On this day in… 1957

19th July 2017
Henry Hope-Frost

Sixty years ago today (July 20th), World Championship Grand Prix racing history was made when a British driver (in fact, two British drivers) won a race in a British car. And to complete the deal, the milestone moment came on British soil.

For only the second time, Liverpool’s famous horse-racing venue Aintree held the Grand Prix d’Europe, incorporating the RAC British Grand Prix, on its perimeter roads.

And the crowd’s hopes of a famous win were given a boost when Stirling Moss put his Vanwall on pole in only his second outing in Tony Vandervell’s British Racing Green machine. Having started the season for Maserati in Argentina, he led at Monaco on his debut for Vanwall, before crashing, and then missed the French GP due to a sinus infection.

It was a golden opportunity to halt the run of three wins by Maserati maestro Juan Manuel Fangio; the World Champion had guided his 250F to victory in Argentina, Monaco and France, but had only qualified fourth at Aintree – behind fellow Maserati man Jean Behra and Moss’s team-mate Tony Brooks.

Brooks, still recovering from his nasty Le Mans shunt with Aston Martin, had also missed the race at Rouen and was not expected to challenge Moss or the Maseratis during the three-hour-plus, 90-lap British race. In fact, his below-par performance would play a hugely significant part in proceedings.

Moss duly led from the off and maintained that advantage until engine drama befell his #18 car. Having called into the pits, only to watch Behra sweep into the lead for Maserati, Moss was handed a lifeline in the shape of Brooks’s #20 Vanwall, called in for back-up use. Clearly struggling for pace as he nursed a battered body, Brooks handed over his healthy steed to the team leader.

While Frenchman Behra drove on towards what seemed to be a maiden Grand Prix win, Moss settled back in to his rhythm and began to eat into his lead. It all became immaterial when the #4 250F cooked its clutch on lap 70, spoiling Behra’s victory chances.

Moss assumed his position back at the front and pulled off a famous victory ahead of a trio of Ferraris. It had been 34 years since a British car had won an international event, thanks to Henry Segrave triumphing in the 1923 French GP at Tours for Sunbeam.

Now, Moss, Brooks and Vanwall had written their own chapter of Formula 1 World Championship history. 

British Grand Prix, 1957

1. Stirling Moss (GB)/Tony Brooks (GB) – Vanwall VW4, 90 laps
2. Luigi Musso (ITA) – Ferrari D50, 90 laps
3. Mike Hawthorn (GB) – Ferrari D50, 90 laps
4. Maurice Trintignant (F)/Peter Collins (GB) – Ferrari D50, 88 laps
5. Roy Salvadori (GB) – Cooper T43-Climax, 85 laps
6. Bob Gerard (GB) – Cooper T44-Bristol, 82 laps

  • Aintree


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