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#12 1951 British Grand Prix

2021-04-09 00:00

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#1951,

#12 1951 British Grand Prix

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

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Giannino Marzotto, the young and intrepid billionar-driver winner of the 1950’s Mille Miglia, Sunday, July 8, 1951, follows in Rouen, France, a meaningful success in the automotive Grand Prix of Normandy, proving to be an excellent racer, as well as on the road, also in closed circuit races. The race is 60 laps of a track of 5.100 km, throughout 360 km. Formula 2 cars are allowed in the race with an engine of 2000 cc without the compressor. Fifteen runners took off the start. The British Stirling Moss, on H.W.M, immediately assumes the leading of the race, then Whitehead crowns his tenacious pursuit surpassing Stirling Moss at the 11th lap. Moss, forced two times to stop because of mechanical failures, ends up retiring. From the 41th lap the race is a strenuous fight between Whitehead, Manzon, Giannino Marzotto and Trintignant. The four driver stay really close to each other, as long as Marzotto achieves a slight advantage, managing to retain it until the end of the race. The following week, Saturday, 14h of July, 1951, the British Grand Prix was run at Silverstone. The race will be valid as the fifth round of the World Championship.

 

The first took place in Berna, and Fangio won ahead of Tarulli and the unlucky Farina betrayed by the instability of the car, centralized by the mistaken application of additional tanks. Skipping the Indy 500, in the second race of the championship, in Spa, the World Champion took a resounding revenge, with a masterful race, the most beautiful one of his career, as he himself had stated. He was the first, while Fangio retired for a mechanic accident. The third try took place in Reims, in the European Gran Prix and Fangio won again in a race that was exhausting for the tyres. The major victim of Reims was Farina, forced on the sixth place by some troubles on the front tyre, when he had excellent probabilities of winning the race. After the ups and downs of the first three trials, the ranking of the world championship has Fangio at the first place with 16 points, Farina is second with 14 points Then Ascari and Villoresi, the two drivers for Ferrari, are ahead, with 9 and 8 points. In Silverstone the race will be of 430 km and will come back to play the tremendous tyre matter, especially since the British circuit is made from the concrete runway of an old airport that is being demolished as a racing environment, Silverstone is favourable to Farina since the Turin ace captured two dazzling victories there. But one must not forget the sublime class of Fangio and the chances of Gonzalez and Ascari in Ferrari.

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

The Argentinian Gonzalez, on board pf a Ferrari 4500, wins the British Grand Prix. At the second place is Fangio, on Alfa Romeo. Farina’s car had a fire start at the 76th lap, but the driver could stop his car and get to the box walking. Farina did the fastest lap to the average of 160.880 km/h. The pace of the race was very supported, and the reason has to be searched in the fact that one wanted to guard against the contingencies presented by B.R.M which, however, disappointed. The new English car couldn’t compete with the Italian vehicles. Ferrari place Villoresi at the third place, completing the podium. Bonetto with the fourth Alfa and Reg Parnell’s B.R.M are ahead. There is in fact, to point out that both British Cars, despite being in their Formula 1 debut, were able to cross the finish line, with significant problems of heat, due to overheating of the engines and of the annoying vibrations that the cars’ steering wheel made which affected the drivers’ driving. A few minutes later, the sports director of Ferrari, Federico Gilberti, rushes to the phone to call Maranello, and when Enzo Ferrari heard the news of the first victory, bursts into tears of joy. On the return to Maranello Gonzalez will get a watch that Ferrari had raffled off on his pilots, to pay homage to the first one who had beaten Alfa Romeo in a Formula 1 race.

 

Ludovico Nicoletti

 

Translated by Laura Mangiaracina

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