Teams1952 Formula One Season By Jeremy McMullen
Brazilians are usually a very patriotic lot. Chico Landi, Brazil's first driver to take part in the Formula One World Championship, helped to establish a team with a very patriotic emphasis. Bandeirantes has a couple of meanings. One of those is 'followers of the banner'. The stable of the followers of the banner would also help to re-establish the Maserati banner in grand prix racing during the 1952 season.
The stable of the followers of the banner wouldn't necessarily mean just the Brazilian flag. Over the course of the 1952 season the team would have a number of drivers representing different nations driving for the team. Gino Bianco and Chico Landi would be the only Brazilian pilots to drive for the team. The team would also employ Philippe Etancelin, a Frenchman, at one time during the season. The team would also utilize the talents of Eitel Cantoni from Uruguay and Jan Flinterman of the Netherlands. There would seem to be only one common banner amongst the different drivers: the love of racing; the thrill of competition.
After coming to Europe and having the opportunity to drive a Ferrari 375, Landi would be forced to look for a new car for the upcoming 1952 season as the Formula One cars would be prohibited to drive in the World Championship. One Italian car manufacturer had left grand prix racing—Alfa Romeo. Another was on the verge of making its return. Therefore, Landi would turn to the other Italian racing car manufacturer in order to purchase a couple of cars to race under the Escuderia Bandeirantes banner.
Maserati hadn't built a car for grand prix racing in a number of years. However, the regulations for the 1952 and 1953 World Championship season changed. As Maserati began developing a new chassis for Formula 2 specifications, the governing-body for the World Championship would make it possible for the new Maserati to take part in World Championship races as well.
Though Landi would purchase the Maserati to take part in the World Championship and a number of other non-championship grand prix, he would start the season off in his home country with an older Ferrari 125.
On the 20th of January, Landi was preparing to take part in the 6th Grande Premio da Cidade de Rio de Janeiro. The race took place on the 6.88 Gevea road course outside of Rio de Janeiro.
Some of the most competitive drivers of the day were coming from South America, or, would come to South America since it was the mid-summer months in Brazil in January. Therefore, the field was filled with competitive drivers. Included among them were the Argentineans Juan Manuel Fangio, the new World Champions, and Jose Froilan Gonzalez, the winner of the British Grand Prix for Ferrari. The European contingent included Felice Bonetto and Nello Pagani.
Located to the south of Rio de Janeiro, the Gavea circuit consisted of coastal and mountain roads around Gavea and right on the South Atlantic coast. The start/finish straight ran along a curved boulevard that turned right along the coastal road. Notoriously called 'The Devil's Trampoline' because of its coastal roads and mountainous, twisting nature, the circuit's coastal route ran along the top of the cliffs overlooking the South Atlantic. The backside of the circuit wound around the back of the Twin Brothers and made its way up the steep climb to Gavea itself using the roads that switched back and forth. Once cresting at the top of Gavea, it was a steep descent back down to the coast.
In practice, the two Argentineans would prove to be the masters of the tight, winding and undulating circuit. Driving a Ferrari 166, Juan Manuel Fangio would turn in the fastest lap with a time of seven minutes and three seconds. Gonzalez would start the race 2nd having set a time of seven minutes and seventeen seconds. Landi would turn in a good time and would start up near the front with the two Argentineans.
The race was 20 laps of the 6.88 mile circuit. The nature of the circuit would make it incredibly tough on all of the competitors. The cars would go through an absolute beating over the course of just one lap around the circuit. The drastic elevation changes would test the brakes and the engine severely.
The circuit would succeed in taking out probably the biggest competitor only two laps into the race. Fangio would fall out of the race due to differential problems. He was just one of nine that would retire from the race before three laps had been completed. Another of those nine out of the race on the 1st lap was Felice Bonetto. His engine expired.
Landi, in contrast, was flying. He would end up setting the fastest lap of the race with a time of seven minutes and eleven seconds. That would have been good enough to start the race 2nd had he been able to turn that time during practice. Unfortunately for Landi, Gonzalez was unaffected by all of the attrition striking the other competitors.
Averaging 56 mph over the course of the 20 laps, Gonzalez would go on to win the race by more than two minutes. Landi, despite his fastest lap time, would end up 2nd. Another two minutes separated Landi in 2nd and 3rd place finisher Francisco Credentino.
At the conclusion of the Rio grand prix, Landi would stick around South America for a little while longer. However, he would arrive in Europe in time to pick up a couple of the new Maserati A6GCM chassis and head the short distance to Monza for the 5th Gran Premio dell Autodromo di Monza on the 8th of June.
Landi would travel from South America, after competing in the race at Rio along the coast with its incredible cliffs and mountains along the coast, and would arrive in Monza, which is situated on a relatively flat plain in the woodland Royal Villa of Monza park.
Built just north of Monza, the circuit is one of the oldest purpose-built circuits in the world. It is actually a blending of three different tracks. The facility has a junior circuit and a longer grand prix circuit. But it also has a decaying oval that uses the front straight of the grand prix circuit and then sweeps over the top of the road course with its banking as the road course passes underneath coming out of the double-right at Lesmo. The banked oval was actually incorporated with the road course to make a 6.21 mile combined circuit. In spite of having a banked oval in which the cars would travel flat-out, the speeds around the rest of the road course aren't all that much slower.
The Gran Premio dell Autodromo di Monza would be the first race of the season in which Escuderia Bandeirantes would compete in a race outside of South America. The non-championship race at Monza would run slightly different than most.
The race consisted a heat races and aggregate scoring. All of the competitors would take part in the first heat race. Those that finished the first heat were welcome to take part in the second heat. The overall results were then determined by the combined finishing times of each competitor over the course of the two heat races.
Therefore, it would be important to start the first heat race near the front as there would be less traffic to act as hindrances to lap times. A good starting position was not going to be an easy task, even with a good car.
Scuderia Ferrari was present en masse. In total, Ferrari would enter four of their 500s in the race. Maserati would provide three cars to Felice Bonetto, Jose Froilan Gonzalez and Juan Manuel Fangio, who was on his way from the Ulster Trophy race in Dundrod, Ireland. Two other Maserati A6GCMs were entered in the race. Those two belonged to Escuderia Bandeirantes. Chico Landi was behind the wheel of one of them. Gino Bianco would drive the other.
With the exception of Gonzalez, it was an all Ferrari front row. Alberto Ascari would be fastest and would, rightfully, start from the pole. Giuseppe Farina, the 1950 World Champion, would start the race in 2nd. Gonzalez would start 3rd. He would have Luigi Villoresi right beside him in 4th; the final spot on the front row.
Landi would be the fastest of the Bandeirantes crew. He would end up starting the race from the 19th position on the grid on the 5th row. Bianco would start 24th and would be positioned in the last spot on the sixth row.
At 3.91 miles in length, and flat-out for a good majority of the time, the cars took a beating around the Monza circuit. In addition to the mechanical threats against the car, errors were another threat directly facing the driver. Travelling at the speeds they were around the circuit, which routinely exceeded 111 mph, any mistake behind the wheel could have dire results.
Fangio would have the hand of Providence upon him at the start of the race. Arriving just minutes before the start of the race after missing a flight from Ireland, Fangio was tired. Driving at such speeds, while tired, was extremely dangerous.
Three cars would be out of the race before two laps into the 35 lap heat. Then, on the 2nd lap, Fangio lost control of his Maserati and crashed heavily off the edge of the circuit. The damage was incredible. Fangio would escape with his life, but not without some serious injuries. His back was broken. He still had full use of his faculties, but would have to sit out the rest of the season.
No one else would suffer such a horrific accident throughout the remainder of the race, but there would be a large number of others that would end up retiring from the race. Nine would be out before 10 laps into the race.
Ascari was out front and would turn in the fastest lap of the heat as he pulled away. Still getting used to the new Maserati, Landi's pace wasn't near that of the front-runners. He would see them, however. He would see them every time they came around to put him another lap down.
Ascari would win the first 35 lap heat. His margin was more than a minute over Farina. Andre Simon would finish 3rd, down one lap. Gino Bianco would be the last car still running, but would be officially not classified as running as he was seven laps down by the end. The last car officially running on the circuit was Landi. Landi would finish 15th, though four laps down.
Finishing position from the first heat determined starting position for the second. Because his time didn't count, Bianco would retire after the first heat race. Landi would start second-to-last on the fourth, and final, row of the grid. Ascari, of course, was on the pole joined by Farina, Simon and Bonetto on the front row.
Although he was officially positioned in 15th before the start of the second heat, Landi would end up deciding not to take part in the final heat. He was too far out of the running to have a chance at a good result. Ken Wharton and Luigi Villoresi would also end up not taking part in the final race due to mechanical troubles.
The second heat was not the runaway by Ascari that everyone had come to expect after the first race. Only 14 laps into the 35 lap race, Ascari's race would come to an end due to camshaft failure. This handed the lead to Giuseppe Farina who would promptly accept the challenge by recording the fastest lap of the heat. His time was actually one-tenth faster than Ascari's in the first heat.
The race had taken its toll. Only eight would officially finish the second heat race. Farina would cruise to victory by a minute and a half over Simon. Rudolf Fische would end up finishing 3rd, albeit two laps down.
In the final results, Farina would take the win by one lap over Simon. Rudolf Fischer's perseverance would pay off. Even though he would trail Farina by a margin of four laps, Fischer would end up finishing 3rd.
About a month after the failed attempt at the Grand Prix of Monza, Escuderia Bandeirantes would next enter a single car in its first World Championship race for 1952. Landi, ever the patriotic fellow, would provide a single car for the fifty-five year old Philippe Etancelin in order that the Frenchman could take part in the French Grand Prix.
After two previous seasons with the French Grand Prix taking place at Reims, the road circuit at Rouen-Les-Essarts would come to host the race in 1952. Located in the deep, heavily-wooded Foret du Rouvay, the 3.16 mile circuit was a welcome site for the fourth round of the World Championship. Boasting modern pits and a wide track, the teams and the drivers enjoyed the undulating circuit. Many portions of the circuit featured blind entries into corners and sweeping corners that required brave drivers in order to be fast.
Ascari would prove he was the bravest of them all as he would be fastest in practice. Taking just under two and a quarter minutes to navigate the track, Ascari would start on the pole and proved to be a second and a half faster than Farina who would start 2nd. Piero Taruffi would make it a Ferrari-sweep of the front row as he would start the race 3rd.
Etancelin's pace during practice would be much more subdued. 'Phi-Phi', as he was also called, would circulate the track in a little over two and a half minutes. Philippe's time would lead him to start the race 16th.
The French Grand Prix at Rouen counted toward two championships simultaneously. It counted as the fourth round of the World Championship, but it also counted as the fifth round of the French F2 Championship. Since it was decided the World Championship would run according to Formula 2 regulations for just 1952 and 1953, the race would be run according to the regulations governing the French F2 Championship. As a result, the race would be conducted differently. Instead of being based upon distance and a set number of laps, the race would be conducted according to how far a competitor could go in the course of three hours. This was the same format as to which the 24 Hours of Le Mans adhered.
The race began with the field sweeping through the right-hand kink and sweeping down around the left-hander on its way to the cobblestoned Nouveau Monde hairpin.
At the end of the 1st lap of the race, the veteran Etancelin settled into a comfortable pace in the Maserati. Meanwhile, Ascari was increasing his pace at the head of the field. The pace continued to increase. A number of drivers had already been lapped by Alberto.
A little over an hour into the race, Ascari turned what would be the fastest lap of the race. He was beginning to really leave people behind. A number of others had already fallen out of the race. In spite of Alberto increasing the pace, the rest of the field remained somewhat close. Even Etancelin was finding his old legs and was working his way forward.
At the end of the three hour race, Ascari would take the win. He had managed to lead every single lap of the race and had a one lap advantage over Farina, who would finish the race 2nd. Piero Taruffi would ensure a Ferrari one-two-three as he managed to put a lap between himself and 4th place finishing Robert Manzon.
Perhaps what was most impressive about the race was the performance of Etancelin in the Maserati. The fifty-five year old veteran had managed to come up from starting 16th to finish the race 8th, six laps down. The venerable driver was only two laps behind and three positions back from a points-paying finish! This was a truly incredible performance from the 1934 Le Mans champions in what would be his last World Championship race.
The old man had showed the rest of the Escuderia Bandeirantes team how to get things done. He had set the bar rather high. It would have been insulting to finish in a race worse than Etancelin's 8th at the age of fifty-five. Unfortunately, beating 8th each and every time would not be an easy task.
Gino Bianco was to be the first to take up the challenge established by Etancelin. Bianco had intended to race in one of the Maserati A6GCMs at the sixth round of the French F2 Championship, the 2nd Grand Prix se Sables d'Olonne. However, the car was not ready in time for him to take part in the race. Instead, the next race in which any of the Bandeirantes drivers would take part would be a week after Sables d'Olonne and it was the fifth round of the World Championship.
Escuderia Bandeirantes would ship two Maserati A6GCMs across the English Channel to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix on the 19th of July. Bandeirantes' two Maseratis would be driven by the Brazilian Gino Bianco and Eitel Cantoni. The two would help to make up a starting field of thirty-two entries.
Officially, the race was the 5th British Grand Prix. The British Grand Prix had been held at Silverstone since the very first one. A decommissioned airbase from World War II, Silverstone first held an impromptu race in 1947. It was at this race Silverstone would experience a fatality. A driver in the impromptu race would end up hitting a sheep that had wandered onto the airfield while the race was going.
Receiving a lease to be able to host a more formal race on the airfield, the first layout for the circuit would include two of the runways. The original 'X' pattern for the circuit would be abandoned before the 1949 International Trophy race. Instead, the 2.88 perimeter road would be used for the circuit's layout.
Practice at Silverstone would prove to be closer than most of the other races, either championship or not. Both Ascari and Farina would turn in laps of one minute and fifty seconds around the 2.88 mile circuit. However, Farina's time would be slightly faster and would reward the former World Champion with the pole. Starting beside Farina and Ascari would be Piero Taruffi and Robert Manzon. The couple of rows, with the exception of one or two, would be filled with drivers from the British Empire.
Eitel Cantoni would end up being the fastest of the Bandeirantes teammates. Cantoni's best time; however, would be sixteen seconds slower than Farina's best time. This put Cantoni down on the eighth row in 27th overall. Starting right beside him would be Bianco. Bianco's best time was one second slower than his teammates. Therefore, the two teammates would start together on the eighth row of the starting grid. This left a lot of ground to make up over the course of the 85 lap race.
The race would begin with the roar of engine and tire smoke. The tire smoke came from Farina at the front of the grid. The spinning of the tires, and Ascari's great start, would cause Farina to drop outside of the top-three before the first turn. Meanwhile, Ascari raced into the lead and would already begin to space himself from the rest of the field.
In the midst of the battles early on, it would be much easy for a car to develop problems. At the conclusion of the 1st lap, Cantoni would end up going off the course. His Maserati suffered from a brake failure, thereby ending the Uruguay driver's day. Bianco would be able to continue on; still toward the end of the field.
Ascari was out front and pulling away from the rest of the field. Only 9 laps into the race, his pace was furious. He would set the fastest lap of the race and extend his advantage over Taruffi. On the same lap, a major competitor would drop out. Robert Manzon's Equipe Gordini T16 would develop problems with its clutch, which would cause him to retire from the race.
Unfortunately for Bianco, his pace in practice made it clear he would need major trouble from the other competitors in order to move up the running order. He would end up being able to pass a few of the other competitors that had started in front of him. However, at the same time, he was being passed by Ascari as if he were just enjoying a nice ride in the country around Buckinghamshire.
Ascari would go on to lead another race from start to finish. Ascari would end up lapping the entire field at least once before the end of the race. Piero Taruffi would finish a quiet 2nd. The generally bored British fans would still be brought to their feet as Mike Hawthorn would finish two laps down, but on the podium in 3rd.
Over the course of the 85 laps, Bianco would see Alberto go by him eight times. The rather sedated pace meant Bianco would finish the race 18th. But he would at least finish the race. Cantoni just would have liked to finish two laps.
Two weeks after the uninspiring effort at the British Grand Prix it was Landi's turn to take part in a race on British soil. However, he would arrive at his race with a slightly more powerful partner. Landi would take part in the 2nd Daily Mail Trophy race at Boreham on the 2nd of August. The race allowed Formula One cars, like Ferrari's 375, to participate in the event.
Landi had driven for Scuderia Ferrari at another Formula One race, the Grand Prix of Albi, earlier on in the season and would finish the race 2nd. He would be given another opportunity to race with Ferrari at Boreham since it was the day before the German Grand Prix, the sixth round of the World Championship.
Paired with Luigi Villoresi, Landi would race home to another 2nd place result behind Villoresi at Boreham. Villoresi and Landi would manage to catch a surprising Hawthorn on a drying track for the Ferrari one-two.
About 400 miles away, Escuderia Bandeirantes was preparing its two cars for the sixth round of the World Championship. Both Eitel Cantoni and Gino Bianco were looking and hoping for better results after the mundane British Grand Prix. However, the two were looking for good results at a very arduous circuit; one that would become known as 'The Green Hell' in future years.
The sixth round of the World Championship in 1952 was the German Grand Prix and it took place on the notoriously difficult 14 mile long Nordschleife, or, 'North Loop'. Considered the most demanding purpose-built track in the world, the Nordschleife was actually only a part of a longer Gesamtstrecke, or 'Whole Course'. Winding and twisting all through the Eifel mountains, the undulating circuit demands incredible focus in order to be fast. At over ten minutes per lap in 1952, the memory and focus of the drivers would go through an incredible test. The car would go through torture over the span of one lap. Constantly twisting and turning, as well as accelerating and braking, every component on a car would get beaten to death.
Ascari endured the tortuous circuit the best of all the rest of the competitors and would set the fastest lap with a time of ten minutes and four seconds. Ascari's time would be three seconds faster than Farina's best. Then there was a rather large gap between the two Ferrari drivers and the other two drivers that would start on the front row. Maurice Trintignant, driving for Equipe Gordini, would record the third-fastest time, which was nearly fifteen seconds slower. Robert Manzon, another Equipe Gordini driver, would round-out the front row with a lap time over twenty seconds slower.
Both of the Escuderia Bandeirantes drivers would have enjoyed being within thirty seconds of Ascari. However, neither of them was. Gino Bianco, after his very mundane drive at Silverstone, would actually be the fastest of the two. Bianco would end up starting the race 16th, which was the fifth row of the grid. Cantoni would end up toward the rear end of the starting grid. Eitel would start the race from the eighth row, 26th overall.
At just over 14 miles long, just one lap around the Nordschleife seemed like an eternity. In addition, if there were problems in the midst of the 1st lap of the race there would be a lot of competitors out of the race officially not having completed a single lap. There would be a large number of competitors that would end up with a zero beside their name in the completed laps column.
Unfortunately, Bianco would be the first of those with a zero in the laps completed column. His race ended before it even began. He would be joined by seven others that would fall out of the race before even completing a single lap. Eitel would end up making it through the first lap and set out, hopeful to make it to the end.
Meanwhile, Ascari had led away from the very start of the race and was drawing away from the rest of the field quite quickly. Although Rudolf Caracciola, Tazio Nuvolari and Bernd Rosemeyer were the early Ringmeisters, Ascari was doing more than enough to earn the same title for himself.
Cantoni had made it through the 1st lap of the race and managed to keep going for another couple of laps. But then, on the 4th lap of the race; with Ascari already coming around to lap competitors, the race came to an end for Eitel. The rear axle on his Maserati failed and would cause him to retire from the race.
Only a few laps later, Ascari would turn the fastest lap of the race and would further extend his lead over Farina in 2nd. By the time Ascari was coming around to begin the final lap of the race his lead was such that he had ample time to stop in the pits to deal with an oil problem on the car. Farina would manage to take the lead going on into the final lap, but Ascari's pace had been such that Farina's only hope would have been if he were only about a hundred yards from the finish line.
Indeed, the advantage Farina had over Ascari wasn't enough. Over the course of the final 14 miles, Ascari would catch, and pass, Farina to retake the lead. Alberto would go on to score the victory by fourteen seconds over. Farina was safe in 2nd place as Rudolf Fischer would finish in 3rd, albeit seven minutes behind Farina.
Once again, the aged Etancelin still managed to hold the best result of any of the drivers at Escuderia Bandeirantes. Philippe had proven the car was capable. The rest of the drivers needed to become as capable as the car. Of course, the car had to be able to make it an entire race distance first.
The Maseratis had proven quite quick in the hands of the Argentineans. Fangio and Gonzalez were able to push the car and run up front. Therefore, for the team's next race they would hire an Argentinean to drive for them. Alberto Crespo would join Eitel Cantoni and Chico Landi to take part in the seventh round of the French F2 Championship.
On the 10th of August, three Escuderia Bandeirantes Maserati A6GCMs were being prepared for the three hour 16th Grand Prix de Comminges at the 2.72 mile St. Gaudens road course.
It had been a while since Landi sat behind the wheel of the new Maserati. In order to enter Cantoni and Crespo in the race the team needed to acquire a third A6GCM chassis. The one in which Cantoni would end up driving in the race already had a colorful history. The third car would actually be the same car Fangio crashed heavily at the Grand Prix of Monza all the way back in early June.
The St. Gaudens circuit in 1952 was a scant portion of the original seventeen mile circuit that traversed the rolling countryside between St. Gaudens and Montrejeau. The much shorter 2.72 mile circuit ran just to the west of St. Gaudens' town center and boasted of the Pyrenees mountains for a scenic backdrop.
The followers of the banner would end up following, like the rest of the competitors, a yellow banner with a black prancing horse on it. Ascari would again be the fastest in practice. He would complete a lap around the rather slow circuit in one minute and fifty-one seconds.
Though Ascari would take the pole, he would not be joined on the front row by any other teammates. Maurice Trintignant would prove to be fast enough to start 2nd. Robert Manzon would start 3rd.
Compared to the rest of the Escuderia Bandeirantes drivers, hiring Crespo was looking to be a very smart move as he would prove to be faster than Landi or Cantoni by a decent margin. Crespo's best time would be barely faster than two minutes and one second. This would position the Argentinean on the third row in 8th place. Landi's time wasn't all that much slower, only three seconds, than Crespo's. However, the times were very tight amongst competitors. And, as a result, Landi would start the race 14th and on the sixth row. Cantoni's time was over ten seconds slower than Landi's. Perhaps suffering with the rebuilt car, Eitel would start the race 17th and on the second-to-last row of the grid.
Seeing as it was the seventh round of the French F2 Championship, the race would be three hours long. This would be plenty of time for the circuit to reduce the field. Surprisingly, it would be Ascari that would be the first one out of the race. Only 2 laps into the race, the steering had broken on the car ending the race, not for Ascari, just the car. Ascari would take over Andre Simon's car for the remainder of the race.
Manzon would be another car out rather early on. But then, things would settle down for a while. However, an hour and a half into the race, trouble would again visit the field. Unfortunately, it would strike Escuderia Bandeirantes on almost successive laps.
The first to get struck was Cantoni. The wheel would collapse on his Maserati an hour and a half into the race. Just one lap later, Crespo, the fastest of the team, would be hit by troubles. His rear axle would fail knocking him out of the race as well. Then, just three laps after Crespo's failure, Landi's race came to an end due to a split in the fuel tank. It was as if the Maseratis had hit a wall halfway through the race.
Attrition wasn't through with the field, however. Three more competitors, who had started the race inside the top-ten, would end up dropping out of the race due to problems. This practically handed the race back to Ascari in Simon's car.
It wasn't like Ascari wasn't earning being back in the lead of the race. He would take Simon's car and turn the fastest lap of the race and would even leave the rest of the field behind once he was in the lead. The results at the end of the race would tell the story quite clearly.
Ascari would win. He would end up having a lap lead over Farina in 2nd place. It would become abundantly clear Farina was the only other one capable of keeping anywhere close to Ascari as Jean Behra, another Equipe Gordini driver, would finish in 3rd, but six laps down. Officially, only four cars would finish the race. Two others would be running at the end, but so far behind they were not to be classified at the end.
Crespo and Landi proved the car was capable enough. The main thing holding them back was the car's reliability. If the team could get the reliability; they could possibly earn a good result. Unfortunately, the season was growing shorter and shorter. Time was running out.
In quest of a better result than that earned at the French Grand Prix back in early July, the team would enter three cars, once again, in the Grand Prix of the Netherlands, which was the seventh round of the World Championship.
In an effort to ensure a good result, they would also turn to someone with some local knowledge. They would bring on Jan Flinterman, a Dutch racer, to drive one of the Maseratis in the 90 lap race. Born, literally, only about 30 miles from the circuit in Zandvoort, Flinterman knew the 2.64 mile road course quite well. He and Dries van der Lof would become the first Dutch drivers to ever take part in a World Championship race.
Similar to Den Haag, where Flinterman was born, Zandvoort rests right along the coast of the North Sea. Amidst the sand dunes, the Zandvoort circuit was opened in 1949. In that same year, it would hold the first Dutch Grand Prix. It continued as a non-championship race over the course of the first-two years of the Formula One World Championship. But in 1952, it would host a round of the World Championship for the first time. The circuit had become quite popular with drivers because of its fast, sweeping corners and the hairpin at the end of the start/finish straight, which made a good place for passing.
In practice, only Mike Hawthorn could keep up with the Ferraris. He would be sandwiched in between the three Ferraris on the starting grid. Alberto Ascari, no surprise, would turn out to be the fastest overall. Giuseppe Farina, also no surprise at all, would end up being the second-fastest in practice. Hawthorn would start the race in 3rd place after turning in a lap time of one minute and fifty one seconds. This was five seconds slower than Ascari but still good enough for the front row.
Surprisingly, Gino Bianco would end up being the fastest of the Escuderia Bandeirantes. His time was one minute and fifty-eight seconds. This time put him in the middle of the fifth row in 12th . Flinterman would start just off his left shoulder on the sixth row. Flinterman had lapped the circuit with a time of two minutes and one second. The two Dutch drivers in the race would actually start from the very same row. Landi was just three-tenths of a second slower than Jan and would start 16th on the seventh, and final, row of the grid.
By this time, Ascari had already won the Drivers' World Championship title. However, it was obvious during practice and the very start of the race he wasn't going to just cruise through the rest of the season. There was a lot still at stake: the record books and prize money.
With that kind of impetus, Ascari would lead right from the very start of the race and would have his foot on it. Only a little over four percent into the 90 lap race, the promising start for Bianco would come to an end. Another rear axle failure would bring his day to a close. Unfortunately for Flinterman, his pace would be interrupted when a differential problem only 7 laps into the race would cause him to have to momentarily retire from the race. The retirement was momentarily as on lap 44 Flinterman would take over for Landi in the final remaining Maserati.
The laps; and Ascari's pace, was taking a toll on the rest of the field. Only eighteen had started the race. As Ascari was nearing the final lap of the race, the field had dwindled down to where there would be only nine that would officially finish.
Alberto cruised to victory. His margin was almost forty seconds over Farina in 2nd place. Luigi Villoresi would end up finishing the race 3rd. This was a Ferrari sweep of the podium. Interestingly, only the Scuderia Ferraris remained on the lead lap. Mike Hawthorn, after starting from the front row, would finish 4th but two laps down.
Landi's wonderful gesture to his Dutch teammate would end up paying off. Although he wouldn't beat Etancelin's result from earlier in the season, Flinterman would end up finishing the race in 9th position, seven laps down. He was the last 'official' car still running out on the circuit at the end.
In spite of the wonderfully kind gesture, Escuderia Bandeirantes still was without a championship point, and only one round remained. On a whole, the season had been difficult as well. Only the 2nd place finishes with Formula One cars had been the highlights for Landi's season. The 8th and 9th place finishes had been the best result the team had been able to experience on the European continent.
Escuderia Bandeirantes would not compete in another non-championship race before the eighth, and final, round of the World Championship for 1952. They would take the time to thoroughly prepare the cars for the grueling 80 lap event on the 3.91 mile road course that had been so devastating to the team back in June.
In order to thoroughly prepare the cars for the race, the team would need to make it in first. This would be no easy maneuver as thirty-five entries would end up fighting for just twenty-four spots on the grid. For the final race of the season, the team would return to a bit of normalcy. Landi, Cantoni and Bianco would be the drivers for the three chassis entered.
Qualifying for the race would end up being very difficult. As the times began to come in it was apparent the margin between the pole and the twenty-fourth spot on the grid would not be as wide as some of the other races had been. This was somewhat of a change.
What wasn't a change was the fact Ascari was the fastest in practice. Alberto's pace was right around what he had done back in early June. He would take the pole with a time of two minutes and five seconds. Surprisingly, it would not be Farina that turned the second-fastest lap in practice. That honor would go to Luigi Villoresi. Villoresi was only nine-tenths slower than his friend Ascari. Farina would make it three Scuderia Ferraris on the front row when he would turn in a time only four-tenths slower than Villoresi. Altogether, Scuderia Ferrari had entered five cars for the race. Unfortunately for the team, neither of the other two drivers could make it a Ferrari sweep of the front row. Maurice Trintignant would end up earning 4th for Equipe Gordini. Less than two seconds separated the entire front row. The one who would end up having to worry the most would be Gino Bianco.
As the times kept pouring in, it seemed Chico Landi would be able to make it into the race without too much trouble. His time was only a little over seven seconds slower than Ascari's pole-winning time. Cantoni's time was pushing it. He would end up 23rd with a time just over ten seconds slower than Ascari.
Then came Bianco's time. His best lap was two minutes and seventeen seconds. This was just a little less than twelve seconds slower than Ascari's and a decent gap between his time and that of his teammate Cantoni. Sweating it out on the bubble, Bianco would hope and wait. Charles de Tornaco would push. He too would turn in a lap of two minutes and seventeen seconds. But de Tornaco's time was five-tenths compared to Bianco's one-tenth. By just that margin Bianco would be able to make it three Escuderia Bandeirantes in the Italian Grand Prix.
Overall, six Maserati A6GCMs would get into the starting field for the final round of the World Championship. However, a driver of one of those six was the most vocal about his desire to break up Ascari's incredible streak. Jose Froilan Gonzalez made it very clear he was on a mission to stop Ascari's incredible winning-streak.
While the three Escuderia Bandeirantes drivers, with their Maserati A6GCMs, were just interested in finishing near the points, Gonzalez would start the race light on fuel in an attempt to race out ahead of Ascari and maintain that gap after stopping for fuel.
At the start of the race, the tactic was working for Jose. Very quickly, he would race out to an advantage of over twenty seconds. About the time Jose had managed to garner a twenty second advantage, the race had already come to an end for one of the front row starters, Maurice Trintignant. The pace was steadily increasing as Ascari became lighter and lighter because of burning off fuel. Soon the gap stabilized at around thirty seconds.
While Gonzalez and Ascari were playing out their strategies at the front of the field, two of the followers of the banner were trying to follow their leader further forward. Landi was looking quite impressive. After starting the race 18th, Chico was quickly making his way into the top-ten. Thankfully for Bianco and Cantoni, their cars kept going without problem. This enabled them to also move forward from their last row starting positions.
After about 30, or so, laps it was time for Gonzalez to come in for fuel. By the time he rejoined the circuit, he had slipped to 5th. Ascari had the lead. Once in the lead, Ascari started to set the pace, and it was an even more fierce one than had been experienced with Gonzalez in the lead.
While not in the hunt for the lead, or even the top-ten, Bianco's car had decided it had had enough. A little over halfway, 46 laps, the car failed on Bianco ending his day. The other two Bandeirantes Maseratis were continuing to run well and moving even further forward.
With only about 30 laps remaining, Ascari turned up the wick a little bit more. He would go on to set the fastest lap of the race on the 56th lap of the race. His time was within a half of a second of his pole-winning time. Responding to the increased pace, Gonzalez; making his way back up from 5th, would match the time on the very next lap and would even match it again on the 60th lap of the race. Jose was pushing hard to try and catch up. Not to be missed, Landi was putting in an impressive performance of his own. He had managed to come all the way from 18th to be running inside the top-ten. He would end up becoming locked in a duel with Ken Wharton in his Cooper-Bristol T20. Within a short amount of time, Landi would dispatch Wharton and would move into 8th overall. The only types of cars remaining ahead of him on the circuit then at that time were either Ferraris or Maserti A6GCMs.
Being out front, Ascari could control the pace. Gonzalez would put together an incredible charge but Ascari would maintain a comfortable gap over him. After averaging more than 109 mph over the course of 80 laps, Ascari would make it six-straight victories in the World Championship. He would win by one minute and one second over Gonzalez who would charge valiantly back after dropping to 5th. Luigi Villoresi would end up finishing quietly in 3rd another minute and two seconds behind Gonzalez.
Eitel Cantoni would end having his car stay together throughout the entire 80 lap race and would finish five laps down in 11th. Landi's performance was impressive. Although he would only equal the 8th place finish Etancelin had turned in at the French Grand Prix, this race was much more of an impressive drive. Landi had come from 18th to finish 8th. On top of it all, he would only be helped out by the retirements of three other competitors that had qualified ahead of him. The rest was all Landi doing what he does best.
In spite of the incredible performance, Landi, and the rest of the Escuderia Bandeirantes team would leave Monza, and the World Championship, without a championship point to its credit. The only thing really consistent about the new Maserati was that it consistently broke. The inconsistencies and lacking reliability of the new car had hampered the team's performances. The Italian Grand Prix; however, showed that if Landi and Cantoni had a reliable car, they could do quite well, even impressively well.
Though the team would leave Monza without a point it could still leave encouraged after the performances they had managed to turn in. Just to get three cars into the race was a feat in and of itself, but Landi's near-miss of the points was even reason for celebration. Although the World Championship was over, the team would still have a couple of non-championship races left in which they would compete.
In fact, the first of those non-championship races in which the team would compete before the end of the season would come just one week later. The team would travel just about two hours south and west to Modena, Italy to take part in the 3rd Gran Premio di Modena on the 14th of September.
Located just to the northwest of the Modena city center, the Modena circuit started out life, like many others, as airfield with a local flying club. The airstrip was still in use when a 1.5 mile circuit was created and first used in 1950.
The majority of the field consisted of the Ferraris and Maseratis. However, it didn't matter how many other makes there were as long as Ascari was present with his Ferrari 500. He would be the fastest in practice turning a lap of one minute and four seconds. Villoresi would only be eight-tenths slower than Ascari and would join his good friend on the front row. Farina would be the third-fastest with a time only two-tenths slower than Villoresi. He would start on the second row.
Escuderia Bandeirantes would enter two cars in the race. Landi would drive the same one in which he had scored his 8th place finish a week before. Eitel Cantoni would drive the other. The two would stick together in practice.
Landi would be able to complete a lap of the 1.5 mile circuit in one minute and nine seconds. In spite of only being less than five seconds slower, Chico would end up on the sixth row in 11th.
Starting right beside him would be Cantoni. There was a rather large time difference between Landi and Cantoni. Cantoni's best time was a one minute and twelve second lap. This was almost three seconds slower than Landi. However, nobody could beat Eitel's time. Therefore, he would start on the sixth row as well in 12th position.
Although the circuit was short there would be more than enough laps to cause trouble for the competitors. The race was 100 laps and promised to be two hours of torture for all of the accelerating, braking and shifting that would take place over the course of a lap.
It would even prove to be too much for the front-runners. Only 9 laps into the race, Jean Behra would park his Gordini T16 due to differential problems. Only 9 laps later, the current World Champion, and pre-race favorite, would also get hit. The oil system in Ascari's Ferrari became suspect causing him to retire from the race. He wouldn't be out too long as he would take over Sergio Sighinolfi's car for the remainder of the race.
Another of the front-runners would fall foul to troubles just 18 laps after Ascari's troubles. Robert Manzon would retire with ignition troubles. With all of the troubles with the front-runners even the Escuderia Bandeirantes drivers had to be slightly concerned.
When the race completed its 44th lap, Landi had good reason to worry. While driving another good race, trouble would come causing him to fall out of the race. Thankfully for the team, Cantoni continued to run and was looking strong, especially given the struggles everyone else was going through.
Ever since Ascari's retirement from the race, Villoresi and Gonzalez would be locked in a battle. The two would trade the lead, as well as, fastest laps of the race. Villoresi would even manage to turn a lap faster than his qualifying effort. Throughout the whole of the race the battle raged. Even on the last lap it wasn't decided. Up thirty seconds over Ascari on the last lap, the fight for the victory would come down to the two of them.
After an epic battle that raged and raged, Villoresi would end up clipping Gonzalez for the win. He would literally beat Jose by mere tenths as they raced to the line. Ascari would finish 3rd, thirty seconds down.
After over two months of trying, Cantoni would be the one to actually beat Etancelin's 8th place mark in a race. Landi had tied it at the Italian Grand Prix. However, Eitel would drive a steady race, no doubt helped by the attrition, and would come forward to finish 7th, six laps down to Villoresi. This was the first time all-season the team had managed to put together back-to-back top-ten results. This was important for the confidence of the team as they would decide to head further east at the end of the month to take part in a race at the AVUS circuit.
On the 28th of September, Escuderia Bandeirantes was preparing its two cars for what was its final race on the European continent in 1952. Their choice would be about as fierce some as the Nordschleife 'Green Hell'.
In simplicity, all the AVUS circuit was to long straight running parallel to each other. Very simple in its design and layout, AVUS was very simple. But the teardrop-shaped loops were another matter all-together. The Nordkurve 'North Curve', in particular, would scare even the most seasoned veteran. Called the 'Wall of Death', the banked loop featured no retaining wall at its top and the speeds entering into it, and throughout, were quite scary.
Though not perfectly straight, the AVUS circuit was certainly more than straight enough that drivers kept their foot firmly pressed to the firewall down its long parallel straights. It was one of the fastest circuits used by grand prix cars.
The brave Escuderia Bandeirantes pilots that would dare to take on the circuit would be Eitel Cantoni and Gianfranco Comotti. These two would not be the only foreigners in the field. The Swiss driver, and fourth place finisher in the World Championship, Rudolf Fischer, would also take part in the 25 lap race.
The extent to which Comotti got to say he took part in the race was the start and the 1st lap. He wouldn't be able to take part in much after that as his race would come to an end on his 3rd lap.
With average speeds in excess of 125 mph, each lap was a dance with death. Rudolf Fischer would seem right at home dancing with death as he would round the Wall of Death and set the fastest lap of the race in his Ferrari 500.
Cantoni continued to run in the race, but had more of a conservative pace. Unfortunately for him, this meant he would be lapped by Fischer, who was in the lead, more than a couple of times before the end.
Fischer would absolutely streak to the win. He would end up lapping the field over the course of his fearless drive. Hans Klenk would finish 2nd in a Veritas Meteor. He would end up beating Fritz Riess by merely seven-tenths of a second! Running much more conservatively, Eitel would finish the race down three laps, but would finish in 9th place.
Escuderia Bandeirantes would finish its stint on the European mainland with four-straight top-ten finishes by at least one of its drivers. Though its racing season would end with another top-ten, the team would run out of opportunities for a podium for top-five finish. Instead, the team would have to travel back to South America to see if it could end the season just as it started—on the podium.
1952 would finish at the same exact location in which it had started for Escuderia Bandeirantes. Just ten days before the Christmas holidays, Chico Landi and Gino Bianco were in Rio de Janeiro, and the 6.68 mile Gavea circuit, for the 7th Grande Premio de Rio de Janeiro.
The last time Landi and Bianco had been here, Bianco had retired from the race due to a brake problem and Landi went on to finish 2nd after facing the likes of Juan Manuel Fangio and Jose Froilan Gonzalez.
This time, the field featured a fewer number of entrants of slightly less ability. However, the race still took place at the incredibly difficult and challenging Gavea. The race itself would only be 15 laps compared to 20.
Similar to the first time at Gavea, Bianco needed a race that lasted only about two laps. He would end up spinning on the 4th lap and would retire. Landi was seemingly as fierce some as he had been the last time. Back in January he managed to set the fastest lap en route to a 2nd place finish. In December, he would again set the fastest lap of the race and was looking in good shape. However, just three laps from the end, Landi would end up pushing just a little too hard and crashed out of the running.
Only three competitors would end up making it the entire race distance. Henrique Casini, driving a Ferrari, would go on to win the race quite handily. Casini would average only a little over 45 mph over the length of the race. However, he would manage to lap the remaining competitors en route to the victory. Pedro Romero and Arthur Souza Costa would be locked in a good battle right up until the last lap of the race and the season. Romero would end up beating Costa by only two seconds for 2nd place.
The last race, just like the majority of the entire season, did not shape-up to be the way Landi and Escuderia Bandeirantes had planned. A generally difficult and frustrating season was accented by a couple of wonderfully surprising performances from Etancelin and Landi. Then, at the Italian Grand Prix, the team in which had struggled to even get one of its cars to finish a race would overcome incredible odds to get all three into the race. And then, Landi and Cantoni would do a splendid job carrying the Maserati flag before the all of the Italian fans.
Though a difficult and bitter season, there were moments over the course of the season that would leave Escudera Badeirantes waving its banner proudly for everyone else to see and follow. Escuderia Bandeirantes