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1950 Monaco Grand Prix

The second round of the 1950 Formula 1 World Championship took place on May 21 in Monaco on the legendary circuit running through the narrow streets of the Principality. The length of the track was 3.18 km, while the drivers had to complete 100 laps.

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After a convincing victory at the first round of the championship in the Great Britain, the Alfa Romeo team arrived in the Principality as the undisputed favorite of the Grand Prix, putting up three cars for their main drivers Nino Farina, Juan-Manuel Fangio and Luigi Fagioli. At the same time, unlike the British stage, the Milan team here had to face their most serious rivals from the Scuderia Ferrari team, for which this Grand Prix was their debut. Like Alfa Romeo, the team of Enzo Ferrari was represented here by three drivers of main line-up, which were Italians Alberto Ascari and Luigi Villoresi and the Frenchman Raymond Sommer. 

 

In addition to the Scuderia, this round was also the debut for the French team of Amadeus Gordini, which was represented by French drivers Maurice Trintignant and Robert Manzon. At the same time, another French team, Talbot, decided this time to refuse official participation in the Grand Prix, limiting themselves to the presence of their cars in the hands of private drivers Louis Rosier, Philippe Etancelin and Johnny Claes. The British cars here,  unlike the first stage, were represented by only two ERAs, driven by Bob Gerard and Cuth Harrison, and one Formula-3 car Cooper T12, driven by American Harry Schell.

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Meanwhile, the Maserati team, unlike the first round of the championship, was this time represented by two drivers, local hero Louis Chiron and Italian aristocrat Franco Rol. In addition to the factory team, the same cars were used by two more private teams, Enrico Plate and Scuderia Aquille Varzi, represented respectively by Prince Bira and Tulo de Graffenrid, and Argentine debutants Jose-Froylan Gonzalez and Alfredo Pian.

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Qualification

After the clear dominance of Alfa Romeos in the first round of the championship, the organizers of Monaco Grand Prix decided to equalize the chances a little by forming the first five positions on the starting grid based on the results of Friday's training. However, this decision hit first of all the main rivals of the Milan team from Scuderia Ferrari, who were forced to miss these training sessions, and did not affect Alfa Romeo's position in any way. At the same time, qualifying was dominated by Juan-Manuel Fangio, who was trying to recover from his failure in Great Britain and easily won his first pole-position this season.

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Meanwhile the championship leader Nino Farina could not match the pace of the Argentinean, losing to him by more than 2.5 sec, but that was still enough to take second place on the starting grid. The third driver of Alfa Romeo, Luigi Fagioli, did not perform very well this time and managed only 5th result, losing to Fangio for 4 seconds. However, the real sensation was created by debutant Jose-Froilan Gonzalez, who immediately turned out to be very fast and managed to take 3rd place on his Maserati.

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As for his teammate Alfredo Pian, he was much less fortunate, and unable to keep his car on spilled oil, the Argentine crashed into a barrier, breaking his leg and dropping out of the Grand Prix even before the start. Also very fast was Philippe Etancelin on Talbot, who took 4th position, while the Ferrari drivers had to accept only 6th, 7th and 9th places on the starting grid. The local veteran Louis Chiron on his native streets looked much better than in Great Britain, managing 8th place, while the last place in the top ten went to Louis Rosier, who lost to pole-position time already 7,5 sec.

Race

It is windy on the day of the race, resulting in strong waves  from the sea completely flooded the turn of Bureau de Tabac. Meanwhile the drivers, unaware of this, calmly prepare for the start.

Start. Fangio takes a great start and easily breaks into the lead, while Farina hesitated and was immediately bypassed by Gonzalez and Villoresi. However, the Italian quickly deals with his compatriot and immediately attacks Gonzalez, but the Argentine is not so easy to overtake. At the entrance to the Bureau de Tabac, the two cars are in a tight fight, but on the wet section of the track Farina's car skids and smashes right into the barrier, hitting Gonzalez' car along the way! Nonetheless the Argentine manages to continue the race, though in unawares of the fuel tank damage, while Villoresi still manages to slip past him. Behind them Chiron, Ascari, Sommer and Etancelin safely pass wrecked Farina's car, but they are followed by a tight group of drivers led by Fagioli, who fails to pass his teammate's car, which leads to a chain reaction of accidents. As a result of a massive collision Farina, Fagioli, Rosier, Manzon, Graffenried, Trintignant, Harrison, Rol and Schell are eliminated from the race, and their cars block the entire track and fill it with fuel! Fortunately, none of the drivers were seriously injured, except for Franco Rol, who broke his arm.

Massive accident on the embankment on the first lap

Position after lap 1: Fangio, Villoresi, Gonzalez, Chiron, Ascari, Sommer, Etancelin, Bira, Claes, Gerard. After the massive collision there are only 10 cars remain in the race.

Lap 2: Fangio continues to lead, unaware of the accident. Leaving the tunnel, he notices that the public is distracted by something in the next corner, which immediately alarms him, and the Argentine reduces the speed just in case. Having approached the scene of the accident, Fangio discovers that the road is completely blocked by broken cars, but this fact does not discourage him at all. Getting out of his car, the Argentine pushes one of the cars away and then calmly continues the race! The drivers following him also make their way through the blockage, but Villoresi was the least fortunate, who drove into a dead end and stalled, thus dropping to last place. At the same time, Prince Bira, while driving through the blockage, even stopped and scolded the marshals in his hearts for not working too quickly.

Meanwhile, Gonzalez is found himself in a very dangerous situation at the Gasworks Hairpin as leaking fuel from the damaged fuel tank ignited, turning the back of his Maserati into a torch. The Argentinean still manages to jump out of the burning car, while the nearby spectators helped him to tear off his blazing shirt. Unfortunately, José-Froilan still suffers second-degree burns to his arms, and such a promising weekend is over for him.

Position after 2nd lap: Fangio, Sommer, Chiron, Ascari, Etancelin, Bira, Gerard, Claes, Villoresi.

Lap 3: Ascari overtakes both Chiron and Sommer on one lap and now is in 2nd place!

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Meanwhile Villoresi begins his breakthrough from the back of the field, leaving Claes behind.

Lap 4: Villoresi passes Gerard for 7th.

Lap 5: Fangio on only remaining Alfa Romeo easily breaks away from the rest of the field, showing one fastest lap after another.

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Lap 6: Villoresi continues his breakthrough and overtakes Prince Bira for 6th!

Lap 7: Etancelin also gives way to Villoresi's pressure, and the Italian is already 5th!

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Lap 10: Villoresi leaves behind Chiron, taking 4th place!

Lap 12: Now Villoresi passes his teammate Sommer and is already 3rd! 

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At the same time, the next target of Luigi, his teammate Ascari, is well ahead of him now.

Lap 25: Villoresi flies around the track, winning back from Ascari for about a second on each lap!

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Lap 31: Villoresi finally catches up with his teammate and immediately attacks him, taking 2nd place!

Lap 32: Ascari does not give up, counterattacks and regains 2nd place!

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Lap 33: Villoresi attacks again, passes Ascari and now begins to break away!

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Lap 36: Villoresi pulls in for refueling and lets Ascari through again .

Lap 37: Ascari is also in the pits and he in turn misses Villoresi. Meanwhile Etancelin leaves the race due to oil leak.

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Lap 47: To the delight of local public Chiron passes Sommer and moves up to 4th!

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Lap 52: Fangio pulls in for refueling without losing his lead and returns to the track with a 30-seconds advantage over Villoresi.

Lap 53: Villoresi, solidly in second place, begins to lose speed due to vibrations in the rear of his car!

Lap 54: Ascari easily catches up with his teammate and takes 2nd place from him!

Lap 55: Claes passes Gerard for 7th.

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Lap 64: Villoresi's heroic race ends up with retirement due to broken rear axle, and thus Chiron moves up to 3rd!

Lap 90: Gerard attacks Claes, regaining 6th place.

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Last lap: Fangio wins a magnificent victory, taking the first "Grand Slam" of his career and catching up with Farina in the overall standings! The second is Ascari, who, despite losing more than a lap to the winner, still obtains a first podium in the championship for himself and for Scuderia Ferrari in the debut race. Meanwhile, the third place, to the delight of local public, takes veteran Louis Chiron, who spent the whole race quite confidently. The remaining points for 4th and 5th places go to Sommer and Prince Bira, who were quite pleased with these results. At the same time, given the massive crash on the first lap, only seven drivers make it to the finish line.

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P.s. This race was a prime example of not only Fangio's amazing racing skills, but also his intuition and personal qualities. After the race, the Argentine took care for three days of his compatriots Gonzalez and Pian, who received burns and injuries during this Grand Prix, and personally delivered them in his car to Italian hospitals.

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Interesting facts:

- Juan-Manuel Fangio's first victory;

- Juan-Manuel Fangio's first pole position;

- Juan-Manuel Fangio's first "Grand Slam";

- Alberto Ascari's first podium;

- Louis Chiron's first podium;

- Scuderia Ferrari's first podium;

- Maserati's first podium;

- Scuderia Ferrari's debut;

- Equipe Gordini's debut.

Driver standings

Alternative GP results

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