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1956 Argentine Grand Prix

The first round of the 1956 Formula-1 World Championship took place on January 22 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 Formula-1 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, however, unlike in previous years, this time only 13 drivers took part in the Argentine Grand Prix, most of which represented the two Italian teams Scuderia Ferrari and Maserati. Such a small number of participants could be explained by two factors: the departure of Daimler-Benz and Lancia teams from Formula 1, as well as high logistical costs that prevented Gordini and Vanwall teams from bringing their cars to the first stage of the championship. Be that as it may, it was Ferrari's and Maserati's drivers that were considered the main contenders for the championship title this season, and, understanding the stakes, both teams were represented quite well, bringing 5 and 6 cars respectively.

During the off-season, Scuderia Ferrari went through quite a few changes, and one of the main ones, of course, was the arrival of three-time world champion Juan-Manuel Fangio, whose next victory all local fans were waiting for. The Argentine's teammates this season were the Italians Eugenio Castellotti and Luigi Musso, as well as the Englishman Peter Collins, who represented the Scuderia's main line-up, however, besides them, the Belgian guest driver Olivier Gendebien was also present at the first stage, for whom this Grand Prix was his debut. As for Ferrari cars, they were quite diverse. Fangio, Castellotti and Musso got at their disposal the new Ferraris D50 with V8 engines, which, in fact, were slightly upgraded Lancias D50, bought by the Scuderia from the Turin team last year. Meanwhile Collins was not so lucky and got last year's Ferrari 555, nicknamed the Super Shark, with an inline 4-cylinder engine, which looked rather pale last season. As for Gendebien, he got a hybrid car at all that combined the body of the Super Shark and the V8 engine from Lancia.


Unlike the Scuderia Ferrari, all drivers of the Modena team, both main and invited, received at their disposal identical Maserati 250F cars with inline 6-cylinder engines. The main line-up of Maserati team included the new leader, last year's vice-champion Stirling Moss as well as former team leader, Jean Behra, while the guest drivers were the 1954 Formula-1 vice-champion Jose-Froilan Gonzalez, local star Carlos Menditeguy, Brazilian Chico Landi and two Italian debutants Luigi Piotti and Gerino Gerini. In addition to the factory team, another Maserati 250F was put up by Alfred Owen's team, who considered it inappropriate to take his new BRMs P25 overseas. The British team's car differed from the factory Maseratis by having disc brakes and was driven by Englishman Mike Hawthorn. And, finally, the last participants in the Argentine Grand Prix were the Uruguayan private drivers Alberto Uria and Oscar Gonzalez, who had only one Maserati A6GCM car for both of them.



The first qualifying of the season showed the strength of the new Ferraris D50, which immediately proved their speed and allowed Fangio, Castellotti and Musso to take the first three places on the starting field. At the same time, to the delight of local fans, it was the Argentinean who turned out to be the fastest, who managed to get ahead of his young teammates by more than 2 sec and at the same time improve the track record by more than half a second!


As for the two Italians, they completed their fastest laps with an identical time of 1'44.7, but since Castellotti gained it first, it was he who was awarded second place on the grid. Meanwhile, Collins and Gendebien in the Super Sharks didn't fare as well, finishing only 9th and 10th behind a whole group of Maserati drivers led by Behra, who completed the front row. Just 0.1 sec behind the Frenchman was José-Froilan Gonzalez, who in turn was ahead of Menditeguy by 0.4 sec. Stirling Moss, like a year ago, did not look very convincing in Argentina and took only 7th place on the starting field, while Hawthorn in Alfred Owen's Maserati became 8th. As for the last places on the grid, they were predictably taken by Landi, Piotti and Uria, while the Uruguayan did not even take part in training so as not to expose his Maserati to unnecessary loads.



On the day of the race, it is quite overcast, and this gives the drivers hope that they will not have to go through the infernal hell that last year's Argentine Grand Prix became famous for. Meanwhile, even before the start of the race, Stirling Moss has a rather serious trouble: during the delivery of his Maserati to the starting field, the Englishman's right foot was hit by a wheel, and thus now he will have to spend the whole race with a rather painful injury!


Start. After the waving of the Argentine flag, the cars take off, and it is Musso who enters the first turn as a leader! However, even before the end of the first lap, a superbly started Gonzalez passes the Italian and becomes the new leader of the race!


Meanwhile, for Fangio, the home Grand Prix begins very badly, and having failed the start, the Argentine is only 5th! His neighbor in the first row Behra also begins the race not so well, dropping to 7th.
Position after lap 1: Gonzalez, Musso, Menditeguy, Castellotti, Fangio, Moss, Behra, Hawthorn, Collins, Landi.
Lap 2: Menditeguy, who started the race well, attacks Musso and takes second place! Moreover, Luigi is immediately subjected to new attacks from his teammate Castellotti, who also gets ahead! Meanwhile, behind Moss overtakes Fangio, and thus the three-time world champion drops already to 6th position!


Besides, two Englishmen Hawthorn and Collins arrange a magnificent duel between themselves, as a result of which Peter manages to take the lead, and Gendebien also wins back one position, overtaking Uria.
Lap 3: Hawthorn counterattacks Collins and takes the lead again, reclaiming 8th!


Lap 4: Menditeguy is completely unstoppable today, he passes Gonzalez, thus taking the lead in the race for the first time in his career!
Lap 7: Castellotti attacks Gonzalez for 2nd and gets through! Meanwhile, Fangio, who took a wait-and-see position at the beginning of the race, finally activates and passes Moss and Musso one by one, thus rising immediately to the 4th position! At the same time, Moss also passes the Italian, who is already only 6th!


Lap 8: Gonzalez continues to lose ground, and this time he is passed by Fangio, who is already 3rd!
Lap 9: Fangio easily passes his teammate Castellotti, and thus the Argentine is already in 2nd place! Meanwhile, Gonzalez is losing another position, now to Moss!
Lap 10: Despite the pain in his foot, Moss continues to regain positions, and this time he passes Castellotti, thus moving up to 3rd place!


Position after 10 laps: Menditeguy, Fangio, Moss, Castellotti, Gonzalez, Musso, Behra, Hawthorn, Collins, Landi. Meanwhile, the gap between leader Menditeguy and the second-placed Fangio is already 10 sec!
Lap 11: Fangio is in trouble! The Argentinian begins to lose power and thus he loses 2nd place to Moss!
Lap 12: Fangio pulls into the pits, where the mechanics immediately open the hood of his Ferrari and find out that the cause of the power loss is a faulty fuel pump.


Unfortunately, the problem is too serious to repair, and as a result, the Argentine returns to the track on a faulty car, dropping to everything else to the last place!

Lap 16: Castellotti and Gonzalez are actively fighting on the track, as a result of which the Argentine manages to take the lead!


On the same lap, Fangio catches up with Piotti, who is in the penultimate place, and passes him.
Lap 18: Fangio's Ferrari continues to lose power, causing the Argentine to let Piotti through again!
Lap 19: Moss begins to regain his lag from Menditeguy, and now there are about 10 sec between them.
Lap 20: Menditeguy also speeds up, setting the fastest lap of the race!


Meanwhile, the struggle between Gonzalez and Castellotti continues, and this time the Italian is getting ahead!
Position after 20 laps: Menditeguy, Moss, Castellotti, Gonzalez, Musso, Behra, Hawthorn, Collins, Landi, Gendebien.
Lap 22: To the dismay of the stands, Fangio loses speed completely, and the world champion has no choice but to turn back into the pits, this time for good! However, team manager Sculati immediately assures the Argentine that all is not lost yet, promising to provide him with another car!
Lap 23: Behra catches up with Musso and after a short struggle takes the lead!
Lap 25: One of the valves in Gonzalez's Maserati engine fails and the Argentinian drops out of the race, losing 4th place to Musso, who manages to get ahead of Behra again!
Lap 27: Behra attacks the Italian again and takes the lead!
Position after 30 laps: Menditeguy, Moss, Castellotti, Behra, Musso, Hawthorn, Collins, Landi, Gendebien, Piotti. During the previous ten laps, Menditeguy wins back from Moss for about a second per lap, and thus his advantage over the Englishman grows to 20 sec!
Lap 31: Musso is called into the pits, where he hands over his car to Fangio, who, to the roar of the stands, returns to the track without even losing 5th place!


Lap 32: Fangio immediately sets an incredible pace and sets a new lap record of 1’46.2!
Lap 39: Fangio drives even faster with 1'45.7!


Lap 41: Castellotti is in trouble! Eugenio confidently took 3rd place, but due to problems with the gearbox, the Italian was forced to turn to the side of the road and leave the race.


Meanwhile, on the same lap, Fangio manages to catch up and pass Behra, and thus the Argentine immediately moves to 3rd place!
Lap 43: Entering turn 1, Menditeguy fails to engage 4th gear, causing his Maserati to fly off the track, then spin and in the end freeze at the very edge of the safety zone!


After getting out of the car, Carlos, still not believing in what happened, just settles to the ground.


By the time of his departure, Menditeguy brought his advantage over Moss already up to half a minute, and we can say that the Argentine today lost a certain victory! Meanwhile, it is Moss now who becomes the new leader, and the second place, one minute behind the Englishman, is taken by none other than Fangio!
Lap 45: Uria enters the pits and hands over his Maserati to his compatriot Gonzalez.
Lap 47: A trickle of smoke starts streaming from the engine on Moss' Maserati, but the Englishman signals to his team that all is well. On the same lap, Landi drives into the pits and hands over his car to Gerini.
Position after 50 laps: Moss, Fangio, Behra, Hawthorn, Collins, Gerini, Gendebien, Gonzalez, Piotti. At the same time, Moss' car still continues to smoke, and the Englishman slows down a little, passing the last laps 3 sec slower than Fangio.
Lap 52: Fangio, having learned about Moss' problems, picks up the pace even more and sets a new fastest lap in the race with a time of 1’45.3!
Lap 59: Collins catches up with Piotti and the marshals start waving blue flags at the Italian. However, Luigi, instead of just moving aside, brakes hard right in front of the Englishman, and as a result, Peter takes them both off the track!
Lap 60: Fangio continues to fly around the track, closing his gap to Moss already to 20 sec!
Lap 67: Fangio catches up with Moss and easily passes the Englishman, driving the stands into a frenzy!


Position after 70 laps: Fangio, Moss, Behra, Hawthorn, Gerini, Gendebien, Gonzalez. Fangio is confidently in the lead, while Moss is already clearly focused on just getting his Maserati to the finish!
Lap 73: Moss' car loses oil and the Englishman slows down completely, letting his teammate Behra through to second place!
Lap 78: Fangio slips on the oil left by Moss' car and flies off the track in the same spot where Ascari did a year ago! However, local fans are not at all ready for such a turn of events, and they push the Argentinean's Ferrari back onto the track!


Be that as it may, Fangio's mistake allows Behra to reduce his lag from the Argentine to just 10 sec!
Lap 82: All Moss' efforts are in vain, and with 17 laps to go, the engine on his Maserati fails completely, opening the way to the podium for Hawthorn!
Lap 86: Behra does his best to try to catch up with the leader, but he also makes a mistake, spinning right on the track! As a result of this hitch, Jean loses his last chances to win, after which the Frenchman slows down, deciding to be content with second place.
Last lap: After a very eventful race, Fangio finally crosses the finish line first and thus wins his third home Grand Prix in a row!


At the same time, the Argentine shares his victory with Luigi Musso, whose car he borrowed during the race, thus bringing the Italian his first victory in the World championship! Meanwhile, second place, almost 25 sec behind, is taken by Behra, and for the Frenchman this result is also the best result of his Formula-1 career. Moreover, considering that Fangio and Musso receive only half points for a victory, Jean suddenly becomes the leader of this championship! As for the third place, it goes to Mike Hawthorn, who brings the first podium to Alfred Owen's team, albeit more than two laps behind the leader. Gerini finishes fourth, who also shares the points received with Landi, while debutant Gendebien gets the last two points for 5th place, who is already more than 7 laps behind Fangio.

P.S. After the end of the race, Maserati manager Nello Ugolini filed a protest against the results of the Grand Prix, demanding that Fangio be disqualified for outside help on the track, however, as expected, the local organizers sided with their favorite and left the results unchanged.


Interesting facts:

- Luigi Musso's first victory;
- Chico Landi's first points;
- Olivier Gendebien's first points;
- Gerino Gerini's first points;
- Carlos Menditeguy's first leading in the Grand Prix;
- Ferrari's 20th pole position.

Driver standings


Alternative GP results

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