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#12 1951 British Grand Prix

2021-04-09 00:00

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#1951,

#12 1951 British Grand Prix

Giannino Marzotto, il giovane e intrepido pilota-miliardario vincitore della Mille Miglia del 1950, domenica 8 Luglio 1951 consegue a Rouen, in Franci

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Giannino Marzotto, il giovane e intrepido pilota-miliardario vincitore della Mille Miglia del 1950, domenica 8 Luglio 1951 consegue a Rouen, in Francia, un significativo successo nel Gran Premio automobilistico di Normandia, dimostrando di essere un ottimo corridore, oltre che su strada, anche nelle gare in circuito chiuso. La corsa è di 60 giri di un tracciato di 5.100 chilometri; in tutto 306 chilometri. Sono ammesse alla gara le macchine di Formula 2, cioè con motore di 2000 cc senza compressore. Prendono il via quindici corridori. L'inglese Stirling Moss - su H.W.M. - immediatamente assume il comando della gara, poi Whitehead corona il suo tenace inseguimento superando Stirling Moss all'undicesimo giro. Moss, costretto a fermarsi due volte a causa di avarie meccaniche, finisce col ritirarsi. Dal quarantacinquesimo giro in poi la corsa è una lotta strenua fra Whitehead, Manzon, Giannino Marzotto e Trintignant. I quattro corridori rimangono sempre molto vicini, fin tanto che Marzotto conquista un leggero vantaggio riuscendo a conservarlo sino al termine della corsa. La settimana successiva, sabato 14 Luglio 1951 si corre oggi a Silverstone il Gran Premio di Gran Bretagna. La gara sarà valida quale quinta prova del Campionato Mondiale.

 

La prima ai svolse a Berna e vinse Fangio davanti a Tarulli e allo sfortunato Farina tradito dall'instabilità della macchina, accentrata dall'errata, applicazione di serbatoi supplementari. Saltando la Indy 500, nella seconda gara del campionato, a Spa, il Campione del Mondo si prese una clamorosa rivincita, con una magistrale corsa, la più bella di tutta la sua carriera, come egli stesso ebbe a dichiarare. Fu primo, mentre Fangio si ritirò per incidente meccanico. La terza prova si svolse a Reims, nel Gran Premio d'Europa, e vinse di nuovo Fangio in una gara massacrante per i pneumatici. La vittima maggiore di Reims fu Farina, costretto al sesto posto da noie ad un pneumatico anteriore, quando egli aveva ottime probabilità di vittoria. Dopo le alterne vicende delle prime tre prove, la, classifica del campionato mondiale vede Fangio al primo posto con 16 punti; Farina è secondo con 14. Seguono poi i due piloti della Ferrari, cioè Ascari e Villoresi, che hanno rispettivamente 9 e 8 punti. A Silverstone la gara sarà di circa 430 chilometri e tornerà in ballo la tremenda questione delle gomme, tanto più che il circuito inglese è ricavato dalla pista in cemento di un vecchio aeroporto in demolizione come ambiente di gara, Silverstone è favorevole a Farina poiché l'asso torinese già vi colse due smaglianti vittorie. Ma non si devono dimenticare l'eccelsa classe di Fangio e le possibilità di Gonzalez e Ascari su Ferrari.

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The British Grand Prix is once again hosted at the Silverstone circuit, an old Second World War airbase. It has hosted the first World Championship race in 1950 but has been pushed to the fifth grand prix of the season for 1951. The circuit is another long fast sweeping circuit that puts demand on the engines, however it may not be as troublesome for the engines as the previous rounds at Spa-Francorchamps and Reims. Alongside the usual entrants of Giuseppe Farina, Juan Manuel Fangio and Consalvo Sanesi, Alfa Romeo has planned to enter a fourth car for Luigi Fagioli. Fagioli however being forced to hand his car over to Fangio at Reims decided to quit the team. Felice Bonetto is then invited to do a race for the Alfa Romeo squad. Bonetto, the former man to head the Milano project will take over Fagioli's contract to run the remaining races of the season for Alfa Romeo as a fourth car. The team are now consistently running four cars as opposed to three, the increased threat from the Ferrari's has forced Alfa Romeo to increase their man power. Scuderia Ferrari are looking closer than ever to Alfa Romeo, only poor reliability on the 375 chassis has kept Ascari from winning their first Grand Prix at Reims. Taruffi is still unfit to race due to illness, so José Froilán González now a full-time member of the team takes his place. Regular pilots, Alberto Ascari and Luigi Villoresi remain in action alongside Peter Whitehead now driving the private Tony Vandervell Ferrari 375. The dark blue Ferrari has been driven by Reg Parnell in France, however Whitehead defects to Vandervell for his home race. The old Ferrari 125 that Whitehead owns is quickly becoming outdated and he needs some new machinery to compete at the front.

 

Under immense pressure, the B.R.M. team have finally decided to launch their P15 car for the first time at a Grand Prix event. The car has competed in non-championship races, however the car has proven unreliable and has not yet rivalled the Alfa Romeo's and Ferrari's as it claimed it would. Nonetheless, the British public demands that the B.R.M. is presented at Silverstone to defend the home colours. Raymond Mays, team founder and Peter Berthon, the designer reluctantly comply although their previous testing have implied the BRM is not yet ready to compete. Reg Parnell, often regarded as the best British Grand Prix driver at the time will represent the team alongside Peter Walker, a renowned British sports car racer. Simca-Gordini is the third major works manufacturer to represent the grid. The young team is quickly acclimatizing itself to the midfield of Formula One. Its three main drivers Robert Manzon, Maurice Trintignant and André Simon will all represent the team's colours in Britain. There is a significantly reduced Talbot-Lago presence on the field, only the Ecurie Rosier team of Louis Rosier and Louis Chiron, plus the regular privateers of Philippe Étancelin and Johnny Claes would represent them on track. The rest of the field is represented by the local British contingent. David Murray represents the Scuderia Ambrosiana team in a Maserati. Whilst also competing in the Maserati's privately is Philip Fotheringham-Parker and John James who will be starting his first race. Bob Gerard and Brian Shawe-Taylor bring their old ERA chassis to compete in the race. Duncan Hamilton is the lone British driver to enter a French Talbot-Lago whilst Joe Kelly returns for the British Grand Prix racing the nimble little Alta chassis.

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None of the Simca-Gordini's arrives for practice, their entries being withdrawn from the race. Likewise to not arrive at the circuit is Philippe Étancelin in his private Talbot-Lago. The British crowd are also dismayed to see that the B.R.M.'s has not yet decided to attend practice. Raymond Mays and Peter Berthon late to decide whether to commit to the Grand Prix. The Ferrari's has proved to be ever improving, for the first time in the World Championship's history, the Alfa Romeo's will not start on pole position. Instead it is González, the stand in man at Ferrari for Taruffi, who goes on to take pole position. González is proud to be a full second faster than his mentor, compatriot and friend, Juan Manuel Fangio in the Alfa Romeo. Farina takes the third place for Alfa Romeo whilst Ascari and Villoresi are left bewildered by González pace, sitting two seconds adrift of his time. Sanesi struggles in his Alfa Romeo, managing only sixth on the grid ahead of Bonetto starting his first race for the Alfa squad. Whitehead in his first race in a 375 can only manage a best of eighth, yet still remains the fastest British driver during qualifying. Rosier is then ninth fastest in the Talbot-Lago whilst Gerard does an excellent job to put his old ERA into tenth position. Hamilton, the Britain in the Talbot-Lago sits in eleventh ahead of the second ERA of Shawe-Taylor. Chiron and Claes are still off the pace in their Talbot-Lago's to line up in thirteenth and fourteenth. The three Maserati's of Murray, Fotheringham-Parker and James are the next cars to line-up on the grid, whilst Kelly the slowest car in his little under powered Alta is last in the standings.

 

The race at Silverstone only attracts a meagre 50.000 crowd, this has been only a third of the attendance to the previous year's race. The lack of significance and the lack of British competitiveness have turned the British away from the sport in the past year. Britain's great publicly funds motorsport hope, the B.R.M. project looks to have failed. The cars are not looking like they are going to compete in the most important British race of the season. However at the last minute, the B.R.M.'s of Parnell and Walker arrive at the circuit on Sunday morning. The team have desperately been trying to prepare the cars to the best so they can be at best performance at their home Grand Prix, even if this means sacrificing the practice times. Naturally, the British organisers allow the B.R.M.'s to take the race start, albeit they are forced to start from the very back of the grid. Following the shared victory between Fangio and Fagioli in Reims, the Royal Automobile Club (RAC), the organisers for the British Grand Prix decree that shared cars will be banned for the race in Silverstone. The race organisers feeling the French result has confused fans too much. The lead drivers will be forced to get only a single chance in the race ahead, they will not be able to depend on their teammates cars if their own fails. The start of the race brings a surprise when Bonetto who starts from seventh on the grid gets a tremendous start in his first race for Alfa Romeo to take the lead of the race heading into the first corner. González, the pole-sitting Ferrari follows in second ahead of Farina, Ascari, Fangio and Villoresi. The B.R.M.'s have started their race well, the two cars of Parnell and Walker are quickly disposing of the cars at the back and moving their way up the midfield. In the early laps, Walker has a major spin at Becketts, however the BRM driver rejoins the track and continues his offensive.

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Bonetto holds onto the lead for the first lap, however González quickly reclaims the lead on the second. Fangio then goes on to overtake both Ascari and Farina on the same lap to move into third on lap four. After his magnificent start, Bonetto has begun to fall back down the field. He is first overtaken by Fangio and then Ascari and Farina follow their way past him. Bonetto falls to fifth and is now on the defensive to Villoresi's Ferrari. Fangio is putting in another of his storming runs and has quickly taken the lead from his friend González on lap 10. Nonetheless, he fails to pull away as the younger Argentine stucks to Fangio's rear in his Ferrari. The battle for fifth meanwhile between Bonetto and Villoresi is beginning to intensify. On lap 15, Villoresi fails a manoeuvere on Bonetto at Copse and spins. By the time Villoresi rejoins, the final Alfa Romeo of Sanesi has taken sixth place. Fangio is desperately pushing hard to maintain his lead, the Alfa Romeo clipping straw bales and marker drums as he fights to get the tightest line through every corner. González is nearly thrown off the chase when he goes very deep into Stowe and runs off the circuit. However soon enough the Ferrari has caught Fangio and on lap 38 moves past and González takes the lead of the race. Fifty seconds behind this pair, Farina and Ascari are having an equally intense battle for third place. The Alfa Romeo's being outpaced by the Ferrari's for the first time in 1951. Ascari managing to set the fastest lap of the race in his pursuit of Farina, however the Italian champion is proving resolute in his defense.

 

Bonetto is beginning to fade and both Sanesi and Villoresi have managed to make it past him. Now in eighth place, Parnell is sitting the best of the rest in his B.R.M., the local crowd enjoying the fact that he has managed to bring the new B.R.M. into the top ten after starting at the back. Walker, too is looking to get a top ten finish, now recovering from his early race spin. The early retirements of the race have seen the debutant Maserati of James retire on lap twenty three with radiator problems, Chiron then goes out with brake problems and the Maserati's of Murray and Fotheringham-Parker retire on lap 45 and 46. Half way through the race, the Alfa Romeo's are forced into the pits for fuel. Meanwhile the more fuel conservative Ferrari's are able to continue without delay. Following Fangio's pit-stop, González is left with a lead a full minute clear of Fangio. Ascari has also taken Farina's third spot when he has pitted. Sanesi's stop is more chaotic, a wheel is stuck to his car which has meant Bonetto and the B.R.M. of Parnell are able to move ahead of him. Parnell is now remarkably only one position off the points placings, although he still sits several laps behind the leaders. The Ferrari's are due in for their pit-stops approximately ten laps after the Alfa Romeo's. Ascari is the first Ferrari in, however during his pit-stop he breaks his gearbox in the process.

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González during his own stop offers to give his car up, however Ascari refuses allowing his younger teammate the opportunity to take Ferrari's first win. González exits the pits, having lost only 23 seconds to Fangio who remains in second. In the final stages, Farina breaks down with clutch failure allowing Villoresi to move into fourth position. Now up to fifth and looking to score points in its first race is the BRM of Parnell. However it is González, the man who has been on top all weekend who goes on to take a dominant first race win for both himself and the Ferrari team. Enzo Ferrari has finally seen his team take the rostrum as a race winner in the Grand Prix World Championship. Fangio takes second, the older Argentine proud of his young compatriot's success. Fangio has managed to increase his championship lead to six points following Farina's non-finish. Farina still holds second in the championship, however Villoresi who finishes third in the race is only two points adrift. The race winner, González has risen to fourth in the standings following his British success. Ascari has fallen in the standings, his sportsmanship in failing to take González's car has meant he has fallen out of championship play. After his blistering start, Bonetto leads a quiet race to take fourth position ahead of an ecstatic Reg Parnell of B.R.M.. At the car's home Grand Prix and debut race, the B.R.M. has finished in the points. The team proving that even an underdeveloped model can still be competitive. The result putting success on what has been so far a troubling racing project.

 

L’argentino Gonzalez, a bordo di una Ferrari 4500, vince il Gran Premio di Gran Bretagna. Secondo si classifica a una decina di secondi l’argentino Fangio, su Alfa Romeo. La macchina di Farina ha avuto un principio di incendio a settantaseiesimo giro, ma il pilota ha potuto fermare la sua Alfa Romeo e raggiungere a piedi i box. Farina ha compiuto il giro più veloce alla media di 160.880 km/h. L’andatura della corsa è stata generalmente molto sostenuta, e la ragione va ricercata nel fatto che ci si è voluti premunire contro gli imprevisti che presentava la B.R.M. che però ha deluso. La nuova auto inglese non ha potuto competere con le vetture italiane. La Ferrari piazza Villoresi al terzo posto, completando il podio. Seguono Bonetto con la quarta Alfa, e la B.R.M. di Reg Parnell. Vi è, infatti, da sottolineare che entrambe le auto britanniche, pur essendo al debutto in Formula 1, sono state in grado di tagliare il traguardo, seppur con notevoli problemi di calore, dovuti al surriscaldamento dei motori, e delle fastidiose vibrazioni del volante, che hanno condizionato la guida dei piloti. Pochi minuti dopo, il direttore sportivo della Ferrari, Federico Giberti, si precipita verso il telefono per chiamare Maranello: appreso la notizia della prima vittoria conseguita, Enzo Ferrari scoppia a piangere per la gioia. Al ritorno a Maranello, González riceverà in dono un orologio che Ferrari aveva messo in palio tra i propri piloti, per omaggiare colui che per primo avesse battuto l'Alfa Romeo in una gara di Formula 1.

 

Ludovico Nicoletti

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