Atlas F1   Rear View Mirror

Backward glances at racing history

Where Upon Our Scribe, Sherman,
and Mr. Peabody Once Again Crank
Up The Way-Back Machine for 1961...
by Don Capps, U.S.A.

Which is better known as...the Season of Low Expectations or Britain Sees Red

In this chapter: A Scorecard for the Season...

Let us pause this week to take a look at the teams, drivers, and machines of the 1961 season. We will start with the reigning World Champions and take it from there. I will only look at the teams that participated in the Championship series for reasons soon readily evident: there were a lot of them!

Several general comments:

  • The chassis are usually a spaceframe with variations on a theme being very common. Some were very sophisticated and intricate - the Lotus 21 being a good example, while others were little more than an attempt to 'look' like a spaceframe - the Emeryson comes to mind for example. Few of the cars were really down to the minimum weight of 450 kilograms in 'formula' configuration, excepting the new Lotus 21 naturally. Most were close while some were hopelessly above the minimum, such as the Porsche 718/2 machines. Wishbone and coil spring suspensions were nearly universal on newer machines. Tubular shock absorbers were also now virtually universal with Koni becoming very much to the fore.

  • The fields were dominated by four-cylinder engines which were in abundance, but not necessarily was there any equality. The variance in power between engines as delivered by Coventry Climax was generally very small, but the teams generally maintained and tuned their own engines. This where the difference were usually found in the engines once they were fired up in anger.

  • The same was true of the chassis used. The vast majority of the entrants in the races were private entrants. They usually bought the chassis raced by the works team the previous season or the customer version of the works machines. Needless to say, it was rare that the works teams were bested by the customers, but it did happen.

  • I will dwell on some the teams, machines, and drivers later on, so don't feel cheated if I don't go into great detail here.


    FPF  The venerable four-cylinder engine was given a going over for the new season. Wally Hassan and Peter Windsor-Smith developed the Mark II version for 1961 as a stop-gap until the new vee-eight was ready. The FPF Mark II (81.2mm x 71.7mm = 1,475 cc) received a new modified block (stronger bottom end) and a new aluminum cylinder head (made by Birmingham Aluminum). Some other features of the Mark II were circular exhaust ports and the use of the same exhausts as the 2.5-litre engines, all of which gained a 10% improvement in the flow. On the dynamometer, the Mark II could deliver something in the range of 150+ bhp, with just under that being what the engines were capable of delivering when given to the teams. It was not until mid-Summer that Mark II engines were available in any significant numbers, only five teams getting them in the early part of the season.

    FWMV  The new vee-eight, under the care of development engineer Gray Ross, first ran in May of 1961 and was to run its first race in August at the German Grand Prix. There were two FWMV (FeatherWeight Marine V8) Mark I engines made in 1961 and only Cooper got to use in them in anger. The FWMV (63mm x 60mm = 1.495 cc) used four twin-choke 32DCNC-4 Weber carburetors and managed to deliver up to 181 bhp for short periods by the end of the season.


  • Cooper Car Company
    Jack Brabham and Bruce McLaren
    Cooper 55 - Climax FPF (F1/10/61 and F1/11/61) and Type 58 - Climax FWMV (F1/12/61)

    The Type 55 was an evolution from the Type 53 of 1960. Used the Cooper six-speed gearbox/ transaxle.

  • Yeoman Credit Racing Team / Reg Parnell (Racing)
    John Surtees and Roy Salvadori
    Cooper 53 - Climax FPF (F1/1/61, F1/2/61, F1/4/61).

    The Type 53 Cooper (usually referred to as the '53P') was the production version of the successful Type 53 from 1960 modified for the new formula. The Reg Parnell team did some tinkering with its cars to lighten them and make them a bit more aerodynamic.

  • H & L Motors
    Jack Lewis
    Cooper 53 - Climax FPF (F1/6/61)

  • Bernard Collomb
    Bernard Collomb
    Cooper 53 - Climax FPF (F1/9/61)

  • Scuderia Centro Sud
    Lorenzo Bandini and Massimo Natili
    Cooper 53 - Maserati 150S (F1/13/61) and Cooper 51 - Maserati 150S (F2/13/59)

  • John M. Wyatt, III
    Roger Penske
    Cooper 53 - Climax FPF (F1/14/61)

  • James Sharp
    Hap Sharp
    Cooper 53 - Climax FPF (F1/15/61)

  • Momo Corporation
    Walt Hansgen
    Cooper 53 - Climax FPF (F1/16/61)

    This car was bought by Roger Penske and resurfaced the next year as the 'notorious' Zerex Special which was highly successful in the 1962 Fall Pro Season in the United States. It was later acquired by Bruce McLaren and used by McLaren until he started building his own sports racing cars.

  • Pescara Racing Club
    Renato Pirocchi
    Cooper 51 - Maserati 150S (F2/13/59)

  • Fred Tuck Cars, Ltd.
    Jack Fairman
    Cooper 45 - Climax FPF (F2/23/58)


  • Team Lotus
    Innes Ireland, Jim Clark, and Trevor Taylor
    Lotus 21 - Climax FPF (930, 931, 932, 933, 934) and Lotus 18 - Climax FPF (371, 912)

    The Lotus 21 was a much cleaner car than the 18. The bodywork was very sleek rather than being boxy. The chassis tubes were used as water pipes in an effort to streamline the design and save weight. Like Cooper, the driver seat was now reclined, but even more so. The fuel was now carried in pannier tanks rather than behind the seat as in the 18.

  • James Hall
    Jim Hall
    Lotus 18 - Climax FPF (371)

  • J. Wheeler Autosport
    Peter Ryan
    Lotus 18 - Climax FPF (372)

  • Scuderia Colonia
    Michael May and Wolfgang Seidel
    Lotus 18 - Climax FPF (373, 914)

  • Prince Gaetano Starrabba
    Gaetano Starrabba
    Lotus 18 - Maserati 150S (902)

  • Mrs. Louise Bryden-Brown
    Tony Maggs
    Lotus 18 - Climax FPF (903)

  • R. H. H. (Tim) Parnell
    Tim Parnell
    Lotus 18 - Climax FPF (904)

  • J. Frank Harrison
    Lloyd Ruby
    Lotus 18 - Climax FPF (907)

    This chassis would capture the pole at the Spring race at Trenton in 1963 powered by a 2.7-litre Climax FPF.

  • E. (Tony) Marsh
    Tony Marsh
    Lotus 18 - Climax FPF (909)

  • R. R. C. (Rob) Walker Racing Team
    Stirling Moss and Jack Fairman
    Lotus 18 - Climax FPF (912), Lotus 21 - FPF (933), and Ferguson P99 - Climax FPF (P99/1)

    The 18 received new bodywork similar to that of the 21 after the start of the season and was often referred to as a '18/21' although it was essentially a cosmetic change, nothing mechanical being actually done to the cars. The team was loaned a 21 for one race when Ireland swapped cars with Moss (Monza). The Ferguson P99 was the concept of Harry Ferguson of Harry Ferguson Research. Ferguson was the leading maker of four-wheel drive systems for farm tractors in the United Kingdom, Ford using the Ferguson in all of its four-wheel drive farm vehicles. After discussion with race driver Tony Rolt, Ferguson had engineer Claude Hill look at an application for four-wheel drive in a racing vehicle. The result was the P99. Although it was originally hoped that the P99 might make it to the grid in 1960, it finally saw the track in 1961. The P99 was front-engined, which make it unusual for a new racing machine at this time. The P99 used the basic Ferguson system, a central differential that fed to two other differentials located at the front and rear.

    The gearbox was a five-speed design by Ferguson which utilized a constant mesh system to improve the ability of the driver to control the rather unwieldy vehicle. The P99 was a bear to drive. The lack of punch in the 1.5-litre Climax FPF negated much of the potential in the approach. As one driver remarked, "it gives a whole new meaning to the idea of understeer" Indeed, only Stirling Moss ever really seemed comfortable in the P99. When the P99 participated in the forerunner of what was to become the Tasman Series in 1963, the additional litre was helpful and it was campaigned some moderate success. Andy Granatelli used the Ferguson system in the last series of Novi machines at Indianapolis where the four-wheel drive system helped put some the immense power of the Novi on the track. One final interesting thing about the P99: it was equipped with an Anti-lock Braking System developed by Dunlop for use in aircraft. This feature did little to add to the evil handling characteristics of the overweight, underpowered machine.

  • United Dominion Trust - Laystall Racing Team / British Racing Partnership
    Cliff Allison, Henry Taylor, Lucien Bianchi, Masten Gregory, and Olivier Gendebien
    Lotus 18 - Climax FPF (915, 916, 917, 918)

    The BRP cars were given the '18/21' bodywork as the season progressed.

  • Gerry Ashmore
    Gerry Ashmore
    Lotus 18 - Climax FPF (919)


  • Ferrari SpA SEFAC
    Phil Hill, Wolfgang von Trips, Richie Ginther, Willy Mairesse, and Ricardo Rodriguez
    Ferrari Dino 156 (0001, 0002, 0003, 0004, 0006)

    These machines will covered in a bit more detail later, but suffice to say that Carlo Chiti conducted a major campaign over the Winter to ensure that the Dino was the odds on favorite in the preseason discussions.

  • Federazione Italiana Scuderie Automobilstiche / Scuderia Sant Ambroeus
    Giancarlo Baghetti
    Ferrari Dino 156 (0008, 0003)

    BRM / British Racing Motors

  • Owen Racing Organisation
    Tony Brooks and Graham Hill
    BRM P57 - Climax FPF (571, 572)

    Sometimes referred to as the 'P48/57' or 'P57 Mark 1.' The P57 was designed around the fuel bags form the 1960 machines, the P48. This made them rather larger than necessary and the added bulk and weight did not help the team's efforts one bit. The team also started the season with Colotti gearboxes. The vee-eight P56 will not be used this season, so the team is forced to use the ubiquitous Climax FPF.


  • Porsche Systems Engineering AG / Dr. Ing. hcF. Porsche KG
    Dan Gurney, Joakim Bonnier, and Hans Herrmann
    Porsche Typ 718/2 (02, 03, 04, 05) and Porsche Typ 787 (01, 02)

    These machines will be looked at in closer detail later, but a few notes are in order. Until the minimum weight limit was dropped to 450 kg as a sop to the British teams, Porsche was looking good. When the weight limit dropped, things suddenly didn't look so good since they were now significantly heavier than their British competition. The Typ 547/3 engine from the RSK series finally started to horsepower in the 160 range on the dynamometer, but weight is still weight. Plus, the cars were still the same machines, the 718/2, derived from the Typ 718 RSK Spyder several years previously for F2.

  • Ecurie Maarsbergen
    Carel de Beaufort and Hans Herrmann
    Porsche Typ 718/2 (01, 05)


  • Scuderia Seremissima
    Maurice Trintignant, Giorgio Scarlatti, and Nino Vacarella
    Cooper 51 - Maserati 150S (F2/1/59), de Tomaso - OSCA (F1/001), and de Tomaso - Alfa Romeo (F1/003)

  • Camoradi International
    Masten Gregory and Ian Burgess
    Cooper 53 - Climax FPF (F1/3/61) and Lotus 18 - Climax FPF (905)

  • Equipe Natonale Belge
    Lucien Bianchi, Olivier Gendebien, Willy Mairesse, and Andre Pilette
    Emeryson - Maserati 150S (1001, 1003, 1005), Ferrari Dino 156 (0002), Lotus 18 - Climax FPF (373, 909), and Lotus 21 - Climax FPF (930)

    I will save any discussion for the Emeryson for later...

  • Scuderia Settecolli
    Roberto Lippi
    de Tomaso - OSCA (F1/002)

    The best things that can be said about the de Tomaso machines is that it helps you if you compete at 8W...

  • Scuderia Tomaso
    Roberto Bussinello
    de Tomaso - Alfa Romeo (F1/004)

  • Gilby Engineering Ltd.
    Keith Greene
    Gilby - Climax FPF

    This was an excellent machine plagued by a lack resources to properly develop it into a competitive machine on the track. More on the Gilby later.

  • JBW Car Company
    Brian Naylor
    JBW - Climax FPF

    In our next episode: Back to racing! On the Road to Monte Carlo!

    Previous Parts in this Series: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

  • Don Capps© 2000 Kaizar.Com, Incorporated.
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