French GP 1961

French GP, 1961

A fortnight after the Belgian GP the F1 teams gathered at Reims for the French GP. As the French did not bother with the restrictive invitations it was a large field of cars with a variety of unusual privateers. Ferrari had a fourth car, run in the colors of the Federazione Italiana Scuderie Automobilische and driven by 27-year-old Italian Giancarlo Baghetti who arrived at Reims undefeated in F1 races after wins in non-championship races at Syracuse in April and Naples in May. There was a new De Tomaso-Osca which was run by Scuderia Serenissima for Giorgio Scarlatti but it was not competitive.

It was an all-Ferrari front row with Phil Hill on pole from Wolfgang Von Trips and Ritchie Ginther with the second row being shared by Stirling Moss in his Rob Walker Lotus 18 and Jim Clark in one of the factory Lotus 21s.

Hill led from the start with Ginther and Von Trips giving chase but when Ginther spun Moss was able to take third for a while before the American recovered. Further back there was an exciting slipstreaming battle between seven cars: the two Porsches of Dan Gurney and Jo Bonnier, the factory Lotuses of Clark and Ireland, Graham Hill's BRM (Tony Brooks went out early in the other car with engine trouble), Bruce McLaren's Cooper and the fourth Ferrari of Baghetti. Eventually Ginther passed Moss and Stirling dropped back into this fight because of brake trouble.

Then Ferrari faltered. Von Trips, who had taken the lead under team orders, stopped with engine trouble on lap 18. Hill took over but spun on lap 38 and stalled his engine, rejoining a lap behind. Ginther lasted only three laps in the lead before he stopped with an engine problem and suddenly the seething battle for fourth place was a fight for the lead. Gradually the challengers dropped away leaving Gurney's Porsche against Baghetti's Ferrari. They changed places lap after lap and on the final lap Baghetti dived out of Gurney's slipstream to pass the American a couple of hundred yards before the finish line.

Baghetti thus became the first and, to date, only man to win his first World Championship event...

50 Giancarlo Baghetti Ferrari 156 52 2h14m17.500s  12 
12 Dan Gurney Porsche 718 52 2h14m17.600s  
Jim Clark Lotus-Climax 21 52 2h15m18.600s  
Innes Ireland Lotus-Climax 21 52 2h15m27.800s  10 
Bruce McLaren Cooper-Climax T55 52 2h15m59.300s  
22 Graham Hill BRM-Climax P48/57 52 2h15m59.400s  
10 Jo Bonnier Porsche 718 52 2h17m32.900s  13 
42 Roy Salvadori Cooper-Climax T53 51  15 
16 Phil Hill Ferrari 156 50  
10 30 Henry Taylor Lotus-Climax 18/21 49  25 
11 46 Michel May Lotus-Climax 18 48  22 
12 36 Masten Gregory Cooper-Climax T53 43  16 
13 32 Maurice Trintignant Cooper-Maserati T51 42  23 
14 38 Ian Burgess Lotus-Climax 18 42  24 
15r 18 Richie Ginther Ferrari 156 40 Engine 
26 Stirling Moss Lotus-Climax 18/21 31 Brakes 
48 Willy Mairesse Lotus-Climax 21 27 Fuel System 20 
14 Carel Godin de Beaufort Porsche 718 23 Engine 17 
28 Lucien Bianchi Lotus-Climax 18/21 21 Clutch 19 
20 Wolfgang von Trips Ferrari 156 18 Engine 
34 Giorgio Scarlatti De Tomaso-OSCA F1 15 Engine 26 
Jack Brabham Cooper-Climax T55 14 Engine 14 
52 Bernard Collomb Cooper-Climax T53 Engine 21 
40 John Surtees Cooper-Climax T53 Suspension/ Accident 
24 Tony Brooks BRM-Climax P48/57 Overheating 11 
44 Jack Lewis Cooper-Climax T53 Overheating 18 
ns 28 Juan-Manuel Bordeu Lotus-Climax 18/21  Car Raced By Bianchi 27