1950 Swiss Grand Prix
The 1950 Swiss Grand Prix was the fourth race of the Formula One World championship, held on June 4th 1950. The race was the first won by Juan Manuel Fangio, ahead of Tony Bettenhausen and B. Bira. It was also the first time that the race's pole sitter also took the victory. It still holds the record for the most starters in a Formula One race, with 37 drivers competing.
Next to all the teams retaining the same lineup for the race (AAR, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Maserati, Claes, Phoenix) some had gone for changes or would make their débuts. The most notable of these rookies among teams were Jaguar. The team managers, who had been on the sidelines since the start of the championship due to a lack of drivers, finally sorted out the team's lineup during the Monaco Grand Prix and, after hiring Wilbur Shaw for the Indy 500 to get a feel for a race weekend, they decided that, having shown experience and pace behind the wheel, Bob Gerard and Philippe Etancelin, third drivers for Motorsport Bleu in Great Britain and Monaco respectively, would be the ideal pairing.
Scuderia Maremmana, despite the brilliant performance of Roger Loyer at Monaco, had returned to a more traditional two-car operation for Biondetti and Holland, again driving the Ferrari-Jaguar hybrids. After deciding not to enter the Monaco Grand Prix, part-time entrants EXTRAS and Lancia had made the trip to Bremgarten and entered Peter Walker and Tazio Nuvolari respectively. The ever-changing ENB, entering the Bugatti-Gordinis (or whatever they were called at that point), had entered, along with regulars Chaboud, Martin and Giraud-Cabantous, young British Formula 3 racer Stirling Moss, who had shown much promise in the junior series.
Motorsport Bleu continued their revolving-door policy for the third car, Rudi Fischer now taking the place after Bob Gerard and Philippe Etancelin. After their successful participation against the Europeans in the Indy 500, the surprise entrant was Kurtis Kraft. The American constructor was confident that they could beat pretty much everyone, and had fittingly hired pre-war ace Hans Stuck. However, he would only be the second driver. The first car would be shared by Cecil Green and Joie Chitwood for the rest of the season, Green taking the start in Switzerland.
While Aston Martin kept Sommer and ART kept Manzon and Bettenhausen, two privateers had found their way among the giants. Alfred Dattner would drive a Maserati-OSCA and Adolfo Mandirola would drive a Simca Gordini.
This time, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari shared the limelight in qualifying, but it was Juan Manuel Fangio who took his second career pole position, the first man to start from first position twice. He was followed by Serafini and de Graffenried, while Mauri Rose took fourth, desperate to come back to the front after an admittedly disastrous Indy 500. Louis Chiron, the championship leader, would be satisfied with fifth position, the Maserati losing its edge as the season went on. After that, Ferraris, Alfa Romeos, Parnell, Fagioli and Claes rounded out the top 12, Taruffi only qualifying 15th, with Bonetto a relatively dismal 19th.
Motorsport Bleu showed good pace in qualifying, taking 13th with Bira, 17th with Fischer and 22nd with Chiron, and were undoubtedly the second-best private team behind Claes. Third in this unofficial ranking was arguably ART, as Tony Bettenhausen would start from a fine 14th position. This was countered by Manzon's abysmal 27th place on the grid. Scuderia Maremmana was also pretty much where it should, Holland qualifying 16th and Biondetti 24th.
All American Racers, who had been bad-mouthing Harry Schell, their driver, would be pretty happy with his qualifying performance, as 18th out of 37 placed him 7th in the non-European manufacturer unofficial ranking. Schell had indeed qualified in the top half of the field, and would be hoping for a good performance during the race. The "factory privateers", Lancia and Aston Martin, had done quite well considering their early-season pace, Nuvolari qualifying 20th and Sommer 21st, while EXTRAS driver Peter Walker would line up 23rd, not a bad job by any means.
Phoenix could also be considered a "private manufacturer", as they had everything a privateer team did, only they made their own chassis. For a while, they also made their own engine, but had recently decided to switch to a Maserati engine. This decision seemed to have paid off partly, 25th and 30th a good result considering the large field. Jaguar were in the same boat, as their lack of pace was not at all surprising. It would take a miracle for them to even get in the midfield, much less rival with the top manufacturers.
Nothing said nationalism like Ecurie Nationale Belge, yet nothing in their team seemed to be Belgian at that moment, apart from the management. This time, Eugène Chaboud had outdone himself to secure 26th place on the grid, while young rookie Stirling Moss seemed to have adapted to Formula 1 quite well, qualifying 32nd, just ahead of much more experienced team mate Eugène Martin. Yves Giraud-Cabantous, meanwhile, perpetuated his dismal performances with last place. In the same vein, but not as marked, Kurtis Kraft's first foray into Europe had gone horribly pear-shaped, although, surprisingly, Cecil Green got the better of Hans Stuck in the woods around Bern. Still, 34th position was nothing to celebrate.
Finally, the locals hadn't been very surprising thus far, apart from Adolfo Mandirola's do-or-die lap to secure 28th position on the grid. Dattner, meanwhile, would start 35th.
It was a hot day at Bremgarten, and the teamperature was such that everyone expected a high-attrition race. And that's exactly what happened.
It all started on lap 1. While most people made it through without much trouble, the back of the pack quickly began to heat up. At Eymatt, Stirling Moss made a rookie mistake and span. Philippe Etancelin and Alfred Dattner both aimed for the same gap to avoid him and lightly collided, while Cecil Green also lost control in the mêlée, spinning off track. The accident was not at high speed, and no one was injured, but all four drivers were out of the race.
At this point, the heat was starting to take its toll on the cars. The dust on the track combined with the hot spring day contributed to engines overheating, and it was not long before people started retiring. First, it was Manzon on lap 3, then Giraud-Cabantous two laps later. On lap 7, it was Felice Bonetto's turn to retire the Maserati. At the front, Fangio revelled under the heat. De Graffenried and Chiron both attempted to follow him, but the Maestro had already pulled out a stable but big gap, and both backed off after making mistakes attempting to follow Fangio's incredible pace.
Meanwhile, cars and drivers were failing. Schell spun off at Worsthaus. Taruffi and Farina's cars gave up the ghost one lap apart, closely followed by Johnny Claes. At this point, de Graffenried had launched another attack on Fangio, aided by Luigi Fagioli. While de Graffenried managed to lead 3 laps and Fagioli one, they were simply unable to match Fangio's speed consistently, and once again began to fall back.
The massacre continued further down the field, with Stuck, Chaboud, Villoresi and Ascari's cars stopping by the side of the track. Chiron's race ended on lap 24 after lightly colliding with Trintignant. His suspension was damaged by the contact and he was forced to retire. Fangio then made an unusual driver error, letting de Graffenried, Fagioli and Serafini through. Serafini therefore took over the race lead. At that point, Rosier was forced to retire, quickly followed by the first retirement amongst the frontrunners, Luigi Fagioli. De Graffenried then began pushing hard, judging that Serafini was an easier target than Fangio. He took the lead on lap 33, but retired just 3 laps later with a burnt-out clutch.
Serafini therefore retook the lead. Adolfo Mandirola then retired after a quiet race, leaving 17 cars out of 37 at the start of the race. The high and seemingly random attrition left a surprise result with 5 laps to go. Serafini led the race, closely followed by Fangio, who had recovered beautifully from his spin. Third, however, a fair way back, was Tony Bettenhausen in the ART Gordini, who had driven a simply fantastic race from 14th on the grid and had taken advantage of Parnell and Whitehead's lacklustre race pace. An equally brilliant fourth place was B. Bira from 13th on the grid.
Sommer and Rose had both been driving anonymously, yet both had to drop out of the race at the same moment, although they were still classified. Serafini then lost the race after making a small mistake at Jorden. He went on the grass and spun, getting passed by Fangio in the process. He then retired when his transmission gave up. On the final lap. This was the perfect opportunity for Bettenhausen to take a brilliant second position. Bira also held on to take third, while Serafini managed to keep fourth position.
- First victory for Juan Manuel Fangio.
- First fastest lap for Toulo de Graffenried.
- First podium for Tony Bettenhausen.
- First points for Tony Bettenhausen and Maurice Trintignant.
- First start for Yves Giraud-Cabantous, Rudi Fischer, Raymond Sommer, Eugène Martin, Philippe Etancelin, Eugène Chaboud, Adolfo Mandirola, Stirling Moss and Alfred Dattner (only start for Martin, Mandirola and Dattner).
- First entry for Rudi Fischer, Adolfo Mandirola, Stirling Moss and Alfred Dattner (only entry for Mandirola and Dattner).
- Final start for Peter Walker and Bill Holland.
- First fastest lap for Ferrari.
- First podium for Gordini.
- First points for Gordini.
- First start for Simca Gordini and the O.S.C.A. engine.
- First entry for Simca Gordini and the O.S.C.A. engine.
- First podium for Alexander Racing Team.
- First points for Alexander Racing Team.
- First and only start for Alfred Dattner and Adolfo Mandirola.
- First and only entry for Alfred Dattner and Adolfo Mandirola.
- Juan Manuel Fangio: 21 laps (1-16, 21-23, 41-42)
- Toulo de Graffenried: 6 laps (17-19, 33-35)
- Luigi Fagioli: 1 lap (20)
- Dorino Serafini: 14 laps (24-32, 36-40)
- Most career poles: Juan Manuel Fangio (2)
- Most career podiums: Juan Manuel Fangio and B. Bira (2)
- Most career points: Juan Manuel Fangio (15)
- Most career starts: Bill Holland and Mauri Rose (4)
- Most career entries: 13 drivers (4)
- Youngest race winner: Juan Manuel Fangio (38 years, 11 months and 11 days)
- Youngest fastest lap scorer: Toulo de Graffenried (36 years and 17 days)
- Most pole positions: Alfa Romeo (2)
- Shortest running time (2:02:14.4)
- Shortest race distance (305.760 km)
- Largest winning margin (1:57.4)
- Most starters (37)
- Most retirements (23)
|1||Juan Manuel Fangio||15|
- Only the top five positions are listed.
| Previous race:
1950 Indianapolis 500
| Alternate Formula 1 World Championship
| Next race:|
1950 Belgian Grand Prix
| Previous race:
|Swiss Grand Prix|| Next race:|
1953 Swiss Grand Prix