After two years of dominating the World Championship it would be hard to imagine Scuderia Ferrari to not be considered amongst the favorites to produce a world champion, but while other manufacturers, like Mercedes-Benz and Maserati would be well positioned for the return of Formula One, the record-setting Modena-based team would quickly become an overlooked afterthought.
Heading into the Formula 2 era of the World Championship, Scuderia Ferrari had already built its 625 chassis. Then, when the regulations switched to Formula 2, the 625 would become the 500 and Ferrari would have on its hands an unexpected diamond that would be almost unbeatable for a period of two years.
As Formula One regulations returned to the World Championship in 1954 Scuderia Ferrari already had a car to use—the 625. However, the simple reality was the car was now more than a couple of years old. Other manufacturers like Maserati and Mercedes-Benz would come on the scene with brand new designs specifically designed around the new Formula One regulations. Ferrari was also designing and building a new car specifically for the new Formula One regulations. Known as the 553 Squalo, Ferrari's new design held a lot of promise but would ultimately prove to lack the performance of that of the Mercedes W196 and the Maserati 250F. As a result of the 553's short-comings there would be a number of races in which Ferrari's drivers would prefer to race with the older 625 than the newer chassis.
Scuderia Ferrari had been ready to maximize the switch to Formula 2 regulations, but, as is the fear with many designers, other teams would be better prepared for the return of Formula One. This lack of preparedness would have a greater impact than in just race results. The seemingly floundering position the Modena-based company appeared to be in would ultimately lead to Alberto Ascari and Luigi Villoresi departing the scene before the start of the 1954 season. By the end of the season, Mike Hawthorn would be another casualty of the waywardness. Therefore, by the end of the 1954 season, Scuderia Ferrari's main drivers would be Giuseppe Farina, Jose Froilan Gonzalez and Maurice Trintignant.
Enzo Ferrari had grown accustomed to his team dominating the World Championship stage and demanded his company do so each and every year. While this would certainly be the goal of the whole of the team it would put tremendous amounts of pressure on all, but none more so than on designer Aurelio Lampredi. And, even before the start of the season, tensions were really beginning to mount within the team.
The 553 Squalo was not the success Ferrari expected. Though it would win the final round of the 1954 Formula One World Championship, it was still a car incapable of routinely battling with the mighty Mercedes and the Maserati chassis. Therefore, Lampredi would set to work designing an updated and evolved version of the Squalo. Lampredi obviously believed in the design and believed it merely needed to be tweaked to make it into a consistent race winner.
The problem the team had then, heading into the 1955 season, was that it did not have that consistent race winner. The team did not have that new car capable of fighting with the other major manufacturers. Therefore, as the team prepared to head out to the first race of the season they would be busy doing so with the aged 625s as the chassis of choice. This meant Ferrari would be at a disadvantage before it even headed out the door.
The team would certainly have to make do. The first race of the season wouldn't take place on the European continent so there was no way a brand new car, even if it had been built and tested, which it hadn't really, would have been able to make it to the circuit in time. The reason for this was simple. The first race of the 1955 season would be all the way across the Atlantic Ocean in South America. This was no small trip in 1955. Therefore, the team would be heading to the Argentine Grand Prix with the hopes of receiving some help during the race.
The Argentine Grand Prix was set to take place on the 16th of January, which was really just the start of the later-half of the summer months in the southern hemisphere. This reality would quickly dawn on every one of the teams as they unloaded their cars and prepared for practice and the race.
Located within the city of Buenos Aires, the Autodromo 17 de Octubre would be the host site for the 9th Gran Premio de la Republica Argentina. Buenos Aires itself is nestled amongst a flat plain overlooking the Rio de la Plata. And, in the summer months, this flat plain, which is practically at sea level, had the ability to produce some searing heat that would remain trapped right over the region. This would be the case when the Formula One teams arrived for the first round of the 1955 Formula One World Championship.
Scuderia Ferrari would arrive with a veteran car, in the 625, and veteran drivers as well. Altogether, the team would bring four cars to the race. Giuseppe Farina, Jose Froilan Gonzalez and Maurice Trintignant would each be given a mount. The fourth car would go to Umberto Maglioli. In each case, the car of choice would be the older 625 with the 2.5-liter Lampredi four-cylinder. The thing the drivers liked about the 625 over the Squalo was that it handled much more precisely. However, going up against competitors with eight and six cylinder engines would also not help all that much.
Despite the short-comings of the 625, the 2.42 mile circuit would help to level the playing field a bit. Sure enough, in practice, Gonzalez would post the fastest time with a lap of 1:43.1. Beating Alberto Ascari by half a second, Gonzalez would take the pole for the race. Gonzalez, however, would prove to be the only Ferrari on the four-wide front row. The rest of the positions would be taken by Ascari in 2nd for Lancia, Juan Manuel Fangio in 3rd for Mercedes-Benz and Jean Behra in 4th for Maserati. All of the major manufacturers would be right along the front row of the grid. The remainder of the Scuderia Ferrari pilots would be relatively scattered amongst the rest of the field.
Giuseppe Farina would be in the second row of the grid in the 5th position. He posted a time just mere hundredths of a second slower than Behra, and therefore, would just miss out on the front row. Maurice Trintignant would be the next-fastest Ferrari driver in the field. He would be found all the way down in the fourth row of the grid in the 14th starting spot. And, although Maglioli was present, he would not take part in practice but would be on hand in case he was needed. And he certainly would be.
Tens of thousands would descend upon the circuit in preparation for the start of what was to be a 96 lap, 233 mile, race. However, the race was to become a battle against the oppressive heat that clouded the circuit more than the number of laps itself. The heat would be stifling. Temperatures touching well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the race would remain the hottest in Formula One history.
In spite of the heat, the crowd would swell with excitement with two Argentineans starting on the front row. The engines coming up to full song; the flag dropped to start the race. Fangio would get a great start and would lead the way at the start of the first lap. Alberto Ascari would follow along behind Fangio while Moss would be right behind Ascari after making an incredible start from the third row of the grid. Gonzalez would make a terrible start from off the grid, which would also hold up Farina. Therefore, the two Ferraris would be much further down at the completion of the first lap. Still, they would actually make it through the first lap, and that was something to be thankful. Jean Behra and Carlos Menditeguy would suffer accidents. Menditeguy would be immediately out of the running while Behra would retire one lap later. Things would only get worse from then on.
More competitors, including Villoresi and Kling, would fall out within in the first 10 laps of the race. However, as the race wore on, the problems would not be as much mechanical as much as physical.
The searing heat would begin to take its toll on the field. Gonzalez, Ascari and Fangio would all battle for the lead early on. However, by the 21st lap of the race the complexion would change and would only continue to change as the race carried on. Ascari would be out of the running handing the lead to Gonzalez. This lead would last but for a few laps before Fangio would retake the lead.
Gonzalez would then slip down the order and would be desperately fighting his way back toward the front when his teammate, Trintignant, would retire with a blown engine. Though Trintignant's car was out of the race, he wasn't.
Just past halfway, the heat would be getting to Farina and he would come into the pits to hand the car over to reserve driver Maglioli. While Ferrari was busy switching out drivers, Maserati would be doing the same. The craziness would be only just beginning.
Maglioli would last but a little while before he would return to the pits to hand what had been Farina's car over to Trintignant. Meanwhile, Farina would take over Gonzalez's and would be faced with the proposition of having to fight his way back up the leaderboard. Trintignant would only be in Farina's car a short amount of time before he would return to hand the car back to Maglioli. The reason for this was rather simple. Gonzalez's car had been running higher in the order. Therefore, the Ferrari team management wanted to use its three best drivers to at least ensure one would finish well up in the order. Therefore, Trintignant would give up Farina's car to take over Gonzalez's car from Farina.
The car-swapping would just continue all throughout the 96 lap race. Only two would never emerge from their car in favor of another driver. Those two would be Juan Manuel Fangio and Roberto Mieres. And, given an advantage of staying in the car, despite the incredible heat, Fangio would find himself in the lead with just Harry Schell's Maserati and the Ferrari of Gonzalez to give him any concern.
Trintignant would return to give the car back to Gonzalez for the remainder of the race. In the incredible heat it would be hard to concentrate. Gonzalez would find this out as a late spin would cost him some time, but nothing more. Harry Schell had shared his Maserati only with Behra. Unforunately, over the course of the race, Behra would fade. This would move what had been Farina's Ferrari up in the order. This meant, despite the incredible heat and oppressive conditions, Ferrari had lost only one car over the course of the race.
Never getting out of the car enabled Fangio to run away with the race. He would complete the 96 laps in a little more than three hours and would end up crossing the line a minute and 30 seconds ahead of the 2nd place car. The 2nd place car would be the number 12 Ferrari that had been driven by Gonzalez, Farina and Trintignant. For their effort, each would receive 2 championship points. In 3rd would be the number 10 Ferrari that had been driven by Farina, Maglioli and Trintignant. For their efforts, one and a third points would be awarded. Therefore, at the end of the day, Ferrari would have two drivers tied with the same strange amount of points, 3.33 to Maurice Trintignant and Giuseppe Farina. Gonzalez would come away with 2 points while Maglioli would have 1.33.
The Argentine Grand Prix would be one of the wildest Formula One races in history, not so much for action on the circuit but off. Still, despite coming to the race with older pieces of machinery, the race would offer up an equalizer of an entirely different sort and Ferrari would manage the best they possibly could to come away with some very encouraging results.
From the incredible heat of Argentina during its summer months to Europe in early, early spring, Scuderia Ferrari would find itself travelling between two contrasts as it made its way back to Europe following the first round of the 1955 Formula One World Championship.
Upon return to the European continent, the team would still have a couple of months before the next round of the World Championship. This meant the focus would switch from World Championship to non-championship races. One of the first of these in the 1955 season would actually take place on Italian soil, and therefore, required little travel from the Modena team. The race was the 7th Gran Premio del Valentino and it would take place on the 27th of March around the Valentino Park right in the heart of Turin, Italy.
A city filled with history and intrigue, Turin, Italy would have the honor of having been a major European political center and would actually be Italy's first capital city. Referred to as the ‘Capital of the Alps', Turin would be famous for such intriguing pieces of antiquity as the Shroud of Turin and the House of Savoy. More fittingly, Turin would also be known as the Detroit of Italy as it would serve as home to such companies as Fiat, Lancia and Alfa Romeo.
The park roads around the House of Savoy had been used in the past as a motor racing circuit. These same roads would once again serve as host when the Formula One cars returned in 1955. However, the circuit would be changed. Though it would remain 2.61 miles in length, the circuit would lose its tight, winding nature and would become a circuit capable of some rather impressive average speeds.
With driver opinion of the 553 Squalo being very low and the new Super Squalo still not finished, Scuderia Ferrari would arrive in Turin with its 625s once again. Though the cars would remain the same, the driver lineup would not. Giuseppe Farina and Maurice Trintignant would be present, but it would be Harry Schell in the third Ferrari. Gonzalez had been injured during practice for the Tourist Trophy race the year before. The accident would seriously harm the driver's arm. He would then return to Argentina and would remain around his home territory from then on. Therefore, the third seat at Ferrari would be open, and that is why it would be offered to the American Harry Schell.
Being in Lancia's backyard, Alberto Ascari would be keen to give his team a good result. He would do his best in practice securing the fastest lap and taking the pole. Jean Behra would be 2nd with a time just two-tenths slower. Luigi Musso would complete the front row for Maserati.
The 625s would struggle around the circuit. Farina would be a little more than a second slower than Musso around the circuit, and therefore, would start from the second row of the grid in the 4th position. Trintignant would be further down in the starting order. His best effort of 1:44.3 would be over two seconds slower than Ascari and would lead to the Frenchman starting from the middle of the third row in the 7th position. Harry Schell would be found one row further back. His effort in practice would lead to him starting the race from the 9th position on the grid.
Some 90 laps awaited the field as they took to the grid. The Maserati contingent would immediately get slapped by unreliability once the race got underway. Cesare Perdisa and Jean Behra would each fall out after just 12 laps due to mechanical issues. Luigi Musso would fall out after 21 laps with an oil leak. And though Alberto Ascari continued to lead the way, it seemed the problems with the other Modena-based team had opened the door for Ferrari.
Just as Ferrari tried to run through the door thrown wide open by the misfortunes of the Maserati factory team, they would find the door would abruptly shut on them as well. Giuseppe Farina would be the first to have the door hit him. Just after completing 22 laps, the gearbox on the Ferrari would fail leaving Farina without hope of carrying on. Then, just after 75 laps, Trintignant would suffer rear axle failure and would be out of the race as well. This would leave just Harry Schell. And, considering his inexperience with the team, he was unable to mount any kind of challenge against the mighty Lancias.
Ascari would be strong throughout the race despite Behra posting the fastest lap of the race early on. Averaging nearly 88 mph, Ascari would become untouchable as the race wore on. Chased by a lone Maserati and his Lanica teammates, Ascari would be under no immediate threat and would focus on bringing home Lancia's first Formula One victory.
Ascari would do just that. In a little more than two hours and forty minutes, Ascari would come across the finish line to take the victory. Some 27 seconds later, Roberto Mieres would come through to finish in 2nd place for Maserati. After Mieres, it would be the two other Lancias of Villoresi and Eugenio Castellotti.
Harry Schell was known to be fast but he just could not keep up with the mighty D50 Lancias. By the end of the race, he would be a little more than three laps down and would finish in the 5th position.
It was clear the 625 had reached the end of its useful life. Though still a good car, the car lacked those increases in performance and handling the newer cars had. On top of that, reliability would be an issue that would always be cause for concern with an older car. Thankfully, another non-championship race was next on the team's calendar.
Following the rather bitter disappointment in Turin, Scuderia Ferrari would nearly a month in which to repair and prepare its cars. The Grand Prix de Pau would be just a couple of weeks after the race in Turin. However, the team didn't want to throw away money taking part in races in which it really wasn't ready to win. Therefore, the team would wait until the 24th of April before it would take part in its next grand prix. That race would be the 4th Grand Prix de Bordeaux and it had been a site of Ferrari dominance in the past.
Situated along the Garonne River that flows out into the Bay of Biscay, the city of Bordeaux is, rightfully, considered the capital of the wine industry. However, in 1954, it would be a city in which Ferrari would emerge capital. After starting the race 1st and 2nd with Trintignant on the pole, it would be Gonzalez that would bring home the victory for the team while Maurice finished in 3rd.
One year later, Gonzalez was no longer with the team, the field would be largely dominated by Maserati 250Fs and Ferrari would debut its new 555 Super Squalo. Therefore, the Grand Prix de Bordeaux, in 1955, would be as much unknown territory for the Italian squad as any other race.
Ferrari would arrive with just two cars. Both of them would be the new 555 Super Squalo. Lampredi and his team would address the issues brought forth concerning the 553 and would create the new 555 as a result. The biggest complaint against the 553 had been its rather terrible handling (although Gonzalez managed to take a heat win in the BRDC International Trophy race). The extended bodywork of the car would lend to its earning the nickname Super Squalo, or Super Shark.
Armed with the new car, Trintignant and Farina would find themselves still firmly ensconced in the middle of the pack dominated by the customer Maserati 250F. In practice for the Grand Prix de Bordeaux, Giuseppe Farina would turn the fastest lap of the Ferraris in practice and would end up starting from the second row of the grid in the 4th position. Trintignant would start right beside him in the second row in the 5th position. This didn't seem to be an awfully bad starting position, but considering there were only 12 starters to the race, the excitement would wane just a little bit.
Though the street circuit would be rather short at just 1.53 miles, the race would be anything but at 123 laps. This meant a lot of strain on the drivers and the cars over the course of the 188 mile race. This was not exactly the best case scenario for Ferrari debuting a brand new car.
This reality would become very apparent very quickly when the flag dropped to start the race. Giuseppe Farina would be at the wheel of chassis number 1. Its race would run its course after just 14 laps before the gearbox casing broke thereby ending his race. The Ferrari 625 entered by Alfonso de Portago would end up retiring one lap later thereby leaving just one Ferrari in the field.
At the front of the field would be Jean Behra and his teammate Luigi Musso. Stirling Moss, who had started the race from the 3rd place position on the front row would end up posting the fastest lap of the race with a time quicker than Behra's own qualifying effort. However, Moss' race would soon fade and he would be fighting just to stay on the lead lap by the end of the race.
Maurice Trintignant's race would be governed by the retirement of Farina. This would leave Trintignant in the unfortunate position of having to surrender his drive to the former World Champion for the remainder of the race. Unfortunately for Scuderia Ferrari, the race for both of its cars would come to end before even 50 laps remained. Just after 70 laps, a problem with Trintignant's brakes would develop leaving Farina unable to carry on.
It would be a banner day for Officine Alfieri Maserati. Three cars running in lock-step, the top three positions would be closed out for anyone else. Led by Jean Behra, the Maserati factory team would cruise to a sweep of the podium.
Behra would lead the way. He would cross the line a couple of tenths ahead of Musso. Roberto Mieres would complete the podium sweep for Maserati by finishing just seven-tenths behind.
The debut of the Super Squalo would prove about as good as the Squalo it was meant to replace. Teething problems were to be expected. However, what wasn't expected was the continued frustration with handling. Handling was the biggest complaint against the Squalo. And yet, the handling would only partially improve with the Super Squalo. Of course, handling would be of little concern if the car's reliability remained suspect.
The one thing that had been at the heart of the Ferrari dominance during the Formula 2 era was the reliability of the 500 F2 chassis. This fact meant the difference in a number of races, both championship and non. However, the switch back to Formula One regulations would catch Scuderia Ferrari on something of the back foot. And it was clear with the debut of the Super Squalo they still did not have their feet under them.
One year earlier, Scuderia Ferrari arrived in Silverstone, England with a mixture of chassis. The team had brought with them their venerable 500 F2-turned 625 and the much newer 553 Squalo.
The race was the BRDC International Trophy race and the event consisted of two heat races and a final. Behind the wheel of one of the Squalos would be Jose Froilan Gonzalez. And, in the first heat, Gonzalez would find himself in a strong position in very wet conditions. In spite of the conditions, Gonzalez would dominate the heat race and would take the victory. But it wouldn't be enough.
Mysteriously, as soon as Gonzalez finished his heat race the engine would apparently lock-up. Unable to turn the engine over, Ferrari's team management would be forced to look for an alternative. The answer would be putting Gonzalez in Trintignant's 625 for the final. There was a little problem with that. Trintignant would win the second heat race with a time much quicker than that which Gonzalez achieved in the first heat due to the wet conditions. As a result of the times, Trintignant was to start from the pole for the final. However, the team would choose, in essence, to penalize Trintignant by giving his car to Gonzalez. Trintignant would then be relegated to starting in another driver's car much further down on the starting grid.
Armed with the better handling car in the drying conditions, Gonzalez would fly in the final and would win rather easily while Trintignant would come away with a 5th place finish and being a little more than a lap behind.
One year later, Ferrari would have another Squalo, the Super Squalo. It would be about as loved as its predecessor despite the fact it had only taken part in one race. The format of the International Trophy race at Silverstone would change for 1955. Gone were the heat races. Instead, just a single 60 lap event would be held on the 2.88 mile circuit. However, given the venue for the British Grand Prix had changed for 1955, and that the Super Squalo was not living up to its billing, Scuderia Ferrari would be a no-show for the non-championship event on the 7th of May. In fact, the team would not take part in another grand prix until much later on in the month.
Toward the end of May, the Formula One World Championship was set to resume with the second round on the season. And, in 1955, the World Championship would see the return of its most famous and prestigious venue—Monaco. For the first time since the inaugural season of the Formula One World Championship, the streets of the tiny principality would be readied to host the Grand Prix de Monaco.
With its sovereignty officially recognized by the Franco-Monegasgue Treaty of 1861 and an economy built around tourism and high-value services, Monaco would become the playground for the rich and famous. Despite being home to the highest number of millionaires and billionaires, the tiny principality has mostly remained under the rule of the House of Grimaldi since 1297.
Even before the outbreak of World War II a battle had been waged on the streets of Monaco with Germany dominating the landscape as the mighty Silver Arrows of Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union played prominent roles in Monaco's pre-war racing history. During the Second World War it would be the Mussolini's Italian army that would hold sway in Monaco before the German Wehrmacht took over occupation when Mussolini's control collapsed. Ironically, in the post-war era of grand prix racing it would be the Italian teams of Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Maserati that would dominate the proceedings around the tight, winding streets, but then, in 1954, Germany would appear on the scene with its new Mercedes-Benz W196. It seemed certain, when Monaco returned to the Formula One World Championship calendar in 1955 that it would be the Germans that would take up occupation of the tiny nation.
Scuderia Ferrari would come to Monaco with a fleet of cars. This was deemed necessary given that Ferrari would appear to be nothing more than an afterthought when stacked against the presence of teams like Mercedes-Benz, Scuderia Lancia and Officine Alfieri Maserati. In total, five cars would be entered in the race with three being the new 555 Super Squalo and the other two being the older 625. Giuseppe Farina and Maurice Trintignant would each be behind the wheel of a 625 while Harry Schell, Piero Taruffi and Paul Frere would have their hands on the new 555.
Everyone expected a great battle between the Mercedes and the Lancias and they would not be disappointed when, in practice, Fangio would post the fastest time around the 1.95 mile circuit. His time of 1:41.1 would be mere hundredths of a second faster than Ascari in one of the Lancia D50s. Stirling Moss would complete the front row with one of the tightest margins in Formula One history to that point. Just one-tenth slower, Moss would occupy the 3rd position.
As expected, the Ferraris would struggle around the tight Monaco streets. The quickest would be Maurice Trintignant. His time of 1:44.1 would end up a little more than three seconds slower than Fangio and would lead to Trintignant starting from the fourth row of the grid in the 9th position overall. Piero Taruffi and Giuseppe Farina would find themselves down on the sixth row of the grid. Farina would be in the 14th starting position while Taruffi 15th. Matters would be worse for Harry Schell. His best effort would be only good enough for the seventh row of the grid and the 18th starting spot. Paul Frere would not qualify and would remain on hand as a reserve driver during the race.
A beautiful day would mark Monaco's return to Formula One. There would be 100 laps ahead for all the drivers and cars and tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of fans would scramble to just about every height possible to watch the coming action.
The flag would drop to start the second row of the World Championship. The front row would break off the line together but it would be Stirling Moss that would out-drag Ascari into the tight first turn hairpin. Still, Fangio would hold onto the inside of the corner and would remain in the lead as the field made its way around on the first lap of the race. At the end of the first lap it would be Fangio leading the way while Castellotti would manage to snatch 2nd place away from Moss. Trintignant would be down in 10th place at the conclusion of the first lap while Schell would put together an incredible first lap to come up from 18th to be in 13th at the end of the first lap. Taruffi would lose out at the start and would drop to 17th while Farina would be the biggest loser at the start of the race and would be dead last at the end of the first lap.
Moss would soon gather himself and would take over 2nd place from Castellotti. Joined together on the circuit, the two Mercedes began to pull away from the field right from the very early going. Giuseppe Farina would also recover from his terrible start and would gradually climb his way back up through the field. By the end of the 10th lap he would make his up to around 15th. By the 20th lap, Farina would be nearing the top ten.
Trintignant would remain right around the 8th and 9th position on the track until trouble to Musso's Maserati helped him up to 7th place overall. Taruffi would exchange places with Farina as his race would only get worse. By the 4th lap of the race he would be last and would be struggling just to keep up with the fragile Gordinis.
By the halfway mark of the race the order remained relatively the same. Fangio would be leading the way just ahead of Moss in 2nd place. Things would not be the same for the Ferrari drivers, however. Behra's misfortunes and pure driving by Trintignant would see him climb from 7th in the running order to 4th by the 49th lap of the race. Farina would now be up to 9th while Schell would drop back slightly and would be found right behind Farina in 10th. Taruffi would still be in last place.
The 50th lap would see a change, however. Fangio would begin the lap but would not finish it. Moss would come around as the new leader of the race. Nothing was known as to what exactly had happened to Fangio. Then, finally, he would appear on foot. His car's transmission had failed. He was out of the race. Moss was now in the lead, and with a comfortable advantage over Ascari in 2nd place. Trintignant was now a surprising 3rd. Farina would be 8th while Schell was now inside the top ten in 9th place. Taruffi was running last in 15th place after 50 laps when he would pit and hand the car over to Paul Frere for the balance of the race.
Moss continued the Mercedes dominance maintaining a well-padded advantage over Ascari. With just 20 laps remaining in the race it appeared as if Moss would earn his first World Championship victory on the grandest of all stages. But just then, he would appear around Tabac with smoke pouring from his car. Pulling over into the pits, his face would be covered in blackness. It was clear his engine had let go. Meanwhile, the then 2nd place car of Alberto Ascari would be powering its way through the chicane. Ascari would make the slightest of errors and would clip the curb this would send his car blasting through the barriers and plunging into the harbor. In all of this sudden chaos Trintignant would appear flashing by the start/finish line. He was the new, and surprising, leader of the race with less than 20 laps remaining.
The Ferraris were supposed to be a factor in the race around the streets of Monaco. But here would be the Frenchman Trintignant leading the way in an aged Ferrari 625. Farina would manage to get by Villoresi for 4th place and Frere would continue in the race in 10th, still last in the running order. Schell had been behind Farina in the running order until his race came to an end after 68 laps when the engine in the 555 blew.
Enjoying a lead of around 20 seconds over Eugenio Castellotti, all that Trintignant needed to do was keep his Ferrari off the walls and out of the harbor and the victory would be his. Being French, a great wave of enthusiasm would sweep over the whole of the circuit and he would be greatly cheered on to the finish.
Amazingly considered the underdog coming into the race, the day would turn out to be an absolute dream for the Scuderia Ferrari squad. Trintignant would drive his usual consistent self and would end up crossing the line to take the victory by a little more than 20 seconds over Castellotti. A little more than a lap behind would be Jean Behra driving Cesare Perdisa's Maserati. Giuseppe Farina would also be a lap behind but would finish a splendid 4th after being in last place at the end of the very first lap of the race. The pairing of Taruffi and Frere would mightily struggle around the Monaco streets. Though they would end up finishing the race they would end up a little more than 14 laps down in the 8th position.
It would be no small achievement for Trintignant and the Ferrari team. Overlooked and never given so much as a chance at victory, it would be a sweet result as the Frenchman emerged from all of the chaos to bring home the victory. Still, he would do so in the older 625 instead of the newer 555. This still did not bode well for the team, but at least it could celebrate taking the victory in the biggest race of the season.
The week following the incredible victory at Monaco, the mood at Ferrari would turn terribly for the worse. Alberto Ascari had left Ferrari at the end of the 1953 season amidst a disagreement with Enzo Ferrari himself. However, Ascari would remain in the scene at Ferrari and would, in fact, be at Monza with the team testing the 750 Monza sportscar. Flying through Serraglio toward the fast left-hander known as Vialone, Ascari would suddenly fly off the circuit crashing head-first into the barriers killing himself. This would be absolutely devastating for Ferrari and Italian racing fans. Of course, it would also be devastating for Scuderia Lancia who was already struggling financially.
The timing of the accident couldn't have been any worse as the team needed to pack everything up and head into the Low Countries for the fourth round of the Formula One World Championship.
From the tight and slow streets of Monaco the World Championship would switch to the ultra-fast Spa-Francorchamps circuit for the Belgian Grand Prix. Measuring 8.77 miles in length, the Spa circuit was as much about handling as it was sheer naked speed for without the handling to make the driver feel comfortable there was no way the car would be pushed to its limits, and therefore, would not be competitive. This was not all that encouraging for Ferrari, despite coming off the surprise victory at Monaco.
Nestled in the Ardennes Forest in the Walloon Region of the Province of Liege, Spa had earned its fame as a site for healing cold springs. It would late receive fame during the days of the First World War as it was from here that the German's established their headquarters and sued for peace with Marshal Foch to bring about the end of the Great War.
Designed back in 1920 using the public roads between Spa, Malmedy and Stavelot, the Spa-Francorchamps circuit would be all about one thing—speed. Due to its natural surroundings that included a number of elevation changes and blind, fast sweeping corners, the Spa circuit would be as dangerous as it would be popular.
As the teams descended upon the circuit to begin practice the circuit would be drenched in heavy rains and dark skies. Scuderia Ferrari would have four entries for the Belgian Grand Prix. However, the team would only come with three cars entered for Giuseppe Farina, Maurice Trintignant and Belgian native, Paul Frere. And, as the cars took to the circuit, they could be seen dancing around the circuit in their high-speed ballet. In the wet conditions, the fact Ferrari would bring just their Super Squalos would only add to the discomfort of the drivers looking for the best handling car available.
Conditions would dry out as the cars prepared to qualify for the 36 lap race. Averaging a little more than 122 mph around the circuit, Eugenio Castellotti would post the fastest lap time and would capture the pole in what certainly had to seem like in honor to his late mentor and Lancia teammate Ascari. Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss would complete the front row posting times within a second or so of Castellotti.
The fastest Ferrari in the field would be Giuseppe Farina. He would look surprisingly good around the Spa circuit and would manage to score a second row grid position. Starting out 4th, Farina would be in a strong position being positioned in between Castellotti and Fangio.
The native Paul Frere would use his local knowledge to great effect and would turn in a lap a little less than 9 seconds slower than his teammate Farina. As a result, Frere would earn a position on the third rank of the grid in the 8th position. Maurice Trintignant would be the slowest of the Ferrari drivers. His best lap in practice would be a slow 4:31.0. This would put the Monaco champion down on the fourth row of the grid in the 10th position.
Although the first day of practice had been swamped in rain, the day of the race would be dry, but with heavy cloud cover. An incredible crowd would assemble around the circuit in preparation for the start of the race on the 5th of June.
The cars would be assembled along the grid preparing for the start of the race. The engines revving, the flag would drop to start the race. Fangio would get a great start off the line and would end up having the position heading into the uphill right-hander known as Eau Rouge. Farina would get away from the second row of the grid rather well but would end up losing a position to Karl Kling before the uphill run. Frere would also start well and would actually gain a position over the course of the first lap. Trintignant would perhaps get the best start of them all. Starting from the fourth row of the grid, Trintignant would jump up to 8th place by the end of the first lap.
Fangio and Moss would be running nose-to-tail at the front of the field. Castellotti would be running in 3rd place with Farina battling with Kling for 4th place in the running order. Further back, a battle would be brewing amongst the other Ferrari drivers and the rest of the field.
Jean Behra would be out of the running after 3 laps due to a crash in his Maserati. Mike Hawthorn's race would last just 8 laps before gearbox issues ruined his race. Meanwhile, Farina would solidify his place in 4th position. The issues with Behra, and some struggles with Kling in the Mercedes, would lead to Frere being able to jump from 7th to 5th for a short period of time. Trintignant would make a mistake and would end up falling all the way down the order until he was dead-last.
Castellotti's gearbox would let him down after 16 laps and this would enable Farina to move up to 3rd place by the 17th lap of the race. It was clear Farina was driving better than he had in many races. This would bring a little concern to Mercedes' Neubauer. But Fangio and Moss would continue to hold sway over the whole of the field. Fangio would stretch out his advantage over Moss. Though the margin between the two Mercedes would widen, the gap between them and the rest of the field would widen at an even greater rate.
A problem with Kling's Mercedes would enable Paul Frere to climb up to 4th place behind his Ferrari teammate. Frere's ability and knowledge of the circuit would enable him to remain the last car still on the lead lap with Fangio. Trintignant would also overcome his earlier mistake to gradually make his way up the running order. Though he would be a lap behind, he would manage to overtake Luigi Musso to take over the 6th spot in the running order.
Posting the fastest lap of the race, Fangio would be all alone at the front of the field. Moss would keep guard of his backside as the two Mercedes powered their way toward a possible one-two victory.
Fangio would lead every single lap of the race and would be untouchable over the course of the 36 lap race. He would cross the finish line just under two hours and 40 minutes after taking the lead from Castellotti on the very first lap. Stirling Moss would end up coming through to finish in 2nd place about 8 seconds behind Fangio. Giuseppe Farina would surprise many taking 3rd place having come from 4th on the grid in the underachieving 555 Super Squalo. It would be one of the best performances by the former World Champion in a while. The Belgian fans would be further enthralled as they watched Paul Frere bring his Super Squalo home in 4th place. A little more than a lap down, Maurice Trintignant would make it three Ferraris able to reach the end of the race. He would finish the race in the 6th position just outside the points.
As a result of the team's performance in the debatable Super Squalo, the Ferrari drivers would find their positions in the championship standings improve. Fangio would be the clear leader in points with 19, but Maurice Trintignant would remain in 2nd place with 11.33 points while Farina's performance in the race helped him to jump up to 3rd in the standings with 10.33 points. Even Paul Frere would be just outside the top ten having 3 points to his name.
So while the 555 Super Squalo would remain less than desirable, its reliability that day would enable the Ferrari team to leap up in the championship standings, much to the surprise of just about everyone. It seemed, perhaps, the Modena-based team wasn't too far off after all.
Tragedy had already struck the motor racing world before some of the best manufacturers, like Ferrari, headed to Le Mans in June. The loss of Alberto Ascari would be a terrible moment for more than just the Italian nation. The loss then of the double world champion would seem like the greatest loss anyone within the European motor racing world, perhaps even the world, could endure. However, the tragic loss of Ascari would pale in comparison to the horror that would play out just before 6:30pm on the 11th of June at Le Mans.
Even by the second hour of the 24 hour race it had become a race between the Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar teams. Pushing each and every lap, the duo of Fangio and Hawthorn would put on a display that would enthrall the crowd and would have them begging for even more. However, what the crowd and motor racing would get would be the worst disaster in the history of motor sport and its effects would not only affect the 1955 season but on the world of motor racing from then on.
The greatest effect the tragic event at Le Mans would have on the Formula One World Championship would be the loss of a number of rounds from the schedule. Seeing that the tragic event transpired on French soil it was not at all surprising that the French Grand Prix would be cancelled. But the World Championship would loss even more than that. Lost forever would be the Swiss Grand Prix at Bremgarten. Even the German and Spanish grand prix would disappear from the 1955 schedule.
One race that would remain on the schedule would be the fifth round of the Formula One World Championship, the round scheduled to take place the week following the tragic events at Le Mans. The Dutch Grand Prix would remain on the calendar after having too much already prepared and set to go. Therefore, Formula One teams would make their way to the Zandvoort Circuit to take part in the Grote Prijs van Nederland on the 19th of June.
Having earned strong results at Spa, the Scuderia Ferrari team would arrive at Zandvoort with a fleet of three 555 Super Squalos. By this point in time the Lancia effort had gone financially awry and this would leave drivers, such as Eugenio Castellotti, without a drive. However, there would be an opportunity for such drivers to find a way to demonstrate their talents.
Giuseppe Farina had been suffering from burns he had received the summer before. Being well advanced in age, Farina would continue to race but with a steady diet of morphine and pain-killers. Old wounds would actually reopen after the race in Spa, despite a performance reminiscent of the Farina of old. This would lead to Farina not being present with the team when it arrived in Zandvoort.
Another change within the team would include the reappearance of Mike Hawthorn. Hawthorn had left Ferrari in favor of the up and coming Vandervell Products team, a British-based effort that seemed headed in a favorable direction. However, the early part of the season would see the team struggle mightily with its new car. And then, at Spa things would reach a breaking point when the car would be driven through the busy streets from the garage to the circuit. By the time the car arrived at the circuit the clutch had already gone through most of its useful life and this eventually would lead to the Brit's retirement after just a few laps. That was enough. Hawthorn realized that driving for Enzo wasn't such a bad deal after all and he would trade places with Harry Schell, who would then go on to drive for Vandervell.
Measuring 2.64 miles in length, the Zandvoort Circuit would be quite quick given that it was a purpose-built circuit. Carved out amongst the sand dunes bordering the North Sea, the circuit would offer challenges to drivers not seen in many other places. The whipping North Sea winds had the ability to blow sand all over the circuit making the surface of the circuit quite slippery. In addition, the circuit's location would also make it susceptible to changing weather that had the ability to be dry one minute and wet the next. And this would be the reality the teams would face when they arrived at the circuit for the race on the 19th of June.
Juan Manuel Fangio would be the quickest in practice and would take the pole for the 100 lap race. Joining Fangio on the three-wide front row would be his fellow Mercedes teammates. Stirling Moss would be in 2nd while Karl Kling would be in 3rd place completing the sweep for the Silver Arrows team.
Hawthorn would be enjoying his return to Ferrari. His best effort in practice would lead to the Brit starting from the second row of the grid in the 5th position. Maurice Trintignant could be found on the third row of the grid in the 8th position after posting a time just nine-tenths of a second slower than that of Hawthorn. Castellotti would complete Ferrari's lineup. He would be in the fourth row of the grid in the 9th position.
The day of the race, winds would be blowing steadily around the circuit and there would be a clear threat of rain, it was just a matter of when. Therefore, as the cars took to the grid in preparation of the start all thoughts would be toward the early stages of the race and getting the best out of the car early on, and then, just holding on when the rain came into the picture.
This would certainly be on Luigi Musso's mind as the field roared away from the grid at the start of the race. Fangio would make a great start but Moss would be slow off the line. Kling would be quicker but would be in a tough position heading into the first turn, and therefore, would back off slightly. This would open the door for Musso, who would jump into 2nd place behind Fangio. At the end of the first lap, it would be Fangio leading the way over Musso. Hawthorn would be in 6th place while Trintignant would move up one to 7th. Castellotti would struggle over the course of the first lap and would be 10th heading into the 2nd of 100 laps.
Moss would make his way by Musso and the two Mercedes drivers at the front of the field would begin to pull away from Musso and the rest of the field ever so slightly. Meanwhile, Roberto Mieres would be on the move in his Maserati. He would quickly depose of Trintignant and would make his way past Hawthorn by the 6th lap of the race. This would leave the two Ferraris running together in 7th and 8th place. Castellotti would improve upon his early step down the leaderboard. For almost 20 laps, Castellotti would sit still in the 9th position right behind his two teammates.
Peter Walker would fall out of the race after just 2 laps when the bearing on Stirling Moss' own Maserati failed. It would be nearly another 20 laps before there would be another retirement from the race. However, when Karl Kling retired after spinning out on the 22nd lap, the Ferrari drivers would be aided in the advance up the running order. Unfortunately, Hawthorn would find the Super Squalo not to his liking and he would struggle as the race wore on. Soon, he would slip down the running order and would be 9th by the 22nd lap. While Hawthorn was heading backward, Trintignant and Castellotti would be moving up. The two men would be running 6th and 7th, but when Roberto Mieres managed to post the fastest lap of the race, it seemed abundantly clear it was going to be difficult for the two Super Squalos to hang on.
Fangio and Moss continued to show the way with nearly a 10 second advantage over Musso in 3rd place. However, Musso would do his best to keep the gap steady. Trintignant and Castellotti would be unable to do anything with Jean Behra and Roberto Mieres, who were ahead of them in the running order, and therefore would stay put in 6th and 7th. However, Behra would begin to slip down the order and this would lead to Trintignant moving up to 5th and Castellotti up to 6th.
Unfortunately, just about as soon as he took over 5th place, Trintignant would be forced to retire from the race. The gearbox in the 555 would fail leaving him unable to go on. This would hand the 5th place position over to Castellotti who had been sitting still behind his Ferrari teammate. Hawthorn continued to make his way around the circuit but would be a fair distance behind, but still well inside the top ten.
The rains would come late in the race. In spite of this, Musso would continue to push hard in his quest to keep in touch with the Mercedes of Fangio and Moss. This would end up placing Musso in a compromised position. The wet conditions would catch Musso out as he pushed a little too hard. Musso would be the only one that hadn't been lapped by Fangio and Moss, and therefore, his position would be safe as he would right the ship and get back underway.
Hawthorn's day would be a difficult one. Just 10 laps remaining in the race, Hawthorn would come under attack from Hermanos da Silva Ramos in an over-matched Gordini. The battle would rage for a couple of laps before da Silva Ramos would drop off the pace and would no longer be a part of the equation.
Had Castellotti not been a lap down he could have really taken advantage of Musso's late spin. But, there really was nothing he could do about it except hold on and keep Jean Behra at bay.
Fangio would lead Moss across the line taking yet another victory. Just three-tenths of a second would be between the two men as the crossed the line. Luigi Musso would complete the top three when he crossed the line 57 seconds behind. Eugenio Castellotti would finish the race more than 3 laps down. He would struggle in his debut in the Super Squalo, but he would still manage to drive a consistent and controlled race in order to come away with some very valuable championship points. In fact, his 5th place result would give him the final 2 points offered. Mike Hawthorn's race would be one of preservation. Fighting a car he just was not comfortable with, he would come away with a 7th place finish but would be more than 5 laps behind.
Trintignant's failure and Farina's absence meant Fangio would further his gap over the rest of the field in the championship battle. It would also allow Stirling Moss to take over 2nd place in the standings. Castellotti's consistency would be rewarded and he would find himself just outside the top five in the standings having 8 points to his name.
After an incredible performance at Spa in which the Super Squalo would surprise just about everyone to come away with some strong results, it seemed the true nature of the 555 chassis would be on full display for all to see during the Dutch Grand Prix. It was more than obvious the Super Squalo was still more than a long way off from being able to challenge the mighty Mercedes, even the Maserati 250F.
The loss of the French Grand Prix meant there would be a gap of nearly a month in between races for Scuderia Ferrari. In fact, there wouldn't even be a non-championship grand prix during this break. This would give Ferrari time to prepare and make some important decisions before the sixth round of the 1955 Formula One season.
The next round, the sixth, of the Formula One World Championship would take place on the 16th of July. It would be the 10th RAC British Grand Prix. However, unlike the five previous years, the British Grand Prix would be at a brand new venue already famous for some horsepower of the much more natural sense.
In May of 1950, the inaugural season of the Formula One World Championship would kick off with the British Grand Prix. The circuit that would have this honored place in history would be the former bomber training base formerly known as RAF Silverstone. However, after five years of hosting the British round of the championship, Silverstone would be abandoned in favor of a 3.00 mile circuit based at Aintree Racecourse just outside Liverpool.
The steeplechase racing would be first introduced at Aintree all the way back in 1839. Prior to that, the Grand National had been held in the district of Maghull. Run over a distance of 4.5 miles, the Grand National would be one of the most demanding horse races in all the world and would be a fitting location for the British Grand Prix as the 269 mile race distance would also serve as a severe test to many of the greatest teams and drivers in the motor racing world.
A great deal of excitement would surround the race. Not only would it take place at a new venue but it also mean the first time, outside of the British Grand Prix held at Silverstone, that the Mercedes Silver Arrows would be seen. Not a whole lot of excitement would surround the Ferrari team, however, as they would make the decision to abandon the Super Squalo for the event, and instead, would decide to bring their older 625s to the race. This was certainly a strategic decision given that handling around the 3.0 mile Aintree Circuit would be of greater importance than out-right speed.
Scuderia Ferrari would bring just three cars to the race. Maurice Trintignant, winner of the Monaco Grand Prix, would be at the wheel of one of the cars while Mike Hawthorn would cause some excitement with the British faithful being in another. Eugenio Castellotti would again be back with the Ferrari team and would be behind the wheel of the third car.
Having two former winners in their driver lineup, Ferrari would hope and rely upon their experience to make up the difference for what the 625 lacked compared to the other cars in the field. However, in practice, it would be revealed just how much the 625s lacked. Stirling Moss would post the fastest time in his Mercedes and would take the pole by just two-tenths of a second over Fangio. Jean Behra would keep the Mercedes team at bay and would snatch the final starting spot on the front row. However, his best effort around the circuit would be a full second slower than the time posted by Moss. Both Hawthorn and Trintignant would have loved to have only been a second behind Moss. Instead, Trintignant would find himself on the fifth rank of the grid in the 13th staring position while Hawthorn would be right beside in the 12th position. The younger Castellotti would prove to be the fastest of the Ferrari drivers. His best effort would be a mere four-tenths of second faster than that of Hawthorn but it would enable him to start from the fourth row of the grid in the 10th starting position overall.
Though not nearly as hot as what greeted fans and teams during the Argentine Grand Prix the weather at Aintree on the 16th of July would be anything but cool. This meant drivers and teams could expect much higher attrition rates, especially with a circuit as demanding as Aintree. The flag would drop to start the race and Fangio would get the better jump off the line. As a result, the Argentinean would lead the way into the first corner. Behra's poor performance off the grid would enable Mercedes to be 1st through 4th through the first couple of corners. The start would go quite well for each of the Ferrari drivers. Castellotti would be up in 8th place by the end of the first lap while Trintignant would be 9th and Hawthorn 10th.
Fangio would lead the way for a couple of laps before Moss would take over control and would lead for around a dozen laps. Andre Simon would be the first into the pits with gearbox issues but it would be Robert Manzon and Jean Behra that would be first out of the race, each suffering mechanical problems.
Castellotti had completed the first lap of the race ahead of Trintignant and Hawthorn. However, within just a couple of laps, Trintignant would make his way by Castellotti, who would only continue to slip down the order from then on. It was clear Castellotti was suffering from some kind of problem. He would stop early on to have the plugs changes to see if that was the car's problem. However, it was not, and finally it would be realized that a transmission ailment had finally claimed his race after 16 laps.
Hawthorn would soon take over Trintignant's position as the Frenchman would be slowed by problems with his goggles. Thankfully, at that same time, Roberto Manzon would be walking back to the pits after his Gordini failed him. He would then signal to Trintignant and would hand him his goggles so that Trintignant could carry on. This would take a little bit of time and would take a couple of laps before he could get himself fully composed and back on the attack. The lack of pace and the age of the 625 would show itself as the 90 lap race wore on. Hawthorn would climb as high as 7th during the early running but would be unable to get any higher in the order. Trintignant's error would see him drop down to right around the top ten and that is where he would stay over the course of the first 30 laps.
Drivers, such as Peter Collins, would be on a charge early and would prohibit the Ferrari pilots from being able to move up the running order. However, Behra's retirement, along with that of Collins and Mieres, would only help the two remaining Ferrari pilots. Still, their pace would be such that they would come under threat from the leading Mercedes of Moss and Fangio, and more than once.
Fangio would lead the race again, but for another short period of time. Then it would be Moss that would dominate the last two-thirds. Fangio and Moss had dominated events at Monaco as well before they all went wrong. But this wasn't Monaco. And it wouldn't just be Fangio and Moss that would dominate events. Maurice Trintignant would not be there at the end to come away with a surprise victory, for, on the 59th lap he would be in the pits with overheating issues. His race was over. This would leave just Hawthorn in the race for the once mighty Ferrari team.
Hawthorn would do his best in the older car and he would be just outside the points with 30 laps remaining in the race. Trailed by quite a distance by Frenchman Mike Sparken, Hawthorn would have enough time to come into the pits and hand over the wheel of the Ferrari to Castellotti. Hawthorn had been suffering from illness, and therefore, rightly gave up the wheel in favor of the Italian.
Moss would be practically untouchable throughout the remainder of the 90 lap race. The reason for this was rather straight-forward as there would only be 9 cars still in the race with still 30 laps left to go. A British driver leading the British Grand Prix, he and the rest of the crowd were getting tensely excited about the proposition. However, it wasn't entirely in the bag for Moss, for in the last few laps of the race, Fangio would be catching up his teammate hand over fist.
Fangio would continue to gain ground on his British teammate until the two were nose-to-tail heading into the final couple of corners. It seemed as though the victory would be snatched away from Moss right at the final moment as Fangio pulled nearly beside Moss on the outside as the two headed to the line and the checkered flag.
Just a tenth of a second would be the difference as Moss would fend off Fangio for the victory in his home grand prix. What a special moment it would be for Moss and the predominantly British crowd as it would be the first time in Formula One history that a British driver would take the victory in the British Grand Prix. What made it all the more special would be the fact that it was Moss' first World Championship victory.
Somewhat lost in the commotion of Moss' victory would be the one-two-three-four result earned by the Mercedes-Benz team with Kling finishing in 3rd and Taruffi cleaning up in 4th. Unlike Mercedes, Scuderia Ferrari would find they had little to celebrate. Once a dead lock for victory, Ferrari would find itself in an entirely different story in 1955. Mike Hawthorn and Castellotti would combine to finish in 6th place, some three laps behind. Ferrari would be fortunate to have even a single car finish the race, really. And, once again, the absence of the new Super Squalo did not point toward a bright future.
Early on in the season, Scuderia Ferrari found its drivers hanging in their against their competitors in the championship standings. While it was widely held there was little chance against the might of Fangio and Moss, the Italian squad certainly could battle it out with the other manufacturers for the rest of the top ten spots in the standings. Trintignant and Farina, amazingly, would still find themselves in the top five in the standings, but the lack of points in the last couple of races certainly would have seemed devastating had it not been for the misfortune of Scuderia Lancia and the Maserati drivers. Still, Ferrari would leave Aintree with just one round of the championship remaining and three of their drivers would be in the top six in the championship standings.
Following the British Grand Prix there would be a number of non-championship races but there would be no championship events given that the German, Swiss and Spanish Grand Prix would all be cancelled. This left just one round left in the 1955 Formula One season, and that wouldn't be for well more than a month. This would be a good thing for Ferrari who needed the extra time to make some more serious decisions.
Scuderia Ferrari would have an opportunity at this point in the season. Scuderia Lancia would be out of the picture due to financial woes. The loss of Alberto Ascari almost certainly meant the team would not be able to achieve the kind of results it needed in order to overcome its financial picture.
But while Lancia was in financial turmoil, Ferrari was embroiled in its own turmoil. Enzo demanded success and the new Super Squalo wasn't delivering it. The pressure placed on Lampredi had become harder and harder to deal with in a constructive and right manner. And, as a result, Lampredi would leave the team. While this would be devastating to the team, it would not be the end of the world as the scene at Lancia would be much worse and presented Enzo with a great opportunity.
Lancia couldn't support itself. Therefore, Enzo would purchase the D50s from the Lancia company, along with the services of its designer, Vittorio Jano. Just like that, Ferrari would purchase a front-running chassis and the man responsible for its design. Immediately, Scuderia Ferrari would claw back some of its competitiveness.
The acquisition of the D50 and Jano would be extremely important as the most important race of the season, at least as far as Scuderia Ferrari was concerned, was, now, right around the corner. All of a sudden, the team faced the prospects of the Italian Grand Prix differently. Instead of believing they would be utterly dominated by the German team, they would foster up the hope the new car could level the playing field a fair degree.
The most important race on every Italian's calendar was coming up on the 11th of September. As racing fans made their way to the Autodromo Nazionale Monza for the all-important race, Scuderia Ferrari would dispatch a remarkable fleet of cars boasting of no less than six entries. Armed with two D50s, now named Lancia-Ferraris, and four 555 Super Squalos, Ferrari arrived in Monza hoping sheer numbers would be able to overturn the Mercedes threat.
Ferrari wouldn't be alone against Mercedes though. The Maserati factory team would also depart from Modena with no less than six cars. This meant a straight-up 12 to 4 advantage when one looked at the race from a mere patriotic sense.
It had become clear, with the purchase of the D50s from Lancia, the 555 Super Squalo had pretty much come to the end of its development cycle. The tragic events at Le Mans and the subsequent cancellations would deem it almost utterly useless to develop the Super Squalo that late in the season. However, the 555s would be dispatched with the two D50s on the basis of their performance at the ultra-fast Spa-Francorchamps circuit in which Farina would manage to come away with a fine 3rd behind Fangio and Moss.
Speaking of Farina, he would be back with Scuderia Ferrari in time for the Italian Grand Prix. Along with veteran ace, Luigi Villoresi, the two men would have the honor of driving the D50s. Mike Hawthorn, Eugenio Castellotti, Maurice Trintignant and Umberto Maglioli would all be behind the wheel of the 555.
Prior to 1955, Monza still needed to be ranked within the same category as those like Spa and other ultra-fast circuits. Measuring 3.91 miles, the road course was fast with only a few moments each lap when the driver wouldn't have his foot firmly planted to the floor. However, heading into the 1955 Italian Grand Prix, the Monza circuit would firmly establish itself amongst the fastest in the world. During the off season the old oval section of the circuit would be updated. Each of the ends of the oval would be altered to include steeply-banked corners. When incorporated with the updated road course that new included the famous Parabolica, Monza would become a 6.2 mile circuit of almost entirely flat-out racing.
This updated circuit design would suit Mercedes almost perfectly as the team would arrive at the race with two streamlined and two open-wheel versions of its W196. The two streamlined versions would be given to Fangio and Moss to drive, and, not surprisingly it would be Fangio that would post the fastest time in practice around the 6.2 mile circuit. Fangio would take the pole by a mere three-tenths of a second over Moss. Karl Kling would complete yet another front row sweep for Mercedes when he would post a time just under two seconds slower than Fangio.
What about the fleet of six cars for Ferrari? Well, after practice it would become evident the team should have just left the factory with just the four Super Squalos. Already struggling with injuries and pain, Farina would crash heavily when his D50 developed tire problems on the high-speed steep banking. Villoresi would also run into trouble with his tires. Both Farina and Villoresi would post practice times that would see Farina qualify for the second row of the grid and the 5th position. Villoresi would be quick enough for the third row of the grid and the 8th position. However, both of the D50s would be withdrawn from the event and the grid positions for Farina and Villoresi would be left open.
The problems with the D50 would force Ferrari to put all of its hopes back into a car that it had given up on and stopped developing altogether. And though the team would have four of them entered in the race, immediately Ferrari would go from being a possible contender to likely not just like that.
Castellotti would do his best to put a positive spin on things and it would seem as though he had achieved that by putting his 555 on the second row of the grid in the 4th position. However, none of the other Ferraris would be anywhere near the front of the starting grid. Umberto Maglioli would be down on the fifth row of the grid in 12th spot after posting a time around 9 seconds slower than Fangio. Mike Hawthorn would be on the sixth row of the grid along with Trintignant. Hawthorn would start from the 14th spot on the grid while Trintignant would be 15th.
The Monza circuit would be swamped with avid motor racing fans all ready to cheer on the sea of red-livered cars filling the grid for the Italian Grand Prix. However, at the head of the sea of red would be the shimmering light of four Silver Arrows ready to part the waters and come away with a demonstrative victory. And, when the flag dropped to start the race, it would be Moss that would be at the head of a four-car Mercedes train. However, by the end of the first lap it would be Fangio leading ahead of Moss, Taruffi and Kling. Castellotti would be the best of the Ferraris running in 5th place. Mike Hawthorn would make an incredible start and would use the slip-stream to advance his way up the running order. By the end of the first lap, the Brit would find himself right behind Castellotti in 6th place, an incredible jump up after starting 14th. Trintignant would also move up at the start but it would be just one place to 14th. Maglioli would also improve using the power and design of the Super Squalo to great effect. He would complete the first lap in the 8th position.
Fangio would continue to lead the way ahead of Moss and the rest of the Mercedes entries. Ken Wharton and two others would find themselves out of the race before the 50 lap event even reached 10 laps. Stirling Moss would nearly retire from the race when he got a rock kicked up from Fangio's car right through the windscreen of his Mercedes. Had the windscreen not been there it likely would have hit Moss and caused a terrible accident, maybe even taking the British Grand Prix champion's life. As it was, Moss would pit, the mechanics would change the windscreen and he would take off in pursuit of his teammates.
Moss would be flying once he rejoined the race. This would lead to him posting what would remain the fastest lap of the race on the 21st lap. His time of 2:46.9 would be just four-tenths of a second slower than Fangio's pole-winning time and would enable Moss to make his way past his fellow compatriot Hawthorn for 7th place. The pace would be incredible. It would also be short-lived as it would lead to Moss' engine retiring with smoke billowing out from under the car's bodywork.
Fangio would be in the lead over Kling and Taruffi. Castellotti had been running in 5th place and likely could have moved up when Moss pitted. However, Luigi Musso would be on the move and he would make his way past Castellotti for the 4th position when Moss dropped down the order. Hawthorn also dropped back after running as high as 6th after the first lap. By the 20th lap of the race Hawthorn would be down in 7th place and would even fall as low as 9th before rebounding. Maglioli would be, perhaps, the fastest backward mover of them all. After completing the first lap in 8th place, he would be found down in 12th by the 3rd. From there, Maglioli would hold steady right around the top ten and would remain there over the first half of the race. Trintignant's race would go from bad to worse. Despite climbing up as high as 12th in the standings, the Frenchman would find himself, by the halfway point in the race, dead-last and struggling just to keep going.
Fangio would be untouchable over the course of the race, although Kling and Taruffi remained within a couple of car lengths of the Argentinean. Musso's incredible pace throughout the first half of the race would finally give way and would allow Castellotti, who was well behind the Mercedes, to come up to claim 4th place. Hawthorn would be aided by the retirements of Moss on the 28th lap and Musso on the 32nd lap. With 15 laps remaining in the race, Hawthorn's incredible performance would see him move up to 5th place while Maglioli ran a little ways behind in 7th. Trintignant would also improve upon his position and would be ahead of John Fitch by that point in time, and therefore, no longer running dead-last. However, the best of the Ferrari drivers would be Castellotti who, by the time there were just 15 laps remaining, would be running in 3rd place after the retirement of Kling.
No one could touch the pace of the Mercedes, however. The only thing that could possible affect their race was Providence. But, on this day, Providence would be with Mercedes. The ever-humble Fangio would lead home a Mercedes one-two with Taruffi crossing the line just seven-tenths of a second behind. A little more than 46 seconds later, Castellotti would bring the first of the red cars across the line in a solid 3rd place performance in an abandoned car of which no driver was particularly fond.
As for the rest of the Ferrari team, Hawthorn would find himself within sight of the finish when gearbox problems ruined his chances of completing the final round of the World Championship for 1955. Maurice Trintignant would never manage to achieve the same kind of pace of his teammates and, as such, would struggle at the back of the field. Though he would finish the race a little more than 3 laps behind, Maurice would cross the line in 8th place. Umberto Maglioli would be brought in for just the second time of the season to drive for the Formula One team. Nonetheless, he would deliver for the team finishing the race a little more than a lap down in 6th position, just missing a points-paying position.
The 1955 Formula One World Championship had come to an end. In the early part of the year, Scuderia Ferrari would manage to use its superior reliability and team atmosphere to have its drivers amongst the best in the field. However, during the middle of the season, Ferrari would struggle and its drivers would remain stagnant in the championship battle while Fangio and Moss were continually on the rise. Had the season included a couple more rounds, it is entirely possible the team's drivers would have slipped further down in the standings. But, for drivers like Castellotti, the Italian Grand Prix would offer up one more chance to climb further up in the championship standings. Behind Fangio and Moss, Eugenio Castellotti would finish the Formula One season in 3rd place having scored a total of 12 points. Maurice Trintignant would struggle after Monaco, but that surprise win would enable him to finish the season 4th in points. Giuseppe Farina's early performances would lead him to finish the season 5th in points despite the fact he would not take part in a grand prix since the Belgian Grand Prix in early June.
The abbreviated Formula One World Championship season had drawn to a close and things didn't appear any stronger for Scuderia Ferrari at the end of the season than they had at the start. The withdrawal of the D50s from the Italian Grand Prix would rob the team of being able to see where they were with their latest acquisition. However, one thing was abundantly clear, the 555 Super Squalo wasn't going to work.
Although the Formula One World Championship had drawn to a close there were still a number of non-championship races on the calendar. This presented the team with a great opportunity. The troubles of the D50 at the Italian Grand Prix had hindered the development of the D50s while part of the Ferrari team. However, the non-championship races would prove invaluable to the team as it would allow them to get used to the new car and make adjustments for the upcoming 1956 season.
Even in the lead up to the Italian Grand Prix there had been a number of non-championship Formula One races. However, Scuderia Ferrari would not take part in any of these. Most of these races had been held in England, a distance away. Therefore, it was understandable that the team would not take part in any of these races, especially when the team was shaking down its new Lancia chassis.
Interestingly, following the end of the World Championship, England would host a couple more non-championship races. One of these would be the 2nd International Gold Cup held at Oulton Park on the 24th of September.
Having Brit Mike Hawthorn in the team, Scuderia Ferrari would dispatch a couple of their Lancia-Ferraris to the race to be driven by Mike Hawthorn and Eugenio Castellotti. These two Ferrari drivers would be competing against a couple of factory Maseratis led by Stirling Moss. In addition to the factory Maserati team having a couple of entries there would be some small British teams, like Vandervell Products and Connaught Engineering that would also make up a part of the strong field of cars.
Oulton Park Circuit, surprisingly, would be the first place in all of England in which the D50 chassis would compete. Measuring 2.76 miles in length and boasting of some rather steep undulating terrain, Oulton Park would be somewhat of a different habitat for the D50. Earlier on in the season Ascari had shown how well the car could perform on tight street circuits like Pau and Monaco, but its last couple of races had been ultra-fast circuits. Oulton Park represented a blend, and therefore, would demonstrate any strength or weakness the car really had.
There would seem to be no weaknesses with the car in practice when Hawthorn would turn the fastest lap and grabbed the pole by two-tenths of a second over Stirling Moss by posting a time of 1:52.4. Luigi Musso, the other factory Maserati driver would make it two Maseratis on the front row when he grabbed the 3rd starting position. However, just when it seemed Maserati would have the advantage, Castellotti would help to even the odds by taking the 4th, and final, starting position on the front row.
Right from the start of the race, a great battle would enrage between Hawthorn and Moss. Hawthorn would be quick in the Lancia-Ferrari while Moss would be just as quick in the Maserati. Moss would be very competitive in the race for more than a couple of reasons. First of all, he would be driving the latest evolution of the 250F. This would be difficult for Ferrari to match given the events that transpired throughout the season and the late acquisition of the Lancia D50s. Secondly, Moss had won the race the year before. In fact, he would win the race in one of the most impressive fashions starting from dead-last in the field. Not only would he come through to win the race, but, in the end, he would do so with a very comfortable margin.
One year later, Moss would be on the attack again. Although Hawthorn had managed to start from pole, Moss would be quicker around the Oulton Park circuit. Aided by a fastest lap time of 1:53.2 and an average speed pushing 88mph, Moss would appear to be toying with Hawthorn during the early part of the 54 lap race. However, as the race wore on, it would become apparent Hawthorn could not match Moss' pace and he would begin to lose touch with his fellow Brit.
Throughout the race there would be a number of retirements. Peter Collins would fall out of the race after just 9 laps. Harry Schell would last just 16 laps before he too would be forced out of the race. Castellotti had started from the front row and was expected to help his fellow teammate over the course of the race. However, Castellotti would struggle around the 2.76 mile circuit and would fall down the running order. Desmond Titterington and Reg Parnell would take up the charge after Moss and Hawthorn, but neither would be able to match the pace of the two top British drivers.
The race would become, effectively, a two-horse race. However, it wouldn't be too long before even that battle would become moot as Moss pulled away into the distance. As he had the year before, Moss would win the International Gold Cup going away. He would come through to take the victory having averaged nearly 86mph and would enjoy a margin of more than a minute and 6 seconds over Hawthorn in his D50. Still, this was a good result for the team considering the battle was against the man that finished runner-up in the World Championship and that was behind the wheel of the latest Maserati from the factory. Desmond Titterington would earn an absolutely splendid 3rd place finishing the race a little more than a lap behind Moss. And, as for Castellotti, the race wouldn't be as splendid as it could have been. Though he would start from the front row of the grid, Eugenio would struggle throughout the 54 lap race and would finish down in 7th place, more than 3 laps behind the leaders.
Oulton Park would be a good test for Ferrari with its Lancia D50 chassis. The team would get some rather varied results, but it would still be good for the team to get out there and gain some experience with its new car. There would be another opportunity in just about a week, but there would be a problem with that.
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