Engine: 750 cc (supercharged), 2500 cc (normally aspirated)
Weight: No Limit
Points: 1st: 8, 2nd: 6, 3rd: 4, 4th: 3, 5th: 2, Fastest Lap: 1
Notes: The Indy 500 was included in the World Championship
As 1956 dawned, the 2½-liter BRM was seen to continue its conservative design, which conformed to the prevailing formulae, except for the fact that oil-damped Lockheed suspension struts were fitted, borrowed from the disastrous V16 1½-liter, BRM. The Vanwall had been suspect in handling and during the winter Colin Chapman, later of Lotus fame, had been engaged as a technical consultant. This one-time civil engineer had designed for the wealthy Mr Vandervell a very impressive, scientifically stressed, full space-frame chassis.
The Vanwall now appeared with sleek aerodynamic coachwork, devised by Frank Costin, Chapman's aircraft-expert friend, and the 2½-liter, four-cylinder engine with its Norton-type cylinder heads, hairpin valve springs on exposed valve stems, and its high-pressure Bosch fuel injection was continually being developed. There were inboard rear brakes, air-cooled, of Goodyear make. Maserati went on with the Type 250F cars, both in five-speed and four-speed forms, and with some experimentation with a fuel injection system of their own devising.
Gordini were still in the hunt, with their ladder-frame, eight-cylinder, petrol-burning cars, the engine being based on that of their Le Mans sports-car, and the chassis having all-round independent suspension. Historians would never forgive us if we omitted to refer to the return of the Bugatti Company to Grand Prix racing. This was done with the Type 251; of highly original design, its straight-eight twin-cam engine was placed transversely behind the cockpit, which was itself in the centre of the box-section, spaceframe, chassis. To the latter was attached a de Dion rear system of springing, employing an ingenious crank-and-rod connection to coil springs.
From the centre of the transverse crankshaft came the spur-gear drive, to a five-speed gearbox of the Porsche synchromesh kind and at the front of the car, Bugatti tradition had been firmly upheld by the fitting of a beam axle! Although everyone, the writer included, wished the new Bugatti well - two had been built - the Type 251 appeared only in the French Grand Prix at Reims and was hardly a success. However, for the record, we should mention that it was of 75 x 68.8 mm bore and stroke and ran up to 9000 rpm. Moreover its telescopic shock absorbers were a glimpse into the future and this Bugatti's engine and gearbox arrangements gave a foretaste of the Lamborghini Miura, a roadgoing sports' car of over a decade later.
The 250F Maseratis had reverted to the well known twin exhaust tail pipes and Vanwall was, in employing a body in which the driver was enclosed up to his shoulders, very gently leading us towards the present-day conception of a Grand Prix car which is seen, but in which the driver is all but out of sight. The next important GP racing car was a V12 Maserati with twin overhead camshafts to each bank of cylinders, 24 coils to attend to the firing of its two sparking plugs in each cylinder, and six Weber 35IDM downdraught carburetors. It was, however, not raced.