Monaco Grand Prix 1960
29th May 1960
The XVIII Grand Prix Automobile de Monaco was the second race of the 1960 season, and the first in Europe. Before the race had even begun there was much to interest the reporters and the crowds.
There was the first appearance of the new rear engined Ferrari, and the first sighting of a completely new F1 constructor in the all American Scarab team. There were also the first European outings for new cars from Cooper, Lotus and BRM, the latter having switched to a rear engined design with the type 48. There were plenty of new drivers too, with no fewer than nine drivers making their first appearance at Monaco.
As if that weren't enough, this was Monaco. In those days Monte Carlo wasn't just the most glamorous Grand Prix location, it was also one of the most spectacular and demanding circuits. It may now be seen as an anachronism, but back then it was anything but. It was seen by many as the Grand Prix of the season.
Practise and Qualifying
Twenty four entries had been accepted by the Automobile Club de Monaco, but only sixteen would start the race, which meant that practise was more hectic than usual. There were three sheduled practise sessions, but unfortunately the first was written off completely because of a fault with the timekeeper's clock.
Over the next two sessions, Moss proved to be quickest in his Lotus-Climax, a second faster than Brabham who was followed by Brooks and Bristow, all three driving Cooper Climaxes.
The new BRM P48 also had a respectable outing with Bonnier fifth and Graham Hill sixth, though Dan Gurney was down in 14th in his first race at Monaco.
The two Scarabs were striking, and well engineered, but slow. Lance Reventlow asked Stirling Moss to take the car out in the hopes of finding whether it was the cars or the drivers that were slow. It was both. Moss shaved several seconds off their lap times, but it still wouldn't have been enough to qualify for the race.
Circuit de Monaco
Circuit de Monaco, or Monte Carlo as it's often known, is one of the most famous street circuits ever. The track, first used in 1929, remained substantially unchanged right up until the 1970s, and even today many of the circuit's iconic corners are still unmistakeably familiar.
But for anybody who knows the two mile long circuit, the layout in the photos and on the track diagrams below might seem a little strange. That is simply because for a period from 1955 to 1963 the start/finish straight was moved, from its old location on Boulevard Albert 1er, the straight leading to Sainte Dévote, over to the straight between Tabac and the old Gasometer hairpin.
At this time of course, there was no swimming pool complex, and since then the tunnel has got much longer, and the Gasometer hairpin has been replaced by La Rascasse.
As with many race tracks, Monaco's inherent problems seem obvious and unavoidable nowadays. With larger, more powerful cars, the tight and twisty layout makes it very difficult to overtake. But this was 1960, when cars were smaller, and the circuit was seen as a huge challenge to man and machine. This might well have been Monaco's golden age of racing.
Circuit de Monaco Scalextric Track Plan
Footprint :- 4.20 x 1.71m
Lanes :- 2
Lane Length :- 11.68m
Track :- Scalextric Sport
XVIII Grand Prix Automobile de Monaco
As the race began, the front row of Moss, Brabham and Brooks all spun their wheels, whilst Bonnier in the BRM made a great start from the second to come through and lead at the first hairpin.
Jack Brabham took second place, and was challenging for the lead until lap five when Moss, the fastest in practise, overtook him.
Moss in the Lotus closed right up to Bonnier, but seemed in no hurry to overtake until lap 17, when he took the lead, and immediately opened up a gap. Behind him the racing was tight and fiercely contested, with Bonnier, Brabham, Brooks, Phil Hill, Graham Hill and McLaren all nose to tail.
Stirling Moss seemed to be cruising to victory, even at this early stage. But rain was on the way, and as the track got more slippery, Brabham passed Bonnier, and six laps later took the lead.
Brabham was pushing hard. Too hard as it turned out, as he found himself in the wall at Ste. Devote on lap 41, with a broken Cooper.
As the rain stopped and the track dried, around the halfway point of lap 50, Moss had re-established a comfortable lead. But ten laps later his car was only firing on three cylinders and he pulled into the pits. Bonnier in the BRM took the lead again.
Fortunately for Moss, the problem was simply a detached plug lead, and he was quickly back out on track, chasing down Bonnier with 40 laps remaining to catch and overtake him. He didn't need that many and took the lead again on lap 67.
By lap 78, Bonnier who was seemingly safe in second place, had to pit with a suspension problem, which triggered a bizarre set of events, which might take some explaining.
The rules at this time stated that only cars that had crossed the finish line at the end of the race were eligible for race places and points. It didn't matter how many laps a car had completed, even if you'd completed all but one lap of the race you'd be excluded if you couldn't somehow get your car across the line. Basically, a car that had sat in the pits for the last twenty laps could beat you if it came back out and finished the race.
Since there were now only four cars still running, and the points went down to the sixth placed finisher, the result was the strange sight of broken cars being sent back out onto the track in the hopes of gaining a point or two.
As Moss drove immaculately to victory, Brabham started up his Cooper with the bent chassis, Bonnier set off again with whatever suspension repairs could be managed, Gurney came out with his rear wheel flapping around uselessly, and Ginther began pushing his Ferrari to the finish line.
Stirling Moss had driven brilliantly, right from the first practice session, through all the changing conditions and circumstances in the race, and by his own admission, never having to push himself or his Lotus too hard. This was a consumate performance by the driver and the car, and it was of course the first Formula 1 win for Lotus.
Bruce McLaren and Phil Hill finished nearly a minute down in second and third, and Brooks finished fourth a lap adrift.
Bonnier finished 17 laps down to take fifth, and Ginther was 30 laps short of the winner in sixth.
In the strangest twist of all though, the very rules of F1 that were the reason for those stricken cars being out on the circuit whilst McLaren and Hill were still fighting for second place, were completely ignored. Graham Hill and Wolfgang von Trips were classified seventh and eighth in spite of not finishing the race. Meanwhile, poor old Innes Ireland, who had spent the last 44 laps pushing his Lotus halfway around the circuit to cross the finish line was classified behind the the two non finishers.