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1952 Belgian Grand Prix

The second round of the 1952 World Championship took place on June 22 in Belgium on the famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit. The length of the track was 14.12 km, while the drivers had to complete 36 laps. The 1952 Belgian Grand Prix also received the honorary title of the Grand Prix of Europe, and, unlike the two previous years, attracted the attention of many European racers.

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      In the interval between the first and second stages of the World Championship, two tragic events occurred, closely related to the world of the Grand Prix. In Monaco, Luigi Fagioli, the bronze prizewinner of the 1950 World Championship, had an accident in a touring car race, as a result of which the Italian received serious internal injuries and died three weeks later. And in Monza, the current world champion Juan Manuel Fangio, driving the new Maserati A6GCM for the first time, lost control, flew off the track and, falling out of the car, seriously injured his neck. Fortunately, the Argentine survived, but this accident, in all likelihood, put an end to his performances this season.

        Meanwhile, Alberto Ascari, who returned to Europe after his unsuccessful performance in the Indy 500 race, was preparing in Belgium for his first start in the current World Championship. Given the superiority of Ferrari, demonstrated by his teammates Giuseppe Farina and Piero Taruffi in the first race of the season in Switzerland, the Italian was determined and counted on much greater success than in America. At the same time, Andre Simon, who replaced Ascari in Switzerland, was transferred to the reserve, and the team from Maranello in Belgium was represented by only three drivers of the main line-up: Ascari, Farina and Taruffi. In addition, two more private Ferrari 500 were brought to the start of the Grand Prix by Frenchman Louis Rosier and local racer, World Championship debutant Charles de Tornaco. And amateur racer Rudi Fischer, who took second place in Switzerland, decided to skip the Grand Prix this time.

       The Equipe Gordini team in Belgium was represented by four drivers: Robert Manzon, Jean Behra, Prince Bira and newcomer Johnny Claes, who replaced Maurice Trintignant. There have also been changes in HWM: Stirling Moss left the team, deciding to join another British team, ERA, and HWM founder George Abecassis decided to focus on team management after his accident in Switzerland and hung his helmet on a nail. At the same time, to help Collins and Macklin, who represented the main line-up of HWM team, George invited local racers Paul Frere and Roger Laurent.

       The Belgian Grand Prix also saw the debut of young Englishman Mike Hawthorn, who went to the start at the wheel of a Cooper T20 car. Two more English drivers Alan Brown and Eric Brandon took part in the Grand Prix on the same cars, for whom the Belgian stage was already the second after the Swiss Grand Prix.

Qualification

      Qualifying again took place with the clear dominance of the team from Maranello, and the pole position was easily won by Alberto Ascari, immediately showing who is the true leader of Ferrari. His teammates Giuseppe Farina and Piero Taruffi took 2nd and 3rd places, losing to Alberto 3 and 9 sec accordingly. Following the scarlet cars, the Gordini drivers, Robert Manzon and Jean Behra, settled down again, who were already getting used to the high places on the starting field. But the sixth was the debutant Hawthorn, who showed an excellent time on his Cooper in the first qualifying. Ken Wharton lost three seconds to him on Frazer-Nash, who has already shone in Switzerland, taking 4th place. The fastest of the HWM drivers this time was Paul Frere, who showed the 8th time and was ahead Alan Brown on another Cooper by 2 seconds. The top ten was closed by Stirling Moss on ERA, who experienced engine problems, but still managed to show a decent result. Meanwhile, Louis Rosier and Charles de Tornaco, who had the same cars as the factory Ferrari drivers, managed to show only the 13th and 17th results. Johnny Claes also couldn't keep up with his teammates Manzon and Behra and took only the 19th position.

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Race

     On the day of the race, the training was held in dry weather, but right before the start, a downpour hit the track! Apparently, the drivers will have a hard time in this race.

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Start. Ascari and Farina manage a good start, and the two Ferraris are the first to enter the first corner, however even better starts Jean Behra, who breaks into 3rd place and immediately begins attacking the two leaders! Incredibly, even before the end of the first lap, the Frenchman, who is spending only his second World Championship race, manages to get ahead of both Ferraris and become the leader of the race!

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The third Ferrari driver Taruffi is doing even worse: the Italian failed the start and fell back to 9th place. Manzon also started unsuccessfully, dropping to 8th place, and Montgomerie-Charrington and Claes, on the contrary, manage to get off to a good start, and they win a lot of positions. In the middle of the first lap, the engine on Moss' ERA jammed, and because of the wheels lock, the Englishman flies off the track, dropping out of the Grand Prix.

Position after the 1st lap: Behra, Ascari, Farina, Hawthorn, Wharton, Frere, Brown, Manzon, Taruffi, Montgomerie-Charrington.

Lap 2: Jean Behra, after leading one lap, gives way to the onslaught of Ascari and Farina and drops to 3rd place. Behind him in 4th place is Mike Hawthorn, who started his debut race perfectly. Taruffi, after a disastrous start, begins to win back positions and passes Frere, Manzon and Brown in one lap, rising to 6th place. Macklin overtakes Montgomerie-Charrington and becomes 10th, and his partner Collins has problems with the drive shaft, forcing the Englishman to enter the pits and leave the race.

Lap 3: Farina can't keep pace with Askari and starts falling behind.

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Meanwhile, Taruffi continues his breakthrough and overtakes Wharton, rising to 5th position. Behind him, Manzon passes Frere and comes out on 7th place, and Prince Bira passes three rivals at once and becomes 13th.

Lap 4: Taruffi wins back another position, overtaking Hawthorn, and becomes 4th.

Lap 5: Championship newcomers Hawthorn and Wharton are in a tight fight, and Ken takes the lead, rising to 5th place.

Lap 6: Taruffi catches up with Behra going third and tries to pass the Frenchman, but Jean does not give in and blocks all attempts to overtake. Meanwhile, Rosier has problems with the transmission, and the Frenchman drives into the pits, leaving the race.

Lap 8: Hawthorn and Wharton continue to fight, and this time Mike manages to get ahead.

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Behind, Macklin has handling problems and misses Montgomerie-Charrington.

Lap 9: Claes attacks and passes Macklin.

Lap 10: Brandon overtakes de Tornaco.

Position after 10 laps: Ascari, Farina, Behra, Taruffi, Hawthorn, Wharton, Manzon, Frere, Brown, Montgomerie-Charrington. Alberto Ascari is driving the fastest on the track and is ahead of Farina by about 25 seconds.

Lap 11: Wharton is twisted in the Stavelot corner, and his Frazer-Nash flies off the track, breaking through the barbed wire fence! Fortunately, the Englishman escaped with only bruises and cuts, but the race is over for him. Meanwhile, Macklin continues to lose ground, and this time Prince Bira passes him.

Lap 12: Macklin makes a mistake and misses three opponents at once.

Lap 14: Taruffi, after 10 laps of unsuccessful attempts to pass Behra, finally finds a gap and overtakes the Frenchman, but after a few turns the Italian makes a mistake and his car spins on the track! Behra tries to get past the out-of-control Ferrari, but gets hit in the back of his Gordini, and both cars finish the race on the roadside. It's a pity, because the Frenchman could get on the podium for the second time in a row!

Meanwhile, debutant Mike Hawthorn, who came out in third place after Taruffi's and Behra's retirements, is forced to turn into the pits for refueling, as his Cooper began to lose fuel. Thus, Behra's teammate Manzon takes the third place.

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Lap 15: De Tornaco passes Laurent and becomes 11th.

Lap 16: Ignition misfire begins in the engine of Montgomerie-Charrington's Aston, and the Englishman loses speed, skipping rivals one by one. At the end of the lap, Robin drives into the pits and leaves the race.

Lap 20: Macklin overtakes Laurent and rises to 11th place.

Position after 20 laps: Ascari, Farina, Manzon, Hawthorn, Frere, Brown, Claes, Bira, Brandon, de Tornaco.

Lap 21: De Tornaco passes Brandon and becomes 9th.

Lap 22: Prince Bira misses De Tornaco and Brandon.

Lap 32: De Tornaco overtakes Claes and rises to 7th position.

Last lap: Alberto Ascari, after a flawless race, crosses the finish line first and wins his first Grand Prix this season! Farina finishes second, who was clearly slower than Ascari today and lost almost 2 minutes to his teammate. The third place goes to Manzon, and the Frenchman does not hide his joy, having got on the podium for the first time in the World Championship. The fourth, despite two unplanned pit stops, is Hawthorn, who demonstrated amazing skill in his debut race! The last two points for fifth place are awarded to local racer Paul Frere, who became the best HWM driver in this race.

Ascari wins the 1952 Belgian Grand Prix
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Interesting facts:

- Robert Manzon's first podium;

- Mike Hawthorn's debut and first points;

- Paul Frere's debut and first points;

- Jean Behra's first leading in Grand Prix;

- the first points for HWM team.

Driver standings

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Alternative GP results

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