YESTERDAY IN Part 1, fake F1 pit stops were frowned upon by the Fédération International de l’Automobile. But there was a time….
The Good Old Days with Stirling and Alf. Stirling Moss drove Rob Walker’s diminutive 1960-cc Cooper at the 1958 Argentine Grand Prix. This was a period in Formula 1 when front-engine 2.5-liter cars were de rigueur, but the talents of Stirling Moss and his mechanic Alf Francis made up for the difference.
Stirling Moss and his mechanic Alf Francis.
Alf Francis, 1918-1983, was a Polish immigrant, Alfons Kowaleski, who moved to England and promptly joined the Polish 1st Armoured Division. After World War II, he changed his nationality to British and his name to Alf Francis, though, according to his Motorsportobituary, Alf “became so pro-British it was hard to believe he came from Poland until he spoke, for he never lost his heavy mid-European accent.”
Motor sports authority Doug Nye describes the 1958 Argentine GP as “Stirling’s finest drive.” It was one of Alf’s finest achievements as well.
Doug recounted Stirling’s recollection: “To lull the opposition, my mechanic Alf Francis made a great display of preparing fresh tyres for me in the pits. But of course any stop with our bolt-on wheels would have killed any chance we had of winning.”
“Ferrari’s finest,” Nye continued, “thought so too, and sat back to await the inevitable Cooper stop. But it never came. Stirl instead could see the white canvas showing through his diminishing tyre treads as the rubber scuffed away. But he drove on—seeking the oiliest parts of the track to limit wear but tensed all the time for a half-expected tyre burst. That didn’t happen either, and he ultimately won by 2.7 seconds, from Luigi Musso’s Ferrari 246.”
Stirling Moss, with mechanic Alf Francis’ help, piloted Rob Walker’s Cooper to victory at the 1958 Argentine GP. Image from r/formula1.
This was the first World Drivers Championship race win for a rear-engine car, the first for a privateer team, and the first for a chassis built by the Cooper Car Company.
A Hysterical Pit Stop. Brawn GP was a Formula 1 team that competed a single season, 2009. It was created by Ross Brawn in a management buyout of Honda Racing F1, with Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello as drivers.
Jenson Button driving the Brawn at the 2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Image by Yuriy Lapitskiy.
The following two videos originated as commercials for MIG Investments, a Swiss bank specializing in online foreign exchange trades and one of Brawn GP’s sponsors.