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1951 Spanish Grand Prix

The seventh and last round of the 1951 Formula 1 World Championship took place on October 28 in Spain at the Pedralbes circuit. The length of the track was 6,3 km, while the drivers had to complete 70 laps. Spain hosted the World Championship for the first time, but the track was already familiar to many drivers, since it had previously hosted the Penya-Rhin Grand Prix.


By the last race of the season, there were only two contenders for the title: Juan Manuel Fangio and Alberto Ascari, who drove for the opposing Italian teams Alfa Romeo and Ferrari. Given that the two contenders were separated by only 2 points, to win the championship, both the Argentine and the Italian needed to get ahead of their opponent on the track, but Ascari still had to finish at least in 2nd place. Considering the stakes, for the last race of the championship, both leading teams again fielded four drivers in the same line-up as in Italy.

The BRM team, which originally planned to participate in the final race of the season, decided to skip the Spanish stage due to unresolved problems with the reliability of cars that prevented the team from performing at the previous round. At the same time, the Scuderia Milano team reappeared at the last Grand Prix of the season with local drivers Chico Godia and Juan Jover making their World Championship debuts. Also, the Siamese Prince Bira took part in the Grand Prix, who brought to the start a Maserati car with OSCA engine.


In qualifying, all attention was focused on the two contenders for the title. Ascari, who was already familiar with this track and won last year's Penya-Rhin Grand Prix, was the fastest and easily won pole position. Fangio, who was on this track for the first time, was noticeably slower and lost 1.7 seconds to the Italian. They were staggered by their Ferrari and Alfa Romeo teammates, and thus the Italian teams took the first 8 places at the start. After them, three Simca-Gordini were already habitually located, which were again ahead of Talbot-Lagos. The Maseratis of the Scuderia Milano team was inferior in speed to the French cars and took only 17th and 18th places at the start. Prince Bira performed even worse in his Maserati-OSCA hybrid, which took the penultimate place. And the slowest was Louis Rosier, whose Talbot-Lago constantly had mechanical problems.

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On the day of the race, 250 thousand spectators came to watch the final fight for the title. To the disappointment of local fans, Spanish driver Juan Jover was unable to get to the start due to serious engine problems. To reduce the load on the gearbox, Ferrari decided to put their cars in smaller diameter tires and drive without pit stops, and Alfa Romeo planned two stops in the race.


Start. Ascari and Gonzalez make a great start and break into the lead, but the Argentine makes a mistake on the first lap and rolls back to 6th place. Fangio does not start well and releases his teammate Farina ahead, but Bonetto manages a good start and he moves from 8th to 4th place. Also, the local audience was pleased with Godia, who broke through to the 12th place.

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

Lap 2: Villoresi passes Bonetto and becomes 4th, and Taruffi overtakes Graffenried, rising to 7th position. Rosier, having got rid of the problems that plagued him in qualifying, shows a good pace in the race and passes Etancelin and Giraud-Cabantous at once. Prince Bira, who did not shine with speed, was forced to get off at the very beginning of the race with a failed engine.

Lap 3: Fangio gets ahead of Farina and comes in 2nd place behind Ascari.


Bonetto counterattacks Villoresi and regains 4th place. Manzon makes a mistake and misses Chiron, Godia and Trintignant at once, and Claes overtakes Giraud-Cabantous.

Lap 4: After a few laps, it becomes clear that the tires of a fully fueled Ferraris are not working properly and subjected to severe wear. This is used by Fangio, who easily passes the Ascari and begins to quickly break away from him. Meanwhile, Chiron has an ignition malfunction, and he drops out of the race. Trintignant overtakes Godia and rises to 10th place, and Claes performs a tight fight with Etancelin and passes the Frenchman.

Lap 5: Villoresi attacks Bonetto and takes 4th place, while Taruffi gives way under the onslaught of Graffenried. Etancelin and Claes continue to fight and the Frenchman comes forward.

Lap 6: Gonzalez also passes Bonetto after Villoresi and rises to the 5th position, and Taruffi's tires are already falling into disrepair and he drives into the pits to change wheels. Claes attacks Etancelin again and outruns him.

Lap 7: Villoresi also has rapidly degraded tires, and he misses Gonzalez and Bonetto. Etancelin makes a mistake and is passed by Grignard and Giraud-Cabantous.

Lap 8: Villoresi drives into the pits for new tires and misses Graffenried. Manzon passes Godia, and Giraud-Cabantous knocks down a stray dog running out on the track, which breaks his radiator, after which the Frenchman is forced to get off.

Lap 9: Simon makes a small mistake and his teammates Trintignant and Manzon pass him.

Lap 10: Ascari also turns into the pits to replace the wheels and returns to the track in 6th place, one minute from Fangio. It seems that Ferrari miscalculated the choice of tires and now Ascari's chances for the title are melting like smoke. Nevertheless, the Italian does not give up and rushes in pursuit of rivals. Behind Etancelin passes Grignard.

Position after 10 laps: Fangio, Farina, Gonzalez, Bonetto, Graffenried, Ascari, Villoresi, Taruffi, Trintignant, Manzon.

Lap 13: Ascari flies along the track and passes two Alfa Romeos of Bonetto and Graffenried on one lap.


Also Simon overtakes Manzon and comes in 10th place.

Lap 14: Rosier overtakes Godia.

Lap 15: Gonzalez is the last of the Ferraris to change wheels and leaves the pits in 7th place. Ascari moves to the 3rd place, continuing the pursuit of the leaders.

Lap 16: Graffenried bypasses Bonetto and becomes 4th. Etancelin overtakes Claes.

Lap 17: Ascari, trying to catch up with the leaders, enters one of the turns too quickly and flies off the track. The Italian pulls back and at the end of the lap drives into the pits to check the car. Fortunately, the Ferrari remained unharmed, but Ascari loses a lot of time and returns the track only in 6th place. Perhaps this mistake finally deprived him of his chances for the title. Behind Godia passes Etancelin and Claes.

Lap 18: Graffenried, who has just come out in 3rd place, is forced to enter the pits due to engine overheating. Mechanics detect a leak in the radiator, top up the water and release it back to the track on the 8th place. Meanwhile, Manzon overtakes Simon and takes 10th place.

Lap 20: Gonzalez overtakes Villoresi and becomes 4th. Trintignant has engine problems, he drives into the pits for a long stop and leaves in last place.

Position after 20 laps: Fangio, Farina, Bonetto, Gonzalez, Villoresi, Ascari, Taruffi, Graffenried, Manzon, Simon.

Lap 21: Gonzalez overtakes Bonetto and takes 3rd place. Simon and Rosier pass Manzon.

Lap 24: Grignard leaves the race due to engine overheating.

Lap 25: Bonetto pulls into the first scheduled pit stop and lets Villoresi through for 4th place.

Lap 26: The engine on Trintignant's car finally fails, and the Frenchman drops out of the race.

Lap 28: Ascari drives back into the pits for a tire change and lets through Taruffi. Also, Farina stops in the boxes, who makes the first refueling without losing 2nd place.

Lap 29: Fangio also heads to the pits for refueling and drives back to the track, maintaining the lead.

Position after 30 laps: Fangio, Farina, Gonzalez, Villoresi, Bonetto, Taruffi, Ascari, Graffenried, Simon, Rosier.

Lap 31: Taruffi's rear axle breaks in the second corner and the wheel flies away from the Ferrari! The out-of-control car almost takes Bonetto's Alfa Romeo off the track, but the Italian manages to dodge. Taruffi's car stops on the side of the road and the race is over for him.

Lap 32: Ascari passes Bonetto and rises to 5th place.

Lap 33: Simon drives into the pits and drops to 9th place, and Manzon starts having engine problems and he misses Etancelin.

Lap 35: Manzon misses Claes.

Lap 37: There are ignition interruptions on Villoresi's Ferrari, and the Italian misses Ascari and Bonetto. Claes makes a mistake in one of the turns, knocks down a couple of bales of straw and then drives into the pits to retire.

Lap 39: Villoresi misses Graffenried.

Lap 41: Graffenried drives into the pits again for water refilling.

Lap 49: Villoresi retires due to ignition problems, and on Simon's Simca-Gordini the engine fails and the Frenchman drops out of the race.

Lap 55: Farina pulls in for the second refueling and lets Gonzalez through for 2nd place.

Last lap: Fangio, after a flawless race, crosses the finish line first and becomes the new world champion! Gonzalez finishes second, managing to keep the tires in this race better than his teammates. The last place on the podium goes to last year's champion Farina, for whom the race was quite eventless. The second contender for the title Ascari finishes only 4th, two laps from the winner, and this is clearly not the result he expected in the race. Bonetto gets the last two points for 5th place, thanks to which "Pirate" takes 7th place in the overall standings.

Fangio wins the 1951 Spanish Grand Prix
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Interesting facts:

- Alfa Romeo's 10th win.

Driver standings

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Alternative GP results

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