#53 1956 French Grand Prix

2021-04-19 01:00

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#1956, Fulvio Conti, Translated by Nicola Carriero, Simone Pietro Zazza,

#53 1956 French Grand Prix

Sunday 10 June 1956 the Biellese driver Umberto Maglioli, with a magnificent race for regularity, won the Targa Florio for the second time along the g


Sunday 10 June 1956 the driver from Biella, Umberto Maglioli, with a magnificent race for regularity, won the Targa Florio for the second time along the gruelling Madonie circuit. For this edition, the organizers have decided to run the race over ten laps (and not eight as in the past), equal to 720 kilometres, from which a very strict selection is made. The start of the race is exceptionally fast as Castellotti takes off with great impetuosity, with the evident intention of immediately gaining an advantage that will allow him to continue with relative tranquillity. The driver from Lodi completes the first lap of seventy-two kilometres at an average speed of over 96 km/h, gaining almost four minutes on Cabianca and Maglioli, who are chasing him in this order. But Castellotti's dominance did not last long, as already on the second lap, his car, evidently due to the excessive effort to which it was subjected, gave way and forced the gallant driver to retire. At this moment, Maglioli delivers the decisive blow, overtaking Cabianca and decisively taking the lead, which he then maintained until the end. The positions of Maglioli and of Cabianca himself were repeatedly undermined by the other competitors, among whom Taruffi appeared particularly threatening, who however lingered for fifteen minutes in the pits following a fuel tank failure. Villoresi retired as well, being the protagonist of a frightening accident: he was launched at full speed when suddenly a dog blocked his way. Instinctively Villoresi tries to avoid it but, while braking, he collides with a kerbstone and thus renders the car useless. The following day, Monday 11 June 1956, Giuseppe Farina gets off the plane that brought him from the United States to Malpensa, holding under one arm a pair of special skis, a gift from an American friend, and under the other his famous white helmet. One might think that the former World Champion was disappointed not to participate in the Indianapolis 500, but instead the racer smiles.


"I'll be back next year on the golden track. Bardahl will prepare not just one car, at the last minute, but three special cars, and on time. The experience gained last May has benefited both my company and me. It was perhaps an indispensable experience".


As is known, Giuseppe Farina was unable to qualify among the thirty-three competitors admitted to the race on May 30th, partly due to the rain and much due to incompatibility with the American mechanics. Meanwhile, Farina has already received a telegram from Tony Vandervell:


"A good car is ready for you".


A good Vanwall is ready for the Turin driver; in Reims, in the next Formula 1 world championship race, will he be seen at the wheel of a green English car? It is possible, even if Italian sportsmen still hope that the former world champion can be entrusted with a red racing car to aim for an all-Italian victory. On Sunday 17 June 1956, the Marquis Alfonso De Portago won the eleventh Oporto Automotive Grand Prix in a Ferrari, followed by the American Phil Hill and Benoit Mussy. In fourth and fifth place respectively are the Portuguese Barreto and the Spaniard Sales. The race was marred by an accident involving the Portuguese driver Filipe Nogueira who, while leading together with De Portago, lost control of the car on the thirty-seventh lap. It overturned several times before coming to rest in a meadow beside the track. Taken from the wreckage, the runner is urgently transported to the hospital: his conditions are very serious. A race that promises to be of extraordinary interest is the IV Supercortemaggiore Grand Prix for sports cars up to 2000 cubic centimetres, which will take place on Sunday 24 June 1956 in Monza on the complete circuit, i.e. on the road track and the high-speed ring, over the distance of 1000 km. Interpreting a trend that has not yet been accepted internationally but of undoubted technical importance, the organizers set the maximum cylinder capacity at two litres for this race. The big racing cars involved in the events of the world sports championship are thus excluded, such as the 12 Hours of Sebring, the Mille Miglia, and the 1000 Kilometres of the Nürburgring, but the balance of the mechanical means should benefit from this limitation, and therefore the competitive interest.


The Ferrari and Maserati teams are entered in full force in the Supercortemaggiore Grand Prix, for which a 1500 cubic centimetre subclass is foreseen, with all their strong aces - starting with Fangio, Castellotti, Moss, Collins, Perdisa; the Osca with Villoresi, Maglioli, Cabianca, Bordoni; then the German Porsches, the East German EMW and AWE cars of 1500 cubic centimetres, the British Lotus-Climax also of one and a half litres, the Gordini 2000 and 1510, and the Maserati in the lower engine capacity. It is clear that, once again, the two Modenese manufacturers will take on the leading role, in a class where the comparison is usually reserved for gentlemen, that is to say customers of the two brands. Both Maserati and Ferrari have extraordinarily efficient vehicles in this capacity. Indeed, for a year now, Maserati has shown a certain superiority in the two-litres. Ferrari, however, should have exhaustively completed the preparation of its new four-cylinder Testa Rossa, as demonstrated by the times set on Saturday 16 June 1956 in Monza, during training. On the complete ten-kilometre course, Fangio and Castellotti ride around three minutes, at an average speed slightly above 200 km/h. To get an idea of what this means, in the Italian Grand Prix last September, Stirling Moss set the fastest lap around 215 km/h on the Mercedes Formula 1, which had a power of almost ten times one hundred more. But for its part, Maserati has done even better with the brand-new car: Moss, in fact, completes a lap in 2'59" flat, exceeding the average speed of 201 km/h. Jean Behra will not be present, since on Monday 18 June he enters the clinic in Paris to undergo an operation on his leg. The tests for the Supercortemaggiore automobile Trophy follow one another entirely on the Monza track. During the morning of June 20, 1956, however, one of the protagonists dedicated himself to a record attempt, not on cars sports up to 2000, which almost succeeded.


We are talking about Taruffi and his famous bi-torpedo. While trying to improve the world hour record, the Roman driver lowers the 100-mile record, setting a time of 46'27"1 at an average of 267.988 km/h, but fails to complete the attempt on the hour. In the meantime, as of the richest race in Italy, scheduled for Sunday 24 June 1956, there is news from Turin sources, given that it is learned that Giuseppe Farina has made an agreement with Maserati and will participate in the competition at Monza with a car with a 2000 cubic centimetre engine. The name of the teammate of the former World Champion is not yet known, but there is talk of the young Perdisa. Giuseppe Farina has not raced in Italy for several months and his return will be followed with much attention from the sportsmen. Originally, there were difficulties for Farina's participation in Monza, but precisely these were overcome during the course of Tuesday 19 June 1956, following numerous talks between the driver and the representatives of the Maserati. After Monza, Giuseppe Farina will almost certainly compete in the French Grand Prix, driving a Vanwall: by the morning of Thursday 21 June 1956, the Turin driver awaits the final confirmation that he will finalize the agreements made by letter and by telephone. Any kind of agreement, however, collapsed when the Turin driver was the victim of a frightening accident at Monza on Friday 22 June 1956, while testing for the Supercortemaggiore Grand Prix, after just one and a half laps completed on the faired Maserati 2000. Four hundred metres from the porphyry curve, following a sudden braking, a rear wheel of the car gets stuck. The car performs three pirouettes, smashes through a bale of straw on the left of the road and overturns, throwing the driver onto the asphalt, then continues to roll on its own. Fangio, following the Turin driver three-four hundred metres away, was one of the first people to reach the pits and sound the alarm.


"Nino was going so fast that I could hardly keep up with him; I saw him go off the road. I too, braking, had a slight skid. Run to Nino".


The driver is immediately reached by an ambulance: Farina is alive, battered but alive. He is then transported to the S. Gerardo hospital in Monza, where the head physician, Professor Acquati, gives him first aid. A few hours later, Professor Re arrives from Turin with Giuseppe's wife, her sister Elda and her brother. The head physician of Maria Vittoria, Professor Re, who is a friend of the family, carefully examines the drover, and the doctor's response is:


"Fracture of left collarbone and fracture of greater tuberosity of left humerus, mild shock, multiple abrasions and contusions to face and legs".


Farina will probably have to undergo an operation to reduce the broken collarbone; the prognosis is forty days. Farina is hospitalized in the Monza hospital almost in the same room where, exactly twenty years earlier, he had been transported for a similar accident, which also ended with a fracture of the same shoulder. During the evening, with his face streaked with deep scars and all covered in plasters, Farina tells his frightening story, while, next to his bed, his wife lovingly strokes the twisted white helmet. It is the third time that the helmet has saved the life of the Turin driver. In Turin, in Marseille, and now in Monza, Farina, thrown out of the car or left under it, had his head protected by the special American helmet.


"I had done a first test lap, and the car drove very well. On the second one, I accelerated hard trying to set the times when, after braking, the car spun wildly and ended up on the bale of straw. Perhaps without this protective obstacle, the accident would have had less serious consequences. Instead, the Maserati, stopped by the bale of straw, overturned; thank goodness it threw me out making me lose consciousness".


Bad luck really pursued the Turin driver: only a few hours before the accident, which occurred at 5:30 PM, he had learned by telephone from a friend that Vanwall from London had confirmed excellent offers, assuring him an engagement of several million lire for four Formula 1 races. Farina should have raced on July 1st in Reims, in the race that is valid for the world championship. In the meantime, Farina had done the impossible to be present at the Supercortemaggiore Grand Prix, the richest race in Europe. It is said that Farina, who was initially predicted to be the teammate of the young Perdisa in the pair, should have probably raced with Moss instead, thus constituting the strongest pair of Maserati. But fate turned its back on him. It is the third year that the Turin driver had some misadventures at Monza: two seasons earlier his Ferrari caught fire and the rider's legs were horribly burned. The previous year, he was barely saved from a frightening incident and now the most serious misfortune has occurred.


"I wish Nino would stop running". 


Confesses his wife, who bears the signs of terrible anxiety on her face. But Farina, who is still in a slight state of shock, is not talking about retiring.


"Forty, fifty days pass quickly. Our Lady of the Consolata protected me this time too and will help me heal".


Says the racer, who is visited not only by the technical director of Maserati, maestro Ugolini, but also by Fangio, Moss, Maglioli, Cabianca and many other colleagues. Saturday, 23 June 1956, twenty-four hours later, Giuseppe Farina's conditions are overall satisfactory. The doctors of the Monza hospital, after confirming the diagnosis supported by radiographic tests, nonetheless believe that the twenty days of the first prognosis should be extended to thirty-five/forty days, and strictly forbid visits by anyone to the pilot, who is calm and all that he has is the desire to return to Turin: Farina, in fact, asks to be able to do so on Sunday. The painful accident that occurred to Farina dealt a severe blow to the Maserati team, which already lacks another top-level driver, the Frenchman Behra. Therefore, the Modena company will line up only two official cars for the Supercortemaggiore Grand Prix, with the crews Moss-Bellucci and Taruffi-Perdisa. On the other hand, Ferrari has ten drivers available for four cars, lining up Fangio-Castellotti, Collins-Hawthorn (the latter is a last-minute purchase, the Lotus with which the Englishman was registered having broken down), Schell-von Trips and Gendebien-De Portago; Herrmann and Hill as reserve drivers. The sensitive balance of the mechanical means is therefore matched by a certain advantage - in number, class and homogeneity - with respect to the drivers of the Maranello company. However, this may be an unreliable indication, since the very strict distance will be the judge of the race, one hundred laps of the track equal to exactly one thousand kilometres, that is, in the last analysis, the endurance of the cars. This is an unknown factor that the official qualifying tests certainly could not have disclosed, limiting themselves to clarifying the speed possibilities of the cars. The record time obtained by the Maserati of Stirling Moss has not been bettered, or even approached.


In the trials, forty-two of the sixty-six entries qualify: twenty-eight from the 2000 class and fourteen from the 1500. The start of the Grand Prix will be given at 11:00 a.m., while at 1:00 p.m., in full race, the forty tickets of the Lottery will be raffled off paired with runners. The first prize, as is known, is 100.000.000 lire. On Sunday 24 June 1956, twenty-seven seconds separated the victorious Ferrari of Collins and Hawthorn from the Maserati of tenacious Perdisa and Moss at the finish line of the IV Supercortemaggiore Grand Prix: twenty-seven seconds after 1000 kilometres of a race conducted close to an average speed of 105 km/h. But despite this slight difference in time, the race has never offered competitive ideas of particular interest. And in any case, the British couple's lead of less than 1500 meters over the Italian-English one exactly represents the difference in values between the two Modena sports cars. The Ferrari Testa Rossa drives splendidly, catching up on the fastest lap, and both Collins and Hawthorn drive with magnificent authority, confirming the former's current state of grace, and the always clear class of the blond Mike. Moreover, Maserati comes out of the confrontation with its head held high. First of all, in the Farina accident, the Trident manufacturer had lost not only a driver on whom it relied heavily to replace Behra, but also the best-prepared car, which among other things was equipped with a precious five-speed gearbox. Then, already on the first lap of the race, the transmission of the car entrusted to the duo Moss-Taruffi gave way, so as to be left with only one official car to defend against the attacks of no less than four Ferrari Testa Rossa: the one which originally was to be driven in turn by Perdisa and Taruffi, but which - thanks to the forward-looking designation of Moss as a possible reserve - was to become Perdisa and Moss. In short, for the first major confrontation between the new two litres from Modena, Maserati was certainly not indulged by good luck, which in any case fought strenuously, conquering a second place overall, much of which due to the excellent Cesare Perdisa, who has perhaps accomplished its finest performance. Moreover, a small counterweight to Maserati's misfortune also occurred at Ferrari. For example, if Fangio and Castellotti did not shine as expected, it is because the car destined for them, moving on Saturday evening after practice from Monza to Arcore, where the Scuderia had established its quarters, was the victim of a road accident from which it came out so battered that it could not be put back together.


Thus, Fangio and Castellotti were transferred to the less-prepared car of Gendebien and De Portago, and the latter had to make do with the test car. Finally, there almost came a sensational twist when there were only one hundred and eighty kilometres to go, since in the expected refuelling halfway through the race, the Ferrari mechanics in their haste did not completely fill up the two tanks: when they noticed, Hawthorn - who had relieved Collins - had already left. A quick calculation of consumption leads engineer Scalati to think that the car would not finish. Thus, about an hour before the end of the Grand Prix, Hawthorn was stopped for a quick supplementary refuelling, which took a few seconds, compared to a one-minute advantage over Moss. It is curious that the same situation occurred the previous year, again in the Supercortemaggiore Grand Prix, but with reversed positions, when for a while - due to the dry tank - the Maserati was not joined by the Ferrari. From a competitive point of view, the race is not very interesting, given that the positions are almost stabilized after a couple of laps, with Collins in the lead and Perdisa second. Fangio had an unhappy start, and it took him almost one hundred and fifty kilometres to reach third place. Magnificent performance by Villoresi and Maglioli’s Osca, first in the 1500 class and fifth overall. The selection was very strict: of the thirty-nine machines that started, only twenty came to an end. The IV Supercortemaggiore Grand Prix distributes a real shower of millions: to the drivers, the constructors and the lottery ticket holders. Among the protagonists of the race, the two winners Collins and Hawthorn in a Ferrari collect - not counting the so-called engagement prizes - one and a half million for the first overall winners, 200.000 lire for each fastest lap, and 1.185.000 lire for driving in lead the race for all one hundred laps scheduled. Therefore, in total the two Englishmen share 8,186,000 lire, while Ferrari wins the prize of 15.000.000 lire for the first overall car, and Osca 6.000.000 for the winning car in the class up to 1500 cubic centimetres. In terms of drivers, it must also be said that Collins and Hawthorn did their duty completely, and the former especially impressed with the authority with which he managed to break down the opponent's resistance in the first 500 kilometres of the race. Collins has thus collected another great success of the season, after the Giro di Sicilia and the Belgian Grand Prix, to which the not despicable second place overall in the Mille Miglia can be added.


The likeable British driver has three great qualities: class, youth and, at the moment, luck. In Sicily and at Francorchamps, those who preceded him (Castellotti and Fangio respectively, not to mention Moss) were forced to retire; in Monza, his race was in a certain sense facilitated by the accident that occurred after the eve of practice with the well-prepared car destined for Fangio and Castellotti, which to avoid an imprudent motorist ended up against a wall and was irreparably damaged. And speaking of accidents, even Umberto Maglioli, brilliant winner together with Luigi Villoresi with the magnificent Osca, has his story to tell: an hour before the start of the Grand Prix, leaving Milan with his powerful Mercedes 300 SL, he collided with a small car. Once this prestigious sporting event also concluded, the French automobile Grand Prix was held in Reims on Sunday 1st July 1956, the fifth round of the World Drivers' Championship. It is a race that promises to be of very high interest for many factors, starting with the debut of the new Bugatti, once a very famous brand founded in 1909 in Molsheim, in Alsace, by an Italian who had the temperament of an artist and the genius of mechanics: Ettore Bugatti. There was a period, around 1925-1930, in which the blue cars with the characteristic horseshoe radiator were almost unbeatable, and owning a Bugatti represented a coveted privilege. After the events of the war and the death of the patron Ettore Bugatti, the prestige of French motor racing had passed to more fragile hands, to Talbot and Gordini, but the glorious times had never returned. This is why French enthusiasts await the return of the Bugatti full of hope, and everyone will look to Reims on Sunday. However, it is extremely unlikely that the debut will coincide with full success. And for many reasons. First of all, after two years of work under the technical direction of a well-known Italian technician formerly of Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Maserati, Gioacchino Colombo, assisted by the engineer Marco and the chief mechanic Meazza, the new car has just come out of its experimental period. Secondly, it is a very original mechanical conception, and as such of still uncertain development. In fact, the Bugatti has, among other peculiarities, the engine - an eight-cylinder in line of 2600 cubic centimetres - placed on the back of the chassis and moved transversely, a suspension with both rigid axles and a spring system created through a very strange system of crossed springs, tie rods and rocker arms, and disc brakes with centrifugal ventilation.


They are unusual solutions, in the most authentic spirit of the Bugatti tradition, but how will they respond in practical use? It should be added that, for now, the engine does not seem to have reached a power at least close to that of the Ferrari and Maserati engines, and that only one example will be present in Reims entrusted to Maurice Trintignant, a good driver but with certain limitations. In short, it may be that Bugatti's presence in the race almost has the character of fulfilling a moral commitment assumed by the Molsheim-based company vis-à-vis French sportsmen, especially as it concerns the Grand Prix of the Automobile Club of France, the most classic and oldest European run. However, it is a very interesting technical event, which on the other hand is not the only one in the Reims race, given that there are in fact novelties also in the Italian field. Maserati, for example, seems determined to definitively launch the new cars with direct injection engines, for which the very fast circuit seems particularly suitable: a decision will be made after the tests. Furthermore, the Modena-based company itself has prepared a couple of examples with an enveloping bodywork, from which the technicians promise excellent results in terms of pure speed. Ferrari followed the same path, testing an aerodynamic car with detachable elements: in fact, the bodywork that wraps around the wheels creates difficulties for cooling the tires and brakes, especially the rear ones. At the end of the training sessions, the Maranello technicians will draw their conclusions, and eventually they will only use the front fairing in the race. Fourth novelty of the French Grand Prix: Mike Hawthorn driving the Vanwall. The creator of the new English car, Tony Vandervell, was looking for a top-class driver, capable of exploiting - as Moss was able to do at Silverstone - the still latent possibilities of a vehicle which has the most in the power of its injection engine, a strong trump card. Vandervell had turned to Giuseppe Farina, but, unfortunately, he had to give it up for the well-known painful reasons, but he obtained - it is not known whether for this single race or definitively - to be able to use Hawthorn, the first drive of B.R.M., the other English brand once again absent from the test. A very intriguing stage is therefore taking place in Reims, strengthened by an uncertain situation in the championship standings, which sees Moss and Collins in the lead both with eleven points, Behra third with ten and Fangio fourth, with nine points.


Four contenders enclosed in just two points guarantee enormous interest in the public, above all because the duel between Ferrari and Maserati appears very balanced. During the 1954 practice Fangio made history with a W196 Mercedes-Benz by being the only driver to average more than 200kph for one lap. He did this by a matter of a few decimal points and only once, so clearly a 200kph lap is going to be the aim of all the competitors in this 1956 event. On the first evening the complete Vanwall team are out and Ferrari has five Lancia/Ferrari in the paddock, while there is no sign as yet of any Maserati. As the BRM team does not enter, Hawthorn is loaned to the Vanwall team, and with Trintignant due to drive the new Bugatti 251, his place is taken by Colin Chapman, making his first serious entry in Grand Prix racing, the third Vanwall is naturally in the hands of Schell. The advances that are made in Grand Prix cars since the beginning of the current Formula is shown when Schell gets the Vanwall round in 2'29"5, a speed of 199.908kph, and almost immediately afterwards, Hawthorn does 2'29"0, which gives him 200.579kph. There is no doubt that the Vanwalls are really motoring, and during the evening both drivers improve on their times. Chapman is feeling his way along carefully and at the same time breaking-in a new engine. In the Ferrari pit there is a slight gloom, for the only regular team man out for this first practice is Collins, being accompanied by de Portago and Gendebien, and as they are both new to the V8 Grand Prix cars, the honour of the Scuderia Ferrari is resting with the British driver. The Vanwalls are really setting the pace and Hawthorn reduces his times steadily until he reaches 2'27"0. Of the five Lancia-Ferraris in the paddock, one is fitted with an all-enveloping nose-piece and mudguards over the rear wheels which attach to the main body structure and form a completely enclosed rear end. However, this car is not used during the first practice period, and Collins is trying three of the normal cars, one of which has the front anti-roll bar uncoupled, but which proves to be horrible on the fast bend after the pits. When it is beginning to look as though the Vanwall team have got the better than Ferraris, Collins goes out again and suddenly produces a 2'27"6 lap and then his pit signals him to use all he has got and, by letting the V8 engine go to 8900 rpm, he turns a lap in 2'25"6, at the incredible speed of 205.263 kph (127 mph).


Schell goes out again to attempt to retrieve the honour of Vanwall, but fails, although he makes second fastest time in 2'26"8 (using Chapman's car) without stretching the Vanwall at all, whereas the Lancia/Ferrari is over the limit. The next day sees much more activity and, as Fangio and Moss are out, everyone stands back to see how they can improve on the times of Collins. As Musso is still convalescing after his Nürburgring accident, the Scuderia Ferrari team is Fangio, Castellotti, Collins, de Portago and Gendebien, and Castellotti is the first to try the streamlined car. The Scuderia Maserati are hardly recovered from their Supercortemaggiore chaos and have one car for Moss, Behra (fit once more after a slight operation), Taruffi and Perdisa to use, this being the long-nosed high-sided Spa car with fuel-injection engine, and the factory mechanics are also looking after the private cars of Godia and Piotti, the latter's car being driven by Villoresi. All three Vanwalls are out once more, but before they start going fast an unfortunate accident eliminates two of them. Hawthorn is on a warming-up lap and approaching Thillois hairpin at touring speed, while Chapman is rushing down the hill behind him. Approaching the hairpin, the second driver has a front brake lock solid and, unable to stop, he rams the tail of the leading Vanwall; Hawthorn is pushed straight on up the escape road and Chapman slid off the road and hit a concrete pylon, with a result that both Vanwalls are damaged, though fortunately neither driver is hurt. Trintignant is out with the new Bugatti, in fact with two Bugattis, for they bring along the prototype car as well as the new one with slightly longer wheel-base and neater bodywork. Neither of them is very fast, the new one spending most of the period being run-in, as it is brand new. Even so, with a lap time around 2'40"0, they do not look very happy on the fast bend after the pits. The streamlined Lancia-Ferrari is slightly better and Castellotti soon gave it back, for there is a cross wind on the very fast pits-bend and the car snakes about horribly. Later, it is tried without the tail fairing, which improves the handling, but then it is no faster than the normal car, once again showing that streamlining is not just a question of getting the panel-basher to work. As expected, Fangio goes straight off into a hot pace, starting with 2'26"0, and finishing with 2'25"2. Nobody else approaches this time, Collins being content with a relatively few slow laps in 2'30"0, while the Maserati team are very unhappy, Moss and Behra being unable to get below 2'34"4, the factory Maserati being slow, having the wrong ratios in the gearbox and erratic brakes.


Schell is doing his best, and improves his previous time with a lap in 2'26"1, and then Fangio goes out again, and a time of 2'24"8 shows that he is now trying. As he goes past the pits at nearly 160 kph, everyone listens for him to lift his foot off the throttle as he approaches the long right-hand curve; the scream of the eight megaphone exhausts remains constant until it dies away in the distance, and everyone, drivers included, pays tribute to the World Champion. Good drivers on slower cars are lifting off on this blind right-hand curve, and Fangio is taking one of the world's fastest Grand Prix cars round without easing the throttle. The only other driver to do this is Moss with the Maserati, but he is travelling somewhat slower. Fangio’s performance is impressive enough, but his time is even more so, for he records 2'23"3, and before practice begins, it is wondered whether anyone can beat 200 kph. When he returns to the pits, this full-bore through the curve becomes even more impressive, for he quietly explains that the gear-lever is jumping out of fifth and halfway round the curve he has to let go of the steering wheel with his right hand and hold the lever in gear. Among the others, de Portago is getting the hang of a powerful Grand Prix car and gets down to 2'30"9, while Gendebien is being very careful and still at 2'35"6. Gordini has two eight-cylinder cars running, da Silva Ramos being the fastest with 2'41"1. Castellotti is looking down his nose, for he cannot approach the times of Fangio and Collins, or even Schell, while the Maserati drivers are prepared to go home and forget Grand Prix racing, so hopeless is the factory car. The third and last practice period sees the Ferrari team taking things comparatively quietly, merely checking that gear ratios and tire sizes are right, and taking readings on tire wear and fuel consumption. As a half-hearted experiment (or leg-pull) all five cars are fitted with extensions to the radiator cowling that are exact copies of the Vanwall nose. Maserati are out in full force, with an air of desperation about them, having two injection cars, the Spa model with high cockpit sides and last year’s all-embracing streamlined car, this one also being fitted with Dunlop disc brakes especially for Moss. In addition, there are three normal factory cars and the private ones of Godia and Villoresi, while not far away are the two blue ones of Rosier and Simon. Gordini adds a six-cylinder car to his team, the driver being Pilette, while da Silva Ramos and Manzon are still on the eight-cylinder cars. 


The Vanwall mechanics do some overtime and repair Hawthorn's car by using bits off the undamaged rear end of Chapman's car, so they are able to run two cars, Hawthorn's and Schell's. Since the previous day, the wind has changed slightly and is now blowing down past the pits towards the Thillois corner and, as a result, times are a bit slower, though much to his joy Castellotti is fastest of the evening with 2'24"6, so that a Lancia/Ferrari is fastest each day, and each time with a different driver, Collins, Fangio and Castellotti thus reserving the front row of the starting grid. Behra eventually manages to scratch a rather mediocre 2'27"8, which is not as fast as Hawthorn's Vanwall, but which beats the best that Moss could do on an inferior car. The streamlined disc-brake Maserati is barely used before it is discarded as useless and the injection engines are still not satisfactory. The Bugatti is out again, but disappointingly slow and Gordini is very happy, for his eight-cylinder cars are now much faster. Rosier is in fine form and, without hurrying, is faster than lots of younger drivers, including Perdisa and all the Gordinis, while Villoresi is even faster. Saturday is a complete day of rest for the drivers, while the mechanics have plenty of time to prepare the cars for the actual race, and Sunday afternoon sees the track dry, but the sky overcast, as the cars are lined up on the grid for the start. The front row contains three Lancia/Ferraris in the order Fangio, Castellotti and Collins, all the cars having normal nose cowlings, all the streamlining being discarded. Behind these three is an encouraging sight for the many British spectators present, for the next three fastest practice times are made by Vanwalls, in the order Schell, Chapman and Hawthorn. Actually, Chapman's time is made by Schell using his starting number, he not getting below 2'36"0, but nevertheless it is three different Vanwall cars that recorded the times. Chapman being a non-starter, Schell is alone in the second row, and behind him are Hawthorn, Behra and Moss. Then come de Portago and Villoresi, followed by Gendebien, Rosier, and Taruffi, the two eight-cylinder Gordinis in row 6, Perdisa, Godia and Trintignant in row 7, and Pilette and Simon at the back. Hawthorn's car is fitted with the engine from the crashed Vanwall, it being considered a better one. Moss has the Spa Maserati with a carburetted engine, and Perdisa a normal model fitted with an injection engine, he and Taruffi changing cars at the last moment.


Trintignant uses the short-chassis prototype Bugatti, with the engine from the new car, and thus everyone is ready for the 42nd French Grand Prix, with its fabulous first prize of £10.000 offered by the BP fuel company. This is a prestigious result, because monopolizing the first three positions is certainly not a simple undertaking. In addition, Maserati's feared rivals seem to be struggling on the Reims circuit: Behra pays for a delay of four and a half seconds, Moss even more than six seconds. The situation for the Modena-based manufacturer was further complicated by the competitiveness of the Vanwall, which managed to place its drivers - Harry Schell, Colin Chapman and Mike Hawthorn - ahead of the cars of the Modena-based team. On Sunday 1st July 1956, the Scuderia Ferrari raced with a particular commitment: to honour the memory of Alfredo, son of Enzo Ferrari, who after a long illness - suffering from Duchenne dystrophy - passed away on Saturday 30th June 1956, during the afternoon. Already on Sunday 24 June 1956, a few minutes after receiving the news of Peter Collins' victory in the Supercortemaggiore Grand Prix at Monza, with a smile on his face, Dino said to his father:


"Dad, it's over".


Struck by a cerebral haemorrhage, Enzo Ferrari's son sank shortly after in an agony which at dawn on Saturday 30 June 1956 caused his heart to shut down. A few hours earlier, during the morning of Saturday 23 June 1956, Ferrari called Romolo Tavoni on the telephone: he would keep him on the phone until 4:00 PM in the afternoon, for hours and hours of endless chats.


"Stay here with Dino, because he needs it. You know it well, you were always at lunch with us...".


At the moment of Dino's disappearance, Enzo Ferrari is at his son's bedside, together with Romolo Tavoni, Professor Coppo, Francois Ferrario, the parish priest, Peppino and Laura Garello, who will be locked in a room because she screams the will to throw herself from a window. Ferrari stays with Dino all night, assisting him religiously until the end in the company of his elementary school friend, who later became a priest, Don Savino. It is the latter who takes Ferrari's arm and exclaims:


"Come on, Ferrari, now let's say a good prayer for our Dino who has left us".


But in the moment, he replies to Don Savino:


"Dear Savino, I wouldn't know what prayer to recite, because it's been since my first communion that unfortunately I haven't found a way to remember the prayers that many pronounce every day. The only one I can say is this: God, make me good".


The Modenese builder is dazed: he has known for some time that this would be the epilogue, but the same evening, in the diary in which he had diligently noted the course of the illness, the Modena constructor finds the strength to write the final words to the long hospitalization of the son:


"The game is lost".


Ferrari is kneeling on the ground, soaked in tears in front of his son who tells him, just before he goes out:


"Dad, you have to tell me why I have to die. You two brought me into the world to make me die".


Not having an answer, Ferrari is fainting right now. The constructor from Modena had discovered, only after Dino's birth, that Laura was ill and therefore it was the latter who transmitted to her son the disease that would have led him to die so young. A little later, Ferrari exclaims:


"Oh Christ, please make me good because I've been bad since this boy dies".


On June 30, 1956, Piero Cerullo, a student at the Muratori State High School in Modena and provincial youth secretary of the Italian social movement political party, was called by telephone from the Ferrari secretariat, which invited him to a meeting at the Maranello headquarters. As soon as he arrives, Cerullo is introduced to the presence of Enzo Ferrari, who expresses to the young man the will to fulfil a wish of his son.


"Dino has wanted to join the MSI for years".


But he had given it up out of concern for the company, given the circumstances of the place and the political climate. Shortly before he died, however, Dino asked his father to be buried wearing a black shirt and to have the banner of the MSI Youth Group at the funeral. Fully aware of the probable consequent drawbacks, Ferrari honours his son's will. Thus, on Sunday, 1 July 1956, Modena stopped for the funeral, and the flag of the MSI Youth Group of Modena, entitled to Dalmatia and Istria, escorted by Piero Cerullo and other numerous young militants, accompanied the coffin in the rain by Dino Ferrari, without a sign or a voice of dissent from those present, in an area of Italy that is certainly not benevolent towards the MSI, which on the occasion manages to keep silent and respect the wishes of Enzo Ferrari's son. The coffin had previously been watched during the night by the father's mechanics, and by the boy's friends. After the blessing of the body, just before 10:00 a.m., a long procession walks towards the parish church of Santa Agnese. The coffin is carried on the shoulders by the Ferrari mechanics, and the funeral mass is officiated by Father Alberto Clerici, the abbot of the Benedictine abbey of Santa Maria del Monte in Cesena, a long-time friend of Ferrari who in 1923 had celebrated his marriage. Then, the coffin is transported to the cemetery of San Cataldo, where Ferrari has long since set up the family tomb to which he had his father and brother moved years earlier, and which now welcomes his son. On the cardboard with which the parents announce Dino's disappearance, it is written:


"From above the realm of the just, where surely the Almighty has placed you, support all who weep for you and be a comfort to your mother and a bright flame on the way your father has yet to go to greater honour of that name which it was yours and yours it will remain".


This last sentence is linked to a promise that Enzo Ferrari made to Laura at the time of Dino's disappearance: the Modenese constructor, in fact, would not have given his surname to the son that he had had eleven years earlier with Lina Lardi of Aleardi; a promise that he would then keep throughout his life, considering it dissolved only in the moment of his disappearance. The sad news, communicated to the brave drivers of the Maranello team on the eve of the race, who for this reason run with mourning on their arms, constitutes a particular encouragement for this very demanding race. As a prelude to the French Grand Prix, albeit a rather long and drawn-out prelude, there are two 12-hour Sports-car events. The first is for cars up to 1500 cc and takes place from 10:00 am on Saturday, June 30th, until 10:00 pm, and the second from midnight two hours later, until midday on July 1st. The latter event was for cars from 1500 cc to 3500 cc. As seems to be a rather bad habit these days, especially for long distance events, the program for both races is full of blank spaces instead of drivers' names, and the general air of chaos in and around Reims, during the three days preceding the event, is at a great height.


In the 1500 cc event, there were some cars with three drivers wanting to take the wheel, others with only one driver and some did not even enter, so that any serious contemplation of the entries or their worth is rather out of the question. However, after the alarms and excursions of the practice periods, it becomes pretty apparent that the issue lays between the Cooper-Climax of Moss with Phil Hill as co-driver, the Lotus-Climax of Bueb-Mackay-Frazer, two 150S Maseratis driven by Bourillot-Perroud, and Michel-Berger, both being privately owned cars, the Osca of Chiron-Maglioli, this also being an old private car, a lone works Gordini driven by Mlle Thirion-Loyer, and four standard Porsche Spyder of Buff-Seidel, Harris-Hacquin, Goethals-Goethals, and Frankenberg-Stores. The last-named is the most serious competition, as it is fitted with a 1955 works engine, although the car is the private one of the Frenchman, Veuillet. For the rest, there is an assorted collection of French 750 cc cars, and, despite being of a national character, there is fierce competition in this group between the Monopole-Panhards, Bonnet and his BDs and the Ferry-Renault. This inter-marque competition between these small French cars is as strongly contested as the British battles between Cooper, Lotus and Elva, and just as important nationally. Fortunately, Saturday is a wonderful day and throughout the whole 12 hours there is an air of uncertainty as to the eventual outcome, which is not promised during practice and preparation. Maglioli sets the pace with the 1500 cc Osca, followed by Frankenberg, in the blue Porsche, while behind them, going like the wind, is Mackay-Frazer in Bueb's 1500 cc Lotus-Climax, after a bad start. This is the first serious attempt at high-speed motor racing by Cooper or Lotus and both are feeling the need for higher rear axle ratios. Moss has the only alternative of bigger rear tyres, while Bueb's car has the benefit of Chapman's presence, Anthony's blown-up Bristol-powered car and the loan of its ultra-high crown wheel and pinion. Moss’ car is prepared and entered in an absurd rush, so that although he runs away into the lead in the opening laps of this race, the Cooper-Climax only lasts for 30 minutes of the 12 hours before it visits the pits with so many troubles that it is difficult to keep up with them. The Osca seems secure in the lead until after the second hour, when Frazer sweeps by and Maglioli stops to hand over to Chiron. 


Almost exactly one hour later, the poor little Osca succumbs to Chiron's driving and is out, so that the lead is now contested between the Lotus and Frankenberg's Porsche. In view of the way the Lotus is prepared for the race, it seems unlikely that it will last many hours, but it just goes on and on, and whether Mackay-Frazer or Bueb drives make little difference to the way it hums around the circuit. It is not without its troubles, for the front track is not right and tires are wearing thin, while a curious reluctance to run on four cylinders at one time is eventually traced by the designer to a piece of blanking rubber having come unstuck and gone up one of the carburettor chokes. In addition to this, second gear loses a tooth, a repetition of the Monza trouble, and later, third gear disappears, leaving the car to carry on in top gear, which it does remarkably well. Farther up the line of pits, the Porsche is not completely happy, for it is running on old tires and they are wearing out quicker than expected. Amongst this Porsche/Lotus duel, Hill makes a few flashing laps in Moss’ Cooper before being eventually withdrawn with all the big-ends gone, amongst many ailments, while Gilberte Thirion pushes the works Gordini all the way from Thillois, only to find that the magneto is beyond repair. Berger has one of the carburettors of his Maserati break its mounting studs, a popular Maserati fault, and Ruff suffers a twisted cylinder head on his Spyder when he is rammed in the tail, the exhaust pipe taking the blow. The French girl, Annie Bousquet, does not complete the first hour before she crashes badly with her Porsche Spyder, and dies later from head injuries. After 10 hours of racing, the Frankenberg/Storez Porsche is leading Mackay-Frazer in the Lotus by a matter of a bare lap, while the Spyder of the Goethals cousins from Belgium is third, and the Maserati of Bourillot/Perroud is fourth. Shortly after, this the Maserati has trouble in its transmission and almost at the same time the Lotus breaks its centre main-bearing cap. The whip on the crankshaft allows it to hit the oil-pump drive-shaft, which breaks and is poked through the side of the crankcase, so that is the end of a very good run. This leaves the two Porsches in complete command way ahead of the third car, which is the Ferry-Renault driven by Blache/Pons, they having won the French national battle, which is a great feather in their cap. 


Out of the 30 starters, only 12 survive the total time and although the Lotus failed to achieve any results, it makes an excellent impression in this super club event. A remarkable performance is put up by a Sprint-Veloce Alfa-Romeo Giulietta driven by Castelin/Ross, which runs like a clock and finishes fifth overall. Hardly has the track cooled off from the exploits of the 1.5s than the big-boys line up for their Le Mans type start at midnight. As a 12-hour race this is rather a farce, for the entry totals a mere 15 cars, of which three are the works Jaguar team of Hawthorn-Frere, Hamilton/Bueb and Titterington-Fairman, the second pair having a fuel-injection car, while the only possible opposition is presented by Sanderson-Flockhart with the Ecurie Ecosse D-type, and the Monza Ferrari of Schell-Lucas. The rest of the cars cannot be taken very seriously when compared with the works Jaguar team, and consist of a Mille Miglia type Maserati owned by Piotti and shared with Maglioli, a 300S Maserati owned by Metternich, with Wharton as co-driver, and the HWM-Jaguar of Cunningham, Reid and Leston. Amongst this lot is a coupe 2.5-litre Ferrari, an Austin-Healey 100S as a last-minute substitute for the Flower Phoenix, which fails to rise, a TR2 Triumph, a 2-litre Gordini, an AC Ace, an old Mondial Ferrari and a new Testa Rossa Ferrari, the list being completed by a rather incomplete-looking Lister-Bristol. It is hardly necessary to wait 12 hours to realize the outcome of this peculiar race, and the Jaguar team uses it as a test run for Le Mans. While they can easily tour around on a demonstration run, they make a show by raising the race record and driving hard, learning much useful knowledge about tire wear and fuel consumption, as well as team control. Although there is no one to worry them, the drivers do not have an easy time, for during the night it rains continuously, and for most of the Sunday morning. The Ecurie Ecosse car is untroubled in fourth place, except that on its last lap it broke a half-shaft and Flockhart is able to coax it round, driving through one shaft and the friction in the ZF differential. Maserati is withdrawn when it rains, for it is still unstable at high speed, as Moss finds out in the Mille Miglia, the 3-litre Maserati retires, and Lucas breaks his Ferrari gearbox before Schell has a chance to drive. 


The surprisingly high number of 11 cars are still running at the end of the race, though Viddles is going slowly with no brakes whatsoever, and the Belgian-owned AC Ace, with Bristol engine, is in a sick condition. With so much activity in the Grand Prix, none of the teams bothers to enter sports cars for this 12-hour race and the result is rather a dreary one and a hollow victory for Jaguar. As the flag is raised, a rain-shower falls on the cars and mechanics are still trying to get the electric starter into the front of the Moss car, and with 30 seconds to go, they fling the starter away and begin to push. It still does not start, so Moss lets them push him past Fangio and up the road in front of the grid, which prevents Charles Faroux drop the flag until the Maserati engine runs and the car back in its position on the grid. Villoresi, on the other hand, is pushed back and forth on his grid position trying to get his engine to start, and when the flag falls, he still does not get it started. Away they go, the 18 cars disappearing under the Dunlop Bridge in a howling pack, while Villoresi in the 19th car is eventually started and joined in later. As they scream down the hill towards Thillois, the three Lancia/Ferraris are out on their own, followed by Schell, Moss, Hawthorn and Behra and at the end of the opening lap it is Castellotti, Fangio, and Collins in a tight bunch. On the second lap, Schell breaks second gear and wastes time sorting the gearbox out, so that he drops to ninth position, letting Hawthorn into fourth place, but already the Castellotti-Fangio-Collins trio are out on their own. Fangio is the first to set a new official lap record, with 2'29"8, although the three of them are nose to tail and often side by side. Simon and Taruffi make visits to the pits in these opening laps, and the Bugatti is the first French car, even if a long way back. After five laps, the leading trio is five seconds ahead of Hawthorn in fourth place, who is followed by de Portago, Behra, Gendebien, Moss, Schell and Perdisa, the rest already being way behind. Schell comes into the pits with a damaged engine having over-revved in bottom, and Perdisa goes by with smoke coming from the bonnet, due to an oil leak dripping onto the exhaust manifold. Fangio takes the lead, and in team order the three Scuderia Ferrari cars look all set to give a demonstration run. Schell does one more lap and then retires with water in the wrong places from an internal issue in the engine, and all British horses rest on Hawthorn, but even though he is fourth, he is losing ground.


The Bugatti is engaged in a wheel-to-wheel battle with Manzon’s eight-cylinder Gordini, even though da Silva Ramos outpaces both of them and goes ahead and in front all three, Rosier and Godia are having a very gentlemanly scrap. By 10 laps, the first three lap Pilette’s old Gordini, and are 13 seconds ahead of Hawthorn, who in turn is comfortably ahead of de Portago and Gendebien, followed by Behra, Moss in a very unhappy situation, Perdisa, the Godia/Rosier battle, da Silva Ramos, and Trintignant having got the better of Manzon. On the next lap, Hawthorn is flagged into the pit and handed the lone Vanwall over to Schell, for the British driver is not long before driving in the 12-hour sports-car race for the Jaguar team and is getting tired. This lets de Portago and Gendebien by, as well as Behra and Moss, so that the Lancia-Ferraris are now 1-2-3-4-5 and all sounding perfect. One lap later, Moss retires at the pits with a broken gear-lever and then Perdisa is flagged in to hand over to his team leader, a thing that is becoming a regular habit. The cockpit of this second Maserati is swilling in oil, and while Moss does some mopping up with a piece of rag, the fuel tank is filled, as the consumption of the injection engine is still not good enough. As Moss re-joins the race in the borrowed car, the leading trio go by in close formation, so that, even with a perfect car, he can hardly hope to make up a whole lap. Schell is now driving Hawthorn’s Vanwall with a very determined air and, on lap 14, he is 42 seconds behind the leader. First of all, he deals with Behra, which gets him into sixth place, and then he closes up on Gendebien, all the while the gap between the British car and the leading Lancia/Ferrari is reduced. The Bugatti stops at the pits with jammed throttles (due to the dust collected by the air-intake system), and has to retire, while Moss is steadily losing ground to the triumphant Prancing Horse trio. At 20 laps Schell is 28 seconds behind them, and passes Gendebien with ease, and at the same time de Portago retires with a broken gearbox. This puts Schell into fourth place, but the Ferrari pit thinks he is a lap behind the leading trio instead of a mere 28 seconds, not noticing that he has taken over Hawthorn’s car. As a result, they do not give their drivers any warning of the approaching Vanwall, and even when Schell whistles past Moss, they do not worry. This terrific progress of the green car has the crowd on its feet and with a new lap record in 2'29"4, Schell is only 12 seconds behind the Lancia/Ferraris. 


Each lap he gets closer and the crowd cheers louder, and the Ferrari pit begins to wonder if something is wrong and, by lap 28, he is right behind Collins, and in a panic, Ferraris realize their mistake and give their triumphant trio the press-on signal. This they do, but they cannot shake the Vanwall off, for Schell has really got the bit between his teeth and he is determined to break up the red cars. Time and again he tries to get past, but for once the mixed Ferrari team of Argentine, Italian and British drivers have to work as a team, and they deliberately drive along the straights side by side to keep the green car from going by, for without any doubt it is noticeably faster on maximum speed. On lap 31, the four cars approach the Thillois hairpin in a bunch and Schell forces his way through on the inside, displacing Collins and Castellotti in one fell swoop, so that he came past the pits right in Fangio’s slipstream, while the crowds stand up and cheer. Now, the old man really has to try and he shakes the Vanwall off round the long fast curve and through the bends to Muizon, but the other two Italian cars are still behind. On lap 33 Fangio pulls out 2'25"9 (with this time, the Argentine driver will secure a prize corresponding to as much as 500.000 francs), and Schell is elbowed into third place at the Thillois hairpin, but still the gallant Franco-American will not give up and is back in second place at the end of the lap. The new record lap by Fangio gets him away on his own by a few lengths, and then Collins and Castellotti both force their way by the Vanwall, and calling a truce for once they get together and fix the British car well and truly. As the four cars come up the finishing straight. Fangio is still some lengths ahead and the other two are side by side, with Schell desperately trying to get by with his faster car. There is no doubt now, that the Ferrari team are not going to be disturbed any more, for Fangio goes by with a full-throttle scream from his megaphone exhausts, and the other two go by with a slightly different note as they ease the throttles minutely, to drop perhaps 1 or 2 mph off their speed. Poor Schell is unable to get by, as they are still side by side, and so Fangio is able to draw well away into the lead. The wonderful if desperate effort, by the lone British car is over, and Schell then begins to ease off and sit back in fourth place, but he is content in the knowledge that he has made the Scuderia Ferrari pull out all the stops and scrape the bottom of the bag for some team tactics to deal with the Vanwall. 


This excitement carries the race through to the 37th lap and the next time round, the Vanwall stops at its pit. After this valiant effort, a ball-joint in the linkage to the injection pump is sheared off, and although another one is fitted, it is impossible to get the adjustment right in the time available, so Schell has to re-join the race running on a weak mixture. Gendebien stops on the same lap and retires with no clutch, and the situation is now Fangio, Castellotti, Collins, Behra and Moss, the last-named over a lap behind the leaders. As the three Maranello cars start their 40th lap, they are given the slow signal, for all danger is now passed, but next time round there is consternation for Fangio drawn into his pit. A fuel line splits and, in no time, mechanics are making a repair with rubber tubing and wire. But before he can re-join the race, Behra is gone by and Castellotti and Collins are approaching from Thillois. Yet again a certain victory for Fangio is taken from his grasp for he cannot hope to make up nearly a whole lap. Barring any further untoward incidents, the race is now run and it just remains to be seen which of the leading pair is going to settle into the lead. Castellotti leads until the end of lap 46, then Collins leads for two laps, then Castellotti once more, and on lap 50 Collins goes back into the lead, where he stays until the total of 61 laps are completed. The Ferrari pit is not letting its drivers know how many more laps they have to complete so that neither driver should know exactly when he will reach the 50th lap, at which the - Stay as you are - signal will be given. However, Collins has some friends in other pits keeping him informed so that he makes sure he is in the lead at the right time and is thus able to take the win. Castellotti and Collins overtake each other frequently, they both march side by side, not forcing at all. Their opponents are far behind, until suddenly the Briton loses ground due to a skid, and the Italian finds himself ahead by two hundred meters. At this point, brand interests come into play. Collins, on the eve of the Reims race, leads the World Championship standings with eleven points, flanked by Moss, while Castellotti is relegated to last place with one and a half points. If he wins, the Briton goes to 19 points, and his rivals are detached perhaps irretrievably; if he finishes second behind Castellotti, the latter advances to 9.5 points and Collins to 17 points. Two points may, when all is said and done, prove decisive. 


Ferrari officials therefore decide to sacrifice Eugenio to the team's higher interests, and signal him to slow down, letting his teammate pass and stabilizing positions. Castellotti obeys in a disciplined manner, but when the race is over, he does not hide his disappointment, which is perfectly understandable, just as Scuderia Ferrari's decision is understandable in one respect. Behra is running very regularly in third place, 70 seconds behind the leaders, but in fourth place Fangio is piling on all that he has in an attempt to catch Behra. Some laps behind the leaders is Schell, whose Vanwall is gradually burning out its valves due to the weak mixture and getting slower and slower, being overtaken first by Rosier and then by Godia, while right at the back are the three Gordinis, in the order Silva Ramos. Manzon and Pilette. Having no hope of catching anyone, or being caught, Moss makes a brief stop for more oil, as most of the tankful is in the cockpit, and in complete command of the race the two Lancia-Ferraris of Collins and Castellotti are flagged home. Behra arrives in third place, but only five seconds behind thundered Fangio, never relaxing for a moment and his 61st and last lap is a new record in 2'25"8, another example of his tenacity and fight against ill-fortune, just as he has demonstrated at Monte-Carlo. Of the 19 starters, only four finish on the same lap, the other seven finishers being laps behind. Collins thus won his second consecutive success after that of Belgium, and took the lead in the championship, while Castellotti finished three tenths behind his teammate, reluctantly accepting the order imposed by the Ferrari pit wall to keep the positions unchanged until the chequered flag. Behra hits an unexpected podium for Maserati, followed by the very unfortunate Fangio. Fifth place, valid for two points in the championship, was conquered by Moss, who reached the finish line two laps down; however, the Briton was forced to share the points obtained with his teammate Perdisa, thus leaving Reims with just one championship point. The good race of the Italian champion who came just behind the young English ace should be underlined. However, after the race, there was a long discussion about whether or not this team discipline was appropriate, and not everyone agreed on Castellotti's sacrifice, who certainly did not hide his deep disappointment. 


For the driver from Lodi, after the magnificent Mille Miglia, one never went well, but this could have been the right time. Even the reigning world champion would have needed to win, given that he is coming from a difficult period, even though he knows he is always the strongest of all: in practice he had detached everyone at an average speed of 208 km/h and at the start of the Grand Prix he had quickly assumed command. The longed-for return to victory was looming for him, until halfway through the race the engine of his Ferrari began to kick back. As for the technical results of the French Grand Prix, it is easy to say: absolute superiority of the Ferraris, while Maserati is perhaps going through a period of difficulty in the transition from carburettor engines to direct injection ones, and the Vanwall has confirmed its qualities of power and speed but also the lack of tightness. Not unexpected, finally, the half-disappointment of Bugatti, around which the Molsheim technicians will still have a lot to work on. Ferrari's victory at Reims was splendid from a technical point of view, but stormy as regards the drivers. Both Castellotti and Fangio protest for not having been able to aim for success, the former, and for not having been able to defend his champion title, the latter. During the evening of Wednesday, 27 June 1956, Eugenio Castellotti returns from Reims with the regret of the magnificent missed opportunity. He could have won the French AC Grand Prix, but team orders relegated him, so to speak since it was a magnificent placement, to second place behind Collins. Castellotti, as impetuous and courageous in his statements as in his driving, did not keep silent about his disagreement with Ferrari, and indeed returned to Lodi in a rage. First, however, he had gone to Modena, summoned by Ferrari himself, on Tuesday, 26 June 1956. The Modena-based constructor threw himself into work to forget the pain of his son's disappearance. The conversation between the Italian champion and Enzo Ferrari, at this moment, cannot have heated tones and he did not have them.


"Remaining in the motorsport field, I had assurances from Ferrari about my next sporting activity. Apart from any other considerations, it is easy to understand how a victory with an Italian driver, as well as with an Italian car, is of great interest for our sport. I don't want to say this, of course, that I can guarantee it. If they don't give me certain signals from the pits, I could still try it if the favourable opportunity presents itself".


Then was the difference with the Ferrari house settled?


"In large part. Today in Milan I will also speak to Fangio, who also wasn't very satisfied with the Reims affair, and then I will return to Modena".


Castellotti, if all goes well, will compete in Rouen on Sunday, 8 July 1956, with the three-litre twelve-cylinder Ferrari, and subsequently will be racing at Silverstone with the Formula 1 single-seater. A few days before the French Grand Prix, Juan Manuel Fangio had sunk into an acute personal crisis. The main reason is the lack of first drive status, which he continues to think he is entitled to by virtue of his three world titles. Instead of calming him down, Marcello Giambertone convinced Fangio that Ferrari's behavior, relating to the recent provisions in the race, could have commercial reasons, given that two of his three teammates - Musso and Castellotti - were Italian and it goes without saying that an Italian team favoured the home riders. Collins, on the other hand, is English and the English car market is much more attractive than the Argentine one, which is currently closed to imports of foreign cars. For this reason, according to Giambertone, Ferrari has nothing to gain by favouring Fangio, but much to lose if he had not helped Collins in some way. Thus, Giambertone sent a telegram to Ferrari's commercial director, Girolamo Gardini, asking him to report to the Modena-based manufacturer that Fangio resented the treatment reserved for him and the small number of cars assigned to him. By writing to the commercial director, Giambertone bypasses the two managers of Ferrari's sports management, the sports director Sculati and the technical director Amorotti, in whom he does not put enough trust but who, instead, after each race, had diligently taken note and sent Ferrari the detailed complaints from Fangio. 


Ferrari pays no attention to the person to whom the telegram was addressed, and despite the discouragement for Dino's condition, now on the verge of dying, he wasted no time in replying through another telegram, with which the Modenese manufacturer reassured Giambertone that he had given the order to treat Fangio as squad leader. Fangio is encouraged by Ferrari's openness and reassurances, but when in the following French Grand Prix he sees Collins win again in the face of a new strange problem with his car - this time a splash of petrol that hit him in the face and forced to a stop of more than a minute in the pits - he falls back into a state of depression, and at the suggestion of his manager, at the beginning of July, Fangio goes to see a neurologist, who finds him suffering from reactive neurosis characterized by an emotional malaise- anxious. Informed once again by telegram, Ferrari suggests a second specialist visit with a doctor chosen by the Modena manufacturer, but he will renounce when Giambertone presents him with the respectable credentials of the neurologist who examined Fangio. For Ferrari, all of this is naturally very strange and distant, not only because this occurs in the days following his son's disappearance, but also because, for the first time in his life, he is dealing with problems with one of his drivers through an intermediary without actually speaking or see the driver in question. Meeting only Marcello Giambertone again, during the conversation Ferrari accepted the request that Fangio be assigned a personal mechanic, chosen by the Modena-based manufacturer, but totally available to the Argentine driver alone, and the only one authorized to get his hands on his car. Following all these vicissitudes, on 16 July 1956, Enzo Ferrari confessed his anxieties in writing to a long-time friend, Gino Rancati, the RAI journalist with whom he had immediately struck up a rare understanding. It is to him that he confesses his intention to go to the end of this sporting season, but who then would have decided to leave to others the honour of defending the prestige of Italian work abroad, through a letter, written by hand, therefore unseen by anyone on his secretary.


"Dear Mr Rancati, thank you for your affectionate, understanding letter. I can no longer offer importance to criticisms and remarks; after what I have experienced and suffered, it seems irrelevant to me what, in the past, gave rise to lively disappointment and reply. I am going to the end of this sports season, then I decided to leave to others the honour of better defending the prestige of Italian work abroad. You have to know how to give up something in life that really matters to you and I think that, after losing my son, I cannot and I have nothing dearer to give up. I hope to see you again soon and best regards. Enzo Ferrari".


Struck in the dearest affections, for the first time, the willpower of Enzo Ferrari falters.


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