1952 German Grand Prix
The 1952 German Grand Prix was the sixth race of the 1952 Formula One World Championship and was held at the Nürburgring Nordschleife on August 3rd 1952. Reg Parnell won his second consecutive German Grand Prix, beating Alfa Romeo driver Juan Manuel Fangio and Alberto Ascari in the Phoenix, who scored his third podium of the season. Championship leader Bira retired very early on and Giuseppe Farina finished fifth to take the lead once more.
In Great Britain, B. Bira won his third career race and his second of the season to take the championship lead, confirming the rise of Motorsport Bleu, who had won more than half of the races thus far, with the Monaco Grand Prix won by André Simon. Giuseppe Farina was yet to take a victory so far that season, and whoever would come out of this race on top would undoubtedly be in a much better position going into the final four races.
Motorsport Bleu gave Günther Bechem his first chance as a rookie. The 30-year-old German was coming off the back of a successful season in the German Sports Car championship, including a victory at the Norisring. Also, André Simon did not compete in this race, as Harry Schell drove the second Talbot.
Scuderia Commesso entered a second car for that weekend. The entry was to be driven by the unknown Ottorino Volonterio, but he was denied a license, and an emergency replacement was found in the form of Rudi Fischer, free of his commitments with the International Racing Group. Volonterio would resurface a few years later.
Reg Parnell returned to Ferrari for this race, where he had won the previous year, in what remained his only victory thus far. A good result would be welcome for him and his team, as Ferrari was then in a bad situation, failing to finish in a points-scoring position apart from Serafini's victory in Belgium.
British Bentley Racing Motors cut down to two cars, with Mike Hawthorn sitting out this time. The scene of the team's début the previous year, they'd want to qualify again, and perhaps finish their first race.
Troy Ruttman and Edgar Barth would drive for Group Ultimate, as Schell was entering his third race for Motorsport Bleu.
Following José Froilan Gonzalez's injury at Silverstone, a replacement had to be found for two races. Jaguar - Aston Martin Racing found him in the form of Tony Bettenhausen, who was free for the European rounds. The American would be looking to gain some good points for an eventual drive in 1953.
Ken Wharton and his team would both be absent, with Birmingham Motorsport preferring to defer their third entry to Zandvoort.
The Fighting Mongooses had used up their money for the season, but would attempt to return the following season with an improved Cooper. Eventually, the team failed to return and folded altogether. This left Behra without a drive after Felice Bonetto was preferred for the O.S.C.A., but the Frenchman would still compete after he was offered the free ENB Bugatti for Germany.
Following his failure to qualify for any race in the first half of the season, Onofre Marimon had been sacked by Maserati. A permanent replacement had yet to be found, but Chico Landi would be driving the second Maserati at the Nürburgring.
After missing three races, Scuderia Maremmana returned to the grid, finally offering Eric Brandon the chance to build on his podium at Donington.
Garage Francorchamps was shocked by Trintignant's injury at Silverstone, and a replacement had to be found immediately. Luckily, Jean Behra was released from his O.S.C.A. contract and eagerly signed the one-race deal, his commitments with the Fighting Mongooses also ending. Then, Georges Berger's entry was turned down, and another replacement needed to be found. At that point, the team was already in Germany, so Swaters himself would have to drive the Maserati.
The greatest source of débutants in Germany was Fritz Riess Motorenbau. Led by the 30-year-old Fritz Riess, two-time German Sportscar champion and defending Le Mans winner, the team also entered two other débutants: 46-year-old Toni Ulmen, 1949 German F2 champion and 1951 German Sportscar champion, and Helmut Niedermayr, the 36-year-old being the less successful, but he could still be a threat, as shown by his second place at le Mans.
All three Riess entries failed to make the cut, as did Marimon's replacement Chico Landi. Bentley, All-Ireland Motorsport and O.S.C.A. were almost definitely very pleased at making the grid, as did Jean Behra, who scraped onto the grid for his maiden Grand Prix start.
At the front, Harry Schell qualified second, surprising the paddock behind Reg Parnell, who seemed to be a specialist of the track. Bracco also took the Ambrosiana to tenth place. The main disappointments were Serafini and Moss, qualifying outside of the top twenty.
Parnell was able to hold his lead from the start, but by the end of lap one, Schell had dropped to third, and Fangio was harrassing the Englishman for the lead, determined to finally return to the podium after almost two years away from it. Undoubtedly though, the best first lap came from Dorino Serafini, who set the provisional fastest lap despite starting 23rd. He was now in a good 20th place, albeit helped by two retirements on the first lap. And my God were those retirements important, as not only did Consalvo Sanesi's Gordini blow up spectacularly at Bergwerk, but championship leader B. Bira slid off at the Karussel, ending his race. So that was two of the top five in the championship gone from the start, leaving just Farina and Manzon.
Up front, the race was still very interesting. Parnell was setting the pace, but the gap was still manageable. One of the chasers had to let go though, with Schell's Talbot failing him on lap two. His place was duly taken by the ever-impressive Alberto Ascari, who also bettered Serafini's fastest lap in the process of taking second place from Fangio. Schell was joined on the sidelines by Johnny Claes, who span off at the third corner, behind the pits, earning himself a large round of sarcastic applause from the crowd. On the next lap, the number of retirees increased to six, with both Piero Taruffi and Swaters suffering from mechanical failures. Taruffi was fighting for 15th with Bettenhausen, while Swaters was in an anonymous 24th position.
The fight was cooling down a little, with Manzon unable to keep up with the blazing pace set by Parnell, Ascari and Fangio. This didn't mean that he lost touch, and he still had his own part in the fight. Louis Chiron simultaneously saw his gearbox tear itself to shreds out of ninth position. Just one lap later, Günther Bechem put Motorsport Bleu out of their misery by crashing out from 23rd position. Meanwhile, while Manzon was now well and truly back into the battle for the lead, an even more intense fight for fifth was building up between de Graffenried, Farina and Giovanni Bracco of all people! Then, one of the best-performing drivers of the race retired, as Clemente Biondetti's Jaguar engine was left on fire by the side of the road, having been pushed too hard in the fight for 18th position against Porfirio Rubirosa, who himself joined Biondetti on the sidelines two laps later with the same problem.
At this point, the top four had a ridiculous gap over Bracco, who was having a hard time believing he was actually leading the charge. At the same time, Dorino Serafini brought attention to himself again by securing the fastest lap of the race once more, having done a very good race thus far to be in the top ten after having started 23rd. On lap 11, Toulo de Graffenried span out at Flugplatz, almost immediately replaced in the battle by Nello Pagani, looking to secure more points for Maserati, with Manfred von Brauchitsch also having a look in. Just immediately, Pagani also had a spin and retired, leaving Farina and Bracco alone to fight over fifth place, then fourth as Robert Manzon again fell foul of the Gordini's unfortunate reliability, heartbreakingly breaking down next to Geoff Richardson's stricken Bentley, stuck in a ditch.
Slowly, the fight for the lead began to end. Fangio was now well in the lead, with Parnell following and Ascari content with a safe third place. Only that's not how it ended. While André Pilette had an almighty shunt into the trees out of 14th place, miraculously coming out unhurt, and Roberto Mières span off on the last lap, Parnell drove like an absolute madman on this track that gave him his maiden victory.
Two laps from the end, Parnell was in the lead and not looking back. Ascari was gaining on Fangio as well, but he was too far behind to make a difference, and so had to be content with third place. After a sublime race, Giovanni Bracco took home a second consecutive fourth place for Ambrosiana. The battle for fifth and de facto championship lead was much more interesting, as Farina was having to defend from Manfred von Brauchitsch. He managed to fight him off, score the necessary two points and take the championship lead again. Dorino Serafini ended up scoring the fastest lap of the race in his Ferrari, although the point wouldn't count towards the constructors' or entrants' standings after Parnell's victory. In the end, Mières was just one lap away from classification, but it wasn't to be.
- Ottorino Volonterio and Georges Berger were prevented from entering due to a lack of experience. They were replaced by Rudi Fischer and Jacques Swaters respectively.
- First pole position for Reg Parnell.
- First start for Jean Behra.
- First entry and only start for Günther Bechem.
- Final start for Felice Bonetto and Clemente Biondetti.
- First entry for Georges Berger, Toni Ulmen, Helmut Niedermayr and Fritz Riess, only entry for Ulmen.
- Final start for All-Ireland Motorsport under that name.
- First and only entries for Fritz Riess Motorenbau.
- Most career starts: Giuseppe Farina, Dorino Serafini and Juan Manuel Fangio (19)
- Most career entries: Piero Taruffi, Giuseppe Farina, Dorino Serafini, Juan Manuel Fangio and Alberto Ascari (20)
|Alfa Romeo SpA
|/ Alexander Racing Team
|Phoenix Racing Organisation
- Only the top five positions are listed.
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1952 Dutch Grand Prix
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1951 German Grand Prix
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