Why 1960 turned into a Lotus anti-climax
Bruce McLaren led the world championship after his runner-up finish in Monaco and preceding victory in Argentina, but Moss and Walker now looked a fair bet for title honours. Yet somehow a Lotus 18 wouldn’t win another world championship round until Riverside in November, by which time Brabham had long since clinched his second consecutive title.
At Zandvoort, Moss again took pole but was thwarted by a puncture as Brabham scored his first win of the campaign. Then tragedy struck at Spa: Moss incurred serious injuries, including a broken back, during a crash in practice; Lotus driver Mike Taylor was also badly hurt after his steering broke; then two Britons, Chris Bristow in a Cooper and Alan Stacey in a works Lotus, were killed in separate accidents in the race, the latter allegedly after hitting a bird. Winner Brabham had nothing to celebrate after one of the worst weekends in F1 history.
But now with Moss side-lined, there was little opposition to Brabham who won a further three rounds in a row, the French, British and Portuguese GPs – although he had some fortune along the way. Graham Hill looked set for a heroic victory at Silverstone, only to spin off at Copse with only six laps go in his BRM, while motorcycling hero John Surtees led in Oporto in only his third world championship start on four wheels, only for the street circuit’s tramlines to catch him out.
As for Moss, he sensationally returned to action less than two months after his Spa crash, but it was far too late to make up the ground lost to Brabham. After Phil Hill had won for Ferrari at Monza, Moss scored a convincing consolation win at Riverside in California to complete an F1 season that had promised so much more.
But Cooper’s best days were already run. At Zandvoort Jim Clark had made his F1 debut, then scored his first points at Spa and his first podium in Oporto. Increasingly impressive throughout the season, the 1960s would be centred around Clark and Lotus as Cooper faded and Moss was side-lined once and for all by his career-ending shunt at Goodwood in 1962. Stirling had started the ball rolling for Chapman, but it was a quiet Scot who would inspire the Lotus legend.
For another take on Moss’ win in Monaco, have a read of Andrew Frankel’s piece ‘How Stirling Moss conquered Monaco in a car he didn't like’
Images courtesy of Motorsport Images.