The XIX Grand Prix Automobile de Monaco, or the 1961 Monaco Grand Prix was the opening round of the 1961 FIA Formula One World Championship, held on the streets of Monte Carlo. Held on the 14th of May, with Jack Brabham opening his title defence on the début of the new 1.5 litre engine formula, implemented to reduce engine power.
British racer Stirling Moss put together an impressive weekend in his R.R.C. Walker Racing Team run Lotus-Climax to take pole, fastest lap and victory to open his season as one of the favourites for the Championship. Americans Richie Ginther and Phil Hill claimed second and third in their Ferraris, after a race spent stalking the older Lotus 18 which was down on horsepower and carried some minor panel damage for the majority of the race.
The winter of 1960-61 had seen the FIA opt to go ahead with plans to restrict World Championship cars to using 1.5 litre engines, after months of pressure from Ferrari. The Italian manufacturer had decided not to enter the final race of the 1960 Championship in order to develop their new engines, with rumours of a 30 to 50 horsepower advantage over Climax, their nearest rival. They would also retain their three factory drivers in Phil Hill, Richie Ginther and Wolfgang von Trips, although their were rumours that a fourth car would be supported for Italian Giancarlo Baghetti.
Of the British teams, defending Champions Cooper would run Australian World Champion Jack Brabham and his New Zealander team mate Bruce McLaren once again. Lotus would run two of their new Lotus 21s for Scot Jim Clark and Englishman Innes Ireland, while a third car, a development version of the older Lotus 18 was run by Stirling Moss as a privateer entry. The majority of the privateer entries would also feature the older Lotus 18s or Cooper T51s, all of which were equipped with the same Climax FPF L4 engine.
A fourth major factory team in Formula One would be Porsche, with the German firm signing Swede Jo Bonnier and American Dan Gurney from BRM, joining with German Hans Herrmann. BRM managed to secure Tony Brooks as their second driver alongside the remaining Graham Hill, while BRP, whom Brooks left, also lost Olivier Gendebien to the new Equipe Nationale Belge, joining Lucien Bianchi. Other changes saw John Surtees leave Team Lotus just before the start of the season to join Reg Parnell Racing.
The fully entry list for the 1961 Monaco Grand Prix is displayed below:
Qualifying in Monaco had always been a confusing matter, and the race's prestige meant that the major constructors were alloted automatic qualifications for the race. For 1961, the five manufacturers (Ferrari, Porsche, Team Lotus, Cooper and BRM) were each awarded two spots on the grid, while Stirling Moss and Maurice Trintignant also awarded places on the grid. That left four places to fight for among the remaining nine drivers, although the combined practice/qualifying session would still be required to decide the starting order.
Stirling Moss sent his Lotus swinging around the Monaco streets to claim pole position for the opening race of the season, beating American Richie Ginther by two tenths of a second. Joining them on the front row would be Jim Clark in one of the factory Lotuses, although the Scot came close to not making the grid after crashing heavily at Sainte Devote early on Saturday. Row two would be shared by Graham Hill and Phil Hill, representing BRM and Ferrari respectively, while defending Champion Jack Brabham would start at the very back of the field for Cooper.
The second Team Lotus machine would also be in strife after a huge accident for Innes Ireland resulted in a broken leg for the Englishman and a written-off Lotus 21. Cliff Allison was therefore promoted as the first of the privateers who had failed to qualify, despite his actual qualifying time enough to have beaten automatic qualifiers Trintignant and Brabham. The other four drivers would remain on the reserve list, ready to take over a grid slot if mechanical failures prevented other qualifiers from starting.
The full qualifying results for the 1961 Monaco Grand Prix are outlined below:
|6||40||Wolfgang von Trips||Ferrari||1:39.8||+0.7s|
- * Ireland was unable to take the start, so Allison was to start the race in his place.
- † Brabham automatically qualified so would start regardless of his time.
|______________||7||Wolfgang von Trips|
With news that Ireland would be okay after his huge accident, but would be unable to take the start, attention turned to the start of the first race of the 1.5 litre era. The Ferraris were expected to have the advantage off the line, their extra horsepower giving them better acceleration, although Stirling Moss and Jim Clark had demonstrated that the Lotus were better at winding their way around the city streets.
Off the line it was indeed advantage Ferrari, as Richie Ginther stormed into the lead ahead of Moss and Clark, the Scot ahead of the Englishman as they made their way to the first corner. Graham Hill had managed to retain fourth after a slow get away from Phil Hill, but his positioning on the inside of the hairpin meant he would be compromised as the field squeezed through the narrow turn. Tony Brooks was able to sweep along the outside of the two Hills, claiming fourth after a stunning start, while the two Porsches of Jo Bonnier and Dan Gurney battled with Bruce McLaren in his Cooper at the back of the top ten.
At the end of the first lap it was Ginther leading ahead of Clark and Moss, although that was soon to change as Moss swept past Clark who had to pit with a fuel pump issue throwing him out of the lead battle and several laps down. Gurney, meanwhile, had battled into fourth in the opening stages, Brooks now separating him from team mate Bonnier, ahead of the two Hills, who themselves had McLaren in between. The following laps saw Bonnier and Gurney locked together in a private duel for third after Clark's tumble, while Hill and McLaren battled in the wake of Brooks, who would begin to slip back after the first couple of laps.
With eleven laps gone Clark was back in the action, swiftly making ground on the tail end of the field despite being several laps behind, as Graham Hill ground to a halt with his own fuel pump dramas. Two laps later and the attention was back on the front of the field, as Moss, minus part of a side panel, was leading the race ahead of Bonnier, a double move on Ginther that had gone unseen by the cameras. The next ten laps saw Moss slowly pull clear of Bonnier, who came under increasing pressure from the Ferraris of Ginther and Hill, the latter having dealt with the traffic around him after his poor start.
Suddenly, Hill was up to second, taking Ginther and Bonnier in the space of two laps as Moss made his way through the back markers. Bonnier was now sat in third, defending from Wolfgang von Trips, whose pace had gone unseen to see him clear McLaren, Gurney and Ginther in short order. John Surtees had also cleared Gurney to take seventh, while von Trips and Ginther began to exchange blows in a battle for third.
Jack Brabham had not been having his best weekend for Cooper as he opened his title defence, seeming to be off the pace as a result of the limited Climax engine. It therefore came as no surprise when his Cooper T55 came to a stop on lap 39, an ignition problem meaning the defending World Champion was out of the race. A couple of laps later and Clark claimed his first victim, pouncing on Michael May at the very back of the field as he set fastest lap after fastest lap in desperation to get to the tail end of the points.
Back with the leaders and Moss was dancing his Lotus through the city streets in what was widely regarded as the best race of his career. Ginther, meanwhile, was fighting back and so saw him take Bonnier to make it two Ferraris charging through the city to attempt to take the Brit up front. Elsewhere, May became the latest driver to depart the race after the Swiss racer suffered a gearbox failure moments after Clark swept by. Brooks and Bonnier would also fall shortly after the halfway point of the race, valve and fuel pump issues respectively putting them out while running a lap down on Moss.
Bonnier's retirement meant von Trips was now part of a three part Ferrari pack hunting down Moss, although Hill could not make a dent in the Brit's lead. Orders from the pits with a quarter of the race to go saw Ginther and Hill swap places, and resulted in Hill falling further back leaving two in the fight for the lead. Ginther was able to match Moss' times almost lap for lap, and with fifteen laps to go looked set to catch the elusive Lotus before the end of the race. Yet, through a combination of skill and fortune, Moss was able to carve through the traffic, gaining vital seconds over Ginther every time they came across a slower car.
The closing stages would see Ginther overcome these set backs and begin to reel in Moss once more, but he would ultimately run out of time as Moss swept across the line to secure the first win of the season. Hill claimed third to complete the podium, over 40 seconds down on Moss, while von Trips crashed out due to an engine problem on the final lap, having just fallen off the lead lap. Gurney would finish on the same lap as von Trips but had not completed the same distance and so finished fifth, while McLaren completed the points a minute ahead of Maurice Trintignant.
The full results for the 1961 Monaco Grand Prix are outlined below:
|4*||40||Wolfgang von Trips||Ferrari||98||Engine||6||3|
|5||4||Dan Gurney||Porsche||98||+2 laps||11||2|
|6||26||Bruce McLaren||Cooper-Climax||95||+5 laps||7||1|
|7||42||Maurice Trintignant||Cooper-Maserati||95||+5 laps||15|
|8||32||Cliff Allison||Lotus-Climax||93||+7 laps||14|
|9||6||Hans Herrmann||Porsche||91||+9 laps||12|
|10||28||Jim Clark||Lotus-Climax||89||+11 laps||3|
|11*||22||John Surtees||Cooper-Climax||68||Fuel pump||11|
|12*||2||Jo Bonnier||Porsche||59||Fuel pump||9|
|Ret||18||Graham Hill||BRM-Climax||11||Fuel pump||4|
- * Cars #40, #22, #2 and #16 were all classified as finishers despite retiring.
- 16th and final pole position for Stirling Moss.
- 15th win for Moss.
Victory for Stirling Moss saw him lead the Championship after the opening round, ahead of the Ferrari duo Richie Ginther and Phil Hill. Wolfgang von Trips ensured that there were three Ferrari drivers in the top four, while Dan Gurney and Bruce McLaren wrapped up the point scorers in the earliest phase of the 1961 Championship.
The earliest years of the Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers saw only the best placed point scoring driver for each manufacturer claim points, meaning that the three Ferraris combined for a total of just six points. Lotus-Climax led the way after Moss' win, with Porsche sat in third and Cooper-Climax holding a single point.
Images and Videos:
- 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: MONACO GP, 1961', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2016), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr095.html, (Accessed 26/04/2016)
- TheAndrewf1, '1961 Monaco Grand Prix BBC Highlights', youtube.com, (YouTube, 04/06/2012), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCYBPE-UOyM, (Accessed 26/04/2016)
- '1961 Monaco Grand Prix: Qualifying', statsf1.com, (StatsF1, 2015), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1961/monaco/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 26/04/2016)
- 'Monaco 1961: Lap by Lap', statsf1.com, (StatsF1, 2015), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1961/monaco/tour-par-tour.aspx, (Accessed 26/04/2016)
- 'Monaco 1961: Race Results', statsf1.com, (StatsF1, 2015), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1961/monaco/classement.aspx, (Accessed 26/04/2016)
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