No such trouble seemed to come Ascari's way. He and Giuseppe Farina would check out from the rest of the field. In fact, before the race would end, the two would put the rest of the field at least a lap down.
Ascari seemed indestructible. He would take just two hours, fifty-three minutes and thirty-five seconds to complete the 90 lap race distance. He would enjoy an eleven second margin of victory over Farina. Jose Froilan Gonzalez had taken over Felice Bonetto's car after the trouble with his rear axle. He would end up being a lap down at the end but would still finish 3rd.
With Macklin out of the race, the only hope left for HWM would be Peter Collins. Collins would finish the race, but he certainly wouldn't be all that close at the end. Collins would follow Rosier to the line and would manage to beat Stirling Moss. He would end up a solid 8th place, which wasn't bad considering he started the race 16th. However, he would end up six laps down by the end. That meant just about every 14 to 15 laps Collins would see Ascari come, and go, by him.
No matter. HWM's first World Championship experience of 1953 would have to be considered something of a success. While half of the team would not make it to the end, the team would still have its other half not only finish, but finish inside the top ten. This was still a good result, but the team wouldn't have too much time to reflect upon it as the next round of the World Championship would take place in just a couple of weeks.
Two weeks and about 180 miles would separate the third and fourth rounds of the World Championship. After the Grand Prix of the Netherlands, the World Championship, and HW Motors, would pack up and head south. Its destination was to be the ultra-fast Spa-Francorchamps circuit located a stones-throw away from the small village of Francorchamps in the heart of the Ardennes Forest. The race was the ever-popular Belgian Grand Prix.
What made the Belgian Grand Prix so popular was the long and ultra-fast Spa-Francorchamps circuit. Although it was officially the 14th Grand Prix of Belgium, it was the fourth season of the Belgian Grand Prix as part of the World Championship. It had been there from the very beginning and was certainly a highlight on the calendar each and every year.
At 8.77 miles long, the circuit was anything but short. And besides the La Source hairpin, the circuit was anything but slow as well. Located in the heart of the Ardennes Forest, the circuit boasted of some spectacular sights, none more brilliant than the quick left flick and then climbing right-hand curve known as Eau Rouge. But besides the breath-taking speeds and fast corners, the circuit was also known for its unpredictable weather. In fact, the only thing for certain around the circuit was the uncertainty of the weather.
The year before, Alberto Ascari would struggle a little in the wet but would gather everything together and would dominate throughout the remainder of the race to take yet another victory in his truly remarkable season. One year later, Ascari was gunning for yet another World Drivers title, but it seemed the weather would certainly be more pleasant.
The Ferrari squad would have some serious competition in 1953. Maserati had been reborn and was proving a good match to the performance of Ferrari. While Ferrari continued its winning-streak, it seemed destined to end at any moment. After practice for the 36 lap race, it seemed it would come to an end at Spa.
Juan Manuel Fangio would be the fastest car on the circuit. His best time of four minutes and thirty seconds would end up being two seconds faster than Ascari's best time in the Ferrari. Therefore, Fangio would start from the pole with Ascari alongside in 2nd. Jose Froilan Gonzalez would make it two Maseratis on the front row when he qualified 3rd. In fact, Ascari barely edged Gonzalez out for the 2nd place spot.
HW Motors would come to the race with its now customary three cars. The lineup of Lance Macklin, Peter Collins and Paul Frere had worked so well at the similar Nurburgring that it would be brought to Spa. It was believed things would go even better for the team given the fact this would be Frere's home race at a circuit he knew even better. Practice would seem to prove this notion correct as Frere would be the best-qualified of the HWM drivers. He would qualify 11th and would start the race from the fifth row of the grid. Peter Collins and Lance Macklin would end up occupying the seventh row together. Collins would start 16th while Macklin would start 17th.
The day of the race would be a sharp contrast to the year before. Instead of rainy and rather mild, the day would be sunny, hot and dry. As the field streaked away toward Eau Rouge for the first time, Fangio seemed to be in no hurry and would let Gonzalez lead the way up the hill. He knew he had the pace after setting a record-breaking lap in practice of more than 117 mph. Therefore, he was in no hurry to battle with Gonzalez into the first turn and potentially knock each other out. Gonzalez would take over the lead and would roll like a Juggernaut afterward. At the completion of the very first lap of the race, Gonzalez was already averaging more than 110 mph and was only getting faster. In fact, he would end up setting the fastest lap of the race on the 2nd lap of the race.
This pace would be too much for a number of others in the field. Arthur Legat wouldn't even pull away from the grid when his transmission broke right at the start. Three laps later, Georges Berger would fall out with an expired engine. One lap after that HWM would take a hit. In order to keep pace, a driver needed to make quick shifts, drop the clutch and go. It would be easy to blow out a clutch and this would happen to Collins after just four laps.
Gonzalez, on the other hand, just kept going fast. He would match his fastest lap time from the 2nd lap of the race again on the 3rd, 9th and 11th laps of the race. However, it would be a little too much. Fangio was running nearly a minute behind Gonzalez just waiting for his moment to come and it would come after Gonzalez matched his fastest lap time for the fourth time. The accelerator pedal would give Gonzalez troubles forcing him to retire after such an impressive performance. It seemed now was Fangio's time, and Maserati's time, to take over Ferrari's reign. But even Fangio's lead would be short-lived. After just two laps in the lead his engine would expire handing the lead and the opportunity for another victory to Ascari.
Being toward the back of the pack, Macklin had to push right from the very beginning. With the troubles many of the competitors were experiencing, he was able to move his way up the order. Unfortunately the movement up the order would only last through half of the race. After 19 laps, the hot day would get to his Alta engine and would expire and would force him to retire. This would leave just the local-hopeful, Paul Frere, in the race for HWM.
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