Any Grand Prix is a matter of national pride, and the 11th RAC British Grand Prix would be no different for the home teams, Vanwall, BRM, Cooper, Lotus, and Connaught.
Vanwall in particular were looking to regain some momentum, and narrow the gap to Ferrari in the Championship, after losing out in France. It was expected that the nature of the track at Silvertone would suit Vanwall, BRM, and Cooper, more than Ferrari, whose powerful engine had allowed the Scuderia to dominate at Reims, where high power and maximum speed are so important.
BRM entered three cars for Jean Behra, Harry Schell, and Masten Gregory, two of which had an upgraded oil cooling system. Unfortunately Gregory injured himself during practice when he crashed the Ecurie Ecosse Lister-Jaguar and was unable to compete.
Practise and Qualifying
Practise went as expected and according to plan, at least for Moss in the Vanwall who qualified on pole, Schell in a BRM, and Salvadori in a Cooper-Climax. Mike Hawthorn's Ferrari was the only scarlet coloured car on the four wide front row, with the three British Racing Green cars all qualifying faster.
In fact, fourteen of the twenty competing cars were made in Britain, with just three Ferraris, and three Maseratis to represent Italy.
Judging by the practise times, a British victory was expected.
Silverstone hosted the very first race, in the first ever Formula One World Championship, making it the oldest F1 track in the world. On the 13th May 1950 Fangio, Farina, Fagioli, Parnell, Bira, Rosier and Chiron took to the Northamptonshire track for the first race of seven in the 1950 World Championship of Drivers.
The circuit is based on a disused WWII airfield, and began its life as a racing track in 1948, when it first hosted the British Grand Prix. Since then it has regularly hosted the event, sharing first with Aintree, then with Brands Hatch, until in 1987 it became the permanent home of the British GP.
Silverstone has undergone several significant layout revisions over the years, and the 1958 configuration was already the second layout to be used. The version of the circuit below, might be considered the 'classic' layout which was used unaltered from 1952 to 1974, and with minor changes from 1975 until 1990.
Silverstone Carrera Track Plan
Footprint :- 5.65 x 3.63m
Lanes :- 2
Lane Length :- 14.83m
Track :- Carrera Evolution
11th RAC British Grand Prix
When the flag fell for the start of the race Hawthorne made a hesitant start, whereas his team mate Peter Collins shot through from the second row and took the lead on the opening lap.
Stirling Moss was now in second, with Ferraris directly in front and behind him.
Moss was in a difficult position, trying to catch Collins and trying not to be caught by Hawthorn. It was very clear that the two Ferraris were handling fairly happily with a full load of fuel and both drivers were doing some pretty broadsliding through the bends. After the excitement of the opening two or three laps Collins was setting a hot pace, Moss was trying to hang on and Hawthorn was a bit perturbed to see oil occasionally squirting out of the left side of his bonnet.
For BRM, Harry Schell was falling back with rising engine oil temperatures and falling pressure, whilst Jean Behra retired on lap 19 with either suspension problems, or because he'd hit a hare which had punctured his tyre, depending on whose account you read.
On lap 26 Stirling Moss's Vanwall blew it's engine and approached the pits in a cloud of blue smoke, leaving the two Ferraris in full command of the race.
Roy Salvadori was moving up in the Cooper, and Stuart Lewis-Evans was close behind, whilst his Vanwall team mate Tony Brooks struggled to find the pace.
Apart from some minor skirmishes, the race now became something of a procession. Collins and Hawthorn toured home to win a resounding victory for Ferrari.
Salvadori scraped in third with Lewis Evans' Vanwall pressing hard right up to the chequered flag, while Schell arrived fifth after an erratic drive, followed by Brabham. Tony Brooks, who had been off the pace for the whole race, was a lap behind, and the only other two finishers were Trintignant and Shelby. Collins had led for the entire 75 laps.
Winners and Losers
The result gave Mike Hawthorne a seven point lead over Moss in the Drivers' Championship, and Ferrari an eleven point lead over Vanwall in the Constructors' Championship.
After such a promising start in practise, British national pride had taken a bit of a battering in the race.