1952 Dutch Grand Prix
The 1952 Dutch Grand Prix was the seventh race of the 1952 Formula One World Championship and was held at Zandvoort on August 17th 1952. It was won by American driver Troy Ruttman who scored his maiden Grand Prix victory in Europe, as he had already won the 1951 Indianapolis 500. With this victory, he secured his distinction of being the youngest Grand Prix winner at the age of 22. This was also Group Ultimate's only European Grand Prix victory. Thanks to attrition within the top teams, Aston Martin-Jaguar were in a position to finish second and third, with eventual 1953 champion Tony Bettenhausen finishing second and Piero Taruffi third.
The German Grand Prix was a cracker of a race, with Farina's main rivals all retiring, the Italian barely scraping into fifth place to take the championship lead (despite failing to win so far that year), while Reg Parnell took his second consecutive German Grand Prix victory, Fangio ressuscitated his career and Alberto Ascari and Giovanni Bracco continued to impress. If they wanted to beat Farina to the title, Bira and Manzon would have to keep up their form for the last four races.
33 drivers had shown up at Zandvoort for the second championship race in the Netherlands. The previous season saw Dorino Serafini take the win and Farina clinch the title. With a small grid of 22 available, 11 drivers would go through pre-qualifying, with three of them out on Friday, with an additional 8 drivers failing to make the cut for the Sunday race.
All-Ireland Motorsport had delayed their final planned entry of the season to the Italian Grand Prix, preferring to take a chance with a larger starting grid.
Motorsport Bleu had brought back André Simon in the third car, after replacing the outside championship contender for the German Grand Prix in favour of rookie Günther Bechem. With the leaders failing to gain any advantage, Simon had not lost much ground from his absence, but his morale would have taken a hit. He wouldn't score a single point for the rest of the season.
The second Commesso Maserati-Ferrari was now driven by the solid Dutchman Dries van der Lof, who replaced the emergency replacement Rudi Fischer, hired after the FIA's refusal to grant a license to Ottorino Volonterio. Van der Lof still had to prove his worth as a decently fast driver, but making the race wasn't thought to be a problem for the 32-year-old.
Scuderia Ferrari showed that Enzo's word was best no matter what, as for the second year in succession, Reg Parnell found himself on the sidelines after winning a race. Peter Whitehead scored a podium here the previous year, and would be a man to watch out for on Sunday.
British Bentley Racing Motors were a late addition to the grid, only confirming their participation in the Netherlands following the merger with BRM bringing much-needed funds to the team and extending its participation to the end of the season. Roy Salvadori was given the Bentley for the weekend.
David Hampshire had decided to purchase a third brand-new Alta for this race, and had entered it for promising rookie Ken Downing, who spent the best part of 1951 dominating local races in a Connaught. John Riseley-Prichard returned to the team to drive the second car once again.
Erne Racing Developments had ended their programme for 1952, concentrating on their 1953 effort. The paddock would be seeing more of Roberto Mières the next year. In the meantime, their spot was taken up by Birmingham Motorsport and Ken Wharton, who were also entering their final Grand Prix of the season in the Alta.
Officine Alfieri Maserati were still having a hard time settling on a suitable replacement for Onofre Marimon. Chico Landi's one-off performance at the Nürburgring was unimpressive to say the least, and while the Brazilian would still drive the car at Monza, he was replaced by an unknown rookie named Marcel Balsa for the Dutch Grand Prix.
Scuderia Maremmana would once again not compete at Zandvoort, delaying their final entry until Australia.
Maurice Trintignant had recovered from his fractured wrist and was back in the Bugatti after Jean Behra's valiant but ultimately insufficient replacement in Germany. The Maserati would be driven by the usual local driver Jan Flinterman.
Fritz Riess' ill-fated effort would understandably not take part in the remainder of the season, but would reappear in the future under a different guise, being purchased by EMW.
Alta has hit a new low with all three cars involved in prequalifying failing to make the cut. Works Ferrari driver de Graffenried easily topped the session that he was only taking part in because he hadn't yet finished a race all season.
Alfa had a shocker that would give Bira, Sanesi and Manzon a golden opportunity to gain back some ground on Farina. Serafini would still be there to bother the contenders. This race also marked the first pole for Alexander Racing Team after two and a half years of trying. None of the Dutchmen made it to the grid. There were also some brilliant performances by Ascari, Bettenhausen, Ruttman, Claes and Hampshire. Consalvo Sanesi scored his first of many pole positions.
The field got away safely, but by far the best start came from Johnny Claes, who leapt up to fourth place by the first corner. Conversely, Sanesi had a shocker and was down in third place. By the time the field reached Scheivlak, Consalvo and Johnny were having a go at each other by the side of the track at Gerlach after the two made contact and span out, ending both their races. This left Serafini in the lead with an advantage of 7 tenths over Bira, Ruttman, Ascari and Bettenhausen. The field was reduced to 19 drivers after André Simon suffered a puncture while running over debris from the first lap collision, taking advantage of his retirement to break up the ongoing brawl between the Italian and the Belgian, who both felt robbed of a good points opportunity. On the next lap, Stirling Moss stopped in the pits with a snapped suspension, probably due to damage from first lap debris. The Alfa crew attempted to fix the car, but to no avail.
Serafini and Bira were now about 2 seconds ahead of Ruttman, with Bettenhausen and Ascari a further 2 seconds behind, with Rubirosa, Hampshire, Trintignant, Schell and de Graffenried in the chasing pack. But Bira was having a hard time keeping up with Serafini, and was dropping back to become a target for Ruttman. The American was through into second place by lap 6, meaving the Siamese prince to fend off attacks from Ascari and Bettenhausen, while the chasing pack (now featuring Giuseppe Farina) was also gaining ground.
In fact, Serafini was beginning to stall in terms of pace, and Troy Ruttman took the lead on lap 7, with Bira still third behind the Italian, followed by Bettenhausen, de Graffenried and Ascari. On the following lap, Bira was second. The lap after that, Serafini was also behind Bettenhausen, the two Americans setting a blistering pace in the early stages of the race. On lap 10, Ruttman led by 9 seconds over Bettenhausen, himself a second ahead of B. Bira. Then came Serafini, Trintignant, de Graffenried, Ascari, Schell, Farina, Whitehead, Manzon, Pagani, Bracco, Rubirosa, Fangio, Hampshire, Taruffi, daylight, then Paul Frère.
But with such irregular form from most of the field, it became pretty obvious that the race would be a cracker. Soon enough, Bettenhausen fell back behind Bira and Serafini (who had just set the fastest lap), while Bira launched an attack on Troy Ruttman's race lead. On lap 14, Bettenhausen decided it was about time he found some pace again, and sure enough, he found it quickly. While Bira finally found a way past Ruttman on lap 15, Bettenhausen was gaining on Serafini. On lap 16, Tony passed Dorino, while Troy retook the lead. Soon enough, Bettenhausen had Bira in his sights. Meanwhile, Serafini was under attack from de Graffenried, Ascari and Trintignant. To say he didn't last long would be a euphemism. By lap 20, Ruttman had a healthy lead over Bettenhausen, who had just passed Bira and was now looking at taking the fight to his countryman. They were followed by de Graffenried, Ascari, Farina and Serafini.
However, the lower points were completely redistributed three laps later, as Toulo de Graffenried and Giuseppe Farina both retired from mechanical failures. This had tremendous consequences for both, as it meant that Bira and Manzon had an open goal to take the championship lead, but also that Toulo had still failed to finish a single race in 1952 despite showing brilliant pace in the races. This left Ruttman still in the lead ahead of Bettenhausen, Bira, Ascari and Serafini, the closest threat being Maurice Trintignant, showing impressive pace in the Bugatti. At the same time, a tremendous battle was going on for 11th position between Manzon, Rubirosa and Whitehead, Manzon completely failing to take advantage of Farina's retirement. Paul Frère lazily span out at Tarzan, leaving Nello Pagani the honour of closing the field.
Bettenhausen was getting dangerously close to Ruttman, and passed him for the lead on lap 29. High attrition struck again 2 laps later when Dorino Serafini's Ferrari suffered from a blown engine. Race over, and Trintignant in an unexpected fifth place in the Bugatti. Bira was now running very well, and he passed Ruttman for second place on lap 32, taking the lead on the next lap. Ruttman was also now having to fend off Ascari for third. A bit further behind, Fangio was now in an incredible sixth place after starting 19th, and worryingly close to Trintignant's Bugatti. Meanwhile, Bira's lead lasted but one lap, as Bettenhausen found a way past on lap 34. Ruttman, meanwhile had fallen back behind Ascari as well, though he was through again by lap 37. The next notable event was the retirement of Harry Schell with a broken gearbox, out of sixth place, having just passed Fangio, and leaving Bira as the sole remaining Talbot driver on the track. Thus, on lap 40, there were just 13 cars left, before the race had even reached halfway. Bettenhausen still led from Bira, Ruttman, Ascari and Trintignant. Then came Fangio, Manzon, Rubirosa, Taruffi, Bracco, Whitehead, Pagani and Hampshire.
The main attraction became the battle for second place between Ruttman and Bira. On lap 42, Troy was ahead. On lap 44, Bira was ahead. On lap 46, see lap 42. This continued until lap 49, when Ruttman built up a big enough gap to be safe. Focus turned to the fight for fifth between Trintignant and Fangio, the Argentine desperate to score more points after his dismal qualifying performance. On lap 52, the Bugatti was out of the points. Two laps later, Trintignant was fifth again, but without passing anyone. Alberto Ascari's Phoenix was stopped at de Wijker, smoke coming out of the bonnet, putting an end to another promising race from the Italian. This left Bettenhausen in an uncertain lead, as Troy Ruttman was now hot on his heels. Bira was in a safe third, with Trintignant now fourth after disposing of Fangio once more. Fangio was therefore fifth ahead of Taruffi, Manzon, Rubirosa and Whitehead.
Fangio was in trouble though, and on lap 56, Taruffi passed him for fifth position, putting the two Aston-Jaguars in the points for the first time ever. Simultaneously, Troy Ruttman finally took the lead back from Bettenhausen. 40 laps still remained, so the race was by no means over yet. Fangio's troubles meant that he fell behind Manzon, Rubirosa and Whitehead in a single lap. In fact, Manzon was getting close to Taruffi and Trintignant. On lap 59, the former made a mistake, letting the Frenchman into the points, while Bettenhausen took the lead again, continuing the titanic struggle for the lead between old and new (Tony was 35, Troy was 22). On lap 63, Fangio set the fastest lap and also passed Taruffi, and Peter Whitehead immediately followed suit. On the next lap, Ruttman took the lead again, Manzon took fourth place from Trintignant, and Whitehead passed Fangio! Two laps later, Peter had passed Trintignant too and was now in the points, leaving Trintignant in sixth and fighting off Fangio, Taruffi and Rubirosa, who was also having a look, smelling a chance for some lucky points. By lap 67, Fangio was in sixth place and close behind Whitehead, who himself was an outside threat to Manzon's fourth place.
With the field so bunched up, all it would take was a simple spin, and many positions would be lost. Manzon was the first to experience it on lap 69, and Whitehead took the opportunity to pass him. Robert was now holding up Fangio, Trintignant and Taruffi. On the next lap, Trintignant was through, but he had a moment on lap 71 and dropped back again. By now, the battle had turned into a gigantic brawl between Manzon, Taruffi, Trintignant and Fangio, with the positions continuously changing hands. And if that wasn't enough, the leaders were also having a go at each other, with Bettenhausen taking the lead once more on lap 76, only to lose it on the very next lap, regain it the lap after that...and promptly lose it again on the following lap! At one point, Trintignant's Bugatti sadly gave up the fight, having been pushed too hard by its driver.
With 17 laps to go, Ruttman led by the smallest margin from Bettenhausen, with Bira (yes, he was still there) slowly catching up, unnoticed. Whitehead was in a momentarily safe fourth place, followed by Taruffi, Manzon and Fangio. Hampshire, Rubirosa and Bracco ended the top ten, with Pagani still hanging on to the Ambrosianas, albeit in last place. But Whitehead's fourth place wasn't as secure as he thought. Taruffi started to log in some monstrous laps to pass the Englishman on lap 81, making it a 2-4 for Aston-Jaguar! Even better for them, that 2-4 quickly became a 1-4, then a 1-3 as Bettenhausen took the lead again, and Bira's Talbot-Lago retired, taking the championship lead away from the Thai driver. This meant that Bettenhausen led from Ruttman, Taruffi, Whitehead and Fangio, with Manzon sixth and safely ahead of David Hampshire, still hanging on for seventh place in his old Alta!
Perhaps crucially, Troy Ruttman took the lead once more on lap 89, with just 7 laps to go. Simultaneously, Fangio passed Whitehead to take fourth place, while Manzon was falling back and missing his golden opportunity to catch up to Bira and Farina in the title fight. Tragically, David Hampshire's Alta let go at the worst moment, just at the end of undoubtedly his greatest performance yet. As consolation, he would still be classified in the official results, as he had completed 90% of the race distance.
But it wasn't time for crying over disappointments, as Ruttman and Bettenhausen were still duking it out for the race win! Bettenhausen took the lead again on lap 92 and led at the start of the final lap! Somehow, Ruttman still had some fight left in him, and he gave his all, clawing back the two seconds separating him from his second race victory by the halfway point of the circuit, then handily staying in Bettenhausen's slipstream until the final corner, where he made his move...on the outside of the corner! Somehow, Troy found enough grip to power ahead of Tony, and beat him on the line by less than a second, setting the fastest lap in the process!
Tony and Troy had proven that Americans had their place in Formula One, JAMR celebrated their best race yet with a well-deserved 2-3 finish, Fangio confirmed that he still had a say in the title fight with a well-fought-for fourth place ahead of Peter Whitehead, delighted at finally scoring points in 1952 after a pole position in Monaco and three near-misses in his first three races. Manzon and Bira would be kicking themselves for failing to take advantage of Farina's early retirement, Scuderia Ambrosiana were satisfied with their first double top ten finish, and David Hampshire would still be delighted with such a brilliant drive.
|1||5||Toulo de Graffenried||Ferrari||1:49.3||-|
|2||12||Lance Macklin||Maserati||1:49.5||+ 0.2|
|3||32||Roy Salvadori||Bentley||1:50.0||+ 0.7|
|4||3||Louis Chiron||Maserati-Ferrari||1:50.5||+ 1.2|
|5||20||Marcel Balsa||Maserati||1:50.7||+ 1.4|
|6||23||Jan Flinterman||Maserati||1:51.3||+ 2.0|
|7||4||Dries van der Lof||Maserati-Ferrari||1:51.4||+ 2.1|
|8||19||Paul Frère||Maserati||1:51.7||+ 2.4|
|9||33||John Riseley-Prichard||Alta||1:51.9||+ 2.6|
|10||17||Ken Wharton||Alta||1:52.7||+ 3.4|
|11||34||Ken Downing||Alta||1:52.8||+ 3.5|
- First and only victory and fastest lap for Troy Ruttman (outside Indianapolis).
- First pole position for Consalvo Sanesi.
- Final podium and points for Piero Taruffi.
- First entry for Marcel Balsa and Ken Downing.
- First pole position for Consalvo Sanesi.
- First and only victory for Group Ultimate (outside of Indianapolis).
- Final fastest lap for Group Ultimate.
- First pole position for Alexander Racing Team.
- Final entry for Birmingham Motorsports under that name.
- Dorino Serafini: 6 laps (1-6)
- Troy Ruttman: 45 laps (7-14, 16-28, 56-58, 64-75, 77, 79-82, 89-91, 96)
- B. Bira: 2 laps (15, 33)
- Tony Bettenhausen: 43 laps (29-32, 34-55, 59-63, 76, 78, 83-88, 92-95)
- Most career starts: Giuseppe Farina, Dorino Serafini and Juan Manuel Fangio (20)
- Most career entries: Piero Taruffi, Giuseppe Farina, Dorino Serafini, Juan Manuel Fangio and Alberto Ascari (21)
- Youngest race winner, podium scorer, fastest lap scorer and lap leader (outside of Indianapolis): Troy Ruttman (22 years, 5 months and 6 days)
|5||Juan Manuel Fangio||13|
|1||Alfa Romeo SpA||29.5|
|3||/ Alexander Racing Team||22.5|
|5||Phoenix Racing Organisation||14|
- Only the top five positions are listed.
| Previous race:
1952 German Grand Prix
| Alternate Formula 1 World Championship
| Next race:|
1952 Italian Grand Prix
| Previous race:
1951 Dutch Grand Prix
|Dutch Grand Prix|| Next race:|
1953 Dutch Grand Prix