeating Allison by a margin of more than 36 seconds. Tony Marsh would end the race a whole lap, plus some, behind Brabham but would still manage to hold onto 3rd place over Ian Burgess in the second Cooper.
The final Formula 2 race of the season was just what Cooper would want heading into the off-season. Furthermore, it would go a long way to help Brabham's confidence as he had struggled coming down the stretch. The confidence gained from this victory would lead the team to look to one more race.
The Formula One World Championship had long been over by the time the month of October rolled around. However, there would be one very important race left on the calendar none of the major teams would want to miss. As the European mainland and the British Isles began to sting with brisk autumn winds, North Africa was still quite warm and offered teams and drivers an opportunity to catch some sun and do a little racing at the same time.
In 1958, there would be a race added to the Formula One World Championship that had never been contested before. The race would be the Moroccan Grand Prix and it would take place in Casablanca, one of Morocco's major cities located along the coast of the Atlantic. In 1957, the Moroccan Grand Prix offered teams a prelude, an opportunity to test and experience what challenges the circuit posed before seeing the circuit again the following year.
Drawing its name from the meaning of 'White house' in Portuguese, Casablanca is not only the largest city in Morocco, it is assuredly the most famous as well. Founded by the Berbers in the 7th century BC, the original name for the area would be Anfa meaning 'hill'. By the 15th century, the area Casaablanca would occupy would go through several periods where it would be its own independent state. Then, late in the 16th century the whole area would come under the domain of the Portuguese who were, in turn, dominated by the Spanish.
In the 19th century, Casablanca and the area around it would be conquered by the French. The population of the city would grow rapidly from then on as it would become a popular destination for many French colonialists. By the time Formula One came calling on the city, half of its population would be European. It would be little wonder then the organizers of the race would actually be mostly French, including the official starter for the race Raymond 'Toto' Roche.
The circuit to be used for the race would not be a purpose-built circuit. Instead, the circuit would be a course made up of public roads and streets just to the west of the city's center. Though wide-open, the circuit would have some character as the main portion, which would be used as the start/finish straight, would be situated near the Atlantic coast. Additionally, from the moment the circuit makes the right-hand turn at turn one, the circuit begins a climb, mostly subtle in nature, before making the final right-hand turn that lead to the start/finish straight. Then the circuit dives rather rapidly giving a fair bit of undulation to the circuit.
Because of its proximity to the coast, the circuit had the potential of being dusty and dirty, making it rather slippery early on. What's more, the circuit never really ran straight for more than a hundred meters or so at a time. Therefore, the drivers constantly had to be paying attention. Otherwise a small, insignificant kink in the road could throw a car off in the moment.
Although Maserati would abandon Formula One the following year, the factory team would still show up to the race with a fleet of cars. Scuderia Ferrari would come, but with a couple of their new Dino 156s. Vandervell Products would bring a couple of their Vanwalls. And then there would be the few privateers.
Cooper Car Company would come to the race with just a single car entry for the race. Jack Brabham would be present but he would be driving for Walking Racing Team. Therefore, the only entry Cooper would have for the race would be that which would be driven by Roy Salvadori.
Average speeds around the 4.74 mile Ain-Diab circuit would easily exceed 110mph. This certainly wouldn't favor the Cooper very much but it would offer some valuable experience for the team.
Not surprising, given the nature of the circuit, the Vanwalls would be the quickest around the circuit in practice. Moss would end up being fastest one of the days of practice. However, he would end up falling ill and would have to abandon any thoughts of the race. Therefore, the pole would go to his teammate Brooks who would lap the circuit in 2:23.3. Jean Behra would just miss out on the pole by two-tenths of a second and would line up 2nd. The final spot on the front row would go to Stuart Lewis-Evans in another Vanwall. Salvadori would end up 9 seconds slower over the course of a lap. As a result, he would end up on the fifth row of the grid in the 12th position.
Sunshine and warm temperatures offered the perfect backdrop to the 55 lap race. At the start, it would be Behra powering his way around the corner and up the small rise to take the lead of the race. Salvadori would be in the midst of the pack carefully treading his way through.
At the end of the first lap, 50,000 spectators would see Behra flash through with the lead of the race. The race would carry on without incident until Fangio would be curiously given a black flag. He would obey the order despite not knowing what it was for. It would take time but it would be realized they flagged the wrong car. The numbers had been mixed up. It should have been Brabham that received the black flag as he received outside assistance while he went off the circuit. Brabham would be hailed in and disqualified. Fangio would carry on, but would be well back.
Fangio would do his best to make up for the mistake by turning fast lap after fast lap. At the same time, Salvadori would end his season by retiring early with a rear axle failure. Salvadori would be unable to challenge for the top five positions and Fangio would be unable to do anything with the consistent pace Behra was managing around the circuit.
In the end, the season would draw to a close with Behra taking the victory by 30 seconds over Lewis-Evans and Maurice Trintignant in a BRM 25. The season, for Cooper, would end not as they would have wanted, but at least they had managed to make their mark nonetheless.
Although the team would be overpowered in the Formula One events, Cooper, and others, could tell there was a change on the horizon. The Coopers just wanted to make sure they were on the leading-edge of that change that was certain to come.
One thing the team realized over the course of the season was that the smaller, more nimble Cooper could compete with the Formula One cars in a number of ways. They would realize they wouldn't need all of the horsepower and the bigger engines that occupied the front of the current Formula One cars. The mid-engine design made for a lighter car, a better-handling car and a more aerodynamic car. But power is power. It was realized the Climax engine needed to be made just a little bigger and the Cooper chassis could take full advantage. This was coming.