Vanwall takes it to the Italians at the 1957 Italian GP.

Shirtless photographer gets yelled at, for, well, going shirtless. Mike Hawthorn watches on.

Mike Hawthorn (blond guy on right) watching photographer get yelled at for a dress code violation.

Not all historic race footage is created equal.  The footage I found on trusty old YouTube  is particularly insightful.  First, it is in color.  Second, it is particularly well-commentated.  Third, it spends a great deal of time on the pre-race affairs giving the viewer a first-hand view of the grid antics.  It’s interesting to note, that although there are fewer people on the grids of those days, it appears to be the same mix of driver’s trying to stay focused, old-timers trying to stay relevant, and mechanics just trying to do their job.  More importantly, however, some footage just seems to capture the essence of a race better than the totality of its parts.  For me, the foregoing footage is an excellent example of such an instance.

As for the race, well-covered by the foregoing video, it was a slip-stream battle among the heavy hitters.  Moss, Fangio, Brooks, and Behra all led at different points of the race.  The leading five eventually passed the back-markers.  Eventually, Brooks fell out.  Moss eventually pulled away from the rest of the pack, including Fangio, to win the race.

The Old Order versus The New Order

Stirling Moss talking strategy before the race.

Stirling Moss talking strategy before the race.

For the last seven years, with the exception of the two years Mercedes-Benz took the championship, almost every race has been won by an Italian manufacturer.  These were names like Ferrari, Lancia, Alfa Romeo, and Maserati.  Ferrari, the most notorious, was controlled with an iron-fist by its namesake – Enzo Ferrari.  Ferrari cared little about anything, including the lives of his drivers, except for victory.  The Italian teams carried a certain mentality, of which I can see remnants even in the Scuderia Ferrari of 2013.  Often, it is about the style and prestige of racing as much as it is about the craft, itself.  For me this is backed up by a recent survey I read indicating that BMW and Aston Martin drivers are more likely to “gearheads” than Ferrari owners.

In any event, Colin Chapman, leading the new order of British “Garagistes” – a pejorative term coined by old Enzo himself – brought a new mentality to Formula One racing.  It was not about working within the spirit of the rules, but rather, it was about exploiting loopholes in the rules.  These guys literally sat around a garage with chalk outlines and a rulebook reading and re-reading its provisions, trying to figure out how to best exploit each one.  This reaffirms a truism of modern society: namely, that it really is about how you play the game.

Ferrari would not simply give up and fade out like the other Italian manufacturers.  History bears this fact out.  However, the British and their hang-loose-and-let’s-figure-this-out mentality will become an ever-increasing thorn in the side of Enzo Ferrari.

And so, with the close of the 1957 Formula 1 season, a new era of Formula 1 is ushered in.  The driver’s with pre-war experience are quickly thinning, for the new guard of driver.  Names like Stirling Moss, Jack Brabham, and Count Von Tripps will come to prominence over the next few seasons, here at GP evolved.

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