Brought to you by TJ13 chronicler Bart De Pauw
– Nico Rosberg signs for Mercedes’ return to victory in the British Grand Prix after 58 years
After a race that was overshadowed by a dangerous spate of five Pirelli tyre failures, Nico Rosberg managed to fend off a late charge by an impressive Mark Webber in order to score the first F1 victory for the Mercedes constructor’s team on British territory in 58 years.
The 1955 British Grand Prix was the first of in total five F1 world championship events that were to be hosted at the Aintree circuit located on the outskirts of Liverpool. The race was scheduled for July 16th, which was only one month after what is arguably the darkest day in the history of motorsport when on June 11th, French racing driver Pierre Levegh at the end of lap 35 of the 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans, couldn’t avoid a high-speed collision between his Mercedes 300 SLR and Lance Macklin’s Austin-Healey 100.
Their coming together caused large pieces of racing car debris to fly into the crowd, and 83 spectators as well as Levegh died at the scene. The disaster led to the cancellation of the 1955 French, German, Spanish and Swiss Grand Prix, the withdrawal of Mercedes from motorsport and a complete and still applicable ban of motorsport in Switzerland, but the organizers of the British Grand Prix felt that they had to press on as planned.
The Mercedes-Benz team that was running four cars and that with Juan-Manuel Fangio had already won three of the five preceding F1 races of the season was again the big favorite for success, especially since Ferrari had decided to bring its rusty 625s rather than the new but still experimental 555 or ‘Super Squalo’ as they felt that the older cars would be more at home on the tight Aintree circuit.
In qualifying Stirling Moss’ Mercedes W196 was fastest by two-tenths from team mate Fangio, while Jean Behra managed to put his Maserati 250F 3rd on the grid, just before the other two Mercedes cars of Karl Kling and Piero Taruffi. The fastest of the Ferrari’s was Eugenio Castellotti but he was only 10th fastest. At the very end of the starting grid was young Australian Jack Brabham who was making his F1 debut.
At the start of the race Moss momentarily took the lead but Fangio quickly moved ahead only to see Moss win back the position at the entry of Anchor Bend on lap 3.
On the 18th lap the Argentine defending champion gained the lead again but by lap 26 Moss was in front once more and despite a last-lap ‘effort’ by Fangio to overhaul at Tatts Corner he managed to stay in front for the rest of the 90 laps to become the first British driver to win the British Grand Prix.
The Mercedes domination was completed by Kling and Taruffi that ended the race in 3rd and 4th position respectively. Luigi Musso was the best of the rest as he drove his Maserati to 5th, while Castellotti – who had been forced to retire his own 625 as it suffered a transmission failure in lap 16 – inherited the car of an unwell Mike Hawthorn to pick up a distant 6th place for Ferrari.
In his post-race speech Moss said that Fangio could have taken the race if he had wished and that it was only the great sportsmanship of the Argentinian that had allowed him to achieve his long-held ambition of winning the British Grand Prix, but Fangio – ever the gentleman – has always denied that he surrendered victory that day.
You can judge for yourself at the end of this lengthy footage of the 1955 British Grand Prix, but it would seem from the side-by-side crossing of the line in a formation finish (@15:45) that Moss’ version is probably closer to the truth.
– 25 consecutive points finishes: Kimi Räikkönen breaks a Schumacher record
Although a bad strategy call by his Lotus F1 team robbed Kimi Räikkönen from what looked like another podium finish, the Finn’s 5th place in the 2013 British Grand Prix still meant that he broke one of Michael Schumacher’s many records by finishing 25 consecutive races in the points. The last time that the Iceman didn’t score a point was in the 2012 Chinese Grand Prix where his tyres hit the cliff in the closing stages of the race and made for a spectacular drop from 2nd to 14th in only a couple of laps.
But ever since then Raikkonen has been ending his races consistently in the top 10, filling every finishing position bar 4th and scoring 2 victories (Abu Dhabi 2012 and Australia 2013) and 9 more podiums on his way to Schumacher’s record.
Michael Schumacher’s previous record was set between the 2001 Hungarian Grand Prix and the 2003 Malaysian Grand Prix, meaning that 22 out of the German’s 24 consecutive points finishes were realized in races where it was only for the first 6 finishers to be granted world-championship points. Not that Michael really needed the 2003 change in the points scoring system awarding points to the first eight drivers as also in the final 2 races of his record-breaking streak he never finished below 6th.
And if you think that Kimi’s 44% podium finishing ratio is staggering, then what to think about Schumacher’s performance as in his consecutive 24 races in the points he climbed the podium no less than 21 times!
Video: The eventful 2003 Brazil Grand Prix that saw an end to Michael Schumacher’s longest series of consecutive points finishes as in wet conditions and under yellow flags he spun his Ferrari F2003-GA – the ‘GA’ being a tribute to the recently deceased Fiat boss Gianni Agnelli – into the barriers while taking the Senna ‘S’ corner (@3:20)
Hi Bart – I really like the way you’ve spun off these posts from the ‘OTD’ slot – it’s an interesting way to ‘do’ history.
And I love your movie clips – 1955 for its wonderful period charm, and the brief shot of Raymond Baxter who was synonymous with British motor-sport before Murray Walker took over, and made it so much his own I doubt many people now remember Baxter. And what about that handing over of goggles… amazing.
I was travelling across Asia during 2003 and never saw these Brazilian clips before. Horrifying experience – except perhaps for Fisichella…