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#21 1952 German Grand Prix

2021-04-08 00:00

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#1952,

#21 1952 German Grand Prix

A series of interesting motor racing competitions is scheduled for Saturday, 2nd August 1952 and for Sunday, 3rd August 1952. On Saturday, Villoresi i

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A series of interesting motor racing competitions is scheduled for Saturday, 2nd August 1952 and for Sunday, 3rd August 1952. On Saturday, Villoresi is competing in the Boreham Grand Prix, a formula race in Essex, England. The Italian ace, at the wheel of a Ferrari, sets the fastest time during practice, improving the lap time record at an average speed of 163 km/h (approximately 101.283 mph). At the Nürburgring circuit, in Adenau, Germany, the fourth round of the World Championship is taking place. Alberto Ascari leads the rankings with 27 points, followed by Taruffi (19 points) and Farina (12 points). Should he win, he would take the title already, since the four best placements of the season are valid for the ranking of the best drivers in the world. In Italy, besides the Tour of Calabria race, the classic Aosta-Gran San Bernardo race, with about 400 turns, is also scheduled (33.900 km, 1.890 m drop; approximately 21.064 miles, 6200.787 ft). The technical interest of the race is confirmed by the participation in the racing car category of Von Stuck, previous year’s winner and record holder of the event: 24’25"2 at the average speed of 83.507 km/h (approximately 51.888 mph). The 1952 German Grand Prix is the sixth race of the 1952 Formula One Season, set to take place at the Nürburgring, Nürburg, Germany over the weekend of August 3rd, 1951. As a consequence for the Second World War, Germany has been banned from competing in international motorsport. In 1951, the FIA agrees to lift the ban on Germany's involvement in international motorsport.The previous year it has already secured its return to the international grand prix calendar and by 1952, manufacturers like AFM, Veritas and BMW are now beginning to bring their new cars into the international Formula Two scene. Mercedes, who have dominated the grand prix scene in the 1930's is already planning a return to grand prix upon the return to Formula One regulations in 1954.

 

Mercedes have already met immediate success in 1952 with their W194 sportscar. With most of the British contingent remaining at home after Silverstone to participate in the Daily Mail Trophy, the grid is freed up to allow for a greater presence of the German local entries, all looking to finally make their mark on the international racing scene. Alberto Ascari has dominated the season, with the exception of the Indianapolis 500, he has won all the world championship races he has entered. Ascari's form has meant that he has a decent chance of securing the world championship in Germany. Ascari simply needs to win and secure the extra point for fastest lap to take the championship. The only ones now able to stop Ascari, are his two Ferrari teammates, Giuseppe Farina and Piero Taruffi. Both drivers needing to win in Germany to keep their championship hopes alive. Ecurie Espadon will also enter their modern Ferrari 500 for Rudolf Fischer, joining him in the team for his first race is Rudolf Schoeller, racing the team's Ferrari sportscar in place of an unavailable Peter Hirt. Ecurie Francorchamps returns to the grid with their Ferrari 500, now being driven in the hands of Roger Laurent. Piero Carini will also enter his outdated Ferrari 166 model. Injuries at a non-championship race has kept Jean Behra from competing at Silverstone, however he returns to the team fully fit for Germany. Now joining Behra and Robert Manzon as lead drivers, Maurice Trintignant takes Prince Bira's position in the team, Bira having left the team after a disappointing season. After a season of Ferrari domination, Maserati's new A6GCM chassis is expected to be the only car capable of challenging the Ferrari 500. The private team of Escuderia Bandeirantes has already run the chassis for their drivers Gino Bianco and Eitel Cantoni, however the Maserati works team who has been out of action since the end of 1950 have yet to make their debut with the car.

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The Bandeirantes pair will return in Germany whilst the works squad will make their return at the Nurburgring. Juan Manuel Fangio, the team's lead driver is still injured whilst second driver, José Froilán González, is in England racing for B.R.M. at the Daily Mail Trophy. Felice Bonetto is therefore hired to substitute for the team's lead drivers. HWM interestingly search to compete in Germany, despite the majority of the British presence remaining at home for the Daily Mail Trophy. Peter Collins, racing at the Nurburgring for the first time is the only regular HWM driver, he is joined by Paul Frère and Johnny Claes, both of whom has previously acted as HWM guest drivers. The Australian Tony Gaze will also participate in his privately entered HWM. Aside from HWM, Bill Aston competing in his own Aston Butterworth chassis will also take part in Germany. Aston hoping for a better result than Silverstone where he fails to start due to reliability issues. Veritas has been one of the newer manufacturers to be born out of post-war West Germany. The Meteor chassis has already been present in the previous year's edition of the race and will return again in 1952. There is also a number of the local contigent racing the BMW power RS Veritas chassis in the race. Racing in the Meteor is the experienced Paul Pietsch, Toni Ulmen, making his second appearance in the Meteor this season and Hans Klenk, a German World War Two flying ace. One of Germany's most experienced racers, Adolf Brudes, enters  the Veritas-BMW RS, being joined by some of Germany's younger talent of Fritz Riess, Theo Helfrich and Joseph Peters. The old BMW 328 is one of the more successful voiturette cars of the 1930's, however by 1952 has become severely outdated. Nonetheless, drivers continue to modify the old BMW chassis and a number of German drivers are entering the old BMW's for their home event. The experienced Rudolf Krause is one, whilst Ernst Klodwig will enter the unique 328 Heck model, one of the first rear engined grand prix cars.

 

Younger German talent of Günther Bechem and Harry Merkel also has entered BMW's whilst France's Marcel Balsa is also seen in one. The AFM manufactuer is mainly comprised of the same design team who has created the BMW 328 in the 1930's. The team have since reformed under the AFM banner following the conclusion of the Second World War. The AFM is effictevely, the modern version of the BMW enabling it to be more competitive in the modern Formula Two. Younger German drivers of Willi Heeks, Helmut Niedermayr, Willi Krakau and Ludwig Fischer are all entrants using the AFM chassis. In qualifying Alberto Ascari takes his fourth pole position in a row, his best time is only 2.4 seconds clear of Giuseppe Farina's second fastest time. The long twisty nature of the Nurburgring allows the performance gap to narrow between Ferrari and their rivals. Gordini is quick in practice, Trintignant in third is only three seconds slower than Ascari. Manzon in fourth is only a further four seconds adrift, the two drivers pleased to beat Piero Taruffi's works Ferrari. Fischer in the private Ferrari is sixth, whilst Paul Pietsch is the fastest of the German contingent to move into seventh in his Veritas. Hans Klenk also performs well to take eighth on the grid in his own Veritas whilst Willi Heeks is the fastest AFM in ninth. Maserati's hopes of challenging Ferrari are dashed, Felice Bonetto can only manage tenth on the grid. Behra still recovering from his Chimay injuries is only eleventh on the grid, ahead of Riess and the HWM's of Frere and Gaze. The HWM's are having trouble, both Collins and Claes have crankshaft failures and are unable to participate in practice. Ludwig Fischer's AFM is having similar issues and he likewise fails to make it out on track in practice. Harry Merkel's BMW fails to even make it to the circuit. Collins will frustratingly be unable to start the race, unlike Claes and Fischer he has never had any experience on the track and is not permitted to race with so little experience.

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The Grand Prix is to be the final spectacle in what has been a large celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Nurburgring circuit with the circuit designer, Gustav Eichler held as the guest of honour. Support races are held throughout the day, most notably, the Mercedes cars of Karl Kling and Hans Herrmann dominating the sportscar race. The Mercedes sportscars setting times faster than the third best time on the grand prix grid. It is an impressive note of return for Germany to motorsport. Ascari shoots away from the start to take a somewhat expected lead of the race, behind him comes Farina, Manzon and Taruffi. Bonetto has got an excellent start in his Maserati and climbs to fifth. However after only half a lap, he suffers a puncture which sends him spinning into a ditch. After gaining assistance for the marshalls in pushing him out of the ditch, he limps around at the back of the field for another half a lap, only to return to the pits to be disqualified for receiving outside assistance. Bianco in the private Maserati will also retire his new A6GCM with engine failure. Trintignant is also having problems, he has dropped back at the start and then on the second lap he runs wide and damages his suspension, forcing his retirement. There is an extremely high rate of attrition at the Nurburgring, after only two laps, Carini, Peters, Helfrich, Frère and Pietsch all join Bonetto, Trintignant and Bianco in retirement. Aston, Schoeller and Krause are the next to retire on lap three. Cantoni in the final Maserati is out on lap four whilst lap five sees the retirements of Bechem, Balsa and Brudes. Gaze retires on lap six whilst Heeks is out on lap seven. In the early laps, Taruffi has managed to make his way past the Gordini of Manzon to take third place. The Ferrari's once again seemingly unchallenged in their positions of 1-2-3 in the race. Ascari having set the fastest lap of the race on lap five and continuing to dominate the race, seems likely to take the world title so long as nothing happens to his race lead. Manzon meanwhile is doing his best to keep pace with the Ferrari's, however on lap eight a wheel detaches from his car, Manzon luckily managing to maintain control of his three wheeled Gordini to park his car in the grass.

 

The Ferrari's come in for a pit-stop during the mid-race, the three cars leaving the pits without drama. It seems a relatively straightfoward 1-2-3 for Ascari, Farina and Taruffi, however drama begins to unfold on the second last lap. Ascari, who has opened up a massive lead to Farina in second, decides to come in for a second pit stop. Ascari wants his oil topped up, however the move has caught his mechanics unawares. The team in their desperation to serve Ascari quickly have let Farina take the lead of the race. More drama begins to unfold when Taruffi begins to suffer from a damaged suspension, causing him to fall into the clutches of Rudolf Fischer's private Ferrari. Farina is left in the lead with a comfortable nine seconds to Ascari in second position. However Ascari returnes to the track, determined to push on to take the victory and his first world title. Mid-way through the final lap, Ascari catches his teammate and pushes his way past to take the lead from Farina. Taruffi, meanwhile, loses third to Fischer who is now set for his first world championship podium. Taruffi being forced to be content with the three points for fourth, Behra in fifth place being too distant to challenge him. The motor race held on Saturday at the Boreham circuit sees Villoresi succeed, the only Italian in the race. The two Ferraris place themselves in the first two positions. Eighty thousand people follow enthusiastically the difficult competition. Villoresi leads the race with authority and regularity right from the start. The Argentinian driver Landi has classified second and the Frenchman Etancelin third on Talbot. There’s also anticipation around the race, held under violent pouring rain, because it’s necessary to evaluate one of the last tests of the two B.R.M.s, whose construction has cost huge sums of money; however, the B.R.M.s disappoint the expectations once again. The start is rather dull, then while desperately trying to keep up with the 4.5-litre Ferrari of the magnificent Villoresi, the Argentinian González, because of the wet surface as well, goes off track at around 200 km/h (124.274 mph) speed, breaking the protective fence and ending up in the grass. 

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The driver manages to miraculously keep control of the car and to avoid major troubles. Naturally, the car gets very damaged. Shortly before, in the same part of the track, a Jaguar had gone out of track injuring non-severely seven people. The other B.R.M. racing, driven by the cautious Wharton, is never really in the race: after occupying the seventh place for a while, he’s forced to retire on lap 59 due to engine troubles. The 18th German Grand Prix ends with an amazing win by Alberto Ascari, who precedes Giuseppe Farina by fourteen seconds at the finish line. With this win, the Ferrari leader writes his name in the Hall of Fame of the German Grand Prix for the third consecutive time, increasing his advantage in the World Championship’s rankings, which now see him in the lead with 36 points, in front of Taruffi (22) and Farina (18). The second place at the Nürburgring is Farina’s prerogative, the only contender who’s able to stay in the slipstream of the superb winner. The Swiss driver Fischer, also on Ferrari, ends up in the third place and the fourth is occupied by Taruffi. The triumph of the Maranello team, whose cars have demonstrated to be far superior to the Gordinis, could not be more complete. And, as a matter of fact, there hasn’t been a real battle between the Ferrari drivers and the ones from the French team: it’s enough to say that Manzon and Trintignant have regularly lost 20 to 30 seconds per lap, which emphasises how the success of the Maranello cars hasn’t been under threat for a single moment. The day ends with a new crushing defeat for the English cars, that not only haven’t posed a threat to the Ferraris, but have also been all forced to retire, except the one driven by a Belgian driver. Maserati, as concerned, have been very unlucky, since Bonetto, after a dazzling start, couldn’t continue following an accident. Due to a tyre blowout the car swerved frighteningly, spun around and was seriously damaged. The driver is luckily unscathed. In the International race for sports cars over 2000 cc, the victory has gone to Mercedes-Benz, as easily predictable. The hardest opponent of the Stuttgart-based car manufacturer is the Frenchman Manzon with the 2300 cc Gordini, who at the beginning had managed to keep up with Kling, jumped in the lead.

 

But soon Manzon had to retire due to mechanical problems, leaving the way clear for the Mercedes. Up until two laps to the end of the race Kling has remained in the lead, only to be overtaken at the last moment by Ermann Lang. Meanwhile, in Italy, the Giro della Calabria race is saddened by a tragic accident. Tullio Sacchi, young driver from Milan, who left Catanzaro at 5.15 am, after only 90 km (55.923 miles) into the race loses control of his car for unknown reasons and falls over a cliff, dying on impact. Marcello Combi, the co-driver, suffers only minor injuries. The race is very fast-paced, to the point that not only the overall winner Paolo Marzotto but also the category winners are able to lower all previous records. Finally, the 14th edition of the Aosta-Gran San Bernardo race, international uphill speed motor race, is won by Pietro Palmieri in a Ferrari 2715. In motor racing events in which competitors with low, medium and high-powered mechanical vehicles participate, for obvious reasons it isn’t customary to make an overall ranking list. However, this time is necessary to bear in mind that Palmieri and his teammate Sterzi, though racing in the sports car category, have managed to set better times than the aces at the wheel of free formula racing cars. Palmieri has therefore suddenly shot to fame in the automotive field. He is an engineering student at the Politecnico di Roma. He is twenty-three years old and much more passionate about motor racing than analytical mathematics. When he reaches the finish line at the Gran San Bernardo and the announcer says that the time it’s taken him to get from Aosta up there (33.900 km; 21.064 miles) is 24'36"3, he starts roaming around the pits like a bloodhound in search of his prey. The other competitors gradually reach the top and the radio announces times and speed averages, but Palmieri doesn’t get distracted. When Von Stuck's car crosses the finish line and goes on till the Great St Bernard Hospice to then stop at the car park, Palmieri shows up at the timekeepers. He wants the Austrian ace's time and wants to know it first. The official response is 25'03"1. Palmieri is first, overall winner.

 

"Now I can actually do an interview. I’m the person who engineers and race officials would ban from racing. After what happened at the Modena circuit two years ago, they defined me as public enemy number one, maybe for my audacity".

 

His race is really an example of regularity; as he was going up little by little, he was drawing attention for his boldness in tackling the turns, his decisiveness showing even in the most dangerous parts of the racecourse. At the end of the uphill climb, Palmieri can take credit for breaking the race record for the sports category over 1100 cc class held by Bracco since 1948 with 24'55"0. The driver from Rome has lowered the record by 18.2 second. The list of the finishers doesn’t include Sormano who, entering a turn fast at the tenth kilometre, goes off the road. After wiping out a bollard, the driver manages to stop his Ferrari on a slope, having gone almost a hundred metres off the road. Luckily, Sormano comes out completely unscathed.

 

Ludovico Nicoletti

 

Translated by Chiara Cavina

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