Time for Tea? 1956 Monza Grand Prix

So the 2012 F1 season reaches its conclusion this Sunday at Interlagos. Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel will be competing for the world championship, the overall winner securing their third title.

It's been a great season, mixing elements like the triumphant return of Kimi 'leave me alone' Raikkonen, the unpredictability of teams like Sauber, and the successful reintroduction of a United States Grand Prix.

But there's no harm in seeing where the sport has come from. Today's Time For Tea? is a highlights reel from the 1956 European Grand Prix at Monza. It's hard to describe without resorting to cliché just how much the spectacle of F1 has changed in 56 years.

Stalled at the start? We'll give you a push, old chap. Need new tyres or more fuel? Just pull over on the main straight, there's a few garages. Spectators? Anywhere and everywhere it would seem, as long as they don't venture onto the track. That would be dangerous (!).

Of course, making F1 a safer sport was completely appropriate, but the back-to-basics and honest nature of the sport shown in this video are refreshing. For instance, Fangio's teammate Peter Collins offers the championship contender his car when the former's suffers a breakdown. The cars and drivers are bereft of sponsorship; everything is focused on the skill of driving.

This isn't advocating a return, simply an admiration of what was achieved half a century ago. Stirling Moss wins this race, with a fastest lap at an average speed of over 135mph. Watching such rudimentary machinery do this sort of speed is terrifying, but the bravery on display is breathtaking. Let's hope Brazil is similarly dramatic this weekend.


P.H. O'meter

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