TeamsOfficine Alfieri Maserati: 1954 Formula One Season By Jeremy McMullen
Were it not for the fragility of their cars during the 1953 season, Maserati likely would have earned much better results that the lone victory in the World Championship at the very last round. The A6SSG certainly had the power to match the Ferrari 500 F2, but it would just come onto the scene at the wrong time. But Maserati wasn't looking to 1953. It was looking to its own time; a time that would come the following season and would remain a presence throughout the rest of the decade.
During the late '40s, Maserati was one of the chassis to have. The 4CL and the 4CLT were certainly very competitive. But when the new Formula One World Championship came into being, the new World Championship would be dominated by Alfa Romeo and Ferrari. Maserati would appear to be nothing more than an also-ran. The red Italian machines from Modena certainly challenged the might of Scuderia Ferrari and Alberto Ascari, especially during the 1953 season, but still, Maserati would be dominated just like everyone else. But heading into 1954, Maserati looked to turn the tables.
The factory knew they were on the right track. Gioacchino Colombo had taken over development of the A6GCM, which became the A6SSG. The A6SSG would be a great challenger to the Ferrari, there was just some minor issues that needed to be dealt with. They just needed some updates and a little more work to ensure their car could remain on track instead of retired and out of the race. Besides, the company would be more focused on the return of Formula One to the World Championship, and therefore, the increase in engine size from 2.0-liters up to 2.5-liters. While building a new engine, the groundwork for the chassis had already been laid. And though the car would bear a similarity to the A6SSG, the new car would have an entirely different name, a name that would be as recognizable as any other great within Formula One's history—the 250F.
The Maserati factory would have a different approach with its new chassis. Instead of having strictly a factory team, the 250F would be offered to customers and many of these customers would be entered in races under the Officine Alfieri Maserati factory team name despite having their own workers and equipment. Therefore, as would be seen throughout the season, drivers and chassis would come and go.
The company would still have a works effort with a couple of cars nonetheless and that works team would leave at the start of the new year for South America. The team would leave the shores of Europe and would travel across the Atlantic to Argentina in order to take part in the first World Championship round of the season, the Argentine Grand Prix.
Held on the 17th of January, the Argentine Grand Prix would certainly kick the '54 season off early, but it was a great opportunity for Maserati to see where they stacked up compared to their competition. The team would have something of an ace up its sleeve, however. Although Jose Froilan Gonzalez departed to go back to Ferrari, the factory Maserati team still retained the talents of ‘El Maestro', Juan Manuel Fangio.
Around the 2.42 mile circuit number two at the Autodromo 17 de Octubre it would be clear Maserati wouldn't dominate the season like Ferrari had the previous couple. Maserati would need things to go right for them to succeed and, after practice, it wouldn't look all that good.
Giuseppe Farina would be fastest for Ferrari setting a time of 1:44.8 in practice giving him the pole by just a tenth of a second ahead of Gonzalez in another Ferrari. Fangio would find his way to the 3rd starting spot on the grid after setting a time nine-tenths slower than Farina. Things would look even worse for Maserati when Mike Hawthorn made it three Ferraris starting from the front row.
Besides Fangio, the factory effort would enter three other cars. Onofre Marimon would be at the wheel of a 250F and he would end up exactly two seconds slower than Fangio and would start on the second row of the grid in 6th place. The other two cars would start right beside each other on the third row of the grid. Roberto Mieres, driving a 2.5-liter interim chassis, would be just a little more than 4 seconds slower than Farina and would start 8th while Prince Bira would be just three-tenths slower than Mieres and would start 9th. Bira would also be driving an A6GCM chassis that would have the 2.5-liter engine fitted into it. This would be used while Bira awaited his new 250F chassis to be finished back at the factory.
While the 1953 running of the Argentine Grand Prix would be darkened by the unfortunate deaths of a number of spectators after Farina plowed into the crowd trying to avoid hitting a boy that had actually made his way onto the track, a darkness of a different sort was beginning to gather around the circuit on the day of the race. Rain showers were expected to make an appearance at some point during the race. This would greatly alter strategy heading into the 87 lap, three hour, race.
Sandwiched amongst three Ferraris, it was clear Fangio wouldn't be able to fight them all by himself. He would need a little help. And as the field tore away to start the 1954 season, Fangio's help would be on its way.
Farina would lead the way during the early going. Fangio would actually make a good start and would running in 2nd place ahead of Hawthorn and Gonzalez. However, Gonzalez would get his act together and would be quite fast through the first 10 laps, or so, of the race. Gonzalez would take the lead on the 15th lap and would continue to charge hard at the front of the field.
Unfortunately, hard-charging would cause Maserati to lose one of its best hopes. Just 5 laps into the race Marimon would push a little too hard and would make a mistake that would cause him to retire from the race. Roberto Mieres would push his interim Maserati a little too hard and would blow his car's engine also early in the race. That would leave just Fangio and Bira for Maserati.
Both Bira and Fangio were staying put looking and hoping for some kind of Providence. About 30 laps into the race, the help would arrive. A sudden rain storm would cause Gonzalez to spin. Mike Hawthorn would also spin in the wet conditions. Farina would keep himself pointed straight but just wouldn't be able to tell which way was straight. Therefore, he would stop to get a visor for his helmet. All of a sudden, Fangio would be in the lead of the race. The race had traded one Argentinean for another.
Fangio would remain in the lead for about 11 laps until the circuit dried out enough that Gonzalez could make his way back toward the front to challenge his fellow countryman for the lead. The Argentineans would duel for the lead throughout the middle-third of the race. But then, just as Farina added his name to the mix and retook the lead, another rain shower would suddenly fall upon the track. The rain played into Fangio's hands. With some specially-cut tires, Fangio would retake the lead. Hawthorn would spin and would be disqualified after receiving outside help. In the wet conditions, Farina and Gonzalez were told to back off as Ferrari believed they would be able to get Fangio disqualified for an issue while he was taking on his cut tires. Therefore, Fangio would pull away with the lead of the race.
Coming to the end of the race the sun would poke out, shining on the circuit. All adoration and praise would be shone upon Fangio as he powered his way down the straight to the finish line for the final time. After three hours and fifty-five seconds, Fangio would take the first victory of the season, with a little help. The protests would fail and Ferrari would have to settle for a distant 2nd and 3rd. Farina would finish a minute and nineteen seconds behind in 2nd while Gonzalez would have to be content with 3rd just a little more than two minutes behind. The final Maserati factory entry still running at the end would be Prince Bira. He would also let the race come to him and he would end up with a very strong 7th place finish.
Providence had come to the rescue. And because of Providence Maserati would already score its first World Championship victory of the season, at the very first race. Between 1952 and 1953 the factory had only managed to score one victory in the World Championship. So as the team left circuit that night it had already matched its best result over a two year period. The 1954 season was certainly starting out well.
The championship season had started out well. The question was whether or not the non-championship season would follow suit. Two weeks after the Argentine Grand Prix the team would have the opportunity to find out. The playing field would be even given the fact the team's non-championship race of the season would take place on the same 2.42 number two circuit as the World Championship event.
The event would be different, however. The first non-championship race of the season for the team would actually be a Formula Libre race. Therefore, the field would include older Formula One chassis like the Ferrari 375, even an Alfa Romeo 12C, right alongside Formula 2 and new Formula One chassis like the 250F.
The starting grid, while composed of many of the same drivers and cars, would look slightly different than what it had for the Formula One World Championship race. Farina on pole with Gonzalez alongside in 2nd would be familiar. However, Hawthorn would make it a clean sweep by Scuderia Ferrari for the top three starting positions and Maurice Trintignant would help to make a clean sweep of the entire front row for Ferrari chassis. While the majority of the rest of the starting grid is unknown, the one thing that is known is that Fangio would start from the second row of the grid staring at an entire front row of Ferrari 625s. Similar to the Argentine Grand Prix, Fangio and Marimon would be driving factory 250Fs. Prince Bira, however, would be the only other entry for Maserati. Mieres would enter under his own name; a move that would end up benefiting him.
Twenty cars would start the 65 lap race but it would be the Ferraris that would continue to set the pace at the front. Farina would set the fastest lap of the race but it wouldn't guarantee him the victory as he would end up out of the race. The management with Ferrari would then make a very interesting move as they would bring the Argentinean, Gonzalez, into the pits to give his car to the Italian, Farina.
It would seem the race had come to Fangio again. However, not long after Farina's troubles, Maserati's two biggest competitors would be hit hard. Within a matter of minutes, Maserati would lose Fangio and Marimon. The sole remaining car the team had in the race was an older interim car piloted by Prince Bira. The troubles Farina had been experiencing mean Mieres would find himself inside the top three.
With just a lap remaining in the race, Hawthorn's engine would die taking him out of the running. Maurice Trintignant, however, would keep a Ferrari up front. Driving for Ecurie Rosier, Trintignant would power his way to victory by nearly fifty seconds over Mieres. Farina would follow along behind Mieres in 3rd place some eight seconds in arrears. The model of consistency, Prince Bira would complete the race distance a lap behind but would finish in 7th place for the second straight race.
With the exception of Prince Bira, the season couldn't have started out anymore differently for the factory Maserati team. While Marimon would suffer his second-straight retirement, Fangio would go from victory to failure with just a couple of weeks. But while the World Championship would be most important, the money and the all-important track experience would make it necessary that Maserati fix its non-championship woes in order to match what they had achieved during the first round of the World Championship.
There would be some time for Maserati to continue to address its issues. Once the team left Argentina in early February, the team would head back to Europe but would have a gap of more than a couple of months between races. The team would make its way back to its home in Modena and would begin preparing for the next race of the season.
The next race on the calendar would be on the island of Sicily. The port city of Siracusa would host the 4th Gran Premio di Siracusa. The race would be held on the 11th of April and would take place on a 3.48 mile circuit comprised of public roads situated just to the west of the city amongst the rolling countryside and the War Graves cemetery dedicated to fallen soldiers of World War II.
Playing such an important role in history throughout the region of the Mediterranean, it would be fitting the first race to be held in Europe would be in Syracuse. Fittingly, the race would draw a field of some of the most competitive teams and drivers in all of Europe. Officine Alfieri Maserati would enter two cars in the field. Onofre Marimon would be at the wheel of a 250F while Sergio Mantovani would be driving another. The team had intended for Juan Manuel Fangio to drive in the race as well but he would not appear.
It would be too bad for the Maserati team as Scuderia Ferrari would arrive with four cars driven by Jose Froilan Gonzalez, Giuseppe Farina, Mike Hawthorn and Maurice Trintignant, the entire front row of the last non-championship race.
In spite of the fact Ferrari's cars made up half of the entire field, it would be Marimon that would set the fastest time in practice and would grab the pole for the 80 lap race. Marimon would beat out Gonzalez for the pole by mere hundredths of a second. Giuseppe Farina would make up the final spot on the front row having set a time just four-tenths of a second slower than Marimon. Sergio Mantovani would find himself on the third row of the grid in 6th place.
The field consisting of five Ferrari 625s, two Maserati 250Fs and one Ferrari 553 would power their way off the grid on the start of the first lap of the race. In spite of the small field, the race would be about as dramatic as one could get, about as dangerous too.
Marimon would be fast right from the very start of the race. In fact, as a testament to his outright pace, Marimon would go on to set the fastest lap of the race with a time just over a second slower than his own pole-winning effort. However, his pace would put him on the ragged edge and would make life dangerous for the rest of the competitors. Mike Hawthorn would find this out first-hand.
According to witnesses, Marimon would drift a little wide through a portion of circuit that was actually cut into the ground and surrounded by concrete retaining walls on both sides. He would kick up some dirt and dust during this maneuver that would temporarily blind Hawthorn following close behind. As a result, Hawthorn would strike the wall and his car would burst into flame from the leaking fuel being ignited by the hot engine and exhaust. Hawthorn would be trapped momentarily in the car and would be helped out by Gonzalez who would stop his car and come to the Briton's aid. This move would end up being costly as the flames would extend over and would catch Gonzalez's car on fire as well. Hawthorn would suffer some serious burns. The flaming cars would cause the rest of the field to have to carefully make its way through the enclosed portion of track, and would even bring the race to a stop partially.
Just like that, two Ferrari's were out of the race in a flash. It would have seemed like the perfect, and unfortunate, moment for Marimon to take advantage of. He would, until… Marimon would complete 71 laps and would be running strong all throughout. However, a mistake would lead him to crash his car out of the event as well. Everything would be even. Giuseppe Farina would end up being the beneficiary of all the action.
Farina would cruise to the victory having more than two laps in hand over Maurice Trintignant in 2nd. In spite of having the very same car that Fangio used to win the Argentine Grand Prix, Mantovani wouldn't be able to come close to replicating the pace of the elder Argentinean. Mantovani would avoid the trouble but would have trouble of his own trying to keep up with the rest of the field. Literally a non-factor until Marimon's late departure, Sergio would finish the race five laps down in 3rd. Mantovani would be the 3rd of just five finishers.
In spite of the overwhelming presence by Scuderia Ferrari, Maserati had its opportunity to score its first non-championship victory but Marimon would throw the opportunity away and Mantovani was not a contender really at any point. The last couple of races were proving that it was very important who was behind the wheel.
The factory Maserati team would have three entries at the next race just one week after the disappointing Gran Premio di Siracusa. Onofre Marimon, Roberto Mieres and Harry Schell would all be driving under the Officine Alfieri Maserati team banner. The event would be the race where grand prix racing got its start, the Pau Grand Prix.
Quite different than the original course that extended all the way to Bayonne and back, the Pau Grand Prix would still be a tough and arduous test as three hours of racing awaited teams, drivers and cars.
Three hours of racing around the tight and twisting streets of the 1.75 mile course would be no easy affair and it would be made more difficult for Marimon, Mieres and Schell given the presence of Scuderia Ferrari's three entries and Equipe Gordini's four cars. In all, twelve cars would be competing for the victory.
Just about the same as every other race on the season, Giuseppe Farina would be on pole for the start of the 3 hour race. Farina's best effort of 1:36.3 would be a full second faster than his Ferrari teammate and 2nd place starter Maurice Trintignant. This would give Ferrari yet another sweep of the front row. The second row would see another Ferrari that of Jose Froilan Gonzalez, starting in the 3rd position while Onofre Marimon would be the first of the Maserati team members. His best time would be two seconds slower than Farina but would be good enough for 4th place on the grid. Mieres would be just three-tenths of a second slower than Marimon and would start the race 5th on the third row of the grid. Harry Schell would end up on the fourth row of the grid in 7th.
The field of twelve cars would line up on the grid awaiting the start of the three hour enduro. And as the field roared away toward the tight hairpin that led to the climbing straight toward the bridge, Jean Behra would make a great start from the third row of the grid. Marimon and Mieres would also be right there.
The racing action around the tight city streets would be intense and drama-filled. However, out of the entire field only Jean Behra and Maurice Trintignant would emerge from the chaos unscathed. It seemed just about everyone else in the field would run into trouble at some point in time.
An event lasting three hours meant there would be many that wouldn't. With only twelve cars starting the race, a handful of retirements would be a majority. And while Behra and Trintignant ascended to the top of the leader-board there would be more than a few that would descend it. Unfortunately for Maserati, Schell would be the first one out of the race. After just 6 laps the rear axle on his Maserati bringing about his very early on. Then, after 24 laps, Gonzalez would be out with crankshaft failure. In all, five cars would drop out of the running. The most unfortunate aspect to the five retirements would be the fact that the final car to retire from the race would be yet another Maserati factory team entry. Around the halfway mark of the race, Marimon would have the de Dion tube fail on his 250F. This would leave just Mieres as the sole Maserati factory entry in the race.
Comparatively, there was no one left in the race other than Behra and Trintignant. When these two hooked up in their own little duel it would become a titanic battle that would leave the rest of the field trailing far behind in its wake. While Farina would fade and the rest of the cars would be spread out by seconds and miles, Behra and Trintignant would remain separated by mere hundredths.
The race would go right down to the very end. The three hour mark approached as did Behra and Trintignant still battling it out for the victory. And after 109 laps, the race would come down to a matter of hundredths of a second. Behra would doggedly hold onto the lead and would lead Trintignant to the line. As the two cars approached the line they would practically side by side. However, it would be Behra that would take the victory by two-hundredths of a second over Trintignant. The 3rd place finisher wouldn't even be close.
For the second race in a row, Maserati would manage to sneak one of its cars onto the podium. And despite being three laps down at the end of the race, Roberto Mieres would bring his car home in the 3rd position.
Once again, it wasn't pretty, but Maserati had earned another podium. Nevertheless, the team would have to be bitterly disappointed as they still suffered from poor reliability. And as with the last couple of seasons, the issue of poor reliability continued to take away great promise.
After traveling to South America at the start of the season, unless it was across the Pacific, any trip across water would seem short. Well, in the middle of May the Maserati team would make its way across Europe and the English Channel to arrive at Silverstone to take part in the 6th BRDC International Trophy race.
Besides being a very popular event, the International Trophy race was also very important. Not only was it a non-championship race offering good starting and prize money, but since it took place on the same 2.88 mile Silverstone circuit that would be used for the British Grand Prix later on in the year it would be a good time of preparation for the World Championship race as well.
The formats of the two races couldn't have been much different, however. Unlike having a set amount of laps covering a certain amount of distance, as usual, the International Trophy race would consist of heat races and a final. The Officine Alfieri Maserati would have only two cars entered in the event. Therefore, the two would be split up between the two heats. Stirling Moss would be listed in the first heat while Roberto Mieres would be in the second.
As usual, the weather would be grey and rain was more than likely as the first heat participants took to the circuit for practice. Gonzalez would look strong in the Ferrari 553 and would end up setting the fastest lap with a time of 1:48. The victor of Pau, Behra, would be second-fastest in his Gordini T16. Behra would barely edge out Moss for the 2nd position. As it was, Moss would have to be happy with starting 3rd. Alan Brown would complete the four-wide front row driving the Vanwall 01.
Heavy rain would fall all over track as the first heat race got underway. These conditions seemed to perfectly suit Gonzalez as he would be quick right off the line. Moss would look good as well but would look a bit more cautious in the conditions. Behra would struggle in the conditions and would almost immediately begin to fall down the running order. One that would not fall down the running order but that would rapidly ascend it would be Prince Bira. Despite starting 8th on the grid, Bira would look totally comfortable in the wet conditions and would soon be up with Moss challenging for the 2nd place spot.
No such challenge would be issued to Gonzalez. He would lead from the very beginning of the 15 lap heat and would never look challenged at any point. Setting the fastest lap, Gonzalez would carefully streak to the victory.
Besides the battle between Brown and Tony Rolt further down in the field, the best fight on the circuit throughout the 15 laps would be between Moss and Bira. Armed with the same 2.5-liter engine as rested under the bodywork of Moss' 250F, Bira would be able to put up a spirited fight. And, in fact, as the two rounded Woodcote for the final time, it would be Bira that would cross the line in 2nd place about two seconds ahead of Moss.
Mieres would his work cut out for himself in the second heat. Despite having the 2.5-liter engine, he would have to face Maurice Trintignant. Also, he would have two other Ferrari 625s and a Maserati 250F also in his heat. Sure enough, Trintignant would be fastest in practice. Maurice would take the pole by mere hundredths of a second over Reg Parnell in another 625. Andre Simon would start the heat 3rd and Bob Gerard would surprise many taking the 4th, and final, spot on the front row. Mieres would not set a time, and therefore, would start the race from dead-last on the grid, 14th.
The start of the second heat would see changing track conditions come into play. Trintignant and Parnell would lead the way and would only increase the pace as the heat went on. The changing conditions would make it difficult for some, like Mieres. While Trintignant and Parnell only seemed to go faster, Mieres would struggle just to keep a suitable pace. Nonetheless, before the end of the heat, he would come under threat of going a lap down. Still, Mieres would continue to move up the running order.
The drying conditions would allow Trintignant to really begin to put the hammer down. He would set the fastest lap of the heat and would be on a pace that would be minutes faster than his Ferrari teammate, Gonzalez, in the first heat. Parnell would do his best keep touch but just could not.
Averaging nearly 5 mph faster than Gonzalez in the first heat, Trintignant would fly to victory in the second heat. He would not only beat Parnell by six seconds but would have a finishing time a minute and forty seconds faster than Gonzalez. This would be important. Forty-seven seconds later, Robert Manzon would finish in 3rd for Ecurie Rosier. Roberto Mieres would run a decent race. He would make his way up from 14th on the grid but would still finish a rather uninspiring 7th, one lap down.
Finishing times would be very important heading into the final as they would determine the starting grid. This would draw the ire of some of the teams as Ferrari would make some interesting changes. Apparently, after the first heat race Gonzalez's engine seized. But instead of giving Gonzalez Umberto Maglioli's car for the final, which meant a 9th place starting spot, he would be given Trintignant's car instead. Something of a slap in the face to Trintignant, he would go from starting the final on the pole to starting down on the second row of the grid in 6th place. Still, the starting positions were to be determined by the car, and not the driver. Therefore, since Gonzalez's car would be withdrawn from the race it would be believed Trintignant should not have started from 6th place on the grid. Unfortunately, the decision to allow Trintignant the 6th place starting position would affect both of Maserati's entries. As a result, Moss would miss out on the second row by one position and would start 8th. Roberto Mieres would start all the way down on the fifth row of the grid in 15th.
Given the pole for the final, Gonzalez would streak into the lead at the start and would not look back. Others would give chase, but one by one, they would all begin to falter under the conditions. With a drying track, Gonzalez would pick up the pace and this would begin to take a toll on the rest of the field. Robert Manzon had started the final from the front row but would be out after just 2 laps. Reg Parnell, who had done his best to keep pace with Trintignant in the second heat, would be out after just 5 laps. One-by-one, they continued to drop out of the fight until it was just Jean Behra giving chase, and even he was a distant memory to Gonzalez.
Moss would look strong during the early part of the 35 lap final while Mieres would just continue at a steady and determined pace. But while Gonzalez continued to lap the circuit at better than 90 mph, the fragility of the Maserati chassis would come to haunt Moss. Just 11 laps from the end of the race the suspension on the 250F would fail bringing about the end to Moss' day. Mieres, however, continued to lap the circuit but was well back of Gonzalez.
Mieres may have been well behind Gonzalez but his steady driving would cause him to ascend the running order until he again was threatening to pull off a podium result. The top step of the podium was never in doubt, that's one thing that was for sure.
Gonzalez, streaking along at an average speed of nearly 93 mph, would be too formidable that day. He would go on to take the victory having lapped all but 2nd place. Jean Behra would be the one driver left on the lead lap. He would finish the race in 2nd place but some thirty-six seconds behind. Unfortunately for Mieres, he would not be able to put together any last minute heroics to take away 3rd place from Andre Simon. Mieres would have to settle for a 4th place result.
Moss, Mieres and Maserati had gained a lot of experience that day. And they would know one thing very clearly: if the conditions were similar when they returned for the British Grand Prix, Gonzalez would have to be the favorite to take the victory.
Some of the drivers in the field at the International Trophy race would not have a lot of time to pack and move on in order to make it to the next race. Roberto Mieres would be one of those entered under the Maserati factory team name that would have to quickly gather everything and head out from Silverstone. After the International Trophy race on the 15th of May, just one week would pass before the 7th Gran Premio di Bari. And Bari, with its location nearly all the way down Italy's Adriatic coast, would not be a quick trip.
Nonetheless, Mieres would arrive and would be entered as teammates to Onofre Marimon and Sergio Mantovani for the 60 lap race. The field would again be small but it would feature another strong lineup of competitive drivers.
From the rainy and cold conditions at Silverstone to the bright and warm weather in Bari, the race would be very welcome for Mieres who had been putting together some very impressive performances despite starting from well down in the field. But in Bari, he would have perhaps his best shot at even better success.
Jose Froilan Gonzalez would also make the trip along with his Ferrari teammates. And, fresh from his victory at Silverstone, he would keep the momentum going by setting the fastest lap time in practice. Interestingly, he would beat out Trintignant for the pole. Jean Behra, as he had at Silverstone, would provide the chase by taking the 3rd, and final, spot on the front row. Onofre Marimon would just miss out on the front row, and instead, would start 4th. Roberto Mieres, who had grown accustomed to starting from the back of grids, would start the race from the third row in the 6th position. The remainder of the starting grid would be something of a mystery but it is believed Mantovani would start from dead-last.
60 laps of the 3.45 coastal circuit awaited. And once the race started, it wouldn't take too long before the pesky reliability problems began to resurface for Maserati. Mantovani would be out after just 3 laps with shock absorber issues. Roberto Mieres would also fail to pull off another great finish when problems with his Maserati brought about an early end to his race. Given the problems the other two Maserati pilots were having, Marimon would not push as hard in his 250F as what he could have. He would show early on in the race that he had the pace to keep up as he would go on to set what would be the fastest lap of the race with an average speed of just under 90 mph. However, he would keep up the pace in order to ensure that he was able to keep going all the way to the end. That meant he would be left behind as Gonzalez led forth another incredible charge.
Trintignant would prove that Gonzalez wasn't the runaway favorite. Throughout the 60 lap race Gonzalez would lead but Trintignant wouldn't be more than a couple of seconds behind. Though Gonzalez would continue to pull out a bigger and bigger lead, it would be by a matter of feet each and every lap, not a matter of seconds.
Behra would have to do everything he could just to hang on to the two Ferraris. He would push hard, but by the end of the race, his goal would be to remain within a minute of Gonzalez. For the rest of the field, including Marimon, the goal was to keep the gap at just one lap.
As he had at Silverstone, Gonzalez would have more than enough speed for the rest of the field and would go on to take another victory. Averaging nearly 88 mph over the course of the race, he would beat Trintignant by about seven seconds. A minute and a second would be the gap back to Behra in 3rd place. In spite of the woes his teammates experienced during the race, Marimon's Maserati would make it the entire race distance. He would end up driving a strong race and would finish down a lap in 4th place.
Marimon's performance in the race, along with Mieres' over the previous few races, proved: if the car could make it to the end, it had the pace to be right up there. But still, Maserati had issues with getting their cars to the end of races. So while the team continued to earn good results, the great performances continued to elude them. Fangio's victory in the Argentine Grand Prix was something of a distant memory by this point.
Two weeks and about 300 miles would separate races for the Maserati team. Then, on the 6th of June, ten years after the Normandy landings, Formula One teams would invade the site of a former empire. Fifteen cars in all would descend upon the 4.09 mile Castel Fusano circuit for the 13th Gran Premio di Roma.
Castel Fusano would be just one of a number of different sites used for the Grand Prix of Rome. Located along the western coast in the low-lying countryside, the 4.09 mile circuit was generally featureless, but fast. It seemed like the perfect place for the power of the 2.5-liter Maserati.
Sure enough, with the absence of Scuderia Ferrari, Onofre Marimon would be fastest in practice setting a time of 2:15.4 around the circuit. Robert Manzon would end up being second-fastest in the Ecurie Rosier Ferrari 625. Stirling Moss, driving under his own name, would start the race from the 3rd position on the front row. Jean Behra would complete the front row in his Gordini T16.
In total, Maserati would enter three cars in the race. It had been the plan for Fangio to be part of the team as well, but he, unfortunately, would not take part in the race. Therefore, the team would be comprised of Onofre Marimon, Sergio Mantovani and Luigi Musso. Mantovani would end up starting the race from the third row of the grid in the 8th position. Musso would start the race from the same row as Mantovani, however, he would start in the 10th position.
Marimon knew full well without the presence of Scuderia Ferrari at the race he had the pace and the opportunity to achieve victory. He would just need to keep his car out of trouble in order to achieve the goal, but that would be harder to do than it seemed.
And while Marimon would need to be concerned about the reliability of his Maserati, he would certainly not allow that to slow him down once the race started. Immediately, Marimon would be on it from the very start and this would put incredible strain on the rest of the field.
The fallout would begin in earnest. Four cars would be out of the race by the 5th lap. Then, three more would be out of the running by the 31st lap of the race. Unfortunately, one of those that would fall out of the race due to the pace and the conditions would be Luigi Musso. The engine in his 250F would fail dropping him out of the race.
Marimon could smell victory. Therefore, he would continue to press hard. He would turn the fastest lap of the race with a time just three-tenths of a second off of his pole-winning time. With an average speed of more than 108 mph, Marimon would leave the rest of the field well behind. And when Robert Manzon retired after 40 laps due to water loss, he would find himself all alone. But he still wouldn't let up.
For 60 laps, 245 miles, Onofre would press hard putting his Maserati through all that it could handle. Still, the car continued to run without a problem. Coming to the final couple of laps in the race he would be in the lead and Sergio Mantovani would be lying in 3rd place. It was turning out to be a great day for Maserati.
Marimon would be indomitable throughout the whole of the 60 laps. With the retirement of all of his major competitors, Marimon could have gotten out and pushed his car around the last lap and still taken the victory. Averaging around 106 mph, Onofre would complete the race distance in two hours, eighteen minutes and forty-nine seconds to take what was his first victory of the season. The margin of victory would be large. Harry Schell would end up finishing in 2nd place but would be two laps behind Marimon. Mantovani would also be two laps behind but would bring home a 3rd place.
For just the second time on the season the Maserati 250F showed the pace and the reliability it was truly capable of achieving. Of course, a big part of this would result from Marimon having the reliability he needed in order to take advantage. The double podium result would be great news for the team heading into its next race.
The Maserati team would take a couple of weeks off from racing for it had some important preparations to do. The next round of the Formula One World Championship would take place on the 20th of June. And once the Belgian Grand Prix arrived the grand prix season would kick into a wholly different gear.
Officine Alfieri Maserati would bring three cars to the Belgian Grand Prix. Most importantly, Juan Manuel Fangio would be back with the team for the race. He would be joined by Onofre Marimon and Sergio Mantovani.
The 8.77 mile Spa-Francorchamps circuit would be perfectly suited for the power of the 2.5-liter 250F. The long straights and fast bends like Burnenville, Masta, the Masta Kink, Stavelot and Blanchimont all made for one incredibly exciting circuit. With the addition of deep woods and numerous elevation changes combined with the unexpected weather of the Ardennes, and the Spa-Francorchamps circuit was certainly one of the true road courses of the world. While scary, it was also a favorite for spectators and drivers alike.
Utilizing the power of the 250F, Fangio would go on to take the pole for the 36 lap race with a lap time of 4:22.1. His fellow countryman, Jose Froilan Gonzalez, would grab the 2nd place position on the front row after setting a time a second and a half slower than Fangio. Fangio's former teammate with Alfa Romeo, Giuseppe Farina, would take the final position on the front row while posting a time nearly four seconds slower. Marimon would miss out on the front row of the grid by about a second and a half. Instead, he would start the race in 4th. Mantovani would be found all the way down on the fifth row of the grid. His best effort would be eleven seconds slower than Fangio and would earn him an 11th place starting position.
An unusual day greeted the field as it prepared for the 36 lap, 315 mile, race. The weather would be sunny, comfortable and dry with no hint of it changing over the course of the race. This would be very welcome given the type of speeds the cars would reach going around the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.
Heading into the 1953 Belgian Grand Prix, Fangio had taken the pole but would let Gonzalez take over the lead before climbing up the hill at Eau Rouge. He would let Gonzalez set the pace and had expected to sit tight letting the race to come to him. It would, but, it would then be snatched away from him by reliability woes. As the field roared away to start the '54 edition, the same strategy would be enacted. Gonzalez would shoot into the lead. Fangio would end up tucking in behind Farina up through the hill and on the way toward Burnenville. Just like '53, Gonzalez would not have the lead for very long as engine failure would take him out of the race before completing even the first lap of the race. This would hand the lead of the race to Farina. Fangio followed close behind. The other two Maserati drivers would be settling into the ultra-fast pace of the circuit looking and waiting for the race to come to them as well.
Farina would hold onto the lead for a couple of laps, and then, Fangio would take over at the point. Not long after Fangio took over the lead of the race Maserati would lose one of its cars. Valve trouble would end up bringing Marimon's race to an end after just 3 laps. This would have been a little disconcerting had it been any other driver but Fangio driving in one of the two remaining cars. Mantovani remained in the race but he could not match the pace of the leaders. His only hope over the course of the race would be if attrition decimated the field. He could then swoop in and grab a podium finish.
All of a sudden, Farina would swoop into the lead of the race. This was surprising and it seemed Fangio had problems. He did. His helmet would have problems and he would have to fix the issue. While fixing the problem his pace slowed so as to allow Farina to retake the lead. But when Fangio had the problem solved he would set off after Farina once again.
Fangio would push hard in his pursuit of Farina. He would go on to set the fastest lap of the race with a lap pushing an average of 119 mph. This was tremendous pressure on Farina and his Ferrari and it would end up paying off to Fangio's benefit. Farina would complete 14 laps but would not complete 15. His engine would blow under the Argentinean threat. Fangio would be back in the lead.
Farina's departure from the race would provide Fangio with some breathing room. Hawthorn would be called in to give his car to Gonzalez and would lose time. Maurice Trintignant would benefit from the chaos and would move up the running order, but would be too far behind to really put any pressure on Fangio.
When Farina retired from the race after 14 laps, there would be just seven cars still running in the race with 22 laps still remaining. Mantovani was now the last car running on the circuit but was obviously well inside the top ten. It seemed likely that more would retire when more than half of the race remained. Therefore, he would continue on at a comfortable pace concerned with finishing the race, which is something his teammate Marimon would not do.
Averaging nearly half a mile and hour faster around the 8.77 mile circuit than Trintignant, Fangio was certainly in a comfortable position. He would just need to keep from making a mistake throughout the last half of the race to earn his second World Championship victory of the season.
Mistakes and Fangio don't really go together. And, the remaining half of the race would be nothing more than a clinic on grand prix driving put on by one of the best drivers in the world. Each and every lap, Fangio would come through not at all looking hurried or uncomfortable. Already in the lead by more than twenty seconds, and not looking rushed in any way, the rest of the competition had no chance to snatch the victory away.
As the field headed around on what would be the final lap of the race, it also seemed abundantly clear that Mantovani was not going to be able to snatch a points-paying result away from any of the others in the field. Seven cars would retire before the race was even close to the halfway mark of the race, and yet, amazingly, not another car would retire the rest of the race.
Averaging about 14 mph less than Fangio, it was clear why Mantovani would be last amongst the cars still running out on the circuit. Despite being two laps down, Mantovani would nonetheless make it to the end of the race finishing in 7th place.
Fangio certainly wouldn't be trailing behind coming into the finish. In two hours, forty-four minutes and forty-two seconds, Fangio would come around the La Source hairpin and across the line to take his second World Championship victory of the season. Following along twenty-four seconds behind, Maurice Trintignant would take his Ferrari and would earn a well earned 2nd. More than a lap would be the gap back to Stirling Moss in the 3rd position.
The Maserati team and their cars would seem like a totally different entity when Fangio was behind the wheel. Known for never beating his cars, and yet, being able to get the most out of them, cars didn't seem like reluctant thoroughbreds when the Argentinean was at the wheel. The Belgian Grand Prix would show this perfectly. Fangio seemed like the hunter from the very beginning. And it seemed everyone else had the task of fighting to make it to the end, not him. It seemed like a given. Unfortunately, Maserati wouldn't have the opportunity to enjoy his services any longer.
The Belgian Grand Prix kicked off the Formula One World Championship season in Europe and it would immediately kick into high gear. And speaking of ‘high gears,' the fourth round of the Formula One World Championship would be the next race on the calendar and it would take place at another ultra-fast circuit. The French Grand Prix was set for the 4th of July at the 5.15 mile Reims circuit.
First held back in 1926, the public road course stretching between Reims and Gueux was noted for its speed. Over the years, it would only get faster when the portion of the circuit that actually headed into the village of Gueux would be by-passed in favor of a fast right-hand bend known as Courbe de Gueux.
There would be other changes for what was to be the 41st Grand Prix de l'A.C.F. but it wouldn't have to do at all with the Reims circuit. Juan Manuel Fangio would leave Maserati but would appear at the French Grand Prix. He would come along with his new team, Mercedes-Benz. For the first time since before the outbreak of World War II, a Mercedes Silver Arrows would take part in a grand prix. Ever sensitive to the realities of the Second World War, Mercedes' team manager Alfred Neubauer would bring the team to the French Grand Prix as a gesture of friendship from the German nation to France.
Fangio's and Karl Kling's pace in the new Mercedes W196 would be anything but friendly toward any of the other competitors. Fangio would average 124 mph during his best lap and would take the pole by a margin of a second over his teammate Kling. Knowing full well Mercedes-Benz would be returning with Fangio at the wheel, Officine Alfieri Maserati needed a competent and accomplished driver of their own to take the fight to the new Silver Arrows. A deal would be struck, and Alberto Ascari would drive for the Maserati team at the French Grand Prix. This move would seem to pay-off during practice as Ascari would join Fangio and Kling on the front row of the grid in the 3rd position.
In all, Maserati would enter four cars in the race. Ascari would bring along his good friend and mentor Luigi Villoresi. Onofre Marimon and Sergio Mantovani would be considered the team's ‘regulars'.
Marimon would be just a little more than a second slower than Ascari and would start the race from the second row of the grid in the 5th position. Luigi Villoresi would start down on the sixth row of the grid. His best time of 2:42.7 would only be good enough for him to start 14th. Mantovani would run into trouble during practice and would not set a time for qualifying. As a result, he would not start the race.
The cars would be rolled out to their grid positions under overcast skies and a very good chance of rain soaking the track at some point during the 314 mile, 61 lap, race. Nonetheless, everything was shaping up for one fast and furious event. The crowd peered down the straight toward the cars lined up on the grid. Remembering the beautiful and magical '53 edition of the race, the crowd waited on edge for the start. Then it was on!
Kling would catapult into the lead having made a great start. Not any more than a few feet back would be Fangio in his W196. Ascari would be slow off the line but many thought he would recover and take up the chase. He would not. It was clear Ascari had transmission troubles but only when he retired without completing the first lap of the race did anyone fully realize just how bad it was. This would leave Marimon and Villoresi to take of the charge.
But it was the Silver Arrows out front that were on a charge. Kling would lead the first lap of the race but he and Fangio would battle it out lap after lap over the course of the 61 lap event. Left behind rather quickly, Marimon and the defending winner, Hawthorn, would battle it out for a number of laps until Marimon ran into trouble and had to come into the pits for work. The team would replace all of the plugs in the engine and would send him back out. The time it took to complete the work would cause Marimon to fall all the way down to the end of the line. Villoresi continued to run well but would be one of many that could not come close to matching the pace of the W196s.
Even when the rain came, Kling and Fangio dueled within feet and car lengths of each other. Even when they nearly had the entire field lapped, they would fight amongst themselves, much to Neubauer's disapproval.
The attrition was exacting a heavy toll on the field. Before the halfway mark of the race, only eight cars remained still running in the race. The field had been reduced from twenty-one to eight. Unfortunately, one of those out, besides Ascari, would be Marimon. The engine troubles he had experienced in his fight with Hawthorn would only get worse and he would be out after completing just 27 laps. That meant just Villoresi remained for the Maserati team. He was still one of those still running, but with Fangio and Kling averaging better than 115 mph, he was miles behind.
Fangio and Kling would exchange the lead some ten times during the race. The final two times would come in the final two laps of the race. The rain had ceased and the track was beginning to dry out, but their lead had grown to such a point that both drivers were warned to take it easy all the way to the finish. Kling would lead the penultimate lap, but there was a championship to consider heading into the final one. Fangio already had two victories on the season. Were he to score the victory in the French Grand Prix he would be well on his way to securing his second World Championship. This reality would win out and Fangio would lead Kling home in a most dominant display of power.
Germany had again invaded France. And with a full lap lead over Robert Manzon and Prince Bira, the two would cross the line nearly side-by-side. It looked as if it was the end of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Fangio would take the victory by a tenth over Kling. Manzon would take over the 3rd place spot after Bira ran out of fuel on the final lap of the race. Villoresi would drive a very consistent race and would not put the car in any harm at any point, but it would show in the results. While he would finish the race 5th, he would finish three laps down. Nonetheless, Villoresi would earn a couple of championship points for his consistent drive.
To come away with a single point was truly disappointing for Maserati. They had the two-time defending World Champion driving for them and had a number of other fast drivers set to compete. And yet, once again, the fragility of the car would be the downfall. Maserati was in the midst of the World Championship season and there was still a lot of work to be done.
There would be very little time for the team to find the reliability it needed. While the team would not take part in the non-championship Grand Prix de Rouen-les-Essarts the following week, the fifth round of the Formula One World Championship, the British Grand Prix, was just one week later, on the 17th of July, at Silverstone.
The last time the team had been at Silverstone, Gonzalez dominated in the wet and dry conditions. Despite being a couple of months removed from the International Trophy race, the conditions would be nearly identical. Many disbelieved the outcome would be the same this time, however.
Officine Alfieri Maserati would enter three cars in the 7th running of the British Grand Prix. Once again, the team would have Alberto Ascari's talents at their disposal since the Lancia project was still delayed in production. And with Ascari's presence with the team it meant Luigi Villoresi would be at the wheel of one of the 250Fs as well. Onofre Marimon would give the Maserati factory effort a very strong team despite the fact all but Marimon were non-contractual drivers for the team.
Of course, Maserati would need the presence of three strong drivers to take on the mighty new Mercedes-Benz team. Three Silver Arrows would be unloaded and readied to take part in the 90 lap race around the 2.88 mile Silverstone Circuit. And during practice, the pace of the W196 would be on display for all to see.
The question marks surrounding the Lancia project would cause Ascari and Villoresi to be a couple of late additions to the Maserati team. That meant they would have very little time to get into their 250Fs and find some speed. As a result, Villoresi would set a best time of 1:52 in practice. This time would end up being only good enough for the ninth row of the grid and 27th overall. Starting right beside Villoresi would be one of his teammates, Marimon. Still, Villoresi's and Marimon's starting position on the grid would be better than Ascari's. Alberto wouldn't manage to set a time and would be relegated to the tenth, and final, row of the grid, 30th overall. Amazingly, all three Maserati factory team cars would start in the last two rows of the grid. They would have a long race and a lot of traffic between themselves and the front row. And given Fangio's pace in practice, it wasn't likely that either of them would be challenging for the victory.
In spite of visibility issues because of the W196's bodywork, Fangio would go out in practice and would break the lap record and would be the first to average 100 mph around the former airbase. His time of 1:45 would end up being one second faster than Jose Froilan Gonzalez, the winner of the International Trophy race. Mike Hawthorn would make it two Ferraris on the front row when he earned the 3rd place starting position. The final position on the front row would go to a Maserati, but obviously not of the factory effort.
Nearly the same conditions greeted the field leading up to the start of the British Grand Prix as had been experienced in the International Trophy race in which Gonzalez had won. And as the field roared away from the grid toward turn one, Gonzalez knew he had his opportunity and would break first off the line to try and snatch it away from everyone else. Fangio would make a terrible start while Moss and Hawthorn would be the ones giving pursuit of Gonzalez.
Gonzalez knew the conditions well and immediately would push hard. But the one pushing the hardest would be Marimon. Forget Ascari and Villoresi, Marimon would be Maserati's team leader at the start of the British Grand Prix. Just on the first lap of the race alone, Marimon would go from starting 28th to find himself in 8th place! After just a couple of laps he had made his way up to 6th. While the race would start very well for Marimon, it would not go all that well for either of his two teammates, the more experienced and decorated drivers. Ascari would be out of the race by the 21st lap with engine failure. He would then take over Villoresi's car for what he had hoped would be the rest of the race. However, the rest of the race would be just to lap 40 when a problem with oil pressure brought about the end of the race for the good friends.
The early part of the race would see the skies remain overcast but the circuit was dry. Gonzalez would set the fastest lap of the race but would be later matched by no less than six others, including Ascari before the engine blew. Fangio would make a poor start but would soon get around Moss for 3rd and Hawthorn, a little later on, for 2nd. However, just about the time Fangio made his way up to 2nd he would begin to fade. One of the reasons for this was obvious. His visibility problems were causing him to hit oil barrels that were damaging his car heavily. Also, gearbox problems also delayed him. And when Moss, Kling, Trintignant, Salvadori and Behra all faded or retired from the race altogether, Marimon would be there to pick up the fight and would be soon challenging Fangio for the final podium position.
As with the International Trophy race, Gonzalez would be in an element all his own this day. Hawthorn would not be able to keep pace with the man despite driving the same kind of car. Dry, wet or drying, Gonzalez kept his car pointed straight on only increased his lead as the race wore on. In the case of Marimon, he too would be in a better position as the race wore on. Fangio's gearbox problems would cause him to fall behind by a lap and the problems would be enough that Marimon would be able to take over the 3rd spot.
Gonzalez would lead flag to flag. Never appearing to be troubled at any point during the race, Gonzalez would streak to the victory hold a minute and ten second advantage over Hawthorn at the line. In spite of being down so far to Gonzalez, the 2nd place result by Hawthorn would delight the British fans who had come believing they were going to see a whitewash by Mercedes-Benz. Mercedes would be humbled. And the final lesson would come courtesy of Marimon. Although a lap down, Marimon would put together a performance equal to, if not, better than Gonzalez as he would go from 28th to finish on the podium in 3rd. What made the performance all the more special was the fact he was the sole remaining car for Maserati and that it was his first podium result in the Formula One World Championship. Tragically, it would be one last moment in the figurative sun.
Reliability continued to be the woe that made everyone shake their heads and go ‘wow'. The team had the speed. That was clear. If they could only find some reliability, they would have a car truly capable of winning some important races. But the true talents of the car were hindered and unknown precisely because the reliability issue would force drivers to back off when they really needed to put their foot on it.
Clearly Maserati needed to find some reliability. But while the factory cars would head back across the English Channel and onto home for some reworking, the team would lend their name to another that drove a Maserati. Right there on the Normandy coast of France, in the city of Caen, would be held the 3rd Grand Prix de Caen. The race, held on the 25th of July, would be a non-championship race. Nonetheless, the factory would lend its name to Stirling Moss for the 60 lap, 131 mile, race.
A strategically important location during the Normandy Invasion in World War II, Stirling Moss believed Caen to be strategically important to his season as it too had been marked by great moments of performance only, ultimately, to come up short often because of reliability issues with his 250F. This race could provide the stronghold Moss needed to turn his season around.
With just nine entries in the event, the 2.19 mile circuit seemed like the perfect target for the Brit. Still, during practice, he would find the race would be heavily defended by Frenchmen bent on earning victory on home soil. Maurice Trintignant would be fastest in practice. His lap time in the sole Scuderia Ferrari in the field would be 1:26.0. Stirling Moss and Jean Behra would find themselves in an early duel for 2nd place on the starting grid. Moss would win the duel by just a matter of hundredths of a second. This would give Moss the 2nd, and final, starting spot on the front row.
Right from the very start of the race a battle would be on between Trintignant and Stirling Moss. These two would battle nose-to-tail throughout the race. And after Jean Behra left the race after just 4 laps due to a crash and Robert Manzon suffered from a timing gear issue that dropped him out of the race, it was all Trintignant and Moss up at the front of the field.
Despite being just 2.19 miles in length, the average speeds around the circuit would be fast. Moss would keep applying the pressure turning in the fastest lap of the race with an average speed of more than 92 mph. However, Trintignant would manage to keep him in check. Their pace would be furious. And even though Behra would take over Jacques Pollet's Gordini T16 for the remainder of the race, there would be no hope of staying with Trintignant and Moss.
The lead pair would have a couple of laps in hand over the rest of the field, but still, not more than a couple of seconds would separate them. In the end, Trintignant would match Moss blow for blow and would hold off his threat of invasion to take the victory by three and a half seconds over Moss. Jean Behra would finish two laps down in 3rd.
It was a great race for Moss despite finishing in 2nd place. His Maserati showed incredible pace and never showed any signs of weakness. That would be what the Maserati team would hope and long for throughout the remainder of the season.
One week after Moss' superb effort at Caen, the factory Maserati team would be back in action at the sixth round of the Formula One World Championship. The team would need to have all of its issues sorted out as they would need their cars working in perfect order considering the next round of the World Championship was the German Grand Prix and that it took place on the 14 mile long Nurburgring; one of the most demanding and dangerous purpose-built circuits in the world.
Situated amongst the Eifel Mountains on the western edge of what was then West Germany, the 14 mile long Nordschleife was just one of a number of purpose-built circuits known as the Nurburgring. These circuits had been created in response to the increasing dangers of using public roads courses throughout the area. However, when completed, the builders of the Nurburgring managed to create a circuit just as dangerous as the public roads. And on the 1st of August in 1954, everyone would be reminded of this fact. And the Argentineans in the field would be brought to tears and would struggle to go on.
More than 170 corners and around a thousand feet of elevation changes made the Nurburgring very difficult get right and very easy to get wrong. While Juan Manuel Fangio would be pushing hard to give the Silver Arrows of Mercedes the pole for the 22 lap race, Onofre Marimon would be taking in the last few miles of his life. In the downhill run toward the Adenau bridge, Marimon would go around a right-hander a little too fast and would lose control of the car. Crashing through some hedges that formed the only barrier off the side of the circuit, Onofre would go down the hill rolling the car. When it finally came to a rest, Marimon would be fighting for his life. He would lose the battle. Fangio would go on to take the pole for Mercedes with a time of 9:50.1 but within himself he would be hurting. Fangio had promised Marimon's father he would look after his son while in Europe. Now he was dead.
The Argentineans would be greatly impacted by the loss of Marimon. Maserati would dearly miss Marimon has he had been their driver for most of the season. Luigi Villoresi was to race for Maserati but he would end up withdrawing from the race. Stirling Moss and Sergio Mantovani, however, would soldier on.
Moss would be impressive in practice. His best lap of 10:00.7 would place him 3rd on the grid; right on the front row with Fangio and Mike Hawthorn in the Ferrari. Sergio Mantovani's best effort would be nearly thirty-nine seconds slower than Moss'. As a result, Sergio would start the race from the fifth row of the grid, 13th overall.
With the reintroduction of Formula One regulations to the World Championship, the large number of German privateers would again be gone. But at least the German nation would have a number of drivers and one very special team to cheer on to victory. A massive crowd would be on hand to watch the field as it roared away to start the 311 mile race.
Immediately, Gonzalez would shoot into the lead of the race. He didn't want to give Fangio and the Mercedes the opportunity to disappear into the distance. Gonzalez would only have the lead for a few miles before Fangio took over at the point. Now, Gonzalez not only had to worry about the Mercedes in front of him, but he would also have to watch out for one rapidly approaching from behind. Karl Kling would start the race from dead-last but would be quickly charging up through the field.
While Kling was charging up through the field, one of the Maseratis was dropping out of it. Andre Pilette wouldn't even complete a lap before he dropped out in his Gordini. Then, after completing just one lap, it was Stirling Moss' turn to retire. Bearing problems would bring about his demise. Once again, Maserati would be left with just one car still running in the race, and the race had really just started.
Fangio continued to lead the race but Kling was putting together a masterful charge up through the field. Very quickly he would be 4th. Kling would get by Gonzalez when the Argentinean came into the pits and handed his car over to Hawthorn for the remainder of the race. The loss of Marimon was still so fresh that Gonzalez was actually getting sick while driving. Hawthorn duly took over after his car retired earlier in the race.
Then, after getting by Lang and Gonzalez, he would be 2nd. Fangio couldn't stop Kling. Not even the team management could, who had been giving him warnings repeatedly about taking care of the car. Kling wouldn't be stopped and Fangio wasn't about to get in his way. Therefore, on the 15th lap of the race, Kling would take over the lead. But it would be short-lived. Kling had pushed his car a little too much. He would need to come into the pits for repairs and would end up dropping down the running order. Fangio was back in the lead of the race.
Sergio Mantovani continued to keep his car going and kept himself out of trouble. He would fight hard to stay on the lead lap but just would not be able to challenge the pace of Fangio and the others. Still, heading into the final few laps of the race, he would find himself running in the top five and still on the lead lap. He would also be the highest running Maserati in the field at the time. All in all, Mantovani, given the circumstances, was putting together a fine performance.
In spite of a charging Mike Hawthorn in Gonzalez's car, once Kling dropped out of the lead, Fangio would take control of the race the rest of the way. Keeping the car out of trouble, Fangio would steadily make his way to the finish line for the final time to take the victory. He would lead home a field that had lost half of its competitors. He would have a margin of victory of a minute and thirty-six seconds over Hawthorn. Maurice Trintignant would run a quiet race but would be rewarded with a 3rd place finish a little more than five minutes behind. Had the race been a couple more laps long, Mantovani would have been paid a visit by Fangio. However, he would hold onto the lead lap and would bring home a very solid 5th place result. This would earn him 2 points toward the championship.
It had been a terrible weekend of racing for Formula One, Argentina and Maserati. But to have one of its cars come away with some championship points would help the team deal with the loss of Marimon. Nonetheless, his presence and talents as a driver would be sorely missed throughout the remainder of the season. Fittingly, there would be no celebrations after Fangio scored the victory, only tears.
The loss of Marimon would be truly devastating. But the season would go on nonetheless. And just one week after the tragic German Grand Prix, Officine Alfieri Maserati would have a single entry in the 1st International Gold Cup race held at Oulton Park in England.
Once a staging location for troops that would be involved in the Normandy landings, the former Oulton Estate would become a staging location for a number of different types of motor racing during the early 1950s. Hosting its first International Gold Cup race, there would be tens of thousands of spectators that would make it to the 2.76 mile circuit to watch the action.
The crowd would have the opportunity to see some of the best drivers and cars of the day. Stirling Moss would be driving his Maserati 250F under the factory name. Jean Behra would be present for Equipe Gordini. Reg Parnell and Roy Salvadori would also field Formula One cars in the race. And then there would be numerous other privateers and small teams entering Formula 2 cars in the race.
Known for his steady and determined driving style, Bob Gerard would take his Formula 2 Cooper-Bristol T23 and would earn the pole for the 36 lap race. He would be joined on the front row by Jean Behra and Reg Parnell. Gerard would certainly have his work cut out for himself with two Formula One machines on the front row alongside himself. If Gerard would have some hard work ahead of him then Moss would have a year's worth of slave labor confronting him. Moss wouldn't set a time in his Maserati and would end up starting the race from the ninth row all by himself. He would start 21st, dead-last.
The starting position would only focus Moss all the more and by the end of the first lap he was well up the running order and quickly chasing down the front-runners. Moss' performance in the Maserati would be impressive as he would be quickly catching other Formula One cars in the field. Aided by Behra's and Salvadori's retirements, Moss would soon be up inside the top three.
Gerard would be supplanted from the head of the line right from the start, but he would do his best to hang on despite having an underpowered car for his use. But everyone in the field would seem underpowered when compared to the pace of Moss.
Moss would go on to set the fastest lap of the race with a time of 1:56.8 at an average speed of 85 mph. This lap time would be two and a half seconds faster than Gerard's pole time and would be the best evidence as to why Moss would move into the lead of the race ahead of Parnell.
Parnell had nothing for Moss this day. Stirling would go from worst to first well before the end of the 36 lap race. Once in the lead, he would just remain focused and would cruise to victory. Moss would be indomitable this day. He wouldn't merely snatch the victory away. He would be a minute and twenty seconds ahead of Parnell at the finish. Bob Gerard would give Parnell all that he could handle as he would finish in 3rd place just about three and a half seconds behind.
For the first time since Fangio's win in the Belgian Grand Prix, Maserati had a race victory. Moss' performance was truly something special and it would be a moment in which Maserati would be very thankful they leant their name. This would also really help the team recover and regain its focus for the remainder of the season.
Another week and another race. On the 15th of August, Officine Alfieri Maserati would enter two cars in the 23rd Circuito di Pescara. This race would take place at the longest grand prix circuit used in grand prix racing in the days after World War II. Measuring 15.96 miles in length, each lap around the circuit would seem like a race in itself.
Also located along Italy's Adriatic coast similar to Bari, Pescara would offer spectators, drivers and teams and incredible setting for a non-championship grand prix. Between the low-lying coastline and the Maiella mountains, the circuit would offer just about everything to the driver.
In practice, it would be Stirling Moss that would master all of the Pescara circuit and would take the pole for the 16 lap race. Robert Manzon, driving for Ecurie Rosier, would be twenty-one seconds slower around the circuit but would still manage to earn the 2nd place starting position. Clemar Bucci would be less than two seconds slower than Manzon and would complete the front row. Luigi Musso, Officine Alfieri Maserati's second entry in the race, would end up thirty-five seconds slower than Moss and would end up starting the race from the second row of the grid in the 5th position. Sergio Mantovani would have provided the Maserati team a third entry in the race but he would not arrive to take part in the race.
Moss knew he had the pace. He just needed to make it to the end of the race. And as he and the rest of the field roared away to start the race, finishing would be something a number of competitors would not achieve. Robert Manzon would be out after just a single lap when his engine blew. Andre Guelfi, driving for Equipe Gordini, would also be out after just a single lap with a fire.
Each lap would bring about more destruction within the field. Moss was fast, but he could not outrun attrition. And after just 3 laps, the favorite, and what seemed to be Maserati's best hope for victory, would be out of the race due to a broken oil pipe.
Prince Bira would go on to set the fastest lap of the race and would make his bid to take over the lead of the race with the Moss and Manzon out of the running. However, it would be Luigi Musso that would take advantage of the situation. Bucci faded along with Behra. This opened the door to Musso.
In spite of Bira's incredible pace after starting 9th place on the starting grid Musso would be far enough ahead that all he would need to worry about was finishing. This was not as easy as it appeared given the fact Moss had gone out earlier with mechanical problems.
In the end, no problems would avail themselves against Musso. He would power his way to victory completing the race distance in two hours, fifty-five minutes and fifty-four seconds. Nearly three minutes would pass before Prince Bira appeared to finish a fine 2nd. Harry Schell would complete the podium finishing the race six minutes and nearly fifty seconds later.
Thankfully for Maserati, they had two cars capable to running up at the front of the field. Nevertheless, Maserati would lose out on another potent competitor that could have earned the team even better results. Still, the Maserati 250F was showing its potential, but it was only able to fully prove it in a sprint, not a long distance event.
The team's next race on the calendar would not be a sprint. On the 22nd of August, the team would be in Switzerland preparing to take part in the seventh round of the Formula One World Championship, the Swiss Grand Prix. Taking place on the fast but ever-changing Bremgarten circuit, Maserati would need all the reliability it could find in order to find itself the best opportunity at success.
Sitting upon the banks of the Wohlenssee River amongst the heavily-wooded Bremgarten forest, the 4.52 mile Bremgarten circuit would be thrilling and dangerous all at the same time. Often a swirling mix of light and shadow, the circuit had the potential to be wet amidst very dry conditions. This would make for one very dangerous, and yet, exciting circuit.
Four cars would be entered by the Maserati factory team for the Swiss Grand Prix. Stirling Moss, Harry Schell, Sergio Mantovani and Roberto Mieres would all take part in the event driving 250Fs. However, in practice it would be Jose Froilan Gonzalez that would be fastest in his Ferrari. With a lap time of 2:39.5, Gonzalez would beat out Fangio for the pole by a mere two-tenths of a second. Stirling Moss would give the Maserati team something smile about though as he would start on the front row in 3rd. His best effort, however, would be nearly two seconds slower. All of the rest of the Maserati entries would be found down on the fourth and fifth rows of the grid. Mantovani would start 9th, on the fourth row while Mieres and Schell would start 12th and 13th respectively.
Unlike the year before, the skies would open up and the rain would pour down over the whole of the circuit. But as the cars were rolled out onto the grid to start the race the sun would actually peek out and the circuit would begin to dry a bit, but it would be incredibly muddy off the circuit.
At the wave of the Swiss flag, it would be Fangio that would pull away from the grid ahead of Gonzalez and Moss. Karl Kling would also make a great start and would soon be following along behind Fangio. Moss would run in 4th place but would not be happy with that and would move into 3rd. Just about that same time, Kling would spin while following Fangio and would drop all the way to the back of the field. Moss would now be in 2nd place, but trying to do anything against Fangio would be difficult.
Roberto Mieres and Sergio Mantovani would also make great starts and would be running pretty much nose to tail around the top ten. Schell would also be right up there at the beginning of the race. But, it would be Moss that would be providing Maserati the best opportunity at a podium finish being in 2nd.
Nearing the halfway mark of the 66 lap race, trouble really began to take hold of the field. After looking incredibly strong in the early going of the race, Maserati would find itself losing its greatest threat for a great result as Stirling Moss was forced to retire from the race after 21 laps due to an oil pump failure. Amazingly, the very same problem would strike Harry Schell just two laps later. Still, Maserati had two cars in the running in Mieres and Mantovani and each of them would be running quite well. And as Kling ran into trouble with his spin and Trintignant and Hawthorn retired due to mechanical problems, the two remaining Maserati pilots would find themselves in good shape heading toward the last third of the race.
Gonzalez has slipped down the running order and was actually running behind Hawthorn and Trintignant. However, with their retirements from the race, Gonzalez would again be in 2nd place. Kling would now make his way back up to 3rd. But there would be absolutely nothing these men could do with Fangio as he just kept running steady, fast laps around the 4.52 mile circuit.
It would become a race against attrition and Kling would lose. This would make it Fangio, Gonzalez and Herrmann heading into the final couple of laps. Mieres would be very impressive as he would actually be able to get by Mantovani during the course of the race and would find himself in 4th after all of the problems others suffered. Mantovani would be relatively close behind now in 5th.
Nobody could touch Fangio this day and the remainder of the race would be nothing more than the cars holding steady all the way to the finish. And at the finish, it would be Fangio taking the victory completing the 298 miles in three hours and thirty-four seconds. Fangio would put on a clinic as he would beat Gonzalez by a margin of nearly fifty-eight seconds. Hans Herrmann, driving the same W196 as Fangio, would end up a lap down in 3rd.
Mieres and Mantovani would certainly pick up the pieces left by the broken Moss. Mieres and Mantovani would end up two laps behind at the end. However, Mieres would hold on to finish in 4th place while Mantovani would remain right there as well finishing in 5th. Over the course of the 66 lap race less than a half a mile an hour would separate Mieres and Mantovani.
Maserati were becoming experts in picking up the broken pieces. Instead of Moss charging forward and really challenging Fangio, the threat would come to naught. Instead, it would be left with a couple of others starting a little further down to rise to the occasion and save the race for the team. Mieres and Mantovani would do that as Mieres would leave with 3 points toward the championship while Mantovani would score 2. It had been a good day for the team. But still, it could have been better. And they knew it.
Maserati were running out of opportunities to score one more victory in the 1954 Formula One World Championship. The team's next race would offer yet another chance to break through to the top stop of the podium. And for Maserati, and any of the Italian teams and manufacturers, this next race would be perhaps the most important race of the season. It was the Italian Grand Prix held at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza.
As usual, it was early September. And unlike at Bern, the weather would be sunny, dry and warm. The World Championship had come to the home of Italian motor racing. Purpose-built during the 1920s, the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza was all about speed as even the 3.91 mile road course would play out as fast as the 2.6 mile oval that had been designed to be incorporated into the course. Built amongst the famous Royal Villa of Monza, the circuit couldn't have been erected in a more beautiful and regal part of Monza. It would be fitting that the course built amongst the famous Royal Villa park would become one of Formula One's jewels in its crown.
Shades of pre-World War II, the 1954 edition of the Italian Grand Prix would be the first time, since the first Silver Arrows of Auto Union and Mercedes-Benz, a German team had been back to the famous Italian circuit. It was then fitting then to see the exquisite German cars lining up alongside the red Italian machines. It seemed like Alfa Romeo back out there with Mercedes-Benz; truly a great moment of nostalgia. And with Fangio's victory at the Swiss Grand Prix, the Italian race would take on something more of a nostalgic race as the World Championship had already been decided in Fangio's favor. But there was still plenty to race for, especially for the Italian teams like Officine Alfieri Maserati.
The Maserati factory team would enter no less than six cars in the race. Stirling Moss would again be driving for the team. Luigi Musso, who had taken the victory at Pescara, would also be back driving with the Modena team, as would Luigi Villoresi. Roberto Mieres and Sergio Mantovani would be looking for repeat performances as they prepared for the 80 lap, 313 mile, race. The final member of the team would be something of a surprise. Instead of driving under his own team name, Louis Rosier would also be driving for Maserati.
The race, just in practice, would be incredible. Fangio would take the pole with a lap of 1:59.0. Just two-tenths of a second slower would be Alberto Ascari back driving for Ferrari. Just one-tenth of a second slower than Ascari, Moss would start the race 3rd. And so, once again, Maserati would have one of its cars on the front row. The second row of the grid would see Luigi Villoresi in the 6th position while Mantovani would start in the 9th position on the third. Mieres would be just a tenth slower than Mantovani, and therefore, would start on the fourth row in 10th. The middle of the fifth row, in 14th overall, is where Luigi Musso would start. And on the seventh, and last, row of the grid, Louis Rosier would start the race from 20th on the grid, dead-last.
An immense crowd, as always, would gather to watch the race. And as the flag dropped and the cars roared away, it would be Karl Kling that would make the best start and would actually lead the race through the first few laps of the race. Moss would be in 4th place fighting to make his way up to 3rd while Villoresi would also be looking to move up the running order.
Fangio would take the lead on the 4th lap of the race when Kling made a mistake and dropped down the running order. Fangio and Ascari would then battle for the lead while Moss battled to get around Gonzalez for 3rd. Gonzalez would drop out of the race after 16 laps due to gearbox issues. This handed 3rd to Moss, who would immediately begin to look for more. Villoresi would also move forward and would be looking especially impressive on this day.
While Ascari and Fangio traded the lead back and forth, real trouble would strike the Maserati team around the 30th lap of the race. Musso would be out after 33 laps due to gearbox problems. Then, just one lap later, Mieres would also retire with suspension failure. When Villoresi retired after 42 laps with clutch failure, Maserati would find their fleet of six ships reduced by half. But just a few laps later, After Moss joined the fight with Ascari and Fangio, Ascari would lose his engine thereby handing the lead of the race over to Moss.
Moss' performance was nothing short of spectacular. He had pressued Ascari and Fangio lap after lap. And once he was in the lead, he thoroughly dominated and controlled the field. Lap after lap Moss would lead and would appear to be on course for his first World Championship victory. Moss would lead for 20 laps, but then…Just 13 laps from the end, it would all fall apart.
Initially, Moss would come in to have the oil topped off and have the car checked to ensure it could make it all the way to the finish. Moss would rejoin the race, but his lead was gone. On top of all that, with 9 laps remaining in the race, the engine would finally let go. He would be seen sitting beside his car worn out after a long day of racing. But his performance had not been missed by a couple of very important people.
With the lead firmly back within his grasp, Fangio would cruise to victory. He would have a lap advantage in hand over the remainder of the field. And so, with just a couple of laps remaining, he would just need to focus on not making any mistakes and yet another victory would be his. Appearing to turn back the clock, it would be a Silver Arrows streaking to victory. Mike Hawthorn would take 2nd place despite being a lap down at the end. Gonzalez, who would take over Umberto Maglioli's car, would finish 3rd.
Only two of the six Maseratis would make it to the finish. The most impressive performance of the two would be put together by Louis Rosier. He would end up going all the way from dead-last on the grid to finishing 8th, six laps behind. Following along not too far behind Rosier would be the other Maserati driven by Sergio Mantovani.
In spite of the large fleet, reliability woes would lead to the team leaving its home race without a single championship point. The mechanical troubles would be bitterly disappointing given the pace their cars were obviously able to achieve. The most unfortunate aspect to the whole ordeal would be the fact the number of races left on the season were rapidly running out.
The reliability problems were causing the Maserati factory fits. Things would look good at the beginning but would rarely end up that way. Just ahead on the schedule was the Berlin Grand Prix. And while the team would have a couple of entries for the race, the team would decide not to arrive at the race. Mechanical woes that had not been repaired and the presence of the Mercedes-Benz team at its home race would be good reason to miss the event.
The races were dwindling. On the 25th of September, at the Goodwood Circuit in southern England, Stirling Moss would enter his Maserati 250F in the 21 lap, 50 mile, race under the factory team name. Just one of a number of races held on that weekend, the 7th Goodwood Trophy race would be one of the highlights.
Nineteen cars would be entered in the race on the 2.39 mile Goodwood Circuit. A former auxiliary airfield attached to RAF Tangmere during the Second World War, Goodwood would develop into a very popular motor racing venue. The perimeter road used as the motor racing circuit would host just about every kind of racing and would become quite popular for its 9 hour endurance race. But the circuit would also host racing days a couple of times a year and the Goodwood Trophy would be just one of those races.
Stirling Moss had been showing a great amount of speed over the last few races and would demonstrate it once again when he would take pole with a time of 1:32.1. Peter Collins would start 2nd on the front row after being four seconds slower in practice. One and a half seconds would be the difference between Collins and Bob Gerard starting 3rd. The final position on the front row would go to Reg Parnell.
Moss would be fast right from the very start. Of course, the Maserati had proven itself to be fast, just not reliable. But on this day, it would be Parnell's Ferrari that would not be reliable. Moss would continue to push hard and would just go faster and faster. He would end up setting the fastest lap of the race with a time that was less than a second slower than his pole-winning effort.
Moss would be out front all by himself. Collins would also be running all by himself having broken away from Roy Salvadori who would come up from 5th place on the starting grid. The greatest battle on the circuit would be for 3rd place. Less than eight seconds would separate 3rd through 5th. The rest of the field, including Moss out front, would be spread out.
Only mechanical problems could slow Moss on this day. And for a change, attrition would not bother Moss. He would streak to victory averaging around 91 mph and defeating Collins by no less than twenty seconds. Roy Salvadori would be impressive and would hold off Gerard by four seconds to finish in 3rd. Nearly a minute and twenty seconds would be the difference between 1st and 3rd.
The 250F would give Moss a truly dominant victory. That was the thing: when the car ran, it was a truly formidable foe. It just had to make it the entire race distance at that pace. And that was where the problems began.
The other problem Maserati had is that there were really only a couple of races left on the season. There was one non-championship race that took place on the 2nd of October and that was the very next race in which the Maserati factory team would have an entry. The race was the 1st Daily Telegraph Trophy race and it would be held at the Aintree Racecourse near Liverpool, England.
The race would be 51 miles, or, 17 laps of the 3.0 mile Aintree Circuit that utilized the very same grounds as the famous Grand National steeplechase. Officine Alfieri Maserati would enter a couple of cars in the race. Not surprisingly, Stirling Moss would be one of the entries. The other would be Sergo Mantovani.
Five Maserati 250Fs would be entered in the nineteen car field. And as he had been throughout the last few races of his season, Moss would be showing tremendous speed in the car. He would go on to set the fastest lap in practice at 2:03.6 and would earn the pole by a second and a half over Jean Behra and his Gordini T16. Mike Hawthorn, driving for Vanwall, would end up starting the race 3rd. Harry Schell, driving his own Maserati 250F, would end up with a time nearly five seconds slower than Moss but it would be good enough for him to start from the 4th, and final, position on the front row. Sergio Mantovani would show good pace in the other Maserati. He would end up starting from the second row of the grid in the 6th position. Once again, Maserati looked to be very strong contenders. They would just need to convert.
It was clear, right from the start of the 17 lap, race that Moss felt confident enough in the durability of the Maserati to make it the 17 laps as he would be flying around the circuit right from the very beginning of the race. He would lead the race and would go on to set the fastest lap of the race with an average speed of close to 87 mph. This would put tremendous pressure on Behra and Hawthorn. Hawthorn would respond by matching the best time. Behra would end up retiring with just two laps remaining due to a burnt out clutch.
Schell would be all over Hawthorn, which would allow Moss to disappear into the distance. The battle between Schell and Hawthorn would also allow Mantovani to remain right in the mix as well. All it would take is Schell and Hawthorn coming together and Mantovani would have a, literally, free pass up to 2nd place behind Moss.
Moss would be confident and fast throughout the race. Averaging just about a mile and hour slower than his fastest lap speed, Moss would continue to power his way around the circuit looking for back-to-back victories. And over the shorter distances, there was no need to worry about the Maserati. Moss would take a convincing victory completing the race distance in just thirty-five minutes and forty-nine seconds. He would then turn his attentions to the battle for 2nd place. Just three and a half seconds separated 2nd through 4th. One second would be the difference between 2nd and 3rd coming to the line. And at the line it would be Hawthorn holding on over Schell. Just two and a half seconds later, Mantovani would come across to finish in 4th place.
Finally! It had been nearly the whole season but Maserati finally had a couple of cars finish a race in a convincing manner. Both of the cars ran without incident and both could push the entire race. Moss would earn yet another victory and would be further demonstrating his talents as a racing driver while Mantovani also looked strong finishing a convincing 4th, more than ten seconds ahead of Andre Pilette in 5th. The team would only hope such a result would be awaiting them at the final round of the Formula One World Championship.
It was now the end of October. The World Championship had long been decided, but only at this time would the Formula One season draw to a close with the running of the Spanish Grand Prix.
The Spanish Grand Prix had last been a part of the World Championship in 1951. As with the race in '51, when the Formula One World Championship brought the Spanish Grand Prix back to be part of the calendar, the race would return to the same venue, the Circuit de Pedralbes. Situated to the southwest of Barcelona, the Pedralbes Circuit was a mixture of street and road circuit, but it played out as fast as Spa or Monza. With its incredibly wide streets, the drivers would be able to carry a lot of speed through even the tightest of corners, and therefore, the average speeds remained high.
Maserati would enter five cars in the race. Stirling Moss and Luigi Musso would team up with Sergio Mantovani and Roberto Mieres. A newcomer to the team, Francesco Godia-Sales, would also be behind the wheel of a 250F for the final round of the season.
While Sales would be new to the Maserati team, Lancia would be new to Formula One altogether. The new D50 chassis would finally be finished and would make its debut. Driven by Ascari, the new car would be impressive earning pole in its first race. The W196 of Fangio, which would also earn a pole position in its first race, would be just a second slower and would place Fangio 2nd on the front row. Mike Hawthorn would qualify 3rd for Ferrari while Harry Schell would make it four different manufacturers on the front row starting 4th.
Stirling Moss would be the fastest of the Maserati drivers around the 3.91 mile circuit. He would be three seconds slower than Ascari and would start on 6th. Musso would start right beside Moss on the second row in 7th. Mantovani and Mieres would be situated on the third row of the grid. Mantovani would be starting 10th while Mieres would be 11th. Godia-Sales would be about two seconds slower than Mieres and would be 13th on the grid, which would be the middle of the fourth row of the grid.Being near Barcelona, the weather would be sunny and pleasant as the cars were rolled out onto the grid. Another large crowd would assemble at the track. Peering down the very long start/finish straight toward the grid, the crowd could see and then hear the roar of the engines and the cars hurtling their way down toward the hairpin turn one. And at the hairpin, it would be Schell leading the way over Ascari, Hawthorn and Maurice Trintignant, who had started 8th on the grid.
Schell would lead the first couple of laps until Ascari returned order taking the lead away from Schell. However, just as Ascari took over the lead of the race, Robert Manzon and Luigi Villoresi would retire with mechanical problems. Then, after 10 laps, Ascari would hand the lead back to Schell as his Lancia suffered clutch failure. All throughout the first 15 laps of the 80 lap race the Maseratis would be running strong. Moss, Musso, Mieres and Mantovani would all be running strongly. Even Godia-Sales would be running right around the top ten.
Attrition continued to reduce the field. Behra would be out after 17 laps with brake problems. And then, Moss would run into trouble. Just 20 laps in, oil pump problems would force him out of the race. Schell would spin while battling in the lead of the race with Maurice Trintignant and Mike Hawthorn and would only last a few more laps before he too would be out of the race with rear axle failure.
Hawthorn would take over the lead of the race practically by default when Trintignant retired with engine failure after 47 laps. Hawthorn had the lead and would keep his focus on earning his second World Championship victory. Heading into the final third of the race, Musso would take up the challenge against Hawthorn. He would be running in 2nd place and would be the last car on the lead lap with Hawthorn. Roberto Mieres would be running an incredible race himself and would find his way up inside the top five. All of the attrition would even allow Godia-Sales to make his way up the running order. He would soon find himself up near the top five. This would be impressive after starting the race from 13th on the grid.
Hawthorn would be in control throughout the remainder of the race. In the final race of the season, Hawthorn would finally earn his second World Championship victory taking the top step of the podium with a finishing time a minute and thirteen seconds ahead of 2nd place. Musso would drive a very smart and controlled race. He would allow others to make mistakes and would be rewarded for not beating his car with a 2nd place result. Musso would be the last car on the lead lap with Hawthorn and would earn 6 points toward the World Championship. Juan Manuel Fangio would also take it easy in the final race of the season. He would carefully make his way to a 3rd place result one lap down. Roberto Mieres would continue to have an impressive season as he would cap off his season with a very strong 4th place, just one lap down. In a season full of unreliability, the newcomer Godia-Sales would show some other just how it was done as he would make his way from 13th on the starting grid and would finish four laps down in 6th place. He would just miss the points by one position.
Once again, Maserati would lose a couple of its cars. However, the Spanish Grand Prix would see the team earn what was perhaps its strongest performance of the year. The 2nd, 4th and 6th was certainly a strong showing for the team, the same team that struggled just to have a single car complete a race distance.
The season was full of ups for Officine Alfieri Maserati. But it was also filled with a lot of downs. Nonetheless, Maserati would aid Fangio in his quest for a second World Championship title. On top of Fangio being aided in his quest for a World Championship, the Maserati factory team would also help Musso finish the season 10th in the season with 6 points. Roberto Mieres would finish 11th in the standings also with 6 points. Stirling Moss would be 13th having earned a little more than 4 points toward the World Championship. Sergio Mantovani would also have 4 points and would be 16th in the standings. Bira would be 17th while Villoresi would be 22nd. Alberto Ascari would also come away with a little more than point. However, Louis Rosier, Godia-Sales and Harry Schell would all enjoy strong performances for the factory Maserati team but would come away without scoring a single point. But of course, everything would be put into perspective when Marimon lost his life while driving for Maserati at the German Grand Prix. He would end up tied with Moss with a little more than 4 points in the World Championship standings.
Throughout the season, drivers would come and go. During the season no departure would be more disappointing than Fangio. While the team would be able to say it had helped Fangio take the title, they would not be able to enjoy the success when he finally achieved the goal after the Swiss Grand Prix. Fangio's departure would be hard for the team. But they would face the departure of another strong driver the following year.
Moss' performance in the Italian Grand Prix would attract Alfred Neubauer's attention. Fangio would even declare him the victor after the performance he put together in the race. As a result, Moss would be offered a drive with the Mercedes team the following season. He would take advantage of the opportunity and would be reward with his first World Championship victory the following season. Officine Alfieri Maserati, on the other hand, with the loss of Marimon, would be left looking for a driver that would really exert themselves. The unreliability of their drivers to stay with the team was just about as bad as the unreliability of the Maseratis themselves.
In spite of the unreliability, Maserati had a chassis that would manage to hang around longer than every other chassis in World Championship history, with the exception of the Lotus of the 1970s. Maserati knew they had the car. And with continual updates and evolutions, the car just kept posing a threat to every other car design to come along. Therefore, Maserati would find themselves in a strong position for the future despite the seemingly weak reliability. Officine Alfieri Maserati