The 258-mile French Grand Prix, Rheims, July 3, had an eventful start. Three cars collided?
The 258-mile French Grand Prix, Rheims, July 3, had an eventful start. Three cars collided almost as the starter's flag fell.
The collision put Graham Hill's BRM out of the race; but the other two cars involved Trintignant's Maserati and Bianchi's Belgian Cooper - were able to continue, although Trintignant retired only three laps later.
The crowd's gaze soon switched to a battle for the lead between Brabham, world champion from Australia, in a Cooper; America's Phil Hill and Germany's Wolfgang von Trips - both the latter in factory-entered Ferraris. But first Phil Hill dropped out, after his car twice hit the straw, and then out went Trips two laps later with transmission trouble.
With Brabham pushing on well in front, the big duel now was for second place - it was between Belgian Olivier Gendebien, twice winner of the Le Mans 24 hours, in a Cooper, and New Zealander Bruce Maclaren also in a Cooper. It was a hard fight all the way - first one going ahead, then the other. But it was Gendebien who snatched second place, leaving Maclaren to finish third.
The result-subject to confirmation - means that Brabham and Maclaren now share first place in the world drivers' championship. Stirling Moss, still recovering in hospital from his crash, retains third place.
On the Rheims circuit - one of the world's fastest - Brabham put up a new lap record of 134.7 mph, compared with Moss' 126.36 mph lap record set up in a BRM last year. Brabham's average was a course record too: 131.79 mph, and as he raced Hill, speeds were reaching 180 mph.
Coopers finished 1st, 2nd and 3rd, and the next four cars to finish were also British.
There was some speculation after the race whether Brabham's victory would qualify in the world championship. The regulator lay down a minimum time of 2 hours for the race. Brabham's last run was completed in 1 hour 57 mins. 24.9 secs.