top of page

1956 British Grand Prix

The fifth round of the 1956 Formula-1 World Championship took place on July 14 in the Great Britain, returning after a year's break to the Silverstone circuit. Over the past two years, the track has not undergone almost any changes, and its length has remained the same, amounting to 4.711 km, however, due to the increase of cars speeds, the total distance has been increased and now amounted to 101 laps.

Silverstone 1952.jpg

After four rounds and two consecutive victories in Belgium and France, Ferrari driver Peter Collins was the undisputed, albeit unexpected, leader of the championship, while the Scuderia leader Juan-Manuel Fangio was only third in the overall standings.


Certainly, this situation did not suit the world champion at all, who too often this season became a victim of technical malfunctions, and before the British Grand Prix, Juan-Manuel set a condition for Enzo Ferrari: either he is provided with an individual mechanic who will be responsible only for his car, as it was in Daimler-Benz, or he leaves the team. Naturally, Commendatore was not too impressed with such blackmail from the Argentinean, but losing his leader in the midst of the season would be too great a blow for the team, so the head of the Scuderia gave in to Fangio, breaking the established tradition. In total, four Scuderia drivers took part in this Grand Prix, and, as in France, Fangio's and Collins' teammates were Eugenio Castellotti and Alfonso de Portago, with all four getting Ferrari D50 cars at their disposal.


Meanwhile, the British public hoped, like last year, to see the victory of their compatriot, especially since they had someone to cheer for this season, in addition to Collins. First of all, this concerned, of course, the winner of last year's Grand Prix and everyone's favorite Stirling Moss, who represented the Maserati team this season.


At the same time, the Englishman himself did not particularly hide that he was very determined, because after his disastrous race in France, a successful performance in his homeland was more important than ever for him. As for the Modena team, it was also represented by four drivers in this Grand Prix, and Stirling's teammates were, as in the previous stage, Jean Behra, Cesare Perdisa and Chico Godia. However, in addition to the factory drivers, quite a few private racers took part in the British Grand Prix driving the Maserati 250F cars, including Roy Salvadori of Gilby Engineering, Umberto Maglioli of Scuderia Guastalla, as well as Luigi Villoresi, Louis Rosier, Bruce Halford, Horace Gould and Jack Brabham.

As for the British cars, there were also plenty of them at the home ground.


Local spectators, of course, had the highest hopes for the team of Tony Vandervell, whose cars were able to show off their speed at the previous round in France, and which was again represented by three drivers: already familiar Harry Schell and Maurice Trintignant, as well as a special guest from overseas José-Froilan Gonzalez, who had won the British Grand Prix twice and was considered the recognized master of the Silverstone circuit.


In addition, this round also saw the return to the World Championship of the Alfred Owen's team with their BRM cars, which were driven, as before, by Mike Hawthorn and Tony Brooks, as well as team rookie Ron Flockhart.


As usual, the British stage was not without the Connaught team, which put up three Connaught B cars with 1.5-liter Alta engines, driven by Archie Scott-Brown, Desmond Titterington and Jack Fairman.


As for the Cooper team, then it this time preferred to skip the home Grand Prix, but one Cooper T23 with Bristol engine was still present at Silverstone, driven by private racer Bob Gerard. In addition, this Grand Prix also saw the debut of local driver Paul Emery, who went to the start driving a car of his own design, the Emeryson Mk1 with a 1.5-liter Alta engine.

Meanwhile, after an absolutely disastrous debut in their homeland, the French Bugatti team announced the end of its program in Formula-1, and thus the only French cars at Silverstone were Gordinis. At the same time, the team of Amadeus Gordini here was represented by only two drivers Robert Manzon and Nano da Silva Ramos, who, as in France, were driving the new 8-cylinder Gordinis T32.

gordini GB56.jpg


As usual, the qualification of the British Grand Prix took place in two days, Thursday and Friday, but given that it was raining on the second training day, the positions on the starting grid were already determined by the results of Thursday. At the same time, unlike the qualifications in the previous rounds, which were held in conditions of the complete superiority of Juan-Manuel Fangio, this time the Argentine found a worthy opponent in the person of Stirling Moss, who, thanks to an identical result with the world champion, managed not only to win his first pole-position in this season, pushing Fangio to second place, but also breaking the track record, which has been held since 1951!


However, an even bigger surprise was the speed of Mike Hawthorn on BRM, who was only 2 seconds behind the two leaders and took 3rd place on the grid, while managing to get ahead of even the championship leader Collins, who took 4th position. The next group of drivers was already 3 seconds behind pole-position and included Schell and Gonzalez in two Vanwalls, who once again managed to demonstrate the speed of British cars, Castellotti in a Ferrari and, rather unexpectedly, Salvadori in a private Maserati. Closed the top ten Brooks on another BRM and Scott-Brown, who turned out to be the fastest Connaught driver. At the same time, Archie also distinguished himself by burning the engine on the car of his teammate Titterington, without letting him drive a single lap, but before the breakdown, he still managed to show a fairly quick result on this car, which allowed Desmond to take 11th position. Meanwhile, the main losers of the qualification were the French drivers: Jean Behra and Maurice Trintignant, despite the excellent performances of their teammates, managed to show only the 13th and 16th results, respectively, while the Gordini team failed in full force, allowing their drivers to take only 18th and 26th positions.



On the day of the race, Fangio suddenly had a fever, however, despite the insistence of doctors, the Argentine still succumbed to the persuasion of the organizers and took part in the Grand Prix, although he had to drink painkillers before the start.


Meanwhile, already in the morning the sky over the track was covered with clouds, and fog fell on the stands, however, despite the high humidity, the rain did not start, and by the beginning of the Grand Prix the track remained relatively dry.


Start. After the national flag falls, the cars take off and, to the delight of the stands, Hawthorn in BRM takes the lead in the first turn, being followed by his teammate Brooks, who manages an incredible start from 9th position!


Unlike the BRM drivers, Moss fails the start, and the Englishman completes the first lap only in 8th place! Meanwhile, Gonzalez faces the transmission failure at the very start, and the Argentinean, having missed all his rivals, turns to the side of the road before driving a hundred meters! At the same time, his slow car brings turmoil to the middle ranks, with Fairman and Brabham benefiting the most from this, who win quite a few positions and become 14th and 21st respectively.
Position after lap 1: Hawthorn, Brooks, Fangio, Schell, Castellotti, Salvadori, Collins, Moss, de Portago, Scott-Brown.
Lap 2: Hawthorn and Brooks are the fastest on the track and are already 3 seconds ahead of the chasing group led by Fangio!


Meanwhile, Collins, who had not started well, already on the 2nd lap begins to win back positions, overtaking Castellotti and Salvadori!


Besides, another position wins back Brabham, leaving behind Halford.
Lap 3: Two BRMs continue to lead the race, bringing their advantage over the pursuers to 5 seconds already! However, the third BRM driver is not doing so brilliantly, and already on the 3rd lap, Flockhart drops out of the race due to engine failure. Meanwhile, Collins and Salvadori pass Schell one after the other, and Castellotti also loses two positions, missing Moss and de Portago.


Lap 4: Moss after a failed start begins to break through and, having overtaken Castellotti, the Englishman now passes Schell, rising to 6th place!


Besides, on the same lap, Emery pulls into the pits, dropping to last place.
Lap 5: Moss continues to attack and leaves behind Salvadori, already taking the 5th position!


Besides, on the same lap, Trintignant passes Behra, and now the Frenchman is 12th.


Meanwhile, Brabham, who started the race very well, is already forced to stop fighting and retires in the pits with a faulty engine.
Lap 6: Hawthorn continues to comfortably lead while Brooks begins to slowly fall behind his teammate, allowing chasing Fangio to get within attacking range! Meanwhile, one of the rear shock absorbers breaks on Schell's Vanwall, and the American turns into the pits for a long repair, thus falling to last place!
Lap 7: Fangio goes on the attack and overtakes Brooks, wedging between two BRMs!


In addition, on the same lap, Castellotti passes his teammate de Portago and becomes 7th, while Maglioli gets ahead of Perdisa in the fight for 17th place.


Lap 8: Fangio is doing his best to close his gap to Hawthorn, however, the Englishman is clearly on a roll today and passes the lap with the same time, without conceding a fraction of a second to the world champion!


Meanwhile, Moss continues his climb to the top, and Collins is now his next victim!


Besides, Scott-Brown has also a great race, who manages to get ahead of de Portago's Ferrari in his Connaught!


Lap 9: Fangio, trying by all means to catch up with Hawthorn, is too zealous in the Becketts corner and spins!


Fortunately, the Argentinean manages not to stall and continue the race, but several rivals still manage to rush past his car, and now the world champion is only 6th! At the same time, after Fangio's mistake Brooks regains 2nd place again, while Moss is already in 3rd position! In addition, on the same lap, Salvadori manages to get ahead of Collins, and thus the driver from Gilby Engineering pushes the championship leader back to 5th place!


However, for local public, this does not really matter, because now, one way or another, the first five places are occupied by the British drivers! Meanwhile, Scott-Brown also continues to impress and after only a lap he passes another Ferrari, this time of Castellotti!


Unlike the British, things are not going so well for Perdisa, and after a small mistake, the Italian misses three opponents at once, dropping to 21st place.
Position after 10 laps: Hawthorn, Brooks, Moss, Salvadori, Collins, Fangio, Scott-Brown, Castellotti, de Portago, Titterington. Hawthorn continues to confidently lead the race, already 8 seconds ahead of Brooks' second BRM!


Lap 11: Brooks continues to lose ground and the BRM driver misses Moss and Salvadori one after the other! Meanwhile, Fangio, after his mistake, begins to break through again and leaves his teammate Collins behind!


Lap 12: Godia passes Halford for 18th place.
Lap 13: Emery's car starts to misfire and the Englishman pulls into the pits, retiring.
Lap 14: Trintignant's Vanwall begins having fuel supply problems and the Frenchman misses Behra again, dropping to 12th. Besides, on the same lap, Godia wins back one more position, overtaking Maglioli.
Lap 15: Fangio catches up with Brooks and passes the Englishman again, taking 4th place!


Meanwhile, Trintignant pulls into the pits for repairs, and after a long stop the Frenchman gets back to the track in 22nd position.


In addition, on the same lap, Rosier also stops in the pits to adjust the carburetors, as a result of which Louis drops to last place.
Lap 16: After a few chasing laps, Moss finally catches up with Hawthorn and passes him in the Copse, thus becoming the new leader of the race!


Lap 17: After taking the lead, Moss immediately starts pulling away from Hawthorn, lapping 2 seconds faster than BRM!


Meanwhile, due to the breakdown of the rear turning axle on Scott-Brown's Connaught, a wheel suddenly flies off the car in the Becketts, and the disappointed Englishman turns to the side of the road, losing a real opportunity to earn his first points!
Lap 19: Two Vanwall drivers, who both had already made unscheduled pit stops, suddenly find themselves side by side at the very end of the field, and, having no other rivals, arrange a fight between themselves!
Lap 20: Hawthorn's BRM starts to lose oil, which immediately affects the pace of the Englishman and allows Salvadori to get close to Mike!
Position after 20 laps: Moss, Hawthorn, Salvadori, Fangio, Brooks, Collins, Castellotti, de Portago, Titterington, Behra.
Lap 21: Salvadori, having an amazing race today, attacks and easily passes Hawthorn, thus taking already 2nd place!


Lap 22: The gearbox fails on Maglioli's Maserati, and the Italian is out of the race.
Lap 23: The engine on Titterington's Connaught begins to misfire, forcing the Irishman to turn into the pits for a plug change, as a result of which Desmond drops to 13th.
Lap 24: Two more cars drop out of the race: one of the pistons burned out on Halford's Maserati, while Rosier stops in the pits with a faulty ignition.
Lap 25: Transmission on Hawthorn's BRM is running out of oil, and Mike, fearing a jam, stops in the pits to retire, thus losing 3rd to Fangio!


In addition, on the same lap, Titterington again pulls into the pits, and after another change of spark plugs, the Irishman loses a few more positions, dropping to 17th already!
Lap 26: Da Silva Ramos passes Godia for 13th place.
Lap 28: Godia loses another position to Perdisa.
Lap 30: Godia counterattacks both of his opponents and gets ahead again, returning to 13th position!
Position after 30 laps: Moss, Salvadori, Fangio, Brooks, Collins, Castellotti, de Portago, Behra, Fairman, Gould. Moss is confidently leading, but Salvadori does not let Stirling relax, being only 8 seconds away from him and already 20 seconds ahead of Fangio!
Lap 33: Castellotti, having a rather unimpressive race and barely keeping his teammate de Portago behind, stops in the pits to check the car, but the mechanics during the inspection do not find anything unusual and only shrug! Shaking his head, Eugenio gets back to the track, but during the stop he misses several opponents and drops to 11th place!
Lap 35: The throttle drive breaks on Brooks' BRM, and Tony swerves to the side of the road! Marshals and spectators immediately run up to the stopped car and offer the Englishman their help. Tony explains to the audience what the problem is, and one of the spectators immediately uses a pen to restore the connection, while the others push BRM back onto the track!


Having reached the pits, Brooks hands over his car to mechanics who restore the drive, after which the Englishman returns to the track in 5th place, losing only one position to Collins!
Lap 40: After working only five laps, the throttle drive on Brooks' BRM jams in the open position, and the Englishman flies at full speed off the track in the Abbey!  Having lost control, the car crashes into an embankment, rolls over, throwing the driver out of the cockpit, and lands upside down back on the track, after which it flares up like a match! Spectators, marshals and a fire truck immediately rush to the scene of the accident.


While some marshals put out a burning car with fire extinguishers, others run up and pick up the driver from the ground, who, fortunately, remains conscious and, although limping, is even able to move on his own legs. Then, Brooks is sent to the hospital, and there it turns out that he escaped with only a broken jaw, a slight concussion and an ankle bruise. As for the BRM, despite the best efforts of the marshals, the car burned out almost completely, and along with the smoke disappeared the last chances of Owen's team for a successful performance in this race .


Lap 45: Godia passes Manzon and is already 11th!
Lap 46: Gould attacks Fairman for 7th and gets ahead!


Position after 50 laps: Moss, Salvadori, Fangio, Collins, de Portago, Behra, Gould, Fairman, Villoresi, Castellotti.
Lap 51: Castellotti passes Villoresi for 9th, while Gerard stops in the pits for a scheduled refueling and misses Titterington.


Lap 52: One of the belts, holding the fuel tank, breaks on Salvadori's Maserati, which immediately affects the car's handling and forces Roy to pull into the pits for repairs. After installing a new belt, the mechanics release the Englishman back to the track, but by this time Fangio and Collins have already rushed past, and now Roy is only 4th! In addition, on the same lap, Titterington catches up and passes Perdisa, taking 14th place.
Lap 53: Schell catches up and passes Gerard for 16th.
Lap 54: Moss pulls into the pits to top up the oil, still maintaining the lead in the race, but his advantage over Fangio reduces already to 20 seconds!


Lap 56: Salvadori is having trouble again, this time with fuel supply, and the Englishman misses a few more opponents, dropping to 11th!
Lap 58: The engine on Moss' car starts to lose power and the Englishman loses to Fangio five seconds at once! Meanwhile, Gould also stops in the pits to top up the oil and misses two opponents, dropping to 8th.
Lap 60: After a few laps in a faulty car, Salvadori finally gives up and ends this promising race in the pits.


Position after 60 laps: Moss, Fangio, Collins, de Portago, Behra, Fairman, Castellotti, Gould, Villoresi, Godia. Moss is still in the lead, but his advantage over Fangio is reduced to just 5 seconds!
Lap 62: Moss manages to improve, and thus his lead over Fangio stabilizes within 5 seconds.


Lap 65: The oil pump on Collins' Ferrari fails, which immediately causes the engine to overheat and forces the Englishman to leave the race!


Before this breakdown, Peter was confidently in third place, which now goes to his teammate de Portago!
Lap 67: Behra, who has been hanging on de Portago's tail for a long time, is informed of Collins' retirement, and the Frenchman, realizing that he is only one step away from the podium, immediately goes on the attack and passes the Spaniard!


Lap 69: Problems with misfiring on Moss' Maserati are getting worse, and the Englishman turns into the pits for repairs!


Deciding that it was the faulty ignition wires, the mechanics change them and let the Englishman back on the track, but now Stirling is only 2nd, while Fangio becomes the new leader of the race!


Besides, on the same lap, Ramos' Gordini starts having problems with the rear axle, and the Frenchman misses two rivals.
Lap 71: Moss, trying to make up for lost time, attacks to the limit and sets the fastest lap of the race!


Meanwhile, Trintignant, already in last place, drops out of the race due to fuel supply problems.
Lap 72: Having completely lost the pace due to a malfunction of the rear axle, Da Silva Ramos pulls into the pits and retires.
Lap 73: Moss' Maserati starts to lose power again, and the Englishman slows down, hoping to finish at least in second place!
Lap 75: After waiting a few laps behind Behra, de Portago counterattacks the Frenchman and regains 3rd position!


In addition, on the same lap, Godia makes a mistake and spins, missing two rivals, while Titterington is finally out of the race due to a blown piston.
Position after 80 laps: Fangio, Moss, de Portago, Behra, Fairman, Castellotti, Gould, Villoresi, Manzon, Perdisa.
Lap 84: Breaking away from Behra, de Portago unexpectedly pulls into the pits, where he hands over his Ferrari to Collins! It seems that in the Scuderia they decided to help Peter in his fight for the title, giving him the opportunity to earn some points, and the Englishman is back on the track again, without even losing third place!
Lap 87: Schell's car has the same fuel supply problem as Trintignant's, and the American in his turn pulls into the pits, retiring.
Lap 91: Having almost caught up with Fairman, Castellotti makes a mistake, spins and hits the curb, damaging the front wheel and nose of his Ferrari! After that, realizing that he will no longer see any points in this race, the Italian drives into the pits, and after changing the damaged wheel, de Portago takes the seat in his Ferrari, returning to the track last.


Lap 95: Moss is in trouble again! With only six laps to go, Stirling's transmission fails and the frustrated Englishman swerves to the side of the road, losing second place to Collins!
Last lap: After numerous retirements and problems with his rivals, a completely exhausted Fangio still crosses the finish line first and thus finally wins his first British Grand Prix!


In addition, thanks to this victory, the Argentine significantly improves his position in the overall standings, and now he loses the leader of the championship Collins only one point!
Juan-Manuel Fangio: "The doctors did not want me to race, but the organizers insisted so they gave me pills to dull the pain and take the fever down. I raced and was lucky to win but after that I felt dead."


Meanwhile, Collins finishes 2nd in a lap behind the Argentine, and, thanks to his teammate de Portago, still gets a few points and thus maintains his lead in the championship. At the same time, the Spaniard himself manages to win his first podium in his second race in Formula-1, but he has to get to the finish line on his own two feet, pushing Castellotti's car that failed on the last lap!


In the meantime, Behra finishes third, who did not shine with speed in this race, but was reliable enough to win his next podium, thanks to which the Frenchman still retains very real chances for the champion title! As for the 4th and 5th places, they go to Fairman and Gould, who today were able to benefit from numerous retirements of rivals and thereby earn their first points in Formula-1.


Interesting facts:

- Alfonso de Portago's first podium and points;
- Jack Fairman's first points;
- Horace Gould's first points;
- BRM first leading in Grand Prix.

Driver standings


Alternative GP results

bottom of page