Ferrari "shark-nose" dominates under new rules

Phil Hill in the dominant Ferrari "shark-nose" © Sutton Images

Season's results | Drivers' Championship | Constructors' Championship

Ferrari was better prepared than anybody else for the new formula, and dominated the season. Phil Hill took the title, but in the most tragic circumstances after his team-mate, Wolfgang von Trips, lost his life at Monza.

It was all change for 1961 with the introduction of a 1.5-litre formula. The British manufacturers had been slow to respond, but not so Ferrari. Effectively sacrificing the previous season, the Italian team developed a rear-engined car, dubbed the "shark-nose" - and a new V6 engine. Climax and BRM lagged behind; the only engine available for the British teams was the four-year-old 1475cc Climax F2.

Von Trips, Phil Hill and American Richie Ginther were lucky to have works Ferrari seats. Welcome variety was provided by Porsche. Already successful in Formula Two, the German marque signed Gurney and Bonnier from BRM. Lotus had an excellent new chassis, the 21, and the promising Jim Clark and Ireland to drive it. Graham Hill and Brooks led the BRM attack, while once again Brabham and McLaren teamed up at Cooper.

More than ever before, Moss had underdog status. Walker was not allowed to buy a new Lotus 21, and had to make do with the old 18 model. And yet in Monaco Moss turned in one of the drives of his career, to brilliantly beat the Ferraris of Ginther and Hill.

Ferrari took its revenge when von Trips scored his first win at Zandvoort, with Hill in second. The result was reversed at Spa, where Ferrari finished one-two-three-four and Hill took his first win against a representative field, following that boycotted Monza race the previous year. Reims was a sensational race. Hill, Ginther and von Trips retired, and Giancarlo Baghetti - making his first start in a private Ferrari - just pipped Gurney's Porsche to the line. Baghetti remains the only driver to have won on his grand prix debut.

It was back to normal at Aintree as von Trips, Hill and Ginther finished one-two-three in the rain. Moss had tried to mix it with the Italian cars before his brakes failed, but then struck back at the Nurburgring.

Nobody objected to the banks at Monza this time. Ironically the race, which should have seen the title fight between von Trips and Hill reach a crucial stage, turned to tragedy. Clark and von Trips tangled early on, and the German star was killed, along with 12 spectators. Phil Hill won the race, and with it the title.

The US Grand Prix moved to a third new venue in as many years in the form of Watkins Glen. With Ferrari not entering, Moss and Brabham battled for the lead. When they both retired, Ireland came through to score his first (and only) win, and the first for the works Lotus team. Gurney was again second, ahead of the BRM of Brooks. At the end of the year Brooks announced his retirement, after a distinguished career which was often overshadowed by the heroic exploits of Moss and Hawthorn.

Reproduced from The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Formula One published by Carlton Books

Round Grand Prix Circuit Date Race result
1 Monaco Monaco May 14 1. SC Moss (GBR) 2. R Ginther (USA) 3. P Hill (USA)
Results | Report | Photos (17)
2 Dutch Zandvoort May 22 1. W von Trips (GER) 2. P Hill (USA) 3. J Clark (GBR)
Results | Report | Photos (4)
3 Belgian Spa June 18 1. P Hill (USA) 2. W von Trips (GER) 3. R Ginther (USA)
Results | Report | Photos (11)
4 French Reims July 2 1. G Baghetti (ITA) 2. D Gurney (USA) 3. J Clark (GBR)
Results | Report | Photos (17)
5 British Aintree July 15 1. W von Trips (GER) 2. P Hill (USA) 3. R Ginther (USA)
Results | Report | Photos (4)
6 German Nürburgring August 6 1. SC Moss (GBR) 2. W von Trips (GER) 3. P Hill (USA)
Results | Report | Photos (15)
7 Italian Monza September 10 1. P Hill (USA) 2. D Gurney (USA) 3. LB McLaren (NZL)
Results | Report | Photos (18)
8 USA Watkins Glen October 8 1. I Ireland (GBR) 2. D Gurney (USA) 3. A Brooks (GBR)
Results | Report | Championship standings