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1955 Monaco Grand Prix

The second round of the 1955 Formula 1 World Championship, which received the honorary title of the European Grand Prix, took place on May 22 in Monaco on the legendary circuit running through the narrow streets of the Principality. The first and only time the Monaco Grand Prix hosted the World Championship was in 1950, and although the track has not undergone any changes since then, this year the start-finish line was moved to the straight between Tabac and Gasworks Hairpin turns. The length of the track was 3,145 km, while the drivers had to complete 100 laps.

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Meanwhile after his magnificent victory in the season-opening Argentine Grand Prix, Juan Manuel Fangio came to the Principality as the leader of the championship, hoping to win his second victory on this legendary track.

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The Daimler-Benz team, for which the Argentine drove, also counted on success, however this time it was represented by only three drivers, since Karl Kling, who was injured three weeks ago in the Mille Miglia race, has not yet fully recovered. Given the tortuous configuration of the circuit, Mercedes W196 cars with open wheels were again used in the Grand Prix, but Fangio and Moss got cars with a shortened wheelbase at their disposal, while Herrmann got a standard chassis.

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Meanwhile, Scuderia Ferrari saw some changes in the drivers line-up. After an excellent performance in the first Grand Prix of the season, American Harry Schell received an invitation to drive in the main squad of Scuderia, becoming a teammate of Nino Farina and Maurice Trintignant. In addition, the team also put up a fourth car, in which two drivers claimed at once: the Italian Piero Taruffi, who had already driven for the team in 1951-52, and the Belgian Paul Frere. The final choice between the two contenders was to be made during training. At the same time, Scuderia brought to Monaco both their new "super-sharks" Ferrari 555, and last year's Ferrari 625. Having tested both cars, Farina and Trintignant preferred the proven 625 models, while the new drivers of the team got new cars.

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The Maserati team this time was presented much more modestly than in Argentina, exhibiting "only" four cars.

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The new driver of the team, who replaced Harry Schell, was the debutant of Formula 1 Italian Cesare Perdisa, who managed to show excellent results in sports car racing and became the teammate of Jean Behra, Luigi Musso and Roberto Mieres.

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Another driver of the team, Sergio Mantovani, unfortunately got into a serious accident in the non-championship Turin Grand Prix, as a result of which the Italian lost his leg and was forced to end his racing career. In addition to the factory drivers, two more Maserati 250F were brought to the start by Frenchman Louis Rosier and Englishman Lance Macklin.

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The Lancia team was also represented by four drivers, taking in addition to the main line-up a guest driver, who was a local veteran Louis Chiron, becoming a teammate of Alberto Ascari, Luigi Villoresi and Eugenio Castellotti.

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At the same time, small design changes were made to the Lancia D50 cars, as a result of which the oil radiators were moved to the open areas between the body and the fuel tanks, which significantly improved their cooling.

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The Gordini team, as before, was represented by Elie Bayol, and his new teammates in Monaco were Robert Manzon and Jacques Pollet. The last factory team to take part in the Grand Prix was the British team of Tony Vandervell. Having missed the first round of the championship, the team brought to Monaco its last year's Vanwall Special with an updated engine, driven by Englishman Mike Hawthorn, who moved to the British team from Scuderia Ferrari.

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In addition to the factory teams, private racer Ted Whiteaway also took part in the Grand Prix, driving an outdated HWM with an Alta 1.5-liter engine.

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As for social life, a real sensation among the drivers was made by the Hollywood actress, the heroine of "The Racers" movie Bella Darvi, who was present here at the invitation of Prince Rainier.

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Qualification

      As in 1950, the organizers of the Monaco Grand Prix decided to establish their own rules for qualifying. Firstly, for safety reasons, the number of drivers allowed to start was limited to twenty, and thus, out of twenty-two drivers announced in the Grand Prix, two were overboard after training. Secondly, in order to attract as many spectators as possible from the very beginning of the weekend, a rule was introduced that the first row of the starting field would be formed on the results of the first day of qualifying. These innovations led to the fact that all three days of training were held in a heated struggle for positions at all levels, and as a result, the track record was broken by more than 9 seconds! However, the downside of the new rules was that all drivers, even new to the track, had to take risks beyond measure, which eventually led to a serious incident that happened to Hans Herrmann on the first day of training. The young German, after taking several fast laps, tried to improve his own time, but could not keep his Mercedes on the rise to the Casino turn, as a result of which his Silver Arrow skidded and crashed into a stone balustrade at full speed, ramming it. As a result of this accident, Hans broke several ribs and received quite serious hip injuries, and although nothing threatened the German's life, his further participation in the championship was in question.

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Meanwhile, Herrmann's teammates Fangio and Moss turned out to be the fastest drivers on the track on Thursday, and the only one who could compete with them was Alberto Ascari on Lancia.

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Thus, according to the new rule, it was these three drivers who took the first row of the starting grid, with Fangio at the head, but in fairness it should be noted that they were also the fastest on the other days of training, far ahead of the rest. The fourth place, to the surprise of many, was taken by Ascari's teammate Castellotti, who managed to partially rehabilitate himself after his extremely inexpressive performance in Argentina.

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The fifth place went to Jean Behra, who again became the fastest Maserati driver, ahead of his teammate Roberto Mieres, who took 6th place. The seventh was Luigi Villoresi on another Lancia, and the eighth was Luigi Musso on another Maserati. Ferrari in qualifying looked very pale: Trintignant took 9th place, Farina - 14th, and Schell on the new "super shark" - 18th at all. At the same time, the fight for a place in the fourth Ferrari was eventually won by Taruffi, who showed the 15th result.

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Meanwhile, Frenchman Andre Simon took the place at the wheel of a spare Mercedes instead of the injured Herrmann, taking the 10th place.

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Mike Hawthorn was not very convincing in his first appearance for Vanwall, showing only the 12th result, but the local veteran Louis Chiron looked even worse, taking on Lancia the penultimate place.

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Gordini also did not shine with speed, and Robert Manzon, who became the fastest driver of the French team, took only 13th place. Whiteaway and Macklin failed to overcome the qualification barrier, and if it was quite natural in the case of a low-powered HWM, then Lance, who missed two days of training due to problems with the car, simply did not have enough time to run in his Maserati.

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Race

On the day of the race, the weather is fine, and shortly before the start Prince Rainier makes a lap of honor on his sports Lancia, opening the Grand Prix.

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Start. Fangio, Ascari and Moss simultaneously take off, but the Italian is caught between the two Mercedes, and the German cars are taking the lead, with Fangio at the head!

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At the same time, the Italian's hitch is immediately used by Castellotti, who passes his teammate in the first corner! Moreover, the young Italian does not stop there, and in the Station turn attacks and passes Moss, taking second place!

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Meanwhile, Manzon, thanks to a great start, manages to break into 7th place, and Sсhell also starts well, who becomes 13th. Behind Farina damages the nose of his Ferrari, when trying to pass Bayol, after which he drives into the pits to check the car and loses about one minute there.
Position after lap 1: Fangio, Castellotti, Moss, Ascari, Behra, Mieres, Manzon, Villoresi, Perdisa, Trintignant.
Lap 2: Manzon can't keep up the pace of his rivals and starts losing ground, missing Villoresi and Perdisa. At the same time, the Maserati debutant takes advantage of the moment and immediately passes also Lancia, rising to 7th place!

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Also, Simon does not feel very confident driving a Mercedes and misses Schell and Hawthorn. At the end of peleton, Bayol also loses two positions, missing Taruffi and Chiron.
Lap 3: Moss hangs on the tail of Castellotti, but the Italian skillfully defends his position and does not let the Englishman through!

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Meanwhile, Manzon loses another position, missing Trintignant.
Lap 4: Musso, in his turn, attacks Manzon and passes him, taking 10th place. On the same lap, Taruffi, while trying to overtake Rosier, collides with a Frenchman's car, after which he drives into the pits for a 15-minute repair. As for the Frenchman, he receives a severe dent in the back of his Maserati and misses two rivals.

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Lap 5: Moss attacks Castellotti on the straight leading to the Tabac turn and finally passes him!

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However, having spent several laps behind the Italian, the Englishman is already 7 seconds behind the leader Fangio. On the same lap, Manzon loses two more positions, missing Hawthorn and Schell, while the Englishman and American change places.

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Lap 6: Schell counterattacks Hawthorn and takes the lead again!

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Behind Farina finally catches up with the rest of the field and wins back one position, overtaking Pollet's Gordini .

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Lap 7: Despite a clean track, Moss can not close his gap to Fangio, but he quickly pulls away from Castellotti, Ascari and Behra who are chasing him.

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Lap 8: Musso has transmission problems and he pulls into the pits leaving the race.
Lap 9: Villoresi attacks Perdisa for 7th place and passes him!

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On the same lap, Rosier was forced to turn into the pits, whose Maserati was almost left without oil. It turns out that because of the collision with Taruffi, a crack formed in the oil tank, and now the Frenchman has no choice but to leave the race.

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Lap 10: Ascari attacks his young teammate Castellotti and passes him, taking 3rd place!

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Position after 10 laps: Fangio, Moss, Ascari, Castellotti, Behra, Mieres, Villoresi, Perdisa, Trintignant, Schell. Two Mercedes lead the race comfortably, while Moss manages to break away from the chasing group by already 9 seconds.
Lap 11: Hawthorn attacks Schell again and takes 10th place!

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Behind Farina wins back another position, overtaking Bayol.
Lap 12: Schell counterattacks the Englishman again and passes him!

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Lap 13: Farina overtakes Chiron and moves up to 14th.
Lap 15: Castellotti counterattacks Ascari and takes the lead again! This is immediately used by Behra, who was right behind them,  and the Frenchman also gets ahead of the two-time world champion!

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On the same lap, Manzon makes a mistake and damages his Gordini, after which he turns into the pits for repairs, dropping to the penultimate place.
Lap 17: Behra also passes Castellotti and thus already takes third place!

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Lap 18: Farina continues to break through and leaves Simon's Mercedes behind.

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Lap 20: Trintignant passes Villoresi and Perdisa on the same lap and moves up to 7th!

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At the same time, the Maserati debutant seizes the moment to pass Lancia in his turn, following the Ferrari!
Position after 20 laps: Fangio, Moss, Behra, Castellotti, Ascari, Mieres, Trintignant, Perdisa, Villoresi, Schell.
Lap 22: Ascari attacks Castellotti again and overtakes him!

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Lap 23: The throttle linkage breaks on Hawthorn's Vanwall, and the Englishman turns into the pits, ending the fight.

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Lap 25: The engine in Simon's Mercedes loses power, and the Frenchman also pits, dropping out of the race.
Lap 27: Fangio laps in 1'42.4, setting a new track record in the race!

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Meanwhile, Trintignant wins back one more position, overtaking Mieres, and is already in 6th place!

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Position after 30 laps: Fangio, Moss, Behra, Ascari, Castellotti, Trintignant, Mieres, Perdisa, Villoresi, Schell.
Lap 35: Moss drives several laps faster than Fangio and starts closing his gap on the Argentinian!

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Lap 36: Castellotti makes a mistake in one of the turns and hits a wheel on the curb, damaging the tire on it! At the end of the lap, the young Italian turns into the pits, where the mechanics immediately change the wheel and refuel the car at the same time. As a result of the stop, Eugenio drops to 9th and returns to the track behind his teammate Villoresi.
Lap 39: Manzon pits with a faulty gearbox, dropping out of the race.
Lap 40: Moss catches up with Fangio and starts to put pressure on his titled teammate!

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Lap 42: Behra is in trouble! The Frenchman confidently was placing in third place, but at the end of the lap he turns into the pits with a faulty engine. To the disappointment of the Frenchman, the repair takes more than two and a half minutes, and Jean returns to the track only in 11th place. Meanwhile, Ascari takes the third place again.

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Lap 43: Fangio and Moss catch up with Perdisa, who is losing a lap, but the Italian debutant doesn't even think of missing the Silver Arrows and blocks them!
Lap 44: Fangio manages to get past Perdisa, but Cesare still blocks Moss' second Mercedes, as a result of which the Englishman again begins to lag behind the Argentine!

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Lap 45: Braking for the first corner, Moss still manages to pass Maserati, but before chasing the leader again, the Englishman clearly shows Perdisa to use the mirrors at least once in a while!

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Lap 48: Castellotti passes his teammate Villoresi, taking 7th place.

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Lap 50: Fangio stops at Station with a broken transmission!

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The Argentinian confidently controlled the course of the race, but now his teammate Moss is the new leader!

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On the same lap, Taruffi enters the pits and hands over his Ferrari to Frere.
Position after 50 laps: Moss, Ascari, Trintignant, Mieres, Perdisa, Castellotti, Villoresi, Farina, Schell, Behra.
Lap 52: Behra and Perdisa enter the pits at the same time and change cars, thanks to which the Frenchman manages to win back the whole lap and return to the track in 7th position.
Lap 64: Mieres attacks Trintignant for third place and passes him!

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On the same lap, due to problems with the transmission, Bayol drops out of the race.
Lap 65: Mieres also has a transmission failure and Trintignant regains third place without any struggle!
Lap 68: Schell's Ferrari has engine problems and Perdisa passes the American. At the end of the lap, Harry turns into the pits and retires.
Position after 70 laps: Moss, Ascari, Trintignant, Castellotti, Villoresi, Behra, Farina, Perdisa, Chiron, Pollet.
Lap 76: Behra catches up and passes Villoresi for 5th!

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Lap 80: Ascari begins to experience problems with the brakes, as a result of which the Italian, for several laps, can not break away from Perdisa, whom he had previously lapped!

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Lap 81: The engine on Moss' Mercedes starts to pour smoke!

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Stirling somehow reaches the pits, but engine damage is critical, and the Englishman has only to put up with another lost victory!

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However, the attention of the public suddenly switches to a completely different section of the track, to the harbor area. During the next braking in front of the Chicane, the brakes on Ascari's Lancia are suddenly blocked, as a result of which the car swerves to the left, rams straw bales, and, having flown over the barrier, falls into the sea!

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Divers immediately rush to the crash site of Lancia, followed by rescue boats, but at the same time, Alberto's head appears above the water! Divers immediately pick up the Italian, and on a rescue boat deliver him to the embankment, where an ambulance has already arrived.

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Alberto is carried into the ambulance on a stretcher, but it seems that the only consequence of this incredible accident for the Italian is a small cut on his nose! Meanwhile, after the retirements of Moss and Ascari, Maurice Trintignant unexpectedly takes the lead!

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Lap 83: Farina attacks Villoresi for 4th place and passes him!

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Lap 87: Behra makes a mistake on the curve leading to the Casino turn, causing his Maserati to spin and hit the back in the barrier, losing one of its wheels. Thus, the Frenchman is finally out of the race, losing third place to Farina! Meanwhile, the Frenchman's teammate Perdisa attacks Villoresi in the fight for 4th position and passes him!
Lap 91: Perdisa catches up and passes Farina, taking third place from the world champion!
Last lap: Trintignant completes the last lap and, quite unexpectedly for himself and his team, wins the Monaco Grand Prix!

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At the same time, Maurice becomes the first Frenchman to win World Championship Grand Prix, and in addition, he now becomes the leader of the overall standings, ahead of Fangio! The two Italian debutants Castellotti and Perdisa get second and third places, who managed to show themselves in all their glory on the most difficult track in Monaco, while Cesare shares his points with Jean Behra.

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Farina finishes fourth, who had to break up the whole race after his forced pit stop on the first lap, while the last two points for fifth place go to Villoresi, who spent the whole race in the shadow of his faster teammates.


P.S. At the end of the Grand Prix, Monaco rescuers pulled Alberto Ascari's Lancia from the bottom of the bay, and the public was once again amazed at the fact that the Italian survived this accident with almost no consequences.

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However, as it turned out, this Grand Prix was still the last for Alberto, because just four days later, the Italian tragically died during testing a Ferrari sports car in Monza.

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Interesting facts:

- Maurice Trintignant's first victory;
- Eugenio Castellotti's first podium and points;
- Cesare Perdisa's debut, first podium and points;

- Alberto Ascari's last Grand Prix;
- Scuderia Ferrari's 20th victory;
- Lancia's first podium and points.

Driver standings

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Alternative GP results

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