ADVANTAGE FANGIO, ARGENTINE MAESTRO PIPS ASCARI TO SET UP WINNER TAKES ALL FINALE – 1951 Historic Formula de solitaire season Race #6 of 7 – Monza

Posted: February 26, 2014 in Formula de, wargames, wargames chrome
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“IT’S RAINING AGAIN WHOH” – Starting grid at Monza, Schell in his Maserati in 19th place stalls & is forced to retire as the lights go out

Returning to Monza and the scene of Giuseppe Farina’s 1950 title winning victory for Alfa-Romeo, this time it was up to Juan Manuel Fangio to lead the Alfa challenge.  Alberto Ascari in the works Ferrari was 1 point ahead so both drivers knew that victory here AND their opponent failing to finish in the top three would win the championship with a race to spare.  There was also the rank outsider and privateer entrant Johnny Claes in his Talbot who still had a mathematical chance of taking the title if he won both remaining races.

Qualifying was notable for the return of the US’s Harry Schell in his privately entered Maserati.  He qualified 19th of 20 cars over 12 seconds off the leading time.  This was to prove his high point as his car stalled on a wet grid before the lights went out.  Gunning his engine perhaps too vigorously, he was unable to restart and was forced to retire ignominiously having failed to move from the starting grid.

LAP 1 – Claes got a flying start ahead of the rest of the field but was caught by Fangio at Rettifilo. As well as Schells retirement, in the wet conditions a number of drivers came to grief on the opening straight, Peter Whitehead (Ferrari privateer) lost a wheel hitting another driver.  Reg Parnell (Ferrari privateer) collided with Jacques Swaters (Talbot privateer) and Andre Simon (Gordini) also retired following another collision. The debris on the track accounted for a number of retirements from suspension failure. Philippe Etancelin (Talbot privateer), Pierre Levegh (Talbot privateer) and Rudi Fischer (Ferrari privateer) all succumbed.

WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T BLINK – Lap 1 nearside Ascari (Ferrari), farside Fangio (Alfa-Romeo) just edge Claes (Talbot-Lago)

WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T BLINK – Lap 1 nearside Ascari (Ferrari), farside Fangio (Alfa-Romeo) just edge Claes (Talbot-Lago)

Ahead of all this carnage the lead changed hands amongst a number of drivers, First Ascari (Ferrari) took the lead at Roggia, then Claes recaptured it at Lesmo only for Ascari to retake it appropriately at Ascari chicane. As the leaders approached the Parabolica curve, Pierro Taruffi (Ferrari) and Maurice Trintignant (Gordini) joined the fray but both were forced to enter the pits due to tyre wear.  This allowed Fangio to retake the lead and claim the 1st Lap leader bonus point. Further back Luigi Villoresi (Ferrari) collected Gus Mairesse (Talbot privateer) at Lesmo prematurely ending the latters season due to a broken wrist. This meant that the field had reduced at the end of the first lap from 20 to 10 runners.

Top 5 at end of lap. 1st – Fangio (Alfa-Romeo), 2nd – Felice Bonetto (Alfa-Romeo), 3rd – Farina (Alfa-Romeo) 4th – Trintignant (Gordini), 5th – Claes (Talbot-Lago privateer)

LAP 2 – Felice Bonetto (Alfa-Romeo) who had been lurking just behind the lead pack timed his exit from Parabolica perfectly to catch Fangio and take the lead going into Rettifilo for the 2nd time. The same could not be said for Ascari who slipped a gear and suddenly found himself back in 6th place. Bonetto gambled entering Ascari chicane in 5th gear but Fangio took a more conservative line allowing Bonetto to open up a good lead. At this point the 3 championship  contenders became 2 as Claes who had been slipping back through the field made a mistake going wide into Lesmo. Driving over debris on the edge of the track his suspension gave out and his car skidded 90 degrees then flipped over exiting the corner.  Knocked unconscious he was lucky to survive the crash as his cork helmet afforded little protection while sat upside down in a rolling Talbot.  Hopefully he will have recovered for next season but will certainly miss this seasons finale.

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JUST ONE BONETTO – Lap 2 Felice Bonetto (Alfa) storms ahead of Fangio having had time to pit for a fresh set of tyres. Ascari lies in a distant 5th

Bonetto extended his lead arriving at the Parabolica curve and decided to pit for fresh tyres.  The move worked well as he managed to exit the pits still ahead of Fangio who decided to continue with his worn tyres in a bid to close the gap. Ascari was now someway distant and and losing touch, his only real hope being if Bonetto could hold on and win the race limiting Fangio’s points haul.

Top 5 at end of lap. 1st – Bonetto (Alfa-Romeo), 2nd – Fangio (Alfa-Romeo), 3rd – Trintignant (Gordini), 4th Farina (Alfa-Romeo), 5th – Ascari (Ferrari)

LAP 3 – Entering Rettifilo in the lead this time it was Bonetto’s turn to negotiate the chicane carefully. Sensing his an opportunity Fangio threw caution to the wind and drove masterfully through the chicane passing Bonetto at the Curva Grande but dangerously wearing his tyres.  There was no such problem for Ascari who had no choice but to attack the chicane if he was to have any chance of keeping in touch. A near perfect manoeuvre saw him move up the field to 3rd just behind the leaders at Roggia. Luigi Fagioli (Alfa-Romeo) lying in 7th crashed badly at Lesmo in a near identical fashion to Claes reducing the field to just 8 runners.  With Ascari moving up to 2nd, Bonetto slipped back and settled for 3rd and a first ever podium. Exiting the final Parabolica curve almost neck and neck both lead drivers surged towards the finish line where Fangio just took the chequered flag by no more than a cars length from Ascari.

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FORZA ITALIA – Lap 3 #4 Fangio’s Alfa-Romeo just edges #1 Ascari’s Ferrari exiting Parabolica curve and taking the chequered flag. Just behind is #9 Bonetto’s Alfa-Romeo and out of shot Farina’s Alfa-Romeo.

RESULT

1st – Juan Manuel Fangio (ARG) Alfa-Romeo – 5 points (8+1 bonus point minus 4 dropped points)

2nd – Alberto Ascari (IT) Ferrari – 2 points (6 minus 4 dropped points)

3rd – Felice Bonetto (IT) Alfa-Romeo – 4 points

4th – Giuseppe Farina (IT) Alfa-Romeo – 3 points

5th – Maurice Trintignant (FRA) Gordini – 2 points

The win gives Fangio 5 points (including the bonus point) taking his total to 32 and 2 points ahead of Ascari who picked up 2 for 2nd place.  Both drivers dropped points from a maximum haul as only their best 4 results count. And so everything is set for a mouth watering finale at the debut and daunting circuit of Pedralbes Spain. 

Championship placings after 6 races

1st Fangio (ARG) Alfa-Romeo – 32 points

2nd Ascari (IT) Ferrari – 30 points

3rd Sanesi (IT) Alfa-Romeo – 16 points

4th Farina (IT) Alfa-Romeo – 13 points

5th Claes (BEL) Talbot-Lago privateer – 12 points

NEXT – SEASON FINALE – SPAIN – Pedralbes

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