1950 British Grand Prix
The 1950 British Grand Prix was the first race of the Formula One World championship, held on May 13th 1950. The race was won by Monégasque veteran Louis Chiron ahead of Mauri Rose and Toulo de Graffenried.
For the first race of the new Formula One World championship, the three biggest manufacturers of the time (Ferrari, Maserati and Alfa Romeo) were all present with four cars each. Alfa Romeo brought dependable hands Giuseppe Farina, Juan Manuel Fangio and Maurice Trintignant, joined by veteran American racer Mauri Rose. Ferrari brought regular drivers Dorino Serafini and Luigi Villoresi as well as noted privateers Toulo de Graffenried and Peter Whitehead. Maserati signed Alfa Romeo refugees Luigi Fagioli and Piero Taruffi alongside regular driver Felice Bonetto and driver-for-hire Reg Parnell.
Other manufacturers were present, such as Gordini and Talbot-Lago, both with satellite operations. Alexander Racing Team entered the Gordini for promising American Tony Bettenhausen while Motorsport Bleu entered Talbots for regular driver Louis Rosier, the Siamese prince B. Bira and local entrant Bob Gerard. Lancia also made a much-discussed entry, bringing the great Tazio Nuvolari back to Grand Prix racing at the age of 57. Aston Martin also made a low-key entry for defending American champion Johnnie Parsons, while two new constructors appeared. The Spanish Phoenix team landed premium hands Alberto Ascari and José Froilan Gonzalez when they were left driveless, while All-American Racers built their own car for Harry Schell.
Jacques de Rham's Scuderia Maremmana team also entered two cars, securing the cars thanks to first driver Clemente Biondetti, who brought his own Ferrari-Jaguars for himself and Indy 500 winner Bill Holland. Johnny Claes also founded his own team, entering two Maseratis for himself and Louis Chiron, while Harold Clive Berkinson's EXTRAS team entered Peter Walker. Jacques Swaters' Ecurie Nationale Belge also entered two modified Gordinis for Arthur Legat and André Pilette. Dennis Poore was the final entrant in a privately-entered Alfa Romeo.
Toulo de Graffenried, the defending British GP winner, took pole position for Ferrari, but the Maseratis were the best constructor overall. While three of the four factory cars qualified in the top ten, the biggest surprise came from the Johnny Claes Maseratis, who qualified second and third. Ferrari also put three cars in the top ten, with Alfa Romeo taking the other two spots in the top ten. The top three manufacturers secured the top 12 spots and 15 of the top 21.
The Talbot-Lagos were the most competitive non-Italian cars, lining up 13th, 15th and 16th. Gordini, Aston Martin and Lancia disappointed by failing to make the top 15, while Ecurie Nationale Belge expectedly came last and third-last. The front of the field was very tightly bunched though, with three seconds covering the top 20.
In the end, qualifying proved to be no fluke for Claes Racing Developments. While de Graffenried led for the first few laps, Johnny Claes, who had passed his team mate Chiron early on, took the lead on lap 11 and quickly began pulling away. De Graffenried was no slouch, however, and was fighting hard to keep the gap as small as possible while dicing for second with a very impressive Dorino Serafini. Chiron, Fagioli and Parnell were all fighting over fourth place, with Mauri Rose close behind in seventh place. Meanwhile, Luigi Villoresi became the first retirement of the World Championship, his engine giving up the ghost on lap 5.
De Graffenried made a small mistake, allowing Serafini to pull away for a moment and Fagioli to join in the scramble, while Parnell began dropping back. The turning point of the race happened on lap 34. Bob Gerard, in the Motorsport Bleu Talbot-Lago was running an anonymous race in the midfield when his gearbox failed, spewing oil all over the track. Claes, who was attempting to lap Gonzalez, was unable to avoid the slick and went spinning through the grass. He was able to continue, but grass had found its way into his engine, which overheated and forced the race leader to retire.
This left motorcycle champion Dorino Serafini in the lead, with a pretty sizeable lead over the squabbling de Graffenried and Fagioli, Louis Chiron and the impressive Mauri Rose. Felice Bonetto and the very impressive B. Bira were now fighting for sixth position. Bonetto quickly passed the Siamese prince and launched a successful attack on Rose before joining the battle for second, which now also included the very quick Louis Chiron. De Graffenried ended up winning the fight and started to pull away, although Serafini was still leading the race. Bonetto, Fagioli and Chiron were left to fight over third, with Rose a close sixth. Chiron then started to catch up to Toulo, and both began chasing down Serafini, Bonetto attempting to keep the gap as small as possible. While Bonetto's gap to Serafini was stabilizing, he was passed by a charging Luigi Fagioli, who was attempting to return to the podium. Rose was fifth and followed by Bira and Parnell, who was having a solid race.
With 15 laps to go, Bonetto and Piero Taruffi started to pick up pace, Bonetto taking the lead on lap 66, while Serafini was slowing down and getting caught at a rate of knots by de Graffenried and Chiron. Mauri Rose then started to find pace in a light car, Chiron suddenly gaining further ground on Serafini compared to de Graffenried, who began to experience tyre problems. Then disaster struck on the final lap for race leader Bonetto. His final charge obviously being too hard on the car, the Maserati's suspension spectacularly broke between Stowe and Club. Although the Italian managed to control his car, his race was over. Chiron therefore took the lead and won a very exciting race, having only led the final lap. Mauri Rose, whose final few laps enabled him to take fifth on lap 67, fourth on lap 68 and pass de Graffenried for third at Becketts on the final lap, finally inherited second position after Bonetto's retirement. De Graffenried still managed to keep third place despite heavy tyre wear.
Serafini still managed to salvage fourth position after leading for most of the race. Maserati placed their works cars in 5th and 6th with Fagioli and Parnell. Farina and Fangio weren't able to get point-scoring results despite the superiority of their car. Truth be told, they both had a horrible race, although Fangio managed to finish with the fastest lap of the race. Finally, the two regular cars for Motorsport Bleu finished 9th and 10th, Bira beating Rosier in a solid race for the team, despite their third driver, Bob Gerard, indirectly causing the retirement of early leader Johnny Claes. Tony Bettenhausen managed a solid 11th position in the modest ART Gordini.
Piero Taruffi finished twelfth after a very disappointing qualifying session, though he drove a very good race to get where he did. Bill Holland finished 13th in the Ferrari-Jaguar for Scuderia Maremmana, gaining seven spots during the race. Tazio Nuvolari had a disappointing return, finishing 14th in the unproven Lancia. Harry Schell finished 15th in the AAR, having driven a horrid race, although not as bad as José Froilan Gonzalez in the Phoenix, who finished one lap down in seventeenth position.
The race was incredibly close, shown by the fact that only one driver ended up lapped. The race was marred slightly by an accident from Maurice Trintignant on lap 42, when he lost control of his car at Becketts, the car colliding with a straw bale. Trintignant was uninjured.
|2||8||Mauri Rose||Alfa Romeo||70||+ 4.1||12||6|
|3||23||Toulo de Graffenried||Ferrari||70||+ 5.7||1||4|
|4||21||Dorino Serafini||Ferrari||70||+ 8.1||7||3|
|5||1||Luigi Fagioli||Maserati||70||+ 13.8||8||2|
|6||2||Reg Parnell||Maserati||70||+ 23.6||9|
|7||6||Giuseppe Farina||Alfa Romeo||70||+ 25.2||10|
|8||5||Juan Manuel Fangio||Alfa Romeo||70||+ 32.6||4||1|
|9||17||B. Bira||Talbot-Lago-Talbot||70||+ 33.4||13|
|10||16||Louis Rosier||Talbot-Lago-Talbot||70||+ 34.2||15|
|11||14||Tony Bettenhausen||Gordini||70||+ 36.6||23|
|12||3||Piero Taruffi||Maserati||70||+ 37.4||21|
|13||10||Bill Holland||Ferrari-Jaguar||70||+ 56.2||20|
|14||28||Tazio Nuvolari||Lancia||70||+ 1:24.7||26|
|15||19||Harry Schell||AAR-Weslake||70||+ 1:42.6||19|
|17||25||José Froilan Gonzalez||Phoenix||69||+1 lap||25|
|Ret||29||Johnnie Parsons||Aston Martin||51||Engine||24|
|Ret||7||Maurice Trintignant||Alfa Romeo||41||Accident||14|
|Ret||24||Alberto Ascari||Phoenix||31||Oil leak||18|
|Ret||30||Dennis Poore||Alfa Romeo||28||Compressor||17|
|Ret||9||Clemente Biondetti||Ferrari-Jaguar||27||Oil pressure||28|
- Only victory for Louis Chiron.
- Only podium for Mauri Rose.
- Only points for Mauri Rose and Luigi Fagioli.
- Only start for Johnnie Parsons and Dennis Poore.
- Only victory for Maserati.
- Only entry for the Phoenix engine.
- Only entries for ENB as a constructor.
- Only victory for Claes Racing Developments.
- Toulo de Graffenried: 10 laps (1-10)
- Johnny Claes: 24 laps (11-34)
- Dorino Serafini: 31 laps (35-65)
- Felice Bonetto: 4 laps (66-69)
- Louis Chiron: 1 lap (70)
|3||Toulo de Graffenried||4|
- Only the top five positions are listed.
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| Alternate Formula 1 World Championship
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1950 Monaco Grand Prix
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1951 British Grand Prix