1951 Monaco Grand Prix
The 1951 Monaco Grand Prix was the first race of the 1951 Formula One World Championship held in Monte Carlo on May 27th 1951. It was won by Robert Manzon, who his and Gordini's first victory ahead of teammate Consalvo Sanesi. Dorino Serafini finished third.
The first team to enter the championship season was Scuderia Maremmana, soldiering on with their Ferrari-Jaguars. Clemente Biondetti was still there as first driver, having recovered from his broken legs in France last season, with Manfred von Brauchitsch's impressive drive in Belgium securing him a full-time drive at the Italian team. Phoenix were very disappointed with their 1950 campaign, and with good reason. With confirmed drivers on their line-up, the car was simply not up to the task, and the team, who did not want to blame their chassis, traded their Maserati engines for Ferrari powerplants, while keeping the same drivers. Time will tell if it was the right choice.
After the demise of the EXTRAS team last season, David Hampshire desperately wanted to continue racing, and therefore bought a couple of Altas to compete in the 1951 season. The problem was that the car was not known for its pace, and the driver himself was relatively inexperienced at an international level. Not much was expected from them.
Alfa Romeo would have won the constructors' championship the previous season had such a thing existed, and they thoroughly deserved it, by winning more than half of the season's races, two times more than their nearest rivals Ferrari and Maserati. Giuseppe Farina won the driver's title after Fangio had let it slip away in the final two races, and it didn't look like the team were on their way down. The only flaw in the team was the driver lineup, with Paul Pietsch being given the third car despite not impressing that much in his one-off race last season, and almost complete rookie Stirling Moss in the other car. In Moss' case, he won the previous year's Monaco GP in F3, so everyone had high hopes of this young driver.
Scuderia Platé-Varzi were a bit of a mistery right then. No one knew who was running it, as one of its namesakes was dead and the other was more-or-less missing. All we knew was that they inherited the works Maseratis when the team decided to cease operations after the previous season, when they were beaten by CRD, their customers. Hans Stuck was driving for the team, and their year could turn out in any possible way.
Ferrari were pretty much like Alfa Romeo. They should have won the driver's championship with Dorino Serafini, which would have been one of the biggest upsets in motor racing history. The team were poised for another year at the front battling with Alfa Romeo, but they had made what seemed to be a mistake by only entering three cars in Monaco. Time would tell if it was a mistake or just part of a bigger picture.
The previous season's two reject teams from Britain had combined to form what looked like a super-reject team from Britain. With Jaguar making the chassis and Aston Martin the engine, it looked like a match made in hell rather than in heaven, and even their choice of drivers was quite questionable, with only Etancelin and Gerard having extensive experience. It was going to be a long year for them.
Ferrari America was the new name of the Kurtis Kraft team, who were now running Ferraris. Sticking with Villoresi and signing Louis Chiron, who was unbelievably sacked by CRD last season, the team itself was inexperienced, but the drivers had a good reputation and the car had proven to be very quick indeed. It was hard to predict how they'd do.
Ecurie Nationale Belge were one of the most mysterious teams there was in terms of performance. With cars entered for every race the previous season, they never scored points. However, a deal struck with Alfa Romeo allowed them to get two works-condition chassis to enter for every race in exchange for Stirling Moss. In addition, ENB obtained the services of Maurice Trintignant alongside André Pilette, Eugène Chaboud and Jacques Swaters, at least for Monaco, as many drivers were signed up for the team along the year. However, all the different chassis used by the outfit meant that they would be using different names: Scuderia Belgio for Alfas, Garage Francorchamps for Ferraris and Maseratis and Equipe de France for Bugattis.
Alexander Racing Team were one of the previous season's surprises. They finished in every points scoring position once last year, apart from first, and the permanent return of Tony Bettenhausen would be a certain boost to the team. They were expected to take their first victory in 1951, and nothing seemed to be standing in the way of them taking the fight to Alfa and Ferrari, especially with the four-car superteam.
Motorsport Bleu's end to the season was awfully disappointing, with Rosier failing to qualify in Italy and Bira crashing out after a miserable start to the race. It got worse, as the team failed to correctly send their entries for Monaco, with only their intended third driver Levegh arriving. Without more trouble, Rosier and Bira would have to do their damnded best to get more points, with the ever-slowing Talbot-Lago.
Claes Racing Developments had a very inconsistent 1950 season to say the least, but many a paddock personality was shocked when Johnny fired his star driver Louis Chiron, only to replace him with the virtually unknown André Simon. At least the confidence boost and the Maserati chassis and engines should mean a decent season, but the absence of a big name at the wheel could hamper their chances at big points.
Redman Racing Team were in the same boat as Platé-Varzi. Running customer Maseratis, mysteriously appearing at the end of last season. Franco Rol was a good, consistent driver, and should score a few top tens at least, but it was hard to predict anything about this team.
To end, I'll talk about all the new teams for 1951. Two of them, Metcalf and Commesso, had come from nowhere, with only Scuderia Ambrosiana having been present in a few previous non-championship races. They all had one thing in common: all were making their own chassis. Metcalf were even making their engine in-house, while Commesso and Ambrosiana would use Ferrari and Maserati powerplants respectively. Despite this disadvantage, Metcalf should have had the upper hand, as Piero Taruffi's sheer speed behind the wheel could be enough to get the car in places it shouldn't have been, while Bracco, Landi and Grignard are well relative unknowns.
As expected, Ferrari and Alfa Romeo led the qualifying session, with Serafini taking pole ahead of Fangio. The main surprise, however, came from Gordini, who placed all four cars in the top ten. Despite a lack of factory support for Scuderia Platé-Varzi, the ex-works machinery still allowed Stuck to reach eleventh place, just ahead of Claes. Piero Taruffi managed to take the Metcalf to a grid spot in 16th place, ahead of defending champion Giuseppe Farina. Both Claes Maseratis also made it through, with Claes 12th and Simon 15th. The Phoenix drivers were very spread out, with Gonzalez qualifiying tenth (the team's best result) and Ascari far away from the grid in 28th position.
Ecurie Nationale Belge saw their plan of using Alfa Romeos backfire, with Trintignant and Pilette ending up 21st and 22nd, just outside the qualifiers. Chaboud was even further back in the Bugatti, in 27th position. The Commessos also failed to make it, as did Hampshire, Pierre Levegh, the Ambrosiana and, embarrassingly, all four Jaguar-Aston Martins. Luigi Villoresi and Manfred von Brauchitsch also suffered Ascari's embarrassment of staying in the grandstands on Sunday while their teammates qualified.
Fangio took the lead at the start and immediately pulled away, leaving Manzon, Serafini and Bettenhausen behind him. Manzon soon also left the others behind and caught Fangio by lap 25. After a tense battle, Manzon took the lead permanently on lap 33. Fangio was taken out of the race shortly afterwards with transmission failure. A few laps previously, Bettenhausen had crashed out of third position while lapping Louis Chiron. Swaters and Giraud-Cabantous had also retired by that point, both from the top ten, after spinning out and having an oil leak respectively.
By this point, Sanesi had caught up after a slow start and was fighting with Serafini for second place. While Manzon cruised to victory from then on, the battle between the two Italians raced until the very last lap, and Sanesi eventually got the better of Serafini. Paul Pietsch and Franco Rol climbed up the field from weak starting positions and eventually took the final two points positions. Toulo de Graffenried and Johnny Claes were also fighting for points, but de Graffenried's suspension failed with nine laps remaining.
Peter Whitehead finished seventh, having been fifth at one point, while André Simon finished eighth on début. Hans Stuck came ninth after also running in the points on one occasion. De Graffenried was classified tenth, while Piero Taruffi was the last finisher in the Metcalf, 13 laps down. In fact, many drivers would fail to climb higher than fifth place. Clemente Biondetti and Stirling Moss would reach this position only to retire soon after, Biondetti with a driveshaft failure and Moss with an engine failure. Defending champion Farina only ever reached eleventh position and eventually retired from thirteenth place with a spin. José Froilan Gonzalez was the last retirement, with a gearbox failure out of fifth place, having spent a significant portion of the race in the points.
- Toni Branca was originally entered for Scuderia Commesso, but his licence was turned down. He was replaced by Chico Landi. Tony Gaze and Mike Hawthorn's entries were turned down due to a lack of experience.
- First victory for Robert Manzon.
- First fastest lap for Robert Manzon.
- First and only points for Paul Pietsch and Franco Rol.
- First start for André Simon.
- First entry for Giovanni Bracco, André Simon and Georges Grignard.
- Final entry for Philippe Etancelin, Eugène Martin, Pierre Levegh.
- First win for Gordini.
- First fastest lap for Gordini.
- First start for Metcalf.
- First entry for Metcalf, Commesso and Ambrosiana. Only entry for Commesso as a constructor.
- First win for Alexander Racing Team.
- First fastest lap for Alexander Racing Team.
- First points for Redman Racing Team.
- First entry for Hampshire Racing Alliance and Jaguar-Aston Martin Racing.
- Most career starts: 8 drivers (8)
- Most career entries: 9 drivers (8)
- Youngest race winner: Robert Manzon (34 years, 1 month and 15 days)
- Youngest fastest lap scorer: Robert Manzon (34 years, 1 month and 15 days)
|1||/ Alexander Racing Team||9|
|3||Alfa Romeo SpA||3|
|4||Redman Racing Team||2|
|5||Claes Racing Developments||0|
- Only the top five positions are listed.
| Previous race:
1950 Italian Grand Prix
| Alternate Formula 1 World Championship
| Next race:|
1951 Indianapolis 500
| Previous race:
1950 Monaco Grand Prix
|Monaco Grand Prix|| Next race:|
1952 Monaco Grand Prix