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Juan Manuel Fangio

2021-03-17 23:00

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Juan Manuel Fangio

Juan Manuel Fangio was born in Balcarce on June 24, 1911. The Argentine driver will be Formula 1 World Champion in 1951, 1954, 1955, 1956 and 1957. Ni

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Juan Manuel Fangio was born in Balcarce on June 24, 1911. The Argentine driver will be Formula 1 World Champion in 1951, 1954, 1955, 1956 and 1957. Nicknamed El Chueco, Fangio disputes fifty-two Grands Prix, winning twenty-four and climbing the podium for thirty-five times. He also gets twenty-nine pole positions and forty-eight starts from the front row. His record of five world titles will last for forty-eight years and will only be surpassed in 2003 by Michael Schumacher.

 

Fangio holds the highest percentage of pole positions achieved in his career, given that he starts in first position in 55.8% of the Grand Prix disputed; at forty-six years and forty-one days he is also the oldest rider to have won a world title. Fangio has a precise but spectacular driving style, as well as a deep knowledge of mechanics, having been involved in the repair industry since he was a child. Complete racer, he also manages to distinguish himself in covered-wheel competitions: to remember his numerous placings in the Mille Miglia, the victories at the Carrera Panamericana in 1954, at the Nürburgring in 1955 and at the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1956 and 1957.

 

"I have never thought of the car as a means to an end, instead I have always thought of being part of the car, as well as the connecting rod and the piston".

 

The debut in the world of motor racing takes place on October 25, 1936. Fangio, at the wheel of a Ford apparently previously used as a taxi, takes part in the Circuito de Benito Juárez Award. After qualifying in seventh position, he is forced to retire following a mechanical failure while he is in third place; the race is marred by a serious accident in which the car driven by Juan Estanyo, capsizing following a skid, turns off the co-driver Armando Tesone. The second race will no longer be lucky: Fangio, who arrived late at the start, joins the group with one lap late and is subsequently disqualified and forced to stop.

 

In 1939 the Argentine also began to participate in road competitions and it was in 1940 that, in one of these races, the Gran Premio Internacional del Norte, he won his first victory at the wheel of a Chevrolet coupé. The competition will last two weeks over a course of more than nine thousand kilometers; Fangio will finish with a time of one hundred nine hours and thirty-five minutes, and with more than an hour ahead of the runner-up, Daniel Musso. In 1941 there will be two more road victories, the first in Brazil in the President Getulio Vargas Award, the second in Argentina's Turismo Carretera. After a forced stop due to the war, in 1946 Fangio will also return to racing with open wheels, taking the first good placings with two second places.

 

In 1947 Fangio will take his first victory at the wheel of a single-seater at the Grand Prix of the City of Rosario. During the year he will win two more Formula Libre tests and one on the road. In 1948 there will be two more victories in free formula and two in road competitions and for the first time Fangio will participate in a European race; in France he takes part in Simca-Gordini cars in the Reims Grand Prix: he starts both the Formula 2 and Formula 1 races, but is forced to retire due to mechanical problems in both competitions.

 

At the end of the year, the Argentine takes part in the Turismo de Carretera race called the South American Grand Prix, a car marathon lasting almost three weeks over a 9500-kilometer course. Fangio is the protagonist of a terrible accident during the seventh stage: his Chevrolet leaves the track, overturning numerous times; the Argentine driver suffered neck injuries, while his co-driver Daniel Urrutia was thrown out of the cockpit, sustaining severe fractures to the skull and cervical vertebrae and expiring a few hours later in the nearby hospital in Obrero where both were hospitalized. Although deeply shaken by the loss of his friend, Fangio decides to continue his competitive career.

 

In 1949 Fangio returns to Europe and this time his results are extraordinary; in fact, he won the San Remo Grand Prix, the one in Pau, the one in Perpignan and finally the one in Marseille in quick succession. He should also have participated in the Mille Miglia among the favourites, but his Simca does not arrive in time from France. Then he retires in the next two races, the Formula 2 Rome Grand Prix and the Formula 1 Brussels Grand Prix, while the subsequent Formula 2 Autodrome in Monza sees its definitive consecration: in fact, on the Brianza circuit, taking advantage of a mechanical breakdown suffered by Ascari a few laps from the end while he is in the lead, he wins the fifth win of the season.

 

At the next appointment in Reims, Fangio participates both in the Formula 2 race, in which he is forced to retire due to a breakdown while he is in the lead, leaving the victory to Ascari, and in the Formula 1 Grand Prix, but also this time he has to retire for a mechanical failure. At the end of the season the rumours of an Alfa Romeo return to racing become more and more insistent and Fangio is indicated by the press as a sure driver of the renewed team. The new cars, which should have made their debut at the Italian Grand Prix, will not, however, still be considered to be fine-tuned by the company's top management and the debut will therefore be postponed to the following season.

 

The motorsport season begins with four races in Argentina, in which the great majority of European drivers take part. On December 18, 1949, the Peron Grand Prix was held on the Palermo circuit; Fangio, despite a trial accident in which he slightly damaged his Ferrari 166 F2 by crashing into a tree, starts from the front row, behind Villoresi and Ascari. In the race he manages to gain a position, finishing the race in second place behind Ascari. In this circumstance, the cheering of Argentine fans for their idol reaches very high levels and there are also some episodes of hostility towards the Italian pilots, who fortunately returned immediately.

 

However, this enthusiasm also produces very dangerous situations: an invasion of the track at the end of the race risks turning into tragedy when Prince Bira overwhelms the cheering crowd after crossing the finish line, but fortunately there are no serious injuries. The Evita Perón Grand Prix was held on January 9, 1950; the front row is identical to that of December, but with reversed positions with Fangio on pole ahead of Ascari and Villoresi.

 

The Argentine driver immediately took command of the race, but irregular tire wear forced him to make several pit stops, leaving the win to Villoresi. The subsequent race in Mar del Plata sees Fangio the protagonist of a bad accident, together with Villoresi; the latter breaks the steering and hits the Argentine's car at high speed, causing it to overturn. Fortunately, both drivers come out unscathed from the carom, but the Argentine press accuses Villoresi of having intentionally caused the accident to favor Ascari's success. In the following days it will be Fangio himself who will completely exonerate the Ferrari driver from any responsibility.

 

The South American season ends with the Grand Prix of the City of Rosario: Fangio starts from pole position and leads the race right from the start, but on the thirteenth lap, while he is in the lead with a large margin on the second, he hits the straw bales placed to protect the public; some spectators were slightly injured, while the driver, completely unscathed from the accident, was forced to abandon the race, leaving the win to Villoresi.

 

The overall balance in the four home races is certainly not encouraging, but the Argentinian driver has nevertheless shown that he can compete on equal terms with the best European drivers with the same mechanical vehicle, and the arrival of the new Alfa Romeos could certainly have shifted decisive way the equilibrium of the races. On May 13, 1950, Fangio made his debut at the Silverstone Circuit and, at the wheel of an Alfa Romeo 158, in the Formula 1 World Championship organized for the first time; the race is characterized by a heated duel with teammate Giuseppe Farina.

 

Fangio tries to take advantage of his rival by anticipating the stop for refuelling, but he starts again from the pits before the mechanics have completed the oil topping up: the engine does not last long and the Argentine is forced to retire with eight laps to go, while it is in second position, due to the failure of a valve. The second world championship round in Monaco turns out to be decidedly more fortunate: Fangio, who started from pole position, immediately took the lead, thus managing to avoid being involved in the accident on the first lap that knocked out nine cars and, among others, teammates Farina and Fagioli and compatriot José Froilán González.

 

The accident is caused by a slip of Farina, who after the race will accuse the Argentine of not having left the necessary space to overtake, causing the carom. Fangio did not miss the opportunity and took an easy victory in front of the Ferrari of Ascari and the Maserati of the home driver Louis Chiron, joining Farina at the top of the world championship standings. The next appointment in Bremgarten, Switzerland, sees Fangio start again from pole, but the race is led by teammate Farina; the Argentine driver was still firmly in second position when, eight laps from the end, the engine of his Alfetta broke, forcing him to retire.

 

On June 18, 1950, the Belgian Grand Prix was held on the Circuit of Spa. Fangio wins his second world championship win ahead of Fagioli and the French Rosier; Farina, delayed by an engine problem in the final laps, placed himself in fourth position, setting the fastest lap in the race. The penultimate round of the world championship takes place on the Reims Circuit and Fangio achieves a perfect weekend, conquering pole, victory and fastest lap in the race; Farina's simultaneous retirement due to a petrol pump failure propels the Argentine driver to the top of the world rankings.

 

Everything is then decided on the Monza track in the Italian Grand Prix. Fangio, who started from pole, accuses mechanical problems on his Alfa and climbs on that of his companion Taruffi; in an attempt to comeback he sets the fastest lap of the race, but a further failure forces him to retire, thus leaving Farina the victory of the Grand Prix and the world title. It should be emphasized that the Alfa Romeo Racing Direction, in order to guarantee the two drivers absolute uniformity of treatment, has the numbers of the cars assigned to them drawn by lot from the same protagonists. At the beginning of the season, Fangio also took part in the Pau Grand Prix, an extra-championship race; entered with a Maserati 4CLT he sets pole and fastest lap in the race, winning the race ahead of Villoresi's Ferrari and Rosier's Simca-Gordini.

 

He then made his debut with the new Alfa Romeo team on April 16, 1950 at the San Remo Grand Prix. In qualifying Fangio wins the second position on the starting grid behind Ascari; in the race an unfortunate start causes him to lose some positions immediately, but within a few laps he takes command of the race, with only Ascari able to keep up with the Argentine driver. However, the Italian is driving to the limit and on lap 26 he crashes into the protective barriers and is forced to retire, leaving Fangio the success in the Ligurian race. Fangio then takes part in the Mille Miglia for the first time aboard an Alfa Romeo 6C; prepared by the tough South American races in which he had triumphed several times, he manages to win an excellent third place overall.

 

At the turn of his commitments in the Formula 1 World Championship he also participates for the first time in the 24 Hours of Le Mans together with his friend González at the wheel of a Simca-Gordini 20 S; the race, however, was studded with innumerable mechanical problems that forced him to retire at the tenth hour. In the months of July and August Fangio disputes several races not valid for the world title, winning two second places in Bari and Silverstone, two retirements in Albi and Zandvoort and two victories in Geneva and Pescara. In the Abruzzo race he is also the victim of a spectacular accident in practice, fortunately without consequences; in the pits the Alfa Romeo mechanics, worried about the delay in the arrival of the Argentine driver, breathe a sigh of relief when they finally see Fangio arrive in Louveau's car who kindly gave him a ride.

 

The 1951 season will see Fangio make his debut unsuccessfully in some extra-championship races but at the first world championship round in Switzerland, on the Bremgarten circuit, he also hits the first seasonal success, maintaining the first position conquered in qualifying by authoritatively leading the race under torrential rain; his rival from the previous year, Farina, is third, while Ascari, who would prove to be the greatest threat to the title, is only sixth. At the next round in Belgium, Fangio starts again from pole and shares the lead of the race with teammate Farina until the second refuelling, when he suffers a problem when changing a tire that makes him lose almost fifteen minutes and relegates him to the rear, away from the scoring area. The race is won by Farina ahead of Ascari and Villoresi, whose Ferraris begin to undermine the performance of the Alfa Romeo.

 

The following weekend Fangio tries again the adventure at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, this time aboard a Talbot T26SC and with driving companion Louis Rosier, winner of the race for the French company the previous year. A mechanical failure forces him to retire again. 

The fate at the next World Championship round in Reims is quite different: Fangio, in fact, despite being forced to retire at first due to the failure of the engine, takes the place of teammate Fagioli and wins in comeback ahead of Ascari, who finished second on the car received by González.

 

The subsequent Silverstone race will go down in history for the first success of a Ferrari car: José Froilán González will in fact break an Alfa Romeo hegemony that lasted for ten Grands Prix.Thanks to the second place conquered, the world ranking sees Fangio clearly in command at this point of the season with twenty-one points, ahead of Farina six points behind. The following championship round, on the Nürburgring circuit, confirms the turnaround seen in the English race, with Ascari winning the first pole position for Ferrari ahead of Fangio; the Argentine, aware of the fact that the Modenese cars, thanks to a much lower fuel consumption, would have stopped only once in the pits, tries to push to the maximum from the first laps, but must be satisfied with the second final position and the realization of the fastest lap in the race. Fangio, however, increases his advantage over his closest rival in the world rankings who, after the German race, became the Milanese Ascari, eleven points behind.

 

This brings us to the penultimate round of the world championship on the Monza track: a good placement would have been enough for Fangio to win his first world title. The weekend starts well, with the conquest of pole in front of Farina, now out of the race for the title, and with almost two seconds ahead of Ascari's third time. The race, however, turns out to be quite different; in the first laps Fangio and Ascari alternate in the lead until the first stop of the Argentine driver who, forced to push to recover, breaks the engine of his Alfa, thus allowing the top man of Ferrari to significantly shorten the distances in the world classification: Fangio 28 points, Ascari 25.

 

The last round of the world championship takes place on the Pedralbes circuit and will prove triumphant for the Argentine driver; in fact, despite the conquest of pole by a clear margin, Ascari and Ferrari opt for a type of tire that would have proved inadequate for the severe Spanish track, thus leaving Fangio with the victory and world title. At the end of the season, Alfa Romeo unexpectedly announces its farewell to motor racing and Fangio signs a contract with Maserati for the following season, but is also interested in the sporting project of the British brand BRM, for which he signs an exclusive contract for driving Formula 1 cars, which however leaves him free to race for other teams in the World Championship that would be held that year according to the Formula 2 regulations.

 

The 1952 season begins with a series of Formula Libre races in South America, three in Brazil, two in Argentina and two in Uruguay to be precise. Fangio, aboard a Ferrari 166, retires in the third carioca race, but wins all the other six events, taking pole position in six circumstances and making the fastest lap four times. He then inaugurated the European season with a sixth place at the Richmond Trophy and participated for the second time in the Mille Miglia, taking a disappointing 22nd place at the wheel of an Alfa Romeo 1900.

 

The Argentine driver achieves pole position, but the proverbial reliability problems that afflict the English car force him to retire in the race. Same fate the following weekend in Ireland for the Ulster Trophy; after having risked a bad accident during practice, hitting a sidewalk at high speed but managing to maintain control of the vehicle, he is forced to retire again in the race due to mechanical problems. The next day the Formula 2 Autodrome Grand Prix was to be held in Monza; Fangio does not want to miss the Brianza appointment and, having lost the plane, drives all night, arriving at the racetrack only one hour before the start of the race.

 

The regulation would not have allowed him to take part in the competition, not having carried out the compulsory tests, but the other drivers will agree to Fangio starting from the last row. The need to recover and the fatigue accumulated during the trip will be fatal to the Argentine driver, who makes a mistake at the first corner of Lesmo and violently goes off the track, overturning the car and being thrown out of the cockpit. The general conditions do not seem serious at the beginning but a fracture to the cervical vertebra forces him to an absolute rest in the following months, putting into practice an end to his competitive season.

 

Completely recovered from his injury in Monza, Fangio made his debut in the 1953 world championship in Buenos Aires on a Maserati A6GCM, but was forced to retire due to a differential failure. The race will be characterized by the tragic accident that occurred to his rival in the fight for the 1950 title, Giuseppe Farina: the Ferrari driver, to avoid a boy who is crossing the track, is forced to abruptly discard and, having lost control of the car, swoops. in the midst of the crowd that crowds the edges of the circuit. The toll is nine dead and fifteen injured, in addition to two other victims caused by the ambulance, which hits two other fans going up the circuit in the wrong direction to reach the scene of the accident.

 

In the two subsequent world championship rounds Fangio is again forced to retire; particularly unfortunate is the Belgian race, in which Fangio, who started from pole, breaks the engine when he is in command of the race; once he got into the car of his teammate Johnny Claes, he recovered from the fourteenth position to the third place, but on the last lap he demanded too much from him and violently went off the track. Jolted out of the cockpit, the car in its somersaults stops a few meters away from the Argentine, who gets away with bruises and some bruises. The next three races in France, England and Germany see as many second places, twice behind Ascari, now a sure winner of the title, and once behind his old rival Farina.

 

For the penultimate round of the world championship in Switzerland, Maserati shows up with a new, decidedly more performing engine and Fangio achieves the first pole position of the season. Reliability problems, however, will lead the team to opt for the old engine in the race; despite this conservative choice, Fangio will still be forced to replace the racing car due to a breakdown and will thus have to settle for the fourth final place shared with Felice Bonetto.

 

This brings us to the last world championship event in Italy, on the Monza circuit which had cost him so much the previous year. Fangio engages in a fight for the lead with Ascari and Farina until the last lap, when, in an attempt to overtake the latter against the Milanese, Ascari spins at the porphyry curve; To avoid it, Farina was forced to go off the track and Fangio managed to pass unscathed, going on to win his only world championship Grand Prix of the season and thus sanctioning his definitive return as a protagonist in the top racing series. In 1953 was also characterized by intense activity in competitions for sports cars.

 

In April Fangio took part in the Mille Miglia for the third time, taking his best position in the Brescia race at the wheel of an Alfa Romeo 6C 3.0, a brilliant second place after having also been in command of the race and having had to slow down in the final stretch for a steering failure. In May he then took part in the 37th Targa Florio, this time driving a Maserati A6GCS, once again going to the podium, conquering the third overall position. In June it is the turn of the umpteenth adventure at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but the French race does not prove to be more fortunate than the previous ones; Fangio is forced to retire three times out of three, again due to mechanical problems. In July it is the turn of the 24 Hours of Spa, but also on this occasion he retires due to a breakdown of his Alfa Romeo 6C.

 

The same fate fell to him in August at the 1000 Kilometer of the Nürburgring; in this case, at the wheel of a Lancia D24, he remains in command of the race until the engine fails. However, the season ends with two important successes: the victory at the SuperCortemaggiore Grand Prix in Monza and the triumph in the Carrera Panamericana. 1954 saw some important innovations from a regulatory point of view; in fact, the drivers' world title would again be awarded according to the Formula 1 regulations, with 2500 cubic centimeter aspirated or 750 cubic centimeter engines with compressor, the latter solution totally ignored by the big manufacturers.

 

Fangio, although he had signed a contract with Mercedes, takes part in the first two rounds of the season at the wheel of the new Maserati 250F, thanks to a clause expressly wanted by the Argentine driver to avoid losing world points pending the debut of the Silver Arrows. In his home Grand Prix in Argentina he wins ahead of Giuseppe Farina and his new Ferrari 625, while in the Belgian Grand Prix he takes his second consecutive victory in front of Maurice Trintignant's Ferrari. The subsequent French Grand Prix finally sees the debut of the new Mercedes car; the German house amazes the world of Formula 1 with the W196, a car with an aerodynamic body. The performances were immediately exceptional and Fangio took pole position and victory, the third consecutive, in front of his teammate Karl Kling, who won the fastest lap of the race.

 

The next world championship round will take place in Great Britain at the Silverstone circuit; Fangio conquers pole position again, but the additional weight of the faired bodywork proves unsuitable for the fast corners of the British circuit and the Argentine driver has to settle for fourth position behind the Ferraris of compatriot González, Hawthorn and his friend Onofre Marimon. The latter will lose his life in a tragic accident which occurred in the tests for the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring circuit. Despite the deep bitterness for the death of his friend, Fangio will take his Mercedes to triumph, which for the first time will be presented in an open-wheel version deemed more suitable for the tortuous ups and downs of the German circuit. The subsequent Swiss Grand Prix sees the fifth success of the season for Fangio and the mathematical certainty of his second world title.

 

The penultimate round of the world championship will take place on the Monza track and for the first time this season the duel with Ascari will be repeated; the Milanese driver has in fact skipped most of the season waiting for the debut of the new Lancia from Formula 1, but has obtained a special exemption to race with Ferrari on his home circuit. Fangio and Ascari alternate in command of the race, with the unexpected intrusion of Stirling Moss on Maserati. After Ascari's retirement due to engine failure, the English driver definitely takes command of the race and seems destined for final success before his engine crashes too, delivering the sixth success to Fangio.

 

However, Moss's race does not go unnoticed and next year he would join the Argentine driver at the helm of the Mercedes. The last Grand Prix of the season takes place in Spain on the Pedralbes circuit; Fangio leads a quiet race and takes third place overall. The 1955 car season opens as usual in those years with the home race for Fangio: the Argentine Grand Prix. The race, which sees the Argentine driver starting from pole position, will be remembered for the scorching heat, which forces most of the drivers to make several pit stops to sell the car to teammates and thus be able to have a respite from the heat.

 

Fangio, regardless of the prohibitive conditions, completes the race without the need for any gearbox and therefore immediately takes the lead in the world championship. The second world championship test takes place on the Monte Carlo circuit; Fangio once again achieves the best time in practice, this time on a par with the Milanese Ascari, whose Lancia D50 begins to show itself as a serious antagonist to the Fangio-Mercedes domination. The Argentine driver in the race is forced to retire due to mechanical problems, while Ascari finishes his race in the waters of the port while he is in the lead. The rival of many Grand Prix races, miraculously escaped unscathed from the frightening accident, would disappear in Monza only four days later in testing a Sport car, arousing deep emotion in his friend and colleague.

 

As a sign of mourning, the Scuderia Lancia does not officially participate in the next round in Belgium, but nevertheless provides assistance to Eugenio Castellotti, who unexpectedly wins pole position ahead of Fangio. The Argentine driver in the race immediately took command of the race, which he won in front of team mate Stirling Moss. The same result will be obtained in the next world championship round on the Zandvoort circuit; Fangio is instead beaten by his teammate in the British Grand Prix at the Aintree circuit: when Moss asks him if he had let him win at his home circuit, the Argentine replies:

 

"No, you were simply the best today".

 

The last round of the world championship in Monza turns out to be a triumphal catwalk for Fangio, who wins the race in front of his teammate Piero Taruffi, thus winning the sixth win of the season and the third world title. During 1955 Fangio took part in various competitions reserved for the Sport category at the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR, taking another second place in the Mille Miglia behind his teammate Moss, a victory at the Eifel Grand Prix, on the Nürburgring circuit, and two second places at the end of the season at the Tourist Trophy and the Targa Florio. The most important event of the season, however, is undoubtedly the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where the German team is a great favorite.

 

The Mercedes are controlling the race with Fangio in second position behind Mike Hawthorn's Jaguar. Since the Mercedes 300SLRs consume less than the Jaguars, thanks to the direct injection engine, they would certainly have gained advantage overnight; however, the Jaguars had new Lockheed disc brakes, more effective than the drums of all competing cars. After about two and a half hours of racing, at 6:25 pm, on the main straight the English driver Mike Hawthorn, first with the Jaguar, performs a risky maneuver by cutting the road under braking to the newly lapped Lance Macklin on Austin-Healey to return in the pits. The latter, to avoid the collision with the Jaguar, suddenly swerves to the left, ending up straight on the trajectory of Pierre Levegh's Mercedes launched at over 250 km / h. The French driver instinctively raises his arm to signal the danger and tries to brake and swerve to the left to avoid the impact, which is however inevitable.

 

Levegh's 300SLR is thrown into the air against the protective barriers; the wreckage of the car, thrown into the middle of the stands, killed more than eighty spectators. Fangio will later declare that Levegh's warning, as a final farewell gesture, saved his life, allowing him time to maneuver and avoid impact with the Austin-Healey that remained on the track. The Mercedes team will retire all its cars in the night, when the Argentine driver is firmly in command of the race, and would have retired from motorsport for good at the end of the season. In 1956 Fangio accepted Ferrari's proposal to race with his cars.

 

The first appointment with the world championship is as always in Argentina and Fangio, driving the Lancia-Ferrari D50, starts from pole position, but a failure in the early stages of the race forced him to retire. From the pits it was therefore decided to stop teammate Musso and the Argentine driver returned to racing, but after only four laps he left the track at the Ascari curve, named in honor of the late bi-world champion, and was helped to restart. by the public, which is prohibited by the regulation.

 

Fangio becomes the protagonist of a frenzied comeback and a few laps from the end he joins former teammate Moss who is in the lead on his Maserati 250F and overtakes him; in an attempt to resist the Argentine driver, Moss broke the engine and was forced to retire. Fangio's victory will cause a lot of controversy and Count Nello Ugolini, director of the Maserati racing department will file an official complaint, which will however be ignored by the International Federation. These four points won by Fangio would then prove decisive at the end of the season for the assignment of the world title. In the following race in Monaco he starts from pole position, but is the author of a strangely foul race; a head and tail at the Saint Devote climb damages the right side of the car and a subsequent exit from the track at the Tobacconist bend forces him to retire with a damaged wheel; from the pits it was decided to stop team mate Peter Collins and Fangio recovered to second place behind Moss, who won the Grand Prix.

 

He then arrives at the Belgian Grand Prix; Fangio clearly records the best time in practice ahead of Moss and in the race alternates in the lead with the English rider, until the latter loses a wheel and is forced to retire; once he got into his teammate's car he would have finished the race in third place, while Fangio, clearly in the lead, will suffer serious problems with the transmission of his Ferrari and will have to abandon. The victory will go to team mate Collins, who also wins the next world championship round on the Reims circuit, firmly taking the lead in the world rankings. Fangio is only fourth on the occasion due to a failure of his Ferrari which forces him to a long stop in the pits; after the race the Argentine will be bitterly complaining about the decisions of the Scuderia Ferrari which, according to him, does not adequately allow him to defend the title won the previous year.

 

He then arrives at the Silverstone Grand Prix; Moss, who started from pole position, maintains command of the race until the engine fails; Fangio thus takes the lead and wins the race, interrupting an unsuccessful streak that lasted for seven Grands Prix; team-mate Collins is second, but due to the scoring split with the Spaniard Alfonso de Portago with whom he shared the car, he takes only three points, thus bringing Fangio to just one point behind in the standings. The following appointment at the Nürburgring sees a clear affirmation of the Argentine driver, who finds himself on the eve of the last world championship race on the Monza circuit with a clear advantage over his teammate Collins.

 

After his D50 was left in the race due to a broken steering wheel, the team asked Luigi Musso to stop, but the Italian driver, who is in second position on his home circuit, ignored the order and continued his race. With Moss in the lead and Collins in third position, one of the most sporting episodes in the world of motor racing takes place. Collins, with the concrete possibility of becoming World Champion in the event of breakdowns to the drivers who precede him, at the stop in the pits to change the tires leaves his car in Fangio, saying these words:

 

"Master, I am still young and I will have time to win a title, maybe you won't, take my car and win".

 

Fangio recovered to second place a few seconds behind Moss, also thanks to the retirement of Musso, who in turn suffered a broken steering wheel on his Ferrari, and thus won his fourth world title. Although at first it seemed safe to reconfirm the Argentine, economic differences will later arise with Ferrari and, given the marriage of the English Moss to the brand new Vanwall, Fangio decides to race the 1957 season at the wheel of the renewed Maserati 250F. The 1957 world championship began immediately with a success on the home circuit in Buenos Aires; Fangio is then repeated in Monaco and Rouen, while he will be forced to retire due to a failure of the engine at the British Grand Prix held on the Aintree circuit. Fangio returns to success at the Nürburgring, where he captures what will be considered by many to be one of the most beautiful victories in the history of Formula 1.

 

He will conclude the world championship season with two second places in Pescara and Monza, thus winning his fifth and last world title. After having achieved the fifth world title, in 1958 Fangio occasionally took part in the motorsport season without finishing it, participating in a few races. In this way he will end his sporting career, retiring from competitions to devote himself to the entrepreneurial activities he had previously started, such as the management of the numerous garages he owned and, above all, the import and distribution in Argentina of Piaggio products, of which he has in the meantime obtained. the exclusive.

 

Despite his reduced presence at competitions, Fangio needs a very particular episode, probably the most singular of his sporting career. On February 23, he was staying at the Lincoln Hotel in Havana to participate in the Cuban Grand Prix and, shortly before the race, he was kidnapped by Fidel Castro's barbudos, in the successful attempt to carry out a demonstration action of worldwide resonance. The kidnapping will last a few hours and Fangio will be released at the end of the Grand Prix, with the apologies of the Cuban guerrillas who will also ask for his autograph.

 

For his part, Fangio will thank the barbudos for preventing him from participating in a dangerous Grand Prix which, in the meantime, has been suspended due to a very serious accident involving five cars and causing six deaths and twenty-six injuries. For the record, the commando is made up of Arnol Rodríguez and Faustino Pérez, who later became ministers in the Castro revolutionary government.

 

Alessandro Cappelli

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