Essentially, they are race cars with minimal road modifications; many of them can exceed 200 km/h. New are the two groups into which the old touring category has split, which had given rise to many criticisms and a flood of complaints with its rigorous formula on paper and problematic implementation on the racecourse. This year, Brescia has made its own law: no national tourism but something similar to international tourism, which will provide more flexibility in preparing the cars. There will be an intermediate category between this and the Sport category, that of fast specials with internal steering or convertible, consisting of cars not capable of competing with the racing cars but incompatible with touring cars. The race structure is certainly not simplified, and furthermore, on the most challenging route, the higher speeds of almost all competitors will create a more combative and emotional situation than in the past, promising a grand race in terms of sportsmanship. It is fatal, however, that the audience will only have eyes for the battle among the aces that will unleash in the major category, where Villoresi, Ascari, and the two Marzotto brothers on four Ferrari 4100 cc will compete, and then the tireless Biondetti, Moss, and Jonhson on Jaguar, Bonetto on Alfa, and Serafini on the 2500 cc Ferrari. Meanwhile, flying from Argentina to Rome is Juan Manuel Fangio, along with countryman Froilan Gonzalez: the two are heading to Milan, where they are scheduled to have a meeting with Alfa Romeo executives. Will Gonzalez also be seen at the wheel of an Alfetta in the World Championship? Fangio - it is known - will be among the drivers of the Milanese brand in the experiment on May 5 at Silverstone, the results of which should help Alfa Romeo technicians decide the future program of the World Champion brand. At Silverstone, the benchmark will be the newly assembled English B.R.M. and the averages obtained last year on the same circuit. Ferrari has already announced its abstention from the English test, adding that if the regulatory average, which prescribes a length of 600 kilometers for true Grand Prix in the World Championship races, is not respected, they will not register their cars. Ferrari's request undoubtedly has a valid foundation in the regulations and the very concept from which Formula 1 was born. In the meantime, Fangio is looking for a car to compete in the Mille Miglia.
In the starting order draw, the Argentine gets number 433, corresponding to the time - 4:33 a.m. - when he should start. The question of the car he will race with will probably be resolved in his Milanese meeting. Probably, there will be room on Bonetto's 4500 cc Alfa for the Argentine ace, and the two would form a strong pair, especially regarding frequent driver changes. Among the 428 registered, it is also worth mentioning the participation of the Aurelia with Bracco, Valenzano, Cristillin, Vallone, Grolla, Ippocampo, and Bellucci in the group of closed or convertible cars. On the morning of Saturday, the lineup of cars and drivers for the Mille Miglia seems finally ready, or almost: it cannot be attributed to the organizers if some participant, still feverishly working to assemble an engine or a chassis, abandons the game discouraged before evening or if some team still modifies, using the possibilities provided in the regulations, the composition of some pairs. In its general lines, however, the Mille Miglia is now born. In the 2000 cc and above class of the Sport category, the overall winner should be found, proclaimed on Sunday evening by the loudspeakers around the world. The conditional tense implies that one cannot exclude a priori a surprise ending, i.e., a too fierce fight among the aces in the first very fast half of the route, to which the cars may not hold or hold with stops and delays, causing an unexpected winner to emerge from the "fast closed" category, i.e., the semi-sport category. Returning to the indicative mood, the great battle will unfold in the top class among the three champions of the Ferrari 12-cylinder, 4-liter cars, with at least one dual-ignition engine: Ascari, Villoresi, and Giannino Marzotto. In order of probability, Serafini, who has the slowest but lighter car, the best preparation on the route, and formidable compatibility with his car, comes immediately after the drivers of the Maranello team. Vittorio Marzotto, the winner of the last Sicily race, is also mentioned immediately after; therefore, it is not likely that Ferrari will let victory slip away. However, in the same category as the champions, other potential winners should be mentioned. Biondetti, first of all, the record holder of the Mille Miglia, whose record still stands since 1938 with his average speed of 135 km/h. And it will probably resist even after this edition, unless exceptionally favorable circumstances of climate, roads, and luck; this year's route, as mentioned earlier, is more tortuous and difficult than the 1938 race.
Another protagonist to keep an eye on is Felice Bonetto, who will have the biggest car of all: the 4500 cc Alfa Romeo, a rare piece although not the newest, but freshly revised. Along with him, with the same number on the cards, Turin's Boll and Rome's Bornigia should be remembered, both with the 8500 cc experimental Alfa, which seems to be very fast and relatively safe. There is not yet enough information for a judgment on the English drivers: it is known, however, that Jaguar is not relying solely on Biondetti. Finally, it is still possible that the Argentine ace Fangio will reappear; confirmation is expected with certainty in the late afternoon. In the categories of the almost - the so-called fast closed - the men ready to amaze even in the overall standings are especially the drivers of the brand-new Aurelia grand touring, very well-prepared cars that are said to be wonderful; and, among the drivers, Valenzano, Bracco, and Ippocampo. A serious opponent for this group could be the Daino of Martignoni. It is impossible to make a prediction in the utilitarian category, where, for the first time, there will be foreign cars alongside the Italian production cars. Particularly interesting is the attack that the valid and combative Dyna Panluird will launch against the Fiat 500s, victorious at home and appreciated everywhere. At the start, on the night from Saturday, April 29, to Sunday, April 30, 1951, a freezing wind lashes rain gusts onto the celluloid masks of the drivers, and water enters in streams into the open cars. In the glare of powerful headlights, the asphalt of the road glistens slippery and hallucinating in front of the feverish gaze of the drivers who, one by one, at a one-minute interval, start the very long race with a tearing roar of engines.
In such atmospheric conditions, the Mille Miglia, already tough in itself as it requires at least half a day behind the wheel, becomes an extremely exhausting ordeal with death lurking at every turn. Departures are not even completed, and bad news arrives in Brescia. In the area of Cavallo, one kilometer from the town, car #314 skids and overturns into a side ditch. The driver, Dr. Benzoni, and his mechanic Tessara miraculously remain unharmed. Ten minutes pass, and another car, #324, goes off the road due to a sudden tire blowout, almost at the same spot. At the wheel is Mrs. Pappou, a Greek, and fortunately, once again, there is no harm to people, only a great scare among the crowd, which is numerous at that point. Many people from Brescia, fueled by enthusiasm and preferring to witness the spectacle of racing cars already speeding at maximum velocity, have advanced along the first stretch of the route, defying the bad weather and gathering along with the audience from nearby villages, especially in the curves. The crowd is particularly large at the Castiglione junction, 23 kilometers from Brescia, where the wide curve, along with the side road, forms a very spacious area. At 4:24 a.m., Ascari's Ferrari appears at full throttle, the great favorite of the race, racing so fast that it covers the first 23 kilometers in eight minutes. The car's headlights emit a torrent of white light, and in the night, it is difficult for spectators to distinguish the number painted on the car that identifies the driver. So, as he is entering the curve, a car stopped on the side of the road turns on its headlights to illuminate the number of his Ferrari. He will later recount:
"I was blinded, lost awareness of the road, the car began to spin like a top, I felt three or four impacts against the rear of the car, then found myself wedged between the supports of a billboard. I was safe. But immediately had the anguishing realization of something terrible".
Indeed, in its uncontrollable race, the Ferrari collides head-on with some people, including Dr. Umberto Feliciani, 62 years old, a general practitioner from Montichiari, who is thrown against a hedge and dies instantly. There are also four injured, immediately transported to the hospital in Desenzano with the following prognoses: Scipione Greppi, 42 years old, a Brescia merchant, recoverable in 90 days for a double comminuted fracture of the femur and legs; Luigi Andreis, 21 years old, from Desenzano: fracture of the right leg, recoverable in 40 days; Achille Teobaldi, 16 years old, from Castiglione: fracture of the right leg, recoverable in 40 days; Angelo Darra, 23 years old, from Desenzano: contusions recoverable in 6 days. Ascari and his mechanic Nicolini, unharmed, return tearfully to Brescia on another car after helping to rescue the injured. But it's not over: a few minutes later, the English driver Johnson on Jaguar, while navigating the same fatal curve, crashes into four Fiat Topolino cars parked on the side of the road, reducing them to accordion-like shapes.
Five minutes pass, and another Jaguar, driven by the Englishman Moss, collides in the same fatal curve with a parked car; both Johnson and Moss suffer injuries and, although not serious, withdraw from the race. It is a miracle that there were no other victims among the curious and increasingly growing crowd at each incident. The Alfa Romeo of drivers Sartori and Santini, starting last from Brescia, literally flies against a guardrail at the same location. Serious news also comes from the rest of the route. The driver Serafini, one of the most favored for the final victory, goes off the road in the last stretch leading to Rome and fractures his left femur. A car catches fire on the passage through Padua. Bornigia's Alfa ends up in a ditch, while on the Adriatic road #16, near Maria Maddalena, the Fiat 500 of Fabi and Fenaroli collides with an electric light pole and overturns, being hit by the Topolino of Cabassi and Capello, which follows closely. From the tangle of the two cars, the drivers are extracted injured and taken to the hospital, where they are treated and discharged, while the other pair is detained for various, fortunately not serious, injuries. Another dramatic mishap is reported from Rovigo: around 1:00 a.m. on Saturday night in Bosaro, two spectators, 21-year-old Bruno Paulon and 19-year-old Graziano Berti, while watching the passage of the competitors sitting on the parapet of the road bridge over the Canalbianco river, suddenly fall into the river. Paulon dies from drowning, while Berti is barely saved. The series of incidents without consequences, off-road excursions, skids, damaged cars, and those overturned and in poor condition are countless. Whoever completed this XVIII Mille Miglia is not only a true driver but also a very, very lucky person. Given the startling outcome in the sports car class, where the excess of power, in relation to the road conditions, eliminated almost all the favorites from the start, it would be nice to pay attention to the heroes of the lower and touring classes. Resigned from the start to represent a simple and anonymous number, unknown to everyone and even forgotten by the specialized press that will dedicate long pages to the event, facing fearless risks, expenses, fatigue, and dangers of a Mille Miglia, they demonstrate a disinterested and unparalleled sports passion: 319 pairs of participants, that is, 638 drivers, are absolutely too many for individual attention to converge on them.
So here is a concise chronicle of this Mille Miglia 1951, organized with passion, order, and scrupulousness, and disputed with excessive commitment by all the protagonists. On Saturday, April 29, 1951, the race starts from Viale Rebuffone, and the first reports from Padua seem to herald an interesting Italian-French duel: behind a Topolino, two Dynas and a Renault are very close, but it's a false alarm: already in Ravenna, two Topolino cars, Guarnieri and Zanotti, are decidedly in the lead, while in Rome, they are in the top ten. The Dyna is genuinely threatening, so much so that in Tuscany, it is again among the leaders. In Ravenna, the order is: Andreini, Sabbatini, Fezzandi; in Pescara: Fezzandi, Andreini, Bevilacqua; in Rome: Andreini, Cavallari, Bevilacqua. They are all amateur drivers but very fast. In Rome, after the stormy crossing of the Apennines, the average speed exceeds one hundred kilometers. Equally brilliant in proportion is the average speed among the 1500 cc cars of the same group, where Anselmi, Croce, and Sculati alternate in the lead. In the group of fast special closed cars, the interest is immediately focused on the four Aurelia cars of the new Gran Turismo type, 1991 cc, particularly fine-tuned by the manufacturer, and entrusted to Bracco, Valenzano, Crolla, and Ippocampo. They pass in this order at the first checkpoint in Ravenna. In Pescara, Bracco is still in the lead at the surprising speed of 150 kilometers. In Rome, people begin to think that if misfortune continues to target the aces of the sports category, he - who is second overall in the general classification - will end up winning the Mille Miglia. He is certainly the moral winner, from the moment he gave a boost to the second half of the race, showing that a two-liter car designed in a modern way, stable and light without unnecessary power excesses, is today practically the safest and fastest car for such a race. The sports category in the lower classes almost had no history, while in the highest class, it was a series of surprises. In the 750, Stanga, Brandiroli, and Mazzonis chased each other regularly throughout the route; while in the 1100 class, Bordoni, with the Osca, took and maintained the lead, gradually increasing his lead with a superb race, until a few kilometers from the finish when, due to an engine failure, he had to give way to Fagioli. Among the sports cars, however, everything was in disarray. The favored Ascari, a few kilometers from the start, dazzled by the headlights of a spectator, is forced to brake, skids on the wet ground, tries strenuously to keep his big Ferrari on the road but still ends up against the crowd crowding the edges. The toll is tragic for a spectator run over; others are injured. Ascari is unharmed, but the car is damaged.
The two pairs of Englishmen on the Jaguar, arriving at the scene during the disorder of the Ascari episode, also go off the road and have to withdraw. A similar fate befalls Biondetti's Jaguar in Vicenza, due to a broken pressurized cooling hose. Thus, only Giannino Marzotto, Villoresi, and Serafini, all with Ferrari, remain as aces, and in this order, they pass the Ravenna checkpoint. But along the Adriatic coast, Marzotto is forced to retire, and Serafini goes off the road and injures himself, fracturing his femur. Of the large Ferraris, only Villoresi remains; his journey is also adventurous, and there are occasional rumors of some of his accidents, but he manages to stay first overall in the standings, chased by Bracco and, further away, by Scotti and Paolo Marzotto. Reviewing the overall standings, this Mille Miglia could be defined as revolutionary. Only Villoresi's Ferrari, a closed Sports car with a displacement of over four liters, has not been defeated by a Gran Turismo car, Bracco's Aurelia. The man from Biella fought with Villoresi in the non-flat and non-weather sections. Despite the bad weather, they are in the top ten overall, including the two-liter Ferrari of Paolo Marzotto, two more Aurelias with the valiant Ippocampo and the unfortunate Valenzano, and, surprisingly, the Osca 1100 sports cars of Fagioli and Bordoni. Champions like Ascari and Serafini, colleagues of Villoresi, have been eliminated by accidents. The bad weather in the first thousand kilometers, poor visibility, the danger of wet ground, the extreme difficulty of touching the brakes and accelerator in cars with excessive horsepower have eliminated or forced great drivers and ultra-fast cars to mediocre results. In less unfavorable weather conditions, large sports cars could have done better, but the progress made by Gran Turismo cars in finding the balance between power and weight, speed, and safety is undeniable. The success of Villoresi in such a demanding Mille Miglia is certainly one of the finest trophies for the Milanese ace. Also good for Fiat, which in its traditional categories and classes has once again achieved a massive sum of successes, having long ago solved the Mille Miglia problem in its displacements. The capital of Italian motor racing has once again confirmed its technical and productive supremacy, placing it at the forefront on a global scale. This is the essential verdict of this edition, hailed as the most beautiful race in the world. Following the Mille Miglia, all eyes are now on the Silverstone circuit in the British Northampton, with its approachable curves spanning over 100 kilometers.
On Saturday, May 5, 1951, the Daily Express Grand Prix will take place here. Silverstone is also Farina's circuit, as the Turin ace, on Saturday, May 13, 1950, soared from the Silverstone European Grand Prix to claim his magnificent flight towards the World Champion title. About three months later, on August 26, Farina triumphed again at the Silverstone circuit, converted from an abandoned R.A.F. airport. On this occasion, he managed to outpace the Argentine Fangio, who had retired in the May race. Farina's averages approached speeds of around 160 km/h on both occasions. With a width ranging from 15 to 17 meters and short straights (the longest just over 1,700 meters), the Silverstone rectangle has the task this year of testing the performance of the renewed Alfettas for the upcoming World Championship. In the initial trials, Fangio, recently returned from Argentina, immediately demonstrates his excellent form by completing the 4827 meters of the circuit in 1'46"0, setting a new unofficial Silverstone record. The previous record, still official, is held by Giuseppe Farina with an average speed of 94.02 km/h. In the initial trials, Farina, along with Sanesi, an Alfa driver, records a time of 1'52"0. The race will award the classic Daily Express Trophy and will be contested in two heats of about seventy kilometers each, with a final of just over 160 kilometers for the top performers. The success of Alfa seems assured, given the weak strength of the competitors. Therefore, the technical testing of the cars will rely on the times and averages of the previous year. More than a car test, it is appropriate to say that Silverstone will test the harmony among the drivers, especially concerning the Farina-Fangio rivalry. The World Championship will start in Bern on Sunday, May 27, 1951, and the Silverstone race will be an interesting dress rehearsal. Saturday, May 5, 1951, the day does not promise to be among the best. At 4:35 p.m., the final begins, with Sanesi (Alfa), Bonetto (Alfa), Trinitgnant (Simca), and Graham Whitehead in the lead. At the end of the first lap, Bonetto, Hamilton (Talbot), and Parnell (Ferrari) are in the lead. In fourth place is Whitehead, while Fangio in seventh place tries to gain ground, and Farina, though blinded by the spray of the cars in front, is in tenth place. However, the race is suspended on the fifth lap due to bad weather conditions. The exceptionally violent storm that broke out at the start poses a serious danger to the drivers, forced to race through water and lightning. The track is now flooded, and visibility does not exceed ten meters.
After more than an hour of discussions, the judges decide, to the general surprise, to award the prizes to the drivers in the position they were in when the race was suspended. The first prize goes to the Englishman Parnell on Ferrari, a trophy, and 500 pounds; the second to Hamilton on Talbot; the third, 100 pounds, to Fangio (Alfa); the fourth, 71 pounds, to Whitehead; the fifth, 50 pounds, to Rosier (Talbot). Sunday, May 13, 1951, the Grand Prix of the racetrack, the last event before the Swiss Grand Prix, concludes with an academic family struggle between Ascari and Villoresi, a very spectacular duel won by Villoresi by a meter. However, the overall success of the day and the corresponding cup sent by Clark Gable for the absolute first place go to Ascari. The race takes place in two identical heats, one at 12:30 p.m. and the other at 4:30 p.m. The ranking is drawn up according to the time recorded by each competitor in the first and second heats. In the first, Ascari leads Villoresi by about 100 meters, a narrow advantage but greater than the even smaller one secured by Villoresi at the finish of the next heat. The feat of the two inseparable colleagues, who fraternally share honors and applause, is easy in the end but engaging and exciting in the first part of the two races. The task of engaging the 20.000 spectators is immediately taken on by Von Stuck, who starts like lightning but, like the other German cars, his Veritas cannot withstand the effort and disappears from the live broadcast of the first race. Ascari takes the lead, Fangio and Villoresi travel very close but a bit behind Ascari, mainly concerned with keeping an eye on each other, as befits two bitter rivals. Then Fangio deems it necessary not to lose sight of Ascari either. And it is at this moment that Fangio's worth is evident. The Ferrari lent to him for the occasion by Scuderia Margotto has less power than Ascari's and Villoresi's cars. The Argentine ace, skillfully and dangerously maneuvering, overtakes everyone in the fifth lap. For three laps, he keeps pace with Ascari and Villoresi, who pursue him; at the eighth lap, he stops in front of the stands, takes off his helmet, and says:
His day is over; Fangio had to demand too much from the modest car entrusted to him. His two rivals thus have a free pass, and, as mentioned, Ascari wins. In the next race, everyone expects an uncontested victory for Ascari and Villoresi. Instead, the French Simca cars of Manzon and Trlntlgnant, and the H.W.M. of the Englishman Stirling Moss, immediately launch a fierce offensive. Until the 12th lap, Manzon frequently alternates with Ascari in the lead, then the Frenchman is hindered by the irregular functioning of the spark plugs. Meanwhile, Moss and Trintignant gradually lose ground. Thus, Ascari and Villoresi put on a show, battling in their long and uncertain final sprint, at an average speed of over 100 km/h. The first Grand Prix of the second season of the Formula 1 World Championship takes place in Switzerland on May 27, 1951. This year, there is great anticipation for the all-Italian showdown between Alfa Romeo and Ferrari, ready to battle it out. Alfa Romeo brings the 159 model, which had already officially debuted in the XXI Italian Grand Prix the previous year, with Nino Farina and Juan Manuel Fangio at the helm. It is on this car that Alfa plays its cards in the 1951 Formula One World Championship to counter the increasingly strong Ferrari, and events will prove the Milanese technicians right. The debut of the Ferrari 375 F1 also took place at the 1950 Italian Grand Prix, with two cars entrusted to Alberto Ascari and Dorino Serafini. The 1951 season had a favorable start for this model, which triumphed in Syracuse and Pau with Villoresi, and in San Remo with Ascari, where the evolution of the car with 380 horsepower made its debut. Progressing rapidly, Ferrari engineers had managed to develop, by the end of the 1950 season, the new 4500 cc V12, the maximum displacement allowed by the regulations, based on the experiences gained in the same year with the smaller-displacement V12s. Capable of delivering 330 horsepower at 7000 RPM, the engine conceived in Maranello was developed in the early months of 1951: by modifying the compression ratio, the new engine produced 380 hp at 7500 RPM, compared to the 425 of the new Alfetta 159, which had a supercharger but suffered from a fuel consumption more than triple that of the 375 F1 (2.5 km/liter for Ferrari, compared to 0.58 km/liter for Alfa Romeo). It was also equipped with a new dual ignition system with a single magneto now placed at the front (previously it was single with two magnetos) and new Weber carburetors. Furthermore, the chassis dimensions were revised both in wheelbase and track, while the suspension and the gearbox, still in one piece with the differential, remained unchanged.
With these premises, in Bern, on the famous Bremgarten forest circuit, during the weekend leading up to Sunday, May 27, 1951, a series of truly exceptional events took place, involving numerous automotive and motorcycle categories. The first event of the season, besides providing technical interest, was preceded by numerous controversies between the two Italian automakers, Ferrari and Alfa Romeo. In detail, the Milanese company contests the displacement ratio between the 1500 cc supercharged engine and the innovative naturally aspirated 4500 cc engine of Ferrari, while the Maranello team contests the minimum duration of the races, confident in the advantage of lower fuel consumption compared to their opponents. For this reason, the Grand Prix races preceding the start of the season, not valid for the world championship, are marked by abstentions from both teams. The race in Switzerland, therefore, attracts considerable attention. To counter Ferrari, the quadrifoglio team decides to bring a single-seater with two additional side tanks to increase the capacity to 300 liters, allowing the reigning World Champion, Giuseppe Farina, to reach the finish line without refueling, while the cars with the more powerful 430 hp engine are assigned to De Graffenried and Fangio. The fourth car, equipped with the new De Dion bridge, is entrusted to Sanesi, who at the beginning of the event competes for the position with Bonetto. When journalists ask him for an opinion on the choice of racing with a significantly heavier and therefore slower car, Giuseppe Farina responds:
"I don't care if my car is the fastest; I want it to be the most resistant".
On the other hand, Ferrari presents three cars, two of them with dual ignition and lower ratios, entrusted to Ascari and Whitehead, while Villoresi is given a single-ignition car with longer ratios. Enzo Ferrari's squad, Scuderia Ferrari, has a serious chance of taking the world title for 1951. The 375 has proven extremely competitive. Since the end of the world championship at Monza, Alfa Romeo has kept quiet in development. Ferrari, meanwhile, has been dominating the non-championship races in Alfa Romeo's absence. Their lead driver, Alberto Ascari, has been making clear progress, though a burnt arm following a Formula Two accident in Genoa dents his chances for the race. Alongside Ascari on the team is Luigi Villoresi, Ferrari's experienced hand and mentor to the young Ascari. Ferrari is also further bolstered in 1951 with the arrival of the former Alfa Romeo test driver, Piero Taruffi, who agrees to defect to Ferrari with the promise of being guaranteed a race driver. Peter Whitehead also wants to continue competing in his privately owned Ferrari 125. However, the old 125 is quickly becoming outdated and may not be capable of competing with the Alfa Romeo 159 or the Ferrari 375. Rudolf Fischer, the local Swiss driver, and his Ecurie Espadon entry have returned for the Swiss Grand Prix in 1951. The team tried to enter the failed constructor, SVA, into the race the previous year, but the project failed. Fischer, therefore, returns in 1951, and the team now enters a Ferrari 212 sportscar. Pierre Staechelin also plans to enter a Ferrari 166 sportscar but fails to arrive at the circuit.
Following a difficult 1950, the Talbot-Lago no longer has the development resources to compete with the front-running Alfa Romeos and Ferraris. Therefore, the team decides to withdraw its works entry after being humiliated in performance at their home race at Reims-Gueux. However, Talbot-Lago wants to continue to be represented on the grid by a list of predominantly French privateers. The Talbot-Lago T26C is still considered to be a solid works car. Louis Rosier is now running Talbot-Lagos under his own team, Ecurie Rosier, where he lends his second car to Henri Louveau to compete alongside his own entrant. The talented José Froilán González has been reduced to a privateer entry when his team, Scuderia Achille Varzi, withdrew from Formula One at the end of 1950. The young Argentine charger, alongside Philippe Étancelin, Yves Giraud-Cabantous, Johnny Claes, and Guy Mairesse, serves as Talbot-Lago privateers. Like Talbot-Lago, the Maserati manufacturer has been totally dominated by the might of Alfa Romeo and Ferrari during 1950. At the end of 1950, they too withdrew their works entry for the 1951 season. As with Talbot-Lago, the manufacturer wants only to be represented by private entrants. However, unlike the Talbot Lago T26C, the Maserati 4CLT/48 is in little demand, represented only by the two cars of the Enrico Platé team. Enrico Platé fields a new lineup for 1951, with Emmanuel de Graffenried, while remaining in the team, wanting to balance duties as a member of the Alfa Romeo squad and instead representing the Italian giants for his home event.
De Graffenried wants, therefore, to be replaced by Harry Schell, the rich American playboy who has found his way into the European racing scene. Prince Bira has also left the team, and he is therefore replaced by Louis Chiron, the most experienced driver on the grid, having been in grand prix since 1926, has joined Enrico Platé following the withdrawal of the works Maserati team. Antonio Branca, the mysterious Swiss privateer, plans to enter his aged 4CL, however, he decides against his decision to enter the race. The members of what is formerly the Maserati works team find employment at the rival Italian manufacturer, OSCA. OSCA, an organization made up of the Maserati brothers who originally conceived the Maserati manufacturer, plans to enter their new manufacturer at the end of the season. The former works Maserati driver, Franco Rol, has also found solace at OSCA working as their lead test driver. Prince Bira, who has been left out of the driver market at the end of 1950 in the hope of securing a B.R.M. drive, has also been involved in the testing of the new OSCA program. Bira has planned to enter a number of events for the manufacturer; however, the car's lack of reliability prevented his entry. Simca-Gordini, another major Formula Two teams, also want to participate in the Formula One season. The team has proved that a Formula Two team can compete in Formula One during 1950. The team has not been quick, but Robert Manzon's consistent driving has earned them points. The team plans to enter three cars for Switzerland, two for regular drivers, Maurice Trintignant and André Simon, while a single car for privateer Francis Rochat; however, the team strangely withdraws before the event. Following in the wake of Simca-Gordini, the British HWM Formula Two team wants to take the opportunity to enter their Alta-engined cars into the main Formula One event at Bremgarten. The team's co-founder and lead racer driver, George Abecassis, wants to partner the team's second driver, the youthful Stirling Moss. At twenty-two years of age, Moss is already hoping to be Britain's next motor racing star. The final manufacturer to enter the event is that of the West German Formula Two and Sportscar manufacturer, Veritas. Germany has been banned from competing in motorsport as their manufacturers following the end of the Second World War. In 1951, the ban is lifted, and Veritas with its Swiss driver, Peter Hirt wants to become the first German manufacturer to take part in the Formula One world championship.
The B.R.M. project run by Raymond Mays and Peter Berthon is believed to be Britain's next great team to challenge the Italian dominance of Alfa Romeo and Ferrari. However, in non-championship runnings, the B.R.M. proves well off the pace of the Ferrari's. At the end of 1950, Britain's lead driver, Reg Parnell, has signed alongside Frenchman Raymond Sommer. However, sadly, Sommer has been killed in a minor Formula Two race in France at the end of 1950. Parnell remains in the team, while Prince Bira of Thailand replaced the unfortunate Sommer in the team. The B.R.M. has proved problematic and due to its lack of reliability, remain off the pace of the Alfa Romeo's and Ferrari's. BRM, therefore, withdraws its championship entry until it is satisfied that its car can compete at the front. A great number of spectators thronged along the circuit to witness the event, despite the fact that at first, it was thought that one of the most important protagonists, Alberto Ascari, might miss the event, as he was suffering from a burn on an arm suffered the previous Sunday on the Genoa circuit. The Bremgarten circuit is renowned for its mist and fog that wants to hamper the visibility of drivers completing the circuit. However, the weather is bright and sunny throughout practice; this usual threat has been removed from what is already an incredibly difficult and dangerous circuit. It becomes immediately evident that Alfa Romeo remains the team to beat. Fangio takes a dominant pole, nearly two seconds ahead of the reigning champion, Farina. Villoresi is the lead Ferrari in third; however, he is still four seconds off Fangio's best time. The final Alfa Romeos of Sanesi and De Graffenried are fourth and fifth. Taruffi's Ferrari is sixth, while Ascari, still nursing burns from his accident in Genoa, can only manage seventh on the grid. Rosier is the fastest Talbot-Lago in eighth, but he sits a remarkable seventeen seconds slower to Fangio's best qualifying time. The private Ferrari cars of Whitehead in the old 125 and Rudolf Fischer, the second home talent running tenth in the Ferrari sportscar. Eleventh to thirteenth is rounded out by the Talbot-Lagos of Louveau, Étancelin, and González. Stirling Moss does well to get the little HWM-Alta to fourteenth on the grid. Giraud-Cabantous is fifteenth in the Talbot-Lago ahead of Peter Hirt in the Formula Two Veritas car. The leading Maserati of Harry Schell can only manage a dismal seventeenth. Claes is eighteenth in the Talbot-Lago ahead of Chiron's Maserati.
The final row of the grid is occupied by Abecassis's HWM and Mairesse's Talbot-Lago. Practice has been bright and sunny; however, the race day yields only heavy rain on the treacherous Bremgarten circuit. Despite the rain, 170.000 spectators attend the Swiss Grand Prix. The downpour is so heavy that the Alfa Romeo and Ferrari mechanics fit splashboards to the front of their drivers' cars to help divert the water from the drivers' faces. Farina has three extra fuel tanks fitted to his Alfa Romeo, a move that wants hopefully enable him to go the full distance without stopping. Fangio and De Graffenried hedge their bets by fitting only a single extra tank of fuel. Sanesi opts to add no extra fuel tanks to his car. Due to the dismally wet conditions, the drivers are allowed to do a single exploratory lap to help understand the conditions before the start. Alfa Romeo, concerned that every drop of fuel want count to beat the more fuel-efficient Ferraris, all have their fuel tanks top up after the formation lap before the start. The start of the race sees Fangio takes the lead in the heavily wet conditions. Behind him come his teammates, Farina and Sanesi. Villoresi, the first of the Ferraris, is applying pressure to Sanesi in third. The Vertias-Meteor, in its debut race, fails to even make it off the grid. Peter Hirt's fuel feed has failed while waiting on the grid; he is out of his first and home Grand Prix. On lap five, Villoresi has moved past Sanesi to take third place. Ascari is still struggling; his injuries from Genoa are still affecting him. Taruffi's debut race, however, is going well. Ascari has waved him past when he realizes he is not running competitively; three laps after that, Taruffi takes fifth place from the final Alfa Romeo of De Graffenried. González's beginning as a privateer is not going well; he has been running uncompetitively in an old Talbot-Lago before his retirement on lap 10 with oil pump problems. Villoresi in third is the next driver to retire; the heavy rain is beginning to blind the Ferrari driver, and on lap 13, Villoresi slides off the circuit, his Ferrari landing in a hedge. Villoresi emerges from the crash shaken but unhurt. Ferrari has lost its highest running car; however, Taruffi is beginning to put in a spirited drive. On lap fifteen, he makes his way past Sanesi to take third place. The Ferraris are quick; however, Fangio still dominates in the Alfa Romeo 159. He holds a remarkable 40-second lead to teammate, the reigning World Champion, Giuseppe Farina. Fangio with his lighter fuel than Farina is planning a single stop in comparison to Farina's non-stop strategy.
On lap 22, Fangio pits; the Alfa Romeo mechanics get him out quick enough that he exits only slightly behind Farina's car. Farina stubbornly holds onto the lead for another five laps before Fangio finally retakes the lead of the race. The Bremgarten circuit is proving treacherous as ever, more so on the heavily wet circuit. Giraud-Cabantous' Talbot-Lago and Abecassis's HWM are both early retirements. More seriously, however, on lap 30, the private Talbot-Lago of Henri Louveau skates off the circuit; Louveau's car flips, and the Frenchman is thrown out, breaking his leg in the process. It has been a very nasty accident, and only six laps later, Whitehead crashes into the same place; his private Ferrari flying into the vegetation. Whitehead exits his car with many cuts and bruises, but luckily is largely unscathed. At the front, the Ferrari of Piero Taruffi is the only car that stands in the way of Alfa Romeo occupying the first five places in the championship. Fangio continues to dominate at the front of the race, setting fastest lap after fastest lap. Farina in second has begun to suffer from handling problems and is beginning to fall back into the clutches of Taruffi's Ferrari. The struggling Alfa Romeo of Farina has little to defend against the Ferrari of Taruffi. The world champion letting Taruffi past, Sanesi in fourth place is a whole lap adrift. Fangio goes on to complete the event, dominating the field with Taruffi's Ferrari in second nearly a minute down. Taruffi proves his competitiveness with a second in the Ferrari ahead of Farina, who is frustrated to be accosted with handling problems. In fourth and fifth come the other Alfa Romeos of Sanesi and De Graffenried. The injured Ascari has trawled home a disappointing sixth place, his pre-race injuries costing him a chance for points. Grand Prix debutant, Stirling Moss, has driven a good first race in his Formula Two HWM. Moss, despite smashing his front windscreen early on in the race and running on very low fuel, is looking on course to take seventh place in his first race. His car, however, grounds to a halt in the last hundred meters of the race. Moss elects to get out and pushes his car to the line; however, Chiron's Enrico Platé Maserati manages to pip through in the last seconds to take seventh away from Moss. Rosier in the leading Talbot-Lago is ninth, three laps adrift of the lead. Étancelin finishes tenth in his Talbot-Lago, while Rudolf Fischer brings the Ferrari sportscar home in eleventh. Schell can only manage twelfth in his Maserati ahead of the final finishers of Claes and Mairesse's Talbot-Lagos.
The success of the Argentine was outstanding. After the halfway point of the race, while Fangio was flying towards victory, Taruffi managed to overcome Farina on the last lap when the Turin driver's car was almost uncontrollable. The extreme danger of the high-speed Bremgarten circuit also claimed its toll. In addition to an off-track incident involving the Englishman Whitehead without consequences, a terrifying crash occurred in a corner involving the Talbot of the Frenchman Louveau, who suffered a leg fracture in the accident. Fangio and Farina quickly distanced themselves from Sanesi and Villoresi by about twenty seconds. Farina's strategy seemed logical and evident from the start: not lose sight of Fangio, wait for the refueling stop to take the lead, and not let himself be caught again. However, Farina began to lose ground gradually to Fangio, falling behind by half a minute, precisely the time Fangio needed for his refueling stop. As a result, the two rivals found themselves on equal terms automatically. Fangio resumed the race the moment Farina arrived. After a brief struggle, Fangio began to gain ground, lap by lap, and in the end, his advantage was almost a minute. Something evidently went wrong with Farina's car; the Italian driver later recounted that, as the kilometers passed, as the fuel was consumed and the weight of the car decreased, stability when accelerating diminished. Moreover, the smoke from burning oil often bothered him, fogging up his visor.
"You can't win always; it will go better another time, with a less capricious car".
Fangio was luckier. The experiment on his car was less challenging than for Farina. More than Fangio's victory in Bern surprised the defeat of Farina by Taruffi, who finished second. It wasn't a real setback for the World Champion, who, at a certain point, found himself having to control a car that became increasingly difficult to drive, lap after lap: one could perhaps speak of an unsuccessful experiment with the application of additional tanks to the Alfa 1600 cc. Thanks to this expedient, Farina's car could avoid a refueling stop. But it was seen that this advantage was then paid at a high price, with the increasing loss of stability. It follows that, unless more successful experiments occur, the Alfa-Ferrari situation, which is essentially that of the Grand Prix formula, remains unchanged. On one side, the non-supercharged 4500 cc Ferrari cars, less powerful than the Alfas, less agile but capable of completing the entire race without refueling; on the other, the Alfas, 1500 cc supercharged cars, faster but with less autonomy. The application of additional tanks probably upset the balance from which stability derives. It is possible that the problem will be solved with better results. For now, it can be said that in the next 600-kilometer Grand Prix races (Berna was exceptionally 306), Formula 1 - i.e., supercharged or non-supercharged cars - will retain its full technical and sporting validity. The non-supercharged and less powerful Ferraris will complete the entire race; the powerful Alfas will lose the advantage gained by their higher speed during refueling. From this balance of forces, the winner will be the one who has better solved the problem posed by the formula. In Bern, Fangio, at the end of 306 kilometers, had a 66-second advantage over Taruffi. If there had been another 200 kilometers, Fangio would have had to make a new refueling stop. Between slowing down, braking, refueling, resuming the race, it can be estimated that the loss of time for each stop is at least 40 seconds. This means that against Ascari and Villoresi, who under normal performance conditions surpass the highly skilled Taruffi, the margin of the Alfa Romeo becomes considerably narrower, against the new 4500 cc Ferraris. The situation is still in favor of the Milanese brand. However, if Alfa achieved a first and coveted victory in this World Championship with the very talented Fangio, Ferrari is much happier with the new step forward taken in the assault on the dominance of the rival brand. From Bern, it can be hoped that the balance of the supercharged or non-supercharged dilemma, we should witness in the upcoming World Championship races, Alfa-Ferrari duels even more thrilling than the splendid show that Bern offered.