1952 British Grand Prix
The 1952 British Grand Prix was the fifth race of the 1952 Formula One World Championship and was held in Silverstone on July 19th 1952. B. Bira won his second consecutive race victory to take the championship lead by half a point from Farina. Alberto Ascari finished second in the Phoenix, his best result of the season, while Consalvo Sanesi was classified third after retiring on the final lap.
Thanks to Farina's retirement in France, the championship battle suddenly heated up, as Robert Manzon was now just one point behind, with Bira and Simon also quite close. Alexander Racing Team and Motorsport Bleu were also in a much better position due to Ferrari and Alfa Romeo both failing to make the finish with any car. The Silverstone circuit was short, which would make for a closer race, and hopefully, another exciting result. As in Donington, 37 cars were present for 22 spots on the grid.
First of all, Group Ultimate shocked the paddock by announcing their withdrawal from competition at the end of the season, suddenly leaving Schell, Ruttman and Barth without a drive for 1953. The team still entered three cars in Britain, Schell and Ruttman in the Ferraris and Barth in the Ultimate-BMW, while Motorsport Bleu filled the gap left by Schell with local driver Tony Rolt. Ultimate would ultimately delay their withdrawal until 1954, then 1955.
Peter Whitehead drove the third Ferrari this time, leaving Reg Parnell without a drive for his home race.
This being their home race, British Bentley Racing Motors fielded three cars for Geoff Richardson, Mike Hawthorn and débutant Roy Salvadori. All three had to pre-qualify, and they hoped to get at least two of them into qualifying proper.
Luigi Villoresi was back in the mysterious Leader-Ferrari for the team's last scheduled entry that season. A miracle would be needed for pre-qualification.
The Fighting Mongooses took part in their third and final race, hoping to make the grid this time, or at least pre-qualify.
Birmingham Motorsport were back with the now-mildly-competitive Alta. They hoped to pre-qualify with Ken Wharton at the wheel.
Erne Racing Development returned as well with Roberto Mières, with qualification being the main objective.
Alexander Racing Team reverted to two cars for the team's home race, having been unable to find a suitable British driver in time.
Garage Francorchamps were back to three cars after their four entries in France. They would be driven by the usual line-up of Trintignant, Pilette and Swaters.
Toulo de Graffenried barely made it through, with major surprises like Villoresi topping the charts in the usually slow Leader, with Ken Wharton and Geoff Richardson also dragging their cars where they shouldn't have been. Lance Macklin disappointrf by failing to pre-qualify, and Onofre Marimon's time in Formula One would surely come to a close with a sixth consecutive failure to make the grid.
Edgar Barth and Porfirio Rubirosa surprised by setting competitive lap times, while Robert Manzon barely qualified by just one tenth of a second. Serafini took pole position for Ferrari ahead of French Grand Prix winner Bira.
The start was very clean, with Rubirosa getting the best of the lot, although he was unable to gain a place. At the front, Serafini had a shocker and was passed off the line by Bira and Moss, with Fangio calmly securing fourth place. Undeterred, Serafini struck back and took second, while Bira defended his lead nicely. Fangio took advantage of Serafini's overtake to take third place from his team mate, with Farina and Ascari also looking for a good position early on.
Fangio's third place wasn't secure, however, and Moss was through again on lap 4, while Ascari passed Farina for fifth position. On the next lap, Fangio was through again, and Serafini had made a mistake and dropped to fourth place, so the order was now Bira with a decent lead over Fangio, Moss and Serafini, with Ascari closely following. Farina was struggling badly and was passed by Taruffi, de Graffenried and Sanesi. Ascari then passed Serafini after a stunning lap to take fourth place, while Pagani also passed Farina, who was now in tenth position. But he wasn't going down without a fight, and he soon began to claw back some time.
After ten laps, Bira led by 13 seconds from Alberto Ascari, the man on the move in the Phoenix, with Fangio third five seconds behind. A further ten seconds behind, Moss, Serafini, Taruffi and Gonzalez were busy fighting over fourth place, followed by Farina, Schell, Sanesi and Pagani. Then came Rubirosa, Trintignant, Barth, Whitehead, Bracco, Ruttman, Simon, Frère, Pilette, then 13 seconds, then Robert Manzon in last position. Toulo de Graffenried was the only retirement at that point, with a gearbox failure. But behind the top two, things were heating up, as Taruffi and Serafini were now just behind Moss. On lap 17, both were through and now chasing Ascari for second place. Bira, meanwhile, was pulling away in the distance, hoping to become the first driver to win two consecutive races since Farina in 1950. The field was reduced to 20 drivers on lap 18, when André Simon span off while fighting for 18th position with Troy Ruttman.
On lap 20, Bira had a large lead over Ascari, Taruffi, Serafini, Fangio, Moss, Trintignant, Farina, Schell and Gonzalez. Serafini, however, was falling behind. He was passed by Fangio, Moss and Trintignant before the Ferrari let go on lap 24 with a broken transmission. He was followed by André Pilette (spun off at Woodcote) and Troy Ruttman (faulty oil pump) in the next two laps. After these three retirements, there were 17 cars left on the track. Bira still had a more than healthy lead over Ascari, but the lead was getting smaller and smaller. Then came, Taruffi, Moss and Fangio, who rounded out the points. Then came Schell, Trintignant, Frère, Gonzalez, Farina, Rubirosa, Pagani, Bracco, Barth, Sanesi, Manzon and Whitehead.
With the gap getting smaller for the lead, Ascari was pushing like a madman. On lap 33, Nello Pagani retired from eleventh place with an oil leak on his Maserati. Speaking of Maseratis, Paul Frère was doing a marvelous job at that point. Running nicely in the top ten just a few laps earlier, the tremendously close midfield struggle meant he was now in second-last, just behind Manzon, but consistent driving could lead to his and his team's first significant result. Back to the front, and Fangio was even quicker than Ascari, and was just behind the Italian at one point before falling back, but could still make a good challenge for the win later on in the race. At the same time, Taruffi was falling back and now fighting to stay ahead of Trintignant's Bugatti. On lap 37, Ascari was alongside Bira, but the Thai prince decided it was time to step on it again, and promptly set the fastest lap while Ascari had a spin, losing all the time he had just made up.
The Phoenix driver decided it was just a minor setback and easily made the lost time up again. On lap 42, they were side-by-side. At the halfway mark, Alberto was ahead and in the lead. Moss was third, ahead of Fangio and Taruffi. Then came Trintignant, Farina, Bracco, Gonzalez, Rubirosa, Sanesi, Schell, Barth, Whitehead, Manzon and Frère. The next retirement was Piero Taruffi, the suspension breaking on his Aston Martin-Jaguar. This left Trintignant in the points, a rare occurrence for a Bugatti. At the same time, Bira counterattacked and retook the lead from Ascari, bent on preventing this from happening again. Meanwhile, Trintignant was now on fire, and he easily passed Fangio and Moss for third position. Farina was also on the move, and passed Fangio for fifth position on lap 49, then Moss and Trintignant on the next lap to take third position.
That battle kept on raging with Farina, Moss, Fangio and Trintignant all fighting like their lives depended on it. The battle was reduced to three of them, as Fangio retired on lap 51 with an engine failure, overshadowing that of Paul Frère, who had dropped down the field dramatically after his initially promising race. Back in the fight though, they were soon down to just two as Trintignant was losing ground and getting caught by Harry Schell.
On lap 54, José Froilan Gonzalez lost control of his Aston approaching Becketts, striking the earth bank side-on at relatively high speed. Gonzalez was partially thrown from the car on impact, but was able to get out of the car himself, although in visible pain. Therefore, with 30 laps remaining, only twelve cars were still on track. Bira still had a large lead over Ascari, with Farina third ahead of Moss. The fight for the last two points still raged between Sanesi, Trintignant, Schell and Bracco, the unexpected guest. Manzon was in a lonely ninth place ahead of Whitehead, Rubirosa and Barth. Ascari was losing speed, however, and on lap 59, Farina was through into second position. Again. But the battle for fourth place was getting interesting too, with Sanesi and Schell now applying pressure to Stirling Moss.
It was now looking like eighth place was cursed, when Maurice Trintignant had a scary accident at Abbey, putting two wheels on the grass, getting the car sideways and into a roll. Maurice had the reflex to duck and avoided striking the circuit with his body and managed to stay in the car for the roll, but the car was definitely a wreck, and Maurice didn't leave uninjured, and he was sent to Northampton hospital for checks. Then, on lap 62, Farina made a rare mistake, spinning and ending up facing the wrong way. He managed to get going again, but lost second place to Ascari, while Consalvo Sanesi was now getting dangerously close to the two of them. Rather amazingly, Giovanni Bracco was now in fifth position, defending from the likes of Stirling Moss and Harry Schell! Around that time, Robert Manzon's gearbox broke, putting an end to a woeful race from the man who should have been up front.
But Sanesi didn't immediately find the pace to get close enough to Farina and had to be content with fourth the time being. That was, until Giovanni Bracco found pace from HWNSNBM knows where. By lap 72, the Ambrosiana was in fourth place. Sanesi, outraged by the sight of the blue-and-black car passing him, immediately responded, and two laps later, he was through again, and using the momentum to gain ground on Farina. Sure enough, by lap 78, he had not only passed Farina, but Ascari as well! In his spare time, he also set what would remain the fastest lap of the race!
That battle for second quickly split into two battles of two drivers, with Ascari and Sanesi going at it for second place, and the grotesque sight of Farina fighting Bracco for fourth. In fact, that second battle was soon joined by Peter Whitehead, who could smell the opportunity for points. The first battle was won by Ascari very early, in fact with Sanesi heartbrakingly retiring with a blown engine on the final lap. For the second battle, Giovanni Bracco barely managed to stay ahead until the flag, although he was unable to score a miracle podium for Ambrosiana, as Sanesi was still classified in third place! Farina held on for fifth, while Whitehead settled for sixth position. Schell took seventh ahead of Moss while Edgar Barth managed to hang on for a lonely ninth place, 7 laps down. Oh, and Porfirio Rubirosa spun off a handful of laps from the end.
|2||10||Louis Chiron||Maserati-Ferrari||1:43.5||+ 0.1|
|3||46||Ken Wharton||Alta||1:44.1||+ 0.7|
|4||18||Geoff Richardson||Bentley||1:44.3||+ 0.9|
|5||50||Edgar Barth||Ultimate-BMW||1:44.7||+ 1.3|
|6||52||Paul Frère||Maserati||1:44.8||+ 1.4|
|7||12||Toulo de Graffenried||Ferrari||1:44.8||+ 1.4|
|8||8||Tony Rolt||Talbot-Lago-Talbot||1:44.8||+ 1.4|
|9||32||Lance Macklin||Maserati||1:45.0||+ 1.6|
|10||2||Joe Kelly||ERA-Maserati||1:45.0||+ 1.6|
|11||48||Roberto Mières||Ferrari||1:45.5||+ 2.1|
|12||54||Onofre Marimón||Maserati||1:46.0||+ 2.6|
|13||20||Mike Hawthorn||Bentley||1:46.2||+ 2.8|
|14||22||Roy Salvadori||Bentley||1:46.5||+ 3.1|
|15||44||Jean Behra||Cooper-Bristol||1:46.7||+ 3.3|
- Final entry for the Bristol engine.
- Final entry for The Fighting Mongooses.
- Most career starts: Giuseppe Farina, Dorino Serafini and Juan Manuel Fangio (18)
- Most career entries: 7 drivers (19)
|2||/ Alexander Racing Team||22.5|
|3||Alfa Romeo SpA||20.5|
|4||Phoenix Racing Organisation||10|
- Only the top five positions are listed.
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1952 French Grand Prix
| Alternate Formula 1 World Championship
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1952 German Grand Prix
| Previous race:
1951 British Grand Prix
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1953 British Grand Prix