THE FINALE, FANGIO VERSES ASCARI – 1951 Historic Formula de solitaire season Race #7 of 7 – Pedralbes

Posted: March 22, 2014 in Formula de, wargames, wargames chrome
Tags: , , , , , ,


DON’T STAND SO CLOSE TO ME – Lap 1 and the first ever 4 car width grid lines up at Pedralbes

The season finale, Pedralbes (ed Docks fans circuit used to represent owing to length of original course) and just the 2 big guns were left.  Alfa-Romeo’s Juan Manuel Fangio verses Ferrari’s Alberto Ascari. The permutations were simple. With a 2 point advantage for Fangio, Ascari would have to win the race and claim the 1st lap leader bonus point to overturn the score and claim the Championship, irrespective of Fangio’s result.  Winning without the bonus point would only gain him the championship if Fangio did not finish in the top three.  Joining the final race and taking the place of the injured Johnny Claes (Talbot privateer), Luigi Fagioli (Alfa-Romeo) and Gus Mairesse (Talbot privateer) were Harry Schell (Maserati privateer), and debutants Duncan Hamilton and Andre Pilette both Talbot privateer entrants. There was thus no room on the grid all season for British F1 new boys BRM, HWM and the veteran ERA team.

Qualifying was uneventful, the grid lined up using a unique 4-3-4 set up allowing the drivers to be a lot more closely packed.  The weather was glorious sunshine.

LAP 1 – There were 3 stallers including the hapless Schell (2nd consecutive race) at the start but thankfully all the drivers eventually got away.  Going into the very tight first chicane (of no less than 16 corners per lap) debutant Hamilton collided with Philippe Etancelin’s privateer Talbot who was then propelled into the air coming down on top of Maurice Trintignant’s Gordini.  Bad luck continued to haunt the improving Gordini team as Andre Simon’s mount retired shortly after with a suspension issue. Further first lap retirements included Andre Pilette (Talbot privateer) engine, Felice Bonetto (Alfa-Romeo) puncture.


FOLLOW THE LEADERS – Lap 1 and confusion all around trying to identify who is actually in the lead

As numerous drivers spun early on, the pace became more conservative than usual as drivers attempted to preserve their tyres. Pierro Taruffi (Ferrari) set the early pace and it wasn’t until the end of the 2nd loop section when he was eventually caught by Ascari, Giuseppe Farina (Alfa-Romeo) and further back Fangio. Farina then began to  pull ahead with a masterful entry and exit at Tetris Bend. He then extended his lead and was the first to begin the 2nd lap after pitting for tyres.  Ascari’s hopes of the bonus point had gone making his task that much more difficult.

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

LAP 2 – Farina commenced the 2nd lap very conservatively allowing Villoresi (who had stormed up the field at the end of the previous lap), Fangio and Ascari to close the gap and negate his advantage.  The brutal nature of the circuit began to tell on the 2nd lap with over 9 incidences of cars spinning out of corners, their tyres shot.  The highest profile was Farina who lost control and was injured in the crash thankfully not fatally. Also to retire were  Yves Giraud-Cabantous (Talbot privateer) tyres, Rudi Fischer (Ferrari privateer) suspension and Schell (Maserati privateer) colliding with Pierre Levegh’s privately entered Talbot. Farina’s retirement and Villoresi’s double spin allowed a hitherto lacklustre Fangio to move up the field into 3rd place, just enough to ensure the championship would be his regardless of Ascari’s final position. Meanwhile, further ahead it was left to Taruffi to take the lead once more following his text book entry/exit at Tetris bend despite damage caused by earlier contact with Farina. Ascari however managed to keep in touch keeping his championship aspirations very much alive into the final lap. 


AND THEN THERE WERE TWO – Lap 2/3 – Taruffi’s and Ascari’s Ferrari’s begin the third lap with Fangio (Alfa) just visible a distant 3rd and about to pit for tyres

Top 5 at end of lap. 1st – Taruffi (Ferrari), 2nd – Ascari (Ferrari), 3rd – Villoresi (Ferrari), 4th – Fangio (Alfa-Romeo), 5th – Emmanuel de Graffenreid (Alfa-Romeo)

LAP 3 – Taruffi with Ascari in close contact had opened up a sizable gap to the next group featuring Fangio, his task of finishing at the head of that group in 3rd if he was to take the championship looking more perilous as Villoresi pulled clear relegating Fangio to 4th while Ascari shadowed Taruffi with a car in a decidedly better condition. Then Taruffi spun and Ascari was past in a shot.  An imperious move in 5th gear into Pipeline Drive allowed him to move up to 6th into the next corner and beyond.  Fangio was forced to take a more aggressive approach and he hit his next corner perfectly in 5th gear then, De Graffenreid slipstreamed past him but as he entered Pipeline Drive his suspension gave out,  just ahead Villoresi spun letting Fangio back into 3rd place, enough for the Championship title!  But just as he pulled away, Louis Rosier (Talbot privateer) who had been way off the pace blasted past an incredulous Fangio in 6th gear out. Rosier then made the next corner in 6th gear while Fangio was only moving up to 4th gear.


WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH – LAP 3 – Contrasting fortunes, Ascari (left) takes the chequered flag and the Championship by virtue of more podiums. Fangio (right) meanwhile spins and limps home in 4th

As his championship hopes began to fade Fangio was forced to take even greater risks. Eventually it proved his undoing going into the 3rd last corner, trying to stay in contact with Rosier he lost control and spun. Restarting in first gear his quarry disappeared into the distance. At the same moment, Ascari took the chequered flag. Despite a herculean effort to try to haul himself back into contention he crossed the line in 4th place and as such lost the World Championship. For the second successive season Fangio had ended up as bridesmaid.  The spoils this time went to a jubilant Ascari and Ferrari.        


1st – Alberto Ascari (IT) Ferrari – 2 points (8 minus 6 dropped points)

2nd – Pierro Taruffi (IT) Ferrari – 6 points 

3rd – Louis Rosier (FRA) Talbot-privateer – 4 points 

4th – Juan Manuel Fangio (ARG) Alfa-Romeo – 0 points (3 minus 3 dropped points)

5th – Luigi Villoresi (IT) Ferrari – 2 points 

Bonus Point – Giuseppe Farina (IT) Alfa-Romeo

Both the top 2 drivers ended up on 32 points. By virtue of the most podiums (6 to 5) Ascari took the Championship by the narrowest of margins in what will in future always be regarded as a true classic.   

Final Championship placings after 7 races

1st Ascari (IT) Ferrari – 32 points (3 wins, 6 podiums)

2nd Fangio (ARG) Alfa-Romeo – 32 points (3 wins, 5 podiums)

3rd Sanesi (IT) Alfa-Romeo – 16 points (1 win, 3 podiums)

4th Farina (IT) Alfa-Romeo – 14 points (0 wins, 1 podium)

5th= Claes (BEL) Talbot-Lago privateer – 12 points (0 wins, 2 podiums)

5th= Villoresi (IT) Ferrari – 12 points (0 wins, 1 podium)

Link to full results table HERE! F1 Results 1951


  1. davesilverthorne says:

    Crikey! What a thriller!!

  2. simonsmrt says:

    Ha ha, yes an awesome race on what was a very odd circuit more suited to Van Diesel and Fast n Furious, not sure if I liked the layout to be honest but it did provide for an excellent race. Roll on 1952 Stirling Moss, Mike Hawthorn, Cooper cars and so much more

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