2016 marks the 60th anniversary of Stirling's first Monaco Grand Prix win, the first of his three wins on the world famous circuit which threads its way around the Principality.
The 1956 Monaco Grand Prix took place three weeks after the fairy tale marriage of Prince Rainier III to the actress Grace Kelly. This would also be Stirling’s second outing as a Maserati works driver and more importantly, in terms of career progression, as the number one driver for the Officine Alfieri Maserati team.
Following the withdrawal of Mercedes from motorsport as a result of the tragic accident at the 1955 Le Mans, Juan Manuel Fangio, Stirling’s former team mate, would race for Scuderia Ferrari. Fangio drove the rebadged Lancia-Ferrari D50, formerly the Lancia D50, a consequence of Lancia selling their controlling share in the company and its assets to Ferrari in light of their increasing financial problems and the death of lead driver Alberto Ascari.
Fangio, the reigning World Champion, took pole position with a time of 1m 44s, driving a modified Lancia-Ferrari D50, painted in the Ferrari colours. Stirling took second place on the grid with a 1m 44.6s in his works Maserati 250F, fitted with a four speed gearbox especially for this race.
14 cars in total started on the grid, following the departure of BRM back to the United Kingdom because of brake and carburettor problems experienced in practice, leaving Tony Brooks and Mike Hawthorn with no cars to race.
Stirling, in car #28, made an excellent start, entering the Gasworks hairpin alongside Eugenio Castellotti, in the #22 Lancia-Ferrari, and exited on the outside, having corrected his line, as the leader of the race. The second colour image above shows the race start as the pack enters the hairpin.
The race order as they exited the Ste.Devote corner going up the hill towards Casino Square was Stirling, Castellotti, Fangio, Peter Collins, Jean Behra, Luigi Musso and Harry Schell.
Fangio in the #20 Lancia-Ferrari, span into hay bales on lap 3, causing Musso, in the #24 Lancia-Ferrari, and Schell, in the #16 Vanwall to hit each other and retire from the race. Collins, in the #26 Lancia-Ferrari, moved into second place followed by Castellotti and Behra, in the #30 Maserati, with Fangio back in sixth place. By lap 13, the last of the Vanwall cars, driven by Maurice Trintignant, had retired, having lost oil, causing it to overheat.
Fangio pursued the leading pack in his battered Lancia-Ferrari. On lap 32 Fangio hit the harbour wall, which damaged the rear wheel. He turned his car, #20, over to Castellotti at the pit stop to fix the wheel bent in the crash, whose own car, #22, had suffered a clutch problem, which had forced Castellotti to retire on lap 14.
The black and white image above shows Castelloti in the pits with car #20, which he goes onto take third place in, six laps down on the eventual winner.
On lap 54, while in second place, some 50s behind Stirling, Collins came into the Ferrari pit and turned his car over to Fangio. Fangio resumed the race in third place and passed Behra for second on lap 70, still 47s behind Stirling.
On lap 86 Stirling hit the back of his team mate, Cesare Perdisa, in the #32 Maserati, who had been suffering braking problems, causing damage to the nose of Stirling's Maserati. Fangio sensed a chance of victory and began to close the gap to first place.
By lap 98 the gap had been closed to 12s, Fangio setting a lap record on the 100th and final lap of the race, however it was still not fast enough to catch Stirling, who took his first Grand Épreuve win for the Maserati team by 6.1s from Fangio.
Footage of the 1956 Monaco Grand Prix
1956 Monaco Grand Prix Race Result