1953 Belgian Grand Prix
The 1953 Belgian Grand Prix was the third race of the 1953 Formula One World Championship and was held in Spa-Francorchamps on June 21st 1953. This race was the scene of Tony Bettenhausen's first Grand Prix win, ahead of Peter Whitehead's Alfa Romeo and Dries van der Lof's customer Aston Martin-Jaguar. This was van der Lof's first podium, which he inherited following the last-lap retirements of Giovanni Bracco and Alberto Ascari, who were classified fourth and fifth.
JAMR had started the season in the best way possible, getting two cars on the podium in every race and taking their first victory at Zandvoort. They now led every championship, with Maurice Trintignant have finished second and first in the opening two races. But with a larger field at Spa-Francorchamps, things could change once more. A record 47 drivers had gathered around the 14km long strip of tarmac in the Ardennes, fighting for 34 grid spots.
Reatherson went from Monaco directly to Belgium, with Joe Kelly taking the wheel while Macklin drove the Balkan Eagle.
As per the Maserati driver rotation scheme, Marcel Balsa stepped in the second car alongside Paul Frère for this race.
F.H. Warden Competition made their début this time around, the former Birmingham Motorsport returning with Ken Wharton.
Group Ultimate returned with their four cars, hoping to make just enough prize money to keep the team going.
Bentley also fielded four cars for Hawthorn, Richardson, Salvadori and guest driver André Pilette, as per their deal with ENB. This marked the second appearance for the 53C chassis.
Ecurie Nationale Belge took the Grand Prix as an opportunity to launch young drivers, with André Milhoux and Olivier Gendebien both making their début alongside team boss Jacques Swaters.
EMW had changed drivers once again, with Bechem being ditched in favour of the Australian Lex Davison.
O.S.C.A. brought a second car to a weekend for the first time, with the guest second driver being André Simon, who found himself without a drive despite his Monaco win the previous season.
In the end, there were no real surprises. Wacker and Gendebien had the excuse of inexperience, Marcel Balsa had never been quick, the Bentley 53C had already proven to be a complete dud, as had the EMW. However, a few pleasant names could be seen at the front, with two of the three ENBs still making qualifying proper, as had two Bentleys, who both joined André Pilette in main qualifying. Finally, Ken Wharton and Joe Kelly would be pleased at managing to at least regain some prize money from their weekend expenses. They would be hoping to make the race.
Farina took pole for the sixth time in his career, ahead of Bettenhausen and Serafini, but it was Bracco and van der Lof who surprised, qualifying fifth and sixth respectively. Nello Pagani also impressed, putting the Maserati in eighth place (all the more impressive considering the three slowest cars were also Maseratis), while a number of new teams and drivers would make their first starts.
Consalvo Sanesi got the best start of all and took the lead from the start, but at Blanchimon, Tony Bettenhausen barged his way through into the lead, closely followed by Farina. Further behind, Toulo de Graffenried's engine exploded, blinding Robert Manzon who subsequently crashed out of the race. On the following lap, he was followed on the sidelines by Giuseppe Farina who amateurishly crashed out at Stavelot, recording his fourth consecutive retirement. Dries van der Lof was on the move, taking fourth place from Giovanni Bracco on the third lap. At the same moment, Johnny Claes' Leader saw its gearbox expire, bringing an early end to the team's maiden race start. On lap 5, Dorino Serafini set what would remain the fastest lap of the race and powered into the race lead, while Bracco took fourth place back from van der Lof. And then, the attrition really started.
On lap 8, Brandon's Mercedes suffered a transmission failure, out of second last place. On the next lap, José Froilan Gonzalez (12th) spun off at La Source and was followed by Porfirio Rubirosa (19th), who made the exact same mistake. On the following lap, JAMRs day turned from mildly annoyed to fairly angry as Bira (4th) suffered an oil leak and Trintignant (13th) blew his engine. On the very next lap, Moss (13th) had a suspension failure and Barth (18th) had a gearbox failure. On the next lap, it was Pagani (10th) who suffered an oil leak, followed on the following lap by Pilette (19th) with a gearbox failure. Amidst the chaos, Bettenhausen had briefly taken the lead again, but had only held it a single lap. And so, at the halfway point of the race, 23 cars remained on track. Sanesi led from Serafini, Bettenhausen and Bracco. Dries van der Lof had by now fallen back massively, but was masterfully keeping everyone else behind him. He was followed by Parnell, Whitehead, Fangio, Ascari and the surprising Jacques Swaters in tenth place.
The battle for the lead was intensifying when the next wave of retirements started on lap 18. Peter Collins' Gordini suffered an oil leak out of a respectable 11th place. Two laps later, Consalvo Sanesi, who had just dropped back to third place, suffered from a steering failure. On the following lap, Reg Parnell span out at Eau Rouge. Simultaneously, Fangio's transmission expired and Troy Ruttman span out on the oil at Blanchimont. On the following lap, the order once again was shuffled when Dorino Serafini's Ferrari let go with just three laps remaining, with an oil pump failure. Bettenhausen inherited the race lead from Giovanni Bracco, Alberto Ascari, Dries van der Lof and Peter Whitehead. With two laps remaining, Whitehead passed van der Lof for fourth place, but the final important event was to come on the final lap, when Mike Hawthorn's Bentley engine blew out spectacularly. Blinded by the smoke Giovanni Bracco crashed out at Blanchimont, with Alberto Ascari and the lapped Harry Schell also spinning out on the oil. Whitehead and van der Lof were barely on the lead lap and inherited the final two podium positions. Swaters had just been lapped, so Bracco and Ascari was classified fourth and fifth, depriving the young Belgian of much-needed points for his team.
The battles for 7th and 11th were very entertaining indeed, each driver finishing within a few seconds of the other. Taruffi finished seventh, a brilliant performance for O.S.C.A., beating Rudi Fischer's Balkan Eagle and Stan Jones' Maserati. André Simon followed distantly in the second O.S.C.A., two laps down, while Mières won the hotly contested eleventh place ahead of David Hampshire and Aldo Gordini.
This race saw many landmark achievements. Bettenhausen finally scored his maiden race victory after three podiums, Dries van der Lof scored his and his team's first points and podium, and Bracco also scored Ambrosiana's first points of the season.
|2||54||Jacques Swaters||Aston Martin-Jaguar||4:29.80||+ 2.51|
|3||42||Mike Hawthorn||Bentley||4:30.84||+ 3.55|
|4||36||Ken Wharton||Bentley-Jaguar||4:32.80||+ 5.51|
|5||8||Joe Kelly||Bentley-Jaguar||4:34.48||+ 7.19|
|6||40||Geoff Richardson||Bentley||4:35.47||+ 8.18|
|7||74||Roberto Mieres||Maserati||4:35.74||+ 8.45|
|8||50||André Milhoux||Maserati||4:35.76||+ 8.47|
|9||6||Fred Wacker||Leader-Jaguar||4:35.87||+ 8.58|
|10||62||Lex Davison||EMW-Mercedes||4:36.14||+ 8.85|
|11||52||Olivier Gendebien||Bentley||4:37.10||+ 9.81|
|12||46||Roy Salvadori||Bentley||4:38.20||+ 10.91|
|13||34||Marcel Balsa||Maserati||4:39.09||+ 11.80|
- First win for Tony Bettenhausen.
- First points and podium for Dries van der Lof.
- Final points for Giovanni Bracco.
- First entry for Olivier Gendebien.
- Final entry for Marcel Balsa.
- First points and podium for Asso di Fiori.
- First start for Balkan Eagle, Leader and Mercedes-Benz Team Europe.
- First entry for F.H. Warden Competition under that name.
- Tony Bettenhausen: 9 laps (1-4, 10, 22-25)
- Dorino Serafini: 9 laps (5-9, 18-21)
- Consalvo Sanesi: 7 laps (11-17)
- Most total career starts: Giuseppe Farina and Dorino Serafini (26)
- Most total career entries: Alberto Ascari, Juan Manuel Fangio, Giuseppe Farina, Dorino Serafini and Piero Taruffi (27)
|1||Jaguar - Aston Martin Racing||22|
|2||Alfa Romeo SpA||10|
|4||Alexander Racing Team-Gordini||6|
|5||Asso di Fiori||4|
- Only the top five positions are listed.
| Previous race:
1953 Dutch Grand Prix
| Alternate Formula 1 World Championship
| Next race:|
1953 French Grand Prix
| Previous race:
1952 Belgian Grand Prix
|Belgian Grand Prix|| Next race:|
1954 Belgian Grand Prix