Volume VII, Number7

"Smaller is Better?"
by David Cook and Doug Breithaupt

Ferrari 156 - Matchbox (1961)

Ferrari 156 - Hot Wheels (1961)

For the 1961 Grand Prix season the sporting authorities had decreed that the engine size and minimum weights would be reduced in order to slow the cars down. Many criticized the new regulations as cutting the heart out of the sport and reducing it to go-cart status but in reality, nothing much changed. The racing was just as competitive and unfortunately almost as many people died as before. For the opening season in 1961 Ferrari was ready with two styles of 1.5 liter engines and up to five cars per race. The red cars won all but two GP's they entered and American Phil Hill became champion. The shark nose Ferrari 156 is done here by Hot Wheels in a recent release. The old standard Lesney model of this car is hard to find in good condition but the wheel style used is very accurate and desirable.

For 1962 British cars surged ahead with new V8 engines; Graham Hill's BRM P57 only just beat Jim Clark's Lotus by a few points in the last race of the season in South Africa. Matchbox of England again provides the model of the car that won BRM's only championship. For 1963 the Clark/Lotus 25 combination was almost unbeatable, winning seven out of ten races. The old Lesney model pictured here is still the best available rendering of this famous and innovative racecar.

1964 was another close finish for the championship with John Surtees' Ferrari just beating Hill/BRM and Clark/Lotus by a few points in the last race in Mexico. This model by Best Box of Holland is a close approximation of the Ferrari 158 from that year but actually represents the car from 1966 and will be seen in part 3 of this series of stories.

1965 was another Lotus walkover; Clark won six of the ten races and started from the front row of every one he entered. He only missed the Monaco GP while he was away winning the Indy 500!

For 1966 onward, the FIA reversed itself and doubled the engine capacity allowed but added many new construction regulations to improve safety. The prospect of other racing series with more exciting cars like the Can-Am and Indy car circuits forced some new thinking and resulted in F1's revival and some of the best GP racing ever.

BRM P57 - Matchbox (1962)

Lotus 25 - Matchbox (1963-1965)