Chapman continued: “Rob Walker and my father enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship which realized great success throughout the 1960s. Walker’s enduring relationship with Sir Stirling Moss was even stronger. Evidently Walker, as privateer entrant and sponsor, provided Moss with what he needed in order to realize his prodigious ability.”
It was Moss who began the special relationship between Lotus and Formula 1’s most famous Grand Prix, with a further six wins in the principality after 1960. Chapman explained. “The 1960 win came just two years after the first Team Lotus GP entry, at the 1958 Monaco GP with Cliff Allison racing his Lotus Type 12 into an extraordinary sixth place.”
Mastering the Rain – Lotus and Moss in Monaco
The 1960 Monaco Grand Prix weekend got off to a flying start with Moss setting new lap records in practice and qualifying, earning him a spot on the front row of the grid and giving Lotus its first ever pole position. But this was to be no ordinary ‘lights to flag’ victory.
With eight drivers not qualifying, only 16 cars made it to the track. Up the hill from the start Moss was passed by Jo Bonnier in the rear-engined BRM, who led for 17 laps until his brakes began to fade and he surrendered the lead to Moss.
A few laps later the rain began to fall and Jack Brabham overtook Bonnier for second place as the drivers slowed to cope with the worsening conditions. The wet track became the leveller, forcing supreme concentration as the drivers battled to remain on the tarmac. Exemplary car control and driver input were critical in such treacherous conditions.
On the 43rd lap, Brabham was hounding Moss for the lead but succumbed to gearbox problems. With the rain gradually easing, Moss began to pull away from the pack until he had to pit on the 60th lap with a loose plug lead, allowing Bonnier to regain the lead.
The race was one of attrition. Pools of water remained across the track surface and Graham Hill collided with the commentators’ box. But it was in this tricky period of the race where Moss used his finesse and car control skills to catch Bonnier and continue to victory, finishing ahead of the duelling Bruce McLaren and Phil Hill. It was the first chapter of an epic story for Lotus.
Lotus has recorded a new US LOT Sessions podcast celebrating the 60th anniversary of his victory. It features an interview with motorsport journalist Damien Smith and discusses the significance of the race for Lotus and Moss. Download and listen at iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and ShoutEngine.
Moss won at Monaco in a Lotus 18, and it’s one of many significant Lotus road and race cars which are included in the newly launched Heritage section on media.lotuscars.com. Part of the site’s continuing development, there is also a newly written biography of Colin Chapman and a history of the Lotus HQ in Hethel, Norfolk.