Today, 29 May 2020, marks a historic day in the history of Formula 1 as it was on this day in 1960, that the late Sir Stirling Moss took Lotus to their very first victory in F1.
A legendary name in motorsport, Lotus has seen many a great driver behind the wheel of one of their cars: Jim Clark, Mario Andretti and Ayrton Senna to name just a few and the company, although no longer competing in F1, are paying tribute to when it all began, and the great man who got them there.
Phil Popham, CEO, Lotus Cars, said: “Today we mark not just a legendary driver and a remarkable achievement, but the start of a defining period in the history of Lotus. Sir Stirling Moss is a name etched into motorsport folklore, and his skill at the Monaco Grand Prix exactly 60 years ago was the catalyst for our successful heritage in Formula 1. That overwhelming drive to defy expectations and explore the limits of what’s possible is still engrained within the Lotus DNA to this day.”
The 29th May 1960 saw rain in the principality of Monte-Carlo as the Monaco Grand Prix was about to get underway. Moss was on pole, also Lotus’ first, after setting lap records in practice and he showed his supreme wet weather ability to storm to victory by 52 seconds ahead of Bruce McLaren.
The car Moss drove so expertly that day was the Lotus 18. Brand new at the time, it was claimed by Lotus founder, Colin Chapman, to be the marque’s first proper F1 car and with its lightweight aluminium chassis, it was perfectly suited to the tight and twisty Monte-Carlo streets. Even a trio of Ferrari entered cars couldn’t match Moss that day.
Clive Chapman, Managing Director of Classic Team Lotus and son of Lotus founder Colin Chapman, said: “Moss winning the 1960 Monaco GP was a classic David vs. Goliath-type story, which was well-received and an important boost to the Lotus marque, still in its relatively early days. Moss was naturally quick, thoughtful and mechanically sympathetic – all characteristics which were of utmost benefit at Monaco, back when the race was three hours long.”
It’s easy to forget nowadays with races lasting a standard hour and a half that back in 1960, there was 100 laps in the Monaco Grand Prix and the rain meant lap times were much slower as drivers battled to remain facing in the right direction let alone for positions. A three hour race today would be considered endurance rather than Grand Prix.
Following on from Moss’ landmark victory, Lotus cars would go on to win a further 80 Grand Prix, with the latest coming courtesy of Kimi Raikkonen at the 2013 Australian Grand Prix, as well as six drivers’ world titles and seven constructors’ crowns.