1951 Dutch Grand Prix
The 1951 Dutch Grand Prix was the seventh race of the 1951 Formula One World Championship and was held at Zandvoort on August 12th 1951. It was won by Ferrari driver Dorino Serafini, who became only the second driver (after Giuseppe Farina) to win multiple championship Grands Prix. Farina himself finished second and secured his second consecutive drivers' title with a race to spare, while Briton Peter Whitehead finished third. Ferrari also secured the constructors' title. The race was notable for its unusally high rate of attrition. Only five drivers were classified at the finish, a record low at the time.
The championship could be decided at this race, the second-last of the season. Coming to Zandvoort, Farina had a 5-point lead over de Graffenried, 7 over Sanesi, 8 over Parnell and 9 over Trintignant. However, any driver who had already scored points that season could still theoretically pull off an upset. The last two races will be tense. Farina would be looking to win in order to make up for his retirement at the Nürburgring. A win would put him in a nearly untouchable lead going to Italy. At Zandvoort, the entry list would again be 34 cars long, but with 22 starters, 12 of them would have to go home on Saturday.
After the German Grand Prix, which saw his team lose precious entries, Bentley team principal Stanley Johnson-Jackson had to resort to a single entry in the last two races. In the end, he reverted to a single car for Geoff Richardson. After his brilliant performance in Germany, where he held the race lead for a few laps and managed to keep much faster cars behind him, eventually finishing third, Rudi Fischer was signed on a permanent contract by Motorsport Bleu, who expanded to two cars again, which then turned into three cars, as Guy Mairesse was hired to drive a third Talbot-Lago at Zandvoort.
The points finishes of Harry Schell and Tony Bettenhausen in Germany gave both their teams new strength, Schell because Ferrari America had finally scored points in a European round, and Bettenhausen because the team desperately needed a good result to boost their morale following the untimely death of Yves Giraud-Cabantous in the British Grand Prix. While Ferrari America still needed more to earn more entries, and will have to stick to a single car for Schell, while Robert Manzon seems to have recovered from his close friend's passing, and will return to the team for this race.
Scuderia Platé-Varzi was the center of attention after the German Grand Prix, as rumours that the de facto works Maserati team could be bought out by either Maserati or a British consortium were rife. Enrico Platé did not comment, and the team entered two cars again for the Dutch Grand Prix, for Hans Von Stuck and late signing Georges Grignard, who had already driven for Commesso and Albertini earlier this year. At Ferrari, the rotation continued, and Whitehead drove the car while Parnell was out of a drive again, which put an end to his title hopes despite his splendid victory in Germany.
This race also marked the return of Redman Racing Team following Franco Rol's huge accident at the French Grand Prix. With Rol out of action for an unknown period of time, he had to be replaced, and Louis Rosier was hired, glad to have found a drive after being fired from Motorsport Bleu after 1950. Scuderia Ambrosiana also returned, after saving up the money to enter more cars for the final two races. In the Netherlands, Giovanni Bracco would drive again, joined by team co-founder Giovanni Lurani. Other co-founder Franco Cortese would join the pair in Italy. All-Ireland Motorsport was back for their second of three races. The entry was originally turned down, but when shown a photograph of the Reatherson, the organisers accepted the entry, by pure curiosity. It wasn't like they would qualify anyways.
With every race usually packed with local entrants, the Dutch Grand Prix was no exception, and this being the first of them, two drivers would make their débuts: Jan Flinterman, joining Trintignant and Pilette at ENB, and Dries van der Lof, who joined Louis Chiron at Scuderia Commesso. Technically, van der Lof was not making his début, as he already competed at Indianapolis for Scuderia Commesso earlier that year in preparation for this race, but it would be interesting to see how he fared on a circuit that also turned right.
Farina took pole again, but all the front runners were at the very front. In fact, apart from Taruffi's Metcalf, all the cars in the top 8 were either Ferraris or Alfa Romeos. However, the surprise of qualifying was undoubtedly Scuderia Ambrosiana. Returning with two cars, they weren't expected to do much better than Hampshire, their rival for most of the year, but to the surprise of many, while Lurani didn't do anything of note by failing to qualify by an admittedly respectable margin, Bracco not only managed to get the wretched thing on the grid, but in thirteenth place! Should the Milanese car make it to the end of the race, a good result was on the cards for the likable team.
The start of the race wasn't very eventful, and the only change at the front was Whitehead passing Juan Manuel Fangio for third place. Serafini and Moss immediately joined in the fight and they were all very tightly bunched starting lap 3. Already, the drivers were reduced to 21 when Johnny Claes' gearbox failed. The advantage for the smaller teams was that since the circuit was shorter than average, it was easier to pull out a single great lap to steal the point for fastest lap, and this was demonstrated early on as Mauri Rose and Maurice Trintignant set the same time good enough for a provisional fastest lap. This fastest lap would switch hands numerous times during the race. Farina, meanwhile, was pulling away a bit, with de Graffenried following at a reasonable distance, Fangio a bit further back, having "won" the battle for third. This security didn't last, and Serafini was already harrassing him by lap 5.
Fangio quickly distanced Sanesi and caught de Graffenried. By lap 8, he was already just behind his team mate Farina. However, he made a mistake at Tunnel Oost on lap 9 and lost a small amount of time, but Farina was now way up the road again. On lap 10, Geoff Richardson retired, putting an end to Bentley's race. Whitehead and Pilette were now more or less steadily established in fourth or fifth. Trintignant then spun out on lap 13 at Tarzan, getting his rear wheels stuck in the sand. He was already in ninth position after starting 14th. Whitehead and Pilette's steady position was very relative, as the scrap for fourth place was incredibly tight, with Whitehead, Taruffi and Pilette all fighting over it. Serafini and de Graffenried then joined the fight, now for third place.
There was an equally heated battle for 8th place, between Whitehead, Sanesi, Chiron and Gaze, all of them hoping for some points helped by attrition. Manzon was also in the battle by lap 21. The first battle was at first won by André Pilette ahead of Dorino Serafini. This soon became a battle for second as Fangio suffered another terrible stroke of luck, his Alfa Romeo engine pulling up on the side of the track. This left Farina over a minute ahead of Pilette, who was himself over 15 seconds ahead of Serafini. Immediately afterwards, Pilette had a spin and was now just ahead of Serafini and Moss, who took second place on lap 26. From a lack of anything else to say, Taruffi then took the new fastest lap of the race. He couldn't really take advantage of it as his suspension failed on lap 28, causing his retirement.
At this point, Farina was beginning to take it easy, with a safe lead. But he started getting too careful, and the chasing pack led by Moss started to gain second after second. Said pack was reduced to two (Serafini and Pilette) when Moss made it two Alfa Romeos retiring from second place, with an oil pump failure. While Farina was setting average times, Pilette and Serafini were setting consistent quick laps (although Giovanni Bracco cheekily stole fastest lap on lap 34), and were soon much less than 30 seconds behind the leader. Pilette quickly fell behind, unable to keep up with Serafini, but easily defending his third place from Toulo de Graffenried. By lap 38, Serafini was right on Farina's tail, thus starting a close battle for the race lead. On the next lap, Serafini was through into the lead and Tony Gaze was out of the race, victim of yet another Alfa Romeo mechanical failure. He was 8th at the time, a commendable effort.
The tension was at its peak when both Italians crossed the start-finish line side by side to start lap 42, and while Serafini was leading again on the next lap (Manzon and Bracco had both set a new fastest lap, but that didn't matter), they were side by side again at the end of lap 43! But that was as far as it would go, as Farina took the lead again on lap 44 and started to build it up again. On lap 48, André Simon's Maserati failed, capping a bad day for Claes. Simon had been a distant 13th, ahead of only Paul Pietsch, who was too far back to make any sort of impact on the race.
Two laps later, it was heartbreak for Toulo de Graffenried when his Ferrari engine failed, putting an almost certain end to his championship chances. The Swiss baron was third, and this retirement meant that, at about halfway, these were the standings with 12 cars still in the race: Farina, with a healthy lead over Serafini, then a fight for third between Pilette and the hard-charging Whitehead and Manzon. Schell was sixth ahead of Sanesi, followed by Chiron, Flinterman (doing a respectable job in his first race), Bracco, Bira and Pietsch, already several laps down.
Lap 52 changed the whole midfield scene, when Manzon lost control coming out of the final corner, striking the dunes on the outside of the corner (though thankfully keeping the car straight) and coming to a stop on the other side of the track. The drivers behind were able to avoid the oil left behind by the Gordini, except for Consalvo Sanesi who, in a heated battle for sixth with Harry Schell, failed to notice the oil in time and spun into the sand banking in much the same manner as his team mate, ending the weekend (and the championship) for ART.
With sand being the most present thing at Zandvoort, it was easy to cover the oil slick and the drivers could continue racing, with Louis Chiron even setting a new fastest lap. It was around this time that Serafini thought that it would be a good idea to try to catch Farina once more. Much like last time, he took advantage of the fact that Farina was taking it easy again to set consistent quick laps. In no time, the gap was halved (and Chiron's car smoking on the side of the track), and by the start of lap 62, the Italians were side by side once more. On the next lap, Dorino was through. On the next lap, it was Bira's car that had let go, reducing the field to just 8 drivers.
Farina, no doubt surprised by Serafini's pace, made a mistake, giving his rival an even bigger lead. This didn't really matter, as four laps later, Serafini made the exact same mistake, and Farina was through once more, free to expand his lead again. This he did, with ruthless efficiency. But, once his lead was large enough, he made the same mistake for the third time and slowed down once more, the perfect opportunity for Serafini. Local hero Jan Flinterman then heartbreakingly retired from the race from sixth position, just one place away from points.
In these conditions, huge gaps were insignificant. In five laps, Serafini was behind Farina, and on lap 81, Dorino was in the lead once more. Farina was not giving up without a fight though, and on the very next lap, he was leading again, and expanding his lead once more. In fact, on lap 86, he set a fastest lap that would stand until the end of the race, although he would share the extra point with Harry Schell, who pulled out the same lap time from God-knows-where. But Serafini was no slouch either. On lap 88, they crossed the line side by side, and again on lap 89. With less than ten laps to go, the battle was thrilling. Further back, Schell had tried too hard for a podium and had spun off at Tarzan, wedging the Ferrari in the sand bank, although he would keep half a point for his fastest lap. One lap later, he was joined by Paul Pietsch, who had been trying too hard to make it back into the points for JAMR.
Lap 91 marked the end of the race as far as the win was concerned, as Serafini pushed Farina into making a mistake at Pulleveld. Farina lost a large amount of time, handing the win to Serafini. In fact, Farina's Alfa suffered some sort of after-effect from the spin, as he kept on losing time, although managing to keep enough pace to prevent any threat from Peter Whitehead.
Serafini therefore took his second ever race victory (after Belgium in 1950) with Farina second, Whitehead third, Pilette fourth and Giovanni Bracco fifth as the last man standing, thanks to preserving his machinery and keeping his head cool. Great job by Scuderia Ambrosiana and Bracco. Farina's second place was enough to seal him his second consecutive world title.
- Mike Hawthorn's entry was turned down due to a lack of experience.
- First and only fastest lap for Harry Schell.
- First points for Giovanni Bracco.
- First and only start for Jan Flinterman.
- First entry for Jan Flinterman, Guy Mairesse and Giovanni Lurani.
- Final entry for Hans Stuck and Georges Grignard.
- First points for Ambrosiana.
- Giuseppe Farina: 76 laps (1-38, 42, 44-62, 67-80, 82, 88-90)
- Dorino Serafini: 20 laps (39-41, 43, 63-66, 81, 83-87, 91-96)
- Most career laps led: Giuseppe Farina (237)
- Most career starts: 6 drivers (12)
- Most career entries: 8 drivers (13)
- Least classified drivers (5)
|2||Toulo de Graffenried||14|
|2||Alfa Romeo SpA||31.5|
|3||Ecurie Nationale Belge||19|
|4||/ Alexander Racing Team||18|
- Only the top five positions are listed.
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1951 German Grand Prix
| Alternate Formula 1 World Championship
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1951 Italian Grand Prix
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1952 Dutch Grand Prix