Ahead of the Monaco GP, the Royal Automobile Club hosted a reception in honour of Sir Stirling Moss OBE who won the race 50 years ago. The Lotus 18 in which Moss took the chequered flag half a century ago was displayed in the Pall Mall clubhouse, London.
This was arguably one of the best F1 races ever and one that Moss considers the greatest circuit race of his career. It was the first round of the 1961 World Championship of Drivers and was run under new 1.5-litre engine regulations. His Rob Walker Racing Lotus 18 was considerably underpowered compared to the trio of works 'shark nosed' Ferraris but having secured pole position, Moss went on to triumph in one of Grand Prix racing’s most epic battles.
Third into the first corner, Moss took the lead on lap 14 and stretched his advantage to 10 seconds. Later, he came under pressure from Richie Ginther in a Ferrari and his lead dropped to just three seconds. However, Moss matched Ginther's lap times and after 100 laps he took the chequered flag with a four-second advantage.
Remarkably, his fastest lap in the race was nearly three seconds quicker than his pole position qualifying time. Moss worked out that if he'd done all 100 laps at this pace he would have still only been 40 seconds ahead of Ginther in the Ferrari – such was the pace of the race.
Later in the season, Enzo Ferrari telephoned him, and invited him to Maranello . They agreed a deal for Moss to drive a Ferrari GP car and a sports car in Rob Walker colours but his accident at Goodwood put an untimely end to his racing career.
Seeing the Rob Walker Racing Lotus 18 in the Royal Automobile Club, Moss expressed his concern that it had a different coloured gear knob but other than that it was as he remembered. He tried to find the crack in the frame that Alf Francis repaired on the grid with his gas welder. Moss said: "When Alf lit the welding torch the grid cleared!"
In a F1 career spanning 10 years, Moss competed in 66 races and took 16 wins. He drove for Mercedes-Benz, Maserati, Vanwall, Rob Walker, Cooper and Lotus. The original car, which is part of the famous Donington Collection is displayed in the Royal Automobile Club courtesy of owner, Kevin Wheatcroft, who was also in attendance.