The 1960 French Grand Prix, or XLVI Grand Prix de l'ACF, was the sixth round of the season, and took place on the temporarily closed public roads of Reims Gueux.
Stirling Moss was notably absent, having broken both of his legs in an accident in practise for the previous race at Spa.
The season so far had been a battle between Bruce McLaren, Jack Brabham, and Stirling Moss, but obviously Stirling's accident meant he would be dropping back.
After Cooper's victory in the 1959 Championship, most of the British teams fielded rear engined cars including BRM. But there were still a fair number of front engined cars on the grid, most notably from Ferrari, but also from Maserati, Aston Martin and Scarab.
Practise & Qualifying
Jack Brabham was quickly into his stride after his win in Belgium, and he set an impressively fast time on the very first evening's practise.
Whilst the other drivers were seen to be pushing hard to match his time, Brabham's laps seemed to be effortless.
Unsurprisingly Brabham put his Cooper-Climax on pole, 1.4 seconds ahead of Phil Hill in a Ferrari, and Graham Hill in the BRM P48.
As you can see from the track plan below, Circuit Reims-Gueux was kind of triangular in shape, and at over 5.2 miles or 8.3 km long, it had some long straights. It was always well known for being a fast track, and slipstreaming came to the fore, particularly during the races.
The track used public roads, and was first raced in 1926, for the second Grand Prix de la Marne.
The layout of the circuit was re-configured in 1952, to bypass the town of Gueux, at which point the circuit was renamed simply Reims.
Reims circuit was last used in 1972, and today it is impossible to drive the circuit as it was, because the section of road leading up to the Muizon hairpin has been completely removed. Many of the iconic pit buildings and grandstand however, still survive, and are being restored and preserved by 'Les Amis du Circuit de Gueux'.
Reims-Gueux Ninco Track Plan
Footprint :- 4.60 x 2.83m
Lanes :- 2
Lane Length :- 11.62m
Track :- Ninco
XLVI Grand Prix de l'ACF
At the start of the race, Graham Hill, on the front row of the grid, stalled his BRM, causing chaos behind him as unsighted drivers tried to avoid him. Maurice Trintignant didn't manage that, and rear ended Hill's car putting them both out of the race.
Despite Jack Brabham's dominant performance in practise, the two Ferraris of Phil Hill and Wofgang von Trips seemed to have a good race pace. According to Dennis Jenkinson's race report...
On lap 5 Brabham was back in the lead, but on lap 6 it was Phil Hill again, and so it went on, with von Trips always in third place and never more than a few lengths behind. The two Ferraris really had the Cooper at bay this time, but the Climax engine was giving as good as it got, and lap after lap the three cars went round almost touching; in fact, at one time they did touch, and Brabham looked in his mirror on feeling a bump, just in time to see Phil Hill’s Ferrari rising up on its back wheels with its mouth all twisted, having rammed a rear wheel of the Cooper.
This leading trio had started to break away from the following pack, but there were close battles right through the field, and with the following car always being able to take advantage of the slipstream, drivers found it difficult to shake of the cars behind them.
Of the the two remaining BRM, Dan Gurney had retired on lap 17 with engine problems, and Jo Bonnier was suffering from losing oil pressure, and would also drop out.
By lap 25, Jack Brabham had managed to stay in the lead for six laps, and the three drivers at the front had opened up a lead of over a minute. By lap 29 Brabham had finally managed to create a gap of five seconds to Hill, and a couple of laps later it was all over. First Hill, then von Trips both retired with transmission problems.
Brabham could now nurse his car home, but even driving carefully he still finished a commanding 48 seconds ahead of second placed Olivier Gendebien, with Bruce McLaren a few seconds further back.
The first four finishers in the race all drove Cooper Climaxes, and in fact the top eight cars all ran the Climax engine.
Every car in the top 10 came from Britain, with seven Coopers and three Lotuses.
French Grand Prix 1960
None of the BRM finished, which continued a trend for the season. The BRM P48 had some pace, as shown by Graham Hill's third place in qualifying here at Reims, or by his barnstorming fight back from the back of the pack to take the lead at Silverstone in the next race.
But the car was unreliable. Out of 21 Grand Prix entries for the P48 in 1960, the car only finished five races.
Jack Brabham took the lead of the Driver's chamionship at the French Grand Prix, and he didn't relinquish it for the rest of the season. For the second year running Brabham and Cooper were World Champions.
In contrast BRM scored just eight points, and their highest placed driver, Graham Hill finished in 15th place.