Here we are on the harbor front straight accelerating down toward the Gazometre hairpin at the start of the Monaco Grand Prix on May 13, 1956. On pole and in the shadows on the left is Juan Manuel Fangio with one of the four Ferrari-Lancias entered. In the middle is Stirling Moss in a works Maserati 250F with Eugenio Castellotti over on the right in another of the Ferrari-Lancias.
Fangio had set fastest lap time on the first day’s practice which came with a special award of £100. He then knocked a couple of tenths of that in a subsequent session to make certain of his pole position. Neither Moss nor Castellotti could approach the times set by the Old Man. Although there were 18 cars entered and the starting limit was 16, when the BRMs departed for home during practice with engine problems, all the rest would be eligible. However, when Louis Chiron scattered his Maserati engine and Giorgio Scarlatti in an old Ferrari 500 was excluded as being too slow there would be only 14 starters.
Then, just as today, everyone was worried about the difficulty in overtaking around the very tight circuit and/or becoming embroiled in someone else’s accident. Moss grabbed the lead at the Gazometre and managed to keep it all the way to the end with superb display of both speed and accuracy. Here he is at that important first hairpin at the end of the front straight.
Fangio had had a poor start and used the first 20 laps to slowly overtake Castellotti, Jean Behra’s Maserati and Peter Collins’ Ferrari-Lancia to get back into second place though Moss was by then well away in front by almost 30 seconds. Fangio had bent things a bit getting back to second so he went into the pits and his car was handed to Castellotti whose car had retired with a bad clutch. Collins then came in and gave his car to Fangio who now was in the only car on the lead lap.
Fangio closed the gap to Moss as the latter eased off in the final quarter of the race. Nevertheless, Fangio set the fastest lap, just one tenth slower than his pole time, as he never gave up chasing the leading Maserati.
Photos by Yves Debraine ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com
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