It was 60 years ago last Friday the 19th when one man’s lifetime mission was fulfilled. He wanted to ‘put the great back into Britain’ and ‘beat those bloody red cars’. That man was Tony Vandervell and his F1 race team was Vanwall. Casablanca was hosting it’s last ever Grand Prix, Vanwall won.
The victory meant the Vanwall F1 team secured the inaugural official World Constructors Championship (WCC). For Vanwall it wasn’t just a victory for themselves but a massive fillip for post war Britain still struggling to rebuild from history’s biggest ever war. Vanwall and it’s drivers were famous names’, no household with boys was complete without a little green F1 car.
Tonight in the USA, AMG Mercedes are destined to secure the 2018 ‘WCC’ if Lewis Hamilton pilots their car to an unassailable points lead over Vettel’s Ferrari. From this you could simply read ‘German car beats Italian’. Outside of our patriotism to Hamilton, so what?
The answer is because this 60th WCC means so much more. The Vanwall team victory can justly claim to have put England on the map as a centre of engineering excellence for high performance motor racing. Before 1958 the continental based Italian and German teams had dominated for over 30 years. The front row of the grid and the winners’ enclosure had been almost solely red and silver, not green. The Vanwall team truly put the heart into our F1 efforts and the multimillion £’s motor racing industry based here which employs over 40,000 people and has a truly global reach.
AMG Mercedes F1 are based in central England with a huge team and mighty budget. They choose to be based here as whilst much of the componentry is sourced from Germany, it’s honed into a winning Formula in Brackley, Northants. Our engineers are amongst the very best in the world, in fact of the ten F1 teams seven are based here. Since WCC records began in 1958 over 70% of winning teams have operated out of England, only Ferrari have provided any real opposition to that dominance.
So, if Mercedes and Lewis win tonight, the origins of that go back a full 60 years. Raise a glass to their victory, but have another for Tony Vandervell, his engineers the brilliant and incredibly brave drivers, they laid the foundations which still hold firm today.
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