Posts Tagged ‘Ferrari’


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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.

RESULT

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


Race 5 visited a new circuit, the picturesque Nürburgring Nordschliefe. As only the drivers best 4 results counted in the championship, points earnt from this race onwards would be at a premium for the leaders. Juan Manuel Fangio needed to finish higher than 4th to earn any points and Alberto Ascari better than 5th.  Peter Whitehead returned from injury but Luigi Fagioli was absent. Qualifying was uneventful. On race day, the weather began dry but conditions were changeable.

Lap 1 - AND THEY'RE OFF. Fangio stalls & is passed by Ascari & Sanesi, behind Farina & Claes pass the stalled Villoresi.

Lap 1 – AND THE RABBIT IS LOOSE. Fangio stalls & is passed by Ascari & Sanesi, behind Farina & Claes pass the stalled Villoresi.

LAP 1 – As the flag went down Fangio (Alfa-Romeo) stalled and was immediately passed by Ascari (Ferrari) and Consalvo Sanesi (Alfa Romeo). 3 other drivers stalled Luigi Villoresi (Ferrari), Peter Whitehead (Ferrari privateer), and Philippe Etancelin (Talbot-Lago privateer).  Whitehead took 3 rounds to get going and was swamped by faster moving cars all around him one of which driven by Maurice Trintignant (Gordini) he came into contact with resulting in both drivers immediate retirement and almost collecting Reg Parnell’s Ferrari as well. Other 1st lap retirements were Louis Rosier (Talbot privateer) who collected Robert Manzon (Gordini) and Andre Simon’s Gordini who sufferered a collapsed suspension.  Then Jacques Swaters (Talbot privateer) and Philippe Levegh (Talbot privateer) took each other out at the Ford Kurve. Shortly after this, rain began to fall on the circuit but miraculously the 13 remaining cars made it round to complete the first lap by which time the short shower had stopped.

Top 5 at end of lap. 1st – Giuseppe Farina (Alfa-Romeo), 2nd – Sanesi (Alfa-Romeo), 3rd – Ascari (Ferrari) 4th – Johnny Claes (Talbot-Lago privateer), 5th – Fangio (Alfa-Romeo)

Lap 2 - "BE SEEING YA" Johnny Claes' Talbot blasts past Sanesi in the pits with Farina about to enter.  Fangio can just be made out a long way back in the distance.

Lap 2 – “BE SEEING YA” Johnny Claes’ Talbot blasts past Sanesi in the pits with Farina about to enter. Fangio can just be made out a long way back in the distance.

LAP 2 – Farina led out Sanesi who soon passed him by some masterful driving. Ascari had a poor pit exit and was caught by Johnny Claes (Talbot privateer). Claes then went on to catch and pass Farina at Dunlop Kehre.  Fangio perhaps pushing too hard made a number of critical mistakes resulting him in slipping down the order and out of the points.  Gus Mairesse (Talbot privateer) crashed out(suspension failure) at the Castrol-S chicane followed shortly after by Yves Giraud-Cabantous (Talbot privateer) whose suspension gave way crossing track debris at Ford Kurve.  At the end of the lap, the leaders once more pitted for fresh “boots” and a stellar tyre change from Claes’ pit crew allowed him to jump Sanesi and go into the final lap in the lead. Ascari decided not to pit in an attempt to close the gap on the leaders.

Top 5 positions at end of lap. 1st – Claes (Talbot), 2nd – Sanesi (Alfa-Romeo), 3rd – Ascari (Ferrari), 4th – Farina (Alfa-Romeo),  5th – Villoresi (Ferrari)

Lap 3 - DON'T STAND SO CLOSE TO ME - The moment Farina's hope of retaining the championship faded. Braking too late his Alfa-Romeo slams into the back of Sanesi's Alfa taking both out at the last corner. In the distance, Ascari prepares to pass Claes for the victory.

Lap 3 – DON’T STAND SO CLOSE TO ME – The moment Farina’s hope of retaining the championship faded. Braking too late his Alfa-Romeo slams into the back of Sanesi’s Alfa taking both out at the last corner. In the distance, Ascari prepares to pass Claes for the victory.

LAP 3 – Events took a dramatic turn on the final lap.  Claes overshot at Castrol-S just holding the car on the racing line but shredding his tyres with almost a whole lap to complete. It could have been worse for him if Sanesi hadn’t damaged his own cars suspension at the same spot as well as Ascari straining his engine braking far too late to enter the chicane but managing to overtake Sanesi with the same move. 2nd, 3rd and 4th places changed throughout the lap until at the entrance to the final corner (Veedol-S into Coca-Cola Kurve) Claes was still hanging on with Ascari, Sanesi and Farina in hot pursuit. Then Farina made his move, attempting to pass Sanesi he misjudged his overtaking speed and rammed Sanesi’s Alfa with such force as to flip him into the air. Farina’s own Alfa was also hors de combat and he pulled up immediately. Worryingly Sanesi needed medical assistance to extricate him from his striken motor and it appears likely that he will miss the rest of the season.  The drama continued further ahead as Claes once more eeking out every possible ounce of abilty out of a worn out and underpowered car exited the corner just ahead of Ascari. As both drivers put the pedal to the mettle it was Ascari with the Ferrari’s superior speed and handling that took the chequered flag and Claes the ex jazz band  trumpeter had to settle for being bridesmaid once more. Then in a final twist Villoresi and Bonetto appeared to have 3rd and 4th sewn up (being newly promoted owing to Farina’s incident) when Fangio lying in 5th threw caution to the wind and gambled on the famed reliability of his Alfa-Romeo blasting out of Coca-Cola curve at an insane pace to pass ahead of the two and take the final podium and perhaps more critically a single championship point after a dropped score. The minor non points places went to Fischer (Ferrari privateer), Taruffi (Ferrari), Parnell (Ferrari privateer) and Etancelin (Talbot-privateer).

Result

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

2nd – Johnny Claes (BEL) Talbot-Lago – 6 points

3rd – Juan Manuel Fangio (ARG) Alfa-Romeo – 1 point (4 minus 3 dropped points)

4th – Luigi Villoresi (IT) Ferrari – 3 points

5th – Felice Bonetto (IT) Alfa-Romeo – 2 points

Lap Leader bonus point – Giuseppe Farina (IT) Alfa-Romeo

So with just 2 races to go, Ascari moves ahead of Fangio by a single point, Sanesi lying in 3rd is out for the rest of the season so the only other driver in contention is Claes in 4th place. Reigning champion Farina lies in a distant 5th, 18 points adrift and unable to catch the leader 

Championship placings after 5 races

1st Ascari (IT) Ferrari – 28 points

2nd Fangio (ARG) Alfa-Romeo – 27 points

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

4th Claes (BEL) Talbot-Lago privateer – 12 points

NEXT – ITALY – Monza


Following the Summer break Formula de moved to Silverstone GB.  Piero Taruffi returned but Baron Emmanuel de Graffenried who was injured at Rheims was absent. Qualifying in the wet passed uneventfully. On race day, rain continued.

Exiting Club on Lap 1, Bonetto comes in too hot allowing the rest of the field to prepare to overtake

Exiting Club on Lap 1, Bonetto comes in too hot allowing the rest of the field to prepare to overtake

LAP 1 – With wet conditions and more importantly 3 cars starting abreast on each of the grids it was always likely that there would be a coming together which is exactly what happened when Luigi Fagioli (Alfa Romeo) clipped Jacques Swaters (Talbot-Lago privateer) and further back Reg Parnell (Ferrari privateer and the only British entrant who qualified a disastrous 19th) shunted a slow moving Rudi Fischer (Ferrari privateer). All 4 cars failed to pass the start line with Fagioli unlikely to be able to make the next race owing to injury. Gus Mairesse (Talbot-Lago privateer) in just his 2nd race, stalled and was unable to restart thus retiring from the race without moving.  The field slowly spread as most drivers drove conservatively in the conditions keen not to collide with each other. At Club corner Felice Bonetto (Alfa Romeo) and Johnny Claes (Talbot-Lago privateer) paid the price going into the corner too fast which allowed the rest of the lead pack to move up to higher gears and pass them as they charged into Abbey straight.  Even the more experienced drivers had difficulty here as Alberto Ascari‘s Ferrari clipped Juan Manuel Fangio‘ s Alfa Romeo who luckily just managed to avoid going into a spin. Giuseppe Farina in his Alfa Romeo crossed the line first to take the bonus point but his cars suspension had collapsed driving over the debris left from the start of the race forcing him to pull after crossing the line.
Sanesi leads, Farina and Fangio take opposite lines while Ascari tries to force his way through and comes into contact with Fangio. Bonetto takes evasive action behind while Claes tries to catch up

Lap 1 – Abbey Straight – Sanesi leads, Farina & Fangio are neck and neck while Ascari tries to force his way through and comes into contact with Fangio. Bonetto immediately behind takes evasive action with Claes in the distance.

Top 5 at end of lap. 1st – Farina (Alfa-Romeo) retired immediately after crossing line,  2nd – Consalvo Sanesi (Alfa-Romeo), 3rd – Fangio (Alfa-Romeo), 4th – Ascari (Ferrari) 5th – Louis Rosier (Talbot-Lago)

LAP 2 – With Farina’s retirement Fangio moved up to Sanesi and passed him without incident, Ascari followed suit after a quick splash ‘n dash pit stop. As the lap wore on the lead 2 cars extended their lead with Ascari finding it increasingly difficult to stay in touch with the leader. Further back Yves Giraud-Cabantous (Talbot) also came to grief at the same spot as Farina, other retirements were Maurice Trintignant (Gordini) collision, Philippe Etancelin (Talbot) puncture leaving a field of 11 from the 20 starters. At the end of the lap at Luffield a number of cars struggled with worn tyres and grip (see photo inset).

Top 5 positions at end of lap. 1st – Fangio (Alfa-Romeo), 2nd – Ascari (Ferrari), 3rd – Sanesi (Alfa-Romeo), 4th – Claes (Talbot),  5th – Louis Rosier (Talbot)

Lap 2 - Drivers fail to take heed of gloomy skies at Luffield. Rosier & Simon spin ahead of Trintignants stricken Gordini, Bonetto & Villoresi check their speed while Claes struggles to slow in the wet.

Lap 2 – Drivers fail to take heed of gloomy skies at Luffield. Rosier & Simon spin ahead of Trintignants stricken Gordini, Bonetto & Villoresi check their speed while Claes struggles to slow in the wet.

LAP 3 – The final lap became somewhat processional as Fangio extended his lead over Ascari who in turn pulled ahead of the chasing pack with these positions staying the same to the chequered flag.  The remaining 3 points paying places were fought over in a battle royale by no less than 5 drivers who changed positions right to the end. Sanesi eventually took the last podium place from Luigi Villoresi (Ferrari), Taruffi (Ferrari), Rosier (Talbot) and Bonetto (Alfa-Romeo). Claes and Andre Simon (Gordini) were the final retirees.

Result

1st – Juan Manuel Fangio (ARG) Alfa Romeo – 8 points

2nd – Alberto Ascari (IT) Ferrari – 6 points

3rd – Consalvo Sanesi (IT) Alfa Romeo – 4 points

4th – Luigi Villoresi (IT) Ferrari – 3 points

5th – Piero Taruffi (IT) Ferrari – 2 points

Lap Leader bonus point – Giuseppe Farina (IT) Alfa Romeo

The result means that Fangio extends his lead to 4 points over nearest rival Ascari.

Championship placings after 4 races

1st Fangio (ARG) Alfa Romeo – 26 points

2nd Ascari (IT) Ferrari – 22 points

3rd Sanesi (IT) Alfa Romeo – 16 points

4th Farina (IT) Alfa Romeo – 9 points

5th Villoresi (IT) Ferrari – 7 points

NEXT – WEST GERMANY – Nurburgring


Spa-Francorchamps, that most demanding of circuits welcomed the F1 circus for a sunny 2nd race of the 1951 season. After the horrific injury to Gonzalez and with Whitehead also absent through injury their places were taken by Pierre Levegh & Swiss newcomer Rudi Fischer, both privateer entrants driving Talbots. The top 5 drivers having collected points in the previous race received byes for qualification and occupied the first 5 slots on the grid. Fastest of the qualifiers were Parnell and Fagioli. Last years champion Farina still somewhat out of sorts qualified on the grid in 10th place.

Sanesi (Alfa Romeo), Fangio (Alfa Romeo) & Villoresi (Ferrari) occupy the front rowLAP 1 – Just as at Bremgarten before, an incident right at the start put paid to 2 drivers races. This time Manzon (who had been eliminated by Fagioli in that accident at Bremgarten) collided with Maurice Trintignant‘s Gordini, prematurely ending both drivers races. Etancelin & Levegh stalled on the starting grid, Etancelin getting away the next round but Levegh’s Talbot engine had expired and his car was wheeled off without having gotten started.

Other first lap retirements were Andre Simon (Gordini) engine, Fischer (Talbot) engine, Etancelin (Talbot) suspension & Cabantous (Talbot) suspension.

Ascari as at Bremgarten got away well, of the pursuers local boy Johnny Claes, picked his way through the field to lead the chase.

Top 5 positions at end of lap. 1st – Ascari (Ferrari), 2nd – Claes (Talbot), Bonetto (Alfa Romeo), 4th Sanesi (Alfa Romeo) 5th – Rosier (Talbot)

IMG_1744LAP 2 – 13 cars were left. Most of the drivers had pitted for fresh tyres (Fangio & Farina 2 notable exceptions).  Ascari having pocketed the lap leader bonus point was caught at Eau Rouge by Claes to the delight of the locals. Fangio who had had a poor start began to move up the field as did Farina who nevertheless was still out of the points paying places. A number of near misses left debris around the track but thankfully there were no retirements. As the lap was concluded a number of drivers were nervously looking at their cars condition and no doubt wondering whether they would have to nurse them home and lose places or take risks

Top 5 positions at end of lap. 1st – Claes (Talbot), 2nd – Ascari (Ferrari), 3rd – Sanesi (Alfa Romeo), 4th Fangio (Alfa Romeo), 5th – Bonetto (Alfa Romeo)

IMG_1752LAP 3 – Claes led out but with no fuel points to use he knew he would be under extreme pressure from the chasing pack.  He was caught at Kemmel by Ascari but refused to give up the place and retook the lead at Les Combes.

Behind them Fangio began to move up and passed Sanesi. Louis Chiron (Talbot) collided with Pierro Taruffi (Ferrari) exiting Pouhon. Both drivers were injured and taken to hospital. Chirons injuries and broken bones ending his season but thankfully not his career.

At the front, Claes using all his local knowledge and guile managed to hold Ascari at bay until Blanchimont where the Ferrari’s superior speed and handling finally told. Exiting the Bus stop chicane Ascari powered over the line breaking Belgian hearts as Claes had to settle for 2nd. This result however was Ferrari’s first win since the championship began. Fangio pushing perhaps too hard made a mistake entering the Bus Stop which Sanesi capitalised on to grab 3rd and the last podium spot.  Further drama entailed behind as Bonetto spun and let in Farina for the last points position and the Champions grateful first point haul

IMG_1753 Result

1st Alberto Ascari IT (Ferrari) – 8 points +1 1st Lap Leader

2nd – Johnny Claes BEL (Talbot) – 6 points

3rd – Consalvo Sanesi IT (Alfa Romeo) – 4 points

4th – Juan Manuel Fangio ARG (Alfa Romeo) – 3 points

5th – Giuseppe Farina IT (Alfa Romeo) – 2 points

The lead in the championship was now shared between Sanesi & Ascari with 12 points each, with Fangio staying in touch with 9 points.

NEXT – FRANCE – Rheims


After recently completing the inaugural 1950 F1 season, its now time to turn attention to the next.  1951 kicking off in the picturesque Swiss town of Bremgarten in the canton of Aargau.  The previous World Champion Italy’s Giuseppe Farina is likely to find stiffer competition from the likes of Fangio, Ascari and Gonzalez. Alfa Romeo still look like the make of choice, although Ferrari have made strides.  The French Talbot-Lago‘s and Gordini‘s look to be off the pace and sadly although Britain’s ERA and new boys BRM and HWM (Hersham & Walton Motors) have registered, no places are available for this race.  Britains only hopes are, like last season Reg Parnell & Peter Whitehead both privateer Ferrari entrants.

Front row, Ascari – Ferrari, Sanesi – Alfa Romeo, de Graffenreid – Alfa Romeo

QUALIFYING – As all 20 entrants have to qualify having no points at this stage to earn a bye it means that the starting grid bears little resemblance to the true cars abilities.  Only Ascari (Ferrari) of the favourites manages to get on the 1st row. Farina (Alfa) starts from the 2nd row, Fangio (Alfa) 4th row & Gonzalez (Ferrari) back on the 7th row.

LAP 1 – An incident right at the start as the cars pull away in first gear Luigi Fagioli (Alfa) starting in 9th drives into the back of Robert Manzon‘s Gordini eliminating the pair. Fortunately the speeds were low enough not to cause any driver injuries.

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After this incident, the drivers settle down jockeying for position.  Bremgarten (actually in this case zandvoort no.2 board owing to lack of an alternative) is a high speed circuit with lots of 6th gear opportunities. As such the chance of engine failures is high especially with a 20 car line up. Before the 1st lap is completed the following drivers retire with just that, Philippe Etancelin (Talbot), Louis Chiron (Talbot), Emmanuel de Graffenreid (Alfa Romeo), Reg Parnell (Ferrari), Peter Whitehead (Ferrari) & Froilan Gonzalez (Ferrari).  Whiteheads crash is a nasty one that sees him lose control and drive into the hay bales at 150mph.  His injuries bad enough to make him miss the next 3 races.  Worse still for one of the pre race favourites, Argentina’s Froilan Gonzalez. His engine explodes in 6th gear showering the driver with oil and petrol. By the time the marshal’s reach his car it is a burning wreck and dragging the unconscious driver to safety it is evident he has suffered horrendous burns to his entire body.  Although not known immediately after the accident, the injuries sustained are enough to prematurely end his career for good.

Top 5 positions at end of lap. 1st – Ascari (Ferrari), 2nd – Consalvo Sanesi (Alfa Romeo), 3rd – Pierro Taruffi (Ferrari), 4th Maurice Trintignant (Gordini), 5th – Farina (Alfa Romeo)

LAP 2 – 12 cars remain, Ascari being 1st at the end of the first lap pockets the bonus point and looks comfortable as he extends his lead over the course of the lap. Trintignant in an unfancied Gordini does well to head the chasing pack. but Fangio & Farina get caught up in traffic and slip down the order. Only Andre Simon’s Gordini breaks down this lap leaving 11 cars to contest the final lap.

Top 5 positions at end of lap. 1st – Ascari (Ferrari), 2nd – Trintignant (Gordini), 3rd – Sanesi (Alfa Romeo), 4th Louis Rosier (Talbot), 5th – Taruffi (Ferrari)

LAP 3 – With points only available for the top 5 finishers the drivers that have been careful with their cars start taking extra risks as they try to move up the field or fend off their rivals. Halfway round the lap Ascari makes a mistake going too fast into the longest corner.  He is caught and passed by Sanesi & Rosier. The popular Belgian Johnny Claes (Talbot) retires from last place as his engine gives out. A much higher profile retirement is Taruffi whose engine also expires when pushing hard and moving into 3rd place.   Fangio begins his charge and overtakes Felice Bonetto (Alfa) & Luigi Villoresi (Ferrari) at the penultimate corner.

Then the key moment as Rosier in his Talbot shifts up to 6th gear in  a bid to reach the final corner in one go. A 30 is rolled and not only does he make the corner but flies out the other end barely in control. After all the smoke has cleared he finds himself stationary looking down the home straight and having to select 1st gear.  Sanesi lands in the corner in the perfect position immediately behind while Trintignant overshoots in 4th gear but keeps the car under control. Fangio then carries out the textbook move that Rosier was attempting and moves into position to blast down the home straight. Villoresi & Bonetto follow past Ascari who is having a final lap to forget.

IMG_1734 The chequered flag is comfortably taken by Sanesi and Alfa Romeo continue their winning form from the previous season, but behind no less than 6 drivers enter the home straight very close to each other.  2nd place is taken by Fangio (impressively as he was lying 7th at the start of the lap) 3rd goes to Villoresi & 4th to Bonetto rewarded by taking some risky 6th gear rolls. The last point paying place goes to Ascari disappointed after leading for 75% of the race.  Trintignant & Rosier miss out on any points finishing 6th & 7th respectively, both drivers rueing poor last corner exit moves.  Farina comes in a distant 8th with Yves Giraud Cabantous (Talbot) bringing up the rear.

Championship standings after 1 race

1st Consalvo Sanesi IT (Alfa) – 8 points

2nd – Juan Manuel Fangio ARG (Alfa) – 6 points

3rd – Luigi Villoresi IT (Ferrari) – 4 points

4th= – Felice Bonetto IT (Alfa) & Alberto Ascari IT (Ferrari) – 3 points each

NEXT – BELGIUM – Spa Francorchamps