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1952 French Grand Prix

The third round of the 1952 World Championship took place on July 6 in France at the Essarts circuit in Rouen, which hosted the World Championship for the first time. Earlier in 1950 and 1951, the French stage was held in Reims, but the Rouen circuit was more modern, had separated pits and a large main grandstand. Its only drawback was its remoteness from the major cities of France, which affected the attendance of the Grand Prix, which mostly only locals decided to visit. The length of the track was 5.1 km, while the drivers had to complete 77 laps.

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      Scuderia Ferrari in the French Grand Prix was represented by the same three drivers as at the previous stage in Belgium: Alberto Ascari, Nino Farina and Piero Taruffi. Also at the start of the French stage were drivers on private Ferraris: Louis Rosier and Rudy Fischer driving Ferrari 500 and Franco Comotti and Piero Carini on outdated Ferrari 166F2. At the same time, engine on Rudy Fischer's car failed during training, and he had to switch to a Ferrari 212 sports car.

       Amadeus Gordini's team became the only French team to take part in the national Grand Prix, and given the two podiums at the previous stages and Behra's victory in the non-championship Grand Prix of Marne, the public had high hopes for the team. At the same time, Equipe Gordini was again represented by four drivers, but this time the partner of Behra, Manzon and Prince Bira was Maurice Trintignant, who missed the first two stages of the World Championship.

      The British HWM team this time was represented by three drivers: the already familiar Collins and Macklin, as well as the local driver Yves Giraud-Cabantous hired for one race. Two more British cars, Cooper and Alta, were brought to the start by Mike Hawthorn, who impressed everyone with his debut at the last stage in Belgium, and the winner of last year's "24 Hours of Le Mans" race, Peter Whitehead. Also, after one missed stage, the return of the Enrico Plate team took place with unchanged drivers Tulo de Graffenried and Harry Schell at the wheel of the old Maserati 4CLT. Besides, the French Grand Prix was the debut for the new Maserati A6GCM car, driven by French veteran Philippe Etancelin



      Despite the expectations of the French public, the Gordini were not as fast as the Ferrari, and the scarlet cars again took the first three places on the starting grid. At the same time, team leader Alberto Ascari was again the fastest, ahead of Farina by 1.4 sec., and Taruffi by 2.3 sec. Nevertheless, the French cars turned out to be the best of the rest and took the next four places on the starting field, and the fastest of the Gordini this time was Jean Behra, who lost the pole position time by 4.5 seconds. Peter Collins became the best of HWM, showing a good 8th time, and his new teammate Giraud-Cabantous took 10th place. Louis Rosier, who finally managed to get into the top ten on his Ferrari 500, cut in between the HWM drivers, although he lost to Ascari on the same car for more than 12 seconds. The losers of qualifying were Mike Hawthorn, who, due to problems with the car, took only 15th place, as well as Philippe Etancelin, who failed to realize the potential of the new Maserati and showed only the 18th result.

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Start. Ascari and Farina manage to get off to a good start, and they become the leaders of the race. Taruffi again, as in Belgium, starts poorly and misses Manzon and Behra, to the delight of the local public. Rosier also unsuccessfully took the start, losing positions one after another and falls to 15th place.

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Position after the 1st lap: Ascari, Farina, Manzon, Behra, Taruffi, Bira, Collins, Trintignant, Schell, Giraud-Cabantous.

Lap 2: Trintignant passes Collins and takes 7th place, and Hawthorn overtakes three rivals on one lap and becomes 9th. Harry Schell begins to have problems with the gearbox, and the American misses his rivals one by one.

Lap 3: Manzon and Behra, in front of their compatriots, are desperately trying to keep up with Ferrari, but to no avail. Moreover, Taruffi catches up with Jean and starts to put pressure on him.


The Frenchman tries to get all he can out of the car, but in the end he makes a mistake in one of the turns and flies into a ditch! This situation is reminiscent of the previous race in Belgium, but this time the drivers have switched places. However, Jean manages to get back to the track, but the car was damaged, and at the end of the lap, Behra turns into the pits, losing more than 10 minutes there and any chance of a decent result. Meanwhile, Trintignant on another Gordini bypasses his teammate Prince Bira and comes out on 5th place, and Macklin manages to overtake Giraud-Cabantous, and he becomes 9th. Harry Schell continues to struggle with the gearbox and misses two more rivals, and Piero Carini goes down due to engine failure.

Lap 4: Ascari drives the fastest on the track and starts to break away from Farina, who is second.


Piero Taruffi in the third Ferrari overtakes Manzon, and now all three Ferraris are leading the race! Meanwhile, engine on Prince Bira's Gordini has ignition misfire, and the prince drives into the pits to replace the spark plugs, dropping to the last place. Harry Schell lets his partner Graffenried through.

Lap 8: Macklin overtakes Hawthorn and comes out in 7th place, and Schell finally drops out of the race due to gearbox problems.

Lap 10: Graffenried passes Rosier and becomes 11th.

Position after 10 laps: Ascari, Farina, Taruffi, Manzon, Trintignant, Collins, Macklin, Hawthorn, Giraud-Cabantous, Whitehead.

Lap 12: Etancelin overtakes Fischer and rises to 13th place.

Lap 15: Graffenried passes Whitehead and becomes 10th, and Claes goes off due to engine failure.

Lap 18: The clutch starts to slip on Whitehead's Alta, and the Englishman misses Etancelin. The engine on Rosier's Ferrari also fails, and the Frenchman drops out of the race.

Lap 19: Whitehead continues to lose ground and misses two more opponents.

Lap 25: Macklin, who was in good 7th place, makes a mistake and loses five positions at once.


Lap 27: Hawthorn, who came out in 7th place after Macklin's mistake, catches up with Collins and begins to press his compatriot. Meanwhile, Harry Schell, who got off on lap 8, finally gets to the pits, and the team decides to release him on the track instead of Graffenried. The Swiss has to enter the pits and give up the car, and Schell returns to the race in 13th place. On the same lap, Whitehead's clutch finally fails, and the Englishman leaves the race.

Lap 29: Etancelin passes Giraud-Cabantous and rises to 8th place.


Hawthorn continues to put pressure on Collins, but the Englishman defends himself masterfully and does not allow himself to be overtaken.


Position after 30 laps: Ascari, Farina, Taruffi, Manzon, Trintignant, Collins, Hawthorn, Etancelin, Giraud-Cabantous, Fischer.

Lap 33: Giraud-Cabantous counterattacks Etancelin and regains 8th place.


Lap 35: Harry Schell has problems with the car again, this time with the brakes, and the American is out of the race for the second time.

Lap 37: Giraud-Cabantous makes a mistake and loses four positions at once.

Lap 38: Fischer, after an unimpressive race, drives into the pits and passes the car to his friend Hirt, who enters the track in 12th place.

Lap 39: Despite his best efforts, Hawthorn fails to pass Collins for 15 laps. At the same time, both Englishmen drive very fast and catch up with Trintignant, who occupies the 5th position. Seeing an opportunity to finally shake off Hawthorn, Collins goes on the attack and passes the Frenchman, providing a buffer between himself and the Englishman's Cooper.

Lap 41: Trintignant clearly does not want to lose his first points in the World Championship, he counterattacks Collins and takes the lead.


Moreover, this maneuver is used by Hawthorn, who also rushes into the attack and finally passes his unyielding compatriot.

Lap 44: Hawthorn does not stop there and also passes Trintignant, getting into points.


On the same lap, Behra overtakes Macklin and, after an unsuccessful beginning of the race, takes 9th place.

Lap 47: There are ignition misfire on Hawthorn's Cooper, and the Englishman has to give up the 5th place so hard won to Trintignant.

Lap 49: Hawthorn misses Collins and drives into the pits to check the car. After a small repair, Mike goes back to the track, but engine problems remain, and the Englishman leaves the race.

Position after 50 laps: Ascari, Farina, Taruffi, Manzon, Trintignant, Collins, Etancelin, Behra, Macklin, Giraud-Cabantous.

Lap 57: Prince Bira comes down due to a broken rear axle.

Lap 66: Behra overtakes Etancelin and takes 7th place.

Lap 67: Behra catches up with Collins and tries to overtake him, but the Englishman again shows intransigence and blocks all attempts to overtake.

Last lap: Alberto Ascari, after leading from start to finish, easily wins the race and gets the first "Grand Slam" in his career! The second is Farina, who again lost to the leader of Ferrari and lagged behind him by more than a minute. Taruffi finishes third and thus brings Ferrari the first triple podium in its history. The fourth and fifth places are given to the Gordini drivers, who, although they failed to impose a fight on the scarlet cars in their homeland, still finish in points. At the same time, for Manzon, this is the second hit in points in a row, and for Trintignant, his first-ever finish in the World Championship. Sixth place goes to Collins, who still manages to restrain Behra until the finish, even despite the breakdown of the rear axle in the last meters of the race.

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Interesting facts:

- Alberto Ascari's first "Grand Slam";

- Ferrari's first triple podium;

- Maurice Trintignant's first points.

Driver standings

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Alternative GP results

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