#55 1956 German Grand Prix

2021-04-17 00:00

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

#55 1956 German Grand Prix

On Wednesday, 18th July 1956, the rumble of racing engines breaks the silence of the Gran San Bernardo valley for the last practices of the drivers wh


On Wednesday, 18th July 1956, the rumble of racing engines breaks the silence of the Gran San Bernardo valley for the last practices of the drivers who will participate at the classic uphill Aosta Valley. The participants are 64 and they will contend the absolute victory in the Gran Turismo and Sports category, but the organizers will announce the official drivers list late in the afternoon. Thanks to early news arrived by phone the names of the best drivers of the various classes are announced, so it is not difficult to make some predictions, at least regarding the absolute victory. The fight should be between the favourite 4 litres Ferrari, which will be driven by Umberto Maglioli and Willy Daetwyler as official drivers of the Modenese house, and Gerini and Margalraz with their personal cars. The 2 litres Maserati, with lower displacement, should not be dangerous, even though a surprise could come from Buffa, Paglierini or Fiorani. Of the favourites, the first one to arrive in Aosta was Maglioli on board of his car that was donated from Mexico in occasion of the win at the Carrera. It will be his training car waiting for the mechanics to give him his Ferrari. Sunday’s race will be Maglioli’s first one for the team from Maranello, after some disagreements have divided the Biella driver from Scuderia Ferrari. Both Maglioli and Ferrari wished to collaborate again, but due to stubbornness reapproaching was far, until now. The senior executives of the Aosta Automobile Club have been the promoters of this reconciliation since they wanted Maglioli to race at all costs but, not having a winning car, they personally solicit the Ferrari commendatore. So, everything was solved. After finding the car, Maglioli on Sunday should not fail to repeat last year’s success when, with a prestigious race, reduced by 22 seconds the record set by Castellotti in 1954. The Biella driver does not want to predict anything for fear that he may bring bad luck. In the afternoon of Saturday, 21st July 1956, the drivers will contend the starting spots during the official practices, but without forcing the cars to compromise the engines and to reveal the exact race possibilities. The technical problems are one of the decisive factors of this race, which, in addition to the 33.900-kilometre-long track, has a 2000 meters difference in height so it is essential to have a perfect engine set up. Most of all for the carburetion, that is particularly difficult for the height and hair pockets in some traits. Next to the technical problem there are the ability and courage of the drivers that are put under hard test on the route that has 418 turns while the last trait is in clay. 


All these factors are decisive for the result of the Aosta- Gran San Bernardo. There will be two women as well, the famous champion Nini Schiagno and the famous scooterist Ada Pace both on a Giulietta Sprint. Umberto Maglioli went back to the appointment as he promised; unfortunately, Castellotti is absent following his accident in Silverstone. Even though there will not be the fight between the two Italian aces of the moment, a lot of drivers will challenge the Biella champion, first of all the Swiss Daetwyler, his teammate, then Gerini and Buffa on Maserati. In fact, the great driver Willy Peter Daetwyler on Ferrari 3000 wins the 18th edition the Aosta-Gran San Bernardo uphill race, beating by only 4 seconds the favourite Umberto Maglioli. The Swiss is a specialist of the mountain; three years ago, here, on the European highest peak, had a great affirmation, but nobody would have thought that he could have beaten Maglioli, record man of this race and owning the most powerful car. Instead, there have been precisely the power use difficulties of Ferrari to play a dirty trick on the Biella driver. In the lower part of the track, where the tarmac gives the possibility to do very fast sprints, Maglioli takes down everyone, reaching Etroubles, 16th kilometer, at an average speed of over 101 km/h, with a time 7 second inferior to the one set by himself last year. Then, on the gravel of the last few kilometres, especially over the customs, exploiting the power of the engine has become an illusion, which was lacking the adequate grip to fully transmit to the tires. And the advantage margin has been swallowed by the less demanding car of the Swiss. In any case, the record is still unbeaten for exactly 5 seconds, this is the only consolation that remains to Umberto Maglioli from this edition of the beautiful Aosta race, held without even a little accident, fostered by a day full of sunshine. In some ways it is curious to say that the only record that has not been beaten is the absolute one. This is thanks to the improved street condition, but also to the undoubted progress made on modern cars. In the 1300 cc class, gran turismo group, the incredible sixth place of the eclectic miss Ada Pace has to be recorded, despite the imperfect operation of the gearbox, due to which, right after she passed the finish line, she loses for a moment the control of the car, skids on straw bales and takes down a kerbstone: the only emotion of the whole race. 


Forty-four started, four retired. Another positive fact of this show. Le Mans is a name that sounds gloomy in the recent history of Autosport. The memories of the tragedy that has devastated the last edition of the French race is still alive. The one-hundred victims of that rainy day in June 1955 were a terrible warning for the whole motorsport organization, with all the restrictive interventions, the controversies, the prohibitions, which by inevitable logic were followed in the whole Europe. There have been a lot of discussions on Le Mans’ misfortune, without coming to a rational clarification, but necessary to try to avoid humanly thinkable limits of more suffering, since motorsport is an irrepressible phenomenon, which has its reason for being even outside its spectacular shows. Only one thing is certain, as a synthesis of the reports, of the opinion of the experts, of the general impressions, that at some point, experiencing extraordinary and probably unique circumstances, there are no precautions that can oppose the unleash of dynamic laws without any control. From here comes the duty, even more categorical, to arrange at races scrupulous technical and organizational precautions for the safety of the spectators. Despite everything, the 24 Hours of Le Mans survived: it is not certain if because of its traditions or because of political reasons. Naturally, the track of the French village has been deeply modified, less on the planimetric development, according to last year’s experience. The straight of the grandstands, where the misfortune happened, has been widened by many metres; there have been dig ditches and large protective walls were built, so that there is a large space between the edge of the track and the spectators, closed by barriers in height and depth. Large zones will be forbidden to the public, and nobody could stay at an inferior level to the so-called safety. The boxes also have been moved back in order to leave a wide corridor reserved only to cars that have to pull over and stop. In the end, the number of cars admitted has been reduced, and for the prototypes, the maximum displacement of the engines has been limited to 2500 cc. Unfortunately, the organizers did not exclude low-capacity cars, which is proven that they are obstacles for fasters cars during overtakes. The reason behind this obstinacy is that the French, since they could not aspire to the absolute victory because of the lack of cars the same technical level to Italian and British cars, aim to the primacy of that special standings of the performance index, considering the engines capacity and the kilometres done in the twenty-four hours: some kind of handicap for more powerful cars. 


Now, in low capacity there are very efficient cars in France, of great yield, which in Le Mans often have achieved great results. The Maserati is absent, for the absolute record the Italian industry is represented in the race by Ferrari, which made specifically for the race in Le Mans new cars with four cylinders of 2500 cc. In the Modena team there will not be Fangio, who wants to preserve himself for the last few official races of the World Championship, and Collins, who may be pairing with Moss on an Aston Martin, which with Jaguar will be in contention for the victory of the race. Unknown is the French Talbot, which will present a new model equipped with a Maserati 2500 engine, and will have Jean Behra as first driver. The 24 Hours of Le Mans was traditionally held in June. But, after the tremendous misfortune of last year, in which almost one hundred spectators lost their lives, the organizers of this sadly famous race wanted to let pass more than twelve months in sign of mourning before take up again the execution. Needless to say, the French race is not popular worldwide, identified now like the death race, even though the tragic, certainly unrepeatable occurrence of the horrifying carnage is imputed in minimal part to the characteristic of the track; on the contrary, this accident could have, maybe even more easily, happened on any other track. That has been exactly the dreadful warning of 11th June 1955, a date that could not and must not be forgotten to prevent any risk for the spectators. It is quite clear that the repetition of severe accidents in motorsport competitions, and the following considerations and controversies, starts to worry the organizational sectors of the competitions. The cry of alarm launched more than once on the subject, followed by various ideas on how to limit the possible causes of this misfortunes, has found its echo in every environment. It is a big surprise that the first action began in America, a country where it was always believed that every excess is justified in the construction technique and its consequent rise of speed of the cars in order to achieve results. From Indianapolis, in fact, comes the news that the race direction of the Indy 500, which is famous worldwide, on Sunday 25th July 1956, announces that, in the next three editions of the race, the maximum power of the engines allowed in the famous circuit will be reduced to contribute on the reduction of car accidents. 


Anton J. Hulman, president of the committee of the race, declares:


"From the point of view of safety, we think that the use of less powerful engines that the ones admitted in the last few years will help reduce the always increase of the speeds. The incidents should be less, as a consequence".


In 1955, Bill Vukovich, two-time Indianapolis winner, was victim of an accident while leading the race. In this year’s race there have not been other fatal accidents, but ten cars went off road and injured five people. According to new rules for 1957, 1958 and 1959, the displacement limit, in non-super-compressed cars, will be reduced from 274 cc to 256, and the one for super-compressed engines from 183 to 171. According to Hulman, this action should bring within 1960 to the worldwide standardization of the engines for racing cars. Talking about the competition in motorsport, the organizers of the German Grand Prix valid for the world championship, which will be held in the Nürburgring on Sunday 5th August 1956, have announced that drivers from nine counties will take part to the race. Fangio, Castellotti, Musso, Collins and another driver to be designated will drive Ferrari cars, while Maserati will be entrusted to Moss, Behra, Perdisa and to another driver to be announced. Between the other drivers there will be Villoresi, Schell, Rosier, Godia, Da Silva Ramos. On Tuesday, 27th July 1956, the great activity on the track begins, where on Wednesday the exhausting carousel of the 24 Hours will start, with the work of the mechanics doing to their best to set up the cars, and of the drivers, which alternate without interruption on the long track to test the performance of their cars, and to comprehend the various difficulties of the circuit. The start, as is known, will be on Saturday at 2:00 p.m., and it is expected that 200.000 people will be present to this interesting race. During the practices, the English Jaguars establish themselves as the best and the fastest lap is set by Mike Hawthorn, which will be again paired to Ivor Bueb, who maintained the average speed of 188.632 km/h. Three Jaguars signed up by the company and three of private property are the only cars that will compete on the 3.5L category. The most threatening opponent seems to be three 3L Aston Martins and three 2.5L Ferraris signed up by the Modenese company.


"Miracle at Le Mans".


Writes with rhetoric emphasis a French newspaper: a miracle, because a race that seemed to be cancelled forever, maybe without any faults, is risen. The 24 Hours continues because many interests, sportive and not, are related to it. This is thanks to the organizers who have dealt with the circuit’s problem of safety radically, and now everything seems to be perfect. Being the number of cars admitted to the race reduced from sixty to fifty, the main theme of the 24 Hours is the same of the last few editions: the comparison between the English and continental cars. English cars have won this race nine times, from 1931 to the present day. And three times, on alternate years, after 1950, thanks to Jaguar, that even this time presented itself extremely fierce, with an official team of four cars - headed by last year’s winners Hawthorn and Bueb - and two private cars. In the times set during the official practices, Jaguar records the best lap times, but without getting closer to the ones set during the race a year prior. Aston Martin also shows an excellent quality, counting on two great crews: Moss-Collins and Walker-Salvadori. Saturday 28th July 1956, at Le Mans circuit, the famous 24 Hours race begins with a plea by the French motorsport veteran, Charles Faroux, sent in particular to the drivers:


"The future of the motorsport is in your hands. I recommend to everyone the maximum prudence, that even the most famous race in the world would not survive to another incident".


The immutable ceremonial that precedes the start takes place with the precise regularity that distinguish the organization of the famous race. The drivers aligned opposite the track are forty-nine, that at the signal of the starter launch themselves to the wheel of their cars and in engines roar start the race. The first few laps see to the lead Hawthorn’s Jaguar, followed by Moss’ Aston Martin and the Ferraris. But very soon, the positions will change and various accidents will upset the race. The first one of these is De Portago’s number 11 Ferrari whose, bumping into Fairman’s Jaguar, during the second lap overturns and goes out of the track; De Portago miraculously gets out of the dramatic accident unharmed and goes back to the Ferrari box by foot. Both cars have to retire from the race. Shortly after, the Panhard of the French driver Héry will overturn on the Mulsanne corner, bursting into flames. The unlucky driver, even though he was quickly rescued, will die at about 8:30 p.m. at Le Mans hospital, where he was transported. Héry was part of the category of gentleman drivers because he owned a big garage in Nantes, and used to practice the motorsport for pure passion. He was forty-three years old, he was married and had two children, one was seventeen and one fourteen. In the meantime, Hawthorn’s number 1 Jaguar has to stop several times and his place is alternatively taken by his teammate Sanderson (Jaguar number 4) and by Stirling Moss, who is paired to Peter Collins, Aston Martin number 8 driver. The two English drivers repeatedly beat the fastest lap time, taking the average speed from 168.263 km/h to 181.837 km/h. This battle has as a consequence that of accelerating values. The first refuelling for big displacements is planned to be on lap thirty-four: everyone can arrive in time at the refuelling where, in few seconds, fierce teams of mechanics do this important formality. In the meantime, the speaker announces in all the languages the main performances set in the first few hours of the race, while the rain, that at intervals sprinkle copiously the track, it is largely responsible, and on lap thirty-six, the Talbot driven by Lucas overturns boarding the Maison Bianche corner. No harm, but he is forced to retire. 


In the night, the vivid lights of the gigantic kermesse shine: in the distance, suddenly a glow turns on: it is the Porsche driven by the German Glocker, who collides with the non-official Ferrari of Pierre Meyrat and burns. The latter, thanks to an acrobatic jump, will get out unharmed form the impact, while Glocker will be transported to the infirmary with a fractured leg. The retirements follow one another and shortly after it is the turn of Duval’s Stanguellini and Chancel’s Panhard, which, bumping into each other, go out of the track and will be abandoned on the roadside by their drivers, fortunately unharmed. The Aston Martin driven alternatively by Stirling Moss and Collins keeps the lead of the race, followed at a little more than one minute of distance by Sanderson and Flockart’s Jaguar. The Ferraris, despite the handicap of their briefed and rushed preparation, are following with magnificent regularity. At the end of the race, using an expression beloved to the French, it should be said that the success of the Jaguar in this thirty-fourth 24 Hours is, despite being unquestionable and conquered after a long battle, sans panache. It deals with, in fact, of a car that does not officially belong to the English House, but to the unofficial Ecurie Ecosse, which wins by leaving a gap of twenty laps to the only official representative remained in the race: the one of Hawthorn-Bueb. The absence of Mercedes, and the rushed preparation of Ferrari, are factors that matter on the euphoria of the success. The new formula given by the organizers by the circumstances needs to be reviewed. Such is, on the other hand, the opinion of Ferrari’s technicians, who would have preferred that, in addition to the restriction on the consumption, at least for this year, the one on displacement was matched, since the way in which the formula has been applied considerably disadvantaged them. There is a cold and grey dawn on Sunday morning, after a stormy night that sweep up the big highland on which the track is. These are very tough hours for the contestants, and in the end, the ones who can resist on this battle with the elements and the opponents are few. At the sixteenth hour, after two thirds of the race, only seventeen cars are still in the race. Thirty-two retirements, provoked by incidents, one of them fatal, the unlucky one of Héry during the fifth lap, and also because of technical issues, at 8:00 a.m., the severity of action is punished. On Saturday night, Glocker’s Porsche, after bumping into Peter Walker, is rescued while some marshals signal that the car stopped at the edge.


So, an English team wins in Le Mans, while English cars will be absent in anticipation if the German Gran Prix, which will take place on Sunday, 5th August 1956, on the track of Nürburgring, and so there should be a reason of major interest in the battle between Ferrari and Maserati drivers. The team from Maranello will align five official cars, which, unless some last minutes changes, will be driven by Fangio, Castellotti, Collins, De Portago and Musso. Regarding Maserati, which should have in the race at least one car with direct injection engine, has registered to the Adenau race the Englishman Moss, the Italian Perdisa and the Frenchman Behra; the fourth official driver will be decided during the free practices on Wednesday, 2nd August 1956. The Italians Villoresi and Maglioli, the Englishman Schell and some other drivers will have private Maserati, while Gordini gives its six-cylinders to the Brazilian Da Silva and to the Belgian Pilette. The German Grand Prix is reserved to Formula 1 cars and it is held on a total distance of 501.820 kilometres. The German track alternates continuous changes of variation and very fast traits, forcing the drivers to always keep a high concentration level, not only for the performance, but also for safety: Nürburgring does not even forgive the smallest mistake, and also the smallest distraction can be fatal. Difficulties are also related to the disconnected asphalt in various parts of the track, which creates big vibrations that are definitely wearing for suspensions. For this reason, teams’ technicians run for cover, trying to introduce protective and helpful solutions in order to strengthen the body of the car: Ferrari decided to reinforce the structures of the fuel tanks. Juan Manuel Fangio, who is following by one point his teammate Collins in the World Championship standings, on Monday 30th July 1956, does a lap over the track on board of a little plane, maybe to decide the tactic to adopt during the race; Castellotti also does a lap over the track on an airplane. On Tuesday, 1st August 1956, Fangio goes on track with his Ferrari and does a lap at the average speed of 145.100 km/h, pulverizing the record did by Lang on Mercedes at the average speed of 138.500 km/h. However, the organizers declare that they will be recognize only the times set during the official tests. With the German Grand Prix that will take place on Sunday on the very hard circuit of Nürburgring, the Drivers’ World Championship comes to its second last episode, before the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, on 2nd September 1956. 


Given the current world championship standing, which sees the Englishman Collins on the lead with 22 points, followed by Fangio with 21, Behra with 18, Moss with 13 and Castellotti with 7.5, the most famous German race could turn out to be decisive for the title assignment. But, in order to achieve this, Collins should award himself the most of the points, so eight for the win and one given for the fastest lap. The hypothesis is improbable but not hazardous. The English driver demonstrated to be one of the best in world, he has on his side the young age, the will to come first, and he also needs some good luck, always needed on a sport where the human abilities are closely related to the consistency of the mechanical vehicle. However, it is more likely to think that every decision will be postponed to the final race at the Monza circuit, because at Nürburgring there will be other drivers aspiring to the title and that can theoretically conquer it. First of all, Juan Manuel Fangio. The Argentinian ace, three-time World Champion is still always, according to technicians and his fellow drivers, the strongest. This year, he had some moments of crisis (or maybe he was just tired), but most of all he had a great dose of misfortune, without which, with great probability, the title would have been already decided. In addition, he recently suffered from a nervous condition with boring cutaneous effects. It is reassuring that Fangio has completely recovered, eager to win, to reaffirm himself even formally as the best driver in the world. If the car and the health conditions assist him, Fangio will be the man to beat, the number one of racing. This may happen if Ferrari will be able to reconfirm their superiority on the Nürburgring track as well. This has to be demonstrated. In fact, Maserati not only recently did some great progress with the injection engine too, which will not be used on Adenau track for sure, but its chassis gives the cars a particular efficiency on very bumpy tracks. And so, both Behra and Moss can aspire to bring the two Ferrari drivers on top of the world championship standing. Probably, the most outstanding fact about the German Grand Prix is that no British cars are entered. Not even one of four Grand Prix teams make an entry, which is not only surprising, but depressing as well. It is left to Italy, the real home of Grand Prix racing, to make up the bulk of the runners for one of the toughest events in the World Championship series. 


The Nürburgring itself is a sufficient test for a proper car, but racing around it for 22 laps calls for terrific stamina from the drivers. Ferrari enter a full team of five Lancia-Ferraris, driven by Fangio, Collins, Castellotti, de Portago and Musso, the last-named making his first re-entry into racing since his crash in the 1.000-kilometre race back in May. All the cars are the current standard type, with small pannier tanks strapped onto the cockpit sides and the main tank in the tail, with the body spreading out the full width of the car between the wheels and having the exhaust pipes inside these hollow side pieces, and ending in four megaphone exhausts on each side. Opposed to this powerful team there are three works Maseratis, to be driven by Moss, Behra and Perdisa, these all being normal carburettor 250/F1 models. Gordini enters two of his eight-cylinder cars, with Manzon and Pilette as drivers, and the rest of the field is made up by private owners and private teams. The Centro-Sud team enters Schell on their Maserati and Scarlatti with their old 2-litre Ferrari, while Maglioli has the Senderia Guastalla Maserati and Villoresi will drive Piotti’s similar car. Rosier, Gould, Halford, Salvadori, Godia and Volonterio are all driving their regular Maseratis, so that the bulk of the entry of 19 cars emanates from Modena. There are three practice periods, all of sufficient length for new drivers to learn the difficult circuit, but on each occasion it is either raining or the track is still damp, so that no one is able to go at all fast by comparison with the possibilities of the cars. Ferraris are having some engine issues, and they have to use the spare units that they have brought along, while de Portago cannot understand his slow lap times until he discovers that the back of the chassis frame is broken. This entails stripping all the cars for inspection and welding gusset plates around the shock-absorber mountings to prevent any further breakages. 


The Nürburgring is guaranteed to break up the best cars, and the Lancia/Ferraris are no exceptions, this being their first visit to the track. For a change, the Maseratis are proving quite reliable and their only trouble is grounding at the bottom of some of the sharp dips, so that the front suspensions have to be set up to give more ground clearance. By sheer luck, the Lancia-Ferraris are proving the ideal cars for the Nürburgring, the handling being right for the twisty nature of the circuit, and the power and torque being in the right place, so that at no time are any of the Maseratis able to record lap times approaching those of Fangio and Collins. The old man is right in form and, in spite of the wet track, he is hurling the car through the bends in beautiful slides, while the young man is making everyone sit up and take notice by doing exactly the same and at just the same speed. These two are easily the fastest and recorded 9'51"2 and 9'51"5, respectively, with Castellotti third with 9'54"4. As no one else manages to get below 10 minutes it is clearly going to be a Ferrari walk-over if the damp conditions prevail. The official record for the Nürburgring is still standing at 9'52"2, recorded by Herrman Lang in 1939 and, although many people have improved upon this in practice and unofficial training, it has never been beaten during a race, so that the times of Fangio and Collins on a damp track indicate that the record would probably fall officially this year. Last year, during an unofficial training day, Fangio and Moss run under 9'35"0. With the W196 Mercedes-Benz and the day before practice for this year’s race, Fangio has been timed at 9'26"0, but all of this is naturally not official and can only be taken as a rumour and borne in mind as pointers for what might happen. The only driver to run into trouble during practice is Pilette, who goes off the road and bends the front of his Gordini and bruises his knee badly, while Piotti practices with his own car as Villoresi does not arrive until Saturday evening. Hawthorn’s rejection to race in the German Grand Prix provokes not few controversies in Adenau’s automotive environments. The British driver who was set free from B.R.M. to defend in Adenau Ferrari’s colours, declares:


"I won’t start because Nürburgring circuit doesn’t have the necessary structures to guarantee the safety of the spectators and the drivers".


The organizers, for their part, define Hawthorn’s declarations absurd, inviting him to rethink his decision. Hawthorn, however, opposed and informed Ferrari executives that he will not start. 


On Saturday, 4th August 1956, rain falls on track of the Nürburgring, making the regular execution of the last official practices before the German Grand Prix impossible. In fact, the drivers enrolled to the race cannot commit thoroughly to the engines of their cars, because in some parts the track is literally flooded. The starting grid is decided during the evening by the organizers: on the first row Fangio, Collins, Castelloni and Perdisa; on second row Moss, Musso and Maglioli, and on third row, Behra, Salvadori, Halford and De Portago, who took the place of Hawthorn. After all the damp and wet days before the race, race day itself turns out fine and dry and not too warm, and when the cars line up on the wide starting grid in rows of four-three-four-three, there are some changes to notice. The first row holds Fangio, Collins, Castellotti, followed by Moss, who has been practicing with a pair of Maseratis, the long-nosed, high cockpit model from Spa and a brand new one, with similar long nose and ducted radiator, and he decides to use the older chassis as the new one is no improvement. This is not surprising as it is identical in design, merely being another 250 F1 car, but brand new. Behra is sticking to the car that he has been using for all the season, and Perdisa is to have driven a normal-bodied works car; however, in the sports-car race preceding the Gran Prix he crashes mildly and is not feeling fit so the factory car is handed to Maglioli, the Guastalla car being a non-starter as a result. The crashed Gordini has been straightened out and Andre Milboux takes Pilette’s place at the wheel, making his first attempt at Grand Prix without even a lap of practice in the Formula 1 car. For the rest, everyone is present and Villoresi takes Piotti’s place on the back of the grid alongside Volonterio. Collins makes a terrific start and leads the field away into the first bends of the opening lap, but Fangio soon gets by and leads from the two young British drivers, for Moss is right alongside Collins: However, the Maserati cannot cope with the Lancia-Ferrari on this circuit and, when they reach the straight at the end of the lap, Fangio and Collins draw away. Until then, they have been in a bunch and Castellotti has been trying to get past Moss, but he overdoes things and spins on a downhill bend, restarting again at the end of the field. Salvadori is going extremely well and holding on to Behra, scrapping for fourth place, followed at some distance by de Portago, then Maglioli, Musso and Schell in a bunch and then Halford leading the rest, which included Castellotti thrusting his way along trying to make up for his mistake. 


At the end of this opening lap, there is the unusual sight of four cars pulling into the pits, Villoresi for a change of plugs, Manzon to retire with a broken front suspension, Gould to fix a loose throttle, and Scarlatti to repair his gear change, and when all is over and quietness descends, Volonterio comes touring past. There is no doubt now that the Lancia/Ferraris are in a similar position to Mercedes-Benz in last year’s Grand Prix races, and once more it is Fangio who is in control with a young British driver sitting on his tail learning all about Grand Prix racing. Last year it has been Moss, this year Collins, and Fangio is old enough to be father of both of them. Round and round go the two cars in neat formation, although Collins is not always neat in his cornering while keeping up with his leader, and behind them Moss sits comfortably in third place, neither gaining nor losing ground. As Fangio rounds the Südkurve, Moss appears over the brow of the Tiergarten and it is pretty obvious that there is going to be no motor racing, merely a processional demonstration. Although this appears dull to spectators, it is far from dull for the drivers, for the Nürburgring is one long nine-tenths dice from start to finish, even in a slow sports car, let alone a Grand Prix car, so that this is an event for the drivers and not the public, even though 100.000 of them have turned up to watch. Salvadori is sitting nicely in fifth place, but on lap three he feels that the engine would blow up if he carries on, so he stops and hastens away to drive on the morrow at Brands Hatch. Castellotti is down on power and stops to complain to his mechanics, while Milhoux is having trouble keeping all eight cylinders working on the Gordini.  With there being no possibility of a close race, the German Grand Prix turns into an endurance feat and, on lap four, Maglioli retires with his steering seized solid and Gould does likewise with rapidly falling oil pressure. Musso stops on lap six to see if his engine is really alright and then Castellotti comes in and retires, the loss of power being due to a faulty magneto. Although the race appears to be a procession, the leaders are not hanging about and Fangio, Collins and Moss all break the old 1939 lap record. Fangio does 9'48"1, Collins 9'47"6, and Moss 9'46"6, but then on the next lap Fangio replies with 9'45"5. 


On this lap, the eighth, Schell stops with his radiator boiling and Halford goes by into seventh place, driving remarkably well for his first serious Grand Prix. Volonterio also stops at his pit, mostly for drinking water, it seems. As Musso is not fully recovered from his broken arm and is not going too well, Ferrari signals him to come in on lap nine so that Castellotti might take over. However, when Fangio arrives at the end of that lap, he is alone, and Collins arrives slowly and stops at the pit. In the general commotion that followed, Castellotti is already waiting for Musso to arrive and does not realize that Collins is nearly unconscious and has been lifted from the car. All he sees is a red Lancia-Ferrari stopping, a driver being removed, so he leaps in, only to find that he is in the wrong car, for then Musso arrives as planned. Collins is still nearly unconscious so that, without knowing exactly what is going on, Castellotti takes over from Musso and rushes off. After a time, Collins recovers and is able to explain what happened. In holding the car on the starting line with the handbrake, the cable caught up on the main fuel line leaving the rear tank and, as the race progressed, it chivvied its way through, the leaking fuel sending fumes into the cockpit. Smelling fuel, but hoping it was all right, Collins carried on, not realizing the doping effect that the fuel was having on his brain until he found himself changing from second gear into fifth gear, and bumping the edge of the road in a dazed sort of way. Before it became too late, he decided to stop and the sudden stop caused him to virtually pass out. This little drama leads Moss into second place and the inevitable Behra into third position, followed by de Portago, Castellotti in Musso’s car, Halford, Schell and the rest more than a lap behind the leader. Lap 10 sees Fangio make another lap record in 9'44"9 and he is comfortably 18 seconds ahead of Moss, but not really gaining anything. Halford stops at his pit to report the loss of his twin tail pipes from the exhaust system and is told to continue on the stub manifolds, while the pipes from Gould’s retired car are removed. The pit area is still a scene of great activity, for Collins recovers remarkably quickly from his asphyxiation and, at the end of the eleventh lap, de Portago stops and hands his car over, so that Collins might try and catch Behra. 


At the end of lap 13, Behra runs into trouble with a broken tank strap and a temporary repair is made at the pit, during which Villoresi decides that he wants to call at the pits, but seeing mechanics busy on Behra’s car, he drives off again. Halford stops to see if Gould's exhaust system would fit, but as Maseratis are handmade, the brackets do not line up, so he continues to run on the stub pipes. While Behra is helping to fix his fuel tank, Collins goes by in de Portago’s car, moving into third place, and then Behra is off once more before Halford appears. Villoresi never returns to the pits, stopping out on the course with a broken engine and there are now only nine cars left running, for Schell finds the reason for his boiling is a broken water pump and Castellotti spins off once more, and this time stalls his engine. On lap 15, with another seven to go, Halford stops to take on more oil, as the flange on the outlet pipe is leaking, and Collins, in his efforts to catch the leaders, overdoes things on a downhill bend and spins off into the trees, climbing out unhurt but unhappy. On the next lap, Milhoux is forced to give up the unequal struggle with the misfiring Gordini and Halford is given the black flag and disqualified. After driving surprisingly well, Halford is lying fourth overall, a lap behind Fangio, but it is discovered that he has spun out on a quiet part of the course and has been push-started by outside helpers. When he eventually stops, he is practically unconscious from the exhaust fumes entering the cockpit from the two short stubs and he has to be worked on by the medical men for a long time before he recovers, all of which is an unfortunate ending to a good first attempt on the Nürburgring. Fangio is now drawing away a little from Moss and the gap widens to 28 seconds, while the old man still breaks lap records with a time of 9'41"6 and, on the last two rounds, Moss crosses his fingers for a horrid grinding noise starts up in the transmission. In order to ease the loads, he coasts round many of the corners in top gear and manages to nurse the car into the finish, still in second place, behind the reigning World Champion and in front of Behra, these three being the only ones on the same lap. Behind them comes Godia, having to drive a regular steady race, but suffering from stomach sickness all the while, and Rosier a little farther back, having run a train-like race which once again paid off. 


So, far back, being almost out of sight, came Volonterio in his old rigid-rear-axle Maserati. It has not been an exciting German Grand Prix, but it certainly has been a murderous one from the mechanical viewpoint, and although Ferraris have the most powerful car in Grand Prix racing at present, they are far from reliable, only one out of five finishing. In the German Grand Prix, held in the Nürburgring circuit, the Argentinian Fangio, on an 8-cylinders Ferrari, after taking the lead since the first lap, arrived at the finish line with 46.4 seconds of advantage on the English Moss (Maserati). Fangio’s win was not easy. The Argentinian champion had to earn it hardly, because his contenders, including his teammates, have continuously attacked him. On lap nine Collins, had to stop because of a mechanical failure, and chasing Fangio there was the other Englishman, Moss, with Maserati. But not even Maserati’s drivers could put in danger the lead position of the Argentinian champion, who now starts to conquer for the fourth time the title of World Champion. During his victorious march, Fangio set a new lap record, in 9'41"6, setting the high average speed of 141.200 km/h (the previous record has been owned for eleven years by the German Long, with a time of 9'52"5). A bad luck rage on the Italian drivers. Particularly lucky was Castellotti, which already from the first lap lost precious time that forced him to retire. Started again with Musso’s car, Castellotti a little after went out of track in one of the most insidious corners of the circuit, ending in a close moat, luckily remaining unharmed. Regarding Villoresi, Maglioli, Piotti, Scarlatti, who all have hope to obtain a place of honour, they all had to stop because of mechanical failures. The most serious and spectacular incident was Perdisa’s one, in the morning. Racing with the Maserati in the test reserved to sportscars until 1500 cc, the valiant driver was about to overtake an opponent when, suddenly, in front of him, he sees an armed policeman imprudently crossing the street. Perdisa, in order to avoid the collision that almost certainly would have been fatal for the policeman, desperately veers off to the left, turning upside down for three times, ending on a field, thrown away far from his car. The Italian driver could stand by himself and, immediately rescued, feeling a strong pain on his back, he is transported and hospitalized, as a precautionary measure in the close Adenau hospital. His conditions are not worrying, especially since the immediate radiologic exam excluded every possible fracture on the ribs, as feared in the first moment. After the rain on Saturday, during the morning the sun was shining again. Right before the start of the test for the sportscar, the organizers announce that over 100.000 people were on the sides of the track, which expands for kilometres. At 10:30 a.m., the start is given to the sportscars, among whom there are the official Maseratis. Hermann wins in front of Moss. At the back, the Frenchman Behra successfully defends his third place and the Spaniard Godia, very regular, pushed forward in fourth position.


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