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1951 Swiss Grand Prix

The first round of the 1951 Formula-1 World Championship took place on May 27 in Switzerland at the Bremgarten track. The length of the track was 7.28 km, while the drivers had to complete 42 laps. The circuit was famous for its uneven surface and was a serious test for drivers and their cars.


The opening of the Formula-1 season, just like a year ago, attracted a lot of public attention, and more than 170 thousand people came to watch the Grand Prix. Unlike last season, Alfa Romeo now had a worthy competitor in the face of Scuderia Ferrari, and the audience was looking forward to an interesting fight between the two Italian teams.

Alfa Romeo, like a year ago at Silverstone, decided to strengthen the team with a local driver, and this time the choice fell on Baron de Graffenried, who gladly jumped at the opportunity to switch from last year's Maserati to the new Alfa Romeo 159. His place in the Enrico Plate team was taken by American Harry Schell, who became Louis Chiron's teammate.

Meanwhile, Ferrari was at a disadvantage even before the start of the Grand Prix, as team leader Alberto Ascari had suffered burns to his arm in the Formula-2 race in Genoa and could not perform at full strength. At the same time, in addition to main line-up of Ascari, Villoresi and Taruffi, Scuderia here was represented by a British driver Peter Whitehead who drove last year's Ferrari 125. Another Ferrari that came to the start of the Swiss Grand Prix was a Ferrari 212 sports car which belonged to local driver Rudy Fischer.

The team of Amadeus Gordini, who planned to exhibit their cars in the first race of the season, still refused to participate in the Grand Prix at the last moment. Since the Talbot factory team left Formula 1 at the end of last season, the honor of France on Swiss soil was represented by the team's former drivers on their own Talbot-Lagos.

The British were represented in the Swiss Grand Prix by the HWM team, which made here their debut in the World Championship. Their own-made cars, originally designed for Formula-2 racing, were equipped with four-cylinder non-compressor Alta engines with power of only 135 hp, however, this didn't bother the founder and first driver of the team, George Abecassis, in any way, who decided to take a chance and try his hand at Formula-1. Meanwhile, Abecassis' only teammate here was the rising star of British motorsport, 22-year-old Stirling Moss.

Besides, it was in this Grand Prix, that a German car took part for the first time in the history of the World Championship. Until 1951, German manufacturers were not allowed to participate in any races as punishment for the crimes of Nazi Germany in World War II. In 1951, the ban was lifted and a Veritas Meteor car, driven by local driver Peter Hirt, became the first German car to participate in Formula-1.


The first qualifying of the season showed that Alfa Romeo is still faster than everyone else. Pole position won Fangio with a time of 2'35.9, beating last year's pole position by more than 6 seconds. The second was his teammate and current world champion Farina, almost 2 seconds behind the Argentine. Sanesi and Graffenried also had a good time, taking 4th and 5th places. Villoresi turned out to be the fastest of the Ferrari team, wedged between the Alfa Romeo drivers and 3.4 seconds behind the pole position time. Taruffi showed the 6th time, and Ascari, suffering from pain in his burned arm, showed only the 7th. The best of the representatives of Talbot-Lago turned out to be Rosier, who showed the 8th time, but he was already almost 17 seconds behind Fangio. The remaining places in the top ten went to Whitehead and Fischer, who performed in private Ferrari. It is also worth noting the speed of Stirling Moss, who was able to show the 14th time in his Formula 2 car, and the disastrous performance of Enrico Plate's team, the best of which lagged behind the pole position time by 26.5 seconds.

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On the day of the race, a heavy downpour began, and thus the assembled spectators witnessed the first rainy race in the history of Formula 1! The rain was so heavy that Alfa Romeo and Ferrari decided to install splashers on their cars to facilitate the visibility of their drivers. At the same time, Alfa Romeo drivers chose different strategies for the race. Farina decided to go the whole distance without refueling and therefore installed three additional fuel tanks on his car. Fangio and Graffenried planned to refuel once, and Sanesi – 2 times. Due to the weather conditions, the organizers allowed the drivers to drive a trial lap, after which all Alfa Romeos fully refueled their fuel tanks.

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Start. Fangio makes a great start and takes the lead in the race. Farina, despite the heavy car, was able to keep 2nd place, and Sanesi overtook Villoresi and became 3rd. Taruffi and Rosier failed the start and fell back to 9th and 14th places, respectively, but Fischer, who rose to 7th place, and Chiron, who overtook a third of the peleton and became 12th, started well. The first race for the German car ended already at the start: the fuel pump failed on Hirt's Veritas Meteor.

Position after the 1st lap: Fangio, Farina, Sanesi, Villoresi, Graffenried, Ascari, Fischer, Whitehead, Taruffi, Etancelin.

Lap 2: Fangio in a lighter car starts to pull away from Farina.

Lap 3: Taruffi, after a bad start, begins to break through to the top, he overtakes Whitehead and comes in 8th place. Meanwhile Claes overtakes Giraud-Cabantous.

Lap 5: Taruffi bypasses Fischer and becomes 7th, and Rosier overtakes Louveau and comes out in 13th place.

Lap 6: Villoresi overtakes Sanesi and becomes 3rd. Moss runs an excellent race, bypasses Etancelin and rises to 10th place.

Lap 7: Chiron, after failing in qualification, is rehabilitated in the race. He passes the Etancelin and becomes the 11th.

Lap 8: Chiron overtakes Moss and Whitehead on one lap and is already in 9th place. Claes bypasses Mairesse.

Lap 9: Ascari, forced to drive half-heartedly, waves to Taruffi and lets him pass. Giraud-Cabantous passes Mairesse.

Lap 10: Moss continues to surprise. This time he leaves Ferrari driver Whitehead behind.

Position after 10 laps: Fangio, Farina, Villoresi, Sanesi, Graffenried, Taruffi, Ascari, Fischer, Chiron, Moss.

Lap 11: Gonzales, spending a very nondescript race, goes down due to an oil pump failure.

Lap 13: Villoresi loses control in heavy rain, goes off the track and crashes into a bump. Fortunately, he gets out of the car unharmed. Sanesi moves to 3rd place, and Taruffi becomes 4th, who managed to overtake Graffenried on the same lap. Rosier passes Etancelin and becomes 11th.

Lap 14: Sanesi can't hold back Taruffi and drops back to 4th place. The Italian is just having a great debut race for Ferrari, not letting Alfa Romeo relax. Meanwhile, Chiron passes Fischer's Ferrari and becomes the 7th.

Lap 15: Giraud-Cabantous goes down due to ignition problems.

Lap 16: Whitehead overtakes Moss and Louveau passes Etancelin.

Position after 20 laps: Fangio, Farina, Taruffi, Sanesi, Graffenried, Ascari, Chiron, Fischer, Whitehead, Moss.

Lap 21: Whitehead overtakes Fischer, Schell passes Abecassis.

Lap 22: Sanesi is the first of Alfa Romeo drivers to stop for refueling and lets Graffenried and Ascari through. Whitehead manages to overtake Chiron.

Lap 23: Sanesi passes Askari and rises to 5th place.

Lap 24: Race leader Fangio drives into the pits to refuel, having a 40-second advantage over Farina. He is served quickly, but he still misses the Italian, who chose a non-stop strategy. The Argentine returns into the track in 10 seconds behind and immediately rushes in pursuit. Whitehead and Chiron also make pit stops on this lap. Abecassis is coming down due to magneto's failure.

Lap 25: Sanesi passes his teammate Graffenried and returns to 4th place. Whitehead overtakes Moss, whom he missed during the pit stop.

Lap 26: Whitehead passes Fischer and rises to 7th place.

Lap 28: Moss also passes Fischer and becomes 8th.

Lap 29: It took Fangio only 5 laps to catch up Farina. The world champion could not resist the onslaught of his teammate for a long time and lets him through.


On the same lap, Chiron overtakes Louveau.

Lap 30: Fangio shows the fastest lap in the race and easily pulls away from Farina. Chiron overtakes Fischer and Rosier on one lap.

Position after 30 laps: Fangio, Farina, Taruffi, Sanesi, Graffenried, Ascari, Whitehead, Moss, Chiron, Rosier.

Lap 31: Louveau makes a mistake on a slippery track, his car goes off the track and flips over. The Frenchman was thrown out of the car, and he breaks his leg very seriously. Like a year ago in the situation with Eugene Martin, this accident puts an end to the driver's career.

Lap 33: Fangio flies around the track, setting the fastest lap of the race several times in a row. Meanwhile, Farina has problems with handling, and Taruffi, who is driving behind, begins to close the gap.

Lap 35: Whitehead passes Ascari and rises to 6th place. The Italian, suffering from pain in his arm, is now trying to simply complete this race.

Lap 37: Whitehead makes a mistake in the same place as Louveau, but he is more lucky, and his car does not roll over, but flies into the thicket. As a result, Peter got off with cuts and bruises on his face, and the race is over for him. Ascari returns to 6th place.

Lap 38: Taruffi is rapidly catching up with Farina. Etancelin passes Fischer.

Lap 41: Taruffi caught up with Farina and passes him without much struggle! But Farina's 3rd place is no longer in danger.

Last lap: Fangio, having had a great race in the most difficult conditions, wins the first Grand Prix of the season and becomes the leader of the championship! The second is Ferrari's debutant Taruffi, who demonstrated his own skill and good Ferrari speed in the rain. Farina, having finished third, was disappointed, because he expected at least second place, but nevertheless the points he received would not be superfluous for him in the fight for the title. The 4th and 5th places went to Alfa Romeo drivers Sanesi and Graffenried, who earned their first points in Formula 1. The Swiss spent the race calmly and confidently and probably regretted that now he would have to part with a seat at the wheel of the Alfetta. The exhausted Ascari came sixth, and for him it was a race to forget. The debutant Stirling Moss was in 7th place, but on the last lap he runs out of fuel and the car stalls a hundred meters from the finish line! The Englishman does not give up, jumps out of the car and pushes his car to the checkered flag, but Chiron manages to pass him. Nevertheless, the Englishman had an excellent race, and the audience greeted him with applause. The best of the Talbot-Lago drivers was Louis Rosier, who finished in 9th place and was 3 laps behind the winner.

Fangio wins the 1951 Swiss Grand Prix
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Interesting facts:

- Piero Taruffi's first podium;

- Consalvo Sanesi's first points;

- Tulo de Graffenried's first points;

- Stirling Moss' debut;

- HWM team's debut.

Driver standings

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Alternative GP results

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