1952 Belgian Grand Prix
The 1952 Belgian Grand Prix was the third race of the 1952 Formula One World Championship and was held in Spa-Francorchamps on June 22nd 1952. Dorino Serafini won the race, his third race victory, ahead of Giuseppe Farina, who kept the championship lead, and Monaco Grand Prix winner André Simon.
Despite not winning a single race yet, Giuseppe Farina led the world championship. Again. And he still didn't yet seem to have any decent competition that was consistent enough to outscore him. The Gordinis and Talbots were too inconsistent, his Alfa Romeo teammates couldn't touch him in the long run and the Ferrari drivers were too far back, due to bad luck regarding reliability. But 8 races still remained. Would the championship change hands that season?
Harry Schell made his first of five races at Motorsport Bleu. Ferrari America were reduced to a single car for Troy Ruttman.
Dries van der Lof appeared for the first time that season with Scuderia Commesso, for whom he had competed the previous year at Indy and Zandvoort, where he would also race later that season.
Following Toulo de Graffenried's neck injury at Donington, he was replaced by Reg Parnell at Ferrari.
Mike Hawthorn would attempt to make his first start (excluding Indianapolis) in the Bentley, the first of his planned three appearances in 1952.
David Hampshire returned to a single car for Belgium after John Riseley-Prichard's failure to make the grid. The Englishman's top-ten finish at Donington would no doubt be a boost in Spa.
Leader returned for the Belgian Grand Prix, the mysterious Chinese consortium obviously looking to get Luigi Villoresi on the grid for once.
Meanwhile, Birmingham Motorsport would not take part, preferring to stick to circuits closer to home.
The Fighting Mongooses made their first appearance in Formula 1, also the first appearance of both the Cooper chassis and the Bristol engine. Jean Behra hoped to be quick enough to scrape onto the grid.
Erne Racing Development also made their début, with rookie Roberto Mières. The Maserati would probably be quick, but would the driver live up to the car?
Group Ultimate had finally wheeled out their own car, but would the unproven Ultiamte-BMW combination work as planned in the hands of East German F2 ace Edgar Barth?
The works Maserati team was reduced to one car this weekend due to Paul Frère's agreement with ENB to compete with them for one race alongside Trintignant, Pilette and team boss Swaters.
Despite Eric Brandon's splendid podium finish in Donington, Scuderia Maremmana skipped the Belgian Grand Prix and were to come back only in Germany, leaving the promising British F3 champion out of a drive.
O.S.C.A. finally kicked off their first part-time season in Formula 1 in order to gather experience for a full-season tilt in 1953. Felice Bonetto hoped to qualify the car.
Maria Teresa de Filippis took part in her first race of the season, also hoping to impress by making the grid.
Rudi Fischer would also try to make the grid in the Maserati-Porsche after failing to do so in Monaco.
Due to the large size of the starting grid, plenty of small-time teams and drivers would finally get their shot at proving their worth over a race distance. And there were loads of them at Spa that weekend.
Fangio confirmed his outright pace, but still needed to translate this into concrete results. Ascari and Simon continued to impress. Taruffi finally showed pace in the Aston-Jaguar. Both Ambrosianas were in the top twenty, with Rubirosa bewilderingly reaching 16th place. David Hampshire scored the best qualifying result for an Alta with 21st place. Mières started his first race from a promising 22nd. De Filippis became the first woman to start a race and left 12 macho men wondering how she could be faster than them.
Mike Hawthorn would start his first race in his third entry, getting the Bentley onto the grid. The Porsche engine made its first start, as did Dries van der Lof. Edgar Barth would make the grid on his, his car's and his engine's début. Joe Kelly finally started his first race after five unsuccessful attempts. O.S.C.A. scraped onto the grid to make their first start as well.
Of course, three drivers would have their names in red, and while Behra's failure was much expected due to the complete lack of experience from his team, chassis and engine, as was Villoresi's after a dismal and mistake-riddled lap, Marimon's absence from the grid was inexcusable, and a fourth consecutive failure to start the race would not do wonders for his job security.
The race started out cleanly, with Serafini getting the edge over Fangio. Ascari had the best start, moving up to third place by the end of the first lap, and Rubirosa also had a surprisingly good start, moving up to fourteenth position. The overall loser on the first lap though was Reg Parnell, who, after a decent start, failed to show up, with the clutch letting go halfway around the track, leaving the Briton with a long walk back to the paddock. He was joined on the next lap by Piero Taruffi and David Hampshire, also struck down by car problems on the tough Belgian circuit.
With everyone settled down at the end of lap two, Serafini and Fangio were still going at it for the lead ahead of Farina and Bira, Ascari having dropped back to fifth place. Then, Simon, Ruttman, Pagani, with Chiron, Sanesi and Moss fighting for ninth position.
But with so much time for overtaking, positions were changing constantly. Only Fangio and Serafini escaped, each of them pulling the other further ahead by setting consecutive fastest laps. With five laps down, the two were miles ahead, with Farina, Bira, Ascari and Simon fighting for the remaining podium place. Then, the teamperature rose.
Louis Chiron was the first to fall victim of the intense heat, retiring from eleventh place. He was soon followed by the valiant Felice Bonetto, who was doing a decent job of keeping Joe Kelly behind. At that point, the front was getting more spread out. Fangio and Serafini were still in a league of their own, with the Italian marginally ahead, with Farina and Bira in a similar fight for third. Simon was in an isolated fifth position, while Sanesi, Moss, Ruttman, Pagani and Ascari were all in an intense battle for sixth position. De Filippis ended her maiden race early as well, driving in an anonymous 25th position.
Then, while Bira began to slow, Farina gained speed and soon caught up to Fangio and Serafini! At that moment, Ascari's Phoenix stopped by the side of the road, engine blown. He was fighting for seventh with Sanesi. He was joined in retirement by Paul Frère, who had been driving a decent race in 18th position in his Maserati.
At the halfway point, 26 cars were still in the race. Serafini had pulled away into a now large lead, with Fangio now having to defend from the defending double world champion and team mate Giuseppe Farina and André Simon, who had found a considerable amount of speed. Bira was keeping a lonely and stable fifth position. Pagani and Ruttman were fighting for sixth place. Then came Manzon, Sanesi, Whitehead, Gonzalez, Rubirosa (!!!), Moss and Pilette, all closely grouped. The field was rounded out by Schell, Claes, Bracco, Macklin, van der Lof, Fischer, Swaters, Trintignant, Mières, Hawthorn, Barth and Kelly.
The next to retire was Nello Pagani, who was in seventh place, immediately followed by Lance Macklin, who was in 18th place, and Joe Kelly, who was pretty much put out of his misery, since he was miles behind Edgar Barth and lapped multiple times. At this point, Simon was flying and now well past Fangio and Farina and in second place!
But the Talbot-Lago was still a slower car than the Alfa, and unlike in Monaco, the track was wide and fast. Simon was no match for Farina, who slipstreamed past on lap 22. But while doing so, he made a mistake and Simon managed to take second place again! Four laps later, however, Farina breezed past once more, never to be caught. The last retirement of the race occurred on the penultimate lap, when Sanesi, who was sportingly jockeying for seventh with Manzon, put two wheels on the grass at La Source and went spinning, stalling the car on the exit of the corner.
And so, while Serafini and Farina were well settled in their positions, Fangio was catching up to Simon, and both entered the final lap locked in battle. After a lap full of slipstreaming, both entered La Source side by side. Simon purposefully exited the corner behind Fangio, but getting more exit speed to jump the Argentine on the line to score his second podium of the season. After a tough fight, Bira managed to hold off Troy Ruttman for the final points, but both will be happy, as this was the 22-year-old's best result so far.
There were some pleasant surprises, such as Ruttman's sixth place, confirming that the American had undeniable talent, but also Robert Manzon, Jacques Swaters and Peter Whitehead, each gaining ten places, Dries van der Lof gaining 13 and Trintignant gaining 16 to salvage 15th place, Porfirio Rubirosa scoring a top-ten depsite low attrition as well as Mières, Hawthorn, Fischer and Barth all making it to the end, gaining precious money and experience to develop the cars. The final point for fastest lap was shared between Giuseppe Farina and Manzon.
Serafini scored Ferrari's first points of the season in style with a crushing victory, Farina kept the championship lead despite scoring no wins thus far, André Simon was now the second driver to score multiple podiums that season, Fangio finally scored his first points from race position since France the previous year and Bira scored points again, perhaps crucially preventing Ruttman scoring points for Group Ultimate in the entrants' championship.
- Final podium and points for André Simon.
- Final pole position for Juan Manuel Fangio.
- First start for Edgar Barth, Joe Kelly, Roberto Mières and Maria Teresa de Filippis.
- First entry for Edgar Barth and Roberto Mières.
- First start for Ultimate, O.S.C.A. and the BMW and Porsche engines.
- First entry for Ultimate, Cooper and the BMW and Bristol engines.
- First start for International Racing Group, O.S.C.A. Automobili, All-Ireland Motorsport, Erne Racing Development, Maria Teresa de Filippis and British Bentley Racing Motors (as a single entry).
- First entry for Erne Racing Development and The Fighting Mongooses.
- Dorino Serafini: 29 laps (1-29)
- Most career starts: Giuseppe Farina, Dorino Serafini and Juan Manuel Fangio (16)
- Most career entries: 7 drivers (17)
- Most total entries: Maserati (126)
- Most finishers (23)
|1||Alfa Romeo SpA||18.5|
|3||/ Alexander Racing Team||11.5|
|=5||Phoenix Racing Organisation||4|
- Only the top five positions are listed.
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1952 English Grand Prix
| Alternate Formula 1 World Championship
| Next race:|
1952 French Grand Prix
| Previous race:
1951 Belgian Grand Prix
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1953 Belgian Grand Prix