Posts Tagged ‘Gordini’

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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

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