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1951 British Grand Prix

The fourth round of the 1951 Formula 1 World Championship took place on July 14 in Great Britain at the Silverstone circuit. The length of the track was 4,649 km, while the drivers had to complete 90 laps.


      The previous race in France showed that Ferrari is capable of defeating Alfa Romeo, so the management of the Milan team decided to put four cars in each race until the end of the season in order to be able to provide spare cars to Farina and Fangio. Since Luigi Fagioli refused to play the role of a shell carrier, Felice Bonetto, nicknamed "The Pirate", who performed well last season at the wheel of a Maserati, took his place in the team.

        Ferrari also decided to switch to the concept of four drivers, but since Taruffi was still ill, only three came to the start of the British Grand Prix: Ascari, Villoresi and Gonzalez. The latter, having joined the team in France and performed well in the race, managed to impress the Commendatore and signed a contract with Ferrari until the end of the season. Another Ferrari 375 was put up for the start by Tony Vanderwell, but this time Peter Whitehead took the place at the wheel, replacing Reg Parnell.

        Parnell himself appeared in the UK as part of the long-awaited BRM team. This team, which was created as a truly British national project, wanted to make its debut in the World Championship last year, but since the developed BRM P15 car was not yet brought to mind, the debut had to be postponed to 1951. This car was notable for its 1.5-liter 16-cylinder compressor engine, which had no analogues in Formula 1 and was not inferior in power to Alfa Romeo and Ferrari engines. However, head of the team Raymond Mays and chief designer Peter Berthon believed that the debut should be postponed to an even later date, but under pressure from the British public, who were eager to see the British team in the national Grand Prix, they gave up. The second driver of the team was Peter Walker.


       The rest of the places on the starting field were taken by local drivers in Maserati, ERA and Alta cars. The Equipe Gordini team decided to skip the Grand Prix, so only Louis Rosier and his team represented the French on British soil.


       The British Grand Prix turned out to be full of surprises, and the first one took place already in qualifying, as Alfa Romeo lost pole position for the first time in the history of Formula 1. The driver who turned out to be faster than Alfettas was the Ferrari driver, but to the surprise of many, it was not Ascari, but the rookie Gonzalez, who was spending only the second race for the team from Maranello. The Argentine drove his best lap in 1'43.4, improving the time of last year's pole position by more than 7 seconds. Fangio and Farina were placed in second and third places, losing to Gonzales by 1 sec and 1.6 sec accordingly. They were followed by two more Ferraris of Ascari and Villoresi, who lost to Alfa Romeo quite a bit, once again confirming that the times of unconditional leadership of Milan team were in the past. Sanesi took 6th place, but he lost the pole position time for almost 7 seconds. Alfa Romeo newcomer Bonetto was 7th, and Peter Whitehead on a private Ferrari showed a good 8th time. The best of the rest was Rosier at Talbot-Lago, and Englishman Bob Gerard was also in the top ten at ERA. To the disappointment of local fans, the BRM management decided to participate in the Grand Prix at the last moment, so the team's drivers missed qualifying and were forced to start from the last positions.



       Before the start, the organizers of the Grand Prix warned the drivers and teams about the inadmissibility of changing cars during the race, since the use of such tactics introduced confusion and greatly undermined spectator interest. For refusal to comply with this requirement, the organizers threatened to annul the result of both drivers. Thus, in this race, the leaders of Alfa Romeo and Ferrari could no longer rely on the help of their teammates.


Start. "Pirate" Felice Bonetto rushes from his 7th position into the thick of the cars in front of him and breaks out of it as the leader! Fangio doesn't start very well and falls back to 5th place. Both BRMs, to the delight of the local public, make a great start and from the last row make their way to 10th and 11th place.

Position after the 1st lap: Bonetto, Gonzalez, Farina, Ascari, Fangio, Villoresi, Sanesi, Whitehead, Shawe-Taylor, Parnell.

Lap 2: Bonetto, after leading only one lap, succumbs to the onslaught of Gonzalez and drops to 2nd place.


Ascari also wins back one position, overtaking Farina. Parnell passes Shawe-Taylor and becomes 9th, and Walker on the second BRM turns around in the Becketts turn, dropping to 15th place.

Lap 3: Villoresi attacks and passes Fangio, pushing the Argentine back to 6th place. Walker begins to regain lost positions, overtaking Chiron and Hamilton.

Lap 4: After an unsuccessful start to the race, Fangio gives a phenomenal lap, overtaking Villoresi, Farina, Ascari and Bonetto at once! Thus, the Argentine takes 2nd place, behind Gonzales, and immediately rushes in pursuit of him.


Farina, meanwhile, lets through Villoresi and drops to 6th place. Walker continues to break through to the top and overtakes Gerard.

Lap 5: Farina passes two Ferrari of Ascari and Villoresi on one lap and comes out in 4th place. Hamilton overtakes Chiron, who does not shine in this race.

Lap 7: Farina and Ascari catch up and pass Bonetto, swapping places at the same time. Hamilton passes Gerard.

Lap 8: Villoresi also passes Bonetto, and thus, after a dashing start, the "Pirate" surrendered all the conquered positions. Walker passes Shawe-Taylor and Rosier on this lap and comes out in 10th place, behind his teammate.

Lap 9: Bonetto counterattacks Villoresi and passes him, rising to 5th place.

Lap 10: Fangio, having caught up with his friend and compatriot Gonzalez, attacks and passes him, becoming the leader of the race! In the middle of the peleton, Parnell holds a strong debut race for BRM, having already reached 8th place and leaving Whitehead's Ferrari behind.


Position after 10 laps: Fangio, Gonzalez, Ascari, Farina, Bonetto, Villoresi, Sanesi, Parnell, Whitehead, Walker.

Lap 11: Fangio tries to break away from Gonzalez, but to no avail: the scarlet Ferrari follows him on his heels.


Lap 15: When trying to overtake Bonetto in the Copse corner, Villoresi's Ferrari turns across the track. Luigi continues the race, but Sanesi manages to slip past him.

Lap 16: Ascari and Farina are fighting fiercely for 3rd place, and the world champion manages to get ahead.

Lap 24: Ascari and Farina continue to fight, and this time the Ferrari driver gets ahead.


Also, the first retirement was recorded in the race: the radiator was pierced on James' Maserati.

Lap 25: Farina is not going to concede and overtakes Ascari again.

Lap 26: Villoresi, who missed Sanesi during his U-turn, catches up and passes him.

Lap 27: Sanesi does not give up, counterattacks Villoresi and regains 6th place.

Lap 28: Сhiron has problems with the brakes, he misses Murray.

Lap 29: Villoresi overtakes Sanesi again and this time does not give him a chance to win back. Bonetto drives into the pits for the first refueling and misses not only them, but also Parnell on the BRM.

Lap 30: Bonetto quickly catches up and passes Parnell, coming out in 7th place.

Position after 30 laps: Fangio, Gonzalez, Farina, Ascari, Villoresi, Sanesi, Bonetto, Parnell, Whitehead, Walker.

Lap 32: Rosier overtakes Shawe-Taylor and becomes 11th.

Lap 35: Gerard passes Hamilton.

Lap 37: Murray also passes Hamilton, and Claes overtakes Chiron.

Lap 38: Farina drives a lap in 1'44.0, showing the fastest lap in the race. Whitehead pulls in to refuel and lets Walker, Rosier, and Shawe-Taylor through.

Lap 39: Fangio has been doing his best to break away from Gonzalez for almost 30 laps, but his young protege is always on his tail and even after driving to the curb in Becketts manages to close the gap. On lap 39, Gonzalez attacks Fangio and becomes the race leader again!

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Lap 41: In the middle of the race, it's time for Alfa Romeo to refuel. Sanesi is the first to enter the pits, and he has the same problem as Fangio in France: the left rear wheel is jammed. Having lost a lot of time, Consalvo goes to the track in 11th place.

Lap 42: Chiron drops out of the race due to brakes failure.

Lap 43: Walker makes a mistake and misses Rosier and Shawe-Taylor.

Lap 44: Walker and Sanesi pass Shawe-Taylor.

Lap 46: Farina pulls in for refueling and misses Ascari, dropping to 4th place. Sanesi overtakes Walker, and Murray drops out of the race with a failed engine.

Lap 47: Walker counterattacks Sanesi and passes him. Fotheringham-Parker withdraws from the race due to an oil leak.

Lap 48: Fangio is almost out of fuel, and thanks to a lighter car, he manages to catch up and overtake Gonzalez again! But this does not play any role, because at the end of the lap, the Argentine stops for refueling and again releases his compatriot forward. Meanwhile, Rosier passes Sanesi and Walker, who switch places again.

Lap 53: Thanks to a more economical engine, Ferraris have the opportunity to stop for refueling later than Alfa Romeo. Villoresi is the first from Ferrari to go to the pits, releasing Bonetto ahead and dropping to 6th place.

Lap 54: The fight between Sanesi and Walker continues, and this time the BRM driver comes forward.

Lap 55: Ascari also goes to refuel and gives 3rd place to Farina. Immediately after leaving the pits, the Ferrari driver starts having problems with the gearbox. Shawe-Taylor overtakes Rosier.

Lap 57: Ascari's gearbox fails completely, the Italian drives into the pits and leaves the race. Bonetto comes out in 4th place, and behind Rosier passes Whitehead.

Lap 58: Bonetto pulls in for the second refueling and drops to 5th place, missing Villoresi.

Lap 60: Sanesi overtakes Walker again.

Position after 60 laps: Gonzalez, Fangio, Farina, Villoresi, Bonetto, Parnell, Sanesi, Walker, Shawe-Taylor, Whitehead.

Lap 62: Gonzalez pulls in for refueling, having an advantage of more than a minute over Fangio. In the boxes, the Argentine generously offers Ascari to take a seat in his car, but the Italian shakes his head and waves to him: come on, fly to victory! The Argentine leaves the pits without losing the lead.

Lap 76: Farina leaves race with a clutch failure and loses 3rd place.


Last lap: Gonzalez crosses the finish line first and wins the British Grand Prix, breaking Alfa Romeo's winning series and bringing Ferrari its first Formula 1 victory! The second, in 50 seconds behind, Fangio finishes, and he is not very upset, rejoicing at the success of his friend and the fact that he has consolidated leadership in the championship. Villoresi, thanks to the retirements of rivals, gets on the podium for the third time in a row and takes 3rd place in the championship. Felice Bonetto becomes the fourth, hitting the points for the second time in his career. Fifth, to the delight of the local public, comes Parnell, bringing BRM points in the debut race. The last point for the best lap goes to Farina, who still manages to keep second place in the championship.

Gonzalez wins the 1951 British Grand Prix

P.S. After the first victory of his team, Enzo Ferrari, who laid the foundation for Alfa Romeo's success, uttered the famous phrase: "There were tears in my eyes. On the one hand, I was happy, but on the other, there was a feeling that I had killed my own mother."

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Interesting facts:

- Jose-Froilan Gonzalez's first victory;

- Ferrari's first victory;

- Jose-Froilan Gonzalez's first pole position;

- Ferrari's first pole position;

- Felice Bonetto's first leading the race;

- the debut and first points of the BRM team.

Driver standings

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Alternative GP results

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