#20 1952 British Grand Prix

2021-04-09 01:00

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#1952, Fulvio Conti, Ludovico Nicoletti, Translated by Monica Bessi,

#20 1952 British Grand Prix

Sunday, July 13, 1952, only 5 cars, out of 14 starting, manage to complete the Grand Prix of Les Sables-d'Olonne in France, won by the Italian Luigi V


Sunday, July 13, 1952, only 5 cars, out of 14 starting, manage to complete the Grand Prix of Les Sables-d'Olonne in France, won by the Italian Luigi Villoresi on a 2-litres Ferrari without a supercharger. The Italian driver wins 3 laps ahead of his nearest competitor. Villoresi covers - in the three hour race - 319.369 kilometres, at the average speed of 106.45 km/h. Peter Collins is second, at the wheel of a HWM, with a gap of ten and a half kilometres from Villoresi. The Belgian John Claes, who in the three hours covered the distance of 307.323 kilometres, is third. Fourth is the Frenchman Robert Manzon on a Gordini, as Claes; the driver covered the distance of 302.363 kilometres. The fifth and last competitor to finish the race is Maurice Trintignant, on Gordini as well, who manages to cover only 250.510 kilometres. The race is hampered by a dramatic accident, just over the first half of the race, caused by a patch of oil that makes five cars go off the track. All the five cars are damaged, thus forcing the drivers to retire. The drivers only suffer scratches and superficial abrasions. It is a very emotional thing, a terrible moment. The enormous spin occurs due to a technical issue on Harry Schell's engine, which loses oil. As a consequence, the cars of Ascari, Shell, Farina, Trintignant, and Cantoni - that are running close within each other and at high speed - start to slide and hit each other. After the race Cantoni says that he had done everything to straighten the car but the vehicle did not respond and ended up on the Ferrari of Farina. Cantona says that, thanks to Farina's ability, the accident did not have tragic consequences, as the former world champion - without losing his cool head - managed to control the vehicle, which was frighteningly side by side with that of the Uruguayan. Farina's ability managed to avoid a collective pile-up which looked unavoidable. Cantoni, whose car was not seriously damaged, will race at Silverstone Saturday, July 19, 1952, in the World Championship race, in which Ascari, Farina, and Taruffi will also partake in a Ferrari. The circuit, which is 2.3 kilometres long, is short and fairly dangerous, due to the poor road conditions; the many bumps have troubled the practice runs of the drivers, so much that this saturday afternoon practice has been suspended after 12 minutes, after the protests of the drivers against the organisers. That of Les Sables is certainly not a Grand Prix circuit. 


This is also proved by the fact that the French Jean Behra, who injured himself during Friday practice, will not be able to race for the remainder of the year, after suffering a fractured clavicle. It is very hot and a large crowd is present. Since the first laps the superiority of Ascari, Farina, and Villoresi on Ferrari and of Manzon on Gordini is evident. After the first hour of the race Ascari leads with a lap on Farina and Villoresi, and two laps on Manzon. After the collective pile-up, which takes place in a difficult corner, Manzon has to stop due to an engine issue and has to push the car into the pits. The race is effectively over as Villoresi triumphs easily. In the meanwhile, the Marzotto family, racing with 4 brothers in the Coppa delle Dolomiti, wins at Cortina d'Ampezzo at the end of a difficult speed race, over 300 kilometres long on the Falzarego, Pordoi, and Sella passes. Paolo Marzotto on a Ferrari 2716 cc finishes first, beating the race record; Giannino Marzotto finishes second on a Ferrari 4100. Saturday, July 19, 1952, the British Grand Prix, valid for the World Championship, takes place at Silverstone. The task is much more arduous for the rivals of the Maranello team: the 2-litres Ferrari of Ascari, Farina, and Taruffi should prevail once again on the Gordinis. The light blue French cars may have a higher top speed, but the Maranello cars have proven to have a higher performance. The Italian field is vastly better in terms of drivers and the fight should be confined within the Ferrari aces. The one in better form and currently leading the World Championship is Alberto Ascari, but it also must not be forgotten that Farina has always achieved great results at Silverstone. Taruffi, lastly, has championship reasons that might foretell a relentless chase. The 1952 British Grand Prix is the fifth race of the 1952 Formula 1 season, set to take place at the Silverstone Circuit, in Northamptonshire, England over the weekend of July 19, 1952. During the off-season, the circuit has been slightly modified and lengthened.  Therefore, the 1952 race is five laps shorter compared to the 1951 race. The main modification to the track is the relocation of the pits, which are moved from the Farm Straight to the following straight. An important change is that the start/finish line is no longer located before the pit entrance, but rather it is positioned halfway down the pits. Most of the teams take the time in between the French and British rounds of the championship to attend non-championship event at Les Sables-d'Olonne. The race has been won rather convincingly by Luigi Villoresi, yet to make his world championship return following a severe road accident at the start of the season. 


The works Ferrari squad has its usual line-up of Alberto Ascari, Giuseppe Farina and Piero Taruffi in attendance for the British Grand Prix. The usual works Ferrari 500 drivers are joined by the regular Ferrari privateers, Louis Rosier and Rudolf Fischer. Another private Ferrari 500 is entered for British sportscar driver Roy Salvadori, making his world championship debut with a Ferrari 500 sponsored by the Italian financier Caprara. Peter Hirt once again enters his Ferrari 212 Inter sportscar whilst Peter Whitehead will enter his old Ferrari 125 for the first time this season. The Gordini team has its usual line-up of Robert Manzon, Prince Bira and Maurice Trintignant. After Jean Behra has been injured at Les Sables-d'Olonne, the team's junior driver, Trintignant, is appointed one of the newer T16 models to replace Behra's position in the race. Johnny Claes continues to enter the old Simca-Gordini T15 for his private Ecurie Belge team. Enrico Plate's team is once again entering its modified old Maserati 4CLT/48's with the usual line-up of Baron Emmanuel de Graffenried and American Harry Schell. The South American team Escuderia Bandeirantes will make its debut with more new drivers: the Brazilian Gino Bianco and the Uruguayan Eitel Cantoni. The Escuderia Bandeirantes makes use of privately entered Maserati A6GCM's, the new Maserati challenger. Hoping to revive the ERA team's success, the young British hopeful Stirling Moss has once again been signed to drive their new G Type chassis at Silverstone. The lone ERA entry for Moss will have to compete directly against a number of the newer British manufacturers to arrive on the grand prix scene. After the failure of the BRM project, the little HWM constructor has taken the mantle as the lead British grand prix team. Hoping for a good result on their home territory, the team enters their usual drivers Peter Collins and Lance Macklin alongside sportscar racer Duncan Hamilton as guest driver. A fourth HWM is entered privately by the former Australian RAF flying ace, Tony Gaze. The Alta car owned and previously raced by Peter Whitehead is given over to his younger brother Graham, allowing the younger Whitehead to make his grand prix debut in his brother's car. The Whitehead brothers become the first siblings to compete in the world championship. The little British Coopers are a popular choice for private British entrants at their home race. Britain's newest talent Mike Hawthorn enters a T20 under the ownership of his father Leslie. Ecurie Richmond, one of the regular minor teams, enters cars for its usual line-up of Eric Brandon and Alan Brown. Reg Parnell, one of Britain's leading racers, enters a Cooper T20 owned by Archie Bryde. 


David Murray is also in attendance with a T20 entered by his team Ecurie Ecosse. The little Frazer Nash cars have impressed in the past, the team once again entering Ken Wharton for their semi-works Scuderia Franera line-up. Tony Crook, a high profile Bristol dealer, notably Fraser Nash's engine supplier, will also enter one of its cars as a private entry. The newest constructor to join the world championship, Connaught, has been racing in Formula 2 since 1950 and has finally decided to go into competition with its British rivals in the world championship. The company owned by Rodney Clarke and Mike Oliver will enter its full driver line-up with Kenneth McAlpine, Ken Downing, Eric Thompson and Dennis Poore representing the team at Silverstone. Unsurprisingly, Ferrari is once again the dominant team during the practice times. However it is Farina, often very fast at Silverstone, who goes on to take his first pole position of the season. Ascari has equalled his time of 1'50"0 however Farina is awarded with the pole position, since he sets the time first. Taruffi is slightly lagging, his third fastest time is two seconds off Farina and Ascari, however he remains a further two seconds faster than Manzon's Gordini, the fastest non-Ferrari. The Connaught cars, making their championship debut, prove to be competitive, Ken Downing only a second off Manzon's best time. Matching Downing's times are the two Coopers of Parnell and Hawthorn and Poore's Connaught. Thompson is ninth in his Connaught whilst rounding out the top ten is Bira's Gordini. Hamilton is the fastest of the HWM cars, the team being disappointed to be outmatched by their Connaught and Cooper rivals. Graham Whitehead's Alta is a decent twelfth on the grid ahead of Brown's Cooper and Collins's HWM. Fischer is in a disappointing fifteenth place in his Ferrari whilst Moss can only manage to put the ERA sixteenth on the grid. McAlpine is the final of the Connaught cars down in seventeenth, Brandon also struggles to match his teammates in his Cooper down in eighteenth. Salvadori is unable to impress in his private Ferrari 500 and can only manage nineteenth, a single position ahead of Whitehead in the outdated 125 model. Trintignant is also struggling, managing to only place his Gordini in twenty first. The final positions are occupied by Murray, Claes, Hirt, Crook, Gaze, Cantoni, Bianco, Macklin and the unreliable Aston Butterworth of Bill Aston. The Enrico Plate Maserati's of De Graffenried and Schell fail to arrive before practice, however they will attend the race from the back of the grid. 


Rosier's private Ferrari and the Frazer Nash of Wharton fail to attend the circuit at all. Prior to the race start, the British contingent are kept entertained by the Formula 3 support race in which Stirling Moss takes a dominant victory ahead of Eric Brandon. Both drivers are hoping for similar fortunes in the main event, the Formula 2 race. However the race is expected to once again be a dominant display of the Ferrari power. Ascari is once again the Ferrari to make the best start, he streaks ahead of pole sitter Farina who has got a lot of wheel spin off the line. Taruffi has a terrible start and drops down into the midfield. Dennis Poore has got an incredible start, leading the midfield past Taruffi, his little Connaught nearly making it past Farina's Ferrari at the first corner. At the end of the first lap, Ascari leads the field ahead of Farina, Poore, Downing, Parnell, Thompson, Manzon, Hawthorn and Taruffi. Eitel Cantoni, racing the new A6GCM Maserati, will only make a few corners before suffering brake failure, ending his race. Peter Hirt's Ferrari sportscar is the next victim of the race, he too pulls out with brake failure on the third lap. Ascari immediately begins to open up his seemingly customary lead, whilst behind him Farina is struggling to shake off the two Connaughts of Poore and Downing. Taruffi is beginning his comeback after a poor start, on the second lap he moves past Hawthorn and then on the third he is also past Manzon. Manzon will thereafter pit to retire with a clutch failure. The Connaughts are running an impressive debut, both their lead cars of Poore and Downing are keeping pace with the Ferraris. Taruffi has managed to get past Poore's Connaught quickly, however the lead car of Poore is proving more problematic. Only on lap 15, when Poore hits an oil patch at Copse causing him to spin, is Taruffi able to take third place. With Taruffi's return to third place, the three works Ferrari cars will once again be in dominant control of the race. Farina is maintaining a solid gap to Ascari who is leading the race by 20 seconds. However, unreliability problems will affect Farina once again, a misfiring engine will bring the former world champion into the pits. The mechanics are forced to change the spark plugs, the pit stop dropping him well down the order. Poore is now in third ahead of Hawthorn, Downing and Parnell.


Farina exits the pits in sixth, however his engine misfire continues to plague him and he is forced to concede the position to Thompson's Connaught. Farina is not the only one to have engine problems, earlier in the race, David Murray and Tony Gaze have both seen engine failures on their Coopers and HWMs. Trintignant becomes the second Gordini to go out of the race when he has gearbox failure on lap 21. Despite winning the F3 race, Stirling Moss is having a miserable time in the ERA car. Since the start of the race, the ERA has been encountering a misfire. Moss has the plugs changed, however there is little improvement and he retires the car on lap 36. The Connaughts and Coopers have taken up the charge and hopes for the British crowd, leading the field behind the Ferraris. The Connaughts, although quick, are struggling with fuel consumption. The need for a fuel stop drops them out of the front running order. Poore and Thompson exit sixth and seventh, behind Hawthorn, Farina and Parnell. Meanwhile, Downing has a terrible stop, dropping down to ninth having also fallen behind the privateer Ferrari of Roy Salvadori. At the front, Ascari has extended his lead to a full lap ahead of teammate Taruffi in second position. Hawthorn is doing excellently, ensuring a British car and driver remains in the podium position. The Connaughts of Poore and Thompson are staging an excellent comeback, they have quickly moved past Parnell and the misfiring Farina, however Hawthorn in the Cooper seems to be uncatchable. The remainder of the race is fairly processional, the final retirements see two of the HWMs go out of the race. Duncan Hamilton goes out on lap 44 with engine troubles whilst Peter Collins has ignition failure in the final stages. Ascari will go on to take yet another dominant win, edging ever closer to his first world championship victory. Taruffi takes second place ahead of Hawthorn who is able to hold off the raging Connaughts of Poore and Thompson to take a podium finish in front of his home crowd. Farina is disappointed in not achieving any points, Ascari's lead rival will continue to drop down behind his younger teammate in the standings.


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