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1958 Argentine Grand Prix

The first round of the 1958 Formula-1 World Championship took place on January 19 in Argentina at the October 17 circuit in Buenos Aires. The track was built in 1951 and was unique in that it had a whole set of configurations created with the help of numerous branches. As usual, in the Formula-1 Grand Prix was used configuration No. 2, the length of which was 3.91 km, while, given the new rules that came into force this year, limiting the total race distance to 300 km, the number of laps was reduced to 80.


Over the past few years, the Argentine Grand Prix, held in the middle of winter, has always served as the launch pad of the Formula-1 World Championship, but ongoing uncertainty over its status coupled with high logistical costs has once again forced British teams to withdraw from the Grand Prix, as a result of which only 10 participants entered the first stage, which became an absolute anti-record in the entire history of Formula-1. At the same time, the only factory team present at the opening of the season was Scuderia Ferrari, which already at the first stage presented their new Ferraris 246 Dino with V6 engines, while the Scuderia drivers, as last year, were Peter Collins, Mike Hawthorn and Luigi Musso.


Nevertheless, even despite such a small list of participants, most of it, as last year, was made up of Maserati drivers, and, naturally, almost all the attention of local fans was focused on the local favorite, five-time world champion Juan-Manuel Fangio, who, after the departure of the Modena team from Formula-1, decided to continue his career as a private driver. Having purchased two of their three lightweight cars from his former team, the Argentine went to the start driving one of them, while the second one he provided to his long-time friend and rival, Carlos Menditeguy.


As for the latest lightweight car of the Modena team, it was purchased by Australian motorcyclist Ken Kavanagh, who, having decided at the last moment to refuse participation in the Grand Prix, made it available to another former Maserati driver, Frenchman Jean Behra. In addition, three more private drivers Harry Schell, Chico Godia and Horace Gould took part in the Grand Prix at the wheel of the Maseratis 250F, who, unlike the first three, competed in more outdated 1956 model cars .

As for the last participant of the Argentine Grand Prix, he was three-time Formula-1 vice-champion Stirling Moss, who, unable to compete for his main team Vanwall, temporarily joined Rob Walker’s private team, bringing to the start the only British car Cooper T43 with 2-liter Climax engine.



Despite the new rules that came into force this year prohibiting the use of specialized alcohol-based racing fuel, from the first minutes of training it became obvious that the transition to commercial petrol had no effect on the speed of the bolids, and the undeniable proof of this was the time shown by Juan-Manuel Fangio, who managed to drive his best lap in 1’42.0 and thus improve the track record by 0.6 sec. The Ferrari drivers, despite the understeer of their new cars, also turned out to be quite fast, losing less than a second to the world champion, while the Argentine’s former teammate Jean Behra managed to wedge in between them, taking 4th place on the starting field. Meanwhile, Carlos Menditeguy in another lightweight Maserati did not look so convincing, losing more than 1.5 seconds to the world champion, while the three private drivers Schell, Godia and Gould expectedly took the last three places on the grid. As for Stirling Moss, he was perhaps the main loser of the qualification. Not only was his 2-liter Cooper inferior in power to all competitors by about 100 hp, but even the day before his newly-made wife accidentally hit him with a finger in the eye, as a result of which the Englishman was forced to spend all the training, like a pirate, with a black bandage on his face. Naturally, there was no talk of any good result in such conditions, and as a result, Stirling, after driving only a couple of laps, took only 7th position, losing as much as 2 seconds to Fangio.



Given the usual heat at this time of year, the organizers decided to make life easier for the racers by scheduling the start at 16.30, however, the spectators were also not deprived of attention, having received on the eve of the race the opportunity to enjoy an excellent show staged by the American troupe "Red Devils" right on the track behind the wheel of ordinary cars.


Start. After the wave of the Argentine flag, all the cars take off, however, the driveshaft immediately breaks on Collins’ Ferrari, and the Englishman pulls off to the side of the road without driving even a hundred meters!


Meanwhile, Behra enters the first turn in the lead, pursued by Hawthorn and Moss, who made a great start, while Fangio, as usual, starts too cautiously and ends up only 4th.


Position after 1st lap: Behra, Hawthorn, Moss, Fangio, Menditeguy, Schell, Musso, Godia, Gould.
Lap 2: Having stayed at the head of the peloton for only one lap, Behra gives in to the attacks of Hawthorn, who becomes the new leader of the race!


Meanwhile, Musso, who found himself only 7th after the start, wins back one position, overtaking Schell.
Lap 3: Second gear in Moss' Cooper starts to fall out, and, taking advantage of this, Fangio easily passes the Englishman, taking 3rd position! Meanwhile, on the same lap, Menditeguy makes a mistake that costs him two lost places at once.
Lap 4: Moss continues to lose ground and now lets Musso pass, dropping to 5th! Meanwhile, Menditeguy, after his spin, rushes back into the fight and wins back one position, overtaking Schell.
Lap 8: After waiting for the race to stabilize, Fangio finally gets down to business and passes his former teammate Behra, thus taking 2nd!


Meanwhile, in Moss' Cooper, the problems with second gear suddenly disappear, and the Englishman begins to catch up with Musso again!
Lap 10: Having dealt with Behra, the five-time world champion reduces his gap to Hawthorn in just two laps and, having passed the Englishman to the joyful roar of the stands, it is the Argentine who now becomes the new leader of the race!


Meanwhile, on the same lap, Moss makes short work of Musso, thus regaining 4th position again!


Position after 10 laps: Fangio, Hawthorn, Behra, Moss, Musso, Menditeguy, Schell, Godia, Gould.
Lap 15: Having taken the lead, Fangio easily breaks away from Hawthorn, gaining about a second per lap from the Englishman, however, quite unexpectedly, Moss in his low-power Cooper is now showing about the same pace as the Argentine champion!


Lap 18: Easily catching up with Behra, Moss easily passes the Frenchman and thus takes 3rd position!
Lap 21: Moss continues to fly along the track, and his next victim is Hawthorn, who also cannot hold back the attacks of his compatriot and lets him through!


Lap 25: With a clear track in front of him, Moss sets off a series of fastest laps, and his gap to Fangio begins to melt before our eyes!
Lap 27: Fangio is informed that Moss is rapidly catching up with him, and the Argentine, in turn, picks up the pace, again increasing his lead! Meanwhile, the oil pressure begins to drop on Hawthorn's Ferrari, and the Englishman slows down, letting Behra through!
Lap 30: Fangio goes faster and faster and completes the lap in 1’41.8, thus already surpassing his own qualifying result!


Position after 30 laps: Fangio, Moss, Behra, Hawthorn, Musso, Menditeguy, Schell, Godia, Gould.
Lap 31: Fearing engine failure, Hawthorn pits to check the oil level, after which he returns back to the track, losing one position to his teammate Musso.
Lap 35: On Fangio's Maserati, a piece of tread flies off one of the rear tires, and the Argentine immediately pulls into the pits for a new set!


Having spent more than a minute at the pit stop, the world champion returns to the track only 4th, while it is Moss who now becomes the new race leader!


Lap 48: Fangio has problems again, this time with the engine! The sudden misfiring causes the Argentine to lose pace, and thus, in all likelihood, he loses his last chance of winning this race!
Lap 49: Behra and Menditeguy also start to experience tire problems and both drivers simultaneously pulls into the pits!


At the same time, if the Argentine manages to get back to the track without losing a single position, then the Frenchman misses three opponents at once and ends up only 5th!
Lap 51: Hawthorn catches up and passes the slowing world champion without much effort, thus taking 3rd position!


Lap 53: Trying to make up for the time lost at the pit stop, Behra makes a mistake and also lets Menditeguy through!
Position after 60 laps: Moss, Musso, Hawthorn, Fangio, Menditeguy, Behra, Schell, Godia, Gould.
Lap 67: Menditeguy also makes a mistake and spins right in front of Hawthorn, who is lapping him, as a result of which Mike, unable to avoid a collision, damages the nose of his Ferrari quite badly!


However, despite this incident, both drivers manage to continue the race, while Menditeguy again misses Behra, dropping to 6th.
Lap 68: Menditeguy pulls into the pits again to check the car and loses another position to Schell.
Lap 70: Ten laps before the finish, it becomes quite obvious that the leading Moss intends to make it to the finish without stops, and, suddenly seeing the light, they in the Scuderia finally signal their drivers to pick up the pace, in the hope that the tires on the Englishman’s Cooper will not withstand long chase.
Lap 75: Gaining about three seconds per lap from Moss, Musso manages to reduce his half-minute gap to the Englishman to 15 seconds, however, even though the rear tires of the Cooper are already worn to the canvas, Stirling still manages to keep his car on the track quite confidently!


Last lap: Despite all Musso's efforts, Moss still crosses the finish line first, and it is the Englishman who today becomes the main triumphant of this Grand Prix, having managed, after an absolutely incredible race, to defeat all his rivals in more powerful bolids and thus bring the first victory to both Cooper car and Rob Walker's private team!


Meanwhile, Musso finishes almost immediately after the Englishman, who today lacked just a few seconds to win, however, the Italian does not look upset at all, being completely satisfied with second place and six points earned. The third place goes to another Ferrari driver, Hawthorn, who could have been higher today if not for an unscheduled pit stop, however, the Englishman still manages to secure a double podium for the Scuderia. In addition to Mike, another loser of this Grand Prix is the local favorite Fangio, who, due to problems with the engine and tires, was never able to win his fifth victory in a row in his homeland, and as a result, the five-time world champion had to be content with only three points for 4th place and one for the fastest lap in the race. As for the final two points for fifth place, they go to Behra, whose race was also spoiled by serious tire problems and an unscheduled pit stop.


Interesting facts:

- 50th Grand Prix of Juan Manuel Fangio;
- Cooper's first victory;
- Maserati's 10th pole position.

Driver standings


Constructor standings


Alternative GP results

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