Moss shines but Fangio takes fifth title
Fangio acquired his fifth and last title for Maserati, but Stirling Moss and Vanwall were the true stars of a year in which the all-British team took a remarkable three wins. Ferrari was struggling desperately to keep up.
There was plenty of activity during the winter, the most notable being Fangio's switch from Ferrari to Maserati. It was a coup for Maserati to entice the reigning champion back to drive its latest 250F, and it proved to be a wise choice for Juan Manuel.
Meanwhile, Moss, always keen to drive British cars wherever possible, headed to Vanwall. He had already won the previous year's International Trophy for Tony Vandervell's promising concern. Hawthorn continued to hop back and forth across the English Channel, rejoining Ferrari for a third spell after a bad time with BRM. He teamed up with his great buddy Collins, plus Musso and Castellotti.
Once again Fangio won his home race in Argentina, heading home a Maserati one-two-three-four as the Ferrari challenge fell apart. Vanwall did not enter the race, and Moss had trouble at the start in his borrowed Maserati. He set the fastest lap as he recovered to seventh. After the Argentine race the talented Castellotti lost his life in a testing crash at Modena, and he was replaced by Trintignant. Then the enigmatic Alfonso de Portago was killed in the Mille Miglia. It was a bleak period indeed for Enzo Ferrari.
Monaco saw a spectacular pile-up at the start which eliminated Moss, Collins and Hawthorn. Fangio scored an easy win, while Brooks took his Vanwall to second after extricating it from the mess. Star of the race was Jack Brabham, who got his underpowered Cooper up to third before the fuel pump failed. The plucky Australian pushed it home sixth.
The French Grand Prix returned to Rouen and Fangio stormed to victory. The next race was at Aintree and it proved to be a memorable day for Britain. After Moss retired his leading Vanwall, he took over the sixth-placed car of team-mate Brooks. The opposition wilted, and when Behra blew his engine - and Hawthorn punctured on the debris - Moss swept home to a wonderful victory.
The Nurburgring race is remembered as one of the all-time classics, as Fangio came storming back to win after a fuel stop, leaving Collins and Hawthorn in his wake. Fangio would always regard the race in Germany as his greatest ever.
Because Spa and Zandvoort had been cancelled, an extra Italian race, the tortuous Pescara Grand Prix, was added. Enzo Ferrari did not enter Hawthorn and Collins, but loaned a "private" car to Musso. He was in front at first before Moss took the lead and scored his second win of the year. Fangio finished second, and sealed his fifth and final title. The Monza finale saw a spectacular fight between Vanwall and Maserati. Moss headed Fangio home, with the promising German, Wolfgang von Trips, upholding Ferrari honour in third. It was a lame year for the Prancing Horse. Ferrari had not won a race all year, and clearly needed to resolve that situation in 1958. The job was made easier when Maserati withdrew its works team at the end of the season, owing to lack of funds.