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1955 Argentine Grand Prix

The first round of the 1955 Formula 1 World Championship took place on January 16 in Argentina at the October 17 circuit in Buenos Aires. The track was built in 1951 and was unique in that it had a whole set of configurations created with the help of numerous branches. As usual, in the World Championship Grand Prix was used configuration No. 2, the length of which was 3.91 km.

Buenos-Aires 1954.jpg

The opening of the racing season, as always, aroused great interest among the public, and despite the terrible heat that set in this weekend in Buenos Aires, more than 400 thousand spectators came to watch the Grand Prix, most of whom, of course, were cheering for their idol and national hero Juan Manuel Fangio, who became a two-time world champion last year. At the same time, the German Daimler-Benz team, for which the Argentine drove, also found itself in the spotlight and received equally fervent support from local fans, which could not but please the head of the team, Alfred Neubauer. In addition to Fangio, his last year's teammates Karl Kling and Hans Herrmann, as well as the newcomer of the team Stirling Moss, took part in the Grand Prix at the wheel of the Silver Arrows. In total, five cars of the German team were delivered to the track in Buenos Aires, one of which was a spare, while, given the complex configuration of the track, Mercedes W196 open-wheel cars were used in the Grand Prix.


Scuderia Ferrari was also represented by four drivers Nino Farino, Maurice Trintignant, Jose-Froilan Gonzalez and Umberto Maglioli, however, the latter was a spare. For Nino Farina, the Argentine Grand Prix was the first appearance after his terrible accident last year in a sports car race in Monza, while Jose-Froilan Gonzalez, who left Formula 1 at the end of last year, became a guest Ferrari driver.


At the same time, all the drivers from Maranello went to the start driving last year's Ferrari 625, since the new 555 models were still under development.

The Maserati team, as usual, was presented most impressively, bringing as many as seven Maserati 250F cars, driven by Jean Behra, Harry Schell, Luigi Musso, Sergio Mantovani, Roberto Mieres, Carlos Menditeguy and Clemar Bucci. In addition, private racer Alberto Uria took part in the Grand Prix at the wheel of an old Maserati A6GCM.

The Lancia team, which missed almost the entire last season, was present in the World Championship this time from the very first Grand Prix, bringing three of its brand-new Lancia D50 to the track, driven by experienced Alberto Ascari and Luigi Villoresi, as well as championship debutant Eugenio Castellotti.


The last team to take part in the first Grand Prix of the season was the French Gordini, which was represented by Frenchman Elie Bayol and two local racers Pablo Birger and Jesus Iglesias, who went to the start driving the same Gordini T16, which the "Sorcerer" Gordini developed back in the early 1950s.


The first qualifying of the season turned out to be very hot, and it wasn't just the sizzling sun. Having met for the first time this year in a face-to-face fight, Mercedes, Ferrari, Maserati and Lancia racers staged a real battle for pole position, as a result of which the track record was broken by more than 1.5 seconds! At the same time, from the very first minutes of qualifying, Lancia and Ferrari racers began to set the pace, and as a result, the guest racer of the Scuderia, Jose-Froylan Gonzalez, turned out to be the fastest, showing a time of 1’43.1. Only half a second Alberto Ascari in Lancia lost to the Argentinean, and the same time was shown by Juan Manuel Fangio, who remained in the shadows for a long time, but eventually managed to shoot in the last minutes of qualifying. Meanwhile Maserati newcomer Jean Behra, driving a competitive car for the first time, immediately showed his class, managing to take fourth place and lagging behind the two world champions by only 0.2 seconds, and fifth was another champion Nino Farina in Ferrari, who showed the same time with the Frenchman. Fangio's teammate Karl Kling had engine problems on his main car, but even driving a spare one, he managed to show the sixth result, exactly one second from the pole position time. As for the "embryos" of the German team, as Alfred Neubauer called Moss and Herrmann, they managed to take 8th and 10th places, while the Englishman managed to get ahead of his peer at the first attempt. Harry Schell also looked very good in Maserati, who became the 7th, as well as Pablo Birger, who turned out to be the fastest Gordini driver with the 9th result. Meanwhile, Ascari's Lancia teammates Villoresi and Castellotti failed to maintain the pace of their leader and, having shown approximately the same time, the Italians took only 11th and 12th place. Maurice Trintignant also performed poorly in Ferrari, who became only the 14th, as well as the main Maserati drivers Luigi Musso and Sergio Mantovani, who took one of the last places on the starting grid.



On the day of the Grand Prix, the sun is even hotter, and the temperature reaches 34.5 C in the shade! At the same time, the track itself heats up to 55 C, and the hot air rises above it, creating a transparent haze that greatly distorts the shape of the circuit. It's hard to envy the racers in this situation, and for sure they will need all their skill and endurance today to get to the finish line in these hellish conditions. As for the 400 thousand spectators sitting in the stands, they also have a hard time, but having managed to stock up on soft drinks before the start, they are eager to see only one thing – the victory of their idol!


Start. Fangio manages a great start, and he immediately breaks into the lead, driving the stands into a frenzy! Behind him, Gonzalez and Ascari are racing wheel-to-wheel to the first corner, but the Italian still gets ahead. However, Moss also intervenes in their fight, who manages an incredible start from the eighth position, and during the first lap, the Englishman also passes Gonzalez, already coming in third place! Meanwhile, the losers of the start become Behra and Farina, who fall back to 7th and 9th place, respectively, and Villoresi, due to problems with fuel supply, descends to the very end of the peleton at all.
Position after the 1st lap: Fangio, Ascari, Moss, Gonzalez, Kling, Schell, Behra, Herrmann, Farina, Mieres. 
Lap 2: Ascari attacks Fangio in the fight for the lead and gets ahead!


Meanwhile, Behra, in an attempt to overtake Kling, spins across the track, forcing his teammate Schell to pull over to the curb, which was immediately used by Herrmann, who pass them both.


This incident causes confusion in the group of drivers following behind, as a result of which Birger takes Menditeguy off the track, and both Argentines finish the race on the sidelines. Behra himself manages to keep the engine running, however, he misses all the rivals and at the end of the lap drives into the pits, also leaving the race. On the same lap, Villoresi retires due to problems with the fuel pump.
Lap 3: Gonzalez goes on the attack and within one lap passes two Mercedes of Fangio and Moss, coming out in second place! However, Moss, having missed the Ferrari, immediately takes advantage of the moment and, following the Argentinean, also passes his famous teammate! Meanwhile, Kling makes a mistake on another Mercedes and flies off the track, and his car rushes straight to the spectators located behind the wire fence! Fortunately, the car knocks down a wooden pole along the way, which partially dampens the speed of the Silver Arrow, and the fence withstands the impact. Kling himself gets out of the car unharmed and returns to the pits on foot. On the same lap, Farina passes Castellotti, taking 8th place.
Lap 4: Fangio counterattacks Moss and gets ahead of him!


Behind Farina makes a small mistake and misses three rivals at once, while Musso gets ahead of Castellotti and comes in 8th place.
Lap 5: Fangio passes Gonzalez and regains second place!


Behind Castellotti counterattacks Musso and comes forward, and Luigi also misses Trintignant.
Lap 6: Harry Schell manages to overtake Herrmann after several laps of pursuit, and the American takes 5th place. Behind him, Castellotti flies off the track, and although he manages to get back, he drops to the very end of the peleton. On the same lap, Musso counterattacks Trintignant and takes 8th place again.
Lap 7: Gonzalez passes Fangio and Ascari one by one and becomes the leader of the race!


Lap 8: Ascari counterattacks Gonzalez and regains the lead!


Meanwhile, Mantovani drives into the pits and hands over his car to the Maserati leader Behra, who returns to the track in last place. On the same lap, Bayol drops out of the race with a broken transmission.
Lap 9: Castellotti wins back one position after his mistake, overtaking Iglesias.


Lap 10: Gonzalez shows the fastest lap in the race! Behind him, a fight is unfolding between his teammates Farina and Trintignant, as a result of which the Italian comes in 9th place.
Position after 10 laps: Ascari, Gonzalez, Fangio, Moss, Schell, Herrmann, Mieres, Musso, Farina, Trintignant. 
Lap 11: Castellotti flies off the track once more and, having missed Iglesias and Behra, drops in the last place again.
Lap 14: The heat is starting to take its toll on the drivers. Fangio, who has been keeping close behind Gonzalez for a while, slows down the pace a little, as a result of which Ferrari begins to break away.


Castellotti, on the other hand, is already in a semi-conscious state and begins to lose speed rapidly. 
Lap 15: Herrmann is also starting to give up, and Mieres is rapidly catching up with him.
Lap 16: Castellotti barely reaches the pits, and his place in the cockpit is taken by Villoresi, who returns to the track last.
Lap 17: Behra wins back one position, overtaking Uria.
Lap 18: Mieres passes Herrmann after a short struggle, taking 6th place.


On the same lap, Farina gets ahead of Musso and becomes 8th.
Lap 19: Behra wins back another position, overtaking Iglesias, and Villoresi catches up with the rest of the peleton and passes Uria.
Position after 20 laps: Ascari, Gonzalez, Fangio, Moss, Schell, Mieres, Herrmann, Farina, Musso, Trintignant. 
Lap 21: Ascari flies along the track and shows the fastest lap in the race! Meanwhile, Farina, experiencing in the hot cockpit incredible pain from his last year's burns, can't stand it and turns into the pits, where he immediately receives a morphine injection. A place in his car is taken by a spare Scuderia driver Maglioli, who returns to the track in 10th place. Besides, there is a replacement in Maserati on the same lap. Clemar Bucci, who was in 11th place, gives up his car to Menditeguy, who returned to the pits, and the Argentine gets back to the race in last place.
Lap 22: Ascari flies off the track and crashes his car!


The new leader is now Gonzalez, who is already ahead of Fangio by almost 10 seconds.
Lap 23: Uria drops out of the race due to fuel supply problems.
Lap 26: Gonzalez is also in the pits! The Argentine, who suffered a serious back injury last year, also cannot cope with the pain and leaves the car, receiving his dose of morphine.


Thus, Fangio is now the leader of the race again, and the stands are rejoicing! Meanwhile, Farina, who barely manages to catch his breath, takes a seat in the cockpit of Gonzalez's Ferrari and returns to the track directly in front of Herrmann. Fortunately for the Italian, the young German is already too exhausted by the heat and does not make any attempts to overtake.


On the same lap, Behra leaves the track and, having missed three rivals, is again in last place.
Lap 28: Musso is driving his Maserati already at the limit of his strength, and he is easily passed by Trintignant. On the same lap, Villoresi catches up and passes Iglesias.
Lap 30: Stirling Moss, who was in second place, suddenly loses speed due to fuel supply problems and stops his Silver Arrow on the side of the road!


After getting out of the car, the Englishman takes out a flask, drinks a little, and lies down exhausted on the ground. Apparently, even without a technical problem on his Mercedes, the Englishman could hardly have lasted much longer in this race.


After Moss' retirement, Maserati drivers Schell and Mieres unexpectedly come out in second and third place!
Position after 30 laps: Fangio, Schell, Mieres, Farina, Herrmann, Trintignant, Musso, Maglioli, Villoresi, Iglesias. 
Lap 31: Exhausted Musso finally drives into the pits and passes his car to Mantovani, who returns to the track in 10th place. However, Maserati does not give the Italian a long break and calls Behra in the pits, who was the last and did not particularly claim anything. Having quenched his thirst, Musso takes a seat in the Frenchman's car and drives back to the track, while Behra sits in reserve, expecting that he will replace one of the leading Schell or Mieres.
Lap 32: A rested Mantovani quickly catches up with Iglesias' Gordini and easily passes the Argentine, taking 9th place.
Lap 35: Leader Fangio suddenly pulls into the pits!


It turns out that one of the fuel pumps on his Mercedes was not working, and having spent almost all the fuel from the second fuel tank, the Argentine saw a warning signal. Mechanics immediately start refueling, and the Argentine uses a one-and-a-half-minute stop to refresh himself and quench his thirst. At the end of the refueling, Fangio jumps back into the car and returns to the track in 4th place, while Schell becomes the new leader of the race!
Lap 36: Villoresi can not keep his car on the track and flies into the bump! This was the last Lancia car on the track, and thus the Grand Prix is over for the Turin team.
Lap 37: In the Ferrari of Trintignant, the engine loses power, and the Frenchman drives into the pits, leaving the race. However, Maurice is still quite fresh and expresses his willingness to replace Farina, who is driving his car already at the limit of his strength.
Lap 38: Farina drives into the pits with his face contorted with pain. The Italian immediately receives another injection of morphine, and Trintignant takes a seat in his car and returns to the track in 5th place.
Lap 39: Mantovani flies off the track, dropping to last place. On the same lap, due to transmission problems, Iglesias drops out of the race, and thus Gordini also completes the Grand Prix ahead of schedule.
Lap 40: Herrmann is driving his car already in a semi-conscious state, and Trintignant is easily passing him!


Position after 40 laps: Schell, Mieres, Fangio, Trintignant, Herrmann, Maglioli, Menditeguy, Musso, Mantovani.
Lap 41: The race leader Schell is no longer able to drive the car and pulls into the pits, passing control to Behra. The Frenchman leaves the pits in third place, right behind Fangio, while the new leader, for the first time in his career, is now Mieres! 
Lap 42: Mieres, after leading just one lap, also drives into the pits! However, there is no one to replace the Argentinian in Maserati now, and having quenched his thirst, Roberto returns to the track again, losing the lead to a pair of Fangio-Behra! Meanwhile, Herrmann also gets to the pits, and barely stopping the car, the young German immediately loses consciousness! Mechanics pull Hans out of the car, and his place is taken by Kling, who returns to the track, keeping 5th place.


Lap 43: Fangio picks up the pace and shows the fastest lap in the race!
Lap 44: Fangio drives a lap even faster and easily breaks away from the pursuing Behra!


On the same lap, Trintignant enters the pits. The Frenchman fails to drive at the pace of the leaders, and he is replaced by a rested Gonzalez, who returns to the wheel of his car and rushes in pursuit of the leaders.
Lap 46: Maglioli can no longer withstand the heat and drives into the pits, giving way to Trintignant, who is already changing the third car in this race!
Position after 50 laps: Fangio, Behra, Mieres, Gonzalez, Kling, Trintignant, Menditeguy, Musso, Mantovani.
Lap 51: Menditeguy also needs a replacement, and the Argentine drives into the pits, giving way to Schell, who has already managed to regain some strength. On the same lap, Mantovani passes his teammate Musso almost without any resistance.
Lap 53: Mieres' Maserati has problems with the fuel pump, and the Argentine turns into the pits. The repair of the car takes almost 10 minutes, and Roberto returns to the track in 7th place, having lost any chance of a decent result. Meanwhile Gonzalez, who inherits the third place after his compatriot, is now the fastest driver on the track and is rapidly catching up with Behra.
Lap 56: Two Maseratis of Schell and Musso have problems with fuel supply at the same time, and both drivers finish the race in the pits.
Position after 60 laps: Fangio, Behra, Gonzalez, Kling, Trintignant, Mieres, Mantovani. 
Lap 61: Mantovani is no longer able to withstand the heat and drives into the pits, handing over his Maserati to Schell. At the same time, the American, like Trintignant, is already changing the third car in this race.
Lap 68: Gonzalez catches up with Behra, and the Frenchman, trying to keep the Ferrari behind, spins and flies off the track! Jose-Froilan sweeps past, taking second place, and Jean returns to the track after an excursion to the curb, losing about 40 seconds.
Lap 69: Fangio, who by this time managed to break away from his rivals by 50 seconds and slowed down a bit, receives an indication that Gonzalez is now chasing him. The Argentine immediately picks up the pace, trying to maintain his advantage.


Position after 70 laps: Fangio, Gonzalez, Behra, Kling, Trintignant, Mieres, Schell.
Lap 75: Gonzalez manages to close his gap to Fangio to 40 seconds, but getting too carried away in his pursuit of the world champion, the Argentine misses one of the corners and flies off the track! Despite the fact that the engine of his Ferrari stalls, the spectators run up to help push the car back onto the track, but the Argentine is already fed up with this race and turns into the pits, giving way to Farina. The Italian returns to the track in third place, and Behra becomes the second again. 
Lap 77: Kling, overcome by the heat and exhaust fumes entering the cockpit, also drives into the pits and passes his Mercedes to Moss, who gets back to the track without losing 4th place.
Lap 78: Trintignant is also in the pits! The Frenchman, after spending the entire race almost without a break at the wheel of three different cars, finally gives up and pass his car to Maglioli.
Lap 84: Behra makes another mistake and ends up on the sidelines! A Ferrari drives past him again, this time of Farina's, and the Frenchman drives into the pits for repairs, losing the last chance of a decent result in this race.
Lap 85: The brake pedal on Moss' Mercedes turns out to be filled with oil, and the Englishman loses pace, as a result of which Maglioli easily catches up and passes him, taking third place!
Last lap: Fangio, after driving for three hours in extremely difficult conditions, completes the last lap and wins one of the greatest victories in the history of motorsport! Farina finishes second, who shares this place with Gonzalez and Trintignant, but the Italian and the Frenchman are also awarded third place, which they share with Maglioli! Moss finishes 4th in his first race for Mercedes, sharing points with his teammates Kling and Herrmann, and the last place in points goes to Mieres, who, like Fangio, manages to spend the entire race without replacement.


Juan-Manuel Fangio: "Frankly, I couldn't have done more. I was struggling with all the troubles that could happen. I drew energy from wherever I could. Thank God that the car responded positively to my efforts. Before the race, I prepared a plan. I thought it would be wrong from the very beginning to get involved in a duel proposed by rivals. Of course, I was able to close the gap at any time when the duel began, but I did not do this because the race was long, and therefore the risk was great. I knew from the very beginning that there would be a struggle for leadership, but it was just as clear to me that whoever started the hunt would lose. I thought it would be better to drive a stable race and limit my efforts to the most necessary, because everything superfluous can turn against you. The facts proved me right, although I had other problems to solve. The cabin of my car was a solid fire. Everything burned, even the steering wheel. At certain points, the temperature rose to 120 degrees.  I could barely catch my breath until half the race was over. But then Gonzalez chased me. Of course, I was informed all the time about his attempts. I also thought that this chase would surely have consequences for the brave Ferrari driver, and so it happened. As for me, I always had a reserve of speed to take off if necessary. But it didn't come to that. Thank God, everything ended well. Never... never... never will I forget this race!"

P.S. It was only after the finish that it became clear what incredible efforts this race required from Fangio. The day after the Grand Prix, Juan Manuel's doctor stated that his heart was overstretched, and due to constant contact with the hot cockpit, the Argentine's legs received second-degree burns, which faded only three months later.


Interesting facts:

- Juan Manuel Fangio's 20th podium;
- Roberto Mieres' first  leading in the Grand Prix;

- Eugenio Castellotti's debut.

Driver standings


Alternative GP results

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