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Roberto Mieres


The name of Roberto Mieres is not widely known to Formula-1 fans, since the Argentine, who arrived in the early 50s to conquer Europe with Juan-Manuel Fangio and José-Froilan Gonzalez, was never able to achieve any significant success and ended up in the shadows their illustrious compatriots. Nevertheless, during his performances, Roberto more than once managed to show an example of real courage, inherent in the racers of that glorious era, and to gain as many impressions in three seasons in Formula-1 as modern drivers can not get even in ten years.

Roberto was born on December 3, 1924 in the city of Mar del Plata, province of Buenos Aires, in a fairly wealthy family, and being physically well developed, the Argentine began to play sports from the very childhood, having managed to achieve significant success in rugby, tennis, rowing and sailing. At the same time, of all these sports, Roberto himself preferred rugby, but his career in this field did not work out due to a broken leg, which forced the Argentine to look for another vocation. In 1947 Mieres decided to try his hand in motor racing, and the first time he felt the taste of speed behind the wheel of a sports MG, the Argentine immediately forgot about his former passion. At the same time, Roberto quickly realized that in order to succeed in a new business, he would need much more serious equipment, and the following year he acquired first Mercedes SSK, and then the former Achille Varzi's Bugatti, behind the wheel of which the Argentine managed to immediately show excellent results and from the first attempt to become the champion of Argentina in sports cars racing.


In 1949, Roberto continued his successful performances, finishing second in his native Mar del Plata race, as well as taking victory in Rosario, which served as a support race before the Argentine Grand Prix. Thanks to this victory, Mieres attracted the attention of not only the best European racers, but also the Argentine government, which at the end of the year included him in the team of the national Automobile Club, giving him the opportunity to compete in Europe. However, the first racing year in the Old World was not very successful for the Argentinean, and his best achievement in 1950 was the 4th place in the non-championship Grand Prix of Nations in Geneva. At the same time, at the end of the season, the Automobile Club of Argentina, satisfied with the success of Juan-Manuel Fangio, stopped supporting its drivers in Europe, which left Mieres no choice but to return to his homeland.

However, along with the return to his native Argentina, Mieres also achieved new serious successes. In 1951, Roberto managed to win the race in Mar del Plata, while in 1952, he won second place in the race in Buenos Aires. At the same time, Roberto, of course, did not give up hope of returning to the Old World, and in 1953 he still had such a chance when the French team Gordini offered him to temporarily replace the injured Jean Behra. Roberto's debut in the World Championship took place in the Dutch Grand Prix, but it was not very convincing for the Argentine: only 19th in qualifying and retirement due to a transmission failure in the race.


Nevertheless, Amadeus Gordini still left Roberto in the team as a reserve driver, and before the end of the season, the Argentinean managed to take part in two more Grand Prix of the championship. At the same time, in France he was unlucky and let down by a car again, while in Italy Roberto spent the race quite confidently and finished 6th.


Meanwhile, Roberto's highest success that year was in sports car racing, when he finished second in the Roubaix Grand Prix and third in the Caena Grand Prix, while in the Grand Prix class his best result was a 4th place in the non-championship Albi Grand Prix. .


Meanwhile, in 1954, the World Championship returned to the technical regulations of Formula-1 again, and Roberto, unsure of his future at Gordini, decided to continue his career in Europe as a private driver. At the same time, the Argentine, like many privateers of that time, opted for a Maserati car and already at the end of 1953 ordered the Modena team their new Formula-1 car Maserati 250F. However, due to the heavy workload of production, the Maserati did not manage to fulfill the Argentine's order on time, and as a result, in the first half of the season Mieres had to be content with last year's A6GCM model, which was equipped with a new 2.5-liter engine.

Nonetheless, already in the first round of the World Championship, which took place in his native Argentina, Roberto proved that even behind the wheel of an intermediate car he was capable of much. In qualifying, the Argentine got into the top ten for the first time, showing the 8th result, and in the race Roberto looked even better, managing to break into 6th place, but still forced to retire due to problems with an oil leak.


However, two weeks later, Mieres managed to fully recoup in the Formula Libre race on the same track in Buenos Aires, taking second place. The European season also got off to a pretty good start for the Argentine, with third place in the non-championship Pau Grand Prix and fourth place in the International Trophey, while the next round of the World Championship, which was held in Belgium, proved to be a real test for Roberto.

Mieres' problems started already in qualifying, because on the fast track at Spa-Francorchamps his Maserati was sorely lacking in speed, and as a result, the Argentine had to start from the end of the field. However, it was on the day of the race that Roberto experienced a real shock. Before the start of the Grand Prix, one of his mechanics forgot to fix the fuel tank cap on his Maserati, and when the cars rushed to the first turn, the fuel spilled on the hot body of Roberto's car and immediately flared up, turning its entire rear into a torch! To the credit of the Argentine, despite the fact that he almost immediately felt an incredible heat, he did not immediately turn onto the side of the road, on which the spectators were, and still drove through the first turn, covering his neck with his hand!


Then, having reached the deserted section of the track, Roberto finally pulled to the side of the road, after which he jumped out of the burning car, which at the end of its path crashed into embankment and turned over! It seems incredible, but in the end, the Argentine did not receive any serious burns or injures in this accident, and, having recovered from the shock a little, he all by himself returned to the pits, where he finally found out the true cause of the fire.

It was also surprising that in the two weeks remaining untill the next round in France, the Argentine managed to completely restore his car and take part in this Grand Prix, which ended for him with another retirement, this time due to engine failure. However, at the next round in the Great Britain, Roberto still made it to the finish line in 6th place, managing a very combative race after he had to start last.


Meanwhile, in the next Grand Prix, which was held in Germany, Roberto finally got the opportunity to get behind the wheel of his new Maserati 250F, which he had high hopes for.


However, the first Grand Prix on the new car was not very successful for the Argentinean and ended for him already on the third lap due to problems with fuel leakage. Meanwhile in the next stage in Switzerland Roberto got into Maserati's main line-up, and it was here that the Argentine earned his first points in Formula-1, finishing 4th. At the same time, Mieres managed to repeat this success in the last race of the championship in Spain, after which the management of the Italian team no longer had any doubts about extending the contract with the Argentinean for the next year.


And, as it turned out, the Maserati management did not lose, because this season was the most successful in the Argentinean's career. At the same time, Roberto gained fame already in the first Grand Prix of the championship, which, as usual, took place in his native Argentina. That year, during the race weekend in Buenos Aires, a terrible heat reigned, which led to massive replacements of drivers during the Grand Prix and turned the Formula-1 stage into a real endurance race. Of course, the main hero of this Grand Prix was Juan- Manuel Fangio, who was able to endure the entire race without replacements and won a heroic victory. However, there was another driver that day who managed to accomplish the same feat, and it turned out to be Mieres. At the same time, unlike Fangio, who took this step voluntarily, Roberto was forced to take this measure. After all the drivers in the leading group, including Fangio, had already visited the pits to take a breath and pass the cars to their teammates, Roberto stayed on the track the longest, eventually managing to take the lead! However, after just a lap the exhausted Argentine also turned into the pits, hoping for a replacement, but, to his great disappointment, all his teammates were already on the track at that time, and Roberto had no choice but to return to the race! At the same time, during this stop and a short break, Mieres lost the lead, dropping to 3rd place, and by the finish he lost a couple more positions, unable to keep behind fresher rivals. However, already in this first race, the Argentine earned his first points of the season, ahead of the rest of the Maserati drivers.


Surprisingly, in the second Grand Prix of the season, which took place in the narrow streets of Monte Carlo, the Argentine also had a very real chance of winning. In that race, many of the leaders faced various troubles, including the invincible Silver Arrows, none of which eventually managed to reach the finish line. As for Mieres, he spent the race quite confidently and climbed higher and higher until, having overtaken Trintignant, he was as high as in 3rd place.


And it must have happened that just a lap later, the transmission failed on the Argentinean's Maserati, and in the end it was the Frenchman who won the victory, who was just more lucky in this race!

Meanwhile, the next round of the World Championship, which was held in Belgium, brought the Argentine a complete disappointment. It all started even before the first training, when Roberto went for a walk in the evening in the Ardennes forest, and, stumbling over a root, dislocated his leg. Nevertheless, despite the severe pain, the Argentine still found the strength to take part in qualifying and, having driven one fast lap, secured his place at the start. Meanwhile, on race day, Roberto's condition improved slightly, and although he was still limping, the Argentine was clearly determined to get to the finish line. However, he never succeeded, and this time due to the fault of the Maserati management. Having already made his way to the 8th place by the 15th lap, Roberto unexpectedly received an order to call in the pits. It turned out that the leader of the team, Jean Behra, had already crashed his car by that time, and when he returned to the pits, he immediately demanded to provide him with another one! Without thinking twice, the Maserati management decided to give Roberto's car to the Frenchman, and after entering the pits, the Argentine had no choice but to obey the order.


As for Behra, he didn’t show himself in any way further in the race and, having finished 5th, he shared the points earned with Roberto.

Meanwhile, for the next round, which took place in the Netherlands, Mieres recovered completely and immediately showed everything he was capable of, having spent one of the best races of his career. Starting the race from 7th place, Roberto immediately flew around the track like a hurricane, and by the 6th lap, the Argentine not only managed to overtake two Ferraris, but also showed the best lap, which no one managed to beat until the very finish! Moreover, about a quarter of the distance, Mieres caught up with the Mercedes driver Kling, and, putting serious pressure on him, made him make a mistake, thus winning another position!


Unfortunately, the Argentinian never managed to earn his first podium in the championship, but he once again repeated his best achievement, finishing 4th and earning a few more points.


The next round of the World Championship was held in the Great Britain, in which Roberto again managed to demonstrate his speed, arranging another fight with Kling for third place. However, this time the German did not repeat his mistake and restrained all the attacks of the Argentinean, while Roberto was forced to stop his pursuit already in the middle of the race due to engine failure.


The last stage of the World Championship in Italy was also not very successful for the Argentinean, and due to another problem with the engine, Roberto failed to score points. Nevertheless, according to the overall standings, Mieres took a very good 7th place and thanks to his stable performances, he even managed to get ahead of his teammates Jean Behra and Luigi Musso and thus become the best Maserati driver!


Besides, in addition to quite successful performances in the World Championship, Roberto won podiums that year in the non-championship Grand Prix of Turin, Pau and Bordeaux, and also became third in the sports car race in Monza.

However, unfortunately, this season was not only the most successful, but also the last one in the racing career of the Argentinean, who, due to a political upheaval in his homeland, was forced to leave Europe. Returning to Argentina, Roberto went into business, taking the position of the chief distributor of Peugeot cars in South America, but from time to time he still took part in various racing competitions in his homeland and in the United States. At the same time, the most resounding success of the Argentinean in the States was his victory at the wheel of Porsche in the 1000 km of Daytona race in 1959, which he won together with Antonio von Dori.


Besides, in the late 50s, Mieres resumed his sailing activities, and in 1960 he even represented Argentina at the Olympic Games in this category. Interestingly, another former Formula-1 driver, the Siamese prince Bira, also took part in those competitions, and Mieres managed to defeat him, coming to the finish line in 17th. His love for sailing Roberto carried almost through his entire life, doing it until a very old age, and the end of his life the Argentine met on his ranch in Uruguay in 2012, passing away at the age of 87.

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