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1956 German Grand Prix

The sixth round of the 1956 Formula-1 World Championship took place on August 5 in Germany on the famous Nürburgring track. Last year, the German Grand Prix, like the French one, did not take place due to the tragedy that occurred at the "24 Hours of Le Mans" race, but a year later, the Formula-1 drivers returned to this legendary 22.81 km long track, which, due to the trees bordering it and height differences, was rightfully considered one of the most dangerous.


With two rounds left in the championship, the fight for the crown was approaching its climax, and given that the two main contenders Peter Collins and Juan-Manuel Fangio were separated by only one point, a successful performance in Germany was extremely important for each of them.


At the same time, both drivers represented the same team, Scuderia Ferrari, which, understanding the stakes, put up as many as five cars in this Grand Prix, which were driven, in addition to the two contenders, by the already familiar Eugenio Castellotti and Alfonso de Portago, as well as Luigi Musso, who returned to service after a two-month absence. In the meantime, most of the Scuderia drivers got at their disposal Ferraris D50 with long noses, and only Musso performed on a regular model.


Meanwhile, the Maserati team was represented, as at the last round in the Great Britain, with four Maserati 250F cars driven by the same Stirling Moss, Jean Behra, Cesare Perdisa and Chico Godia.


At the same time, both Moss and Behra also still retained their chances for the title, however, they were much less than those of their rivals from Maranello, and both Maserati drivers in Germany could be satisfied only with a victory.

The last factory team to take part in the German Grand Prix was the French Gordini, which this time was represented by two main drivers Robert Manzon and André Pilette, as well as debutant André Milhoux, who became the team's reserve driver. As for the British Vanwall and BRM, after the failure in the home Grand Prix, the heads of both teams decided to skip the German round in order to better prepare for the last race of the season in Italy. However, of all the British teams drivers, only Harry Schell was present at the Nürburgring, temporarily joining the private Scuderia Centro Sud team, which provided him with a Maserati 250F.


The second driver of this private team was Giorgio Scarlatti, who, unlike the American, had at his disposal an outdated Ferrari 500 car.

The rest of the participants in the German stage were private drivers in Maserati cars, among whom were the hero of the last round, Roy Salvadori, who represented the Gilby Engineering team, as well as Luigi Villoresi, Louis Rosier, Umberto Maglioli, Luigi Piotti, Horace Gould, Bruce Halford and Ottorino Volonterio.


As usual, the organizers of the German Grand Prix allocated three whole days for training on this most difficult track, but each of these days was marked by rain, so, contrary to expectations, the lap record set by Fangio in a Mercedes in 1954 stood. Be that as it may, already on the first day of training, it became clear that the Nürburgring track is best suited to Ferrari cars, and the drivers of the Maranello team easily outstripped all their rivals, taking the first three places on the starting field. At the same time, it was the two main contenders for the title, Fangio and Collins, who were almost not inferior to each other, but the pole position still went to the world champion, who was ahead of the Englishman by only 0.3 seconds.


The third was Eugenio Castellotti, who also turned out to be quite fast, losing only 3 seconds to the two contenders, and, naturally, after such a strong performance, the Ferrari drivers were in the best mood.


Meanwhile, the Maserati cars weren't quite as stable in the Nürburgring's twisty corners as the Ferraris, and Moss' best result was only fourth, over 12 seconds behind Fangio's time.


The rest of the Modena team drivers performed even worse, losing to pole position time for more than half a minute, and took only 6th, 8th and 16th positions. At the same time, private drivers in Maserati Maglioli and Salvadori were almost as fast as factory cars and also made it to the top ten, showing 7th and 9th results, respectively, while Shell, after his excellent performances at Vanwall, looked rather pale and took only 12th position.


Meanwhile, the remaining places in the top ten also went to Ferrari drivers Musso and de Portago, who took 5th and 10th positions, while Luigi was clearly cautious, having no desire to get into an accident on this dangerous track again, and Alfonso lost almost the entire first day due to a breakage of the chassis in his car.

As for Gordinis, they completely failed, and the French team managed to take only 15th and 18th places, while Pilette crashed his car during training and injured his knee quite badly. However, the last place on the grid went to Villoresi, who missed all training at all, appearing on the track only on Saturday evening, but the Italian was still allowed to start, albeit the last one.



On the day of the race, the weather finally cleared up and the sun completely dried out the track, heralding a dry race. Naturally, after three rainy days, the spectators greeted the summer warmth with rapture, and all the stands were full packed, while even the young king of Spain, Juan Carlos, was seen among the honor guests of the paddock.


Meanwhile, on Sunday there were some changes among the participants of the Grand Prix. Cesare Perdisa, having been involved in an accident in sports car race right before the Grand Prix, was unable to start and was replaced by Umberto Maglioli. In the Gordini team, André Pilette was also forced to withdraw from the Grand Prix due to his injury in trainings, and the Belgian was replaced by the French team's reserve driver André Milhoux, who had not completed a single lap on the Nürburgring track before and, for safety reasons, was sent by the organizers to the last place on the starting grid.


Start. Collins manages the best start, and it is the Englishman who enters the first turn as a leader, but even before the end of the first lap, Fangio attacks his teammate and takes the lead!


Besides, Behra and Salvadori have an excellent beginning of the race, who manage to break through to 4th and 5th position respectively, while Musso, on the contrary, fails the start and becomes only 8th. Meanwhile, Castellotti, having missed Moss at the start, already on the first lap tries to counterattack the Englishman, but eventually his maneuver ends only with a spin, and Eugenio drops to the very back of the field!


At the same time, already at the end of the first lap, several drivers enter the pits due to various problems, and their mechanics immediately get to work: change plugs on Villoresi's Maserati, adjust throttle on Gould's bolid, while Manzon's and Scarlatti's cars are not subject to repairs, and both drivers are out of the race with a broken front suspension and a failed engine, respectively.
Position after lap 1: Fangio, Collins, Moss, Behra, Salvadori, de Portago, Maglioli, Musso, Schell, Halford.
Lap 2: Fangio and Collins confidently lead the race, while Moss, following them, is already over 6 seconds behind the Ferrari drivers!


Lap 3: Salvadori has problems with the rear suspension and after a great start of the race, Roy retires already on lap 3, losing 5th to de Portago.


Lap 4: Fangio and Collins still lead the race, within a couple of seconds of each other, while Moss continues to fall behind by already 15 seconds!


Meanwhile, on the same lap, two more Maserati drop out of the race: Gould's car has lost oil pressure, while Maglioli has steering problems.


Lap 5: Milhoux pulls into the pits for spark plugs change, then returning to the track in the same penultimate place.


Lap 6: Villoresi attacks and passes Rosier, taking 10th.


Meanwhile, Castellotti, who failed to win back a single position from the very beginning of the race, pulls into the pits with a faulty magneto, dropping out of the race. Besides, on the same lap Musso also stops in the pits for engine checking, after which the Italian gets back to the track without even losing 6th place.


Lap 7: Fangio, Collins and Moss all complete the lap faster than 9'50, and thus all three surpass the track record set in 1954!
Lap 8: Fangio drives even faster and shows a time of 9’45.5!


Meanwhile, a faulty water pump causes the engine in Schell's Maserati to overheat, and the American stops in the pits to top up the water, letting Halford through into 7th place.
Lap 9: Musso can't seem to find the right pace, and the Ferrari manager Sculatti decides to replace Luigi with Castellotti. At the end of the lap, the Ferrari slowly pulls into the pits, but quite unexpectedly it turns out that this is not Musso at all, but Collins, who, having stopped the car, immediately faints! The mechanics help the Englishman to get out right away, while Castellotti, despite the unknown cause of the incident, without any doubt takes a place in Peter's car. However, at the same time, Musso finally drives up to the Scuderia pits, and Eugenio still gets into his compatriot's car, after which the Italian returns to the track. As for Collins, having come to his senses after a while, the Englishman told that already at the very start a crack had formed in the fuel line, through which gasoline fumes entered the cockpit, and as a result, due to the cumulative effect of toxication, his consciousness by the ninth lap had become so clouded  that he began to confuse gears and almost flew off the track! Meanwhile, as a result of all this confusion in the Ferrari pits, Fangio becomes the sole leader of the race, Moss takes 2nd place, while Castellotti returns to the track in 5th.
Lap 10: Fangio sets another fastest lap with a time of 9'44.9 and thus extends his lead over Moss to 18 seconds already!


Meanwhile, Halford makes a mistake and flies off the track, damaging the exhaust pipe on his Maserati, but with the help of the spectators he still manages to get back to the track, after which Bruce turns into the pits. However, there is no extra exhaust pipe in the garage for free access, so the mechanics send Halford back to the track, while themselves begin to hurriedly dismantle the necessary spare part from Gould's car.
Position after 10 laps: Fangio, Moss, Behra, de Portago, Castellotti, Halford, Schell, Godia, Villoresi, Rosier.
Lap 11: After resting for about 15 minutes, Collins completely comes to his senses and is eager to fight again! Realizing that the championship title is at stake for the Englishman, Sculatti commands de Portago into the pits, and the Spaniard unquestioningly concedes his car to Peter, who returns to the track in 4th position!
Lap 12: Castellotti makes another mistake and spins again! Unfortunately for the Italian, when spinning, the engine stalls, and now Eugenio has no choice but to finally leave the race! Meanwhile, Halford, having driven two laps on a faulty car, again pulls into the pits, however, despite all efforts, the mechanics still fail to fit the spare part removed from Gould's car to his Maserati, and Bruce has no choice but to continue the race with a broken exhaust!
Lap 13: On Behra's Maserati, who was 3rd, breaks one of the fuel tank straps, and the Frenchman drives into the pits for repairs, letting Collins ahead!


At the same time, due to problems with the engine, Villoresi also turns into the pits, however, seeing that all the mechanics are busy with Jean's car, the Italian decides not to waste time and returns to the track.
Lap 14: Fangio drives even faster and does an incredible lap with a time of 9'41.6!


Meanwhile, water pump on Schell's Maserati fails completely, and the American again stops in the pits with a smoking engine, this time for good. As for Villoresi, in his car the engine still does not withstand another lap, and the Italian turns to the side of the road, never reaching the pits.
Lap 15: Collins, trying to catch up with Moss, makes a mistake with the downhill braking in the wooded part of the track, and his Ferrari, spinning, flies off right into the trees! Fortunately, Peter himself manages to get out of this accident unharmed, but now his chances for the title are melting before our eyes! Meanwhile, Halford once again stops in the pits, this time to top up the oil.
Lap 16: The engine starts to misfire on Milhoux' Gordini, and the Belgian also pits, retiring.
Lap 17: Halford, who despite all his misadventures still held a perfect 5th position, is shown the black flag for outside help on the track! Reluctantly, Bruce obeys the order of the marshals and stops in the pits, however, due to prolonged inhalation of exhaust fumes from a broken exhaust, the Englishman immediately loses consciousness, and only the doctors who run up manage to bring him back to his senses!
Lap 21: The gearbox on Moss' Maserati begins to make ominous grinding noises, and the Englishman, in an effort to reduce the load on the transmission, almost stops using the gear lever, passing most of the corners in one top gear!


Last lap: Fangio, after a truly flawless race, is the first to cross the finish line and takes another victory, which is already the 20th of his career!


Moreover, thanks to this success, Juan-Manuel earns the maximum amount of points in this race, and thus, after Collins' retirement, the Argentine before the last stage becomes the undisputed leader of the championship, almost securing his another title!


Meanwhile, 46 seconds behind the Argentinian finishes Moss, who still manages to avoid a transmission failure, and thus the Englishman, after two unsuccessful races, again gets to the podium.


The third, for the fourth time this season, is Stirling's teammate Behra, who in this race finally loses his chances for the title, but at the same time only strengthens his position in the overall standings, scoring equal with Collins. Meanwhile, Godia finishes in fourth place, earning his first Formula-1 points at the Nürburgring, despite being rather unwell. As for the 5th place, it goes to Rosier, who becomes the last driver to finish this race, thus finally scoring points again, which has not happened to the French veteran since the distant 1951!


Interesting facts:

- Juan-Manuel Fangio's 20th victory;
- Chico Godia's first points.

Driver standings


Alternative GP results

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