Forceful, brilliant driving by Englishman Mike Hawthorn brought him his second French Grand Prix win on Sunday, 6th July.
Forceful, brilliant driving by Englishman Mike Hawthorn brought him his second French Grand Prix win on Sunday, 6th July. In 1953, he had a wheel-to-wheel duel for most of the race with world champion Fangio. This time, he shook off the field early on and went through the race virtually unchallenged, setting up a new lap record of 128.1 mph in the process. At the finish, he was still driving the much-improved Ferrari at tremendous pace and was nearly half-a-minute up on Stirling Moss (Vanwall). Third was won Trips (Ferrari) and fourth Fangio in his Maserati. Only other to finish on the same lap was Peter Collins (Ferrari), fifth, who had earlier set a lap record of 127.9 but who ran out of patrol near the post and had to push the car home. As he did so, Fangio swept past to deprive him of fourth place.
It was Ferrari's first victory of the 1958 season. They were said to be much faster since the European Grand Prix. But the day was spoilt by the death of the only Italian member of the team, L. Musso, who left the track in the 10th lap and crashed at high speed. He had been among the leading four to that time.
Behind the leaders, a thrilling battle developed between Fangio and two BRM's driven by Behra and Schell and the crowds were brought to their feet as the three passed the pits side by side. However, the BRM's all retired with mechanical trouble and Hawthorn and Moss were left securely in the lead. Hawthorn demonstrated how much in command he was when he surged into that record-breaking lap for the sake of an extra point in the world championship ratings. By doing so, he brought himself level with Moss in this year's tally, at 23 points.
The Formul II race of the afternoon at Rheims was never in doubt. Behra dominating the race in his Porsche.