On this day in F1… 16th July 1955
Aintree, on the outskirts of Liverpool, holds a legendary status for horsepower of a different kind, this is where the annual running of the Grand National takes place. The circuit was built in 1954, and was dubbed ‘The Goodwood of the North’ hence the similarities between the two venues.
The British GP was held at Aintree for the first time on 16th July 1955 and Moss would win his first ever Grand Prix. Mercedes entered four cars for Fangio, Moss, Kling and Taruffi and were favourite for success, despite Maserati being competitive, Ferrari were struggling and there was also entries from Vanwall and Cooper.
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 the 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 remainder 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 who 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 on 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 – always denied that he surrendered victory that day.
To this day, Moss still isn’t convinced that he beat the Maestro. The Guardian reported Moss “waved Fangio through … Fangio drew alongside him as they approached the chequered flag and then, it seemed, hung back to let Moss cross the line first … it was a sporting gesture and fair”.
Below is a video where Sir Patrick Stewart hosts a documentary exploring the life of Sir Stirling Moss, enjoy…