The VII Grand Prix International Automobile du Maroc, was the final and deciding round of the 1958 Formula One season, with Mike Hawthorn and Stirling Moss each going into the race with a shot at the World Drivers' Championship. The Championship would be settled by a single point at Ain Diab street circuit on the 19th October, and history would be made.
Encouraging Signs for BRM
BRM had entered four cars for the race, with Behra, Bonnier, Schell and Flockhart piloting. The team were no doubt encouraged when Jean Behra set the fastest lap time in Friday practise.
Come qualifying though the two front runners for the championship proved their credentials, Hawthorn in the Ferrari 246 clinching pole with Moss in the Vanwall beside him in second, just a tenth of a second behind. Behra qualified fourth, Bonnier eighth, Schell tenth, and Flockhart fifteenth in BRM P25s.
Ain Diab Circuit, Casablanca
Ain Diab was a street circuit, laid out on public roads in the southwest of Casablanca. The track was only used for two years, first in 1957 for a non championship event, and then in 1958 as the finale of the F1 season.
The start/finish straight of the track swept along the coast road, barely a stones throw from the Atlantic Ocean. The circuit ran in a clockwise direction and the roads which made up the track still exist today.
Ain Diab Scalextric Track Plan
Footprint :- 4.93 x 2.99m
Lanes :- 2
Lane Length :- 13.72m
Track :- Scalextric Sport
7th Grand Prix International Automobile du Maroc
1958 Moroccan Grand Prix
The two English drivers, Hawthorn and Moss, first and second on the grid, would fight it out for the dramatic finale of the Formula One World Drivers' Championship of 1958. By the end of the race, just a single point would separate them. Hawthorn was the favourite, needing only to finish second. Moss needed to win, and hope that his rival finished third or lower.
As the pack went down to the first corner Moss was leading but Hill was pressing hard and the end of the searing opening lap saw Moss and Hill side by side as they came past the pits with Hawthorn and Bonnier right behind followed by Brooks, Lewis-Evans and Behra. On the next lap there was still nothing in it and it was pretty clear that there were going to be no tactics in this race, it was every man for himself in a wonderful free-for-all.
Stirling Moss was at his supreme best, first seeing off an early charge from Phil Hill in the Ferrari, then establishing a healthy lead. Meanwhile, Moss's team mate, Tony Brooks had got ahead of Hawthorn who was pushed down to fourth.
But of course, it wasn't to be for Moss. The third placed Vanwall of Brooks blew its engine, leaving Hawthorn in third, with only his Ferrari team mate between him and the second place that would give him the championship. Obviously, Ferrari asked Hill to slow down and let Hawthorn past, meaning that Mike Hawthorn became the first ever British Formula One World Drivers Champion.
In fact 1958 was quite a year for the Brits, with the first five places in the Drivers' Championship being taken by British drivers, Hawthorn, Moss, Brooks, Salvadori and Collins.
Vanwall claimed the first International Cup for Formula One Constructors which later became known as the Formula One World Constructors' Championship, and British success followed on from that, with all but 17 Championships since then having been won by chassis that were designed and constructed in Great Britain.
As for BRM, well they finished fourth and fifth in Morocco with Joe Bonnier and Harry Schell, and finished fourth overall in the Constructors' Championship. A promising season for BRM then, but more was to come in the following years.
The sad post script to the Moroccan Grand Prix was that Stewart Lewis-Evans was severely injured in a crash on lap 41, and died in hospital six days later. Mike Hawthorn unexpectedly retired from motor racing after the race, and died in a car crash just a few months later