Stirling Moss' best race: "I couldn't believe it."

12-04-2020 19:00

In 1961 Stirling Moss was one of the most experienced and acclaimed Grand Prix drivers on the Formula 1 grid. Yet he wasn't seen as one of the favourites. He drove for the Walker Racing Team that took part in the world championship with an old Lotus. However, he did take on Ferrari and Moss says that was his best win.

The Monaco Grand Prix was that season's first race on the calendar and on the tight street circuit, and because of the rather fickle rules of the time, the front starting places were distributed among the factory teams and drivers who had already won the Monaco Grand Prix in the past.

David versus Goliath

Moss, who had already won the race in 1956 and 1960, was therefore allowed to start from pole position. However, not many people, including himself, gave him a big chance against the mighty Ferrari. But the Briton liked to race for teams from his own country. The Italian team, with three cars behind him, was ready to attack.

However, the Ferrari's were somewhat compromised at the start and Moss was able to build up a 10 second lead in the first quarter of the race. Once the Ferrari's got past the slower competitors, they set off in full pursuit of Moss' old Lotus.

Unique images in Monaco

"In my memory, the Monte Carlo Grand Prix 1961 was my best race", he would say to the BBC years later. "I drove about 90 percent of all laps absolutely full throttle. I was sure the Ferrari's were just waiting until the final laps of the race to overtake me. I couldn't believe that didn't happen."

Moreover, the images of this heroic victory became famous because somewhere during the race one of the side panels of the car had fallen off. As a result, everyone could see almost the entire body of Moss at work in the cockpit.

Ferrari turned out to be too strong in the end

In the end the Ferrari's on the faster circuits that year (like above at Zandvoort) would turn out to be too fast. Moss still managed to win the German Grand Prix at the life-threatening Nürburgring, but in the end the world title went to Phil Hill in the Ferrari. Moss finished third behind Wolfgang von Trips, who died before the end of the season.

Moss wouldn't defy fate much longer either, he was severely injured in a crash at Goodwood before the F1 season. He was in a coma for a month and the right side of his body was paralyzed for six months. Moss would then continue racing until old age, but never again in Formula 1.

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