1950 Belgian Grand Prix
The 1950 Belgian Grand Prix was the fifth race of the Formula One World championship, held on June 18th 1950. Dorino Serafini dominated the race weekend, score pole, fastest lap, winning the race and leading all but one lap, completing the first Hat-Trick in history and coming a single lap short of the first Grand Chelem. Ferrari, however, managed the Grand Chelem as a team, as the other lap was led by Peter Whitehead. Toulo de Graffenried came second and Whitehead came third, completing a 1-2-3 for the team, both in the race and in qualifying, as close to a clean sweep as any other team had managed at the time.
Switzerland was the last race for most drivers on provisional licenses, and this caused many changes in the field. Phoenix's lineup remained unchanged, but at Alfa Romeo, Mauri Rose's license was not renewed after he failed to show a good level of performance after the British Grand Prix. Alfa Romeo, who desperately wanted an American as third driver, decided to sign two-time AAA runner-up Myron Fohr, also on a two-race license.
Ecurie Nationale Belge had changed their lineup drastically for their home race. Arthur Legat and André Pilette returned to the cockpit, while Paul Frère and Jacques Swaters would make their Formula 1 débuts. Legat and Swaters would drive Swaters' own Ferraris, with Pilette and Frère competing in the usual Bugatti-Gordinis. This would be Legat's farewell race. Not much change at Kurtis Kraft, with Joie Chitwood replacing Cecil Green. Kurtis Kraft was one of the teams involved in Luigi Villoresi's successive changes of team. After being fired by Ferrari, Villoresi was eagerly snapped up by Kurtis Kraft, in light of Aston Martin's interest in signing Cecil Green. However, since Chitwood and Stuck were already entered for the race, Villoresi would instead drive for ART as a one-off.
Jaguar's lineup did not change, but Ferrari's lineup did, much like Alfa Romeo. With Luigi Villoresi fired due to a lack of performance, the Scuderia instead hired Reg Parnell, fired from Maserati for the same reason. Aston Martin, meanwhile had entered a second car for Cecil Green, who was released from Kurtis Kraft, alongside Raymond Sommer.
Alexander Racing Team, following Tony Bettenhausen's brilliant second position in Bremgarten, had decided to expand to four cars for the Belgian Grand Prix. Robert Manzon stayed on, while Bettenhausen (whose license expired) would be replaced by Alfa Romeo's test driver Consalvo Sanesi. Yves Giraud-Cabantous would drive the third car after not being picked by ENB for the team's home race, while the controversial Villoresi drove the fourth Gordini.
All American Racers were back again, with Harry Schell competing in his final race of the season before his license expired. Maserati had also made a change in their lineup, after Reg Parnell was fired for a lack of performance compared to Fagioli, who had scored points, and Bonetto who had run near the front until mechanical trouble hit. A quick replacement was then found in the form of Jimmy Davies, who already drove for the team at Indianapolis, retiring after just 16 laps.
Scuderia Maremmana had decided not to enter Bill Holland in Belgium, saving his last allotted race for the French Grand Prix, instead hiring pre-war ace Manfred von Brauchitsch, who had not competed in motor racing in over 10 years. It remained to be seen whether he could retain a good level of performance in the Ferrari-Jaguar alongside Clemente Biondetti.
Motorsport Bleu continued to enter a different third driver for every race, Chico Landi becoming the first Brazilian driver to comepte in Formula 1. It remained to be seen whether B. Bira would be able to keep up the great results of the start of the season. Claes Racing Developments' pace also seemed to be dwindling, no doubt in part due to the lack of income from Claes' repeated retirements. The flamboyant Lancia team was also entered, but they desperately needed good results from Tazio Nuvolari in order to remain in the series, or he would see his license get revoked.
Serafini had been surprising this season already, regularly scoring points. In Belgium, he finally scored his first pole position, leading a Ferrari 1-2-3. The boys from Maranello had all put in impressive performances to qualify in the top three, Peter Whitehead also managing his best qualifying result of the season. Another surprise was Robert Manzon, following on Bettenhausen's wonderful second place in Switzerland with fourth place in qualifying for ART. Equally surprising, Clemente Biondetti took fifth in the Ferrari-Jaguar hybrid.
Piero Taruffi also had a good session, managing to beat all the Alfa Romeos in his obviously slower Maserati. Said Alfa Romeos would line up from 7th to 9th, with rookie [[Myron Fohr starting a dismal 26th. The other Maseratis would start 10th, 14th and 19th, with a surprising Franco Rol starting 13th, just in front of Jimmy Davies making his European début. The last Ferrari, that of Reg Parnell, set the eleventh fastest lap, outpacing half of his old team's cars.
Adding to Biondetti's great qualifying lap, Manfred von Brauchitsch set a comparatively more impressive time to qualify 12th. Another team like Scuderia Maremmana is ART, and, apart from Manzon's fabulous 4th, they qualified where everyone expected them to be: Villoresi 15th, Sanesi 19th on début and Giraud-Cabantous 23rd, obviously motivated by the prospect of a better car than the ENB.
Speaking of ENB, they made the choice of entering two Ferraris for Legat and Swaters, and it turned out to be the right choice, as Swaters qualified sixteenth for his first race, with 51-year-old Legat starting 20th for his final Grand Prix. It didn't turn out as well for their usual Bugatti-Gordinis, as Frère and Pilette both failed to qualify for their home race.
Motorsport Bleu, compared to their early-season pace, had a frankly disppointing qualifying session, with Rosier 17th and Bira a dismal 30th, something that was not expected from the man who had scored two podiums that year. Landi, meanwhile, took the car to a respectable 24th for his first championship race. Another privateer who disappointed was CRD, whose British Grand Prix victory seemed so far, despite it being only five weeks previously. They would line up just 21st and 22nd for their home race.
Now, on to the small British manufacturers. Jaguar were not very surprising, with Gerard and Etancelin qualifying towards the rear of the midfield. However, Aston Martin, who were, until then, forced to get used to failing to qualify, obviously made a good signing in the form of Cecil Green, who, however, may not compete in any further race this year. The American thoroughly thrashed experienced Frenchman Raymond Sommer to qualify 31st, while Sommer failed to make the grid. Both Jaguars outqualified the very vocal Tazio Nuvolari in the Lancia, whose license would come under review after this race.
Phoenix, who had made progress with the Maserati engine since the double-DNQ at Monaco, finally managed to qualify for a race where DNQ's were possible, with Gonzalez even making the top 30, while Ascari just scraped onto the grid in 34th place, the last available spot. The last two qualifiers were Harry Schell, not doing himself any favors in his last race that year, and privateer Cuth Harrison in the ERA, happy to make the grid and to compete against his friendly rival Bob Gerard in the Jaguar. The last privateer was young Geoff Crossley in his modern but slow Alta, who just failed to qualify for the race, but whose nonetheless impressive qualifying lap was an indicator of his potential talent behind the wheel of an F1 car.
Lastly, Kurtis Kraft were not surprising but still disppointing. They were expected not to qualify, but last position for Joie Chitwood was just unacceptable when compared to Stuck, who actually appeared to be helping the team. Even with inexperience factored in, the German comprehensively beat the 38-year-old American to take 36th, not enough to qualify.
Ferrari were very well placed to take their first Formula 1 victory on Sunday, but anything could happen. In the four races held before then, only Fangio had won from pole. Would Dorino Serafini join the Argentine in that group of drivers?
Serafini led from the start with Whitehead following. Manzon had a relatively good start, gaining a place, but quickly losing it to de Graffenried, while championship leader Fangio got off to a bad start, stalling on the grid and losing a whole lap. Manzon and de Graffenried attempted to keep up with the leaders' pace, but both quickly dropped behind, Manzon's weaker car becoming more of a factor in the race. Serafini dominated the race, with Whitehead only able to lead a lap because of Serafini easing up a bit. Farina was now mixing it with de Graffenried and Manzon, and had already passed both in a few corners, taking third position. Meanwhile, Luigi Villoresi, who had been having a simply miserable race, collided with José Froilan Gonzalez in the Phoenix, taking both out of the race on lap 12. And then, the rain came.
It started off as a small shower at Malmédy, before progressing to a gigantic storm that caught out many, many drivers in the 14-km circuit. Felice Bonetto spun out. Jacques Swaters, who had been running a splendid race, already in the top 10, sadly lost control of his Ferrari at Eau Rouge, lightly striking the embankment on the outside and retiring on the spot. The rain became stronger and stronger, and Fagioli, Biondetti, Gerard and Rosier all left the track during lap 14, all of them retiring. Peter Whitehead, who had been running second and had even led just before the shower, spun at La Source and hat to pit to fix some suspension damage, losing a substantial amount of time as well as second place to de Graffenried. Manzon, still running fifth, was not embarrassing in the rain, reducing the gap to Whitehead, but couldn't prevent being lapped by an imperial Dorino Serafini.
The rain stopped on lap 16, but some drivers still made mistakes on the quickly drying track. Parnell, Trintignant, Green and Tazio Nuvolari all made mistakes and spun off, leaving 19 cars on the track, and Serafini over a minute ahead of de Graffenried, who was now a further minute ahead of Whitehead, Farina and Manzon. The race at the front settled down until lap 25, when Farina, running fourth, retired with a hydraulics failure. This elevated Manzon to a brilliant fourth place, a position he did not expect to keep so late in the race. At that point, Fangio had slowly climbed back up the order and was now just a few seconds behind Manzon leading to a battle for the last two points-paying positions.
Serafini won his and Ferrari's first race, with de Graffenried and Whitehead completing the first ever 1-2-3 in Formula 1. With six laps to go, Fangio had passed Manzon for fourth, but Manzon would not go down without a fight, and he attempted to stay on the Argentine's tail, but eventually ended up 11 seconds adrift, in a brilliant fifth place, his first points this year, after a fantastic race, continuing ART's lucky streak. Serafini also scored the fastest lap and took second place in the championship, Fangio keeping his lead with fourth position.
- Eric Brandon was provisionally entered by Maserati, but his entry was turned down due to a lack of experience.
- First hat trick in history.
- First victory for Dorino Serafini.
- First podium for Dorino Serafini and Peter Whitehead.
- First pole position for Dorino Serafini.
- First fastest lap for Dorino Serafini.
- First points for Peter Whitehead and Robert Manzon.
- First start for Consalvo Sanesi, Franco Rol, Manfred von Brauchitsch, Jacques Swaters, Cuth Harrison and Chico Landi (only start for Cuth Harrison).
- Last start for Arthur Legat.
- First entry for Consalvo Sanesi, Franco Rol, Manfred von Brauchitsch, Jacques Swaters, Cuth Harrison, Chico Landi, Geoff Crossley and Paul Frère (only entry for Cuth Harrison and Geoff Crossley).
- Last entry for Arthur Legat.
- Most career entries: 11 drivers (5)
- Largest winning margin (2:47.0)
|Juan Manuel Fangio
|Toulo de Graffenried
- Only the top five positions are listed.
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1951 Belgian Grand Prix