1955 Soviet Grand Prix
The 1955 Soviet Grand Prix was the first Soviet Grand Prix and the sixth race of the 1955 Formula One World Championship, and was held on the Pirita-Kose-Kloostrimetsa on August 21st 1955. In a race weekend plagued by suspected race fixing from the organisers in favour of local government entries and drivers from Warsaw Pact countries, championship contender Desmond Titterington failed to qualify as Maurice Trintignant won from Tony Brooks and Peter Whitehead. The win allowed Brooks to overtake the late Alberto Ascari's points total and take the championship lead with one race remaining. Due to the rumours regarding the integrity of the race organisers and rising tensions between East and West, the Soviet Grand Prix would not be held again until 1976.
No one seems to want to win this championship. With two races remaining, Alberto Ascari still has the posthumous championship lead. Anyone can still take the crown from his literal cold, dead hands. And the atmosphere around this race might not help, as rumour has it that the Soviet government may be interfering with the weekend. The cars have not yet reached the paddock, but some think that not all of them could reach it...
- Following yet another failure in Edinburgh, Baron Trod van Hoff has run out of money and has ceased operations in Formula One. Edgar Barth has been left out of a drive.
- After Bernie Ecclestone's quick withdrawal from Formula One earlier this season, he's decided to nonetheless travel to the outskirts of Tallinn for this race, with himself and Stuart Lewis-Evans.
- Due to travel costs, David Hampshire has left Roy Salvadori in Britain for this event and will drive the sole car.
- The second Loyer of Roger Loyer will appear at this event, alongside main driver Alfonso de Portago. Rumours that the team boss has lost interest and will not return have already been thrown about, as well as for the Porsche works team.
- Due to high costs, Ecurie Voeckler have decided to skip this race altogether and head straight for Monza.
- In a special one-off entry, the Hernandez car is to be driven by American veteran Travis 'Spider' Webb. A second entry was planned, but ultimately scrapped when no driver could be found.
- Truly the life and soul of the party, the revolutionary Guidobaldi is back, but this time, without Philippe Etancelin. For a race in a communist country, the East German Theo Fitzau was brought in. Jacques Pollet was initially supposed to drive in Estonia with Fitzau taking the wheel at the Nürburgring, but when the German round was canceled, Fitzau's race was moved forward.
- Maghreb are still sending their car to Estonia, but for political reasons, Louis Chiron is driving the car under his own name, and the high-ranking members of the team will not be attending.
- Neither Tasman nor Reatherson could afford to make the trip to the Soviet Union, a bit strange from Tasman, who, after all, had already come all the way from New Zealand...
- Tony Vandervell has also decided not to send his Vanwall team to Eastern Europe, although this is due to his open mistrust of communism.
- As planned, BRUNEL have skipped this race and are headed straight for Monza.
- Due to Bob Sweikert's AAA commitments, another driver had to be found for the Soviet Grand Prix, and it's motorcycling superstar Geoff Duke who will have a go this time.
- Rennkollektiv EMW, despite their East German connections, will not be entering due to cost reasons, and neither will David Murray's Ecurie Ecosse, who weren't planning on entering any race past Edinburgh anyway.
- Finally, multiple drivers from the Eastern Bloc have been entered for this race, in cars that look suspiciously familiar. Czechoslovakian ex-racer Julius Kubinsky has entered a combination that he calls the JK Mono with a Tatra engine for Jaroslav Vlcek. Another JK Mono-Tatra has appeared in the serious official Soviet government entry. Successful Soviet racer and speed record setter Mikhail Metelev is to drive this car, while a "Kharkov" has been entered for Pavel Baranov and a "GAZ" for Vasiliy Kuznetzov, both of whom had occasionally competed in Formula Two before.
Government interference in the event was made evident before a wheel was turned. Prequalifying was scrapped for the weekend and a random qualifying order introduced, while the customs office was also accused of overly zealous searching. The cars of David Hampshire, Stirling Moss and Kenneth McAlpine were seized for what was described as random checking and were unavailable throughout the weekend.
Shortly after Theo Fitzau's run in the Guidobaldi, the session was stopped when a tree not-at-all-suspiciously fell onto the circuit in a zone with no spectators. Shortly thereafter, the session was canceled altogether and the provisional standings declared final, with 15 drivers yet to set a time. The organisers decided to randomly select the five remaining starters, leaving numerous teams to complain about the decision. Notably, title contenders Desmond Titterington and Tony Brooks will not take the start.
Before the race
To aid their drivers in the championship tables, B.C.M.A. swapped the qualified Umberto Maglioli for title contender Tony Brooks. Further back, private entrant Louis Chiron gave up his Lancia for Hernando da Silva Ramos. This wasn't the first instance of swapping drivers that season, as Johnny Claes had replaced André Pilette at the Belgian Grand Prix.
Brabham and Collins got the best start of the frontrunners, and Brabham led the first lap. The drivers at the back were racing to get past the much slower Soviet, Czech and French cars. Meanwhile, Bettenhausen slowly picked his way up to second place by lap 3, although he was soon bumped down to fourth again, then fifth behind teammate Maurice Trintignant. Further back, while almost all the unlucky rear starters had cleared the Eastern cars, Ramos and Ecclestone tangled. Ecclestone's car was relatively undamaged, but Ramos had a more substantial accident, colliding with a lightly attached signpost. Both drivers were uninjured and started to argue. After all, Ramos was driving for Ecclestone not so long ago...
On lap 8, Gaze tapped himself out on the front stretch trying to defend against Tony Brooks, and was promptly followed on the sidelines by Troy Ruttman (engine failure) and Alfonso de Portago (clutch failure). Collins had taken the lead on lap 2 and was building a modest lead at this point, while Trintignant and Bettenhausen were fighting for third with Godia. Then, the race was stopped and all hell broke loose.
The teams were told that the damaged cars had to be cleared from the circuit. The drivers lined up on the grid once more in their race positions, and some team bosses started making decisions. At Ferrari, Parnell was told to leave his car due to technical difficulties, but rather than fixing his car, the mechanics quickly smuggled Troy Ruttman into the car! Over at Renzo, Simone Bizzarri wanted to put Ramos in de Graffenried's car, but the Brazilian hadn't yet returned to the pits!
Mechanics were sent either side of the track to look for him and bring him back. As the 27 remaining cars lined up again, Ramos was still nowhere to be seen, and de Graffenried was preparing himself to jump back into car number 6 when Ramos was spotted running back. Having been briefed by the mechanic who reached him first, he immediately jumped into the Alfa and fired it up. With 31 laps remaining, the drivers set off once more, minus Parnell and de Graffenried, plus Ruttman and Ramos.
Brabham led the restart from Collins and Godia. Collins soon dropped to third behind Godia. Manzon was now fourth, ahead of Trintignant and Serafini. Rubirosa's race was soon ended by an oil leak, while von Trips' gearbox expired, ending his very first race. And then, controversy intensified as Trintignant and Collins tangled for third. Maurice continued. Collins was sent into an earth bank. The Brit was uninjured, but very angry... Musso also retired on the next lap, with an engine failure. This left 23 cars still running. Then, 22 when Lewis-Evans nerfed Behra out of the race.
With the wrecks piling up, it was a matter of time before the organisers red flagged the race once more, which they did at the end of lap 22. 22 cars remained, and Brabham's substantial lead was reduced to nothing. This time, no drivers were switched. Brabham would start the last 19 laps from the front row, alongside Godia and Trintignant, with Manzon and Serafini behind them.
Godia led the first lap after the restart, but Trintignant then took the lead. Schell was the race's 11th retirement with a gearbox failure on lap 24. Tony Bettenhausen promptly span off, as he usually does this year. Brabham then took the lead, meaning Trintignant held it for just one lap. Nothing overly interesting happened for a while. Ramos retired again, with suspension failure, then Uria with gearbox trouble. Then finally, with 6 laps remaining, the race was stopped again. And Ferrari changed again.
Troy Ruttman had not successfully cleared the Russians or the Czech, and Ramos had just pulled into the pits. He was "politely asked" to take the seat in the Ferrari once the cars had lined up. Ruttman, having done the same to Parnell, "calmly accepted" his team's instructions, and come the restart, 18 cars were left running. Brabham, Trintignant and Godia would lead them, with Manzon and Whitehead on row 2.
They started for the fourth time, headed into the woods, and after three tense minutes, Trintignant appeared again, in the lead, with Peter Whitehead right behind him, followed by Godia, Manzon and Brabham. By the next lap, Trintignant had dropped the others behind him, while Brabham had moved back to second, ahead of Godia, Whitehead, Serafini, and the extremely surprising Stuart Lewis-Evans. Manzon had retired with fuel pump issues. The last few laps were simply exhilarating stuff.
Trintignant pulled away somewhat, enough not get into fights, but he was still vulnerable. However, the best fights were for second and seventh. Then, the race took a turn for the pitiful, as both Godia and Brabham got far too enthusiastic going into the final corner with two laps left and beached their cars in the escape road, coming to blows with each other. This left Whitehead in second, with Serafini and Brooks right behind, while Farina (who had started last) was attempted to hold back the combined forces of Stuart Lewis-Evans, Stirling Moss, Roger Loyer, Hernando da Silva Ramos (in his third car of the day) and Consalvo Sanesi.
Trintignant managed to hold on to his second career victory, while Brooks managed to skilfully thread his way into second place and the championship lead with one race remaining. Whitehead scored yet another podium without a race win, with Serafini settling for fourth in the Ferrari. Farina held on to fifth place, while Lewis-Evans scored the single final point in his very first Grand Prix start. For eleventh place, the Eastern cars fought hard, and it was Metelev who beat Vlcek, Kuznetzov, Fitzau and Baranov. Fitzau, however, had occasionally been a total hero, running as high as 15th when about 24 cars still remained.
- Final win and podium for Maurice Trintignant.
- First and only fastest lap for Tony Brooks.
- First pole position for Jack Brabham.
- Final podium for Peter Whitehead.
- Final points for Dorino Serafini and Giuseppe Farina.
- First and only point for Stuart Lewis-Evans.
- First start for Stuart Lewis-Evans, Mikhail Metelev, Vasiliy Kuznetzov, Pavel Baranov, Jaroslav Vlcek, Theo Fitzau and Wolfgang von Trips (only start for Metelev and Baranov).
- Final entry and start for Roger Loyer, Alberto Uria and Bernie Ecclestone.
- First entry for Mikhail Metelev, Vasiliy Kuznetzov, Pavel Baranov, Jaroslav Vlcek, Theo Fitzau and Geoff Duke (only entry for Duke).
- Final win for Aston Martin and the Jaguar engine.
- Final pole position for Alfa Romeo.
- First fastest lap for B.C.M.A..
- Final podium and points for Bentley.
- First point for Mercedes.
- Final entry and start for Phoenix.
- First entry and start for JK Mono, GAZ, Kharkov and the Tatra engine (only start for Kharkov).
- First start for Porsche.
- Final start for Loyer and Ambrosiana.
- Final win for Jaguar-Aston Martin Racing.
- Final pole position for Alfa Romeo SpA.
- Final podium and points for Scuderia Anglo-Italia.
- First fastest lap for British Commonwealth Motorsport Association.
- First and only point for Bernard C. Ecclestone.
- Final entry and start for Phoenix Racing Organisation, Scuderia Ambrosiana and Bernard C. Ecclestone.
- Final start for Loyer Racing and Guidobaldi.
- First entry and start for the State Committee for Sports and Body Culture of USSR, Julius Kubinsky and Louis Chiron (only start for Chiron).
- First start for Porsche System Engineering.
- Jack Brabham: 24 laps (1, 11-22, 25-35)
- Peter Collins: 9 laps (2-10)
- Paco Godia: 1 lap (23)
- Maurice Trintignant: 7 laps (24, 36-41)
- Most races entered: Ferrari and Alfa Romeo (49)
- Most races started: Alfa Romeo (49)
- Most race starts: Ferrari (230)
- Most points: Ferrari (260.5)
- Most pole positions: Alfa Romeo (15)
|British Commonwealth Motorsport Association
|/ Alexander Racing Team-Gordini
|Jaguar-Aston Martin Racing
|Phoenix Racing Organisation
|Alfa Romeo SpA
- Only the top five positions are listed.
| Previous race:
1955 Scottish Grand Prix
| Alternate Formula 1 World Championship
| Next race:
1955 Italian Grand Prix
| Previous race:
|Soviet Grand Prix
| Next race:
1976 Soviet Grand Prix