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1956 Belgian Grand Prix

The third round of the 1956 Formula-1 World Championship took place on June 3 in Belgium at the famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit. Like last year, the organizers of the Grand Prix updated the surface on one of the sections of the track, this time in the Malmedy corner, due to which it became wider and now allowed drivers to develop more speed on the subsequent straight. At the same time, the length of the track remained the same and amounted to 14.12 km, while the drivers had to complete 36 laps.


As usual, the Belgian stage was not particularly popular with teams and drivers, gathering only 16 participants, but the two strongest teams of the championship, Scuderia Ferrari and Maserati, were presented quite impressive, fielding five cars each. At the same time, the main line-up of Maranello team was this time represented by only three drivers Juan-Manuel Fangio, Eugenio Castellotti and Peter Collins, while Luigi Musso was forced to temporarily stop his racing activities due to a broken arm, which he received during an accident in "1000 km of Nürburgring" sports car race. The main candidate to replace the Italian was former Scuderia driver Mike Hawthorn, who received a temporary release from his obligations in the BRM after the fiasco of the British team in Monaco, but in the end the Englishman chose to join Maserati, which caused extreme irritation of Ferrari manager Eraldo Sculati. In the end, the Scuderia decided, as last year, to resort to the services of the Belgian amateur racer Paul Frere, as well as of another Belgian driver, Andre Pilette, while all the Scuderia drivers received the same Ferrari D50 cars, but Pilette's car was repainted at his request in national yellow.


Meanwhile the Maserati team brought five 250F cars to Belgium, driven by three main drivers Stirling Moss, Jean Behra and Cesare Perdisa, as well as two guest drivers, Mike Hawthorn and Chico Godia. In addition, private drivers Louis Rosier, Horace Gould and Luigi Villoresi took part in the Grand Prix driving three more of the same Maserati cars, while the latter drove for the private team Scuderia Centro Sud. At the same time, the only factory team to face Italian Ferraris and Maseratis in Belgium was the British Vanwall, represented, as in Monaco, by Harry Schell and Maurice Trintignant, while the French team Gordini chose to skip the Belgian stage at all in order to better prepare for their home Grand Prix in France. As for the last declared participant of the Belgian stage, it was the Italian Piero Scotti, who was driving his own Formula-2 Connaught B with an Alta engine.


Qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix took place over three days, from Thursday to Saturday, but already on the first day of training, Juan-Manuel Fangio raced around the track with an incredible time of 4'09.8, for the first time in the history of Spa-Francorchamps passing a lap with an average speed above 200 km/ h and thus winning his third pole-position this season!


Second place on the grid, as in Monaco, was taken by Stirling Moss in a Maserati, but it was obvious that this time the Englishman could not oppose anything to the speed of the Argentine, losing almost 5 sec. to the World champion. Meanwhile, Fangio's teammate Peter Collins was third, just 0.6 sec behind Moss, which wasn't bad at all considering the Englishman was only allowed to complete only a few fast laps in all three days of practice!


Fourth and fifth places also went to Ferrari's and Maserati's drivers Castellotti and Behra, who managed to show the same time of 4’16.7, while Vanwall drivers Schell and Trintignant followed them, who, as in Monaco, managed to demonstrate very good speed of the British cars.


The last driver to keep within 15 sec from pole position time, was the local driver Frere, who took 8th place on the starting grid, while Perdisa and Rosier, who closed the top ten, were already more than 12 sec behind the Belgian. As for Hawthorn, he felt out of sorts during all three days of training, both because of problems with the car and because of guilt towards the Ferrari management, and as a result, at the end of qualifying, the Englishman still decided to refuse to participate in the Grand Prix.



On the day of the race, as on Friday, the sky was covered with heavy clouds, and even before the start, a heavy downpour poured onto the track, which became a harbinger of a rainy race!


Start. Moss, as in Monaco, gets off to a terrific start and it is the Englishman who takes the lead in the first bunch of corners! Castellotti also starts the race well, breaking through to second place, while Fangio again fails the start and becomes only 4th. Meanwhile, Scotti has problems with the brakes already in the very beginning of the race, and braking earlier than usual, he cuts off Godia, who immediately flies off the track! As for Scotti, he manages to safely get to the pits, and after adjusting the brakes, the Italian gets back to the track again.


Position after lap 1: Moss, Castellotti, Collins, Fangio, Schell, Trintignant, Behra, Frere, Perdisa, Gould.
Lap 2: Fangio starts to regain the positions lost at the start and leaves behind his teammate Collins!


Also on the same lap, Gould passes Perdisa for 9th.
Lap 3: Fangio wins back one more position, getting ahead of Castellotti, and immediately rushes in pursuit of Moss, who has already managed to break away by 6.5 sec!


Meanwhile, behind the three Ferraris, a tight fight unfolds between the two Vanwalls and Behra, as a result of which Schell loses two positions, dropping to 7th.


In addition, due to a gearbox failure, Gould is leaving the race.
Lap 4: Fangio wins back 3.5 seconds from Moss and thus reduces his gap from the Englishman to 3 sec!


Meanwhile behind Schell loses another position to Frere.


Lap 5: Fangio, just like in qualifying, is simply unstoppable, he easily catches up with Moss and after a short struggle takes the lead in the race!


Besides, on the same lap, Schell counterattackes Frere, regaining 7th place, and Villoresi also wins one position, overtaking Rosier.


Lap 6: The engine on Trintignant's Vanwall starts to lose power and the Frenchman misses Behra, Schell and Frere at once, with the last two switching places again!


Lap 7: Collins attacks his teammate Castellotti for 3rd place and passes him!


On the same lap, the rain stops.
Lap 9: The track starts to dry out and the drivers are going faster, with Collins being the first to surpass 4’20, setting a new lap record for the race!


Lap 10: After a few slow laps in a faulty car, Trintignant finally gives up and pulls into the pits, retiring. As it turned out, the cause of the power loss was a malfunction of the fuel line.


In addition, on the same lap, Villoresi wins back one more position, passing Pilette.


Position after 10 laps: Fangio, Moss, Collins, Castellotti, Behra, Frere, Schell, Perdisa, Villoresi, Pilette. Taking the lead, Fangio confidently controls the course of the race, winning from Moss for more than 1 sec per lap!


Lap 11: Moss is in trouble! After passing the first bunch of turns, the left rear suspension arm on the Englishman's Maserati suddenly breaks, and the wheel that was held on it just flies away from the car! Nevertheless, Stirling still manages to keep the car on the track, and slowing down, he immediately turns to the side of the road. Fortunately, this incident took place just a couple of kilometers from the pit lane, so Moss, leaving the car, immediately runs back to his pits, greeting the spectators along the way!


However, Moss is not the only one with problems on this lap, because due to mechanical problems, both Castellotti and Scotti drop out of the race at the same time, and thus only nine cars remain on the track!
Lap 13: Moss returns to the pits, where Perdisa's car is already waiting for him, who having been informed in advance of the need for a replacement. Having taken a place in the Italian's Maserati, Stirling drives back to the track, but now he is only in 6th place and is already losing to Fangio a whole lap!


Lap 18: Moss attacks with all his might, trying to win back the lost positions, and catches up with Collins, who has already overtaken him by a lap, but Peter prudently decides not to hinder the Englishman and lets him through!


Position after 20 laps: Fangio, Collins, Behra, Frere, Schell, Moss, Villoresi, Pilette, Rosier. Fangio continues to comfortably lead, already 30 sec ahead of second-placed Collins!


Lap 21: Moss catches up with 5th-placed Schell and goes on the attack at the Burnenville, leaving the American behind! However, on the straight following the Malmedy, Harry unexpectedly counterattacks the Englishman and again takes the lead! The next Masta turn both drivers enter one after the other, after which Moss goes on the attack again, which ends with another overtaking, this time the final one!


Lap 24: Fangio is in trouble! The Argentinian confidently controlled the course of the race, already more than half a minute ahead of Collins, but in the Stavelot his Ferrari unexpectedly lost speed, forcing the Argentinean to turn off the side of the road!


The reason for such a sudden loss of speed was a transmission failure, which, unfortunately, happened in the most unfortunate place for the Argentinean, exactly in the middle of the track, and this means that now Fangio does not have the slightest opportunity to get to the pits and continue the race in another car! Half a minute later, his teammate Collins passes by the motionless Ferrari of the champion, and now it is the Englishman who becomes the new leader of the race, for the first time in his career!


Lap 25: Local favorite Frere, who was slowly closing his gap to Behra, finally catches up with the Frenchman and, to the delight of the public, passes him, taking second place!


Lap 28: Behra's Maserati starts having engine problems and the Frenchman slows down in hopes of making it to the finish line.


Lap 30: With ever-improving conditions, Moss shows the fastest lap in the race with a time of 4’14.7!


Lap 31: Moss catches up with Behra and passes his teammate without any problems, thus taking 3rd place!

Lap 32: Behra enters the pits and lets three opponents through at once, now dropping to 7th place!

Last lap: Collins, after a very confident and impressive race, completes the last lap and thus wins his first Formula-1 Grand Prix!


Moreover, thanks to this success, as well as the failures that befell his main rivals, Peter unexpectedly rises to the very top of the standings, thus becoming one of the main contenders for the championship title!


Meanwhile, the local hero Frere finishes second, to a storm of applause, who, thanks to excellent driving and the reliability of his car, wins his first career podium in his homeland!


Meanwhile Moss finishes third, despite a wheel flying off during the race, who shares his place on the podium with Perdisa and eventually gets three points, which will certainly not be superfluous in the fight for the championship title. In the meantime, fourth place goes to Schell, who only in his seventh year in Formula-1 finally manages to earn his first points and at the same time opens a scoring for the Vanwall team. As for the fifth place, Villoresi finishes there, who, although lacked particular speed in the race, but thanks to the reliability of his Maserati still earns the last two points.


Interesting facts:

- Peter Collins' first victory;
- Paul Frere's first podium;
- Harry Schell's first points;
- Vanwall's first points.

Driver standings


Alternative GP results

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