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1958 Belgian Grand Prix

The fourth round of the 1958 Formula-1 World Championship took place on June 15 in Belgium at the famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit, receiving the honorary title of European Grand Prix this year. Last season, the organizers did a great job of modernizing the track, smoothing out most of the corners, renewing and widening the road surface, as well as significantly rebuilding the pits and paddock, however, due to serious financial problems arising from the Suez Crisis, the Grand Prix was never held, and spectators and teams were able to appreciate the full scale of the work done only this year. At the same time, despite all these changes, the configuration of the track remained unchanged, and its length was reduced by only 20 meters, now amounting to exactly 14 km.


After a convincing victory at the last stage in the Netherlands, championship leader Stirling Moss and all the Vanwall team arrived in Belgium as the main favorites for the Grand Prix, hoping that on the long straights and in the fast corners of the Spa circuit their cars would once again be unbeatable and allow them achieve another success.


Meanwhile, they in Scuderia Ferrari, for whom the previous stage was an outright failure, also counted on a successful performance here, hoping that the high power of their V6-engines would allow them to offset the shortcomings of the chassis and the lack of stability of their cars in corners.


At the same time, unlike the last stage, the Scuderia here was represented not only by the main drivers Mike Hawthorn, Peter Collins and Luigi Musso, but also by local racer Olivier Gendebien, who drove a Ferrari painted in Belgian racing yellow. As for the cars themselves, they underwent only minor changes, the most obvious were new aluminum air intakes, which, unlike previous plexiglass ones, were deployed towards the incoming airflow.


As for the rest of the factory teams BRM, Cooper and Lotus, there were absolutely no changes to them, and they, as before, were represented by Jean Behra with Harry Schell, Jack Brabham with Roy Salvadori and Cliff Allison with Graham Hill respectively.


Meanwhile, Rob Walker's team, which had been a constant participant in the championship since the very first stage, decided to skip this Grand Prix, fearing that their low-power Cooper would have no chance of successful performance on this high-speed circuit. At the same time, despite the absence of the Walker's team, their main driver Maurice Trintignant still took part in the Grand Prix driving a Maserati 250F, becoming a temporary teammate of Masten Gregory and Wolfgang Seidel in the private team Scuderia Centro Sud. As usual, Jo Bonnier was also present among the private drivers, accompanied this time by Chico Godia, Ken Kavanagh and the only female driver, Maria Teresa de Filippis, who took to the start driving their own Maseratis 250F.



Considering that most part of the Spa circuit included public roads, only two hours were allocated for practice sessions over three days, however, even despite such a stretched schedule, qualifying was still held at a very intense pace and gave the spectators an amazing battle between Ferrari and Vanwall drivers for the right to start from the first row of the starting field. At the same time, after two practice days, it was Moss who seemed to be the main contender for pole position, who, being three seconds faster than his nearest rival, decided not to drive on the last day of qualifying, preferring to better prepare his car for the race. However, this time the racing sense seemed to let the Englishman down, and having noticeably improved on Saturday, the Scuderia drivers finally demonstrated the true speed of their cars, as a result of which Stirling lost not only to Hawthorn, who managed to win his first pole position in his career, but also to his teammate Musso!


Moreover, the rest of the Ferrari drivers also showed very impressive results: Collins lost only 0.1 seconds to Moss, ultimately taking 4th position, while Gendebien, driving a Ferrari 246 Dino for the first time, was 6th!


As for Moss’ teammates, Brooks, although he was very fast in the first two days of trainings, had to settle for only 5th position due to gearbox problems that arose on Saturday, while Lewis-Evans was clearly inferior to his teammates here and eventually took only 11th place on the starting grid.

Meanwhile, after their excellent performance at the last stage in the Netherlands, the BRM drivers clearly lacked speed here, and in the end Schell showed only 7th result, already losing more than 7 seconds to Hawthorn, while Behra, having flying off on Thursday in Masta, smashed the nose of his car into pieces against the fence, as a result of which he was forced to miss a good half of qualifying and ended up only 10th. However, even these results turned out to be quite tolerable against the background of two other British teams, Cooper and Lotus, whose ultimate dream here was simply to get into the top ten. As a result, one of the four drivers of these teams, Brabham, still managed to achieve this goal, and, having squeezed everything possible out of his Cooper, the Australian managed to show 8th result, even despite missing the first day of training due to a cold and breaking the main bearing on his car the next day.


Among the private Maserati drivers, Gregory stood out again, who turned out to be much faster than his colleagues and took 9th position on the starting field, however, the American’s excellent performance was overshadowed by a valve failure in his engine right on the eve of the Grand Prix. Meanwhile, the main loser in qualifying was Australian Ken Kavanagh, who not only showed the weakest result, but was also the only one who could not take part in the race due to a serious engine breakdown at the very end of trainings.



After the end of qualifying, when all the drivers went on a well-deserved rest, the mechanics of Vanwall and Maserati continued to work until late at night, changing the gearbox in Brooks' car, the driveshaft in Bonnier's and repairing the engine in Gregory's, and they disperced only well after midnight, with all their hearts hoping that their efforts will not be in vain. Meanwhile, on Sunday morning there was not a cloud over the track, and, rejoicing in the real summer warmth, spectators on the eve of the Grand Prix enjoyed the wonderful shows that were arranged for them by the organizers: first there was a parade of vintage Bugatti cars, which was followed by a handicap race for touring and grand touring cars, while the icing on the cake was a parade of drivers who made a lap of honor in two-seater cabriolettes.


However, there were still some glitches, and, as if they were too carried away with all these shows, the organizers mixed up the starting order of the cars, placing them not from right to left, but vice versa. Believing that in this way he would lose a certain advantage, Hawthorn insisted that the starting order be returned to the original, and in the end the organizers partially satisfied his request, swapping back the drivers only in the front row.


Meanwhile, due to the fact that Gregory’s car did not want to start in any way, the start itself was delayed for two minutes, during which the drivers’ nerves were strained to the limit, and the temperature of their engines reached the most dangerous values...

Start. Finally waiting for the starting signal, the cars take off, and Vanwall drivers Moss and Brooks immediately take the lead, easily outrunning the hesitant Ferrari drivers!


At the same time, the most agile of the Scuderia drivers unexpectedly turns out to be Gendebien, who also leaves all his teammates behind, taking 3rd place, while Musso, on the contrary, misses a good half of the field and enters the first turn only 11th!


Besides, Behra also gets an excellent start, who manages to immediately get into 4th place, while the unfortunate Gregory, who still managed to take off with the help of his mechanics, overcomes only half a lap, after which he pulls off to the side of the road with a failed engine!
Lap 1: Having led the race, Moss immediately begins to pull away from the rest of the field, however, after passing Stavelot, Stirling slightly hesitates to shift to fifth gear, which immediately leads to over-revving of the Vanwall engine and its failure! Cursing himself for all he was worth, the Englishman still brings his car to the pits, retiring, while it is his teammate Brooks who now becomes the new leader of the race!


Meanwhile, the Ferrari drivers, trying to make up for the positions lost at the start, immediately rush off the bat and succeed: Collins overtakes Gendebien and Behra, taking 2nd, Hawthorn, following his teammate, is also ahead of the Frenchman, while Musso passes Schell, Allison and Brabham one after another, finishing the first lap in 7th!


Position after 1st lap: Brooks, Collins, Gendebien, Hawthorn, Behra, Lewis-Evans, Musso, Schell, Allison, Brabham.
Lap 2: After driving through L’Eau Rouge-Radillion, Collins attacks Brooks on the next straight, thus taking the lead in the race from his compatriot!


Meanwhile, Hawthorn is also ahead of Gendebien's yellow Ferrari, taking 3rd, while Musso wins back two more positions ahead of Lewis-Evans and Behra!


Lap 3: Brooks doesn't give up and, counterattacking Collins at the La Source hairpin, regains the lead!


In addition, on the same lap, Musso is also ahead of his teammate Gendebien, thus moving up to 4th!


Lap 4: Collins, feeling clearly on fire today, attacks Brooks again and gets ahead!


Meanwhile, Lewis-Evans, having spent almost the entire lap on Gendebien's tail, misses a breaking point before the La Source hairpin and crashes the nose of his Vanwall into the Belgian's rear wheel! Having received a blow, the yellow Ferrari immediately spins across the track, ending up in the inner fence and stalling, while Stuart, even having received a strong dent on the nose of his Vanwall, continues the race as if nothing had happened!


However, Olivier also turns out to be no stranger, and, jumping out of the cockpit, the Belgian immediately pushes his Ferrari to the descent zone, after which he jumps back and, reviving the engine again, still gets to the pits! Having examined Olivier’s car, the mechanics find no other damage except the flattened nose, however, it still takes as much as three minutes to straighten it, and as a result, Gendebien gets back to the track last, losing almost a whole lap to the leaders!


Meanwhile, in the middle of the field, Schell succumbs to the attacks of Allison and Salvadori, missing two positions at once, while Hill, on the contrary, wins back one, leaving Bonnier behind.


Lap 5: The battle for the lead continues and Brooks once again leaves Collins behind, setting the fastest lap of the race in the process!


Besides, on the same lap, Schell loses another position, this time to Brabham, while Seidel has serious problems with the rear suspension, which forces the German to end the race in the pits.
Lap 6: Collins is in trouble! After hanging half a lap on Brooks' tail and already intending to launch a new attack, Peter suddenly slows down due to an oil pressure dropping, after which he immediately pulls into the pits! After examining the engine, which has almost begun to melt, the mechanics conclude that the problem is caused by severe overheating, which, naturally, leaves Peter no chance to continue the race! In the meantime, Behra, who was in 7th place, also stops in the pits and retires from the race with the same problem! However, the misadventures of the drivers do not end there, and another victim of this lap is Musso, who flies off the Stavelot due to a tire explosion! Fortunately, despite the seriousness of this accident, the Italian manages to come out of it unscathed, however, he still loses a sure chance on the podium today, which now goes to Lewis-Evans!


Lap 7: Having gotten rid of his main rival, Brooks now becomes the sole leader of the race, bringing his lead over Hawthorn up to 11 seconds!


Meanwhile, behind Godia manages to gain one position back, overtaking Bonnier.


Lap 9: Having finally caught up with the rest of the peloton, Gendebien begins to regain lost ground, and Signorina de Filippis is the first to give way under his attacks!
Lap 10: Bonnier also does not become an obstacle for the Belgian, who already rises to 11th!


Position after 10 laps: Brooks, Hawthorn, Lewis-Evans, Allison, Salvadori, Brabham, Schell, Trintignant, Hill, Godia. Brooks is still confidently leading the race, bringing his lead over Hawthorn already to 23 seconds!


Lap 11: Gendebien wins back another position, overtaking Godia, and thus the Belgian is already in the top ten!


Lap 12: Salvadori catches up and passes Allison, thereby taking 4th from his compatriot!


Lap 13: Having almost caught up with Hill, Gendebien prepares to overtake again, however, just at this moment smoke begins to pour out from under the hood of the Lotus, and Graham pulls to the side of the road, letting the Belgian through without any struggle!
Lap 14: Another winning position for Gendebien, this time at the expense of Trintignant, and thus the Belgian is already 8th!


Lap 15: Having built his lead over Hawthorn to 41 seconds, Brooks finally slows down a bit, preferring to calmly bring his Vanwall to a victorious finish.


Meanwhile, the clutch in Salvadori's Cooper begins to slip, causing the Englishman to lose pace and let Allison through into 4th place again!


In addition, on the same lap, the second Cooper has problems with engine overheating, which forces Brabham to stop for water, causing the Australian to let Schell and Gendebien through!
Lap 16: Having learned, that Brooks has slowed down a little, Hawthorn goes all-in and picks up the pace, still hoping to catch his rival by the end of the race!


Lap 17: Pushing his Ferrari to the limit, Hawthorn takes four seconds off Brooks, setting a new fastest lap in the process with a time of 3'59.3!


Meanwhile, Salvadori loses another position, this time to Schell, thus falling out of the points, while Brabham still ends his race in the pits, becoming another victim of engine overheating!


Lap 18: Gendebien passes Salvadori without any difficulty, and thus the Belgian is already one step away from getting into the points!


Lap 19: Brooks is informed that Hawthorn is quickly approaching him, and Tony immediately responds to Mike with a time of 3’59.7, winning back a few tenths from the Ferrari again!


Lap 22: Salvadori continues to lose pace and, having no opportunity to defend, now lets Trintignant through!


Last lap: Brooks, still with a commanding lead over Hawthorn, confidently finishes the final lap and, despite the gearbox seizing up in the final corner, crosses the finishing line first to take a well-deserved victory!


Meanwhile, Hawthorn, who did not give up trying to catch up with his compatriot until the very end, completes the last lap with a record time of 3'58.3, however, in the last meters of the distance, the engine in his Ferrari still does not withstand such a hot pursuit, and Mike crosses the finish line, shrouded in clouds of smoke! As for third place, it goes to Lewis-Evans, who finds himself on the bottom step of the podium for the first time in his career, however, he also crosses the line almost miraculously after his Vanwall's upper right wishbone breaks in the same final corner! Thus, the first driver to finish here without any problems is Allison, who today manages to bring Lotus their first points, however, it is safe to say that if the race had lasted at least one more lap, it would be Cliff who could become the main triumphant of this Grand Prix! Meanwhile, the last two points for fifth place go to Schell, who, although could not boast of much speed today, still brings another productive finish to the BRM treasury, while local hero Gendebien, to the general disappointment of the audience, finishes only 6th, stopping literally on the threshold of the points zone! Besides, in addition to the above, four more drivers will finish the race, including Maria Teresa de Filippis, who, even though she takes only last place, still becomes the first woman to see the checkered flag in a Formula-1 Grand Prix!


Interesting facts:

- Mike Hawthorn's first pole-position;

- Stuart Lewis-Evans' first podium;
- Cliff Allison's first points;
- Lotus team's first points.

Driver standings


Constructor standings


Alternative GP results

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