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A question pertaining to F1 rules in the 1950 s


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#1 Joe Fan

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Posted 12 October 2000 - 13:46

I was watching a episode on the 1957 Reims GP (a non-championship F1 race) on Speedvision. I noticed at the end, Masten Gregory had his Maserati parked on the side of the road just a few feet from the finish line apparently a victim of late race mechanical problems. I noticed that he waited for the checkered flag to fall and then he pushed his car over the start/finish line. Why did he wait? Would he have not been classified if he push his car over the line before the checkered flag was thrown since he would not have been able to push his car back around. ????

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#2 Barry Lake

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Posted 12 October 2000 - 13:57

In those days, to qualify as a finisher, you had to cross the line after the flag had been shown to the winner.
I am not sure if there was a time limit for GPs, but at Le Mans, for example, the last lap had to be completed within a certain time of the winner crossing the line (otherwise the officials might have had to wait there all night for some idiot to push his car the final lap!).

At some time pushing cars across the line was banned for safety reasons. Exactly when this became a rule, I am not sure, but would like to know.

There also was a variation to "must cross under its own power" which included the starter motor, although this might only have been for sports car races.

I also would be interested to know when the rules changed to cars qualifying on laps completed, regardless of whether or not they were running at the finish (provided a certain percentage of the race had been completed).
Can anyone put dates on any of this, or shed further light?

#3 Don Capps

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Posted 12 October 2000 - 15:32

In Ancient Days, the organizers had much more autonomy than today. That is another way of saying that -- to borrow an American baseball term -- there were plenty of local "ground rules."

In another thread the question was asked about numbers: the organizers issued them in whatever fashion that suited them. As Hans mentioned, some used the order in which the entries were received, some entrants had "favorite" numbers (Moss and "7" being but one example). Some used one set of numbers in practice and different ones for the race. Why? To twart those selling programs other than the "official" ones. In 1964, the numbers for those participating in UK events was somewhat constant as a result of an agreement. In the German F2 series, especially in the DDR, numbers appear to be pretty stable and from season to season as well.

Until the mid-60's, the requirement for a placing was that a car had to cross the line after the winner. Period, in most cases. Some had stipulations that the last lap couldn't exceed the race fastest lap by a factor of two or three; others that the car had to cross under its own power or at least not be pushed across. Others didn't care, as long as it crossed the line. In the sports car classes it was fairly uniform that you needed to cross the line "under power" which meant -- as Gurney demonstrated at Daytona in 1962 -- that the as long as the starter was grinding away you were okay...

"Classification" was an area that emerged in the 60's. Prior to this, each organizing club determined the list of finishers by whatever method they wished. It must be noted that there was a set of common elements that were adopted by pretty much everyone and so while there was some variance, it was of a minor variety. Of course, this is all relating to the races on The Continent naturally. "Classification" was a term related to prize money initially from my understanding. Keep in mind that prize money was really a bonus back then, the real money being the starting money.

At Monaco, you were "classified" as a finisher if you completed 50% of the race distance. In 1963, the CSI introduced the 2/3's rule for being classified into the WDC events. And, as we all know, the 90% rule came into effect with the 1966 season.

Some organizers did stipulate a minimum distance for being classified a finisher. In the UK this was more common, but there was some variance from club to club as to what that was.

Also, read carely what I have written since Paul Sheldon -- as he states -- applies the modern rules of classification to race results to races where it did not apply with the effect that many have have erroreous data posted all over the place, especially places like Forix and so forth. Ironically, this was done to "standardize" the results between periods. Another minor quibble with Sheldon is his refusal to recognize commercial entrants -- it is always the British Racing Partnership (BRP) and not the UDT-Laystall Racing Team. Ditto with Bowmaker and others. This is also reflected in many places... This is the equivalent of painting over the "naughty bits" in paintings which was done on more occasions than you want to hear about in the 19th and early 20th centuries; but, at least Sheldon tells you that he is doing it, so I give him credit for that.

Good example of the old system biting you in the butt when a driver has brain fade: Spa 1960. Graham Hill's BRM runs into problems on the penultimate lap, but with only the Coopers ahead of him, he can stop short of the line, wait for Brabham to zip across the line and still take home the points for third place.

But, noooooooooo! Hill for some reason does not stop short of the finish line. He rolls over it and into the BRM pit. The P48 is not able to be quickly repaired so he can return to the race. Of the 14.10km circuit, he will have to push it 14.05km to reach the finish line about 50 meters behind him. Instead of third, his is now listed as the first retirement listed after the finishers -- all of which have a worse time for completing the distance than he does, one lap down to Brabham. Using today's rules, he would have been third. Then he was just the last retirement. Need to say, G.N. Hill was not a popular man with the Owen Organisation for several days...

It was this wonderful ambiguity that Bernie has eliminated. Yes, it drove folks nuts back then as well! Toto Roche once allowed several folks to push start cars so they could make the grid -- 1963 -- and imposed a one minute penalty. The CSI later waved a finger and said, "Bad, Toto..." but it wound up costing G.N Hill points in the debut of the P61 since he was pushstarted...

And the examples of such things are legion...these are just the merest of scratches on the surface.

[p][Edited by Don Capps on 10-12-2000]

#4 fines

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Posted 12 October 2000 - 18:43

I think the underlying problem is that if you classify cars only if they're running at the end you favour endurance over speed. It just doesn't make sense in GP racing.

Take e.g. the Portuguese GP of 1958: Hawthorn and Lewis-Evans ran second and third close to the end of the race, seperated on the track only by Moss who was leading. When Stirling was flagged Evans' race was over as well, and under modern rules Hawthorn would've been secure in 2nd place. Back then he had to go the distance under risk of losing his place just because he had been that little bit faster than Evans before. Talking 'bout being penalised for being quicker! We all know that this finally led to quite some arguments when he spun on that last lap, recovered not exactly according to the rules and went on to cross the finish line. This stupid little rule could've altered the outcome of the championship, although I have to admit that in my book Stirling would've been the rightful champion anyway, but that's a different story!

It just goes to show that in those days drivers were almost urged to go slower in order to safely finish, wheras the charger always risked being stripped of the results of his efforts if something stupid went wrong on the last lap. And yes, there was that Italian GP of 1953 where Ascari spun on the very last corner fighting for the win, finally ending up behind some stragglers who where more than 20 laps adrift!

#5 Don Capps

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Posted 12 October 2000 - 20:21

Most keep looking at this from a modern perspective and with a mindset shaped by the modern game, if you will.

First, Hawthorn knew what was at stake on that final lap and that he needed to complete it and within a time three times the fastest lap. It was not a mystery to either Hawthorn or the Scuderia. The intervention of Moss after the spin has passed into both Myth and Legend (there is a difference...). After some research into this some time ago, I came to the conclusion that Moss was 'correct' in supporting the claim that Hawthorn was off the 'racing surface' when he did his against the flow bump start. Yes, it was close and perhaps stretched the interpretation of the regulations to the edge, but the essence was correct. Besides, the sense of Fair Play was too strong in Moss to sit idly by. We will not mention -- by name -- the many who came to the defense of Moss in 1960!

Second, Grand Prix racing back then was a matter of endurance. The major races were in the 500km range for a reason -- to get both speed and endurance into the game. The concept was combine the idea of "...to finish first, first you must finish..." with "...the devil take the hindmost..." and see who could find the balance that worked that day.

Today, drivers have relatively few worries about their brakes lasting the distance, barring some unusual problem. Until the dawn of the disc brake and then the pads that could last (this latter factor being probably the most important break-thru in making this a non-factor by the mid & late-60's), brakes were a major factor in determining how brave you were. Plus other things like tires, of course. The F1 sprint races of today bear little resemblence to the GP races of my youth. You had to find that touch that allowed you to finish while also having to muscle that puppy around the circuit, often over road surfaces that would make a driver -- even then, to say nothing of today -- blanch.

As for Monza in 1953, recall it was just as much a case of Ascari making one of his rare errors in judgment as those in his way doing something silly. Besides, if memory serves me correctly they weren't 20 laps down but like five or so. However, that was also a known part of the game. Had Ascari been a tad more patient and waited before forcing a pass in the midst of some folks not looking at their mirrors, then well, maybe, it could have been different. But, such is Life.

At any rate, all this made some sort of sense back then. Just like the car-hopping and some of the other aspects of racing then which are alien to those more familar with the sport today -- Losing oil? Add a few litres of Shell... Call in the cub driver for a switch... Stop just a few meters short of the line and coast over when the leader gets the flag...

#6 Ray Bell

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Posted 12 October 2000 - 21:27

Was it 1957 at Spa when the first three cars over the line coasted there with various engine and gearbox maladies?
I think (but I'm not sure) that the 1961 F1 rules (which introduced starter motors) also precluded pushing cars over the line.

#7 Leif Snellman

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Posted 12 October 2000 - 21:56

This is taken from my own homepage under the subject "Racing in the 30s"

Results:
The biggest change to modern rules is that you had to finish to be classified, an engine failure on the last lap could be devastating. This rule lived on into postwar F1 racing. A classic example is the Italian GP 1953 where Ascari, while leading, spun at the last corner on the last lap. As there were only three cars remaining on the same lap as the leader he should nowadays have collected 4 points for a third place, as Frentzen in Brazil 1999. However in 1953 it was Villoresi, a lap behind, who got the third place, and Ascari never appeared in the results.



#8 fines

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Posted 12 October 2000 - 22:16

Don, agree on most of what you said. But take a look at the "accidental" (I know, in this case it wasn't purely accidental, though) presence of the leader in between Hawthorn and Lewis-Evans. Had the lap distance been just a little bit longer or the race distance just a little bit shorter or whatever... There's really no substantial difference between the respective performances of these two to justify such a scenario (if Hawthorn had indeed retired).

BTW, I think Moss' lapping of his teammate was the real mistake he made in this race, not the "HAW REC" pitboard or his sporting gesture after the finish. Had he been thinking on his feet he would've let Evans past before he took the checker, thus ensuring SLE could give JMH a run for his money.

#9 fines

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Posted 12 October 2000 - 22:31

Oh, and with Ascari: I was thinking of the results when I said he ended up behind the stragglers. He was actually fighting Farina for the lead, the Dottore still incensed by Ascari's failure to obey team orders at the previous race. Yet again, another story...

#10 Don Capps

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Posted 12 October 2000 - 23:17

Ray,

It was 1958. Brooks had his gearbox overheating and on the verge of seizing, Hawthorn blew his engine in a last lap frenzy and was lucky it didn't let go until after La Source, and Lewis-Evans had his front suspension somewhat deranged -- a broken wishbone. And Allison in fourth had an exhaust pipe dangling on his Lotus. Had it been the usual distance of 500km, I am willing to wager that either Harry Schell would have given BRM its first win or Gendebien would have salvaged the day for the Scuderia -- or even the 250F gaining its last victory -- and the second of the season for Trintignant....

Actually, the race shouldn't have qualified as a round for the WDC since it was way short of the two hour requirement, although making the minimum distance of 300km. However, that minor bit of business was overlooked...

#11 Ray Bell

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Posted 12 October 2000 - 23:43

I would have been barracking for Harry...

#12 Wolf

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Posted 12 October 2000 - 23:51

Here's a queer coincidence. Just yesterday, on 'Champions' thread, I mentioned how statistics can favour 'old' drivers, this thread mentiones Forix, and '58 Spa race whichgoes to prove that point. Seeing that you didn't mention Moss in classification, I presumed him to have gone from the race by the virtue of mechanical failure (which Forix data verifies as engine failure). Yet Moss' 'All but my life' (which I've checked for no particular reason- wonder what has gotten into me:)) lists his retirement as 'overreved engine'. And if I'm not very mistaken- it's the drivers, not the equippment, failure.

#13 Ray Bell

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Posted 13 October 2000 - 00:22

You checked the tally at the end of the book?
I'm fairly sure that Moss discusses this in the body of the book, where he says "There is no excuse for missing a gear, although I did that at Spa in 1958."
I'm working completely from memory here, but it was driver error.

#14 Barry Lake

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Posted 13 October 2000 - 05:07

I like Michael's assessment of Stirling Moss' mistake in lapping Lewis-Evans in 1958.
As a part-time tactician for race teams in more than one country over the past 15 years, it's the sort of thing I think about constantly now (and what gives me excitement when watching a modern F1 race that other people find "boring").
Imagine how much different that 1958 race could have been had there been a team manager in radio contact with Moss and Lewis-Evans?
It was a mistake on Moss' part and I think it shows that sometimes a real "racer", which Moss was, sometimes is more concerned with something like lapping his main rival than with thinking about tactics and points and championships.
As the championship has grown in stature over the years, some drivers have become more tactical. Those who have learned to be quick AND tactical have included - well, people like Prost, Lauda and Michael Schumacher spring to mind.

#15 Ray Bell

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Posted 13 October 2000 - 05:16

In 'Champion Year' Hawthorn writes: 'as I went round I hit the straw bales with the tail, but it bounced off again quite safely and as I drew away the Vanwall came up alongside me. I turned my head round, and to my astonishment it was not Stuart, but Stirling. I pulled a face at him as though to say: Oh no, not this, the final indignity! Stirling saw my expression of surprise and woe, and obviously thought: Well I mustn't rub it in - and very sportingly dropped back behind me. Stuart was there too as Stirling had given him a 'tow' to take him past Behra into third place..
So Moss did pass Hawthorn, then backed off... And Hawthorn mentions nothing about Moss telling him to push the car downhill, which I'm sure Moss does mention somewhere.
You're dead right about his lack of tactics, here, though. He should have let Stuart back past and he would have got second.
Hawthorn had a lot of brake trouble in this race, stopping for an adjustment at one point and nursing the brakes through the whole event.

#16 oldtimer

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Posted 13 October 2000 - 05:20

For Don Capps.

Didn't the 500km GPs disappear after 1957 and the introduction of Avgas (aviation gasoline) as fuel? Shorter races, smaller fuel tanks,and hey presto! the success of the Coopers.

#17 Ray Bell

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Posted 13 October 2000 - 05:26

That would have been the case... the German GP dropped from 22 laps to 15 in 1958 (vide Champion Year), and later it fell to 14. And a Cooper won the first race under those new regs!

#18 Joe Fan

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Posted 13 October 2000 - 10:51

Oh BTW thanks for answering my question guys. It is good to see that this generated broader discussion. Quite interesting.

#19 Don Capps

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Posted 13 October 2000 - 14:20

Oldie,

For 1958, we saw The End of Civilization As We Knew It :p when the CSI stipulated the use of gasoline (actually Avgas at 130 octane, which was readily available the local service station...), eliminated car-hopping, and mandated a minimum race distance of 300km and a minimum time of two hours. Races could still be up to 500km and were as late as -- this is off the top of my head -- I think Monza 1963, which even if not 500km was at least in the 450km range.

I didn't like it at the time and still haven't quite come to grips with the decision... :D

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#20 fines

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Posted 13 October 2000 - 17:42

This is actually a very interesting question: Why was the Belgian GP of 1958 shortened? William Court (Power & Glory, Vol. 2) states that the race programme detailed 30 laps which would've been enough to satisfy the rules. Anyone with a hint?

#21 Ray Bell

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Posted 13 October 2000 - 20:35

Yes, Don, the Itie GP of 63 was 307 miles or about 500km without doing the maths.
As for the Spa race of 1958, again we have a clue from 'Champion Year' by Hawthorn.
There had been a lot of work done on the circuit, making it much faster than before, but there had been no race in 1957 to give any idea of what times were likely. The lap record set in August, 1957, by Gendebien in a 4.1 Ferrari was 4:09.8, so presumably they expected that to be the approximate pace.
Indecision was shown by the fact that the programme did list the event as 30 laps, while the race was run for only 24... which was 339km.
Just what would have happened if the race had gone 30 laps might be interesting... the first car over the line that was able to go another lap was Allison in the 2.2 Lotus, with Schell's BRM next ahead of Gendebien's Ferrari. We don't know, of course, whether or not they would have gone another six laps.
Allison's practice time was 4:07.7, his race time 1h41:21.8, so a further 6 laps would have taken this time to well over the 2 hours. As it would Hawthorn's, had he not blown it up setting the lap record on the last lap (took a second of his previous best despite coasting over the line). Allison must have, by the way, been very close to being lapped, being 4:15.5 behind Hawthorn at the finish.
None of this settles the issue, really, for even a 4:06 average for the 24 laps is still inside the 2 hours. But it's clear there was indecision on the part of the organisers.
Hawthorn writes later in the season about the new Lotus GP car, obviously the 16, so was it the miserable 12 that Allison nearly won in?

#22 fines

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Posted 13 October 2000 - 20:57

Yes, it was the 12, and it nearly won Chapman his first GP on only his third try. Amazing, really!

#23 Ray Bell

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Posted 13 October 2000 - 21:18

'Miraculous' is the word I'd use... it's a wonder it carried enough fuel without breaking in two...
Were these fitted with the BMC geaboxes, or was that honour reserved for the one that came here?

#24 Roger Clark

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Posted 13 October 2000 - 22:33

Not a BMC gearbox, but the legendary queerbox!

#25 Don Capps

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Posted 11 December 2001 - 13:24

Okay, this has been bothering me for awhile: just what did the CSI regulation concerning counting the last lap of a race actually say? In a report on the 1959 USGP, I think I finally found what I was looking for since it discussed that very question. According to the report, in Sports Car, the CSI reg states that the final lap of the race cannot exceed "three times the winner's final lap," not the fastest lap of the race.

I knew that I had read that statement somewhere recently and I finally tracked down.

#26 Wolf

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Posted 11 December 2001 - 22:00

To me, that variance of the rules in the old days is what gives the charm to the whole thing... I'd pick that over the modern, overstandardized, days anyday.;) BTW, I quite liked the part of 'All but My Life' where Moss talks about the rules in racing. Speaking of rules, reminds me of.... guess who.;) The way he overtook Masten for the win, under the red flag. Heh, and I'm sure ol' Masten wasn't too happy about it. :lol:

#27 Gra

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Posted 12 December 2001 - 07:49

I'm not sure when pushing your car over the line was outlawed, but I do remember Nigel Mansell pushing his Lotus over the line for 6th place in Las Vegas-1984.

#28 VDP

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Posted 12 December 2001 - 09:30

Dallas 1984

In sports cars pushing his car was forbidden I think after the Buenos Aires tragedy in 1971
in which poor I Giunti lost his life when hiting JP Beltoise Matra Ms 650. sorry about topic I know


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#29 fines

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Posted 13 December 2001 - 16:25

Pushing wasn't allowed even when Mansell performed his antics. He didn't reach the finish line, so it was academic anyway. I believe it was the birth of "Mansell The Showman"... :rolleyes:

#30 cabianca

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Posted 14 December 2001 - 05:35

Don, Curious about your comment about the change in fuel for 1958. You mention 130 octane gasoline/petrol being available at your local service station. Do you mean in Europe or North America? I don't remember octanes like that on the West side of the Atlantic and seem to remember petrol in the 50s in Europe as much worse than that in the US. I believe they called it Avgas because it was what was used in general aviation (light aircraft). I don't think these kind of octanes were available to the general public. Would like to hear comments on this.

#31 Vitesse2

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Posted 14 December 2001 - 10:40

Cabianca: if you insert this: :rolleyes: after the word "station" in Don's post and then re-read it, I think you might understand it better :) :)

#32 Wolf

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Posted 15 December 2001 - 22:26

Since I'm in the inquisitive mood, I thought to try my luck in here as well... In 'All But My Life' results table I've seen a note for '52 GP de Monaco (for sports cars) 'disqualified after pile-up'. Anyone cares to enlighen me on that matter? Thanx in advance. :)

#33 Roger Clark

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Posted 16 December 2001 - 00:39

Originally posted by Wolf
Since I'm in the inquisitive mood, I thought to try my luck in here as well... In 'All But My Life' results table I've seen a note for '52 GP de Monaco (for sports cars) 'disqualified after pile-up'. Anyone cares to enlighen me on that matter? Thanx in advance. :)


Moss was disqualified for receiving outside assistance.

He was running second behind Manzon's gordini. Parnell's Aston Martin had spun into the straw bales on the outside of Ste.Devote. Mascarenhas' allard had dropped some fuel and oil. Carini's Ferrari sun, almost blocking the road. When the leaders arrived, Manzon spun into the Aston, Moss spun into the straw bales. Two english spectators helped straighten the nose of Moss' car, and he continued for another 20 laps before being disqualified.

#34 Gil Bouffard

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Posted 18 December 2001 - 06:08

Hi Guys...

Been away for awhile...Seems to me the fuel octane issue was more like 100 octane...Also the GP of Belgium got a late start due to waiting for the King to arrive..Collins overheated his engine on the start line.

Got to check my figures again.. But I seem to remember Moss commenting about the race in his book "A Turn at The Wheel."

Gil

#35 Don Capps

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Posted 18 December 2001 - 15:05

Michael,

The Avgas comment was missing the :rolleyes: -- which V2 correctly adds.