THE MONACO GRAND PRIX
The Monaco Grand Prix opened the 1961 World Championship series. Chiti had produced a 120-degree V6 engine for the ‘Sharknose’ cars, Richie being given the first as he was chief test driver and its reliability was something of an unknown quantity. Trips and I were to use old-style 65-degree V6 engines in our new ‘Sharknose’ cars. The wider-angle engine was a little lighter and lowered the car’s centre of gravity, which improved handling through rapid direction changes – so common at Monte Carlo.
Moss drove a brilliant race to hold us all off to the finish in his basically year-old Lotus, but you could characterise Monaco 1961 as being a competition to see what’s faster around a living room, a whippet or a race horse? Our Ferraris were the race horses … Richie had actually led our pursuit of Moss early in the race before I got by to have a go at him. I managed to close the gap, but around three-quarter distance my engine began to choke-up with carburettor trouble and I’d really caned the brakes. Richie was right on my tail again, so I thought he’s got more car left than me and waved him by.
Moss had qualified on pole with a fastest lap of 1m 39s, and in those closing laps both he and Richie were lapping below 1m 37. But Stirling hung on to win, with Richie second, me third and Trips – who’d been delayed by throttle and battery problems – fourth. The ‘Sharknoses’ had been beaten, but only by an exceptional driver on a course favouring his car.
Despite this defeat, the atmosphere at Maranello was tremendously confident. The same day we ran at Monaco, Baghetti followed up his Syracuse win in his first F1 race by winning the Naples GP in his second. Our V6 engines had probably 25-30 horsepower more than the 4-cylinder Climax-engined British teams and the German air-cooled Porsches. On more conventional circuits than Monte Carlo we were likely to find the dice loaded greatly in our favour …