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1953 Belgian Grand Prix

The third round of the 1953 World Championship took place on June 21 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.


       After two stages, the Ferrari team was unconditionally in the lead in the World Championship, easily winning races in Argentina and the Netherlands. Meanwhile, the Maserati team, which before the start of the championship was considered the main rival of the team from Maranello, was noticeably inferior to Ferrari in the first two races and only with great efforts managed to earn two podiums. The main reason for this was the insufficiently efficient chassis of the Maserati A6GCM, which was clearly inferior to the superbly balanced Ferrari 500, which proved to be excellent on all types of tracks. However, on fast tracks, where the main role was played by the amount of horses under the bonnet, Maserati had every chance to impose a fight on the scarlet cars, since the engines of its cars were not inferior in power to their competitors from Maranello. And in Belgium, at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, renowned for its long straights and fast corners, the Modena team was determined to take on their Scuderia Ferrari rivals.
       Meanwhile, Enzo Ferrari's team was also not going to interrupt its winning streak, and brought four cars to Belgium, which were driven by the main line-up racers Ascari, Farina, Villoresi and Hawthorn. In addition to the factory team, another private Ferrari 500 was brought to the start by the Frenchman Louis Rosier, who had already competed at the last stage in the Netherlands.
       Meanwhile, in the Maserati team there have been some changes in the line-up of the drivers. The main pair of racers, Fangio and Gonzalez, of course, were present in Belgium, but Felice Bonetto this time decided to skip the Grand Prix, and the team took a local driver Johnny Claes, who had extensive experience in world championships, to replace him. In addition to Claes, a permanent fourth driver appeared in the team, which was the young Argentine Onofre Marimon, who, like Gonzalez, was Fangio's protégé. In addition to the factory Maseratis, Baron Tulo de Graffenried reappeared at the wheel of the A6GCM in Belgium, having managed to win two points at the previous round in the Netherlands. It is worth noting that this time Baron took part in the Grand Prix as a private driver, as Enrico Plate team, for which he raced at the previous stage, left the world of Grand Prix due to financial difficulties.
      The Gordini team, as in the Netherlands, put up four cars for the race, driven by Trintignant and Schell, who had already raced together at the previous stage, Jean Behra, who returned after one missed Grand Prix, and Fred Wacker Jr., who failed perform in the Netherlands, but got a second chance in Belgium.


      The Connaught team, after a not very successful performance at the previous stage, decided to skip the Belgian Grand Prix, in contrast to the HWM team, which was present here in an expanded line-up, taking the local driver Paul Frere to the pair of main drivers Collins and Macklin, who had brought the team its only points a year ago.


       Qualifying showed that Maseratis were indeed very fast on the Belgian circuit and Juan Manuel Fangio dominated all practices, bringing the Modena team their first World Championship pole position. Ferrari, for the first time in two years, had to be content with only second place on the starting field, which went to Ascari, who was 2 seconds behind Fangio. Argentinian teammate Gonzalez was also very fast, and having shown the same time with Ascari, he took third place on the starting grid. Behind him were two more Ferraris of Farina and Villoresi, already 6 and 9 seconds behind Fangio, respectively. Maserati newcomer Marimon immediately posted a good 6th time ahead of Hawthorn in the Ferrari, who again lost to all his teammates. Two more Maseratis of Graffenried and Claes rounded out the top ten, but Trintignant on Gordini was even faster and took 8th place. Meanwhile, Paul Frere, like a year ago, turned out to be the fastest HWM driver, taking 11th place on the starting field, and his partner Collins had a car stopped right on the track due to mechanical problems, as a result of which the Englishman had to get to the pits on horseback Simca-Gordini of Georges Berger.




Start. Maseratis get off to a great start, and Fangio and Gonzalez enter the first turn leading the race, but José-Froilan does not stop there and attacks his teammate before the end of the lap and takes first place! Meanwhile, Ascari enters the race only third, leading the Ferrari line. HWM drivers Macklin and Collins also have a great start, taking 11th and 12th places respectively, while their teammate Frere, on the contrary, loses seven positions and becomes only 17th. Also, already on the first lap, Arthur Legat pulls off the side of the road, on whose Veritas the transmission failed.
Position after lap 1: Gonzalez, Fangio, Ascari, Farina, Villoresi, Hawthorn, Marimon, Graffenried, Trintignant, Claes.

Lap 2: Gonzalez flies around the track and sets the fastest lap of the race!


Fangio begins to fall behind his young teammate, but he still goes faster than the Ferraris, who this time are playing the role of catching up. Marimon is also very fast and manages to get ahead of Hawthorn to come in 6th. Behind Trintignant passes Graffenried and becomes 8th, while Rosier overtakes Schell. Meanwhile, Collins has problems with the clutch, and the Englishman misses four opponents at once.
Lap 3: Gonzalez is already 8 seconds ahead of Fangio and Juan Manuel is already 12 seconds ahead of Ascari! Meanwhile, Behra passes Macklin to 11th, while Wacker overtakes teammate Schell to 14th.
Lap 4: Marimon attacks Villoresi in the fight for 5th place and passes him!


Meanwhile, the struggle between Schell and Wacker continues, and the Americans switch places, overtaking Rosier along the way. Behind, Bergèr retires from the race with an engine failure.
Lap 5: Villoresi does not give up and hangs on the tail of Marimon, trying to overtake. At the end of the lap, he succeeds, but while the rivals were engrossed in their fight, they were both passed by Hawthorn!


On the same lap on Collins' HWM, the clutch finally fails, and the Englishman drops out of the race.
Lap 6: The engine on Behra's Gordini begins to lose power, causing the Frenchman to miss four opponents at once. Macklin also has problems: the exhaust pipe cracked on his HWM, and the Englishman drives into the pits, where mechanics rearrange the pipe from Collins' car for him. After losing a lot of time on this, Lance returns to the track last. On the same lap, Rosier and Frere manage to pass Wacker.
Lap 8: Frere has throttle problems and the Belgian comes into the pits for repairs.
Lap 9: Pilette passes Wacker to 13th.
Lap 10: Behra is finally out of the race due to engine problems.
Position after 10 laps: Gonzalez, Fangio, Ascari, Farina, Hawthorn, Villoresi, Marimon, Trintignant, Graffenried, Claes.
Lap 11: Wacker counterattacks Pilette and moves up to 13th.


Lap 12: Race leader Gonzalez is in trouble! Coming out of the Masta turn, José-Froilan presses the accelerator pedal, and it simply breaks in two under the Argentinean's foot! Gonzalez coasts for a while, but eventually pulls over and is thus out of the race! Getting out of the car, José-Froilan was ready to tear his hair out, as he clearly missed the victory, leading Fangio by more than 20 seconds, and the champion Ascari by almost a minute! Fangio is now the new leader.


Meanwhile, Marimon, in another Maserati, attacks Villoresi again and passes him! On the same lap, Graffenried, who has been tailing Trintignant for a long time, is ahead of the Frenchman and takes 7th place.


Lap 14: Fangio has problems too! The Argentinian drives into the pits and shakes his head: the engine has lost power. The Maserati management, not fully believing that they are losing a certain victory, order Claes into the pits, who was in a modest 9th place. Having entered the pits, the Belgian jumps out of the car, Fangio quickly shakes his hand, takes place in his car and rushes back to the track, leaving in 8th place. Meanwhile, Ferrari are once again in the lead, and Ascari suddenly becomes the main contender for victory.


Lap 15: The struggle between Graffenried and Trintignant continues, and the Frenchman takes the lead.
Lap 16: Ferrari also can't avoid problems, and Farina, who was second, turns into the pits due to engine problems, forced to stop the fight. Now Hawthorn is in second place, Marimon is third. Meanwhile, Trintignant and Graffenried once again change places.


Lap 17: Rosier attacks Schell for 8th and takes the lead.


Lap 19: Schell counterattacks Rosier and regains position.
Lap 20: Fangio, who is the fastest on the track, catches up with a pair of struggling Graffenried and Trintignant and passes them both at once, taking 5th place!


Behind, Macklin drops out of the race with a failed engine.
Position after 20 laps: Ascari, Hawthorn, Marimon, Villoresi, Fangio, Graffenried, Trintignant, Schell, Rosier, Wacker.
Lap 28: Another problem for Maserati: Marimon's engine starts to lose power, and the Argentine comes into the pits. The mechanics, after examining the engine, realize that repairs are impossible, and release Onofre back to the track, in the hope that he will be able to make it to the finish line. As a result of the stoppage, Marimon loses third place, missing Villoresi.


Lap 29: Now Hawthorn in second place is in trouble! As a result of a fuel line rupture, Ferrari is rapidly losing fuel, and the Englishman is forced to drop into the pits for refueling. Mike returns to the track in 7th place, Villoresi becomes second, and Fangio, having overtaken Marimon, who has lost speed, is already in third place!


Lap 31: Hawthorn regains one position over Trintignant to move into 6th place.


Lap 32: Hawthorn overtakes Graffenried and now claims the points again.
Lap 34: Due to a rapid fuel leak Hawthorn is once again forced to refuel! The Englishman returns to the track in 7th place, again missing Graffenried and Trintignant.


Last lap: Ascari crosses the finish line first and wins his third Grand Prix of the season, but in this race the Italian was clearly inferior to his rivals for the first time in two years and became the winner only thanks to the problems on their cars. Villoresi finishes second, thanks to which the Italian strengthens the second place in the overall standings.


       Only Fangio was left behind Ascari in the same lap, and the spectators are looking forward to the Argentine to greet him at the finish line. But minutes pass, and the scarlet Maserati is still not shown, and the audience begins to exchange glances in concern. Suddenly, an ambulance leaves the last turn, at the sight of which all the spectators rise. As the ambulance passes the stands, the audience sees Fangio in it, who, despite his bloody face, raises his hand and greets them! Such courage of the Argentine cannot leave anyone indifferent, and the whole tribune explodes with applause! But what happened anyway?
        Entering the final lap, Fangio was preparing to finally make his first finish of the season, when about halfway through the Stavelot corner and accelerating into the straight that followed, the steering column unexpectedly broke on his Maserati! Fangio, unable to control the car, immediately applied emergency braking, and his Maserati, having swept along the entire straight line, froze at the very edge of the roadside, miraculously not hitting the poles and buildings standing by the track! At the same time, the Argentinean can be called lucky, because in this most dangerous situation he managed to escape with only bruises and cuts!


As a result, the third place went to the Maserati newcomer Marimon, who still managed to reach the finish line in a car with a faulty engine. Thus, Maserati gets the podium for the third race in a row, but given that all four of its cars encountered various problems, and two of them missed the victory, this Grand Prix can hardly be called a successful one for the team. Fourth place went to Graffenried in a privately owned Maserati, who managed to score points for the second time in a row, while Trintignant in a Gordini was fifth, bringing the team their first points of the season. Hawthorn, who had a very decent race for Ferrari, ended up in sixth place due to two forced refueling at the very end of the race.


Interesting facts:

- Onofre Marimon's first podium;
- Maserati's first pole position.

Driver standings


Alternative GP results

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