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Juan Manuel Fangio

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You must always strive to be the best, but you must never believe that you are…

Juan-Manuel Fangio

The name Juan Manuel Fangio is undoubtedly known to every motorsport fan. Being one of the greatest drivers of Formula-1, the Argentine in the 1950s was a consummate master of racing circuits, the idol of millions and the holder of many records, some of which lasted for decades. His name became a true legend, he was admired by both his friends and his rivals, and all subsequent generations of Formula-1 champions worshiped him, for the most part recognizing the Argentine as the best racer of all time. Having spent only seven full seasons and 51 Grands Prix in Formula-1, Fangio managed to achieve 24 wins, 29 pole positions and five world titles, percentages far ahead of any other Formula-1 driver, including Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton. How did he manage to achieve such incredible success?


Certainly, Fangio's first and most important asset was his racing talent. His ability to drive the car, his complete and absolute control over it was truly amazing and made his driving almost infallible. Perhaps only two of the Argentine's main rivals, Alberto Ascari and Stirling Moss, possessed the same skill in those years, however, unlike them, Fangio possessed another truly unique skill. The Argentine, like no one else, knew the limits of his car, knew how to take care of it, he could drive at the same time as fast as possible and incredibly reliable, and it was this skill that ultimately gave him an advantage over all his rivals and tilted the scales of Fortune in his favor.

“To finish first, first you must finish,” says the old racing proverb, and Fangio became, perhaps, the first Formula-1 driver who fully realized its justice and built each of his races based on this wisdom. Having acquired the necessary skills in car repair as a teenager, Juan Manuel made full use of the experience gained in racing and before each start, together with his mechanic, he thoroughly checked every component to eliminate any technical malfunction. However, the matter was not limited to just the pre-launch preparation of the car. Realizing that a racing bolid experiences particular stress precisely at the moment of start, the Argentinean always started off very smoothly, and that is why he very rarely managed to win the start, despite the fact that almost all the Grand Prix in which he took part, Juan Manuel invariably started from the first row. Further, having started the race, Fangio, as a rule, spent the first laps quite carefully, leaving the hotheads to sort things out among themselves, while he himself lapped the tires and gave his car the opportunity to get into working mode. In this, his approach to racing was very different from the same Ascari, who in every Grand Prix preferred to rush forward from the very start and usually either quit or brought a whole abyss to his pursuers at the finish line. For Fangio, the real race began only a few laps after the start, after which he began his Great Hunt, which usually became the main decoration of the race and ended, as a rule, with the complete capitulation of his rivals.

Another irreplaceable advantage of Fangio was his racing instinct, which allowed him to accurately assess the situation on the track and instantly react to danger, which more than once saved his life, as was the case, for example, in the Monaco Grand Prix in 1950 or in the "24 Hours of Le Mans" in 1955. It is also impossible not to mention the Argentinean’s amazing endurance, his ability to calculate strength and incredible will to win, a striking example of which was the Argentine Grand Prix in 1955. In addition, speaking about the successes of the Argentinean, one cannot help but recall that four of his five titles were won in different cars, which was another truly unique achievement. Many experts, mentioning this fact, attribute to the Argentine another unique ability to choose the best team from all possible, presenting him as a kind of “walker” who, in pursuit of championship titles,  was ready to break off any relations with previous teams. However, in fact, this was not entirely true. Of course, every driver strives to get the best car, and Fangio was no exception, however, the Argentine has always had excellent and trusting relationships with all teams, with the exception, perhaps, of Ferrari, and the concept of “loyalty” was not at all an empty sound for him. Most likely, if Alfa Romeo and then Mercedes had not left Formula-1, Juan Manuel could have spent his entire career driving cars in only these teams, without even thinking about moving to others. As for the so-called “choice”, you need to remember that in those years only four or five factory teams competed in Formula-1 annually, of which only one or two could actually fight for victories, therefore, leaving one winner team, the Argentine inevitably ended up in another.

Listing the numerous advantages of the Argentine champion, one would think that he had no flaws at all, however, even he had his own Achilles heel, which was called the British Grand Prix. For many years, for some unknown reason, this Grand Prix, either at Silverstone or at Aintree, was not given to Fangio, and there was always a driver who was stronger than him on British soil. However, a great champion would never have become great if he had not been able to turn his weakness into his strength, and that is exactly what happened in 1956, when the Argentine won his only British Grand Prix. I’ll tell you about this race a little later, but for now I’ll start from the very beginnings of the biography of the Maestro.

Juan Manuel Fangio was born on June 24, 1911 in the small Argentine town of Balcarce, located in the southern province of Buenos Aires near the city of Mar del Plata, in a family with Italian roots in the second generation. Juan Manuel's grandfather, Giuseppe, emigrated from Italy with his entire family in 1887 and, arriving in Argentina, settled on a farm purchased in Balcarce, engaged in the production of charcoal. Juan Manuel's father, who left Italy at the age of seven, grew up on the farm and subsequently also settled there, becoming a builder-mason. Although not very wealthy, the Fangio family was quite large, and Juan Manuel became the fourth of six children of Loreto and Hermina Fangio.

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Juan Manuel's father wanted him to follow in his footsteps, however, the future five-time world champion showed his leadership qualities from the very childhood, and spending his entire life on the family farm was not the limit of his dreams. As a child, Juan Manuel, like other Argentine boys, was very fond of football, and, demonstrating very good results, it was with this sport that he initially associated all his future successes. From these same times, the Argentinean also brought down his world-famous nickname “El Chueco” (bow-legged), for his amazing ability to bend his left leg so that it seemed to wrap around the ball.


Having decided to connect his life with sports, the Argentine did not study well, and at the age of 13 he dropped out of school, thereby receiving his ticket to adulthood. Having, in addition to a passion for football, a certain interest in various mechanisms, Juan Manuel got a job as an assistant in a car repair shop, and it was there that he received not only practical knowledge of the internal structure of cars, but also his first driving experience. Meanwhile, his passion for football in his youth almost led to fatal consequences when, during one of the games, he contracted serious pneumonia, however, even after being bedridden for two whole months, his love for this sport did not weakened.


Soon, at the age of 21, Juan Manuel enlisted in the army, and, having demonstrated excellent driving skills at the cadet school, he immediately received the position of personal driver from his command officer. However, due to his state of health, Fangio did not have to serve for long, and already in 1933 the Argentine returned to Balcarce, where he took up his football career in earnest, becoming a member of the Mar del Plata club team.

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However, while playing football, Juan Manuel did not forget about his second hobby, therefore, having converted the barn on the family farm into a garage, he spent almost all his free time from his main job assembling his own racing car, created on the basis of the Ford Model A.


In 1936, when this car was finally completed, Fangio began his racing career, but at first, in order not to irritate his family, he went to the start under the pseudonym Rivadavia, which was the name of the first President of Argentina. At the same time, despite the fact that even then Juan Manuel clearly demonstrated his remarkable talent, he failed to achieve any great success behind the wheel of this car.

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In 1939, Fangio, with the help of his friends, purchased a new Chevrolet, and with it his racing career immediately took off, while football was completely forgotten. In 1940-41, Juan Manuel had already made a name for himself by winning both Tourismo Carretera endurance championships, considered at the time the most prestigious motor racing in Argentina. His first major victory Fangio won in 1940 in the Gran Premio del Norte, which the Argentine himself described as a “terrible test.” The route of this race started in Buenos Aires, passed through the Andes mountains and Bolivia to the capital of Peru, Lima, and then followed the same route back to Buenos Aires, thus covering almost 10,000 km.

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During this race, the drivers and their teammates had to drive in the most extreme conditions: through hot deserts, tropical jungles, icy mountain peaks with steep cliffs and thin frosty air, from which both people and their cars suffered... It is not surprising that, given such harsh conditions, only a third of all participants managed to get back to Buenos-Aires, and this despite the fact that each car was filled to capacity with spare parts. During this race, Fangio’s car also stopped more than once with various breakdowns: first, the Argentine ran into a huge stone and damaged the driveshaft, then in Bolivia, a local car crashed into him, bending the axle, and a little later, a fan that came loose made a hole in the radiator... Fangio had to fix all these breakdowns himself, together with his co-driver, sometimes even at the cost of a night's rest, but the result of this 15-day marathon was his convincing victory, and his name was remembered by many that day so as never to be forgotten.

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In 1941, Juan Manuel won his second Turismo Carretera title as well as another prestigious Grand Prix Getúlio Vargas, which took place on the public roads of central and south-eastern Brazil, but soon the echoes of World War II reached Argentina, and Fangio had to forget about racing for a while. During the period of forced downtime, Juan Manuel started his own business, earning his living by transporting goods and trading in scarce tires.

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The Argentine managed to return to racing only in 1947, however, as soon as he got behind the wheel of a racing car, he immediately proved that he was in excellent shape, winning the Premio de Mecánica Argentina, and also becoming 3rd in the Buenos Aires Grand Prix as well as in the Turismo Carretera Championship. In 1948, his success continued, however, it was then that Fangio had his first serious accident, which almost put an end to his entire future racing career. This happened at the penultimate stage of the Turismo Carretera Championship, which was called the South American Grand Prix and the route of which ran almost across the entire continent, from Buenos Aires to Caracas. That race did not go well for Fangio from the very beginning, and due to a broken crown gear, the Argentine finished the first stage one of the last, so he had to push hard in the following stages. Using all his skills, Juan Manuel managed to catch up with the leaders by Peru, however, upon reaching Lima, an unpleasant surprise awaited the drivers there. As soon as they all settled in for the night, local organizers immediately woke them up and forced them to continue the race, explaining this by some kind of popular unrest. Returning to the wheel, Fangio drove on, but about halfway through the next section, driving along the coastal road past the village of Huanchaco, in conditions of thick fog and almost zero visibility, Juan Manuel took a turn too quickly and flew off the road, after which his car rolled head over heels along a high slope. During these somersaults, Fangio's co-driver Daniel Urrutia was thrown out of the car, while Juan Manuel himself was luckier and remained inside.

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Arriving at the scene of the accident, one of Fangio's main rivals, Oscar Galvez, immediately rushed to the rescue of his compatriot and helped him out of the car, while another driver, Luciano Marcilla, took Juan Manuel and Daniel to the nearest hospital. Fangio himself got off quite easily then, with just injuries to his neck, but his teammate was much less lucky, and due to serious head injuries, he soon died without regaining consciousness.


This tragedy shook Juan Manuel to the core, and, feeling guilty for what happened, the Argentine even fell into depression and seriously considered quitting racing. Fortunately for millions of motorsport fans, this did not happen, while Fangio himself opened a new page in his racing biography the following year, 1949.


A year earlier, Argentine President Juan Peron, who was a passionate motorsport fan, decided to create a national racing team that would represent his country in Europe, and, being one of the strongest Argentine drivers, Juan Manuel led the first line-up of this team, having at his disposal of one of the most common cars of that time, Maserati 4CLT/48.

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As soon as he arrived in the Old World, Fangio immediately showed his class, winning the Grand Prix of San Remo, Pau, Roussillon, Marseille, Monza, San Martin and Albi and thus becoming the most successful driver of the European season.

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At the same time, perhaps the only one who could boast of no less achievements this year was the Italian Alberto Ascari, who won five Grand Prix, so we can say that it was from then on that the confrontation between these two greatest racers of the 50s began.

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Naturally, Fangio’s successes in Europe were enthusiastically received in his homeland, so when Juan Manuel returned to Argentina at the end of the summer, the whole country greeted him as a national hero, and President Peron himself did not stand aside, receiving the Argentinean with honor in his presidential palace.

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Meanwhile, the following year, 1950, the FIA organized the first ever World Championship in the Formula 1 class, interest in which was immediately expressed by almost all European racing teams of the time, including the Italian Alfa Romeo, which, after one missed season, decided to return to the Grand Prix racing again. Their Alfa Romeo 158 cars, created even before the World War II and nicknamed Alfettas, were undoubtedly the best cars in this class, so even before the start of the season the Milanese team was considered the undoubted favorite of the upcoming championship. At the same time, taking into account that the team lost their entire previous line-up back in 1948-49, Alfa Romeo entered the new championship completely renewed. The leader of the team was one of the best Italian drivers of that period, Giuseppe “Nino” Farina, the second driver was the Italian veteran Luigi Fagioli, while the third one was Fangio himself, who managed to greatly impress the management of the Milanese team with his excellent performances in the previous season. Given the similarity of all three drivers' surnames, the trio became commonly known in Formula-1 history as the "three Fa".

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The birth of Formula-1 World Championship took place at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, and already at the very first stage Alfa Romeo demonstrated their absolute superiority, leaving their rivals not the slightest chance. Having easily won the qualification, the "three Fa" and the Briton Reg Parnell, who joined them for one race, just as easily took the lead in the race, and the Milanese team’s drivers spent the first part of the Grand Prix in a fairly close fight with each other.

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When the time came for refueling, Fagioli and Parnell fell behind quite a bit due to prolonged pit stops, as a result of which only two contenders remained for victory: Farina and Fangio. At the same time, despite the fact that the Italian confidently controlled the course of the race, Juan Manuel was nearby all the time, clearly counting on making the final push in the final laps. However, the Argentine did not succeed then, and eight laps before the finish he himself made a mistake, flew off the track and, as a result of a collision with a straw bale, severely damaged the radiator and oil line. After this, Fangio had no choice but to retire from the race, while the first victory in the history of the Formula-1 championships went to Farina.

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However, Juan Manuel managed to win back already at the second stage, which took place in Monaco. Having become the fastest driver in qualifying, the Argentine got off to a great start and immediately led the race, while Farina, on the contrary, failed the start, immediately falling back to 4th place. Fearing that his teammate would quickly create a large lead, the Italian immediately rushed to regain the positions lost at the start, however, his haste played a cruel joke on him. Having overtaken Villoresi and hanging on the tail of Gonzalez, Nino decided to attack the young Argentine at Bureau de Tabac, however, due to the strong surf that day, this turn was very wet from the spray flying in from the bay, and as a result, the Italian slipped and crashed into the barrier, thereby provoking the most massive blockage in the history of the first decade of Formula-1.

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As a result of this accident, in addition to Farina, eight more drivers immediately dropped out of the race, including the Italian's teammate Fagioli, while, fortunately, no one was seriously injured. Meanwhile Fangio himself finished the first lap completely unaware of what had happened and, given the complete absence of warning flags on the track, his confident leadership could lead to the most tragic consequences for him. Fortunately, the Argentinian was helped out by his incredible racing sense. Leaving the tunnel, Juan Manuel drew attention to the unusual behavior of the spectators in the stands, who, contrary to custom, did not pay any attention to the car passing by, but were turned somewhere into the distance. Sensing something was wrong, Fangio immediately slowed down, and thanks to this, he managed to become only a witness, and not a direct participant in this truly grandiose collapse. At the same time, upon approaching the scene of the accident, the Argentine showed miracles of restraint and composure at all. Seeing that the track was completely blocked by broken cars, Juan Manuel jumped out of his Alfa Romeo, pushed away the car that was blocking the passage, after which, as if nothing had happened, he returned to the cockpit and continued the race! Considering the retirement of both his teammates, it was no longer difficult for him to bring this Grand Prix to victory, and the Argentine confidently crossed the finish line first, ahead of Ascari, who took 2nd place, by a whole lap.

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The third stage of the championship took place in Switzerland, and the main fight for victory on the track in Bremgarten unfolded between Fangio and Farina again. The start of the race remained with the Argentinean, but in the Grand Prix itself the Italian felt much more confident, so soon the management of the Milanese team instructed Juan Manuel to let his teammate through.

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A true team player, the Argentine obeyed orders and let Nino lead the way, who immediately raced to his second victory of the season, while Fangio himself was again unlucky, and with nine laps to go he was forced to leave the race with a faulty engine.


Meanwhile, at the next stage in Belgium, Juan Manuel managed to win back again. Having shown the same time in qualifying, Farina and Fangio were equally fast in the race, however, this time the Italian was unlucky, who, due to problems with the transmission, managed to finish only 4th, while Fangio celebrated the victory this time.

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Meantime, the Argentine managed to achieve a real turning point in the fight for the title at the next stage in France, where he managed to win another victory, while Farina dropped out of the race again, this time due to problems with the fuel pump.

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By the last stage of the championship, which took place in Italy, Fangio was 4 points ahead of Farina, and thus it was he who had the best chance of becoming the first ever Formula-1 champion. To win the title, it was enough for the Argentine to finish in 3rd place, while the Italian only needed a victory, and then only on the condition that his main rival did not make it to the podium.  At the same time, it should be noted that the management of the Milanese team, although they preferred the Italian’s victory, put both contenders on equal terms and provided them both with new Alfa Romeo 159 cars, which were modernized 158s. In addition, given such high stakes, in the home Grand Prix the Milanese team was represented by as many as five drivers, and Consalvo Sanesi and Piero Taruffi, who joined the main line-up, were supposed to provide them with their cars in case of problems with one of the contenders. As if this were not enough, the Scuderia drivers also added intrigue to the fight for the championship title, who, having received new Ferrari 375 cars for their home round, unexpectedly turned out to be very fast and were in no way inferior to the Milanese bolids in qualifying.

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As one might expect, this race, in which the fate of the first championship title was decided, turned into a real thriller. From the very start, Farina and Ascari rushed forward, while Fangio, aimed at winning the championship, did not interfere in their fight, completely satisfied with his 3rd position. The fight between the two Italians continued with varying success until the 21st lap, however, the new Ferrari still lacked reliability, and due to engine problems, Ascari had to pit, thereby leaving Farina alone. It was at this very moment that problems began with the gearbox on Fangio’s new Alfa Romeo, as a result of which the Argentine was first forced to give up his position to Taruffi, and then completely finish the race in the pits. Despite this, Juan Manuel still had a real chance to become the champion, when Piero, on instructions from the pits, made a pit stop and provided him with his car, however, luck that day was clearly not on Fangio’s side. Just ten laps later, this car also let the Argentine down, and along with the clouds of smoke from the burnt-out engine, his last chances to win the championship disappeared. The race, and with it the title, was won by Farina, while Fangio took “only” second place in the overall standings.

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Despite this setback, Juan Manuel was not too upset about the loss, hoping that he would have better luck next year, and he was right: the 1951 season turned out to be completely different. The first round of the new championship was this time the Swiss Grand Prix, and it was marked by heavy rain that hit the Bremgarten track on Sunday and became a harbinger of the first rain race in the history of the Formula-1 championships. At the same time, despite the obvious progress of the Scuderia, Fangio and Farina, as last year, dominated in qualifying, however, the two Alfa Romeo drivers chose different strategies for the race. The Italian, who decided to do without refueling at all, started with a fully fueled car with an additional fuel tank, while Fangio adhered to the more usual tactics with one refueling. As subsequent events showed, the Argentine was right after all. Having a lighter car, Juan Manuel easily won the start, after which he set such an incredible pace that by the middle of the distance his lead over the Italian was already about 40 seconds. Naturally, this gap was still not enough for Fangio to remain the leader after his pit stop, however, he only needed five laps to catch up with Farina and pass him, after which the Argentine confidently brought the race to a victorious finish. Having started the season with a victory, Juan Manuel made a serious bid for the title this year, while the Grand Prix itself demonstrated not only his excellent strategic abilities, but also his truly masterful ability to drive in the rain.

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Naturally, after the defeat in Switzerland, Farina longed for revenge, and at the second stage in Belgium he still managed to gain the upper hand. At the same time, both Alfa Romeo drivers failed the start, and it was Villoresi who immediately took the lead in a Ferrari, however, Gi-Gi managed to stay at the head of the race for only two laps, after which Nino overtook him and began to rapidly move forward. Meanwhile, Fangio at the start lost not only to Villoresi, but also to Ascari, so his breakthrough took a little longer. Nevertheless, having received a clear track in front of him, the Argentinean slowly but surely began to catch up with his teammate and by the middle of the distance he was literally hanging on his tail, however, the final outcome of the race was decided during the pit stops. Farina stopped first and, after spending about a minute refueling and changing wheels, he returned to the track without any problems. Meanwhile, for Fangio, his stop turned into a real nightmare. While trying to remove the left rear wheel, one of the mechanics damaged the hub, which caused the wheel to become tightly jammed, and all further attempts to dismantle it were unsuccessful. Realizing that the case was hopeless, the mechanics left the wheel alone and changed only the tire, however, as a result of this hitch, the Argentinean’s pit stop dragged on for more than 14 minutes, which left him no chance not only of victory, but even of points. At the same time, it should be noted that during all this action Juan Manuel demonstrated simply incredible restraint and did not utter a word, although he, of course, understood that this pit stop would cost him at least the race, and, possibly, the championship title.

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Be that as it may, when the mechanics finished their work, Fangio returned to the track and brought his Alfa Romeo to the finish in 9th place, while his teammate Farina received the laurels of the winner.


The third round of the championship took place in France, and it was remembered not only for the fact that the Scuderia drivers were able to pose a real challenge to Alfa Romeos for the first time, but also for a whole series of problems that almost all the leading drivers of these teams faced, as a result of which the leadership was constantly shifted from one to the other. However, the result of this exciting Grand Prix was still another convincing victory for the Argentinean, who, also having problems, was forced to switch to the car of his teammate Fagioli during the race.

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The next stage took place in Great Britain, and it was this round that forever entered the history of Formula-1 as the first triumph of the Ferrari team. The victory for the Scuderia was brought by the young Argentinean Jose-Froilan Gonzalez, with whom Fangio was familiar from racing in his homeland and who was his close friend, while Juan Manuel himself took second place. At the same time, in that race, the Ferraris for the first time clearly demonstrated their main advantage: their naturally aspirated engines were much more economical than that ones with compressors installed on the Milanese cars, which allowed Gonzalez to stop for refueling much later than Fangio and thus create a sufficient gap in his lightweight car.

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The next two Grand Prix in Germany and Italy continued Ferraris' winning streak, only this time the strongest was no longer Gonzalez, but Scuderia leader Ascari. For Fangio, these two races did not turn out very well: at the Nürburgring he took only second place, losing the lead, as in Great Britain, during a pit stop, while in Monza he retired due to engine failure at all.

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The last Grand Prix of the 1951 season was held in Spain at the Pedralbes circuit, and by this stage there were only two contenders for the title: Ascari and Fangio himself, while the gap between them was minimal and amounting to only 2 points.

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Considering that Scuderia had won the last three rounds, most experts were betting on Ascari's victory, especially since, unlike Fangio, he already had driving experience on this track. Having turned out to be the fastest driver in qualifying, the Italian seemed to confirm these assumptions, but in the race Scuderia overdid themselves and all their advantage came to naught at once. Fearing that at the most crucial moment, Alberto's car would again have problems with the gearbox, which was the most vulnerable point of the Ferrari 375, the management of the Maranello team decided to install smaller diameter tires on all cars, in order to reduce the load on the transmission, and this decision turned out to be truly fatal. Having managed to win the start, Ascari led only three laps, after which his tires began to deteriorate rapidly, and Juan Manuel easily took the lead. Further along the race, Alberto had to stop for a tire change two more times, which is why he dropped lower and lower each time, while Fangio, having just had a flawless race, won this Grand Prix, and with it his first championship title.

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Naturally, the second consecutive success in Formula-1 was a truly significant achievement for Alfa Romeo, however, the management of the Milan team had no illusions about this and understood that their second title hung literally by a thread and was achieved mainly due to the stunningly stable performances of Fangio. Meanwhile, Ferrari's series of victories in the second half of the season clearly indicated that Formula-1 had a new favorite, and it was obvious that next year Scuderia would surely achieve what they wanted. As a result, after weighing all the pros and cons, Alfa Romeo announced their retirement from Formula-1 at the end of the year, preferring to leave undefeated, and this event became like a bolt from the blue for everyone involved in motor racing.


The first victims of this decision were, of course, the drivers of the Milan team, especially Fangio. Hoping to spend the next season at Alfa Romeo, the Argentine suddenly found himself out of work, which forced him to urgently look for other options to continue his career. Meanwhile, the first world champion, Farina, found it much easier: back in the middle of 1951, after a series of unsuccessful performances, he began to look around and by the end of the year he already had a signed contract with Scuderia in his pocket. However, Alfa Romeo's decision took not only the drivers by surprise, but also the FIA, which was also put in a very difficult position. After Alfa Romeo's departure, among the other teams, only two, Ferrari and BRM, had cars that fit the Formula-1 regulations, while the British team, due to serious reliability problems, planned to participate in the upcoming championship only sporadically. Fearing that such a turn of events would quickly lead to the collapse of the newly formed championship, the FIA was forced to spend the next two seasons in accordance with the technical regulations of Formula-2, thanks to which the list of participants was immediately replenished with new teams.


One of these teams was the Italian Maserati, which, having at their disposal quite competitive Formula-2 A6GCM cars, warmly welcomed the FIA's decision to switch to a new regulation, which allowed them to return to the top league of motorsport after one missed season. The return of Maserati was good news for Fangio, who, having already had a positive experience of cooperation with the Modena team, immediately signed a two-year contract with them, while managing to lure Gonzalez into it, who even decided to leave the Scuderia for the sake of joint performances with his friend.

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However, even before the start of the new season, it became obvious that Maseratis A6GCM was much inferior to the magnificent Ferraris 500 that the Scuderia drivers had at their disposal, so the management of the Modena team decided to postpone their debut until the end of the summer, focusing on upgrading the engines of their cars. Unable to take part in the World Championship, Fangio and Gonzalez had to settle for performances in non-championship races, and it was in one of them that Juan Manuel got into another serious accident that almost cost him his life.


This accident occurred in the early summer of 1952 during the Monza Grand Prix, and, according to the Argentine himself, its main cause was his severe fatigue. That weekend, Juan Manuel was supposed to compete in two races at once: on Saturday in the British Ulster Trophy, and on Sunday in Monza. After completing the race in Ireland, Fangio immediately flew to London to get on a connecting flight to Italy, however, due to bad weather conditions, most flights were canceled, so he had to get to Monza via France. Arriving in Paris around midnight, the Argentine did not catch the last train, and he had no choice but to get to Monza on his own driving a car that Louis Rosier kindly provided him with. After spending the whole night on the road, Fangio still managed to start, however, by that time his strength was already running out, and given that he did not take part in training, he had to start last. Another factor that led to the misfortune was that it was in this Grand Prix that Juan Manuel first drove a new Maserati, while he had almost no time to familiarize himself with it. All this chain of fatal circumstances, coming together, eventually led to this unfortunate accident, which occurred already on the third lap of the race. Entering the Lesmo, Fangio turned on the wrong gear, which caused his car to immediately go into a skid and fly off the track, after which it crashed into a bale of straw standing by the side of the road. From a strong impact, the Maserati turned over, and the Argentine was thrown out of the cockpit, while the car itself continued its flight, tumbling and stopping only on the outskirts of the Royal Park of Monza.

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When the marshals reached the prostrate world champion, they saw that he was unconscious, his face and head were covered with many abrasions, and the thumb of his left hand was unnaturally twisted.

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Fangio woke up only in the hospital, where, after receiving the first X-rays, the doctors came to the conclusion that the Argentine's neck was most affected in this accident, in which several vertebrae were displaced. Fortunately, Fangio's life was no longer in danger, so after shackling the entire upper part of his torso in plaster, doctors soon began to allow visitors to him, and, surprisingly, one of the first people who came to visit Juan Manuel in the hospital was the first Formula-1 champion Nino Farina. The Italian, who has never been particularly sentimental and is known for his arrogance towards others, in two years spent side by side with the Argentine, managed to gain real respect for his former teammate and, when he got into trouble, simply could not stay away. During that meeting, Nino presented Fangio with his victory wreath from that ill-fated race and told in detail about all the events that happened after his accident, after which the Italian took his leave, firmly shaking Juan Manuel's hand and expressing hope that they would see each other on the track soon again.

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However, given the severity of the injury, it took Fangio the whole season to recover, and he never took part in any stage of the World Championship, while the champion in 1952 was Alberto Ascari, who, driving a Ferrari 500, was simply out of reach of all his rivals and easily won 6 rounds out of 7.

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Meanwhile, by the beginning of 1953, Fangio was already completely healthy and ready to fight, and the leadership of the Modena team hoped that thanks to the modernization of the A6GCM cars, the Argentine would still be able to stop the victorious march of the Ferrari leader.

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However, the beginning of the season was not the best for Maserati. In the first three races, both Fangio and Gonzalez were constantly plagued by reliability problems, and Juan Manuel never managed to reach the finish line in any of them. At the same time, the most offensive for Maserati was the retirement in Belgium, where two Argentines confidently led and could well have brought their team the first double, however, both of them did not see the finish flag due to next breakdowns and were forced to finish the race ahead of schedule. At the same time, Juan Manuel still had a chance to score the podium in that race when he switched to the car of his teammate Claes, however, due to a steering failure, the Argentine had to get off again, literally half a lap short of the finish line.

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Meanwhile, while Maserati drivers faced various problems over and over again, Ascari won the first three stages, which continued his phenomenal series of victories started last season, and thus the Italian seriously indicated his intentions to win his second championship title in a row.

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It became obvious to Fangio himself even then that it would be incredibly difficult to defeat the Italian this year, so he directed all his efforts to bring Maserati their first victory in the World Championship. And at the next stage, which took place in France, he almost succeeded. That race, which became one of the most interesting in the history of Formula-1 and received the honorary title of "Race of the Century", was remembered by fans for the incredible struggle for leadership that the Ferrari and Maserati drivers staged among themselves on the long straights of Reims. Even at the last stage in Belgium, it became obvious that the main advantage of the Modena cars were their powerful engines, and the high-speed track in Reims, like no other, allowed them to fully realize this advantage. At the same time, in an attempt to increase the chances of their drivers' success, the Maserati management chose different strategies for the race for them: Gonzalez had to start with half-empty tanks and make one refueling, whereas Fangio had to spend the entire race without pit stops. The start on his light car, of course, was won by Gonzalez, who immediately sped ahead, trying to create the maximum gap, while Fangio settled in 6th place, taking a wait-and-see position and watching the Scuderia drivers Ascari, Hawthorn, Villoresi and Farina desperately fighting among themselves for positions. When the first third of the distance was completed, Juan Manuel finally said to himself "it's time" and began to pass his rivals one by one, and as a result, by the time Gonzalez went to refuel, Fangio managed to leave all the Ferraris behind and thus become the new leader of the race!


However, there were still 30 laps left, and each of them gave the audience an unforgettable sight when Fangio and newcomer of Scuderia Hawthorn staged an amazing fight for the lead between themselves, passing each other several times per lap! This fight continued right up to the finish line, however, Hawthorn emerged the winner, who beat Fangio by only one second and thus became the first Briton to win the World Championship Grand Prix!

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However, despite the missed victory, Fangio was still pleased with the result achieved, and in the next two stages he continued a series of successful performances, winning two more second places in the British and German Grand Prix.

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Meanwhile, at the next stage of the championship, which was held in Switzerland, Ascari won his next victory, bringing their score this season to five, and thus the Italian completely secured his second title, becoming the first two-time world champion in the history of Formula-1.

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Fangio, on the other hand, had problems with the gearbox in Switzerland, which caused him to switch to his teammate Bonetto's car, and as a result, he failed to rise above 4th place.

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The last Grand Prix of the season was held in Italy, and considering that Maserati still did not have a single victory, this stage became truly crucial for Fangio.

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Fortunately for him and for the entire Modena team, the A6GCM cars, as in France, were in no way inferior to Ferrari on the super-fast track in Monza, and, as a result, this Grand Prix turned into an incredibly intense race, the main characters of which were three world champions Ascari, Farina and Fangio, as well as the Argentinian's young protege Onofre Marimon, who became a full member of the Maserati team this year. Rushing forward from the very start, this magnificent four staged a mind-blowing battle for the lead among themselves, and throughout this race there was not a single lap that would not give the audience at least one beautiful overtaking inside this four.

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Unfortunately for Marimon, about the middle of the race, he fell out of the contenders for victory when the oil radiator flowed on his car, and after that the young Argentine had no choice but to go into the pits for repairs. Realizing that Fangio now has to fend off the attacks of two world champions alone, the Maserati management decided to release Marimon back on the track directly in front of the leaders, which allowed him to re-engage in their fight and help his mentor. The culmination of this amazing Grand Prix was the last lap of the race, which Ascari took the lead, still closely pursued by Farina, Fangio and Marimon. Fighting off the attacks of his rivals throughout the entire lap, Alberto still made a small mistake in the last corner, and his Ferrari immediately went into a skid, which did not leave Marimon, who was behind, the slightest chance to avoid a collision. Trying not to drive into two locked cars, Farina had to brake sharply, while Fangio, on the contrary, immediately took advantage of this situation, went to the inner radius, and literally leaking past all three cars, flew to the finish as the undisputed leader! When Juan Manuel crossed the finish line first, got out of his car and was picked up by the jubilant mechanics who carried him to the podium, the whole burden of the last two years seemed to fall off the Argentine's shoulders, and he was able to fully enjoy this incredible, exciting and all-consuming taste of victory ... which was the perfect end to the history of the World Championships in the Formula-2 class.

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The following year, 1954, the World Championship returned to the technical regulations of Formula-1, which limited the displacement of the cars' engines to 2.5 liters, thanks to which several new teams took part in the new season, the most significant of which were Daimler-Benz and Lancia. Of course, the return of the Silver Arrows to the Grand Prix racing was a truly landmark event for all motorsport fans, however, it made an even bigger splash when it became known that Fangio himself would become the leader of the German team. Meanwhile, the Argentine's first acquaintance with the head of Daimler-Benz, the famous Alfred Neubauer, took place back in 1951, when Fangio, driving a pre-war Silver Arrow, took part in two non-championship Grand Prix in his homeland.

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Even then, he was struck by the highest professionalism of the German team, which, having barely returned to motorsport, immediately achieved excellent results, while Neubauer, in turn, was shocked by the incredible racing skill of the Argentinean, who, driving an unfamiliar car, managed to immediately be faster than the best German racing drivers of the time, Karl Kling and Herrmann Lang. One could even say that after meeting Fangio, Neubauer no longer considered any other driver as the leader of his future team, and already in 1951 he managed to secure the Argentine’s promise that he would return behind the wheel of the Silver Arrow at the first opportunity.


Meanwhile, by 1954, the German team was already fully formed and ready to participate in Formula-1, and Fangio kept his word, signing a two-year contract with Neubauer.

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At the same time, the Argentine's transfer to Daimler-Benz turned out to be far from the only sensation of the off-season. The Argentinian's main rival, two-time world champion Alberto Ascari, also decided to leave his place and moved to the new Lancia team, and his place in Ferrari was taken by Jose-Froilan Gonzalez, who became the teammate of Nino Farina and Mike Hawthorn. As for Maserati, after the departure of Fangio and Gonzalez, the management of the Modena team had no choice but to make the young Marimon the number one, who managed to prove himself perfectly in the last races of last season, especially in the Italian Grand Prix.

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The first stage of the 1954 championship was held in Argentina, however, by the beginning of the season, the new Mercedes cars were still not ready, so Fangio continued his performances in the Modena team, starting at the wheel of a new Maserati 250F. Considering that the new Lancia were also far from being completed, Ascari was absent at the opening of the season at all, so the Argentinian's main rivals in his home Grand Prix were the Scuderia drivers. At the same time, it can be said that the favorites of the first stage were precisely the Ferrari drivers, who easily managed to win qualification, pushing Fangio to 3rd place, and who in the first part of the race just as easily left the Argentine behind. However, as they say, houses and walls help, and it was heaven that came to the Argentine's aid that day. As soon as the race passed its third, a real downpour hit the track, which immediately changed the situation beyond recognition. In rainy conditions, Fangio simply had no equal, and in the end it was he who became the winner of the first stage, ahead of his rivals for more than a minute.

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Meanwhile, by the second stage, which took place in Belgium, the Modena team managed to slightly improve the characteristics of their cars, which immediately affected their speed and allowed Fangio to win another victory quite easily.

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The debut of the Silver Arrows took place at the third stage, which was the French Grand Prix, and it became a real triumph for the German team. Already in qualifying, the new Mercedes W196 cars amazed everyone not only with their incredible streamlined shapes, but also with excellent speed, allowing Fangio and his teammate Kling to take the first two places on the starting field.

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In the race, the advantage of the Silver Arrows became even more obvious, and getting ahead from the very start, the drivers of the German team did not let anyone doubt their own superiority, playing out the victory in the Grand Prix among themselves. However, even despite the absence of other rivals, the struggle for leadership between Fangio and Kling became a real decoration of this race, and its outcome remained unclear right up to the finish line. The determining factor that tipped the scales in favor of the Argentine and allowed him to gain the upper hand was his experience. Last year, on the same track, Fangio had a similar fight with Hawthorn, and then it was the Englishman who celebrated the victory, managing to defeat the Argentine on the very last lap. This year, Fangio himself decided to save his strength for the final dash at the very end of the race, and using the slip stream from his teammate's car, the Argentine took the lead only at the finish line, thus managing to get ahead of Kling by only 0.1 seconds!

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Certainly, the double in their first Grand Prix inspired the entire German team, however, at the next stage in Great Britain it had to return from heaven to earth. The Silverstone track, which, unlike Reims, could not boast an abundance of long straights, did not really suit the streamlined Mercedes cars, while the restrictive cylinders installed in the corners generally created a real problem for the Silver Arrows drivers, who were severely limited in their view. Already in qualifying, Fangio knocked down the first of these cylinders, leaving a rather strong dent on the body of his car, and although he still managed to win pole position, it was obvious that it was not worth counting on the same easy driving here as in France.

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And so it happened. From the very start, Gonzalez took the lead, who once again proved himself to be a true master of Silverstone, and, as a result, without giving up the lead to anyone right up to the finish, Jose-Froilan easily won this race, thus becoming Fangio's main rival in the fight for the title. Juan Manuel himself knocked down those very restrictive cylinders more than once in the race, which caused the body of his Silver Arrow to be covered with quite impressive dents on both sides, whereas about halfway through the race, the Argentine also began to lose fourth gear, which is why he missed two more rivals and eventually finished only 4th.

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Naturally, the defeat in Great Britain became quite sensitive for Mercedes, however, by the next Grand Prix, which took place at the German Nurburgring, the team had prepared a new modification of the Silver Arrows, which differed from their predecessors in more traditional open-wheel body, more suitable for winding tracks.

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Fangio appreciated his new car already in trainings, when he easily won pole position in it, however, the success of the Argentine quickly faded into the background due to the tragic accident in which his protege Onofre Marimon was involved. The young Argentine, who was the son of Fangio's long-time friend and rival Domingo Marimon, showed his uncertainty on this most difficult track with many turns already last year, and this year the situation repeated itself: Onofre looked very pale in the first two days of qualifying and could not show at least some decent time. Already desperate, on Friday evening Marimon went to his mentor for advice, and after listening to his protege, Fangio suggested that he drive one of the fastest laps after him the next day so that Onofre could remember the correct trajectory and the necessary braking points. However, on Saturday morning, the sun came out for the first time all weekend, and most of the drivers immediately went to the track, including Marimon, who decided not to wait for his mentor. After going a couple of laps and not improving his own time, Onofre decided to go all in on the third, and as a result, on the descent to the Adenau Bridge, he made a mistake with braking and flew off the track, after which his car tumbled down a high slope.

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The Argentine had no chance to survive in this accident, and even Marimon's close friend Gonzalez, who immediately rushed to the scene of the accident, did not manage to find him alive. Returning to the paddock, a heartbroken Jose-Froilan told everyone about Onofre's death, after which, unable to restrain himself, he sobbed on Fangio's shoulder. Juan Manuel himself, for whom the death of his protege was no less a blow, still managed to hold back the tears that welled up in his eyes, and he only hugged his friend tightly, giving him the opportunity to express his sorrow for both of them.

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Naturally, this tragedy left its mark on the Grand Prix itself. Gonzalez, who nevertheless decided to go to the start, subsequently failed to cope with his emotions and finished the race ahead of schedule, handing over his car during refueling to Hawthorn. Fangio, although he led the race, also felt out of place and therefore did not strongly resist the attacks of his teammate Kling, who decided at all costs to win the home Grand Prix, giving up on team subordination. However, a little later fate punished the obstinate German for disobedience, and after being in the lead for only two laps, Kling dropped back again due to suspension problems, while Fangio still brought this race to a victorious finish, thus winning the saddest victory of his career.

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The next Grand Prix was held at the Bremgarten circuit in Switzerland, and it was on it that the fate of the 1954 championship title was decided. By this stage, there were only two contenders for the championship crown: Fangio himself and his friend Gonzalez, while Jose-Froilan needed only a victory to keep his chances of the title alive. In qualifying, Gonzalez squeezed everything out of his Ferrari that it was capable of, and still managed to beat Fangio by 0.2 seconds, however, the death of Marimon seemed to break something in him, and in the race Jose-Froilan failed to compete with his compatriot, losing to him at the finish for about a minute. Meanwhile, the victory in Switzerland, which was already Fangio's fifth this season, brought the Argentine his second championship title, thus allowing him to equal Ascari.

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Having achieved his goal, in the remaining two stages in Italy and Spain, Juan Manuel did not try too hard, preferring to simply drive his race without interfering in the fight for the leadership, and in Monza this bore fruit when Ascari, Villoresi and Moss dropped out one after another from the race due to technical faults, as a result of which Fangio celebrated the victory again.

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Meanwhile, the Lancia team finally made their debut at the last stage, and the new car, designed by Vittorio Jano, was able to immediately demonstrate its potential, allowing Ascari to win pole position on the first attempt. However, as it turned out, the reliability of the Turin car still left much to be desired, and already on the ninth lap of the race Alberto had to give up thoughts of victory when his clutch failed. Thus it was Hawthorn who celebrated the victory in the final Grand Prix of the season, while Fangio finished only 3rd due to an oil leak at the very end of the race.

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Having won six victories at the end of the season, Fangio managed to repeat Ascari's achievement two years ago, however, given that Alberto himself had to miss most of the season, Juan Manuel did not overestimate his success at all and was preparing for a serious fight with the Italian next year. At the same time, during the off-season, the teams underwent another major change, and now the Argentinian's teammate was the incredibly talented Englishman Stirling Moss, who shone at the wheel of a Maserati last year.

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The first stage of the 1955 championship took place at Fangio's home track in Buenos Aires, and in this Grand Prix the Argentine managed to accomplish one of the greatest feats in the history of motorsport, which demonstrated to the whole world his unparalleled courage, resilience, dedication and will to win. That weekend, a terrible heat wave reigned in Buenos Aires, which warmed up the track and racing cars to completely unimaginable temperatures, and the three-hour race in these conditions turned into a real hell for all the drivers who were "lucky" to get to the start of this Grand Prix. The heat was such that only 15 laps after the start, the least hardy of them began to stop in the pits, and the mechanics had to literally pull them out of the cockpits to make room for their teammates, who in turn overcame a couple dozen more laps. It can be said that on that day the Formula-1 round turned into a real endurance race, and, without a doubt, its main hero was Fangio himself, who managed to hold out the entire distance without substitutions and won one of the greatest victories in his career.

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The Argentine himself later admitted that this race was the hardest in his life, and in order to overcome it, he had to mobilize all his strength and even mentally imagine that he was waist-deep in snow. However, such a great victory had its price, and after the finish, doctors recorded an overstrain of the Argentine's heart, as well as very serious burns to his leg, which he received due to frequent contact with the red-hot cockpit.


The second stage of the 1955 championship was the Monaco Grand Prix, which took place along the famous streets of the principality, and it was remembered by fans with a whole series of incredible events, among which were the only double retirement of Silver Arrows in two years, the fall of Ascari along with his Lancia into the bay of Monte Carlo and the completely unexpected triumph of Maurice Trintignant in a Ferrari. At the same time, Mercedes drivers looked the undoubted favorites here too, however, a transmission failure on the Argentine's car deprived him of any chance of success, and Juan Manuel did not see the checkered flag for the first time in two years.

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Meanwhile, in the interval between the second and third stages, a tragic accident occurred at the Monza tests that claimed the life of Alberto Ascari, and, having lost his main rival overnight, Fangio easily won three of the four remaining Grand Prix and thus won his third championship title.

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At the same time, perhaps the only one who could still stop the Argentine's victorious march this year was his teammate Moss, however, the Englishman was tied up by his contract and therefore did not threaten the positions of the world champion at all, following him like a shadow.

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The only relief that was made by Neubauer for Stirling took place at his home stage in Aintree, where, having received the green light, the Englishman immediately managed to win his first victory and thus take the title of vice-champion.

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Meanwhile, the truly amazing successes of the German team in Formula-1 and the sports car championship in 1955 were overshadowed by the terrible tragedy that occurred in the "24 Hours of Le Mans" race. This accident, which became the worst disaster in the history of motorsport and cost the lives of 83 spectators, occurred on lap 35 of the race and was provoked by Mike Hawthorn in Jaguar, who braked sharply in front of the pits, forcing Lance Macklin, who was closely following him in Austin, to turn sharply left. Having performed this maneuver, Lance actually cut off Pierre Levegh in Mercedes driving behind, and, thus flying into the Austin, the German car, as if from a springboard, set off on its deadly flight into the crowded stands.

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At the same time, Fangio himself, who also took part in this race at the wheel of a Mercedes and was directly behind Levegh's car at the time of the collision, could become another victim of this tragedy. The Argentinian's life was saved by his incredible racing sense, instant reaction and ... Levegh himself. Realizing that a collision was inevitable, the Frenchman threw his hand up, warning Fangio of the danger, and this was the last thing he managed to do in his life before becoming the last, 84th victim of this accident. Instantly assessing the situation, the Argentine literally by miracle managed to slip between the Mercedes falling apart, the Austin flying off barrier and the Jaguar slowing down at the pits and, leaving all this chaos behind, went to the next lap. However, against the background of the unfolding tragedy, the victory in this race no longer mattered to the leadership of Daimler-Benz, and in memory of the victims of this accident, they decided to withdraw from the competition.

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However, neither this gesture nor the apparent lack of guilt in the accident could save the reputation of Daimler-Benz, and after two years of unconditional victories, the leadership of the German team had no choice but to announce their retirement from motorsport.

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For Fangio himself, this meant that he would have to look for another stable again, and finding himself at a crossroads, the Argentine turned to his former boss for advice. At the same time, by and large, Juan Manuel had little choice and came down to only two options: either return to his former team, Maserati, or try his luck with Ferrari. Considering that by that time Scuderia had managed to get hold of the magnificent Lancia D50 cars, Neubauer advised the Argentine to choose Ferrari anyway, and, trusting the judgment of his boss, in the following year, 1956, Fangio became the leader of the Maranello team.

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However, already at the first stage of the championship, which, as usual, was held in Argentina, Juan Manuel began to suspect that he probably made a mistake. When the team delivered their cars to the track and began to prepare for training, the Argentine was unpleasantly surprised by the fact that neither he nor his teammates had a single personal mechanic, and all work on his car was carried out by someone who happened to be nearby. Realizing that this greatly blurs responsibility and increases the likelihood of technical failures, the Argentine turned to Ferrari manager Eraldo Sculati with a request to provide him with a personal mechanic, however, he only waved off the Argentine, referring to the internal regulations of the Scuderia. Having decided not to start cooperation with the new team with a scandal, Juan Manuel did not insist on his own and was the fastest in qualifying, however, his suspicions were confirmed in the race. After driving only ten laps, the fuel pump on his car failed, and only thanks to his teammate Musso, who provided him with his car, the Argentine still managed to reach the finish line and win the home Grand Prix.

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The second stage of the 1956 championship was held in Monaco, and the victory was celebrated by Moss, who, after leaving Daimler-Benz, became the Maserati leader this season. Fangio himself drove the race in Monte Carlo in a very unusual manner and made a lot of mistakes, as a result of which his car looked like real junk by the middle of the distance.

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When Juan Manuel realized that it was pointless to continue racing on him, he drove into the pits and took the car of his teammate Peter Collins, with whom he eventually shared second place.


Meanwhile, at the third stage, which took place in Belgium, the Argentine's problems continued, and this time he was let down by the transmission, which failed, as luck would have it, exactly in the middle of the track, thereby preventing Juan Manuel from getting to the pits and continuing the race in another car.

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The winner at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, for the first time in his career, was Collins, who, thanks to this success, even managed to get ahead of the Argentine in the overall standings.

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The fourth stage, held in the French Reims, became, one might say, a copy of the previous one, with the only difference that in this Grand Prix Juan Manuel still managed to reach the finish line in 4th place. Another detail that failed on his car was this time the fuel line, due to the repair of which he lost a whole lap in the pits, while his teammate Collins celebrated his second victory in a row, as a result of which his advantage in the championship increased to 6 points.

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Fed up with constant technical problems, after the French Grand Prix, Fangio posed the question point-blank: either he will still be allocated a personal mechanic, or he immediately breaks the contract with Scuderia. Probably, if he had applied with this condition at any other time, the Argentine would have been refused, however, the Commendatore, who had just lost his beloved son Dino, was preoccupied with completely different thoughts, and with his tacit consent Juan Manuel still got his mechanic.

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As it turned out, the Argentine did not try in vain, and the next stage, which took place in Great Britain, turned out to be a turning point for him. Nevertheless, it did not start too well for Fangio: in qualifying, for the first time in the season, he lost the pole position, which this time went to Moss, whereas on the day of the race the Argentine suddenly had a fever, and doctors advised him to refuse to participate in the Grand Prix altogether. However, given that there were only three stages left until the end of the championship, any of them was extremely important from the point of view of fighting for the title, so the Argentine still decided to go to the start, which eventually rewarded him handsomely.

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At the same time, at first the events in the race unfolded in such a way that it seemed that this British Grand Prix would bring another disappointment to him. The start of the race was won by the BRM drivers, who immediately took the lead, while the Argentine himself, trying to keep their pace, made a mistake on the 9th lap, which immediately threw him back to the 6th position.

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After that, Juan Manuel focused only on just getting his car to the finish line, but with his dedication he had already attracted the attention of Fortune, which was clearly on his side that day. Hawthorn, Brooks, Moss and Salvadori succumbed to technical failures one after another, and the first victory in Great Britain nevertheless fell at the feet of the Argentine, who crossed the finish line almost half dead.

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Success in Great Britain was immediately followed by another one, at the German Nurburgring, and given that Collins in Germany failed to reach the finish line, before the last stage, which took place in the Italian Monza Fangio managed to radically change the situation in the championship, and now he was ahead of the Englishman by 8 points.

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Given the points system at the time, this meant that Juan Manuel only needed to finish on the podium to win the title, whereas Peter only needed to win. However, even despite the clear advantage in his favor, the Argentine did not expect easy success at all, bearing in mind that in a similar situation in 1950 he still lost the championship, and he turned out to be absolutely right. The Ferrari D50 cars on the long Monza configuration, which included the newly rebuilt banking, began to experience serious tire problems, and after only five laps of the race, Castellotti and Musso, who fought a desperate battle for the lead, were forced to turn into the pits for a new set.

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Juan Manuel himself started the race at a very moderate pace, preferring to save his tires, and considering that he was ahead of Collins at that moment anyway, the situation in the race suited him quite well. However, on lap 18, the right steering arm broke on Fangio's car, and the situation radically changed. The repair of this unit took forever, which is why the Argentine lost all chance of points, while Collins slowly but surely began to move higher and higher. When Musso drove back into the pits to change tires, the Scuderia manager offered the Italian to help out the world champion by giving him his car, but Luigi, who was in 2nd place at the time, resolutely refused, hoping to achieve personal success in front of his compatriots. Meanwhile, help for the Argentine came from where he could not even imagine. Just five laps after Musso's pit stop, Collins, in his turn, drove into the pits, and when he saw Fangio there, the Englishman immediately understood everything and, without hesitating for a second, offered Juan Manuel a seat in his car.

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Realizing that by doing so, the Englishman finally renounces his claim to the title, Fangio at first did not even believe his ears, after which, simply unable to find words, he hugged the Englishman and, jumping into his car, returned back to the track.


In that race, Fangio eventually finished second, however, it no longer mattered, since he won his fourth title at the very moment when he got back to the track in Collins' car. At the same time, analyzing the last part of the race, it is safe to say that after the problems that arose with Moss leading and Musso following him, Collins would certainly have won this Grand Prix, and with it the championship title. Whatever it was, this incredible act of generosity by the Englishman became a real pearl in the glorious history of Formula-1, and Juan Manuel himself admired this generous gesture of his teammate until the end of his life and always spoke with special warmth about him.

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Meanwhile, despite winning the title, Fangio still parted ways with Ferrari at the end of the season, which was not at all surprising, given his rather strained relationship with the leadership of the Scuderia. At the same time, we can say that this breakdown was predetermined from the very beginning, since the Commendatore, who never allowed anyone to interfere in the affairs of his team, would never managed to forgive Juan Manuel for his demarche, while the Argentine himself, who possessed absolutely indisputable authority in the world of Formula-1, could not allow anyone to impose their will on him. As for the choice of the next stable, then it was obvious for him. At the end of 1956, Moss left Maserati, joining the rapidly growing Vanwall, and thereby made room for the Argentine, who returned to the Modena team, as if to his native harbor.

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Probably, before the beginning of 1957, many wondered whether the 46-year-old Argentine, who by that time had become the oldest Formula-1 driver, would be able to perform at the same level and once again defeat his much younger rivals. The answer was given by Juan Manuel to all doubters at the very beginning of the season, when he won the first three stages of the championship quite easily, thereby indicating more than serious claims to his next championship crown.

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At the same time, the main rivals of the Argentine, as last year, were Moss and Collins, however, in the first races of the season, the two Englishmen were just desperately unlucky. In Argentina, both of them were let down by their cars, in Monaco they both had to retire due to a mistake made by Moss, who crashed into a barrier, scattering its debris all over the track, whereas in France Stirling was absent altogether due to illness, and Collins managed to reach the finish line only in 3rd due to gearbox problems.

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Meanwhile, at the next stage, which took place in Great Britain, Moss, paired with Brooks, still managed to win, which became the first victory for a British car in Formula-1, while Fangio, as usual, did not shine on British soil, and having perhaps the weakest race in his career, he completed it ahead of schedule due to engine problems.

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Nevertheless, by the fifth stage of the championship, which was held in Germany, Juan Manuel was already more than 12 points ahead of his rivals, and only one victory separated him from winning another title. Being recognized as a master of the Nurburgring, the Argentine was simply unstoppable in qualifying, breaking the previous record by almost 25 seconds, however, given that the Maserati cars had rather soft Pirelli tires that would not have lasted the entire race distance, the Modena team had to choose a strategy with one pit stop. Realizing that in this case he would have to create a fairly significant gap from his rivals, Fangio started with half-empty tanks, and after passing a series of stunningly fast laps in his light car, the Argentine brought his advantage over Hawthorn and Collins chasing him to half a minute by the middle of the distance. However, the entire plan of the Modena team went down the drain due to the inattention of one of the mechanics, who lost the hub nut when replacing the wheel, so when the Argentine was nevertheless released back onto the track, his lag from the Scuderia drivers was already more than 45 seconds!

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Certainly, at that moment few people could have thought that the Argentine would be able to reduce such a huge gap in the ten remaining laps, but that day Fangio seemed to go beyond human capabilities and created a real miracle. Using higher gears in almost every one of the 76 turns of the Nurburgring, balancing on the edge of tire grip, fighting for every millimeter of this most difficult and dangerous track, the Argentine managed to win back fractions of a second in every turn, on every straight line, with every jump and every landing, as a result of which his lag melted before his eyes, and the Scuderia drivers, no matter how hard they tried, couldn't do anything about it.

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Moreover, passing each lap faster than the previous one and constantly improving the Nurburgring record, the Argentine completed his 20th lap as much as 10 (!) seconds faster than his rivals, and at the beginning of the next, which was penultimate lap of the race, Juan Manuel literally hung on the tail of the two Ferraris!

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To the credit of Hawthorn and Collins, even realizing their complete helplessness before the impetuous onslaught of the world champion, they tried to do everything to keep him behind, however, even the suddenly opened earth could not stop Fangio that day, and he passed them both one by one, after which he flew to his triumphant finish.

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Certainly, this victory, which brought him his fifth championship title, became the crowning achievement of the Argentine's career, raising his fame to unimaginable heights, however, as it turned out, it also became the last one in his incredible career.

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As Fangio himself admitted later, he had never been able to drive his car the way he did that day at the Nurburgring in his life, and for quite a long time after this Grand Prix he could not get rid of the feeling that he was still there, on this track, driving through its countless turns over and over again turning and fighting for split seconds.


Meanwhile, the remaining two stages of the championship in Pescara and Monza brought two unconditional victories to Stirling Moss, while Fangio himself, who had already won his next title, was content with two second places behind the Englishman.

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As for the Modena team, having finally achieved their goal, just like Alfa Romeo and Daimler-Benz at the time, they decided to leave Formula-1 at the peak of fame, as a result of which Juan Manuel, who was left without a place, was again at a crossroads.

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Once, much later, Fangio said that every driver should feel the moment when he needs to stop, and for himself this moment came in 1958. After Maserati left Formula-1, the only factory teams that could compete for the title were Ferrari and Vanwall, however, the Argentinian for obvious reasons, had no desire to return to Scuderia, while in the British team the clear leader was Stirling Moss, who at that time was already too strong even for him. Nevertheless, at the beginning of 1958 Juan Manuel was not quite ready to give up racing yet, so he bought from Maserati a pair of their lightweight 250F cars, which brought him the last championship title, and on one of them he took part in the first stage of the championship, which was held, as usual, in his native Argentina. Having managed to win the pole position, Fangio showed that both he and his car still had some gas in the tank, however, in the race he had problems with both tires and engine overheating, and as a result he failed to rise above 4th place.

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Meanwhile, a month later, at the Cuban Grand Prix, which was held in the sports car class, a very sensational story occurred when the Argentine, who planned to take part in this race, did not come to the start because ... he was kidnapped! At that time, the regime of President Fulgencio Batista was opposed by the revolutionary "26th of July Movement", led by the future head of Cuba Fidel Castro, and its participants, wanting to achieve the cancellation of the Grand Prix and thereby discredit the government, decided to take a desperate step and stole the world champion right from his hotel! At the same time, according to the Argentine's own memoirs, the kidnappers, although armed, behaved very correctly with him and even tried to explain to him the motives of their act. However, despite their expectations, this Grand Prix was never canceled, and as a result, Fangio was released only at the end of the race, after spending about 29 hours in captivity.

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Certainly, the whole kidnapping story only added to Juan Manuel's confidence that it was time to stop racing, and he missed the next three stages of the World Championship in Monaco, the Netherlands and Belgium. At the same time, Fangio's final breakup with Formula-1 took place at the French Grand Prix. In qualifying, the Argentine could not resist the faster Ferraris, Vanwalls and BRMs, taking only 8th position, however, he looked much more confident in the race and could well count on the podium.

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Unfortunately, even before the middle of the race, the clutch pedal on his car broke, and Juan Manuel had to change gears without its aid for the rest of the race. Naturally, there was no question of any podium in this situation, and as a result, the Argentine finished 4th again, which was his last official result in Formula-1. At the same time, it should be noted that the future world champion Hawthorn, who won this Grand Prix, even managed to get ahead of the Argentine by a whole lap, however, as a sign of deep respect for the world champion, the Englishman let him back before the finish line, giving him the opportunity to calmly make his farewell lap. When Juan Manuel eventually crossed the finish line and got out of his car, he told his mechanics, "It's over," and he was right: it was the end of an era in the history of Formula-1.

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After completing his racing career, Fangio became the head of the Argentine division of Mercedes-Benz, however, throughout his life he continued to take an active part in the life of Formula-1, personally met many world champions and still had very warm and friendly relations with his former teammate and rival, Stirling Moss.

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Certainly, every driver who has since gone to the start of the Formula-1 race dreamed of, if not surpassing, then at least approaching the record set by Fangio, but during the Argentine's lifetime, no one, even the greatest of them, managed to achieve this. Juan Manuel ended his glorious life on July 17, 1995, leaving this world, as he once did from Formula-1, undefeated.

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