1954 United States Grand Prix
The 1954 United States Grand Prix was the eighth race of the 1954 Formula One World Championship and was held in Sebring on September 5th 1954. The race was notable for a high rate of attrition among the frontrunners, leading to Consalvo Sanesi scoring a hat trick with the pole position, race win and fastest lap. Peter Whitehead finished second, his fifth podium, with Luigi Villoresi finishing third for Asso di Fiori and therefore scoring his only points. As all major title contenders retired, B. Bira secured his second world title in this race, despite not yet having won a race that year.
There were now only two races left in the 1954 Formula One season, and what a championship it had been. In seven races, there had been six different winners, and none of them were the championship leader. Sitting on six consecutive second places, 1952 champion Bira was set to take a second world title, while the only driver now capable of stopping him was his own teammate, Dries van der Lof, who was the only multiple race winner of the season with victories at Silverstone and the Nürburgring. The constructors' and entrants' titles were also up for grabs, with JAMR only having a 13-point lead over ART.
To secure the title here, this was what Bira needed to do.
-Win the race; -Finish on the podium and hope that van der Lof does not win; -Finish in the top five and hope that van der Lof does not finish in the top two; -Finish in the top six and hope that van der Lof does not finish on the podium; -Hope that van der Lof does not finish in the top four.
For the third time, Formula One headed to Sebring for the United States Grand Prix. 33 drivers would be competing for the 32 grid spots, making for a very tense battle at the rear.
As in 1953, American veteran Cliff Bergere made an appearance in an old Mercedes with an underpowered Bentley engine.
After the failure of the Mercedes works team, a single car would be entered for Bernie Ecclestone until the end of the year while waiting for a potential buyer.
As planned, Scuderia Anglo-Italia would not make an appearance in Sebring, despite faint rumours of two independent entries from the Bentley side of the team which didn't materialise.
After years of underperforming, Stirling Moss had finally been sacked by the works Alfa Romeo team, with Belgian ace André Pilette taking the drive for the last two races. Pilette had already droven an Alfa Romeo for ENB in 1951.
For budget reasons, Loyer would only be fielding a single car for the ever-improving Mike Hawthorn. Kling was originially supposed to drive the car but was replaced at the last second.
Jaguar Aston Martin Racing had been reduced to three cars instead of the usual four as Maurice Trintignant's chassis couldn't be repaired in time to make the trip to Florida.
Reatherson would also have to skip Sebring after failing to repair Macklin's chassis.
Anglo Racing Engineering would also be skipping this round due to budget issues.
BRUNEL, meanwhile, made their second entry of the season, entering de Filippis like they did the previous year.
With Parnell having recovered from his injury, he returned to Ferrari, as did Dorino Serafini, back from his "exile" at Renzo, and Ferrari returned to their usual three-car formation, with now de facto team leader Brabham in the third car.
Erne were faced with a heavy setback after both cars were damaged in Germany. However, in a good display of pragmatism, the working parts of both cars were put together and shipped to Sebring for the race.
Despite their financial woes, RRAC sent the Bentley-Merc to Sebring, giving a drive to Indy 500 winner Bill Vukovich.
David Hampshire finally repaired the damage his car had received in Switzerland and made his way to Sebring.
Both Ultimates had also been repaired. The high-stakes US Grand Prix was a golden opportunity to bring some much-needed cash into the team's bank account.
F.H. Warden Competition originally planned to enter two cars, then none, then finally a single car for home hero John Fitch. This may have been their last shot at making a race that season.
With Serafini returning to Ferrari, de Graffenried came back to Renzo to drive the Ferrari alongside Marzotto in the O.S.C.A.
Rennkollektiv EMW and Assasti Millanti joined other small outfits on the sidelines due to recurring financial trouble.
Unlike previous expectations, it was neither Frère nor Vukovich who failed to qualify, but instead Cliff Bergere, who was over 25 seconds behind the pole sitter in his aging Bentley-Mercedes combination. It was Consalvo Sanesi who took pole position for a record ninth time, ahead of Jack Brabham, Giuseppe Farina and B. Bira. Van der Lof would be starting the race on the back foot from twelfth position.
Giuseppe Farina got the early lead from Sanesi and Brabham. On lap 2, the race was already in full swing when Dorino Serafini slid off the circuit at high speed and collided head on with an earth bank. The car was badly damaged, but Serafini got out of the car unaided, although in visible pain. On the very next lap, the race for the championship got all the more interesting as Bira defended too hard against André Pilette and took himself out of the race. Pilette continued briefly, but the accident punctured his tyre and forced him to retire. Bernie Ecclestone's engine gave up at the same time, leaving 28 drivers only four laps in.
Farina took the lead again on lap 5, but a different race ended on the following lap. Dries van der Lof's gearbox let go, handing the world championship to B. Bira for the second time. JAMR's race was completely ended two laps later when Bettenhausen's suspension failed. At the very front, Sanesi retook the lead from Farina on lap 10. The drivers were then reduced to 24 when Peter Collins' steering failed and the Brit stopped his Gordini in the runoff. Marzotto then span on oil and joined him in the runoff. On the very next lap, Ascari's oil line failed and Edgar Barth's engine failed, leaving 22 drivers after just 13 laps. In the meantime, Sanesi decided to set a token fastest lap.
The race for the win lost some of its fighting spirit when Farina's gearbox expired, as did Ron Flockhart's clutch. On lap 18, it was Louis Chiron's gearbox that overheated. Two laps later, Brabham's clutch overheated as well, out of third place. The race took a turn for the worse on lap 22 when John Fitch slid on oil at high speed and collided with a supporting pole for the spectator bridge. The car was bent around the pole, and Fitch was taken to hospital, conscious but it serious condition.
But the retirements didn't end there, as Roberto Mieres' engine overheated at the same time as Mike Hawthorn's clutch, leaving 15 drivers, then 13 on lap 27 when Robert Manzon had an oil leak. The oil flew into Parnell's face, causing him to crash. The oil burned his face, but he appeared to be otherwise injured. Manzon and Parnell were fourth and fifth, meaning that with 15 laps left, Sanesi led from Ramos, Whitehead, Villoresi, Rubirosa and Hampshire. Ramos then crashed out, elevating Rubirosa to third place after passing Villoresi and Maglioli to the final points place, which he did not keep as de Graffenried passed him on lap 33, but he took it again three laps later!
Ambrosiana would have to rely on Maglioli for points now, as Porfirio Rubirosa retired from a safe third place with yet another gearbox failure, just four laps from the end! Immediately, Maglioli took over and tried to pass Hampshire for what was now fourth place, but he came just short. On the final lap, Jean Behra's brakes failed out of ninth place, leaving ten cars to cross the finish line. Sanesi took his fourth career victory, with Whitehead taking a relieving second place ahead of Luigi Villoresi, who scored Asso di Fiori's first podium of the season. David Hampshire secured a very popular fourth place from Umberto Maglioli and Renzo's Toulo de Graffenried.
* Trintignant and Macklin were forced to withdraw from the race weekend as their cars were unavailable.
- Final pole position and fastest lap for Consalvo Sanesi.
- First and only points and podium for Luigi Villoresi.
- Final point for Toulo de Graffenried.
- First start and points for Umberto Maglioli.
- Final entry and start for Bill Vukovich and John Fitch.
- Final start for Roberto Mieres and Louis Chiron.
- Final entry for Cliff Bergere.
- Final podium for Asso di Fiori.
- Final points for Scuderia Ambrosiana.
- Final start for Royal Racing Automobile Company Leader (as a single team).
- Final entry and start for Mercedes Benz Team Europe, Erne Racing Development and F.H. Warden Competition.
- Final entry for Cliff Bergere.
- Most career pole positions: Consalvo Sanesi (9).
- Most total career entries: Alberto Ascari and Maurice Trintignant (40).
|Dries van der Lof
|Hernando da Silva Ramos
|Jaguar - Aston Martin Racing
|Alexander Racing Team - Gordini
|Alfa Romeo SpA
|/ Scuderia Anglo-Italia
- Only the top five positions are listed.
| Previous race:
1954 German Grand Prix
| Alternate Formula 1 World Championship
| Next race:
1954 Italian Grand Prix
| Previous race:
1953 United States Grand Prix
|United States Grand Prix
| Next race:
1957 United States Grand Prix