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Fangio & Moss - Motorsport 1955

29 October 2018 - 02:00 PM

Jenks on...

How our Grand Prix Correspondent  answered the eternal question

“At almost every race meeting I go to people ask one particular question, and that is ‘Who is the world’s best driver today, Moss or Fangio?’ I have numerous stock answers to this query and among them are ‘probably some unknown van driver in Patagonia has the combination of reflexes and judgment that would beat all the reigning champions  given the chance.’ Another is that ‘Hawthorn must not be overlooked, because he has won two major grand prix events, both in open battle and each was a decisive victory,’ but eventually the questioners boil things down to the difference between Fangio and Moss.
From the English driver’s own words, Fangio is the best – in my own words, I add, but for how long I would not like to say. Taking this season’s races, on almost every grand prix circuit there has been a corner that Fangio could take faster than Moss, using identical cars, or both using the same car.
An example of this very slight difference between the two is the tunnel at Monte Carlo, where you enter into complete darkness and only see the light of the exit after you are fully in the tunnel. Even using the same car in practice Fangio could go through the tunnel without lifting, while Moss admitted freely that try as he might he always eased the throttle a fraction as he entered the tunnel.
Another place on the same circuit was the hairpin at the Gasworks, where I timed a whole collection of drivers in practice from a mark on the approach to another on the exit of the hairpin. The time was just over seven seconds and every lap Fangio was one or two-fifths faster than Moss. The main reason for doing this timing was a private arrangement with Moss to find out whether he could take the hairpin quicker in second or third gear. No matter what Moss did Fangio was always  faster through the corner.
Taking the opposite extreme, I did a similar thing in practice for the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa. On this occasion I timed everyone round the long high-speed curve at Stavelot, a distance occupying some 15 seconds at a speed of around 100mph. Again, Fangio was a consistent half-second faster than Moss. These few vital fifths of seconds, or even tenths, all add up in a race and, added to Fangio’s superior track-craft through having more experience of open grand prix battles, I would rate him Number 1. As I said earlier, for how much longer is another matter.”

September 1955

Being Jack: Brabham track test

07 May 2018 - 01:40 PM

From Motorsport:


The secret to Jim Clark's speed

30 March 2018 - 03:13 AM


The secret to Jim Clark's speed   by Paul Fearnley on 29th March 2018

The method behind Jim Clark's talent

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It’s a glimpse but a telling one.
Just over nine minutes into the below film of the 1965 French Grand Prix is footage of the top guns – bar an off-form Graham Hill – tackling a fast downhill left.
Of them Jim Clark is clearly fastest and clearly doing it his way.
The Lotus is 2-3ft inside the painted white line as Clark turns – it’s more of a sweep really – into the corner.
Jackie Stewart’s BRM P261 grazes that line; so does John Surtees’ V8 Ferrari; Dan Gurney’s Brabham BT11 crosses it; and Lorenzo Bandini’s flat-12 Ferrari straddles it.
Clark turns in much earlier and more sympathetically – Gurney’s stance is particularly aggressive – and sits across the road’s dotted centre line at a point where Stewart – grappling with more understeer than he would have liked – is still entirely to the right of it.
Beyond lies the only straight of note at Clermont-Ferrand – with 48 corners in its five sinuous miles – and Clark disappears from view carrying crucial extra speed.

He had hinted at his advantage in At the Wheel, published in 1964: “Most people run deep into a corner before turning the wheel.
“In this way you can complete your braking in a straight line, as everyone recommends you do, before setting the car up for the corner.
“But I prefer to cut into the corner early and even with my brakes still on to set up the car earlier.
“In this way I almost make a false apex because I get the power on early and try to drift the car through the true apex and continue with this sliding until I am set up for the next bit of straight.”
His was an evolution of the trail-braking that Stirling Moss used – also in a Lotus – during the latter stages of his career: an alliance of lessons learned and natural gifts for a new breed of GP car.
Moss – as the greats tend to be – was mystified as to why rivals did not attempt the same.
Clark was the first to do so – and took it to the next level: “The most important thing you can learn in racing: how to brake.

“It is considered that leaving your braking to the very last minute is important and I would agreed. But I would also say that where you take the brakes off again also matters.
“If I want to go through a given corner quicker I don’t necessarily put the brakes on any later than usual. But I might not put them on very hard and take them off earlier.
“It depends very much on how the car you are driving handles.”

It would appear that Clark – as was Alain Prost in the 1980s – was able to cope with an understeering set-up that flummoxed most others who tried it.
This made him easier on brakes, engine and tyres – as well as making him the man to beat at Indianapolis.
Compatriot, friend and rival Stewart – Robin to Clark’s Batman – had every reason therefore to copy this ability, this knack, this art, of doing just enough.
Watching Clark practice, going faster and faster, Stewart had once cried: “He doesn’t even use all of the road!”
Related Stewart gained an insight into Clark’s MO when he replaced him at Kyalami’s non-championship Rand GP in December 1964.
(Clark had thrown out his back in a snowball fight at a Ford junket!)
Stewart qualified a brand new Lotus 33, chassis R10, on pole for his category debut and won the second 25-lap heat from the back after a driveshaft had broken at the start of the first.

“And it wasn’t that difficult if you know what I mean,” he says.
“That was concerning. I’d been testing the BRM a lot [he’d already signed for the Bourne-based team] at Snetterton. Having to balance its understeer against oversteer.
“The Lotus, you almost had to avoid overdriving it.
“Its grip and adhesion were unbelievable. It felt as though its centre of gravity was six inches below ground [rather than at track level].
“That news wasn’t totally well received at BRM.”

Thus Clark was extracting the most from the best equipment.
And he was absolutely at the top of his game in 1965 having led every lap from pole – and setting fastest lap – at the South African and Dutch GPs and leading all bar 10 laps of the Indy 500.

His French GP was not without troubles, on and off the track.
Chapman, delayed by a chance meeting with Yuri Gagarin at the airport, crashed their hire car into a ditch en route.
And then Clark’s practice at a circuit new to him was limited severely by suspension failure and problems with the 32-valve Coventry Climax V8.
Apparently and understandably feeling ‘niggly’, he hopped into the spare – R6, an updated 1963 car fitted with an old-spec 16-valver – and grabbed pole from Stewart by five-tenths.

Surprising rivals by electing to start from the left-hand side of the grid – being happy to take a tight line into that fast downhill left – he again led throughout.
Stewart gave spirited chase but Clark was always out of sight, away around the next bend.

“I didn’t know very much then and was driving by the seat of my pants,” admits Stewart.
“By the end of my career there were in my mind eight elements to every corner. In 1965 there were three: entry, apex and exit.
“And braking was a one-element experience. Well, it’s not.
“I was driving through subtleties and unbalancing the car as a result.
“I didn’t know enough about set-up. I had to rely on [chief engineer] Tony Rudd to try to make my car less reactionary. But he was devoted to Graham [Hill].
“Everybody loved Graham – he’d earned it and deserved it – but he was tough to work with and very insistent: the front end of his car was amazingly stiff.
“The people at BRM were very good, but not until I got into a Matra in 1968 did I know what I wanted and had developed my skills sufficiently to get it.”
Cruel fate – as it had with Moss and Clark – had denied us a great duel.


Dan Gurney - Sad News

15 January 2018 - 04:57 AM


Motorsports' Baghetti Tribute

22 December 2017 - 04:03 AM

Giancarlo Baghetti's miracle at Reims

by Paul Fearnley on 21st December 2017

Born on Christmas Day 1934, Giancarlo Baghetti pulled off a miraculous debut Grand Prix victory at Reims in 1961 to set his legacy firmly in stone...
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The pressure in Syracuse – 50,000 expectant locals in Mafioso sunglasses – had been intense, but nothing like this.
In April the British contingent, its cars and drivers, had arrived in Sicily breathlessly late and tired after contesting the Aintree 200 – already the season’s sixth Formula 1 race for some – just three days prior.
In contrast, you had kept your cool, made no complaints, demands or alterations; settled neatly to your new environment.
After a hesitant start from the middle of the front row, you had picked them off: Graham Hill, Jack Brabham (the winner at Aintree), Innes Ireland, Joachim Bonnier, Dan Gurney and John Surtees.
Clinically quickly you had the lead by the end of the sixth lap.
Only Gurney’s Porsche could stay close and you had controlled that gap until crossing the finish line – and going straight on at the hairpin by way of metaphorical release after almost two hours of physical and mental effort.
Victory had been gained but the element of surprise lost and so now the heat was on under a shimmering July sky in Champagne.
Throughout practice you were tailed by green cars seeking a tow down the long straights of the triangular Reims circuit; jostled by drivers determined to put you in your place.
Your team manager saw no reason to protect you because your pace was not a threat to the three works cars that swept the front row – plus you had to learn somehow.

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Every session was treated like a race.
And a good job, too. With Porsches left and right, Lotuses fore and aft, and vice versa, there was – literally – no room for error after the flag was dropped.
Giancarlo Baghetti was an aesthetic, slightly chubby son of a wealthy Milanese.
Catching the racing eye with a handful of excellent performances in a Formula Junior Dagrada-Lancia generally reckoned inferior to its Stanguellini-Fiat rival, he had been selected – after much argument – to become Italy’s Next Big Thing in 1961.
A confederation of privateer teams had persuaded Enzo Ferrari – no easy task! – to provide a car, albeit one fitted with an older specification of engine.
Now Baghetti was tasked with keeping it on melting French roads as Gurney and Bonnier, Ireland and Jim Clark, plus the Cooper of BruceMcLaren, roughed him up.
Their slipstreaming battle for fifth was the highlight of a French Grand Prix being otherwise dominated by the ‘Sharknose’ Ferraris of Phil Hill, Wolfgang von Trips and Richie Ginther.
Their 120-degree Dino V6s generated perhaps 30bhp more than the British cars’ stopgap Coventry-Climax ‘four’ for the new 1.5-litre F1 – and 10bhp more than Baghetti’s 65-degree version.
The latter had been almost six seconds slower than Hill in practice and therefore found himself surrounded. The sharks were green from where he was sitting – and he was the bait.

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So he stuck All Arms and Elbows Ireland on the grass.

This became a battle for fourth when Stirling Moss pitted his Lotus because of brake problems.
And fourth became third when von Trips stopped with water trickling from his left-hand exhaust pipe.
Motor Sport correspondent Denis Jenkinson was not a man swift to sympathy or inclined to purple prose – but he was warming to Baghetti:
The remarkable thing was that he was more than holding his own… giving back as good as he was getting and not making any mistakes under conditions in which a mistake would have been excusable.
The track was breaking up and on lap 38 Phil Hill ran wide at Thillois and looped lazily, the subsequent tangle with Moss causing the Ferrari to stall.
So now Ginther, who had already survived a spin and an excursion, led.
Within a lap, however, he would pit to complain of plummeting oil pressure. New rules forbade a top-up and he parked at Muizon on lap 41.
Jenkinson: One can hardly imagine Baghetti’s thoughts as he went by the stricken Ferrari, having already passed Phil Hill push-starting his.
The whole hopes of Italy rested on his shoulders.
It seemed quite impossible that such a newcomer to big-time racing could go on battling against more experienced drivers without making a mistake of a missed gearchange, an error in braking, or a misjudgment of speed into a corner, or getting elbowed out of line by his superiors.
Though Ireland had dropped back because of a faltering engine and Lotus team-mate Clark had lost the tow when a stone shattered his goggles – this was racing at its most muck and bullets – the flat-four Porsches were circling still.

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Bonnier and Gurney now attacked with renewed vigour… the vast crowd around the circuit became alive, the pits and grandstands were in a fever and signals were unnecessary. It was a battle to the death.

Bonnier succumbed in a haze of oil smoke, but team-mate Gurney, whom Ferrari had let slip through its fingers despite the American’s brilliant breakthrough 1959, was determined to reverse that Syracuse result.
He out-braked Baghetti at the final corner – but there remained a long straight run to the chequered flag.
With just 300 yards of the 268 miles to go, the Ferrari jinked from Dan’s slipstream to win by a tenth: One of the most perfect pieces of timing that would have done credit to Fangio himself.
Luck – and a car advantage – was involved, no doubt, but this had been no gimme.
He had driven a harder race than anyone… Giancarlo Baghetti had arrived, even if he never wins another race…
Jenkinson’s summary was prescient.
Baghetti would win again – at Vallelunga in a Porsche borrowed to secure that year’s Italian Championship; in a Fiat-Abarth ‘buzzbomb’ in the 1966 European Touring Car Championship; and in an unheralded Branca in a tragic F3 race at Monza in 1967.
But he had long ago had his day of days in the sun.

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Enzo rated him – compared him with Achille Varzi indeed – but Baghetti, like fellow aesthete Hill, tired of the Scuderia’s Machiavellian default and followed the American to its ATS offshoot in 1963.
His F1 career had stumbled in 1962. Now it tumbled.
One-off Italian GP outings in 1966 and ’67 – in a Ferrari loaned to Reg Parnell and a third works Lotus 49 – saw him struggle in qualifying but come through in the races, a jammed throttle and a blown engine costing him probable points finishes.
His works Ferrari ensnared by a multiple shunt during the Monza Lottery Formula 2 race of 1968, he decided to leave such shenanigans to younger, hungrier men.
After a successful career as a motorsport and fashion photojournalist, the man who had worked that miracle at Reims died in November 1995.
Born on Christmas Day 1934, he was just 60.
Taken too soon. Immortality assured.