1951 World Championship of Drivers
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1951 World Championship of Drivers

Argentinian Juan Manuel Fangio won the 1951 World Championship of Drivers, driving for Alfa Romeo
Alfa Romeo won four of the eight World Championship races in 1951 with the Type 159

The 1951 Formula One season was the fifth season of FIA Formula One motor racing. It featured the 1951 World Championship of Drivers,[1] which commenced on 27 May 1951 and ended on 28 October after eight races. The season also included 14 races open to Formula One cars but did not count towards the championship standings.

World Championship season summary

Ferrari's newer, naturally aspirated 4.5-litre cars offered a real challenge to the Alfas, which were nearing the end of their development potential. The Ferraris were able to capitalize on the inefficiency of the Alfa's very thirsty engines, particularly at Silverstone. Although Alfas won four races, with Fangio taking the championship, Ferrari's three victories spelled the end for the Alfas. BRM made their only championship appearance with the V16 at Silverstone, and the old, slow Talbots were increasingly outclassed.

Points were given to the top 5 finishers (8, 6, 4, 3, 2). One point was given for the fastest lap. Only the best four of eight scores counted towards the world championship. Points for shared drives were divided equally between the drivers, regardless of who had driven more laps.

Pre-season non-championship races

Although the official championship season would start in late May in Switzerland, a handful of non-championship events were to be run. The first was the first-ever Syracuse Grand Prix near the ancient city of Syracuse on the southern island of Sicily. This race was won by Italian Luigi Villoresi driving the new 4 1/2 litre Ferrari 375 on the 3.4 miles (5.5 km) public road circuit. Villoresi would triumph again two weeks later at Pau in southwest France over homeland hero Louis Rosier and Nino Farina, driving a Maserati for this race. On the same day, Thai driver Birabongse Bhanudej would triumph at the Richmond Trophy race at Goodwood in southern England in his Maserati.

Three weeks after the Goodwood and Pau races, it was the San Remo Grand Prix in western Italy, not far from Monaco. Alberto Ascari made his first appearance of the season and promptly won in a Ferrari 375 on this twisty and demanding 2.1 miles (3.4 km) street circuit, ahead of his countryman Dorino Serafini and Swiss Rudi Fischer, both in Ferraris. A week later was the Bordeaux Grand Prix in western France, and it was won by Rosier in a Talbot, ahead of Fischer and Briton Peter Whitehead in a Ferrari. Besides Farina, this race did not feature any Italians because they were competing in the Mille Miglia.

A week later was the BRDC International Trophy race at Silverstone, with the Alfa Romeos making their first appearance in 1951. Of the first two heats, Fangio won the first while Farina won the second, and Reg Parnell won the final all-important event, which was stopped because of torrential rain and flooding. Two weeks after this was the Paris Grand Prix in the Bois de Boulogne Park in the French capital city, which Farina won in a Maserati.

Race 1: Switzerland

A week after the BRDC International Trophy race, the Formula One Championship season started in Switzerland at the very dangerous and tree-lined Bremgarten public road circuit near Bern around the time the Monaco Grand Prix would have been held, but that historic race was not held this year. Alfa Romeo, the dominant team in 1950 with its supercharged 159 Alfetta, took the first five places on the grid, except 3rd, which Luigi Villoresi took in a Ferrari. Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio was on pole position, with his Italian teammate Giuseppe "Nino" Farina alongside him. The race started while it was raining, and with its overhanging trees lining the road, this circuit was even more dangerous in the wet. But Fangio made no mistake and won the race from Piero Taruffi in a Ferrari and Farina, whose decision to run the race without changing tires proved wrong.

Race 2: Indianapolis 500

The Indianapolis 500 in the United States was run three days after the Swiss Grand Prix on a Wednesday. It was the only non-European championship round and the only round that was not run to FIA Grand Prix regulations. Lee Wallard won this demanding race in his Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser.

Race 3: Belgium

Farina had won again at Ulster Trophy held at the very dangerous and fast Dundrod circuit in Northern Ireland in an Alfa, and the next championship Grand Prix was in Belgium at the fastest circuit of the year: the spectacular and rural 8.7 miles (14.0 km) Spa-Francorchamps circuit. With Fangio and Farina once again 1-2 with the Ferraris of Villoresi and Alberto Ascari taking 3rd and 4th, the Alfas and Ferraris dueled around this circuit, with only 13 entries - small grids in all kinds of motorsports in Europe were commonplace at Spa, because of the fear most drivers had of the circuit. Farina, already on a high after winning at Dundrod, won by three minutes over Ascari and Villoresi, with Fangio finishing four laps down in 9th after one of his Alfa's wheels jammed on its hub.

Race 4: France

The French Grand Prix, given the honorary designation of the European Grand Prix this year, was held at the very fast 4.8 miles (7.7 km) Reims-Gueux circuit (a circuit only two mph slower than Spa) deep in northern French champagne country played the host for an exciting race. Fangio, on pole again, was beaten off the line by 3rd-placed qualifier Ascari, with 2nd-placed qualifier Farina making a terrible start and dropping to 11th. On this triangular public road circuit, made up entirely of long straights, slight kinks, and slow, angular corners saw Ascari retire his car with a broken gearbox and Fangio nursing a sick car. Farina pushed very hard and eventually took the lead. Argentine José Froilán González was 2nd in a Ferrari, and 53-year old pre-war great Luigi Fagioli in an Alfa was 3rd in a one-off appearance this year. Gonzalez was chasing Farina very hard, but Farina's car developed magneto problems and had to fall back, which put Gonzalez in the lead, with Fagioli in 2nd. However, during both the leader's pitstops, as was commonplace in Grand Prix racing up until 1957, when it was banned - Gonzalez handed his car over to Ascari, and Fagioli exchanged his healthy car with Fangio's mechanically unhealthy car, so Ascari and Fangio were back in 1st and 2nd where they had been before. But Fangio took advantage of Ascari's brake problems on his Ferrari (the Reims-Gueux circuit was very hard on engines and brakes) to win a race that holds the record for farthest racing distance ever completed for a Grand Prix, 373 miles (600 km). Fagioli, finishing 22 laps down and furious over having to swap cars with Fangio, quit Grand Prix racing on the spot. The veteran Italian would die after crashing a Lancia during a sportscar race at Monaco in 1952.

Race 5: Britain

The British Grand Prix at the Silverstone airfield circuit in England played host to round 5 of the World Championship, and this race was to make history. The Alfa Romeos, with their powerful 420 hp supercharged 1.5L engines were fast but had horrendous fuel consumption: 1.5 miles per gallon (thanks to the relatively simple pre-World War II engine design), meaning that Fangio and Farina had to stop twice to refuel, José Froilán González in the more fuel-efficient 4.5L naturally aspirated V12 Ferrari went on to win, with Fangio second. This was the first time Enzo Ferrari had won a Grand Prix with a car of his own company's construction, and this team went on to be the most successful in Formula One history.

Race 6: Germany

A week after the British Grand Prix, the non-championship Dutch Grand Prix at the fast beachside Zandvoort circuit near Amsterdam was won by Louis Rosier in a Talbot, ahead of veteran Phillippe Etancelin and up-and-comer Stirling Moss in an HWM.

West Germany had been banned from international sports competitions until 1951, so the German Grand Prix was able to be a Grand Prix championship round for the first time since 1939. The venue was the same as it had been in 1939 - it was the dauntingly challenging, dangerous, and twisty 14.2 miles (22.9 km) Nürburgring Nordschleife. Ascari took pole position in front of his teammate Gonzalez and Alfa drivers Fangio and Farina. At the start, Farina took the lead, but the Alfas started to develop overheating problems, and Farina soon retired. In addition to engine problems, the gearbox in Fangio's Alfa lost 1st and 2nd of four gears. After trading the lead with Fangio during pitstops, Ascari took the lead and won his first championship Formula One Grand Prix.

Race 7: Italy

A week after the German Grand Prix was the Albi Grand Prix on a high-speed and dangerous public road circuit outside the southwestern French village of Albi. Maurice Trintignant won this race in a Simca. Ten days after this race, the Coppa Acerbo at the 15.8 miles (25.4 km) and dauntingly dangerous Pescara Circuit in eastern Italy, which was won by José Froilán González in a Ferrari. Two weeks later, Fangio won the Bari Grand Prix in the small southeastern Italian coastal city.

Italy was the next championship race, and the Monza Autodrome near Milan played host to the seventh round of the Formula One Grand Prix championship. Fangio, in an Alfa, pole position again, but he retired his car, which had engine problems; Farina, who had taken Felice Bonetto's Alfa, had a leaking fuel tank and had to come in twice for fuel, which dropped him down the order far enough for him only to get as far as third. Fellow local hero and Milan native Ascari won again in his Ferrari-which kept his championship hopes alive to catch the leader Fangio going into the last championship Grand Prix in Spain.

Race 8: Spain

The last non-championship race of the year, the Goodwood Trophy, was won by Farina in an Alfa three weeks after the Italian Grand Prix.

The first ever Formula One Spanish Grand Prix, held at the Pedralbes street circuit in Barcelona, took place four weeks after the Goodwood Trophy race. The Ferrari and Alfa Romeo teams each ran four cars, with Ferrari fielding Ascari, Gigi Villoresi, Froilan Gonzalez, and Piero Taruffi and Alfa Romeo running Fangio, Giuseppe Farina, Felice Bonetto, and Baron Emanuel de Graffenried. Ascari was fastest in practice and shared the front row of the 4-3-4 grid with Fangio, Gonzalez, and Farina. Behind them were Villoresi, de Graffenried and Taruffi. Ascari led from the start, with Gonzalez chasing, but by the end of the first lap, Gonzalez had dropped to fifth behind Farina, Fangio, and Bonetto. Fangio quickly passed Farina and took the lead from Ascari on the fourth lap. As Fangio sailed away to victory, Ferrari's challenge fell apart along with its tires - the team having opted to use smaller wheels than normal. By the time the team had sorted out the problem, Ascari was two laps behind. Fangio duly won the race and his first of five championships, with Gonzalez finishing second and Farina third.

Season review

The World Championship Grand Prix races were open to FIA Formula One cars except the Indianapolis 500, which also counted to the 1951 AAA Championship, and was restricted to American Championship Cars.

Teams and drivers

The following teams and drivers competed in the 1951 FIA World Championship of Drivers

Entrant Constructor Chassis Engine Tyre Driver Rounds
Belgium Ecurie Belge Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot 23CV 4.5 L6 D Belgium Johnny Claes 1, 3-8
France Philippe Étancelin Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot 23CV 4.5 L6 D France Philippe Étancelin 1, 3-4, 6, 8
France Yves Giraud-Cabantous Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot 23CV 4.5 L6 D France Yves Giraud-Cabantous 1, 3-4, 6-8
France Guy Mairesse 1, 4
France Ecurie Rosier Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot 23CV 4.5 L6 D France Louis Rosier 1, 3-8
France Henri Louveau 1
Monaco Louis Chiron 3-8
United Kingdom HW Motors HWM-Alta 51 Alta F2 2.0 L4 D United Kingdom George Abecassis 1
United Kingdom Stirling Moss 1
Italy Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari 375 Ferrari 375 4.5 V12 P
Italy Luigi Villoresi 1, 3-8
Italy Alberto Ascari 1, 3-8
Italy Piero Taruffi 1, 3, 6-8
Argentina José Froilán González 4-8
Italy Alfa Romeo SpA Alfa Romeo 159 Alfa Romeo 158 1.5 L8 s P Italy Giuseppe Farina 1, 3-8
Argentina Juan Manuel Fangio 1, 3-8
Switzerland Toulo de Graffenried 1, 7-8
Italy Consalvo Sanesi 1, 3-5
Italy Luigi Fagioli 4
Italy Felice Bonetto 5-8
West Germany Paul Pietsch 6
Switzerland Enrico Platé Maserati 4CLT/48 Maserati 4CLT 1.5 L4 s P Monaco Louis Chiron 1
United States Harry Schell 1, 4
Switzerland Toulo de Graffenried 4, 6
West Germany Paul Pietsch[N 1] 6
Switzerland Ecurie Espadon Ferrari 212 Ferrari 212 2.5 V12 P Switzerland Rudi Fischer 1, 6-7
Argentina José Froilán González Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot 23CV 4.5 L6 D Argentina José Froilán González 1
Switzerland Peter Hirt Veritas Meteor Veritas 2.0 L6 P Switzerland Peter Hirt 1
Belgium Ecurie Belgique Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot 23CV 4.5 L6 D Belgium André Pilette 3
Belgium Jacques Swaters 6-7
France Pierre Levegh Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot 23CV 4.5 L6 D France Pierre Levegh 3, 6-7
United Kingdom Graham Whitehead Ferrari 125 Ferrari 125 1.5 V12 s D United Kingdom Peter Whitehead 4
United Kingdom GA Vandervell Ferrari 375 tw Ferrari 375 4.5 V12 P United Kingdom Reg Parnell 4
United Kingdom Peter Whitehead 5
France Equipe Gordini Simca-Gordini T15
Gordini 15C 1.5 L4 s E France Robert Manzon 4, 6-8
France Maurice Trintignant 4, 6-8
France André Simon 4, 6-8
France Aldo Gordini 4
France Jean Behra[N 2] 7
France Eugène Chaboud Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot 23CV 4.5 L6 D France Eugène Chaboud 4
Italy Scuderia Milano Maserati-Speluzzi 4CLT/50 Speluzzi 1.5 L4[5] P Argentina Onofre Marimón 4
Spain Paco Godia 8
Spain Juan Jover 8
Republic of Ireland Joe Kelly Alta GP Alta 1.5 L4 s D Republic of Ireland Joe Kelly 5
United Kingdom BRM Ltd BRM P15 BRM P15 1.5 V16 s D United Kingdom Reg Parnell 5, 7
United Kingdom Peter Walker 5
United Kingdom Ken Richardson 7
West Germany Hans Stuck 7
United Kingdom Bob Gerard ERA B ERA 1.5 L6 s D United Kingdom Bob Gerard 5
United Kingdom Brian Shawe-Taylor ERA B ERA 1.5 L6 s D United Kingdom Brian Shawe-Taylor 5
Italy Scuderia Ambrosiana Maserati 4CLT/48 Maserati 4CLT 1.5 L4 s D United Kingdom David Murray 5-6
United Kingdom John James Maserati 4CLT/48 Maserati 4CLT 1.5 L4 s D United Kingdom John James 5
United Kingdom Philip Fotheringham-Parker Maserati 4CL Maserati 4CLT 1.5 L4 s D United Kingdom Philip Fotheringham-Parker 5
United Kingdom Duncan Hamilton Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot 23CV 4.5 L6 D United Kingdom Duncan Hamilton 5-6
Switzerland Antonio Branca Maserati 4CLT/48 Maserati 4CLT 1.5 L4 s P Switzerland Toni Branca 6
Brazil Francisco Landi Ferrari 375 Ferrari 375 4.5 V12 P Brazil Chico Landi 7
United Kingdom Peter Whitehead Ferrari 125 Ferrari 125 1.5 V12 s D United Kingdom Peter Whitehead 1, 7
Italy OSCA Automobili OSCA 4500G OSCA 4500 4.5 V12 P Italy Franco Rol 7
Thailand Birabongse Bhanudej Maserati-OSCA 4CLT/48 OSCA 4500 4.5 V12 P Thailand Birabongse Bhanudej 8
France Georges Grignard Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot 23CV 4.5 L6 D France Georges Grignard 8
  1. ^ Pietsch was also entered in the No. 80 Maserati. He only participated with the Maserati in practice and qualified and raced in the No. 78 Alfa Romeo.[2]
  2. ^ Behra secretly replaced the unwell Trintignant for the race of the Italian Grand Prix. Team principal Amédée Gordini did not inform the race organizers about this change as it would have reduced the starting fee the team received. Behra even wore his compatriot's helmet to disguise the switch.[3][4]

World Championship of Drivers standings

Points were awarded on an 8-6-4-3-2 basis to the first five finishers at each Grand Prix, with an additional point for the fastest lap. Only the best four results counted towards the championship. Numbers without parentheses are championship points; numbers in parentheses are total points scored.

Pos. Driver SUI
United States
United Kingdom
West Germany
1 Argentina Juan Manuel Fangio 1PF (9PF) (1F)+/11P+ 2 2F RetP 1F 31 (37)
2 Italy Alberto Ascari 6 2 2+ Ret 1P 1 (4P) 25 (28)
3 Argentina José Froilán González Ret (2)+ 1P 3 2 2 24 (27)
4 Italy Giuseppe Farina 3 1 (5) (RetF) Ret 3F+/ Ret 3 19 (22)
5 Italy Luigi Villoresi Ret 3 3 3 4 (4) Ret 15 (18)
6 Italy Piero Taruffi 2 Ret 5 5 Ret 10
7 United States Lee Wallard 1F 9
8 Italy Felice Bonetto 4 Ret 3+ 5 7
9 United States Mike Nazaruk 2 6
10 United Kingdom Reg Parnell 4 5 DNS 5
11 Italy Luigi Fagioli 1+ / 11+ 4
12 Italy Consalvo Sanesi 4 Ret 10 6 3
13 France Louis Rosier 9 4 Ret 10 8 7 7 3
14 United States Andy Linden 4 3
15 United States Manny Ayulo 3+ 2
16 United States Jack McGrath 3+ 2
17 Switzerland Toulo de Graffenried 5 Ret Ret Ret 6 2
18 France Yves Giraud-Cabantous Ret 5 7 Ret 8 Ret 2
19 United States Bobby Ball 5 2
-- Monaco Louis Chiron 7 Ret 6 Ret Ret Ret Ret 0
-- Switzerland Rudi Fischer 11 6 DNS 0
-- France André Simon Ret Ret 6 Ret 0
-- United States Henry Banks 6 0
-- Belgium André Pilette 6 0
-- France Robert Manzon Ret 7 Ret 9 0
-- Belgium Johnny Claes 13 7 Ret 13 11 Ret Ret 0
-- United States Carl Forberg 7 0
-- United Kingdom Peter Walker 7 0
-- France Pierre Levegh 8 9 Ret 0
-- France Philippe Étancelin 10 Ret Ret Ret 8 0
-- United Kingdom Stirling Moss 8 0
-- United States Duane Carter 8 0
-- France Eugène Chaboud 8 0
-- United Kingdom Brian Shawe-Taylor 8 0
-- France Guy Mairesse 14 9 0
-- United Kingdom Peter Whitehead Ret Ret 9 Ret 0
-- Italy Franco Rol 9 0
-- Belgium Jacques Swaters 10 Ret 0
-- Spain Paco Godia 10 0
-- United Kingdom Bob Gerard 11 0
-- United States Harry Schell 12 Ret 0
-- United Kingdom Duncan Hamilton 12 Ret 0
-- Republic of Ireland Joe Kelly NC 0
-- France Maurice Trintignant Ret Ret DNS Ret 0
-- France Henri Louveau Ret 0
-- United Kingdom George Abecassis Ret 0
-- Switzerland Peter Hirt Ret 0
-- United States Tony Bettenhausen Ret 0
-- United States Duke Nalon RetP 0
-- United States Gene Force Ret 0
-- United States Sam Hanks Ret 0
-- United States Bill Schindler Ret 0
-- United States Mauri Rose Ret 0
-- United States Walt Faulkner Ret 0
-- United States Jimmy Davies Ret 0
-- United States Fred Agabashian Ret 0
-- United States Carl Scarborough Ret 0
-- United States Bill Mackey Ret 0
-- United States Chuck Stevenson Ret 0
-- United States Johnnie Parsons Ret 0
-- United States Cecil Green Ret 0
-- United States Troy Ruttman Ret 0
-- United States Duke Dinsmore Ret 0
-- United States Chet Miller Ret 0
-- United States Walt Brown Ret 0
-- United States Rodger Ward Ret 0
-- United States Cliff Griffith Ret 0
-- United States Bill Vukovich Ret 0
-- United States George Connor Ret 0
-- United States Mack Hellings Ret 0
-- United States Joe James Ret 0
-- United States Johnny McDowell Ret 0
-- France Aldo Gordini Ret 0
-- Argentina Onofre Marimón Ret 0
-- United Kingdom Philip Fotheringham-Parker Ret 0
-- United Kingdom David Murray Ret 0
-- United Kingdom John James Ret 0
-- West Germany Paul Pietsch Ret 0
-- Switzerland Toni Branca Ret 0
-- France Jean Behra Ret 0
-- Brazil Chico Landi Ret 0
-- France Georges Grignard Ret 0
-- Thailand Birabongse Bhanudej Ret 0
-- United Kingdom Ken Richardson DNS 0
-- Spain Juan Jover DNS 0
Pos. Driver SUI
United States
United Kingdom
West Germany
Colour Result
Gold Winner
Silver Second place
Bronze Third place
Green Other points position
Blue Other classified position
Purple Not classified, retired (Ret)
Red Did not qualify (DNQ)
Black Disqualified (DSQ)
White Did not start (DNS)
Race cancelled (C)
Blank Did not practice (DNP)
Excluded (EX)
Did not arrive (DNA)
Withdrawn (WD)
Did not enter (empty cell)
Annotation Meaning
P Pole position
F Fastest lap

  • + Position shared between two or more drivers of the same car

Non-championship races

Other Formula One races, which did not count towards the World Championship, were also held in 1951.

Notes and references

  1. ^ 1974 FIA Yearbook, Grey section, page 118
  2. ^ "German Grand Prix - Nürburgring, 29 Jul 1951". OldRacingCars. Retrieved 2019.
  3. ^ "Jean Behra - Biography". MotorSportMagazine. Retrieved 2019.
  4. ^ "Seasons - Italy 1951". www.statsf1.com. Retrieved 2019.
  5. ^ "Formula 1 1951". OldRacingCars. Retrieved 2019.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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