1952 English Grand Prix
The 1952 English Grand Prix was the second race of the 1952 Formula One World Championship and was held in Donington on June 1st 1952. Robert Manzon took his second race victory for Gordini ahead of Giuseppe Farina and Maremmana driver Eric Brandon.
After the surprise of André Simon's maiden victory at Monaco, Formula 1 visited the Donington Circuit for the English Grand Prix. This was the first of two races held in Great Britain that year, and it saw the return of the Donington Park circuit after 13 years of being a military vehicle depot. The circuit was around 5 km long, and therefore only 24 cars would start the race. 35 cars would compete over the weekend, including nine British drivers and an Irishman.
The main manufacturers, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari, had a mixed weekend in Monaco. Moss failed to qualify the Alfa Romeo, and only Farina managed to finish in the points, with a second place, while Fangio managed to score the fastest lap before retiring from the race. As usual for Ferrari, the third car was now in the hands of Reg Parnell, who wanted to repeat his performance from 1952's German Grand Prix.
Motorsport Bleu were, of course, the talking point at Monaco, where they finished first and fifth. The French team had entered a third car for local hero Tony Rolt, who would have to go through pre-qualifying to make it to the grid for his home race.
Scuderia Maremmana also had a mixed weekend in Monaco, where Biondetti failed to qualify, while von Brauchitsch and Brandon showed a decent amount of pace, especially Brandon, who looked like a potential regular points finisher. It was all the more intriguing that the team would miss half the races.
Garage Francorchamps had one of the most miserable weekends of them all in Monaco, with Chaboud and Pilette failing to qualify and Trintignant finishing 8 laps down. This time, Swaters stepped in for Chaboud, and hoped to qualify and have a decent race in the Maserati.
ART had a silent race in Monaco, but did well, with Manzon finishing fourth and scoring three points from the start, a nice place to start the season. Claes also were discreet, but also underwhelming, with Claes' engine exploding before he could do anything of note and Macklin failing to qualify. In the exact middle were Ferrari America, who did precisely nothing. All three would be looking for more points in Donington.
JAMR had undoubtedly their best race to date, with Gonzalez marching through pre-qualifying, qualifying on the front row and leading part of the race before sadly retiring. The Argentine will still have to compete in pre-qualifying, but it wouldn't be a problem for him to make it through.
Undoubtedly, the disappointment of Monaco was the return of Maserati as a works team, that ended in complete failure to even pre-qualify. The gamble of choosing Marimon and Frère ended up a bad one in the short term. Could they turn their form around and at least pre-qualify in Donington?
Scuderia Ambrosiana had a good weekend overall, with Bracco somehow hauling his car up to fourth position on the grid, although eventually dropping through the order like a brick, while Rubirosa expectedly failed to pre-qualify by a substantial margin. Making the grid was a good objective for the Italian, while the Dominican would try his best to make it to qualifying.
All-Ireland Motorsport, after missing Monaco, were very much present at Donington, with their supposedly more competitive ERA-Maserati. Joe Kelly would attempt to clear pre-qualifying and hopefully set some competitive lap times. Scuderia Commesso, after their positive end to 1951, started the same way that they did in 1951: not making the grid. Chiron would want to forget his counter-performance and make the grid for the first time this year.
Bentley also made their first appearance of the season, again with Geoff Richardson behind the wheel. They'd be looking to make it through to main qualifying for their home race. David Hampshire decided to offer his second Alta to young John Riseley-Prichard, who'd be looking to impress any potential future employers, while Hampshire would want to make the grid for the first time this season.
Another team that was making its début this weekend was Birmingham Motorsport, fielding an Alta for Ken Wharton. With a field of world-class drivers and a small starting grid, making an impact would be difficult, but he'd be looking to impress nonetheless.
Finally, Phoenix was the big surprise at Monaco, with Alberto Ascari somehow scoring a comfortable podium finish. Previously, the team appeared to be in financial trouble and was renewing its entry race-per-race. This huge boost would see them last much longer.
Two big names were eliminated, with Rolt and Marimon not living up to expectations, while Kelly, Rubirosa, Wharton and Hampshire were very pleased with making it to qualifying. Geoff Richardson also failed to make the cut.
While the main manufacturers had a relatively bad qualifying session, thinking their times would be quick enough, then getting assailed by the other drivers setting competitive times later in the session, it was Stirling Moss who scored his maiden pole position at his home race, ahead of Robert Manzon, who continued a good season start for ART, Chiron, again impressive for Commesso, and Pilette, who scored the best grid position for a Bugatti.
Other good surprises were Eric Brandon, who qualified in the top ten, Lance Macklin and David Hampshire starting their home race and Porfirio Rubirosa making his first race start! The major disappointments were undoubtedly Claes, Biondetti, Taruffi, Ascari and Swaters, all big names ejected in qualifying. Luckily for them, John Riseley-Prichard had the decency to be absolutely nowhere after his brilliant performance in prequalifying. Ken Wharton and Joe Kelly were both impressive as well, actually coming within a second of making the grid!
The start was relatively clean, and Moss and Manzon quickly built a steady gap, while Pilette, Bira and Gonzalez all swamped Chiron. Everything was going well until the field reached the final corner, the very tight Melbourne hairpin. Fangio and Ruttman made light contact under braking, and both were sent spinning. Bira, coming just behind, slammed on the brakes to avoid the accident, but lost control and left the circuit, colliding with the earth bank. The car went airborne and quickly landed on its wheels.
But the trouble wasn't over, as de Graffenried also had to brake, but while doing so, he was struck by Paul Frère, who was sent into the same earth bank, debris puncturing Lance Macklin's tyres, which terminally damaged the Englishman's suspension. Miraculously, all the drivers got out unharmed, except for de Graffenried, who was clutching his neck.
This left 18 cars in the race, the chaos giving Manzon and Moss an advantage of over a second. André Pilette soon bridged the gap, while Nello Pagani had one of the best starts, avoiding the first lap mess to be up in sixth position after starting 11th, and he was in fourth place by lap six, by overtaking Chiron and Gonzalez. Chiron was falling back himself, while Serafini and Brandon were harrassing him.
While Pilette and Moss were battling, Manzon took the opportunity to break away from them and build up a good lead, while Pagani joined the fight for second place. Farina and Sanesi, meanwhile, were also joining the battle for sixth position. These battles evolved on lap 13, when Pilette's Bugatti broke down at Coppice, handing second place to Moss on a silver plate, with Pagani and Gonzalez now fighting for third and Brandon to defend fifth from a horde including Farina, von Brauchitsch, Simon, Sanesi, Chiron and Serafini.
Chiron was beginning to gain pace again, and he was back in fourth position by lap 15, with Gonzalez falling behind. Sadly, this turned out to be a mechanical problem, and the Argentine retired two laps later. Manzon, meanwhile, was minding his own business, maintaining his healthy lead, casually setting fastest lap in the process. This lead was helped greatly by Moss spinning off on lap 20, though he managed to continue without losing anything more than time.
This meant that, with a quarter of the race done, Manzon led with over a minute on Moss, who himself had over 13 seconds on Pagani, who in turn had a 15-second lead over Chiron. Then came the giant battle for fith position, led by Farina, Brandon, Schell, Serafini, von Brauchitsch and Sanesi, all of whom were nearly 30 seconds behind Chiron. The field then spaced out, with Trintignant, Parnell, Simon, Bracco, Hampshire and Rubirosa rounding out the 16 remaining drivers.
One man who wasn't about to let this happen was Eric Brandon, who began to attack Chiron's lead over the main pack. Aided by the Monégasque's driving error, Brandon took fourth position on lap 22. But youth could only do so much against experience, and Chiron passed him again on lap 28. But the two were left standing by the meteoric Harry Schell. In fact, Farina and Sanesi were right there as well. What had actually happened was that Brandon and Schell had dragged the whole fight up to Chiron, turning it into a battle for fourth place.
Literally moments later, it became a battle for third, with Stirling Moss' Alfa Romeo sadly breaking down at Redgate on lap 31. The young Englishman had proven his worth and would undoubtedly go on to greater things. But this didn't mean that Pagani had an easy second place gifted to him, as Harry Schell had broken away and was now gaining ground on the Italian!
However, the man on the move was Dorino Serafini, who caught Schell and Pagani and passed the two of them on lap 45, with Reg Parnell following suit on the very next lap, Sanesi, Farina and von Brauchitsch also getting closer and closer, bunching up the field once again!
As the fight for second was raging and beginning to get closer and closer to Manzon, who was still taking his afternoon stroll in the park, Giovanni Bracco anonymously retired from the race with a blown Maserati engine while fighting for eleventh place with Trintignant and Simon.
This meant that there were 14 drivers remaining with twenty laps left, with Manzon still having a healthy lead over Serafini, Parnell, Sanesi, von Brauchitsch (rounding out the points), Pagani, Farina, Brandon, Chiron, Schell, Trintignant, Simon, Hampshire and Rubirosa.
But Serafini was getting closer and closer to Manzon. By lap 61, Manzon was in Dorino's line of sight, and two laps later, the two were separated by less than a second, with Robert skillfully keeping the Italian behind. The Frenchman managed to shake off Serafini, but in the space of two laps, he had caught up again! Sadly though, the English crowd were robbed of an entertaining duel for the lead, with the Ferrari starting to malfunction on lap 69, the gearbox giving up on the next lap. This handed second position to Farina, who had been charging forward in the previous laps and was followed up the order by the very impressive Eric Brandon, who was therefore in third position and defending from Consalvo Sanesi!
Disappointingly, Louis Chiron retired on lap 71 after having dropped down the order after his good start to the race. He was in eighth position. This meant that the main event of the last ten laps would be the battle for third place between Eric Brandon, Consalvo Sanesi, Nello Pagani, Reg Parnell, Maurice Trintignant, Harry Schell and Manfred von Brauchitsch. Rather amazingly though, David Hampshire was holding on remarkably well at this point, in a steady tenth position in his Alta!
This battle quickly turned into four smaller ones, with Brandon and Sanesi duking over third, Pagani and Parnell for fifth, von Brauchitsch and Trintignant for seventh and Schell and Hampshire for ninth. These battles didn't last, and it was soon turning into a brawl that had no direct limit. In the ensuing mess, Reg Parnell ended up scoring the fastest lap of the race.
Eventually, Eric Brandon ended up narrowly beating Consalvo Sanesi to third place and his first podium in only his second Grand Prix (as well as Scuderia Maremmana's first podium), with Nello Pagani scoring the final two points with a brilliant fifth place in the Maserati, the first points for the manufacturer since Monaco in 1951! While Manzon crossed the line behind those three to win his second Grand Prix, the next drivers in that battle were classified three laps down, with Parnell, Trintignant and von Brauchitsch, Parnell scoring the fastest lap and Trintignant tying André Pilette's record for best result in a Bugatti, with seventh place.
Four laps down, Britain rejoiced as plucky home hero David Hampshire crossed the finish line side by side with Harry Schell, photo finish proving that Hampshire indeed finished in a scarcely believeable ninth place, with André Simon having a diasppointing race to finish six laps down, while Porfirio Rubirosa had the sole merit of gathering experience by making it to the end a massive eight laps down.
- Ivor Bueb's entry was turned down due to a lack of experience.
|2||40||Paul Frère||Maserati||2:13.9||+ 0.3|
|3||70||John Riseley-Prichard||Alta||2:15.1||+ 1.5|
|4||20||David Hampshire||Alta||2:15.5||+ 1.9|
|5||28||Lance Macklin||Maserati||2:15.7||+ 2.1|
|6||2||Joe Kelly||ERA-Maserati||2:16.0||+ 2.4|
|7||60||Porfirio Rubirosa||Ambrosiana-Maserati||2:16.1||+ 2.5|
|8||38||Ken Wharton||Alta||2:16.5||+ 2.9|
|9||42||Onofre Marimón||Maserati||2:16.6||+ 3.0|
|10||18||Geoff Richardson||Bentley||2:16.7||+ 3.1|
|11||8||Tony Rolt||Talbot-Lago-Talbot||2:16.8||+ 3.2|
- First and only podium and points for Eric Brandon.
- Final points for Nello Pagani.
- First start for Porfirio Rubirosa and Lance Macklin.
- First entry for Ken Wharton and John Riseley-Prichard.
- First and only podium for Scuderia Maremmana.
- Final points for Scuderia Maremmana and Redman Racing Team.
- First entry for Birmingham Motorsport and for British Bentley Racing Motors as a single entity.
- [[Robert Manzon: 80 laps (1-80)
- Youngest podium scorer (not counting Indianapolis): Eric Brandon (31 years, 10 months and 14 days)
- Youngest pole sitter (not counting Indianapolis): Stirling Moss (22 years, 8 months and 14 days)
- Most career starts: Giuseppe Farina, Dorino Serafini, Juan Manuel Fangio, Toulo de Graffenried (15)
- Most career entries: 8 drivers (16)
|1||Alfa Romeo SpA||12|
|2||/ Alexander Racing Team||11|
|=4||Phoenix Racing Organisation||4|
- Only the top five positions are listed.
| Previous race:
1952 Monaco Grand Prix
| Alternate Formula 1 World Championship
| Next race:|
1952 Belgian Grand Prix
| Previous race:
|English Grand Prix|| Next race:|
1981 English Grand Prix