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1952 Swiss Grand Prix

The first round of the 1952 World Championship took place on May 18 in Switzerland on the track in Bremgarten. The length of the track was 7,28 km, while the drivers had to complete 62 laps. The Bremgarten circuit was unique in that it did not have a single straight line, and numerous turns were interconnected by short curves, while this configuration of the track remained unchanged from its very foundation in 1934.


        The upcoming Grand Prix was the first stage of the World Championship held according to the technical regulations of Formula 2, and taking into account the full stands, the variety and number of participating drivers and teams, it could be said that the transition to the new regulations was fully justified.

       The favorite of the first Grand Prix of the season was definitely Scuderia Ferrari, which had previously won four non-championship races in Syracuse, Pau, Marseille and Naples. At the same time, the main line-up of the Italian team in Switzerland was represented by only Nino Farina and Piero Taruffi, since the team leader Alberto Ascari flew to the USA to conquer the famous race "The Indianapolis 500", and Luigi Villoresi had had a road accident at the beginning of the year and now was out of action. In addition to the main drivers Commendatore invited Frenchman Andre Simon to join his team for this one Grand Prix as the third driver. Besides, the Swiss Grand Prix was also attended by several other drivers in private Ferraris. Louis Rosier and Rudy Fischer went to the start driving the new Ferraris 500, while Fischer's teammate Peter Hirt got behind the wheel of a Ferrari 212 sports car, and Maurice Trintignant, who joined Rosier's team for this one race, got a somewhat outdated Ferrari 166.

       After the transfer of Trintignant to Rosier, Amadeus Gordini had three drivers left in the team: Robert Manzon, Jean Behra and Prince Bira. And if the first two went to the start driving brand new Gordini T16, then the Siamese prince got last year's model T15. An even older T11 model was brought to the start by the debutant of the World Championship, local racer Max de Terra.

       The only British factory team that took part in the first Grand Prix of the season was HWM, which was represented by four drivers: George Abecassis, Stirling Moss, Peter Collins and Lance Macklin, while for the latter two the Swiss stage was the debut in the World Championship. Also in Switzerland, two more English drivers Alan Brown and Eric Brandon debuted in new Cooper T20 cars specially designed by Charles Cooper to participate in Formula 2 races. Another Englishman who made his debut was Ken Wharton in a Frazer-Nash car with a Bristol engine.

      The Swiss Grand Prix was not complete without representatives of Germany. Tony Ulmen took part in the World Championship for the first time in a Veritas-Meteor car, and the famous German racing driver of the 1930s, Hans von Stuck, went to the start driving an AFM car.

      And it is impossible not to note the absence of the current world champion Juan Manuel Fangio in Switzerland. The Argentine joined the Maserati team this season, but was forced to miss the first races of the championship, as work on the modernization of the Formula 2 car A6GCM was still in full swing.


       The first qualifying of the season confirmed the superiority of the new Ferrari 500 car, and the two main drivers of the team from Maranello took the first two places on the starting grid. The fastest was the 1950 world champion, Giuseppe Farina, who duly celebrated his return to Ferrari by winning pole position with a time of 2’47.5. His partner Piero Taruffi showed the 2nd time, 2.6 seconds behind the world champion. At the same time, it was obvious that the Formula 2 cars were inferior in speed to last year's, and the owner of the pole position completed a lap of 11.5 seconds slower than last year.

       But the third place was a surprise, because it turned out to be Robert Manzon, who demonstrated the excellent speed of the new Gordini T16. The fourth and fifth places also went to the drivers on the new Ferrari 500: the newcomer of the factory team Andre Simon and private driver Rudy Fischer. They were followed by World Championship debutants Peter Collins on HWM and Jean Behra on Gordini, who showed a good time in the first qualifying. The 8th was Baron Tulo de Graffenried on a Maserati from the Enrico Plate team, which demonstrated the team's clear progress compared to last year. Unlike the Swiss, the second driver of the team, Harry Schell, was much slower and showed the penultimate result. The top ten fastest drivers were rounded out by HWM drivers Stirling Moss and George Abecassis. The losers of qualifying were Louis Rosier, Maurice Trintignant and Max de Terra, who brought their cars to the track too late and missed training. Nevertheless, the organizers of the Grand Prix met the drivers, and they were allowed to participate in the race, although they were forced to start from the end of the starting field.



      Unlike last year, the weather on the day of the race turned out to be clear and warm, but the track in Bremgarten still showed its cunning, ending the lives of two motorcycle racers Dave Bennett and Ercole Frigerio, who participated in the motorcycle support race. Also in the sports car support race, the famous German racer of the 1930s Rudolf Karacсiola got into a serious accident and suffered multiple injuries but fortunately survived. Nevertheless, despite the gloomy forebodings, none of the drivers of the upcoming Grand Prix did not flinch and went to the start of the race. Only Maurice Trintignant failed to start the engine on his old Ferrari, and the Frenchman left the Grand Prix without starting it.

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Start. All three factory Ferraris make a great start and take the lead in the race in the following order: Farina-Taruffi-Simon. Moss also gets off to a great start, coming in 5th place, and Brown, who breaks through from 15th place to 8th. Fischer and Graffenried, on the contrary, fail the start and find themselves in 10th and 14th places, respectively.

Position after the 1st lap: Farina, Taruffi, Simon, Manzon, Moss, Behra, Collins, Brown, Abecassis, Fischer.

Lap 2: Farina is clearly the fastest and starts to break away from his rivals quickly. Moss, like a year ago, conducts an impressive race and bypasses Manzon and Simon on one lap, climbing to 3rd place already! Brown begins to lose the positions won back at the start and misses Abecassis and Prince Bira. Behind Rosier overtakes Graffenried, and Max de Terra gets off due to magneto's failure.

Lap 3: Debutant Jean Behra passes his partner Manzon and comes out on 5th place, getting into points! Prince Bira also has a good race, beating two HWMs of Collins and Abecassis on one lap, and Brown drops another position, missing Fischer. Louis Rosier makes a mistake in one of the turns and crashes off the track, his car falls sideways and throws the Frenchman out of the car! Surprisingly, this accident cost Louis almost no consequences, apart from a few cuts and bruises. Also, due to Rosier's mistake, Lance Macklin loses his position, who had to pull over to the side of the road to avoid a collision with a Frenchman's car, and thus the Englishman ends up in last place.

Lap 4: There are ignition misfire on Moss' car, and the Englishman loses 3rd place, missing Simon and Behra. Meanwhile, Abecassis passes his young teammate Collins and comes out on 8th place. The Germans Stuck and Ulmen have problems with cars at the same time: the engine loses power on Stuck's AFM, and fuel leaks on Ulmen's Veritas. At the end of the lap, both Germans enter the pits and drop out of the race.

Lap 5: Behra continues to surprise: he passes Simon's Ferrari and comes out already in 3rd place! Meanwhile, Moss drives into the pits to replace the spark plugs and drops to the last position. For his partner Abecassis, the race is going better: the Englishman passes Prince Bira and Manzon and rises to 5th place. Behind Wharton overtakes Brown and becomes 10th.

Lap 6: Fischer overtakes Collins, coming in 8th place, and Schell passes Hirt and becomes 13th.

Lap 7: Manzon makes a mistake and lets through Fischer, Wharton and Collins at once. Hirt continues to lose ground, missing Brandon, and Moss, after his stop in the pits, begins to break through to the top, overtaking his teammate Macklin.

Lap 8: After several laps of struggle, Simon manages to overtake Behra and regain 3rd place. Meanwhile, Wharton overtakes Fischer and takes 7th place, and Manzon, after his mistake, begins to win back positions, overtaking Collins. Behind Moss passes Hirt.

Lap 9: Manzon passes Wharton and Fischer at once and returns to 7th place, regaining lost positions. Moss continues to break through to the top and passes Brandon.

Lap 10: Farina broke away from the next second Taruffi by 35 seconds and it looks like the victory is already in his pocket. Moss wins back another position by passing Schell's Maserati.

Position after 10 laps: Farina, Taruffi, Simon, Behra, Abecassis, Bira, Manzon, Wharton, Fischer, Collins.

Lap 11: Manzon passes Prince Bira and rises to 6th place, and Fischer overtakes Wharton and becomes 8th.

Lap 12: The fight between Simon and Behra continues, and this time the Gordini driver takes the lead. Behind, Macklin overtakes Brandon.

Lap 13: On the HWMs of Abecassis and Collins, the rear half-axles break at the same time, and the cars lose their left rear wheels! Collins manages to keep the car on the track, but Abecassis is not so lucky, and his car takes off and crashes into an earth embankment. Fortunately, George gets off with only a severe bruise, but the race is over for the two HWMs.

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Meanwhile, Moss on another HWM passes Graffenried and becomes the 10th.

Lap 14: Simon and Behra switch places once again, and this time Ferrari takes the lead.

Lap 15: Macklin overtakes Schell and becomes 12th.

Lap 16: Fischer overtakes Prince Bira and comes out in 6th place.

Lap 17: Farina, the race leader, has problems! Giuseppe abruptly loses speed and drives into the pits, where the mechanics state magneto's failure. An extremely disappointed Italian leaves the car, and Taruffi becomes the new leader of the race.

Lap 18: The engine overheats on Manzon's Gordini, and the Frenchman misses Fischer to 4th place, and at the end of the lap he drives into the pits, where mechanics detect a leak in the radiator. After the repair, Robert returns to the track in the last place, but seeing that the engine starts to overheat again, he finally goes down.

Position after 20 laps: Taruffi, Simon, Behra, Fischer, Bira, Wharton, Brown, Moss, Graffenried, Macklin.

Lap 21: Moss passes Brown and thus comes out already in 7th place! On the same lap, his teammate Macklin overtakes Graffenried and becomes 9th.

Lap 22: Simon is called into the pits, and the Frenchman drives into the pit stop, where he is ordered to give his car to Farina. Andre is forced to comply and gives up his place to the Italian world champion, who immediately rushes back to the track and finds himself in 3rd place, behind Behra.

Lap 24: Abecassis and Collins finally get to the pits and report to chief designer John Heath about identical axle failures on their cars. Heath, realizing the danger to the remaining drivers on the track, immediately signals Moss and Macklin to head to the pits. Arriving at their garage, the drivers learn about the impossibility of continuing the race, and leave their cars. It was especially disappointing for Moss, who, after a forced pit stop at the very beginning of the race, managed to break through to 7th place. Anyway, the race weekend is over for HWM.

Lap 28: Farina is flying along the track, and in an effort to catch up with Behra shows one fastest lap after another.

Position after 30 laps: Taruffi, Behra, Farina, Fischer, Bira, Wharton, Brown, Graffenried, Schell, Brandon.

Lap 32: Schell's Maserati engine smokes, and the American drops out of the race.

Lap 36: Farina finally catches up and passes Behra, coming out in 2nd place. Despite the fact that Taruffi is about 40 seconds ahead, the Italian does not give up and increases the pace even more, trying to catch up with his teammate.

Lap 42: A crack appears in the exhaust pipe on Behra's car, and exhaust gases enter the cockpit, burning the Frenchman's legs. Jean drives into the pits and frantically explains the reason for the stop. The mechanics immediately pour water on him, and Amadeus Gordini orders to remove the exhaust pipe from Manzon's car to put it on Jean's. At the same time, Gordini sents Behra back to the track so as not to waste time.

Lap 43: Behra returns to the pits after one lap, and the mechanics are trying to fit Manzon's exhaust pipe to his car, but to no avail! Seeing no other way out, Amadeus Gordini pours another bucket of water on the driver and releases him back onto the track. Despite two pit stops, Jean loses only one position, releasing Fischer to 3rd place.

Lap 52: Farina's chase is coming to an end due to another failed magneto. The Italian drives into the pits and leaves the race, this time for good. It was clearly not his day.

Lap 53: An engine explodes on Prince Bira's Gordini, and the car pulls over to the side of the road, leaving a cloud of smoke behind it. The prince had previously come in 4th place and was clearly disappointed that he lost points in his first race for Gordini.

Last lap: After getting rid of Farina, Taruffi calmly reaches the finish line and wins his first victory in the World Championship! The second one comes Fischer, who did not shine much, but managed to benefit from the numerous retirements of rivals. Behra finishes third, despite a burned leg, climbing to the podium in his debut race! The last places in points go to the Englishmen Wharton and Brown, who also get a productive finish in their first Grand Prix of the World Championship. Only 8 cars reach the finish line, and fortunately, despite the gloomy forecasts and quite serious accidents, all the drivers leave this Grand Prix without any injuries.

Taruffi wins the 1952 Swiss Grand Prix
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Interesting facts:

- Piero Taruffi's first and only victory;

- Rudi Fischer's first podium;

- Jean Behra's debut and first podium;

- Ken Wharton's debut and first points;

- Alan Brown's debut and first points;

- Peter Collins' debut;

- the first podium for the Gordini team;

- the first points for Frazer-Nash car;

.- the first points for Cooper car.

Driver standings

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Alternative GP results

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