1955 Monaco Grand Prix
The 1955 Monaco Grand Prix was the first race of the 1955 Formula One World Championship and was held in Monte Carlo on May 8th 1955. Dries van der Lof won the race, his final Formula 1 win before his fatal accident at the 1956 French Grand Prix. Consalvo Sanesi finished second in the Gordini, his only podium of the year, while Alberto Ascari scored his and Phoenix's fifth podium in third place.
A new season beckoned, the sixth of the World Drivers' Championship and the fifth for Constructors' and Entrants' championships. And this time, participation was at a record high, even for the most inaccessible races in the Soviet Union and Morocco, where over 40 cars were entered. Some entry lists were even pushing 60 drivers! But despite all these changes to the calendar, including four new rounds (Scotland, USSR, Portugal and Morocco), there would be some constants, including the opening race, as always held in Monaco. This year, 47 entrants had turned up. More had signed up, but eventually had to withdraw.
-Maria Teresa de Filippis is entered in her own car, with Giannino Marzotto in the second car being confirmed much later on.
Bernie Ecclestone is present as well with his Mercedes-Bentleys for himself and Hernando da Silva Ramos.
David Hampshire is also there with his Bentley. The second car will only be given to Salvadori later in the year.
Renzo have once again brought three cars to their first race, for Dorino Serafini, Toulo de Graffenried and Franco Rol, the latter on a glory run to retire on a high.
Voeckler will make their début in Monaco with main driver André Simon and guest driver Louis Chiron, replacing Louis Rosier at short notice.
Alfonso de Portago is the only Loyer driver this time around, as Roger Loyer will be on a part-time schedule.
Both Porsches are present, however, in the hands of Jean Behra and Eugenio Castellotti.
While they didn't win in Singapore or Rouen, the Gordinis are set to be major contenders again this season, and their four-car team is back again, with Manzon, Sanesi and newcomers Porfirio Rubirosa and Paco Godia.
Much like other teams, Reatherson have brought only one car, preferring to leave the second at home for the time being. Lance Macklin is trusted with the car.
After making the expensive choice to build their own car, FRacing have come to the conclusion that the FH355 is not as good as it should have been, and they have instead purchased a Bentley Speed 4 to go with their FIAT engine. Roberto Mieres has his work cut out for him.
Scuderia Anglo-Italia are ready for a full-season four-car tilt at the championship, with regular driver José Froilan Gonzalez, late-season hero Jacques Swaters and Alfa Romeo refugees Stirling Moss and Peter Whitehead to drive all season long.
Geoff Richardson, from his hospital bed, has made the sensible and popular decision to leave the second car home until the British rounds, sending only Ferrari stand-in Harry Schell to the early rounds.
Ecurie Maghreb are present as well, despite persistent rumours to the contrary, mostly due to a perceived lack of driver quality. And indeed, the initially announced Robert la Caze was dropped in favour of the more successful and well-known André Guelfi.
The amusingly named Desmond Titterington will also be making his début for Irish Racing Association. With Guelfi, this marks the first entry for a Lancia since 1950.
Lex Davison, for Scuderia Australasia, is the first driver on the entry list to drive the new Cooper T41, funded by a handful of teams. Two more of these cars have been entered for Ecurie Nationale Belge and Maserati.
Débutant Bib Stillwell will be driving for the New Zealander Tasman Racing Alliance with the unusual O.S.C.A.-Vanwall combination.
Facing enduring budget issues, Maserati have been forced to invest in the Cooper T41 and abandon their AM53 chassis. They will continue to use the 200F in the Cooper in select races for Ron Flockhart, while no more customers plan on entering any Maserati machinery. Their involvement in Formula One seems to be all but over.
The new Alfa Romeo has already proven to be the car to beat by dominating the Rouen Grand Prix in the hands of Jack Brabham and Giuseppe Farina. With an encouraging Tony Gaze in the third car to pick up stray points, most connoisseurs already agree that all three titles will probably go to the Italian squad, as the only top team with a new car.
Vanwall showed promise in the non-championship races with solid performances in the hands of Alan Brown and Dennis Poore. This time, with former JAMR driver Mike Hawthorn replacing Brown, they'll have to face a whole field with their new car, with qualification being a good objective.
For the first time in their existance, BRUNEL have entered a race that was not the British or United States Grand Prix. Also for the first time, there are two drivers, Anne Hall (who drove for them at Silverstone last year) and débutante Pat Moss (younger sister of Stirling). After Paolo and Giannino Marzotto in Italy last year, it's the second time in Formula One history that siblings are entered to the same event.
The four usual JAMR drivers are back again in Monaco, despite very late confirmation of their entry. Without any time to prepare the car for the coming season through non-championship races (due to internal miscommunication between Jaguar and Aston Martin), Bira, van der Lof, Bettenhausen and Trintignant will have to rely on their talent and the competitivity of their respective cars, or what remains of it.
Against all odds, Balkan Eagle and Leader have made it to the start of the season by merging their operations. The resulting "Balkan Leader" (really last year's sole remaining Balkan Lion engine with a new Alfa Romeo chassis bought at a discount) is being driven by Stan Jones, coming off the back of an impressive third place finish in Singapore.
Owen Racing Organisation have one mission: to bring the BRM name back into Formula One. In the meantime, Kenneth McAlpine will have to impressive on his Formula One début in order to guarantee the funds needed to expand into a full-fledged constructor.
Despite the usual convoluted plans and conflicting statements by Jacques Swaters in the off-season about Ecurie Nationale Belge's season, the final product is something very different. Through the deal with five other teams to fund the Cooper T41, the team, now badly in debt, are banking on the success of the chassis to survive. Swaters himself, driving full-time for Anglo-Italia, has decided to keep quiet about any future entries for the team, only announcing them shortly before each race. In the meantime, André Pilette will drive a Cooper-Jaguar in Monaco.
After winning the Singapore Grand Prix in style, Alberto Ascari will take on the season full of confidence in his Phoenix, once again entering a bit later than everyone else.
Also entering very late, Scuderia Ambrosiana have one of the most daring line-ups of the regular teams. With Rubirosa poached by Gordini and Bracco stepping aside to take on a more managerial role, the team will rely on the inexperienced Luigi Musso and the virtually unknown Uruguayan driver Alberto Uria, while a rotating cast of similarly left-field drivers will drive an older third car, the first of which being the first Guatemalan driver in Formula 1 , Jaroslav Juhan, who will drive in Monaco. Juhan, born in Czechoslovakia (he emigrated to Guatemala in 1951 for political reasons), is an accomplished sportscar driver and Porsche importer in Latin America.
With so many drivers for so little spots, there was always going to be some disappointment. Lance Macklin and Giannino Marzotto are the two main drivers who should have made it, alongside Ecclestone, Chiron, Hawthorn or Simon. Godia, Swaters, Ascari and Jones did their job competently and made it, while Desmond Titterington stunned the crowd by proving that he knows how to drive a car and that the Lancia is a fundamentally quick car. Stillwell, Poore and Anne Hall also drove well to make the cut.
However, Ambrosiana's gamble on three almost complete rookies has backfired spectacularly, with all three drivers failing to show any sort of pace and failing to prequalify on all three tries. This might turn out to be a long and fatal season for the team.
The main Alfa drivers squander their opportunity with mistake-ridden laps while JAMR lock out the top two spots with Tony Gaze third. Gordini disappoint while Desmond Titterington continues to impress, setting the sixth fastest time of the session! No major disappointments apart from both remaining Renzos failing to qualify. Lance Macklin will start the race for Reatherson, one of the team's best qualifying performances in the championship.
Gaze got the best start and briefly led, but ran wide at the Gasworks and was passed by Bira, who led the first lap from Gaze, Bettenhausen, van der Lof, Whitehead and Titterington. Sanesi and Farina then passed the Ulsterman, who dropped to eighth, while Ramos had made an impressive start and was eleventh. Gaze retook the lead on lap 3, leading his first career lap in a Grand Prix. Bira passed him on the very next lap, only to lose the lead once more on lap 5! Two laps later, the race saw its first retirement when Manzon retired with a gearbox failure, having struggled with it for a few laps. He stopped once he'd dropped to last. On that same lap, Bettenhausen passed Bira for second place.
On lap 9, Bettenhausen took the lead from Gaze, but this only lasted one lap, as Gaze took the lead once more on lap 10! But no one noticed, as that same lap, for fifth place, Moss attempted to overtake Farina at the chicane. The Italian had other ideas and violently chopped in front of Moss, putting both into the straw bales. Moss was not happy, to say the least... But it wasn't over. Gonzalez, in 15th position, slowed down to avoid any debris, but Macklin, right behind him, didn't notice and clipped the back of the Argentine's car, sending himself hard into the wall. He exited the car unhurt, thankfully.
On lap 11, Dries van der Lof passed both Bira and Bettenhausen to take second place. But the attention was again taken by an accident, when Jack Brabham attempted to pass Whitehead for sixth place, but braked way too late at Tabac, tried the inside line, clipped Whitehead's front tyre and was sent into the wall. The Alfa was also badly damaged, but Brabham was unhurt. This left 15 cars in the race. On lap 17, this was rather controversially reduced to 13. Bettenhausen cleanly passed van der Lof for second place then made a half-baked move for the lead at the Station Hairpin. He was too far back, but tapped Gaze who span around and stalled. Race over, Bettenhausen was leading, and all three Alfas were out in accidents. Then, Swaters picked the wrong side of Gaze's car and ran into it, retiring as well.
On lap 18, van der Lof took the lead again, with Bira following him into second. The race remained static for a few laps, then on lap 21, for the second time in two years, someone flew into the harbour. After Farina in 1954, it was Paco Godia who lost control of his Gordini, was sent into the straw bales and launched into the water. Miraculously, like Farina, he swam to shore with only a few cuts and bruises. This left van der Lof in the lead from Bira and Bettenhausen, who promptly lost third place to the seriously impressive Desmond Titterington! Bettenhausen regained his spot on lap 27, only to lose it on the next lap! Then, with 12 drivers remaining, the race calmed down for a while. On lap 37, Sanesi passed Bettenhausen and took fourth place behind van der Lof, Bira and Titterington.
Then, on lap 48, Titterington heartbreakingly retired with a fuel pump failure. However, he has showed a whole lot of promise and is undoubtedly a threat for the future. Gonzalez retired on lap 51 with a transmission failure, reducing the field to 10 drivers. Sanesi, Rubirosa and Bettenhausen fought over third at this point, with the American mostly winning at first, before Sanesi led the fight and ran away with it, while Ascari caught up and promptly passed Ramos, Rubirosa and Bettenhausen to take fourth place. Ramos and Rubirosa were also passed by Maria Teresa de Filippis, taking sixth, then fifth when she passed Bettenhausen. This battle didn't stop, though, as Ramos passed Bettenhausen and de Filippis, who then repassed him, as well as Rubirosa! This battle was so intense that overtaking happened each lap.
On lap 83, Ascari had caught Sanesi and took third place. Ramos, meanwhile, was falling back and was passed by Trintignant for eighth place, then Peter Whitehead for ninth, leaving the Brazilian in last place! But the race was not over yet. On lap 88, the Aston Martin-Jaguars of Bira and Bettenhausen, running second and fifth, stopped into the pits with a broken gearbox and failed clutch respectively, leaving only eight cars running. Sanesi passed Ascari that lap to take what was now second place. De Filippis was fourth, while Rubirosa, Trintignant and Ramos were fighting hard over fifth place. On lap 93, Peter Whitehead had an oil leak out of last place, ending a miserable race.
A bit further ahead, Rubirosa and Trintignant were making their cars as wide as the Monégasque tarmac, and the order did not change. Dries van der Lof easily won the race by a monstrous four-lap gap over Consalvo Sanesi, five laps over Alberto Ascari and eight laps over Maria Teresa de Filippis, who scored her best Grand Prix result.
- Final win, podium and points and first and only fastest lap for Dries van der Lof.
- Final pole position for Tony Bettenhausen.
- First start for Desmond Titterington and Paco Godia.
- First entry for Tony Brooks, Desmond Titterington, Bib Stillwell, Alfonso de Portago, Alberto Uria, André Guelfi, Ken McAlpine, Pat Moss and Jaroslav Juhan (only entry for Juhan).
- Final entry for Franco Rol.
- Final pole position and fastest lap for Aston Martin and the Jaguar engine.
- First podium for the O.S.C.A. engine.
- First start for Lancia and Porsche.
- First entries for B.C.M.A., Lancia, Vanwall and the FIAT engine.
- Final pole position and fastest lap for Jaguar-Aston Martin Racing.
- Final points for Maria Teresa de Filippis as an entrant.
- First start for Irish Racing Cars and Bernard C. Ecclestone.
- First entries for B.C.M.A., Irish Racing Cars, Vanwall, Bernard C. Ecclestone, Geoff Richardson, Ecurie Voeckler, Tasman Racing Alliance, Balkan Leader, Porsche System Engineering, Escuderia Hernandez, Ecurie Maghreb, Owen Racing Organisation and Scuderia Australasia.
- B. Bira: 3 laps (1-2, 4)
- Tony Gaze: 12 laps (3, 5-8, 10-16)
- Tony Bettenhausen: 2 laps (9, 17)
- Dries van der Lof: 83 laps (18-100)
- Most races entered: Ferrari (44)
|Dries van der Lof
|Maria Teresa de Filippis
|Jaguar-Aston Martin Racing
|/ Alexander Racing Team-Gordini
|Phoenix Racing Organisation
|Maria Teresa de Filippis
|Bernard C. Ecclestone
- Only the top five positions are listed.
| Previous race:
1954 Italian Grand Prix
| Alternate Formula 1 World Championship
| Next race:
1955 French Grand Prix
| Previous race:
1954 Monaco Grand Prix
|Monaco Grand Prix
| Next race:
1956 Monaco Grand Prix