1959 Portuguese Grand Prix (partially found footage of Formula One World Championship race; 1959)

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1959portuguesegrandprix1.jpg

Stirling Moss dominating the race.

Status: Partially Found

The 1959 Portuguese Grand Prix was the seventh race of the 1959 Formula One Season. Occurring on 23rd August at the Circuito de Monsanto, the race would ultimately be won by Stirling Moss in a Cooper-Climax, after having lapped the entire field.

Background[edit | edit source]

The 1959 Portuguese Grand Prix was the second running of the event as part of the Formula One World Championship, lasting 62 laps.[1][2][3] The eighth Portuguese Grand Prix overall, and the only World Championship edition held at Monsanto, the event would be dropped from the calendar after 1960.[4][3][2] It would return to Formula One from 1984 to 1996, where it was held exclusively at the Circuito do Estoril.[2][3] Finally, the race would be ran two more times from 2020-2021 at the Algarve International Circuit.[3][2]

Heading into the race, Cooper Climax's Jack Brabham was leading the Drivers' Championship on 27 points, four ahead of Ferrari's Tony Brooks.[5][4] Stirling Moss by contrast was only joint-sixth with works Cooper-Climax driver Bruce McLaren, on 8.5 points.[5] Nevertheless, his new association with the Rob Walker-owned Cooper, combined with being one of only three drivers (the others being Phil Hill and Masten Gregory) to have previously raced at the circuit, increased his chances at the event.[6][7] Thanks to adjustments to his Cooper, and with a five-speed gearbox compared to Brabham's four-speed, Moss achieved pole position with a time of 2:02.89.[6][7][1] In contrast, despite boasting Brooks, Hill, and Dan Gurney as drivers, Ferrari were struggling to set competitive lap times, being about eight seconds behind Moss' best time and languishing within the midfield.[6][7][1] Hence, it was a Cooper 1-3, with Brabham and Gregory qualifying second and third respectively, Brooks only starting tenth out of 16 competitors.[6][7][1]

The Race[edit | edit source]

With the starting order decided, the 1959 Portuguese Grand Prix commenced on 23rd August.[1] Brabham and Gregory made the best starts as Moss lagged behind.[6] However, he was able to regain the lead by halfway through the opening lap.[6][7][1] McLaren passed Gregory for third, as Moss already began to build a lead over Brabham, about eight seconds by lap 4.[6][4] With a Cooper 1-4 occurring, Moss extended his lead by about 2-2.5 seconds per lap.[6] On lap 6, Lotus-Climax's Graham Hill collided with Phil Hill, resulting in both future champions being eliminated.[6][4][7][1] Moss was already 17 seconds ahead, and began lapping the field, including a struggling Brooks.[6][4][7] On lap 24, Brabham attempted to lap Cooper-Maserati and Portuguese driver Mario de Araujo Cabral, but went too far left and crashed into the straw bales, which redirected the Cooper into a telegraph pole.[6][4][7][1] Not only was the Cooper wrecked, it somersaulted and threw Brabham free from the vehicle into the middle of the track, where he was nearly hit by Gregory.[6][4][7] Brabham ultimately escaped unhurt.[6][4]

By lap 31, Moss was leading Gregory by about a minute, while McLaren retired from third on lap 39 due to a transmission failure.[6][7][1] Gurney was now third, but would be lapped by Moss on lap 47.[6][7] Eleven laps later, Moss lapped Gregory, his only concern being a slight leak within his Cooper's fuel tank.[6][1] From there, Moss took an easy win after leading every lap, the Brit earning nine points after also having posted the fastest lap.[6][4][7][1] The Times summarised his performance with "So superior was he, [that] from the opening lap the race lost much of its interest."[4] Gregory took second, while Gurney made it two Americans on the podium with third.[1][6][7] Moss' teammate Maurice Trintignant finished fourth, despite being hit by Gurney in an collision that damaged the latter's radiator, while BRM's Harry Schell took the final points position of fifth.[6][4][1][7] With this win, Moss was now third in the Drivers' Championship with 17.5 points, 9.5 behind Brabham.[8][4] In the Constructors' Championship, Cooper led Ferrari 34 to 28.[8]

Availability[edit | edit source]

According to Issue of 1,867 of Radio Times, the BBC provided highlights of the race as part of Sportsview, on 26th August 1959.[9][10][11] It is unclear how long the segment lasted, as the 30-minute broadcast also included a report on a Featherweight Championship boxing match between Davey Moore and Hogan Blassey, and tips concerning sailing.[9][10] The broadcast has yet to resurface, but colour footage of the race can be viewed in a British documentary.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Video[edit | edit source]

Colour footage of the race from a British documentary.

Images[edit | edit source]

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]