52 AUGUST 2017
tirling Moss and Tony Brooks made it
look easy – bar their down-the-mine faces
coated in brake dust – but winning grands
prix in a Vanwall was no sinecure.
“I didn’t take much pleasure from
driving it,” recalls Moss. “It was dramatic
to look at, and quick, but difficult to drive.
It would basically understeer, but could
snap to oversteer – that was a [Colin]
Chapman design trait until about 1962.
You had to concentrate all the time if you
wanted to get the most out of it.
“It was difficult to set up, too. For its
day it was very sensitive to small changes
in tire pressure and spring rates. There
were areas where it was better than the
Ferrari and Maserati – its brakes, for
example – but there were areas where
they were definitely better than us.”
Brooks agrees: “It was the antithesis of
the Maserati 250F in that it didn’t like to
be drifted. Because you had fewer options,
therefore, you had to be patient with it, be
very smooth. That made you into a very
accurate driver, and that, of course, was
one of the Vanwall’s strengths, because
spectacular nearly always means slower.
“It could be made to drift, of course,
but it was an effort. Its steering was
heavy by the standards of the day and its
gearbox was pretty awful; that unit may
have had synchromesh, but its movement
was heavy, ponderous and long. And with
its lever being on the left-hand side of the
cockpit, and because most circuits run
clockwise, it used to dig into your leg
under the G-loads. Hardly ideal...”
After 100 clutch-less laps of Monaco in
1957, Brooks’ “hand looked like a piece of
steak. Not that you needed an excuse to
finish second to Fangio,” he recalled. And at
FLAWED, BUT FAST
Moss and Brooks don’t dispute the Vanwall’s effectiveness, but are somewhat less than effusive in their praise.
IMAGES Peter Harholdt COURTESY Collier Collection/ revsinstitute.org