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1951 Italian Grand Prix

The sixth round of the 1951 Formula 1 World Championship took place on September 16 in Italy at the famous Monza circuit. The length of the track was 6,3 km, while the drivers had to complete 80 laps. The Italian stage was home for both leading teams of the championship, and the victory here acquired special significance for them.

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        Alfa Romeo again, as in Germany, put up four cars for the race, driven by the main team drivers Fangio, Farina and Bonetto, as well as test driver Sanesi, who did not miss the opportunity to compete in the home Grand Prix. They were opposed by four Ferrari drivers in the same line-up as in Germany: Ascari, Gonzalez, Villoresi and Taruffi. In addition, two more privateers in scarlet cars took part in the Grand Prix: Whitehead at the wheel of last year's Ferrari 125 and Brazilian Chico Landi, who made his debut in the World Championship at the wheel of the new Ferrari 375.

       The BRM team, after one missed stage in Germany, returned to the track in Monza, and Reg Parnell's partner this time was the team's test driver Ken Richardson. In Equipe Gordini, the three drivers remained unchanged: Manzon, Simon and Trintignant.

        Italy also hosted the debut of the OSCA team, founded by Maserati brothers after they left their company. When Maserati refused to participate in the 1951 World Championship, the brothers lured many specialists from their former team and built a racing car based on Maserati with a new 4.5-liter 12-cylinder engine. The team's debut was planned for the beginning of the 1951 season, but was postponed because the car lacked speed. In the Italian Grand Prix, the team intended to make its debut with two drivers: Prince Bira and Franco Rol, but the Siamese prince refused to participate in the Grand Prix at the last moment, and as a result, the team was represented by only one Spanish driver.

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Qualification

         After Ferrari's two consecutive victories Alfa Romeo brought cars with an updated 159M chassis to Italy, and this bore fruit, as the Milan team was again the fastest. Fangio won the pole position with a time of 1'53.2, driving a lap almost five and a half seconds faster than last year. Farina became the second, losing only 0.7 seconds to his partner. All four Ferrari drivers followed them, and Ascari became the fastest again, losing to Fangio for almost 2 seconds.

         But Sanesi was unlucky on the third Alfa Romeo. During refueling, fuel got on the hot parts of the car and burst into flames. The Italian suffered quite serious burns, after which he announced his final retirement from racing. In his place, the team immediately invited Baron de Graffenried, who had already competed for Alfa Romeo in the first race of the season in Switzerland. Baron showed the 9th time, losing to his partner Bonetto and Reg Parnell at BRM.

         The English cars were quite fast again, as the second driver of the team Richardson got into the top ten. But as it turned out, the BRM debutant did not have a racing license, and the organizers immediately excluded him from the Grand Prix. Team leader Raymond Mays initially protested this decision and threatened to withdraw the team from the competition, but having failed, he began to look for a replacement for his driver. Having failed to come to an agreement with Leslie Johnson, the head of BRM was quite desperate, but suddenly the famous German racer of the 1930s Hans von Stuck turned out to be among the audience, who eventually agreed to help the team.

         It is also worth noting the good performance of the drivers on Simca-Gordini, who took places from 11th to 13th. But OSCA did not shine with speed, and Franco Rol managed to show only the 18th result, 20 seconds from the pole position time.

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Race

        Before the start, there are problems with the gearbox on both BRM cars, and as a result, Raymond Mays still has to withdraw the team from the race, but now not of his own free will.

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Start. Alfa Romeo starts well, and Fangio and Farina are the first to enter the first corner. Ascari does not start very well and turns out to be 4th behind his teammate Gonzalez, but the Italian immediately rushes into battle and even before the end of the first lap bypasses two rivals, coming in 2nd place. Landi's transmission breaks down on the first lap, and the Brazilian drops out of the race.

Position after the 1st lap: Fangio, Ascari, Farina, Gonzalez, Bonetto, Villoresi, Taruffi, Graffenried, Trintignant, Manzon.

Lap 2: The compressor fails on Graffenried's Alfa Romeo, and the Swiss has to get off. Whitehead also pulls over to the side of the road, whose engine fails. Simon overtakes Rosier and rises to 10th place, and Claes passes Rol.

Lap 3: Villoresi overtakes Bonetto and becomes 5th.

Lap 4: Ascari passes Fangio and takes the lead of the race! However, the Argentine does not want to give in so easily and hangs on the tail of Ferrari.

Lap 5: Farina's engine starts to smoke, and he drives into the pits, losing 3rd place. After checking the engine, the mechanics discover a serious problem with the oil system, and the world champion has no choice but to leave the race.

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Also, due to a breakdown of the oil pump, Claes drops out of the race, and Swaters drops to last place due to engine overheating.

Lap 7: Chiron overtakes Levegh.

Lap 8: After several laps of pursuit, Fangio catches up with Askari and passes him! Behind Swaters finally comes down due to overheating of the engine.

Lap 10: Levegh's engine is also smoking, and the race is over for him.

Position after 10 laps: Fangio, Ascari, Gonzalez, Villoresi, Bonetto, Taruffi, Trintignant, Manzon, Simon, Rosier.

Lap 12: Trintignant makes a mistake and is passed by Manzon, Simon and Rosier at once.

Lap 14: Fangio gets a puncture and loses the lead! The Argentine pulls into the pits for changing wheels and falls to 5th place, while Ascari again takes the lead.

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Taruffi's tire bursts on the same lap, but he manages to reach the pits and not even lose places after the pit stop.

Lap 16: Bonetto attacks and passes Villoresi, rising to 3rd place.

Lap 18: Fangio also overtakes Villoresi, and the Italian drops to 5th place.

Lap 19: Fangio is rapidly approaching Bonetto and the Italian gives up his position to his teammate without a fight. This is used by Villoresi, who also bypasses the Italian's Alfa Romeo.

Position after 20 laps: Ascari, Gonzalez, Fangio, Villoresi, Bonetto, Taruffi, Manzon, Simon, Rosier, Trintignant.

Lap 24: Due to ignition problems, Chiron, who did not shine with speed in this race, pulls over to the curb.

Lap 26: Villoresi drives into the pits for wheels change and releases Bonetto into 4th place.

Lap 27: Fangio is also heading for a scheduled refueling, and Bonetto is already 3rd.

Lap 29: Bonetto, following the Alfa Romeo leader, also goes to refuel, but in the pits he is ordered to give up the car to Farina. Given that Ferrari is leading the race, Alfa Romeo is using every opportunity to strengthen its position. The world champion goes to the track 4th, but Villoresi, who has already made a pit stop, is rapidly approaching him.

Lap 30: The two Simca-Gordini of Manzon and Trintignant have problems with the engines at the same time, and both Frenchmen have to get off.

Lap 31: Villoresi's chase was a success, and he overtakes Farina, coming in 4th place.

Lap 32: Farina counterattacks and regains his position, but Villoresi clearly has no intention of giving up.

Lap 35: Rosier overtakes Simon and takes 7th place.

Lap 36: Villoresi goes on the attack again and passes the world champion, and Simon counterattacks Rosier and regains 7th position.

Lap 37: Farina responds to Villoresi by overtaking and goes back to 4th place.

Lap 38: Gonzalez pulls in for refueling without losing 2nd place.

Lap 39: Ascari also goes to refuel a lap after his teammate and remains the leader of the race.

Lap 40: Fangio, who was confidently taking 3rd position, drops out of the race due to ignition problems!

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Thus, the last Alfa Romeo remains on the track under the control of the world champion, who comes in 3rd place and rushes in pursuit of two Ferraris. He still concedes 40 seconds to the 2nd place of Gonzalez.

Position after 40 laps: Ascari, Gonzalez, Farina, Villoresi, Taruffi, Simon, Rosier, Giraud-Cabantous, Rol.

Lap 55: Farina, who has been attacking furiously for 15 laps, manages to win back half a minute from Gonzalez, but his fuel is running out, and he is forced to stop in the pits for refueling. During the replacement of one of the wheels, there is a hitch, and as a result, the Italian loses about 2.5 minutes in the pits, after which he again rushes in pursuit of Ferrari.

Lap 64: Farina shows the fastest lap in the race with a time of 1'56.5.

Lap 70: After another series of fast laps at the exit of the Parabolic, the engine on Farina's Alfa Romeo suddenly starts sneezing. The Italian immediately drives into the pits and after an inspection, the mechanics discover that a crack has appeared in the fuel tank and the fuel is almost out. The world champion's car is refueled again and released back onto the track. Farina retains 3rd place, but no longer has a chance to catch up with the leading Ferrari.

Last lap: Ascari, having taken the lead on the 14th lap, calmly brings the race to a victorious finish, winning the second Grand Prix in a row! Gonzalez finishes second 45 seconds behind, bringing Ferrari its first double in Formula 1, obtained on home soil! The third place is shared by Farina and Bonetto, who managed to get the last place on the podium for Alfa Romeo. The remaining places in the points, as in the previous race, are given to Ferrari of Villoresi and Taruffi. Simon on Simca-Gordini finishes in 6th place, ahead of two Talbot-Lago, and the last 13 laps from the winner finishes Rol on OSCA, which can be considered a complete failure.

In the fight for the championship crown, Ascari comes close to Fangio, losing him only 2 points, and Farina finally loses the chance to defend his title. No matter how the championship turns out in the last race in Spain, one thing is clear: Formula 1 will have a new champion!

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Interesting facts:

- the first double of Ferrari;

- Alfa Romeo's 10th pole position;

- Felice Bonetto's first podium.

Driver standings

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Alternative GP results

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