#5 1950 Belgian Grand Prix

2021-03-31 01:00

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#1950, Fulvio Conti, Ludovico Nicoletti, Translated by Federico Calgaro, Translated by Monica Bessi,

#5 1950 Belgian Grand Prix

On Sunday,  June 11th, 1950, the IX motorsport Grand Prix is hosted in Rome on the difficult circuit of the springs of Caracalla. On the 40th lap Albe


On Sunday,  June 11th, 1950, the ninth motorsport Grand Prix is hosted in Rome on the difficult circuit of the Baths of Caracalla. On the 40th lap Alberto Ascari is continuing to lead the rest of the field, as he had from the start, gradually increasing his advantage; the crowd awaits in vain for the #14, the British driver Moss on a HWM, to pass in front of the grandstands. His previous passage received a warm applause, as the young British driver (who has not yet turned 20), after a 30-lap duel with Villoresi on the Ferrari, manages to pass the rival. The British driver has already become a crowd favourite due to his fearless bravery: he slides a bit on the corners, giving the spectators a bit of a fright, but he shows to be safe and fast. He had shown this on the 18th lap, when he had beaten the lap record with a time of 1'59” at the average speed of 104.073 km/h. The fact that Moss does not arrive on the finish line, just as Villoresi stops in the pits for about a minute due to gearbox issues, causes some apprehension; right after the speaker announces that the #14 had an accident that caused him to retire from the race, but that the driver is unharmed. Half an hour later, welcomed by a roaring applause, Moss arrives on foot at the start/finish line and specifies the details of the crash: at turn 3, right behind the Baths, the right front wheel suddenly detached from the car due to a broken axle. The wheel, travelling at over 100 km/h, went flying up in the air and past a stand of pine, and ended up in a place luckily not occupied by spectators. The silver car spun around, went sideways across the track and ended up on the grass. The ability and the cool head of the driver, who never lost control of the car, managed to avoid any harm to people. With Moss out of the fight, the race becomes boring: Ascari continues on in the lead without any worry and manages to lap every competitor besides Villoresi who, despite the lower speed of his car, manages to keep a few hundred metres advantage on his charging teammate. Both the organisation by the ACI of Rome and the enormous crowd attendance, favoured by the summer day, are perfect.


On Sunday,  June 18th, 1950, the 5th round of the World Championship is held at the circuit of Spa. In the standings Giuseppe Farina leads with 18 points, followed by Fagioli (12), Fangio (9), Ascari, Holland, Rosier (6), and other drivers. The driver from Turin will try to consolidate his advantage and at the same time grasp a very important affirmation. For the first time his Alfa Romeo 158 and those of his teammates will have to face a very serious commitment. If the expectations will not be changed by the race the brand new Ferrari 2000 of Villoresi, along with the 1500 of Ascari, could be a serious hindrance to the success of the Alfa Romeos. The most uncertain fight is between the drivers of the same team, Farina and Fangio. For Sunday a very intense race is expected. The popularity of the sport in Belgium means that a large influx of people will be present at trackside. Two weeks after the Swiss round of the Championship, the main contenders gather at Spa-Francorchamps for the Belgian Grand Prix. Farina comes from his second win of the season, allowing him to extend his Championship lead with 18 points. Teammate Fagioli is now second in the standings, his relative consistency putting him on 12 points, the elder Alfa driver has still yet to claim his first win. After a non-finish at Bremgarten, Fangio has dropped to third in the Championship standings, he has won in Monaco but two DNFs  have hurt his chances. It was a painful loss in Switzerland, after dominating the weekend, Fangio had lost the race with six laps to go when he was forced to retire with engine trouble. With only three rounds left in the Championship, the title looks like it will be awarded to one of the three Alfa Romeo drivers, however the Ferrari cars are still in for a distant shot at the title. Alberto Ascari sits on six points, however a DNF at Bremgarten has seriously dented his chances. Nonetheless, Ferrari debuts the new non-supercharged Ferrari 275, the successor to the 125 for Belgium. Aurelio Lampredi's first Ferrari design will hopefully be the car prepared to topple the Alfa domination.


Ascari’s closeness on points to the Alfas in the Championship gives him the opportunity to race the new car at Spa. His teammate, Luigi Villoresi has had a dreadful start to the season: he has yet to score a point due to poor reliability despite a series of competitive runs. Notably, Ferrari's third driver, Raymond Sommer, has left the team following the Swiss race. Sommer, famous for his lack of commitment to a racing team, has returned to his old ways of competing as a privateer. Sommer has regained his independence after two years with Ferrari, he will continue to compete in a private Talbot-Lago T26C, which is not as fast as the Ferrari he has been driving. Talbot-Lago will in fact make up the majority of the field in Belgium, the team will line-up Yves Giraud-Cabantous and Louis Rosier as usual. Rosier is the one driver on the grid who has previously won the Belgian Grand Prix, taking victory last year. Rosier has been the quiet achiever of the season, his six points mean he remains in with a title chance. After Eugene Martin sustained serious injuries following his Bremgarten crash, the team has subsequently called on Philippe Étancelin, previously dropped from the team to return as his replacement. The team also enters a car for Pierre Levegh who raced as a privateer in Bremgarten. The final Talbot-Lago entries are the privateers Johnny Claes and Eugène Chaboud. The latter is making his Championship debut in Belgium. There is a notable absence of Maseratis in Belgium. The Maserati team has taken a break from the Championship whilst the secondary team of Enrico Plate is away competing in the British Empire Trophy, non-championship Formula 1 race. The only Maserati entry comes from Antonio Branca, racing his heavily outdated 4CL chassis. Most of the British drivers are absent to compete in their local British Empire Trophy event, however the little Alfa of Geoffrey Crossley has ventured to Belgium as a lone British competitor. The Alfa has previously competed at the opening round of the Championship at Silverstone with little success.


Throughout Friday and Saturday practice, the weather is warm and clear, a surprise from the usual unpredictable weather forecast of the Belgian Ardennes. The new Ferrari 275 being driven by Alberto Ascari is experiencing teething troubles in its installation. To the dismay of Ferrari the car is unable to threaten the dominant Alfa Romeo, Ascari in fact only managing seventh on the grid for the race. Villoresi in the old car is fourth, nearly ten seconds slower than Giuseppe Farina (4:37 pole time). Farina has only beaten his teammate Fangio through the slimmest of margins. Fangio has equalled Farina's pole time of 4:37, however Farina is awarded pole due to his second fastest lap being faster than Fangio's. Fagioli, Alfa Romeo's old veteran, is still lacking the pace of his younger teammates and is third, four seconds off the pace. Splitting the two Ferraris of Villoresi and Ascari are the Talbot-Lago cars of Raymond Sommer and Philippe Étancelin. Sommer's recent departure from Ferrari has not hurt his competitiveness, his desire to return to his privateer ways has not prevented him in matching his old team's pace. The rest of the Talbot-Lago drivers are not on the pace of Sommer. Lining up behind Ascari are Rosier, Giraud-Cabantous, Levegh and Chaboud who make up the midfield in their Talbot-Lagos. On the back rows comes  Geoffrey Crossley, driving the underpowered Alfa, Antonio Branca in the old Maserati and Johnny Claes. Claes, the local Belgian driver who is entering one of the private Talbot-Lagos will be forced to start from the back of the grid for his home race due to mechanical troubles keeping him out of practice. Like in practice, the weather is perfect on race day and the drivers will be lucky to face clear conditions throughout the race. At the start, Farina and Fangio immediately shoot away into the distance, Fangio getting the jump on Farina heading into the first corner. Behind them, Villoresi has managed to get past Fagioli heading into turn one, splitting the Alfa trio.


However that does not last, Fagioli spends a lap behind the Ferrari, however at the start of the second lap, Fagioli is back in third place. At the front of the field, spectators are kept captivated by the incredible duel between Fangio and Farina for the lead of the race. Both drivers have distanced the rest of the field, however race leader Fangio is unable to get rid of Farina who remains right on his tail. On lap 7, Farina retakes the lead, however he cannot open up a gap, Fangio now remaining close within his mirrors. Fagioli in third is a long way off, however he too is able to shrug off the Ferrari of Villoresi. Despite a strong start, the Ferrari driver begins to struggle with handling problems and Sommer - his former teammate who is driving a determined race - quickly catches him and passes him to take fourth place. Farina and Fangio both come into the pits for fuel on lap 11 whilst a lap later, the third Alfa of Fagioli is serviced. Sommer is doing an incredible job, in fact once the Alfa comes into the pits, Sommer inherits the lead of the race. It is an exciting moment: for the first time, the Talbot-Lagos are looking competitive and lead a World Championship race for the first time this season. Sommer intends to run the race without a pit stop, his chances of maintaining the lead are slim but he is pushing hard nonetheless. Further down the field, Giraud-Cabantous has retired as did Etancelin. Sommer's time in the lead does not last long, both Farina and Fangio are quickly past him. Sommer notably is running at a faster pace than Fagioli's Alfa in fourth. However his hopes of maintaining a podium are dashed on lap 20 when his engine blows. It is a disappointing outcome to Talbot-Lago's first competitive race, however it proves that Sommer has lost none of his ability in recent times. At the front, the lead changes once again when Fangio retakes the lead from Farina for the third time. The two Alfa Romeo drivers have been neck and neck throughout the race. The two cars have now lapped the entire field with the exception of Fagioli in third. The Ferraris have come into the pits during the mid-race, but neither Villoresi or Ascari are performing competitively. Neither of the cars are quick, Ascari needing several adjustments to his car during his stop because the new 275 is poorly handling.


During the pit-stops, the Ferraris have let past Rosier's Talbot-Lago who, like Sommer before him, is attempting to run the race without stopping. Villoresi however continues to drop in pace and soon enough Ascari has taken fifth place from him. The second round of pit stops goes untroubled, Fangio still exits ahead of Farina. Farina remains looming in the background, however Fangio has managed to manoeuvre himself a couple of seconds' gap. Fangio will then have a much easier ride when Farina begins to suffer from falling fuel pressure. Farina is forced to come into the pits for a third stop, however there is little the team can do. Farina returns to the track in the hope of securing some points, however he has lost second place to Fagioli and even Rosier's Talbot-Lago is challenging. Rosier's decision to finish the race without stopping is paying off, the Ferrari's are failing to catch him and Farina is quickly falling back into his clutches due to his oil pressure problem. Rosier is quickly past him with Farina being forced to settle for fourth place, the Alfa Romeo having a buffer of a full lap to Ascari in fifth. Meanwhile Fangio, with the disappearance of Farina, is able to take it easy. For the remainder of the race he focuses on conserving his car to the finish line. Fangio takes the flag to win his second grand prix of the season, Fagioli in second finishes a full minute behind. Rosier takes a well-deserved third place whilst Farina is content to finish the race in fourth, the points being enough to maintain his lead. Fifth place is not enough for Ascari, the lack of competitiveness in the new car means that he has fallen out of the Championship fight. Behind Ascari comes Villoresi and Levegh, both two laps behind the leader.


Claes, the home talent, comes to the finish line in an unflattering eighth position, three laps behind. A further five laps down is Geoffrey Crossley in the Alfa. Whilst Antonio Branca, once again way off the pace being six laps down, has however managed to finish the race for the second time in succession. More than 100.000 people, scattered along the fourteen kilometres of the Spa-Francorchamps Circuit, cheer the sixteen competitors of the Belgian Automobile Grand Prix valid as the fifth round of the World Championship. The race gathered at the start the most, famous drivers, such as Farina, Villoresi, Ascari, Fagioli, Fangio, Sommer and the French champion Rosier, who at the wheel of one of eight new-model Talbots tried until the last laps to contend for victory with the Italian Alfa Romeo 158s. The race gave rise to a severe struggle, but the victory was won by the Argentinean Fangio, a triumphant winner. The only one who could have really stood in the way of the South American champion's success was Giuseppe Farina from Turin. The Italian driver alternated several times with Fangio for first place in the race's spectacular finale, but was stranded by a trivial engine problem during the thirty-third lap. The fault was immediately repaired, but the incident at the decisive moment of the race did not allow Farina to recover the ten seconds lost in the stop. Fagioli and Rosier thus, hopelessly overtook the good driver from Turin. The fastest lap was set by Farina at an average speed of 185.486 km/h. After the Belgian Grand Prix, leading the World Championship standings remains Giuseppe Farina with 22 points, followed by Luigi Fagioli with 18 points and Juan Manuel Fangio with 17 points. Louis Rosier is further behind with 10 points.


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