With regard to the road roulettes of Monte Carlo it must be noted that prior to the historical events in the Principality I only drove there once and the track takes some getting used to, as you cannot do tests there. It was a challenge for me then in the Porsche Supercup, when I got into the car for the first time and ended up in pole position with the narrowest of leads, and I do mean actually in the entire Cup history of Porsche. After a great start, I was able to get away from the field, even setting the fastest lap of the race, until there was a safety phase which brought the field closer together. Ricardo Zonta then went completely wrong in the harbour chicane and from sixth place suddenly landed right in the front with me – I could see him coming in the mirror, changed my direction and also went straight ahead, and in doing so, he shaved off my tyre valve – completely mad if you ask me! Otherwise my car hadn’t got any scratches, but this minimal grazing impact resulted in a flat tyre, which cost me a possible victory at Monaco.
Even so, this race at Monaco is a lasting memory because we continued driving after a tyre change and gained another three points – in fact at the end of the 2003 season I still became champion with a 2 point lead! Thus, among other successes, Monaco was incredibly important in that season. With regard to Monaco, an open calculation had taken root at the back of my mind. And it paid off nine years later because I took fourth place at my first start in the Historic Grand Prix 2012 in a Maserati 8CM and was second this year in a difficult race with the 250F Piccolo.
So each start in Monaco always brought something positive with it. To be able to drive a 250F is something special to begin with, and the car maintained by Methusalem just worked outstandingly well. This single-seater ran so much better than other 250F cars because the engine worked very well at an extremely high level and, at the same time, the chassis of the Piccolo is somewhat lighter than a standard 250F. Naturally, that had a positive effect.
Just as the engine revved up in the narrow streets and in the tunnel, I got goose-pimples myself during the race – you couldn’t have much more fun in a racing car. Generally, the 250F is not easy to drive because the car can quickly move "sideways". At a speed of 150, 200 or 230 km/h admittedly a calculable but nevertheless risky and challenging drive, because you are travelling at just about your limits. Overall, the Maserati 250F is a car that for me personally cannot be surpassed either in historic racing or in current motor sports…
by Frank Stippler
Photographs: Alexander Herold
See the full video on our YouTube channel