top of page

1958 French Grand Prix

The fifth round of the 1958 Formula-1 World Championship took place on July 6 in France at the Reims circuit, which after one missing year regained the title of the country's main circuit again. Compared to 1956, the track has not undergone any changes, however, given the new rules, the total race distance was shortened and now amounted to only 50 laps.

Reims 1954.jpg

As in previous years, the race weekend in Reims was extremely eventful and, in addition to the usual joint holding of the Grand Prix and sports car race "12 Hours of Reims", this year they also added a Formula-2 race, which was attended by about half of the current Formula-1 racers. However, the main event of the weekend was the French Grand Prix itself, which this year pleased the audience not only with new cars, but also with a very strong line-up of participants.

Tony Vandervell's team, which had won the previous two races in the Netherlands and Belgium, was represented as usual by the trio of Stirling Moss, Tony Brooks and Stuart Lewis-Evans, who here received updated Vanwall cars with new oil tanks located directly behind the radiator.

Meanwhile, the main rival of the British, Scuderia Ferrari, which three weeks ago in Spa finally managed to demonstrate the full power of their V6-engines, also did not sit idly by and completely redesigned the front suspension of Ferraris 246, which now consisted of coil springs and telescopic shock absorbers.


As for the main line-up of the Maranello team, even shortly before the French round, the most serious passions were boiling around it. After further setbacks for Peter Collins at the Belgian Grand Prix and the "24 Hours of Le Mans" race, Enzo Ferrari's patience finally came to an end, and Commendatore actually showed the Englishman the door, giving his place in the team to the Scuderia's reserve driver Wolfgang von Trips. However, it was not so easy to to get rid of the Englishman, since his best friend Mike Hawthorn immediately stood up for him, who angrily threatened Enzo to also leave the Scuderia if Peter was not kept in the team. Considering that it was Mike who was now Moss’ main rival in the fight for the title, Commendatore had no choice but to back down, and thus the Scuderia here was represented by as many as four drivers at once: Hawthorn with Collins, Luigi Musso and von Trips.

Meanwhile, Alfred Owen's team had also undergone some line-up changes, being represented on French soil by two local stars, Jean Behra and Maurice Trintignant, whose teammate was as usual the American Harry Schell.


As for Rob Walker's team, after the Belgian stage, they decided to skip this one too, preferring to concentrate their efforts on the Formula-2 race, in which they were represented by none other than Stirling Moss himself.

Meanwhile, given the absence of Rob Walker's team, the only Coopers which took part in this Grand Prix were those from the factory team, which were driven, as usual, by Jack Brabham and Roy Salvadori. As for Colin Chapman's team, it was here that they demonstrated their new Lotus 16 at last, which was a further development of the previous model and went to Graham Hill, while the team's second driver Cliff Allison took to the start at the wheel of the “good old” Lotus 12.


Meanwhile, even more interest than the new Lotus was aroused by the new lightweight Maserati 250F, which former Modena team manager Nello Ugolini first demonstrated at the last stage in Belgium, although then limiting its participation to only a few tests. Here, from the first training sessions, this car was assigned number 34, which indicated a clear intention to use it directly in the Grand Prix, and, as it turned out, none other than the five-time world champion Juan-Manuel Fangio got behind the wheel!


Having missed most of this season, the great Argentinean, who seemed to have no intention of returning to Europe, nevertheless succumbed to the persuasion of his former boss to test the new car, and thus it was the French audience who were lucky enough to see the Maestro in action for the last time in his career!

Meanwhile, in addition to Fangio, at the wheel of old Maseratis 250F, six more private drivers took part in the French Grand Prix, which included not only the already familiar Jo Bonnier, Chico Godia and Gerino Gerini, but also three American stars Phil Hill, Carroll Shelby and Troy Ruttman, for whom this Grand Prix was their debut.



Considering the extremely busy racing schedule this weekend, training sessions in the Formula-2 and Formula-1 classes took place over three days from Wednesday to Friday, while the entire Saturday was allocated for the 12-hour sports car race. Meanwhile, the qualification in Formula-1 class took place with a clear advantage of the Ferraris, which simply had no equal on this super-fast track, and the Scuderia drivers quite easily outpaced all their rivals, taking 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th positions on the starting field, as usual, with Hawthorn in the lead.


At the same time, the only driver who managed to make the scarlet ones more or less worthy competition was, quite unexpectedly, Schell on the BRM, who in some incomprehensible way managed to get to the front row of the starting field, far ahead of his teammates Behra and Trintignant, who showed only the 8th and 10th results.


Meanwhile, for the Vanwall drivers, who were considered one of the main favorites of the Grand Prix, the qualification turned out to be a complete failure. Apart from the obvious lack of speed, the British cars suffered serious problems with engine overheating throughout all the three days of practice, leaving Moss and Brooks no chance of getting higher than 6th and 7th on the grid, while the less experienced Lewis-Evans ended up only 11th at all. In addition, qualifying was a complete disappointment for the five-time world champion. Despite the fact that almost every component in the new Maserati car was lightened, it still lacked speed, and as a result, Fangio was more than 2 seconds behind Hawthorn, which brought him only 9th position on the starting grid! However, the other Maserati drivers could not even dream of such a result, and in the end they all ended up far outside the top ten, managing to compete only with the Coopers. As for Colin Chapman's team, their cars turned out to be the slowest on this track at all, and both Lotus drivers took the last two places on the starting field, losing to Ferraris already more than 19 seconds!



The first half of Sunday was devoted to the Formula-2 race, the victory of which was celebrated by Jean Behra in a single-seater Porsche sports car, however, just half an hour after the end of this race, the starting grid began to fill with Formula-1 bolids, which were greeted with cheers and applause from many thousands of spectators...


Start. As soon as the national flag is lowered, all the cars immediately take off... except for Ferrari of von Trips, who starts waving his arms wildly, warning the drivers of the danger! Fortunately, all the racers manage to safely pass the frozen car, to which the mechanics immediately rush, and meanwhile, Schell surprises everyone not only in qualifying, but also in the race, leaving behind all the Ferrari drivers already at the very start!


Meanwhile, von Trips' mechanics still manage to push his car quite quickly, and the German immediately rushes in pursuit of the rest of the field, which has already disappeared around the first turn!

Lap 1: After only half a lap behind Schell, Hawthorn passes the American on the back straight, thus ending the first lap as the race leader!


Meanwhile, von Trips manages to catch up with the rest of the field already on the first lap, and the German immediately wins back two positions, overtaking Ruttman and Allison!
Position after 1st lap: Hawthorn, Schell, Musso, Moss, Brooks, Fangio, Collins, Behra, Trintignant, Lewis-Evans.
Lap 2: After a failed start, the Scuderia drivers immediately get down to business, and, having easily overtaken all their rivals, Hawthorn, Musso and Collins find themselves at the head of the race! Moreover, von Trips, who turned out to be at the end of the peleton, also demonstrates simply incredible speed, and the German wins back four positions at once on this one lap!


Meanwhile, things are going much worse for Schell and Moss, and, having missed several rivals at once, the American and the Englishman drop to 7th and 8th positions, respectively!
Lap 3: Having let his teammate Behra through, Schell counterattacks Jean a lap later, which Moss immediately takes advantage of, who also leaves the Frenchman behind!


Meanwhile, von Trips wins back a couple more positions, overtaking Phil Hill and Salvadori, while Graham Hill manages to get ahead of Gerini.
Lap 4: Brabham makes a mistake and loses two positions at once, letting Bonnier and von Trips through!


Besides, on the same lap, Graham Hill, feeling much more confident in the race than in qualifying, wins back another position, leaving Shelby behind!


Lap 5: On Collins' Ferrari, just in front of the Muizon hairpin, a metal magneto air intake flies off and falls into the cockpit, goddamn it, right under the pedals! Left actually without brakes, Peter instantly makes the only correct decision to turn onto the escape road, and, fortunately, he manages to get out of this extremely dangerous situation with absolutely no consequences for himself and his car! Nevertheless, having lost about a minute to remove the fallen part and get back to the track, the Englishman misses most of the field and returns to the race only 18th!


Meanwhile, the Englishman's teammate von Trips still inexorably continues his breakthrough, and, having overtaken Lewis-Evans and Bonnier, the German is already in the top ten!


In addition, on the same lap, American debutant Phil Hill also wins back two positions, leaving Salvadori and Godia behind!


Lap 6: After spending a couple of laps on Moss' tail, Behra finally finds a gap in the Englishman's defense and takes the lead!


Besides, on the same lap, Brabham is again ahead of Bonnier, thereby correcting his mistake made several laps earlier.
Lap 7: Collins finally catches up with the rest of the field and begins his breakthrough, leaving Shelby behind!


In addition, on the same lap, Godia manages to get ahead of Salvadori, while Allison, still in last place, drops out of the race due to engine failure.


Lap 8: Von Trips gains another position, overtaking Trintignant, and thus the German is already 8th!


Meanwhile, Salvadori is clearly short of horses on this track, and the Englishman loses another position, this time to Graham Hill!
Lap 9: After a rather unimpressive first part of the race, Moss gives just a fantastic lap and gets ahead at once of not only the two BRMs, but also the Maserati of the five-time world champion!


Meanwhile, Collins gains two more positions, passing Graham Hill and Salvadori, while Roy immediately takes advantage of this maneuver and also leaves the Lotus behind!
Lap 10: Musso has an accident! Trying his best to catch up with the leading Hawthorn, the Italian enters the first turn too quickly, and his Ferrari, having caught the inner curb, immediately skids, flies into a ditch and begins to somersault furiously on the ground! During one of these somersaults, the Italian is thrown out of the cockpit, while the car itself, continuing tumbling, finally freezes upside down in the middle of a wheat field a few tens of meters from the track!


Rescuers immediately rush to the scene of the accident and find the Italian stretched out on the ground not far from the car, with serious head injuries, however, still breathing. Realizing the seriousness of the situation, the rescuers immediately call a medical helicopter, which lands right on the field a few minutes later and, having taken on board the injured driver, takes him to the nearest hospital...

Meanwhile, despite the tragedy, the race continues as if nothing had happened: Schell makes a mistake and loses three more positions, missing two of his teammates and von Trips, while Collins, on the contrary, wins back two more places, leaving behind Phil Hill and Godia.


Besides, on the same lap, Graham Hill manages to get ahead of Salvadori again, while Shelby drops out of the race due to engine failure.
Position after 10 laps: Hawthorn, Brooks, Moss, Fangio, Behra, von Trips, Trintignant, Schell, Lewis-Evans, Brabham. After Musso's accident, Hawthorn now single-handedly leads the race, almost 20 seconds ahead of second-place Brooks!


Lap 11: Lewis-Evans begins to experience handling problems in his Vanwall and he gives up his position to Brabham almost without any struggle!


In addition, on the same lap, Godia misses Graham Hill and Salvadori one after another, thus dropping already to 16th!
Lap 12: Brooks is in trouble! On Tony's Vanwall, who was confidently in second place, the gearbox suddenly jams, resulting the Englishman immediately loses pace and lets his rivals through one after another! Having somehow reached the pits, Tony hands his car over to the Vanwall mechanics, who, after digging into it for several minutes, still release Brooks back onto the track, however, now the Englishman is in the very last place, having no chance to catch up with the rest of the field!

Meanwhile, the fight for second place is moving into a new stage, since now Moss, Fangio and Behra are simultaneously claiming it, and it is the five-time world champion who, after overtaking the Englishman, now becomes the leader in this trio!


As for Lewis-Evans, he continues to lose pace and now lets even Bonnier through in his last year's Maserati!


Lap 13: After chasing Trintignant for a few laps, Schell finally catches his teammate up and gets ahead again in 6th position!


In addition, on the same lap, Collins catches up with Lewis-Evans and literally rushes past him like a hurricane, thus already getting into the top ten!


Lap 14: Collins continues his breakthrough, and now it is Bonnier who throws out the white flag before the rapid onslaught of the Englishman!
Lap 16: Meanwhile, the fight for second place does not subside at all, and now it is Behra who makes his compatriots gasp, having passed both Fangio and Moss in one single lap!


In addition, on the same lap, Collins wins back another position, overtaking Brabham, while Godia leaves Salvadori behind!
Lap 17: Brooks has problems with the gearbox again, which leave the Englishman no choice but to pull into the pits and finally retire from the race!
Position after 20 laps: Hawthorn, Behra, Fangio, Moss, von Trips, Schell, Trintignant, Collins, Brabham, Bonnier.
Lap 21: After spending a few laps on Fangio's tail, Moss attacks the world champion and passes him again!


Meanwhile, disappointed with the completely disastrous performance of Lewis-Evans, Tony Vandervell calls Stuart into the pits, and, completely ignoring the new rules prohibiting drivers from changing cars during the Grand Prix, the head of Vanwall allows Brooks to take a place in his teammate’s car and return to the race!
Lap 24: The fuel pump on Trintignant's BRM fails and the Frenchman pulls to the side of the road to the gasps of the crowd, retiring from his home race!
Lap 25: Fangio, who has not lagged a second behind Moss for the last few laps, suddenly loses pace and pulls into the pits!


Ugolini immediately runs up to the Maserati and begins bombarding the Argentine with questions, however, instead of answering, the world champion silently hands him over a broken clutch pedal, which, like everything else in this car, has been lightened to the limit! However, even this breakdown does not bother the former Maserati boss, and using all his eloquence, he still convinces the Argentine to continue the race, hoping that he will be able to compete for at least a few points!


Lap 26: Meanwhile, after Fangio's problems, Behra and Moss remain the only contenders for second place, and the Englishman attacks his rival with renewed energy, taking the lead again!


Lap 28: Behra also does not intend to concede, and, counterattacking the Englishman, Jean leaves him behind again!


Lap 29: Godia makes a mistake at the Muizon hairpin and flies off the track, ending his race in a ditch!


Lap 30: The fight for second place continues and Moss is ahead of the Frenchman again!


Position after 30 laps: Hawthorn, Moss, Behra, von Trips, Schell, Collins, Fangio, Brabham, Bonnier, Phil Hill. Despite the hot battle behind him, Hawthorn is still confidently leading the race, bringing his lead over the Moss-Behra pair already to 25 seconds!


Lap 31: Jean responds to Moss with another overtake, taking the lead again!
Lap 32: Moss does not remain in debt and counterattacks the Frenchman, taking 2nd again!


Lap 33: Salvadori suffers serious clutch problems which force the Englishman to stop in the pits for over 20 minutes and drop him into last place!
Lap 34: Behra switches places with Moss once again, already for the ninth time in this race!


Meanwhile, Graham Hill, who had been experiencing problems with overheating for the last few laps, finally gives up and stops his car in the pits, emerging from the hot cockpit red as a lobster!
Lap 35: Moss counterattacks Behra and leaves his rival behind again!
Lap 36: The engine in Brooks' Vanwall begins to dangerously overheat, and Tony once again pulls into the pits, this time for good!
Lap 37: Schell also pits with a leaking water pump and, after a long repair, returns to the track only 12th, thus losing the opportunity to earn another points!


Position after 40 laps: Hawthorn, Moss, Behra, von Trips, Collins, Fangio, Brabham, Bonnier, Phil Hill, Gerini.
Lap 42: The epic battle between Moss and Behra for second place is finally resolved in the Englishman's favor when the BRM suddenly stops on the side of the road with a faulty fuel pump!
Lap 43: Bonnier starts to lose pace and the Swede lets Phil Hill through to 7th position without any fight!
Lap 45: Almost at the very end of the Grand Prix, Hawthorn shows the fastest lap of the race with a time of 2’24.9!


Last lap: Completing the last lap, Hawthorn passes Maserati №34 at the last turn, however, realizing that it is the Maestro himself that is losing the lap to him, Mike immediately takes his foot off the accelerator and lets the Argentine through, paying tribute to the unrivaled skill of the great champion! Nodding his thanks to Mike, Fangio rushes to his final lap as the Englishman himself crosses the finish line first to claim a truly magnificent victory today!


Meanwhile, finishing second behind Hawthorn is his compatriot Moss, who today clearly could not compete on equal terms with the Ferraris, however, as usual, he managed to show himself as a real fighter and win another six points, which allow him to still remain at the head of the championship! In addition, another hero of today's race is von Trips, who, despite a failed start, managed to please the audience with a very impressive breakthrough from the back of the field and thus win his second podium in Formula-1! Meanwhile, Collins faces another setback on the last lap, and, having spent the last drops of fuel, his Ferrari stops at the last turn, just a few hundred meters short of the finish line! Jumping out of the cockpit, the annoyed but not at all discouraged Englishman still manages to push his car to the finish, however, Fangio still make it ahead of him, who, thanks to Hawthorn, completes another lap and thus wins 4th place! However, for the five-time world champion himself, who decided to finally hang up his racing helmet here, this result no longer has any meaning, and after getting out of the cockpit, the Argentine utters to his mechanics only one farewell phrase: “It’s over.”

P.S. Unfortunately, this Grand Prix was the last not only for the great champion, but also for the unfortunate Luigi Musso, who, without regaining consciousness, died in the hospital in the evening of the same day from serious head and internal injuries...


Interesting facts:

- Mike Hawthorn's last victory;

- Juan-Manuel Fangio's last Grand Prix;

- Luigi Musso's last Grand Prix;
- Phil Hill's debut.

Driver standings


Constructor standings


Alternative GP results

bottom of page