When an engine failure meant another shot at victory, not a grid penalty

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Are grid penalties excessive for drivers? (2:40)

Kevin Eason argues why he belives that grid penalties are harming the development of drivers and teams. (2:40)

Having parked the current F1 grid penalty debate at the Goodwood Revival gate and stepped back 50 years, I was reminded of it 10 minutes later.

Sitting proud in the garages reserved for really special racing cars, a lofty Vanwall was not only marking a British motor sport milestone but also serving as a prompt for the method of dealing with unreliability back in the day. Car broken? Your team-mate will give you his.

I've read every conceivable suggestion for dealing with the current problem revealed in all its absurdity on the grid at Monza. In the midst of the furore, it's easy to overlook the basic fact that contemporary F1 cars are actually extremely reliable; making these intricate mechanical jewels last as long as they do ought to be celebrated rather than suffer the criticism created by well-intentioned rules that do not work.

In 1957, asking Ferrari or Maserati to use the same engine for more than one weekend (never mind five) would have been akin to suggesting a single set of Supersofts should see a driver through practice, qualifying and all of next weekend's race in Singapore.

Fifty years ago, racing cars broke with the same frequency Romain Grosjean complains about something or other. Throw in the variable of a brand new car and you begin to understand the challenge facing Vanwall as the British team entered the 1957 season with cars for Stirling Moss, Tony Brooks and Stuart Lewis-Evans.

On the surface, the Vanwall broke new ground with its teardrop shape in the days when the term 'aero' meant nothing more than a chocolate bar made by Nestlé. Underneath the smooth British Racing Green bodywork, a four-cylinder engine using Norton motor cycle cylinder head technology and the bottom end from a Rolls Royce industrial engine, fired by Bosch fuel injection, was likely to be the cause of problems.

In fact, Moss would suffer a broken throttle linkage after leading the non-championship race at Goodwood on Easter Monday and crash out of the Monaco GP. He missed the French GP due to a sinus infection but was fancied to win the British at Aintree, particularly after qualifying on the front row.

Fears about reliability were realised after 21 laps when Moss lost the lead due to a misfire. A stop to have an earth wire ripped out did not solve the problem and Moss returned to the pits, his race seemingly over.

But it wasn't. Before the start, it had been agreed that Brooks would support either of his team-mates should they run into trouble. This suited Brooks, who was still recovering from a bad accident at Le Mans when his Aston Martin had landed on top of him. The Englishman, having lost a stone in weight and been in bed until the previous Tuesday, was relieved to stop and hand over to Moss, who leapt into action almost before Brooks had managed to struggle out of the high cockpit.

The stop took 13 seconds, Moss rejoining in ninth place, over a minute behind the leading Ferrari of Jean Behra. Not long after Moss had taken third from Lewis-Evans, Behra's clutch disintegrated and Mike Hawthorn, running second, ran over the debris and suffered a puncture on his Ferrari.

Vanwall were one-two, Moss going on to score the first World Championship Grand Prix victory for a British car. That heady moment was recalled at Goodwood over the weekend. And not a single word about a penalty of any kind.