1952 Italian Grand Prix
The 1952 Italian Grand Prix was the eighth race of the 1952 Formula One World Championship and was held in Monza on September 7th 1952. The race was won by Toulo de Graffenried, who scored his first win of the season and indeed his first finish. It was his second consecutive victory in Italy. Reg Parnell finished second ahead of American Tony Bettenhausen, who had finished second in the Netherlands three weeks earlier.
The previous two races had failed to change the situation in the championship battle, as just five points separated the top three drivers. Even better, with three races remaining, any driver still had a mathematical chance of winning the title. The challenge this week would be even tougher than usual, as a then-record 41 drivers had made their way to Monza for the final race of the European season.
All-Ireland Motorsport skipped the Dutch Grand Prix to have a better chance at making the larger grid in Monza. Now, they were back for their final entry of the year.
Scuderia Commesso were back to a single car this time, having failed to find a suitable second driver for the race.
Ferrari stayed true to their rotating policy for the third car, and the German GP winner Reg Parnell returned to the drive. Whitehead wouldn't be sitting on the sidelines though, as he would be driving the second Ferrari for Group Ultimate.
David Hampshire ran two car this time, for himself and Ken Downing. Riseley-Prichard was not scheduled to enter a third race.
José Froilan Gonzalez returned from his injury at Silverstone, but Tony Bettenhausen's impressive performances had justified the construction and entry of a third car for the rest of the season.
Scuderia Aqua are back for their second and final planned entry, with Piero Carini attempting to do better than at Monaco.
Birmingham Motorsport had completed their final entry of the year, and had failed to start any of them. The next year would be more successful for them.
Maserati had handed the second car to Chico Landi again for this race before passing it back to Marcel Balsa for Australia. The driver in Sebring was not yet known but would turn out to be Maurice Trintignant.
Scuderia Maremmana were back once again with their usual three drivers. Their last entry would be in Australia, before the planned and controversial merger with Mercedes-Benz for the 1953 season.
The Garage Francorchamps Maseratis would be driven by 25-year-old Charles de Tornaco and team owner Jacques Swaters.
As usual, Scuderia Ambrosiana entered a third car for the Italian Grand Prix, this time driven by team founder Giovanni Lurani, who would attempt to make the grid for the first time in his final race entry.
O.S.C.A. were back for their final race of the season, with experienced hand Felice Bonetto at the wheel. Making the grid was a noble objective.
Maria Teresa de Filippis was back, driving an Alfa Romeo instead of a Maserati, and looking for a grid spot.
British Bentley Racing Motors still entered a single car, this time for the promising Mike Hawthorn.
Great performances were seen from the Belgians, with the three Belgian drivers and Lance Macklin all making the cut. Good surprises as well from Mike Hawthorn and Maria Teresa de Filippis, who made it through in the most crowded pre-qualifying session of the year. Major disappointments came from Chico Landi and Clemente Biondetti, failing at the first hurdle. This meant that Biondetti would miss what would have been, in all likelihood, his final Grand Prix, as it was now common knowledge that the 54-year-old was losing his fight with cancer. Piero Carini and Ken Downing were gutted at failing to make the cut by such a small margin.
Toulo de Graffenried was the eighth different pole sitter in eight races (after Whitehead, Moss, Fangio, Farina, Serafini, Parnell and Sanesi), Bira was in a good position to take the championship advantage, though Farina was not far behind. Troy Ruttman continued to impress with third place, Bracco and Claes were very satisfied with top ten runs, Swaters was delighted with twelfth (the only Francorchamps driver to make it apart from Pilette), as was David Hampshire with 18th and Lance Macklin with 21st. Maria Teresa de Filippis stunned the paddock by scraping onto the grid, in the incredibly close midfield scrap (19 drivers grouped within 2 seconds).
Ascari and Gonzalez were disappointed with their lowly starting spots, although only a few tenths would have seen them much higher. Gonzalez himself was satisfied at making the grid on his comeback. Eric Brandon, Porfirio Rubirosa and Paul Frère were massively disappointed as well after their previous races, while Maurice Trintignant had a shocker and failed to qualify for the first time since Monaco the previous year. He was even outpaced by the complete rookie Charles de Tornaco, who turned quite a few heads by coming within a few tenths of making the grid! With a promising grid, a very exciting race was on the cards for Sunday.
The start was clean, and while Toulo de Graffenried got a good getaway, Troy Ruttman and B. Bira had blinders and jumped ahead of de Graffenried! At the end of the lap, the three were coverd by less than two tenths, with Bira ahead, then Farina fourth, Sanesi fifth and Bracco sixth. But Toulo was angry. He desperately needed points to save his drive after retiring from every race of the season. He responded by setting what would remain the fastest lap of the race, on lap 2!
Behind the top three, everything was moving around, with Stirling Moss in fourth place ahead of Farina, Sanesi and Manzon, who also passed Bracco. This all changed on lap 5. Sanesi had just passed Farina for fourth place when the championship leader braked too late at Vedano, slamming into the back of Sanesi. After a second consecutive retirement due to an early accident, Consalvo was seen in tears by the side of the track, and rightly too. With more luck, he could have been right in the championship fight, as he was fighting for points in Monaco and second in Britain, and could have scored major points as well in Germany, the Netherlands and that day at Monza.
This left a mission for Bira and Manzon, to score when they had failed to do so in the previous two races. Bracco and Moss were now fighting over fourth place, with Manzon and Parnell just behind. On lap 9, David Hampshire span out at Vialone. He was in 14th position. The battle for fourth now involved Parnell, Bracco, Moss, Fangio and Manzon. At the very front, de Graffenried was casually increasing his lead, making sure that the win would be his. On lap 14, Ruttman got a puncture on the cobblestones at Vedano, getting passed by Fangio. He decided not to pit, and therefore span off at the Curva Grande on the next lap, out of fourth place. With the order constantly changing below third place, here was the order on lap 20: de Graffenried with a huge lead over Bira, Moss and Fangio. Further back, the battle for fifth included (in that order) Parnell, Bracco, Bettenhausen, Claes, Schell and Manzon. Then came Whitehead, Serafini, Pagani, Taruffi, Swaters, de Filippis, Simon, Ascari, Gonzalez, Macklin, von Brauchitsch and Pilette.
Very quickly, the number of drivers dropped from 22 to 19, as von Brauchitsch, Simon and Macklin all retired within five laps of each other. Simon span off, while the other two suffered mechanical failures. Manfred was last, André 17th and Lance last as well. With all that confusion, the order changed a lot (though de Graffenried just extended his lead even more), and at the halfway point, de Graffenried still had a considerable lead over Bira, Fangio and Moss, who were still fighting hard. Parnell was still fifth, but defending from Bettenhausen, Claes and Whitehead, with Schell, Pagani and Bracco following closely as well. Then came Manzon, Taruffi and de Filippis (doing very well indeed in 14th position), then Serafini, Swaters, Gonzalez, Ascari and Pilette.
The man on the move now was Tony Bettenhausen, who had long passed Parnell for fifth and was closing in on Moss for fourth position. Parnell was left to defend from Claes, who was pressurising the Briton, smelling those elusive first points. However, in was Peter Whitehead who passed Parnell, in the first race where both competed against each other since Belgium. In the meantime, Bettenhausen passed Moss on lap 36, with Fangio the next target on his list. Sure enough, two laps later, the Argentine made a mistake, letting the American through into third place! Then, on lap 41, the race for the championship changed dramatically. Giuseppe Farina would be thanking his lucky stars, as Bira and Manzon's engines simultaneously suffered earth-shattering kabooms, also causing the retirement of Peter Whitehead, who span off on the oil.
Therefore, de Graffenried's lead was now even larger and now over Moss, who had just passed Bettenhausen again. Fangio was now fourth and defending from Parnell. Then came Pagani, Schell, Claes and Bracco, with Dorino Serafini now ending the top ten. Almost immediately though, Tony passed Stirling for second, before the Briton passed him once more. All of this let Fangio catch the two, as well as Parnell, who had left Pagani and Claes a bit behind. Dorino Serafini then retired, lazily spinning off at Lesmo. By lap 49, Fangio was ahead and in second place. By lap 50, Parnell was ahead, and Moss, Fangio and Bettenhausen were literally side by side for third place! On the very next lap, Parnell was behind Moss and Fangio, with Bettenhausen further behind in fifth place. On the very next lap, the whole course of the race changed with barely 12 laps remaining. Fangio span off, while Moss, Pagani (in sixth) and Ascari (in twelfth) all suffered mechanical failures.
This left just eleven cars in the race, with de Graffenried in a now-unassailable lead ahead of Parnell, Bettenhausen, Schell and Claes, for whom points were finally becoming a certainty. Fighting for the lower places, Bracco was having to fend off the decidedly impressive Maria Teresa de Filippis, who was in an incredible seventh position, ahead of Swaters, Taruffi, Gonzalez and Pilette. Sadly, Maria Teresa would not be able to collect her finishing position, as her Alfa Romeo heartbreakingly failed with just a few laps remaining. With all the points positions pretty much locked up, the real fight was now for the honour of sixth position, as Giovanni Bracco was under attack from the impressive Jacques Swaters, who passed the Ambrosiana on lap 56, with eight laps remaining.
Swaters proceeded to build a gap on Bracco, leaving only one battle remaining, for eighth position between team mates Piero Taruffi and José Froilan Gonzalez (Bettenhausen was third in the third car). The Argentine almost won the battle, but just as he was about to pass Taruffi, de Graffenried lapped him before crossing the line, ending the race. De Graffenried completely dominated the field, winning from pole with the fastest lap, and coming within one lap of a Grand Chelem. Reg Parnell completed the Ferrari 1-2, while Tony Bettenhausen scored his third career podium. Harry Schell scored his best result and salvaged three points for Motorsport Bleu, while Johnny Claes was overjoyed at finally scoring his first career points. At the back, André Pilette managed to finally get his act together and finish 7 laps behind, leaving de Filippis unclassified.
|1||6||Toulo de Graffenried||Ferrari||1:58.3||-|
|2||28||Charles de Tornaco||Maserati||2:00.0||+ 1.7|
|3||21||Paul Frère||Maserati||2:00.4||+ 2.1|
|4||39||Jacques Swaters||Maserati||2:00.5||+ 2.2|
|5||5||Louis Chiron||Maserati-Ferrari||2:00.6||+ 2.3|
|6||14||Lance Macklin||Maserati||2:00.7||+ 2.4|
|7||40||Mike Hawthorn||Bentley||2:00.8||+ 2.5|
|8||34||Maria Teresa de Filippis||Alfa Romeo||2:00.8||+ 2.5|
|9||19||Piero Carini||Maserati||2:00.9||+ 2.6|
|10||41||Ken Downing||Alta||2:01.0||+ 2.7|
|11||22||Chico Landi||Maserati||2:01.1||+ 2.8|
|12||23||Clemente Biondetti||Ferrari-Jaguar||2:01.2||+ 2.9|
|13||32||Giovanni Lurani||Ambrosiana-Maserati||2:01.3||+ 3.0|
|14||1||Joe Kelly||ERA-Maserati||2:01.8||+ 3.5|
|15||33||Felice Bonetto||O.S.C.A.||2:02.3||+ 4.0|
- Final pole position, fastest lap and race victory for Toulo de Graffenried.
- First and only points for Johnny Claes.
- First entry for Charles de Tornaco.
- Final entry for Felice Bonetto, Clemente Biondetti, Piero Carini, Ken Downing and Giovanni Lurani.
- Most career starts: Giuseppe Farina, Dorino Serafini and Juan Manuel Fangio (21)
- Most career entries: Piero Taruffi, Giuseppe Farina, Dorino Serafini, Juan Manuel Fangio and Alberto Ascari (22)
|2||Alfa Romeo SpA||29.5|
|5=||Jaguar - Aston Martin Racing||14|
|5=||Phoenix Racing Organisation||14|
- Only the top five positions are listed.
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1952 Dutch Grand Prix
| Alternate Formula 1 World Championship
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1952 United States Grand Prix
| Previous race:
1951 Italian Grand Prix
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1953 Italian Grand Prix