The Swiss GP Launches the 1951 Championship Season

As a note, I wrote this post a couple of sentences at a time over Christmas Eve and Christmas.  So, it is a bit disjointed.  But, nevertheless, it is pertinent in that covers several of the on-going stories that I hope to continue to develop over the course of my reviewing the 1951 season.

Looking ‘Forward‘ to the 1951 Formula 1 Season.

The start of 1951 offers me a chance to consider just how far the sport of Formula 1 racing made it just inside of one year. Already, I am beginning to see flashes of Fangio’s brilliance on the track. A true master in the sense that he has dominated both qualifying and races; reliability, and not other drivers, has proven to be his greatest memory.  I have been attempting to not look ahead at how the season ends; instead, preferring to let the races unfold before me as if I were actually experiencing the season. However, in the absence of contemporary footage, it has not always been possible to avoid the odd-comment from a race summary giving away the ending. But, alas, this is simply a hobby that I am going to pursue as long as it interests me. So, there is little reason to get too upset about not being able to experience the development of the season as a fan circa 1950 would have experienced the races.  I seem to have gotten off track. I believe my point was that I cannot avoid a single statistic–that Fangio won five out of the seven F1 championships that he entered and managed to be second place in the other two. So, just by way of Fangio’s entrance, I know that he will dominate the season.

Another theme that I hope to examine is the rise of Ferrari. At the moment, Ferrari has been a bit of a fledgling team. In true Enzo style, he has thrown a lot of resources since the beginning of the inaugural F1 championship season, but has had no success at overtaking the strength of the Alfa Romeo’s. However, this is the season that Ferrari finally achieves their first victory.  I’m not sure if I have mentioned this before, but I hope you are not under the impression that I am already an expert in the development of Formula 1, in spite of my willingness to opine on its progression. In any event, I recently learned that Enzo Ferrari began his career at Alfa Romeo only to be fired before the outset of the Second World War. He would later steal Gioacchino Colombo from Alfa Romeo to design his V12 engine–the basic structure of which, long outlasted Columbo’s involvement at Ferrari. Specifically, Columbo was later called back to Ferrari.

The 1951 Swiss Grand Prix in Review.

The 1951 Swiss Grand Prix took place in Bremgarten, Bern, Switzerland. It was a 4.524 mile lap and the grand prix took place over only 190.008 miles, suggesting it to be a much slower track than that of Monza or Spa-Francorchamps.

1951 Swiss GP: Various images

Various pictures of the 1951 Swiss Grand Prix, Formula 1.

Showing true form, Juan-Manuel Fangio secured pole with a time of 2:35.9 (Alfa Romeo).  Comparatively, this is a whopping seven seconds faster than Fangio’s pole time last year!  Villoresi, in the new Ferrari made a strong showing, qualifying third (3.4 seconds off Fangio’s lap).  The race itself was wet, causing the fastest race lap to be a much slower (2:51.1).  Interestingly, this seemed slow to me at first.  However, it was really only a touch-under 10% slower in the wet than in the dry.  Wow, it must really have been terrifying to throw these early machines into a corner.

This was the first race of the year, as Monaco was not included on the calender this year.  Fangio led the race for the first 24 laps, but gave the lead up to Guiseppe “Nino” Farina when Fangio stopped to refuel.  Farina opted not to pit, however, Fangio–with fresher tires–to retake the lead on lap 29.  Pierro Teruffi overtook Nino Farina on the penultimate lap.  Thus, Fangio (Alfa Romeo) won the race; Terrufi (Ferrari) took second, and Farina (Alfa Romeo) took third.

Circuit Bremgarten track layout

Circuit Bremgarten track layout (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Two other notes on this race deserve mention.  First, Ascari competed in the race despite suffering significant burns in a Formula 2 race that took place the weekend before in Genoa.  This is before the days that a driver had to ask a team permission to race in other series.  Second, this was Stirling Moss‘ first F1 race.  He raced for HWM 51 in a Alta straight-four.  He finished two laps down in eighth-place

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