The 1961 German Grand Prix was the sixth round of the 1961 Formula One World Championship, held at the Nürburgring in West Germany. The XXIII Grosser Preis von Deutschland would also be the 100th World Championship race in the history of Formula One and was expected to see the Constructors' Championship decided in favour of Ferrari.
Phil Hill set a stunning lap in qualifying to take pole, but it was Stirling Moss who claimed victory in his Lotus 18, with Hill also beaten by team mate and title rival Wolfgang von Trips. Jack Brabham had managed to lead the race with the new Climax V8 engine, but retired on the opening lap after a throttle jam.
Climax were keen to close the gap to Ferrari at the front of the field, and so brought their developmental V8 engine to West Germany, intending to replace their ageing L4 unit. They only had one, however, and it was handed to Jack Brabham in the works Cooper for the weekend to attempt to defeat the scarlet quartet at the front of the field. The familiar trio of Phil Hill, Wolfgang von Trips and Richie Ginther were joined by Belgian racer Willy Mairesse, although the latter would race with an older engine.
Porsche were another team to bring a quartet of cars to their home race, adding Edgar Barth to their rooster of drivers containing Jo Bonnier, Dan Gurney and Hans Herrmann. Elsewhere, the entry list was swelled by the familiar flitter of Privateers with their older equipment, as well as the semi-works efforts that attended most of the rounds.
The Championship was looking like an increasingly red affair, as von Trips led Hill by two points at the head of the field. They were a further nine points ahead of the driver in third, team mate Richie Ginther, although the American was in a tussle with several other drivers. Stirling Moss was the closest non-Ferrari driver in fourth, four behind Ginther, while Dan Gurney completed the top five.
Like the Championship, the Intercontinental Cup for Constructors was an all Italian affair, with Ferrari on target to wrap up the title with two rounds to go. A 22 point lead ensured that the Scarlet cars only had to muster a handful of points before the end of the season, although dropped scores almost made it impossible for Lotus-Climax to catch them. Defending Champions Cooper-Climax were down in fourth, out of the fight and behind Porsche, while BRM were the only other constructor to have scored.
The full entry list for the 1961 German Grand Prix is outlined below:
A dry couple of days in West Germany greeted the Formula One field for the combined practice and qualifying sessions, which some were hoping to see lap records broken, despite the downsized engines.
Jack Brabham was flying with the new Climax V8 engine in the back of his Cooper, but his time was flattened by the American Phil Hill. An incredible lap put the leading Ferrari six seconds clear of the Australian, with the pair sharing the front row with Stirling Moss, Championship outsider, and Jo Bonnier as the best of the Porsches. Row two consisted of Wolfgang von Trips and Graham Hill, (the latter ensuring all five point scoring constructors were in the first two rows), while Dan Gurney completed the second row in the second Porsche.
Jim Clark, Tony Brooks, John Surtees and Hans Herrmann shared the third row, with Bruce McLaren the only other driver to set a time within twenty seconds of Phil Hill. Willy Mairesse was next, having beaten more experienced team mate Richie Ginther, before Roy Salvadori led the fifth row. A total of 27 drivers qualified, Edgar Barth the only man to be denied a grid slot due to his poor overall pace. Michael May was slowest, but crashed heavily during one of his final laps, ending the session with a written off Lotus 18.
The full qualifying results for the 1961 German Grand Prix are outlined below:
|______________||6||Wolfgang von Trips|
|18||Carel Godin de Beaufort|
After a dry start to the weekend, heavy rain on Sunday morning prompted the teams to switch to wet tyres for the start of the race, although the sky was brightening as the grid formed. As for the race itself, the focus was on Jack Brabham with the new Climax V8 engine, the Australian World Champion hoping to take his first win of the season.
A stunning start for Brabham saw him snatch the lead from the four abreast front row of the grid, with Stirling Moss slotting in straight behind him. Pole sitter Phil Hill went backwards, while a swarm of Porsches, led by Jo Bonnier, claimed third through to fifth in the opening stages of the first lap. Graham Hill also made a good start, launching into the hunt for the lead from the middle of the second row, while Wolfgang von Trips tried to take team mate Phil Hill on the long run to the first corner.A resurgent Phil Hill, however, would have Moss sticking to the back of his Ferrari 156 before the cars reached the Karussell with the pair now squabbling for the lead, Brabham having tumbled out of the race due to a sticking throttle. Bonnier remained in third, swinging through the Karussell ahead of von Trips, who had moved past Dan Gurney and John Surtees just before. Back up front, and Moss was leading as he and Hill flashed across the finish line at the end of the first lap, Brit taking American off camera.
Casualties began to pile up after the end of the first lap, Graham Hill emerging unhurt from an accident off camera, while Innes Ireland pulled off with an engine fire. Wolfgang Seidel would be next to drop out with a steering failure, with the rest of the fallers resulting from engine failures through the rest of the lap. Out front, however, Moss seemed untouchable, as he continued to take a couple of seconds a lap out of Phil Hill, while von Trips gained on his team mate.
With the race heading increasingly in Moss' favour, attention turned to von Trips, who was closing in on his team mate in almost every corner as the end of the race approached. Jim Clark, meanwhile, had made a series of moves to rise to fourth, ahead of a three way scrap for fifth between Surtees, Bruce McLaren and Richie Ginther. The trio ran nose to tail through the Karussell, Ginther in front on lap ten, although he would soon be trailing the group as McLaren and Surtees took him before the end of the lap. It would not be long before Surtees was through into fifth, but needed to find a minute on Clark to catch the Scotsman before the end of the race.
The final laps saw rain, with Moss suddenly pulling 21 seconds clear on the final tour to claim victory. Behind him, the two Ferraris of Hill and von Trips swapped places, the German sweeping home a little over a second ahead of his team mate at the finish line, with Clark and Surtees holding position. McLaren claimed a lonely sixth after his mid-race engagements, while Gurney claimed compatriot Ginther for seventh in the closing stages. Jackie Lewis and Roy Salvadori were the only other drivers to finish on the lead lap, in a race which saw sixteen finishers, with Bernard Collomb crossing the line but was unclassified.
The full results for the 1961 German Grand Prix are outlined below:
- * Collomb completed the final lap but had not covered enough of the race distance.
- Sixteenth and final Championship victory for Stirling Moss.
Despite victory pushing Stirling Moss up to third, his title chances were remote once dropped scores were applied at the end of the season. The Brit would require two wins, and hope that Wolfgang von Trips (in first) and Phil Hill failed to score more than two points each. Richie Ginther was pushed down to fourth after his retirement, while Jim Clark forced Dan Gurney out of the top five.
Ferrari ensured that they would be Constructors' Champions, with the second place for von Trips enough to deny Lotus-Climax any chance of the title once dropped scores were applied. Porsche, meanwhile, were coming under pressure from Cooper-Climax, who closed the gap to a single point, while BRM remained the only other Constructor with points in 1961.
- ↑ 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: GERMAN GP, 1961', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2016), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr100.html, (Accessed 26/04/2016)
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 '1961 German Grand Prix: Qualifying', statsf1.com, (StatsF1, 2015), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1961/allemagne/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 16/01/2016)
- ↑ 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 TheAndrewf1, '1961 German Grand Prix BBC Highlights', youtube.com, (YouTube, 04/06/2012), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LijK0gZ4pv4, (Accessed 26/04/2016)
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|German Grand Prix|
|Circuits||Nürburgring (1951–1954, 1956–1958, 1960–1969, 1970–1976, 1985, 2007–2013*), AVUS (1959), Hockenheimring (1970, 1977–1984, 1986–2006, 2007–2014*, 2016)|
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|* Nürburgring and Hockenheim alternated between each other during these years.|