Archive for June, 2014

Spa that evocative name associated with a circuit deemed by many to be one of the best of all time hosted the second race of the 1952 season. 2 of the pre-season favourites Fangio and Villoresi were absent for Ferrari thanks to injuries received in the previous race at Bremgarten. Their places filled by 2 privateer entrants, Thailand’s Prince B Bira, and Brazil’s first Gino Bianco both in Maserati’s.

Qualifying was uneventful apart from, the worsening weather conditions.

LAP 1 - Fischer (Ferrari privateer #23) powers away with Farina (Ferrari #2) in hot.  Meanwhile the start line sees the end of the race for 6 drivers

LAP 1 – Fischer (Ferrari privateer #23) powers away with Farina (Ferrari #2) in hot pursuit. Meanwhile the start line sees the end of the race for 6 drivers

LAP 1 – Driving rain greeted the drivers as they took their positions on the grid.  As the lights went out, no less than 4 drivers stalled. All British drivers and teams, Peter Collins and Lance Macklin (for his second consecutive race) in the HWM’s, and Eric Thompson and Dennis Poore in their Connaughts. Points scorers from the last race neither Collins or Poore managed to restart their engines.  Before passing the start/finish line 2 separate collisions forced the retirement of 4 more drivers.  First Alan Brown (Cooper privateer) shunted Eric Brandons also privately entered Cooper followed by home favourite and last seasons 2nd place finisher at this race Johnny Claes’ Gordini clipping debutant privateer Gino Bianco’s Maserati.  The field had been reduced from 20 to 14 runners before the first corner.  Stirling Moss’s ERA was making steady progress keeping up with the leading pack when his engine inexplicably expired at speed at Radillon.  His car on fire he managed to bring it to a halt but was immediately rushed to hospital for treatment for burns to his legs. At the front, the Italian marques began to open up a lead. Rudi Fischer (privateer) and Giuseppe Farina both in Ferrari’s trading places with each other and Felice Bonetto in the only officially team entered Maserati just behind.  Bonetto tried to overtake Fischer at the Fagnes chicane but misjudged his move and crashed out. Pierro Taruffi in the second works Ferrari having qualified poorly was beginning to make his way through the field when he hit Poore’s HWM taking both cars out. Bira (Maserati privateer) and Maurice Trintignant (Gordini) were the other first lap retirees both with bodywork damage. Fischer elected not to pit in order to extend his lead and claim the 1st lap leader bonus point.  All the other drivers pitted for running repairs with Behra the pick of the bunch with a fast pit stop coming out in 2nd.

Top 5 at end of lap. 1st – Rudi Fischer (Ferrari privateer), 2nd – Jean Behra (Gordini), 3rd – Giuseppe Farina (Ferrari), 4th – Ken Wharton (Frazer-Nash), 5th – Mike Hawthorn (Cooper privateer)

LAP 2 Fischer opened up a commanding lead as he moved effortlessly out of Radillon as the rest of the field, having pitted fell further behind as they only managed to exit La Source in 3rd gear at best. By the end of the lap despite pitting Fischer had built up an almost unassailable lead. Meanwhile Macklin (HWM) who had recovered from his starting grid stall was forced to drive over the debris at Fagnes left by Bonetto’s crash . The HWM’s fragile suspension gave way and he had to coast off the track and retire.   

Top 5 at end of lap. 1st – Fischer (Ferrari privateer), 2nd – Behra (Gordini), Farina (Ferrari), 4th – Wharton (Frazer-Nash), 5th – Hawthorn (Cooper privateer)

LAP 3 Fischer continued to extend his lead, free from any pressure while Behra & Farina were engaged in a duel for the minor podium spots. Behra threw caution to the wind at Radillon and went for 6th gear attempting to close the gap on Fischer. As he approached the last “Bus Stop” chicane Fischer was just in his sights. Pushing too hard he lost control and spun exiting the chicane allowing Fischer to take the chequered flag for his second successive win.  As Behra restarted his car, Farina sped past to steal 2nd place leaving Behra to rue a gamble that failed. Much further back the British teams were left to squabble over the final points paying places. 


1st – Rudi Fischer (SWI) Ferrari privateer – 8 points +1 bonus point for 1st Lap Leader   

2nd – Giuseppe Farina (IT) Ferrari – 6 points 

3rd – Jean Behra (FRA) Gordini – 4 points 

4th –  Ken Wharton (GB) Frazer-Nash – 3 points 

5th –  Robert Manzon (FRA) Gordini – 2 points

Championship placings after 2 races

1st Fischer (SWI) Ferrari privateer – 17 points (2 wins)

2nd Farina (IT) Ferrari – 12 points (0 wins)

3rd Behra (FRA) Gordini – 6 points (0 wins)

NEXT – Race #3 – FRANCE – Rouen Les Essarts

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Lap 1 – AND THE RABBIT IS LOOSE – Stirling Moss (ERA #29) & Rudi Fischer (Ferrari privateer #23) pull away from the rest of the field negotiating the first corner with a hapless Macklin way off in the distance desperately attempting to restart his engine

The 3rd season began with a return to Switzerland’s Bremgarten circuit (ed. as no official or fans version exists,  Zandvoort 2 is used to represent this track). Owing to economic issues Alfa-Romeo and Talbot were absent and Maserati only had a single entrant paving the way for a host of  new small British teams to flood the entry list alongside out and out favourites Ferrari and Gordini. The number of teams entering totalled an unprecedented 8,  The most notable driver absence was Juan Manuel Fangio who had turned down an offer to drive for Ferrari.  Whether he returns in future is subject to paddock speculation

Qualifying was carried out in mixed conditions paving the way for an unusual grid with Ferrari’s expected dominance compromised by intermittent rain showers.  The front grid was occupied by 2 privateers and an unfancied British marque. Hawthorn (Cooper privateer) and Fischer (Ferrari privateer) alongside Moss (ERA). Ascari (Ferrari) found himself back in 13th and Farina (Ferrari) even worse in 16th.

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Lap 1 SHADDUP A YOUR FACE – Ferrari madness leaves Farina’s #2 Ferrari hitting the brakes as his route is blocked by Ascari’s broken #1 Ferrari and Wharton’s #30 Frazer-Nash. Further ahead Taruffi’s #3 & Villoresi’s #21 Ferrari’s come to a terminal halt

LAP 1 – The race began with a steady drizzle. All Mike Hawthorns hard won efforts in qualifying came to naught as he stalled his privately entered Cooper from pole position. Fortunately he managed to restart the motor but had dropped down the order.  The HWM’s of Peter Collins and Lance Macklin fared even worse as they also stalled. Macklin was unable to restart resulting in the first retirement of the race before even moving. Ascari and Farina in the works Ferrari’s immediately made up ground on their inexperienced rivals. Ascari moving up to 4th by the second corner, Farina to 7th. Stirling Moss (ERA) and home favourite Rudi Fischer (Ferrari privateer) got the best exit out of the sweeping 180 degree first corner to open up a slight lead.  They were blissfully unaware of the utter carnage that was about to take place behind them.  As many of the debutant drivers watched with incredulity the Ferrari’s of Ascari and Farina blast past them everyone began to concertina into the second corner. Then Pierro Taruffi (no doubt keen not to be left out of the expected Ferrari clean sweep) entered the corner too fast and clipped Ascari who was lying 4th.  Taruffi’s car spun wildly out of control leaving debris all over the track. Forced into taking avoiding action Luigi Villoresi in the 4th works Ferrari then ran out of space and hit with force Ascari leaving both cars complete wrecks. In a matter of seconds the works Ferrari team was down to a single runner as 3 of their 4 cars collided with each other.  As the rest of the field approached in a bunch most drivers had to drive over the debris deposited with the inevitable results. The following drivers all retired with suspension damage:- Wharton (Frazer-Nash), Claes (Gordini), Trintignant (Gordini), Brandon (Cooper privateer), Frere. Once the survivors had passed this corner, the race began to settle down. Moss and Fischer extended their lead but the ominous prescence of Farina not far behind kept them honest.  Moss elected not to pit and so the first ever point claimed by a British team (1st lap leader) went to the unfancied veteran ERA driven by a precocious new talent.

Top 5 at end of lap. 1st – Stirling Moss (ERA), 2nd – Rudi Fischer (Ferrari privateer), 3rd – Robert Manzon (Gordini), 4th – Giuseppe Farina (Ferrari), 5th – Dennis Poore (Connaught)

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Lap 2 THERE’S A (sic) (recte NO) FUTURE IN ENGLANDS DREAMING – The battle for third hots up as British trio fight it out. Dennis Poore (#19 Connaught) just edges ahead of Eric Thompson (#20 Connaught) & Mike Hawthorn (#13 Cooper privateer)

LAP 2 – Inevitably Moss’s good fortune could not last and entering the same corner that had done for so many drivers in the previous lap, his ERA went the same way adding another retirement from a collapsed suspension. Fischer now took over as leader with Farina steadily closing in on him.  Felice Bonetto’s misfiring Maserati was next to succumb at the same corner. Fortunately the other drivers managed to survive their 2nd encounter.  As the 2 remaining Ferrari’s began to pull away, the chasing pack of British Racing Green and French blue cars alternated position continually. Peter Collins driving the third works HWM put his atrocious start behind him and by keeping out of trouble managed to land in the final corner in 6th gear allowing him to pit before the rest of the chasing pack and exit in 3rd place.      

Top 5 at end of lap. 1st – Fischer (Ferrari privateer), 2nd – Farina (Ferrari), 3rd – Peter Collins (HWM) 4th – Poore (Connaught), 5th – Jean Behra (Gordini)

LAP 3 – Fischer managed to protect his advantage and soon built an unassailable lead. Farina leaving it perhaps a corner too late was in the end a spectator to the wild scenes of celebration as the home fans cheered their Swiss hero to the chequered flag. A relief of sorts for Ferrari who took the win albeit from a privately entered car from the only remaining works Ferrari of Farina. For the British, kudos of the first ever points for a British team (excepting ERA’s Stirling Moss 1st lap bonus point) and a first ever British podium went to Peter Collins’ HWM in 3rd proving the old adage that no matter how bad it looks at the start, you should never give up. In a strange reversal, pole sitter Mike Hawthorn came in 6th and last.


1st – Rudi Fischer (SWI) Ferrari privateer – 8 points 

2nd – Giuseppe Farina (IT) Ferrari – 6 points 

3rd – Peter Collins (GB) HWM – 4 points 

4th –  Eric Thompson (GB) Connaught – 3 points 

5th –  Jean Behra (FRA) Gordini – 2 points

1st lap leader – Stirling Moss (GB) ERA – 1 Point 

Championship placings after 1 race

1st Fischer (SWI) Ferrari privateer – 8 points (1 win)

2nd Farina (IT) Ferrari – 6 points (0 wins)

3rd Collins (GB) HWM – 4 points (0 wins)

At the post race conference Ferrari confirmed that both Ascari and Villoresi had picked up injuries and while none were deemed too serious, both drivers would miss the next race. Thailands royal Prince B Bira and first ever Brazilian entrant Gino Branca both driving privately entered Maserati’s would take their places.

NEXT – Race #2 – BELGIUM – Spa-Francorchamps