TeamsHarry Schell: 1954 Formula One Season By Jeremy McMullen
Over the previous couple of seasons Harry Schell had continually demonstrated his talents and his pace, but had been doing so in inferior cars. And despite his obvious talents there was very little he could do with the dominant Ferrari 500 chassis and Alberto Ascari. However, 1954 would be a new season, and with it came new regulations. Nonetheless, Schell still knew what he needed most: a red Italian racing car.
Ever the popular driver, Harry Schell had been around motor racing all his life. He was born of a father and a mother that were both successful in motor racing. In fact, Schell's mother was one of the first women racers and she actually won the Coupe des Dames as part of the Monte Carlo Rally back in 1929. His parents would end up forming and running their own team known as Ecurie Blue.
Both parents were American but Schell was born and raised in Paris, and therefore spoke only French throughout the first twenty years of his life. After a terrible accident that killed his father and severely injured his mother, Schell would take over the running of the Ecurie Blue team at the age of just 18.
Despite the tragic events surrounding his parents, Schell had racing in his blood and he couldn't just manage a racing team, he had to race himself. And in the years after the end of World War II Schell would be a regular on the grand prix scene. His first Formula One race would be at Monaco in 1950.
Over the course of the first two seasons of the brand new Formula One World Championship Schell would compete in just four races and would score no better than an 8th place result at the Swiss Grand Prix. Known for his swearing and yelling while driving a car, Schell was known to be fast and capable, if the car proved to be the same.
During the first year of the Formula 2 era in the World Championship, Schell would drive as part of the Enrico Plate team. This team had been a strong entity in the late 1940s but was certainly floundering by the time the third year of the World Championship rolled around. His best result out of the three races he would contest in the World Championship would be a 17th earned at the British Grand Prix.
A regular around the French racing scene, Schell would drive for Equipe Gordini during the 1953 season and would fare much better. Out of seven World Championship races he contested he would finish in the top ten in three of them. The other races would be early retirements. And therein lay the problem. Robert Manzon had driven for Equipe Gordini but would leave the team early on because of nagging reliability issues. While the Maseratis and Ferraris just kept going lap after lap at maximum speed, the Gordini chassis, while promising, needed to be nursed around for a whole grand prix, and even then there was no guarantee of making it to the end of a race.
Schell needed something in Italian red. And he would get it. During the 1953 season, Maserati A6GCM chassis 2041 would be used by both Jose Froilan Gonzalez and Onofre Marimon. And the end of the '53 season, with the new Formula One regulations coming into effect for the 1954 season, the Maserati factory team was interested in selling its older chassis to those that were interested. This would be Schell's opportunity and he would take it. He would purchase the chassis from the factory team. He now had the car. He just needed to wait until the new season began. His wait wouldn't be that long. But he would have to travel.
The start of the 1954 season would come early, but it would not take place on the European continent. Schell would pack up his car and equipment and would head across the Atlantic to Argentina for the first round of the Formula One World Championship.
Schell would have a disadvantage as he headed across the south Atlantic. The new Formula One regulations would come into effect at the beginning of the new year. This meant a number of changes, but the biggest would be the increase in displacement from 2.0-liters to 2.5-liters. Therefore, as he headed to his first race of the new season he would be going with a Formula 2 car that had a smaller engine displacement than those of the other factory efforts.
Nonetheless, Schell would arrive in Argentina in early January in order to take part in the first round of the Formula One World Championship, which was the Gran Premio de la Republica Argentina. The race would take place on the 17th of January at the Autodromo 17 de Octubre circuit located to the south of the Buenos Aires city center.
Commissioned by president Juan Peron, Autodromo 17 de Octubre would be built in 1952 in order to host the World Championship, and therefore, boast of the significance of the state. However, its debut on the World Championship calendar would be met with tragedy as a number of spectators would be killed during the race. It was hoped the second edition of the Argentine Grand Prix would be conducted much more safely.
As with the previous year, the Argentine Grand Prix would take place at the Autodromo 17 de Octubre circuit named after the date in which Peron candidacy on the Labor Party ticket had been announced. The circuit would be designed with a number of possible layouts that could be specifically catered to any kind or form of racing. Therefore, for use with the Argentine Grand Prix the 2.42 mile number two layout would be used.
In all, eighteen cars would be entered for the in the 87 lap, 211 mile, race. However, heading into practice, the field would be reduced by one. Then, during practice, the field wouldn't be reduced, just divided. One year previous, Giuseppe Farina would be in the midst of the tragedy that took the lives of a number of spectators. However, one year later Farina would be the fastest in practice and would be sitting on the pole heading into the race. Farina's fastest lap time of 1:44.8 would be just a tenth of a second faster than his teammate Jose Froilan Gonzalez. Juan Manuel Fangio would be third-fastest in practice, and therefore, would join Gonzalez and Farina on the front row. The final spot on the front row would go to the third Ferrari driver Mike Hawthorn.
Despite being at a power disadvantage, Schell would still put together some decently-fast laps. The circuit didn't appear to play into the hands of the larger engines as much as other circuits, and as a result, Schell would start the race from the middle of the grid. He would end up starting the race from 10th, which placed him on the third row of the grid.
The new Formula One and older Formula 2 cars would be rolled out to their positions on the grid. The field would be void of one other car. Luigi Musso would suffer from engine problems and would be forced out of the race even before it started. However, the rest of the field, now sixteen strong, were ready to do battle in the first round of the 1954 World Championship.
And as the field roared away to begin the race, Farina would hold onto the lead with Fangio close behind. Jose Froilan Gonzalez would make a poor start and would fall behind Fangio and Hawthorn before getting up to speed. Being in the middle of the pack, Schell would push but would have to be careful not to put himself in a bad position early on in the race.
Farina continued in the lead of the race but Gonzalez was on a charge behind Hawthorn and Fangio. Schell would make it through the first few laps and would be consistently one of the fastest of the Formula 2 cars.
Gonzalez would be something of an angry man behind the wheel after losing out at the start of the race. He would quickly recover to pass Hawthorn and would even pass Fangio before too long. Only Farina remained ahead of him on the track.
Meanwhile, the field was beginning to run into attrition. Louis Rosier would only make it a lap before an accident would cause him to retire early from the race. Then, just a few laps after Gonzalez took over the lead of the race, another couple of entries would fall out of the running. Schell, however, would continue to circulate without any problems.
The entire field would face a big problem about 30 laps into the race when a sudden broke over the circuit. This would make the track treacherous and visibility difficult. Gonzalez, despite being in the lead of the race, would end up spinning and would lose a tremendous amount of time trying to recover. Farina would have enough of the visibility problems and would actually stop for a visor. This left Hawthorn in the lead but he too would spin. This error would drop Hawthorn down the order and would hand the lead over to Fangio and it would be just the beginning of a great mix up in the running order.
Schell stayed out of trouble and maintained controlled despite the really wet conditions. And after Hawthorn and Behra would be disqualified because of push starts after spins, he would find himself well inside the top ten and only a couple of laps behind race leader Fangio.
It would be difficult for Schell. He was the fastest Formula 2 car in the field, once again proving his abilities as a driver, but that meant he was chasing all Formula One cars. This would not be an easy task. In fact, as the race wore on, it would prove to be impossible with the exception being if they ran into mechanical problems. Averaging a mile per hour more than his closest competitor, Schell was running all alone on the circuit; a little too far behind to really move up the running order an further.
Averaging nearly three miles per hour faster than Schell, Fangio would not only dominate the Formula 2 cars in the field, but everyone else as well. The fanatical fans would have their arms raised and would be heard shouting as their hero powered his way toward the finish line and the first victory of the season. He would complete the race distance in exactly three hours and fifty-five seconds and would beat Farina by a margin of one minute and nineteen seconds. Jose Froilan Gonzalez would provide added delight making it two Argentineans on the podium when he finished the race in 3rd just over two minutes behind Fangio.
Schell would start out his 1954 season strong. He would drive smart and controlled and would end up earning a 6th place result, just one adrift of the points. He would end up three laps behind Fangio but would have a lap advantage himself over Prince Bira in 7th.
Schell certainly had the right car. Of the three Gordinis in the field, only one would finish. And that one just beat Schell despite having a more powerful engine. Schell could have confidence that he could now challenge at each and every race. To prove this, he would stick around Buenos Aires to take part in his first non-championship race of the season.
Traveling all the way across the Atlantic Ocean would not be an easy, nor an inexpensive, affair. Therefore, the teams and privateers would need to feel that making such a journey was worth the effort. The fact there would be a non-championship held at the same circuit on the 31st of January would certainly help. The race was the 5th Gran Premio Ciudad de Buenos Aires. And it would be held on the same 2.42 mile number two circuit that had been used for the first round of the Formula One World Championship round.
The non-championship race would be a Formula Libre race meaning it allowed sports cars and single-seater grand prix cars. This would be important for the more local racing teams and privateers that didn't have the same kind of budgets as some of the larger factory efforts.
The race distance would certainly be less than the Formula One round but it would still be a strong early test. But like the Argentine Grand Prix, Giuseppe Farina would prove fastest in practice, and therefore, would start from the pole. Things would look similar when Gonzalez managed to be second-quickest and would again start beside Farina. Mike Hawthorn would make it a clean sweep by Scuderia Ferrari for the first-three positions on the starting grid. Maurice Trintignant, driving for Ecurie Rosier behind the wheel of a Ferrari 625, would end up surprising many as he would start from the final position on the front row. While not known for certain, it is likely Schell started this race around the same position he had started the Formula One race.
The race would end up being another wild race. Unfortunately for Louis Rosier, this meant the race would bear a great similarity to the Formula One race. In the Argentine Grand Prix Rosier's race ended after just a lap. The non-championship race would not fare any better as he would end up being one of the first ones out.
It would be a particularly tough race for the locals. Out of the nine Argentineans to start the race, only three would eventually make it to the end. Onofre Marimon and Juan Manuel Fangio would be a couple of those that would not have providence on their side. But they wouldn't be alone.
Farina's car would be out of the running, but he would eventually take over the car of Gonzalez. Proving there was no national consideration, Farina would take to the circuit in the Argentinean's car and would immediately push as hard as he could.
Coming to the final couple of laps of the race, Schell would again be strong running inside the top five but pursued heavily by a former Equipe Gordini teammate Jean Behra. This was impressive considering the fact Behra was behind the wheel of a Formula One car and he was busy chasing Schell in a Formula 2 entry. It would be the same up at the front of the field.
All of the trouble suffered by the front-runners left Maurice Trintignant running all alone at the front of the field. His closest competition would be Robert Mieres driving a Maserati A6GCM. This would be a great big target for Farina in a more powerful Formula One car. And Farina would give it everything he had. He would turn the fastest lap of the race in pursuit of Mieres, but it wasn't looking good that he had enough time in which to overhaul the Argentinean.
There was plenty of time for Behra to overhaul Schell. Therefore, Schell would continue to push hard in an effort to hold off the Frenchman. Even while on the last lap of the race there was only about a second between the two drivers.
Trintignant would benefit greatly from the struggles of others and would come through in a little less than two hours and forty minutes to take the victory. Despite all that Farina tried, he could not haul in Mieres before the end. In the end, Mieres would come across the line nearly thirty seconds behind Trintignant and eight seconds ahead of Farina. The greatest battle was still between Schell in 4th and Behra in 5th. While 5th would still be a good result, Schell certainly wanted that 4th place. He would push hard and would make his car as wide as possible to prevent Behra from getting by. And as the two powered their way through the final bend toward the finish line it would be Schell that would hold on by nine-tenths of a second to take 4th!
Schell really couldn't have asked for a better start to his season. Considering he was piloting an underpowered Formula 2 car, a 6th and a 4th at the first two races of the season were certainly positive results that undoubtedly helped to build confidence as Schell headed back to Europe. It would be a long trip back to Europe but he would certainly make the journey with a smile on his face.
The 1954 grand prix season had started very early for Schell. Upon returning to Europe, he would have quite a long break before his next grand prix. In fact, it would end up proving longer than originally planned.
The Gran Premio di Siracusa took place on the island of Sicily on the 11th of April. This would be the first grand prix held in Europe and certainly promised to draw the full might of Scuderia Ferrari and the Maserati factory team. Nonetheless, Schell had already proven capable of battling with the best and coming out the better. Therefore, it wouldn't be all that surprising that he had an entry in the 80 lap race. However, Schell would not arrive at the race. Instead of taking part in a race in Sicily, he would wait one more week and would take part in the Pau Grand Prix driving under the Officine Alfieri Maserati team banner. So, instead of taking part in a race on Sicilian soil, Schell's first race on European soil in 1954 fittingly would come on French soil. Unfortunately, it would not be a pleasant affair as he would be the first out of the race.
After two great results in South America and a terrible result on home soil, Schell would be looking for redemption in his next race, which also took place on French soil. It was now May and the European grand prix season was beginning to get into full swing. On the 9th, Harry would be in Bordeaux preparing to take part in the Bordeaux Grand Prix. Another non-championship race, the Bordeaux Grand Prix consisted of 123 laps of the city's 1.53 mile street circuit.
The center of the world's wine industry, Bordeaux is also the capital of the Aquitaine region of France. Throughout its history, the city and the region would play an important role in France's colorful history and would be at the heart of a number of conflicts ranging from the Vandals sacking Roman Aquitaine all the way up to World War II and the Battle of the Atlantic when the city served as a headquarters for the 12th U-Boat Flotilla.
Straddling the Garonne River, Bordeaux would host its grand prix on its west bank running along the banks of the river and passing around the Esplanade des Quinconces. This would be a fitting site for a grand prix, for amongst the elegant and stylistic architecture the most modern and stylistic of single-seater grand prix cars would run.
Schell would again arrive at the race with his Maserati A6GCM. And while the field would be rather small, it would still be filled with some incredibly tough competition. Out of a field of twelve cars, eight of them would be Formula One machines. On top of it all, Scuderia Ferrari would come with two cars and Equipe Gordini would bring four.
Not surprisingly, the Formula One cars would lead the way in practice around the 1.53 mile circuit. Maurice Trintignant would take over driving duties at Scuderia Ferrari after Mike Hawthorn suffered burns at the race in Sicily. He would take advantage of the situation and would set the fastest time in practice to thereby earn the pole for the 123 lap race. Three-tenths of a second would be the difference back to Gonzalez starting in 2nd. Jean Behra would make it two Frenchmen on the front row when he set the third-fastest time in practice at the wheel of a Gordini T16.
With the exception of Prince Bira's amazing time in another Maserati A6GCM, Schell would be the quickest of the small Formula 2 field. Nonetheless, his time of 1:25.6 would be nearly four seconds slower than Trintignant's which meant he would start the race from 8th on the grid. This placed him on the outside of the third row.
As the field prepared to take the start of the 187 mile race, rain would leave the circuit wet, and therefore, would cause the expected results to be thrown away. And this would be proven right at the start as Stirling Moss would roar away from the grid. Having made a great start, Moss would be battling for the lead of the race with Jean Behra and Elie Bayol of Equipe Gordini. Jose Froilan Gonzalez would be right there as well but Maurice Trintignant would lose out at the start and would be fitting to regain the pace he had during practice.
In the wet conditions, trying to find the balance between power and grip is much more narrow. As a result, transmissions and clutches can take a severe beating in wet conditions. Of course engines also take a more severe beating as a result of the conditions as well.
Sure enough, it wouldn't be more than a few laps before cars started to develop problems that would cause them to retire from the race. Peter Whitehead would only make it 4 laps before his engine let go on him. Louis Rosier continued to have a terrible season as a driver. His race would come to an end after just 9 laps also because of a failed engine.
Up front, Moss' great start would begin to fade. Gonzalez continued to be fast in the wet conditions and kept the pressure on everybody. His fastest lap of the race, a time of 1:22.7 would have been good enough to start the race from 4th on the grid. During the race, the time would be good to severely test the rest of the competition. And they would be found wanting.
Schell would also be found wanting. He would want to return back to the first two races of the season when he scored a top ten and a top five result. However, this was not those first two races. The move back to Europe had proven to be not all that welcome for the American-Parisian and it would continue to be so in Bordeaux. Schell's race would last just 16 laps before clutch failure brought an end to the event.
He would not be alone. Jean Behra and Prince Bira would all end up out of the running before the end. Stirling Moss, who had appeared to be the man to beat at the very beginning of the race, would also fade toward the end. Before the end of the race he would be a couple of laps behind. A striking contrast to how the early part of the race had gone.
It truly was a tale of two different races for all but Gonzalez. Gonzalez had been right up there at the very beginning and would manage to stay there throughout. After three hours, five minutes and fifty-five seconds, Gonzalez would power his way down along the Garonne River and across the line to take the victory. It had been a formidable performance as Robert Manzon would come home in 2nd place but a distant forty-four seconds behind. It was even worse for the pole-sitter Trintignant. Maurice likely thought he could wow the French crowd taking the victory. But it would not work out that way. But although he was not there at the beginning of the race, Maurice would drive consistently to earn a 3rd place result, albeit a little more than a minute behind Gonzalez.
The first two races of the season really couldn't have gone much better for Schell. The last two races, however, couldn't have gone much worse. All of the momentum and confidence he had managed to build surely had to have slipped away. He was really back to even. But he had plenty of chances to get his season back on track. It was still very early in the season. He just needed Providence to help carry him through and rebuild his confidence.
The Formula One World Championship was set to resume in a matter of weeks. That meant it was really important to maximize results in the non-championship races in order to have confidence going into the World Championship events. For Schell, after two-straight early retirements, he would need the best results possible just to feel he had a chance heading into the World Championship events, especially since he was still driving an underpowered Formula 2 car. His next opportunity to right his season and build some momentum would come on the 22nd of May. On that day he would be in Bari, Italy preparing to take part in the 7th Gran Premio di Bari, a 60 lap race around the city's 3.45 mile street circuit.
Situated along the Adriatic Sea, well down along the Italian coast, rests the province of Bari and its capital city of the same name. For southern Italy, Bari remains one of the most important economic centers and had been important in the nation's history ever since its earliest days in the 3rd century before the birth of Christ. As with many important economic centers throughout the region of the Mediterranean, Bari would see its share of strife and conflict. The area would be governed by the Byzantines for a long period of time. During this governance, Bari would unfortunately become an important site for slave trading. Captured from Dalmatia, Prussia and Poland, these slaves would end up headed to other parts of the Byzantine Empire throughout the region around the Mediterranean.
But even in the 20th century, Bari would be a place of considerable suffering. For during World War II a night bombing attack by the Germans would end up hitting a American ship carrying mustard gas. The bombing and the effects of the gas would end up killing thousands of people in and around Bari.
Such an unfortunate history would be hard to dull such an intriguing place and Bari's street circuit, which ran along the Adriatic coast and through the streets toward the center of the city would make the circuit exciting and a welcome distraction for the local community that was still trying to regain itself.
Once again, Schell would enter a Formula 2 Maserati and would be facing a field full of Formula One machines. Practice would bear the power differences as Jose Froilan Gonzalez would take the pole for the 207 mile race. Joining Gonzalez on the front row would be his still rather new Ferrari teammate Maurice Trintignant and the Equipe Gordini pilot Jean Behra. Schell's best times would trail the Formula One cars by a significant enough of a margin that he would start well down in the small field of eleven cars. But Schell wasn't as concerned about starting position at this point as completing a race and earning a strong result.
The race would not be an easy affair by any means. The circuit would test the limits of the driver and the car and there would be a number of cars that would face early retirements due to mechanical problems. Sergio Mantovani would be the first out with shock absorber failure. His race would last just 3 laps. Louis Rosier would again fail to see the checkered flag. Robert Manzon would bring the Equipe Rosier attack to an end after 27 laps when his engine failed in his Ferrari 625.
Up front, Gonzalez carried the lead of the race right from the very start. Trintignant would remain in 2nd place and would only slowly lose ground over the course of the race. Jean Behra would keep the front row intact maintaining his 3rd place starting position.
The unfortunate retirements of other competitors would be a fortunate blessing for Schell. And while he wouldn't be able to keep anywhere near the same kind of pace that Gonzalez would turning out in his Ferrari 625, he was still running strongly and looking to be on pace for a top five finish, if he finished.
Onofre Marimon would end up setting the fastest lap of the race despite being a lap down himself to Gonzalez. But what this meant for Schell, who was following Marimon, was that he knew full well he couldn't haul in the Argentinean, but he had a more than comfortable advantage over Prince Bira running in 6th place. Therefore, Harry could take it easy throughout the later stages of the race in order to ensure being able to finish.
Being pursued by Trintignant, Gonzalez wouldn't really have the luxury of taking it easy throughout the later stages of the race. Nonetheless, Gonzalez would be more than enough to Trintignant and the Argentinean would go on to take the victory with a nearly seven second lead over Trintignant. Gonzalez's advantage over Behra, who would finish the race in 3rd place for Equipe Gordini, would be just over a minute.
Coming to the line, Schell would be two laps behind Gonzalez and one lap behind Marimon who was in 4th place. However, Harry would be two laps up on Bira and would be able to steadily drive his way to the end. This was what he needed. Another top five after a couple of poor races would certainly help Schell regain his confidence moving forward.
Schell's season had proven, at least to this point in the season, to be either a hot or cold affair. When everything was working right and he managed to make it to the finish line the result would usually include a top ten, or better, result. But there certainly had been moments when it hadn't gone well and he was unable to salvage anything. Nonetheless, the race at Bari would help Schell to build up his momentum. It would only get even more steam built up after his next race.
Schell would have a couple of weeks in between races, just not a whole lot of distance. After the race in Bari on the 22nd of May, Harry would then head to Castel Fusano, Italy to take part in the 13th Gran Premio di Roma held on the 6th of June.
The circuit, situated to the southwest of Rome, existed amongst a heavily wooded portion of land right along the Mediterranean Sea near the small town of Lido di Ostia. Just one of about ten different circuits used for the Gran Premio di Roma, the Castel Fusano circuit measured 4.09 miles in length and took place over mostly flat terrain with some gentle rolling features as would be expected being located near the coast.
Very much a race of national importance, the race would be void of a very important element. Scuderia Ferrari had entered three cars for the 60 lap, 245 mile, race. However, not a single car would show as neither of them would be ready in time for the race.
Another unfortunate no-show would be double World Champion Alberto Ascari. He had left Ferrari after a final disagreement with Enzo. He would immediately go to Lancia to be part of their fledgling grand prix project. However, the debut of their new car would be continually delayed. Therefore, neither Ascari nor Lancia would make it to the race.
With the only Ferraris actually being unloaded coming from small teams and other privateers, the vast majority of the field would be comprised of Maserati chassis. But there again, one noted entry would be absent.
Juan Manuel Fangio had already scored his first victory of the season for the factory Maserati team back in January. He was slated to be in Castel Fusano to take part in the race. However, his entry would be withdrawn, one of the favorites would be missing.
This was all boding well for Schell despite the fact he was still driving his Formula 2 contender. In spite of the lack of horsepower, Schell knew he had a great opportunity with many of the best drivers not being present. Still, it would take one inspired drive to pull it off, but it was at least possible.
It appeared obvious in practice that Schell was looking to take advantage of the situation. Naturally fast, Schell would go on to set a decent time around the 4.09 mile circuit. It would, in the end, earn him a second row starting position. He would start in the middle of the second row in the 6th position.
Directly ahead of him on the front row would be Onofre Marimon on pole in a Maserati 250F. Marimon had set an impressive time of 2:15.4 and would end up being nearly two seconds faster around the circuit than Robert Manzon starting 2nd for Equipe Rosier. However, just one-tenth of a second would separate Manzon and Stirling Moss. Starting 4th, the final spot on the front row would be Jean Behra. His best time around the circuit would be nearly three seconds slower than Marimon's.
245 miles awaited. As the cars were rolled out to their starting grid positions it was clear the fifteen car field had been reduced by one. Guido Mancini's Ferrari 500 would have problems and would lead to the car not starting the race. And as the field roared away to start the race, another Mancini would find his race come to an end before even one lap had been completed. Carlo Mancini's Ferrari 166 would break during the first lap of the race. Then, after the completion of just one lap, the field would further be reduced by one. Very quickly, by the time just 5 laps had come to be completed, the field would be reduced by a total of five. This meant just ten cars remained still running and with 55 laps still to go.
Schell would make a good start and would be running well throughout the first few laps of the race. However, Marimon would be out front looking quite strong in his Maserati 250F. Jean Behra and Manzon would also look strong.
But none would be as strong as Marimon. He would go on to set the fastest lap of the race with a time just a couple of tenths off of the same time he set during practice. He would steadily pull away from the rest of the field putting a lot of pressure on the rest of the field.
The pressure would continue to claim its victims. Jean Behra's car would develop axle problems after 15 laps. This would force Behra to take over Andre Simon's car for the remainder of the race. However, a lot of time would be lost and Behra would be out of the running unless a truly catastrophic event took place with Marimon and the rest of the field. The race would continue to claim its victims. And after completing 31 laps, Luigi Musso would be out with a blown engine. Just 10 laps later, Robert Manzon would be out of the running in a Ferrari 625.
Schell had been continually running strong when all of the chaos would strike the rest of the field. He had started the race on the same row as Andre Simon and Louis Rosier. After the season Rosier had already been experiencing, he would be rather slow in an attempt just to finish a race. And Andre Simon would also be out of the race having handed his car over to Behra. The front row saw Behra run into trouble and fall a long ways behind. Manzon had been running well but was now out. And Stirling Moss faded after a short time. He was still running but was well back. All of this meant Schell soon found himself running in 2nd place, albeit a very distant 2nd.
Schell's talent and pace was paying off. He just needed to make it last all the way to the finish. Unfortunately he would not be able to take things that slowly as he had Sergio Mantovani pushing hard from behind in a Formula One Maserati 250F.
Marimon was out on the road amongst just six cars still running. But despite being amongst fellow competitors, he was really running all by himself. His pace in his Maserati 250F would be such that the rest of the field would be at least two laps behind, but it wouldn't as if he slowed down very much having that knowledge.
Averaging a little more than 106 mph throughout the 60 laps, just 2 mph slower than his best lap in practice, Marimon would go on to an easy victory. Schell was still in 2nd place looking quite strong. Still, he needed to make it to the finish line. Thankfully for him, he would make it to the line and with a very pleasing 2nd place result. He would beat out Sergio Mantovani, who had put together an impressive drive to go from 8th on the starting grid to finish 3rd.
This is exactly what Schell needed. He had a great opportunity and he wouldn't let the fact he was driving a Formula 2 car keep him from taking full advantage of the situation. He had been an impressive result in spite of the fact he was a couple of laps down to Marimon. He had gotten everything he could from the A6GCM and was rewarded for the effort. Harry had some confidence and momentum once again. He would need to do everything he could make sure he kept things going in his favor.
One of the next races on the calendar would not be in Schell's favor. While there would be a number of smaller non-championship races throughout Europe and England, the third round of the World Championship would also come up toward the end of June.
The third round of the World Championship for 1954 would be the Belgian Grand Prix. Taking place on the 8.77 mile Spa-Francorchamps circuit, the layout was all about one thing—speed. And going against Formula One cars with a Formula 2 meant there would be nothing but a disadvantage for Schell in the race. Therefore, he would not even put in an entry for the event. Instead, he would elect to wait.
Schell would wait. But unfortunately one of the next races on the calendar would be one the French-speaking American-Parisian just could not miss. However, it wouldn't be any more appropriate for his Formula 2 car than what the Belgian Grand Prix had been.
There weren't any non-championship Formula One races in between the third and fourth rounds of the Formula One World Championship. And Schell couldn't miss the fourth round of the World Championship. It was the French Grand Prix. Held on the 4th of July, the French Grand Prix would be held on the 5.15 mile Reims Circuit and was as much an ultra-fast circuit as Spa-Francorchamps. But it was the French Grand Prix. Therefore, Harry would have to take what momentum and confidence he had managed to build up after the race in Castel Fusano and would have to trust the race would still go well.
It would be a giant-sized miracle Schell was hoping in. Located to the west of the city, the Reims Circuit consisted of a little more than five miles of rolling French countryside. Generally featureless, the greatest feature of the Reims circuit would be its speed. With incredibly long straights, it was not at all surprising for average speeds to touch the 120 mph mark. Though generally featureless, the Reims Circuit was still a fan and driver favorite and it did offer some incredible sights. The long look down the sloping ground of the start/finish straight all the way back to the distant Thillois hairpin would have to be one of the most iconic images in all of grand prix history.
At the 1954 running of the French Grand Prix another icon would return to single-seater grand prix racing for the first time since before the outbreak of World War II. Juan Manuel Fangio had left the factory Maserati team and would go to Germany. Mercedes-Benz had developed a brand new chassis for the World Championship, the W196. And while this would be a much more friendly occasion, Germany would again be invading France. Along with Fangio came Karl Kling and Hans Herrmann. These three drivers would be hoping to provide Mercedes a successful return to grand prix racing.
Schell would come to the race not with a new, but an old car. While Mercedes were unloading their new Formula One chassis, Harry would be busy preparing, readying to make due with an underpowered chassis. But if things went right, he could pull off something special. But, a lot of things would have to go right and it would have to be the right time.
Things would be looking good for Mercedes after practice. Fangio would go on to set the fastest lap time in the new streamlined W196. His average lap speed would be around 123 mph and would cause Fangio to set a time that was a full second ahead of Kling in a second W196. The final position on the front row would go to Alberto Ascari, who would be driving for the factory Maserati team on loan from Lancia because the new D50 still was not ready.
Schell would be one of just two Formula 2 cars in the field. The only other would belong to Lance Macklin driving an HWM-Alta. And because Schell was driving a Formula 2 car it was not at all unsurprising that his pace compared to the other Formula One cars would be severely found wanting. He would have sincerely hoped it had better than what it actually had though. By the end of practice, Schell found himself on point going the wrong direction. Out of twenty-one entries, Harry would qualify 21st, dead-last. As a result, he would start from the ninth, and final, row of the grid, all by himself.
All twenty-one cars would be rolled out onto their grid positions in preparation for the start if the 61 lap, 314 mile, race. The cars would be rolled out on their grid positions under somewhat overcast skies, but at least the circuit was dry.
The roar of the engines would continue to ascend in anticipation of the start, and then, the flag would be waved to start the race. And just like that, all twenty-one cars would roar to life powering their way down the straight toward the Courbe de Gueux for the first time. Even before reaching the fast right hand bend, the two Mercedes of Fangio and Kling would be clearly out front leaving Ascari and the rest of the field behind. Meanwhile, at the back of the field, Schell would not catapult forward like some of the others. Being all the way at the back of the field, Schell would actually have to hold up a little while the rest of those ahead of him finally got going. Being in a Formula 2 car he was in no hurry to try and leap toward the front of the field precisely because he likely would not be able to stay there. Instead, he would have to be patient and trust the race would come to him just as it had in Rome.
Fangio and Kling would be out front on the first lap. Kling would actually have the lead over Fangio through the first couple of laps. But then Fangio would take over the lead and would hold onto it for the next 26 laps.
Ascari's poor getaway certainly looked suspect and it would become obvious he had a problem in the Maserati. His race would last just a little more than a lap. He would end up retiring from the race with transmission failure. The rest of the first 10 laps of the race would see a number of other competitors drop out just like Ascari. In all, five cars would be out in the first 10 laps of the race. At this rate, Harry could hope for more than a top five.
While the two Mercedes continued to run side-by-side and nose-to-tail lap after lap, a number of others would find their races come to an early end. Hawthorn would already be out when he would be joined by his Ferrari teammate Jose Froilan Gonzalez. Then, after 16 laps, Herrmann would be out in the third Mercedes. It was looking as if everyone in the field ran the risk of falling out of the race.
Unfortunately, that included Schell. After a splendid performance in the Gran Premio di Roma, Harry would not have Providence on his side on home soil. His race would come to an end after 19 laps. Fuel pump problems would ruin the day.
And as the day wore on, it could have been a great day for Schell had his car not run into trouble. As the laps continued to wind down so too did the number of competitors still running out on the circuit. A storm would break over the circuit making the course wet. But while no one would really suffer an ill-advised moment, the conditions would help propagate a number of problems. Even by the halfway mark in the race there were just eight cars still running. Eight out of twenty-one!
Unlike the previous year when it seemed the entire top ten was locked in a nose-to-tail duel for a majority of the race, the 1954 edition of the race would come down to a battle between just two cars, and they were teammates. Throughout the first half of the race Fangio held onto the lead of the race. However, over the last half of the race, the lead would swap hands between Fangio and Kling some eight times. The longest spell either of the two would have in the lead during the last half of the race would be Fangio and he would be 15 laps in the lead during the last half of the event.
Coming into the final couple of laps of the race, Fangio and Kling were trading out lead of the race just about every couple of laps, or less. Heading into the penultimate lap, Kling held onto the lead of the race, but there was a championship to consider. Fangio had scored victories at Argentina and Belgium. If he could score a victory at Reims, he would have the World Championship in a strangle-hold. Therefore, heading into the final lap of the race, Fangio would push his way by Kling to retake the lead of the race. The two would run nose-to-tail throughout the final lap of the race. The two would end up all alone coming out of the Thillois hairpin for the final time. And as they powered their way toward the finish line, Kling would line up beside Fangio for a truly demonstrative image at the end of the race.
As they crossed the line, just one-tenth of a second would be the difference. Fangio would take the victory with Kling in 2nd. Kling and Fangio would be the only ones on the lead lap of the race. Nearly forgotten in the chaos surrounding Mercedes' debut victory, Robert Manzon would bring his Ferrari home in 3rd place a little more than a lap behind.
It had been an incredible day for Mercedes-Benz, but it would certainly be a day to forget for the Frenchman. Schell's record on the European mainland for the 1954 season was not terribly good. And a retirement in his home race made matters worse. But there wouldn't be time to get too down about it. He immediately would have to pack everything up and head to his next race.
Schell's next race would come at a place that had actually hosted the French Grand Prix back in 1952. On the 11th of July, just one week after the disappointing result at Reims, Harry would be in Rouen to take part in the 4th Grand Prix de Rouen-les-Essarts.
The Rouen-les-Essarts Circuit would be similar, and yet, vastly different to Reims. While the two circuits would host the French Grand Prix as part of the World Championship, and while both Reims and Rouen consisted of public roads, the two circuits were as different as night and day.
Where the Reims circuit was relatively flat and featureless, the Rouen-les-Essarts circuit was anything but flat and featureless. Starting with a descent down into a small valley, the course wound its way along some rather fast bends before coming to the very slow Nouveau Monde hairpin. Coming out of the hairpin the circuit began to rise and would continue upwards dramatically as the circuit wound through Sanson toward L'Etoile. At the top of the rise existed a long straight that allowed cars to reach their maximum speeds before braking hard for the Paradis hairpin which lead back to the start/finish line. Set amongst the Foret du Rouvray in the Seine River valley the circuit was certainly picturesque and exciting for the fans and considered a favorite amongst the drivers.
The non-championship Grand Prix de Rouen-les-Essarts would be anything but a short race. At 95 laps and a total race distance of 301 miles, the race would be a real test of driver and car. And with a full stable of horses from Equipe Gordini and three cars from Scuderia Ferrari, the race would be anything but simple and straight forward for Schell still driving his Formula 2 Maserati A6GCM.
Only a third of the entire field that would make it to the circuit would be Formula 2 cars. That meant Harry would need a good deal of help if he had any desire of finishing well inside the top ten, let alone the top five.
It would not look good after practice. Maurice Trintignant would take his Ferrari 625 and would set the fastest time in practice. His time would be 2:09.4. This would be eight-tenths of a second faster than Behra in 2nd place on the grid. The final position on the front row would go to Mike Hawthorn. Hawthorn's best effort would be a full second and a half slower than Trintignant.
By the end of practice, Schell would have seriously loved to only be a second and a half behind Trintignant. Instead, he would be eight and a half seconds behind. This meant Harry would start the race from the 10th position on the grid, which meant he would start the race from the outside of the fourth row of the grid.
Fourteen cars would line up on the grid in preparation for the start of the race. As the field roared away at the start of the race trouble would visit the field right away. Not only would Alan Brown fail to start the race, but Jean Behra and Mike Hawthorn would have a coming together during the opening stages of the race. In their haste to get restarted both Hawthorn and Behra would accept outside help. A push start was illegal, and therefore, would lead to the two men being disqualified from the race.
The first lap melee would allow Maurice Trintignant to open up a bit of a gap over the rest of the field. The gap would be further widened when Gonzalez retired after 16 laps with an engine failure. Meanwhile, Schell was carefully picking his way through the field and around the circuit. He would look strong throughout the first 30 laps of the race. But then, mechanical woes began to slow his progress. He would battle on but would end up being forced out of the race after 33 laps due to the mechanical problems making it impossible to carry on for the entire 95 laps.
Troubles all throughout the fourteen car field would allow Trintignant to escape with the lead and under absolutely no threat. Anchored by a fastest lap time just a half a second slower than his pole winning effort, Trintignant would leave the field behind, well…ahead. Before the end of the race Trintignant would have many opportunities to visit those still running in the race. In fact, Prince Bira would be the closest to him running in 2nd place but even he was a little more than a lap behind by the finish.
By the end of the race just seven cars were still running. Half of the field would run into mechanical woes or would be disqualified from the event.
Nobody would be able to keep pace with Trintignant's pace in the Ferrari. After a draining three hours, forty minutes and thirty-four seconds, Trintignant would come across the line to take the victory. Averaging a little more than 82 mph throughout the whole of the race, Maurice would have more than a lap in hand over Prince Bira at the finish. The gap would be significantly larger back to the 3rd place driver. Roy Salvadori would turn in a nice performance going from a 9th place starting position to 3rd by the end of the race. However, he would be more than five laps behind Trintignant at the end.
The race would prove to be another frustrating experience for Schell. Had his car continued on to the end of the race, given his talent and pace, he likely could have had a top five result. Instead, he would suffer yet another early retirement. His retirements well exceeded race finishes. This was not good given the fact the World Championship had kicked into high gear. In fact, the next round of the World Championship would be Schell's very next race.
Racing on the European continent had proven to be a losing affair for Schell. Therefore, it was a rather welcome thing to have to pack everything up and head to the English Channel coast in order to make the trip over to England. Getting off the mainland, psychologically, may very well have been just what Harry needed going into the last half of the racing season.
Since coming back from Argentina, Schell had only managed to score two race finishes. It had been an incredible 5th at Bari and a 2nd at Castel Fusano. But other than these two highlights, the return to the European mainland had been nothing but bitter disappointment. Traveling across the English Channel to England for the British Grand Prix would then be a welcome proposition.
On the 17th of July the Silverstone Circuit prepared to play host to the British Grand Prix for the seventh time. During World War II, the Silverstone Circuit actually served as an RAF bomber training base. Known as RAF Silverstone, the base would quickly become decommissioned at war's end and would lie dormant for a couple of years. But then, in 1948, the former airbase would be turned into a motor racing venue. It would be in that same year that it would host the British Grand Prix for the first time. However, it wouldn't be until the following year that the familiar 2.88 mile layout would be used. The first edition of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone would actually end up using portions of the perimeter road, as well as, portions of a couple of the base's runways. But then, in 1949, the layout would shift to the familiar 2.88 perimeter road.
Coming into the race, very little attention would be paid to Harry Schell, and rightly so. Not only was Schell struggling to complete races but the return of Mercedes-Benz at the French Grand Prix had everyone excited about the prospects of another dominant performance at Silverstone.
Schell would be one of the early entrants in the 90 lap race. Given race number 3, he would join thirty-two others to make up one of the largest starting grids a World Championship race had ever seen. And though he would be driving a 2.0-liter Maserati A6GCM, he would be just one of ten Maseratis that comprised the entry list.
The competition would be tough. Not only would Scuderia Ferrari bring three cars to the race but Equipe Gordini would bring three cars of its own. Then there would be Mercedes-Benz. They would bring just a couple of W196s to be driven by Juan Manuel Fangio and Karl Kling. It was an impressive field of international and local racers.
After his victory at Reims, Fangio took little time to tell the engineers how the W196 could be improved. One of the things he didn't like was the fact the sleeks fenders covered the front wheels which made it impossible for him to tell where the apex of the corners actually were. He would still complain about this as he took part in practice around the Silverstone circuit. Nonetheless, Fangio would still go on to set a new track record with an average speed greater than 100 mph. His pace around the 2.88 mile circuit would end up being a second faster than his fellow countryman Gonzalez. Britons Mike Hawthorn and Stirling Moss would complete the front row providing the British faithful some hope.
In contrast, Schell's best time around the circuit would be about seven seconds slower than Fangio's best. This would end up leading Schell to start the race from the fifth row of the grid, 16th overall.
The day of the race would see usual English weather looming over the countryside. The skies were overcast and there was a very real threat of rain. However, as the cars lined up on the grid the circuit was dry. This meant everyone could expect a furious pace before the rain settled in.
Gonzalez had taken the victory in the International Trophy race earlier on in the year, and as the race got underway to the tune of roaring engines and squealing tires, he would shoot into the lead. Stirling Moss would also make a strong move off the line and would be in 2nd ahead of Mike Hawthorn and Fangio. Schell would make a bold move off the line and would actually pushing toward the top ten before heading into Copse for the first time.
Gonzalez would lead through the first lap and even beyond. Moss would hold off Hawthorn through the early stages of the race but would soon give up the ground. Fangio, who had made a terrible start to the race, would finally recover and would pass Moss for 3rd and would begin stalking Hawthorn for his position as well.
As everyone pushed hard before the rain came, trouble would come to a number of the competitors. Six cars would be out before the race reached the 20 lap mark. Gonzalez carried on in the lead of the race without any trouble whatsoever. Schell continued to carry on but certainly wasn't pushing as hard as he was capable.
Hawthorn would soon lose his 2nd place to Fangio. However, almost as soon as he took over 2nd he would give it back and them some. The visibility problems were becoming quite obvious to every onlooker. Routinely almost, Fangio would hit oil drums placed to the inside of the corners. The contact with the oil drums would leave the front corners of either side of the car deeply battered. This damage and a gearbox issue would drop Fangio back down the order. Soon he would lose 3rd place and would be fighting hard just to stay on the lead lap.
Schell had given up his battle for the lead lap early on in the race. Gonzalez's pace early on was truly formidable. And heavy rain began to fall on the circuit. In the rain Schell would struggle even more but would continue to stay on the track and out of trouble. He was well back, but at least he was still running.
Gonzalez was truly dominant. Hawthorn was holding his own but was not able to challenge or concern Gonzalez. Coming around to start the final lap of the race, the field had been reduced to fifteen cars, although Horace Gould was more than an hour behind.
The International Trophy race back in May had been marked by periods of heavy rain and Gonzalez drove absolutely splendidly to capture the win in that race. It was the same circuit, and therefore, Gonzalez felt right at home. Of course he seemed right at home at Silverstone anyway. It would take Gonzalez two hours, fifty-six minutes and fourteen seconds to complete the race and take a truly magnificent victory. He had led from the very start and never looked worried, bothered or even challenged throughout the entirety of the race. Averaging nearly half a mile and hour faster per lap, Gonzalez would enjoy an advantage of one minute and ten seconds over Hawthorn at the finish. Late troubles with Moss' car would promote Marimon to 3rd.
Schell would find leaving the European continent to be a good move. He would end the race unfortunately 7 laps down but he would still manage to finish the race. His end result would be 12th overall. He would be 4th amongst the Formula 2 cars in the field.
Finally, Schell made it through to the finish of a race. It had been more then a month but he finally had another. He would hope this would be a good sign for the later-half of the grand prix season. A better indication of the direction he was headed would come over the course of the next couple of races.
The races were coming in rapid succession. The very next weekend, the weekend of the 25th, would see Schell take part in his next race. After making it through to the end of the British Grand Prix, Harry would gather his equipment and his car and would head back across the Channel to France. Upon arriving at the coast, he would still have a long trip ahead of himself. Back on French soil, he was practically at his next race. Landing near the same beaches that were the site of the Normandy landings during World War II, Harry would arrive in Caen. He would be in Caen to take part in the 3rd Grand Prix de Caen, a non-championship race.
A key site from the days of William the Conqueror to World War II, some of the same sites from the days of William the Conqueror would provide refuge to city's inhabitants during the Second World War. The largest city in Lower Normandy, Caen would still be largely destroyed when it would come to host Formula One non-championship races during the 1950s. Filled with such incredible buildings as the Hotel d'Escoville, Saint-Etienne-le-Vieux Church, the Town Hall of Caen and the huge castle in the center of the city, it would be easy to understand why its inhabitants diligently went about reconstructing the city at the conclusion of the war.
A street circuit designed around La Prairie in the heart of the city. This circuit, measuring 2.19 miles in length, would run along what is now known as Cours General de Gaulle, Cours General Koenig and des Baladas before turning sharply onto Yves Guillou heading toward the start/finish line. Despite being relatively flat, the circuit was fast and featured some quick corners.
Caen, as one would expect, would draw a mostly French lineup of drivers and teams. Only ten cars would be on the entry list but only nine would actually arrive for the 60 lap race. Roberto Mieres had intended on taking part in the race but injuries would force him to give up the entry. In a field of just nine cars, Schell would find he was just one of two Formula 2 cars in the field. Equipe Gordini would bring three cars to the race while Scuderia Ferrari would lend just one token 625 for Maurice Trintignant to use.
Trintignant would use the car well. He would set the fastest lap in practice and would start the race from the pole. Stirling Moss and Jean Behra would be fighting it out for 2nd on the grid. The battle would come down to a matter of hundredths of a second and Moss would win. Schell would look impressive in his A6GCM. His best time around the circuit would be just a little over three seconds slower than Trintignant and it meant he started the race 5th, which was the third row of the grid.
The race appeared to have everything necessary to be an absolute classic. Two Frenchmen sandwiched a Brit at the front of the starting grid. Each one of the three was capable of winning. The fact that only four-tenths of a second separated the three of them would seem to say it all.
The mighty engines would roar, and then the flag would wave starting the 60 lap race. Trintignant would get a great start. So too would Moss and Behra. Sure enough, the three men would be running nose-to-tail and were actually pulling away from the rest of the field.
Schell, driving a Formula 2 car, would be right in the middle of the field at the start of the race but would have to fight hard to hang on to the spot. With such a few number of cars in the field it wouldn't have been all that surprising if Harry ended the race toward the back of the field. Of course, finishing would be fine with Schell.
Finishing would prove to be elusive once again. Jean Behra would last just 4 laps before a mistake would lead him to crash out of the race. The racing at the front had been extremely tight between Trintignant, Moss and himself. Therefore, making a mistake in such conditions would not be entirely unexpected.
With Behra out of the picture, Moss would feel free to pressure Trintignant with everything he had. And he would give him everything he had too. He would go on to set the fastest lap of the race in pursuit of the Frenchman. Moss would keep the pressure on, but it seemed Trintignant had an answer for anything Moss tried.
Schell continued to run well but it was clear he would not be challenging Trintignant or Moss at the front of the field. That really wasn't his concern but it certainly would be a welcome surprise. What wouldn't be a surprise, nor what would be welcome, would be more reliability issues. Unfortunately, sure enough, Schell would find himself with major problems. Just a few laps short of halfway the engine in the Maserati would not be right. After 24 laps, Schell would retire from yet another race. It would be found that the flywheel had problems that took him out of the running.
Harry wouldn't be alone. Besides Behra, Clemar Bucci and Robert Manzon would all end up out of the running before the end of the race. This left just five cars still running in the race. But even then there were really only two really doing any battle.
Stirling Moss would set the fastest lap of the race with a lap time of 1:25.7 at an average speed of more than 92 mph. Yet, in spite of the incredible pressure, Trintignant would answer with consistently fast laps. This would help to quench the fast laps from Moss. Trintignant would remain at the head of the field and would leave the rest trailing far behind in his wake.
Coming to the final laps of the race, Trintignant still held onto the lead, but Moss continued to apply the pressure. Moss would be the only pressure Trintignant would face all day. But it wouldn't be enough to unsettle the Frenchman. In one hour, twenty-nine minutes and one second, Trintignant would come through to take the victory. He had completed the 131 miles with an average speed of a little more than 88 mph and would eventually end up with a margin of victory of three and a half seconds over Moss.
Behind Moss, the gap back to the rest of the field would be even bigger. Jacques Pollet had been at the wheel of one of the Equipe Gordini T16s. However, after Behra's unfortunate accident, Pollet would hand his car over to Behra for the rest of the race. The damage had already been done with Behra's accident. He would end up two laps down but would still manage to salvage a 3rd place result.
A truly great opportunity would slip through Schell's fingers. With only five cars still running at the end, had he been one of the five, he certainly would have scored a top five, and, likely, could have done even better. But that is how things went for Schell to that stage in the 1954 season. He had plenty of opportunities but it was clear the Maserati was proving to be about as fragile as the Gordini he had driven the year before. In fact, he was experiencing worse results. And after all of the troubles he had been facing throughout the season Schell would have to do some hard preparation and praying heading into his next race.
The next race on Schell's calendar would take place at one of the most demanding and dangerous circuits in all the world. It had been originally built because the public road course that had been used to host motor races had been deemed too dangerous. However, what would be created amongst the Eifel mountains would have all of the same elements of danger and excitement but would somehow be deemed safer. To many the claim would be questioned. It would rightfully earn the nickname the 'Green Hell' as it was a never ending circuit of twists and turns, rises and falls and of dry and of wet. An epic journey each and every time around, drivers would experience everything in road course racing in just one trip around this 14 mile long beast. It was the Nurburgring and the infamous Nordschleife and the race was the German Grand Prix.
Held on the 1st of August, the 1954 edition of the German Grand Prix would be the fourth year for the race as part of the World Championship. The first year the race was added to the calendar was when the former Formula One regulations were in their final year. Of course that meant the following couple of years would see the race conducted according to Formula 2 regulations.
The Formula 2 years would see a number of German privateers take part in a World Championship race for the very first time. The first year the race was part of the World Championship calendar under the previous Formula One regulations only one German would take part in the race due to costs and a lack of competitive equipment. As the new Formula One regulations came into effect for the 1954 season the privateer German entries would be gone. However, the Germans still had a good reason to cheer and be excited about the race. For the first time since before the outbreak of World War II, the German Silver Arrows would be back in action on home soil defending a nation's honor. But instead of defending the honor of a dictator, the Mercedes-Benz team, in all its might, would be defending the honor of a nation that had been ravaged by war and was fighting, not for global domination, but for a reasonable semblance of existence.
Harry Schell, from a nation the German's rolled all over during the war, would now invade the German nation. But instead of coming with a tank, he would be coming to the race with a mere Jeep. His Formula 2 car certainly had been the chassis to have, but that time had already departed. He needing something newer, something better, something more powerful. Thankfully, however, to be fast around the Nordschliefe a driver needed nerves of steel a little more than outright horsepower. For a driver could have all the power in all the world and be absolutely scared to use it. And fear around the Nurburgring would certainly make a driver do something truly tragic.
And the 1954 edition of the German Grand Prix would be a truly tragic affair. During practice, Onofre Marimon, driving for the factory Maserati team, would be pushing hard and would be approaching the very fast downhill section of the circuit leading to the Adenau bridge. Coming around the fast left-hand bend just before the bridge he would lose control and would plow through some hedges that were the only source of stopping power along the side of the circuit. He would fall off the circuit and down over the hill. By the time his car came to a stop it was clear Marimon was dead.
Marimon was just one of five Argentineans in the field for the race. His lost would be taken hard by all of the Argentineans and the great majority of the drivers as well. Perhaps none would take it harder than Jose Froilan Gonzalez.
Fangio too would have a hard time with the loss of Marimon. He had promised Onofre's father he would look after his son while in Europe. Nonetheless, Fangio would put the pain aside and would end up being the fastest in practice to earn the pole for the race. Fangio's best time around the 14.1 mile circuit would be 9:50.1. This would be a little more than three seconds faster than what Mike Hawthorn would manage. Stirling Moss would complete the three-wide front row. His best time around the circuit would be around ten and a half seconds slower.
Over such a large course large variations and gaps in lap times would not be all that uncommon. Therefore, it would not be all that surprising when Schell, who was driving a Formula 2 car anyway, turned in a lap time thirty-eight seconds slower. Actually, Schell's time would be very impressive. He would end up being the fastest of the Formula 2 cars. And after the tragic death of Marimon and the withdrawals of Ken Wharton and Luigi Villoresi, Harry would find himself actually lying 12th on the grid despite actually being 14th at the end of practice. As a result of the happenings Harry would start the race in a very respectable position on the fifth row of the grid.
Surprisingly, as the cars were rolled out to the grid, the weather would be mild and dry, but everyone took any forecast with a healthy sense of doubt. The cars were readied on the grid. Ahead of them was the toughest 311 miles anyone could imagine. The crowd overflowed many sections of the immense circuit. People were hidden amongst the trees. Others would be hanging from them trying to get a better view. All wanted to catch a glimpse of the new Silver Arrows. Schell would just be happy with not seeing them at any time throughout the race.
Engine revs increased and then there would be the sudden bolt off the grid. Off the line, Gonzalez would be fastest and would actually hold onto the lead. But very quickly Fangio would take over the lead and would actually be at the head of the field as the first lap came to a close.
For a number of competitors just the first lap of the race would prove to be more than what the cars could handle. Moss would fade right from the very start and would be out of the race entirely after completing just a single lap. Andre Pilette wouldn't even have the honor of completing a lap before his race came to an end. Roberto Mieres and Mike Hawthorn's races would last just a little more than 3 laps before engine failure brought their day to an end. Thankfully for Schell, his Maserati continued to run without issue. Of course, Schell would have to balance between focusing hard on the circuit and focusing hard on the car so as not to do anything to give it a reason to have an issue.
Fangio would be in the lead of the race, much to the delight of the German faithful, but most would be more enamored with the performance Karl Kling was putting together in another Mercedes. Kling had started dead-last but would be pushing hard right from the start. Very quickly he would be inside the top five and would be pushing for even more.
Fangio continued to lead, driving effortlessly. He would make it look easy. But the pace was an absolute killer on the rest of the field. By the end of the 10th lap, the field had been reduced by nine and only eleven were still running out on circuit. Schell continued to avoid trouble and would actually continue to turn some fast laps that kept him well inside the top ten when half of the race was left still to be run. The best part of the whole thing was that he hadn't been paid a visit by Fangio, at least not to that point of the race.
Kling had made his way by Gonzalez and would take over the lead of the race for the 15th and 16th laps. Gonzalez was not feeling well. He was still visibly distraught over the loss of Marimon. Therefore, the Ferrari team would elect to call Gonzalez into the pits so he could hand over his car to Hawthorn for the rest of the race.
Meantime, Kling had overcooked his car in an effort to get up with the front-runners. He would come into the pits for service and would lose a fair amount of time in the process. This would hand the lead back to Fangio but Hawthorn would be back out there pushing hard to try and ruin Mercedes' bid for the perfect day.
Considering what Schell had underneath him, it was turning out to be a perfect day for him. The car continued to run on song and never appeared to be showing any signs of stopping. He was certainly fastest amongst the Formula 2 cars but just didn't have enough to haul in the Formula One cars ahead of him on the circuit. Therefore, he knew he just had to hold it together through the final few laps and he would have a desperately needed finish.
The Mercedes-Benz team were turning rather desperate themselves hoping their cars could make it to the end, and hopefully, take the victory. But they really didn't need to worry with Fangio at the wheel. Known for his touch with a race car, Fangio would keep the Mercedes going right through to the final moments. After three hours, forty-five minutes and forty-five seconds he would come across the line to take the victory. He would be greeted with an incredibly delighted and overly jubilant German crowd. Mike Hawthorn would do well in relief of the grieving Gonzalez. He would cross the line in 2nd place. He would trail a minute and thirty-six seconds behind Fangio. Maurice Trintignant would complete the podium finishing five minutes and eight seconds behind.
The day would prove to be joyous for no one really. Thoughts would quickly pass to the loss of Marimon. The loss would even overshadow Schell's day. He would have real reason to celebrate were he to be in the mood. After such a roller coaster of a year, he would experience another high point as his Maserati would make it all the way to the end of the race. It would only be in the waning few laps that he would be visited by Fangio for the first and only time. In the end, Harry would finish the race one lap down in 7th place.
It was a tremendous result for Schell. He had taken on the toughest, most-demanding circuit in the world with a car that had been showing itself to have suspect reliability, and yet, he would put together a truly impressive performance. He would be the highest finisher amongst the Formula 2 cars and would actually end up beating a couple of Formula One machines on top of it all. It was a sad, and yet, great weekend for Schell.
In spite of the good result at the Nurburgring one thing that was becoming clear over the course of the roller-coaster of a season. That one thing was the simple fact that he was trying to compete with an underpowered Formula 2 car. This put tremendous strain on the aged and underpowered car and was likely a good reason for the up and down season. Harry needed a Formula One car and he knew it. Thankfully for Schell, he would be offered to drive one in his very next race.
The 1st International Gold Cup race would take place on the 7th of August and it was clearly attracting a number of top competitors, and not just from England. A number of international teams and privateers would put in entries for the race. Schell would be one of them.
Harry had an entry for the 36 lap race with his Maserati A6GCM. This was not looking, however, like a profitable expedition to take. The cost of the trip, plus the fact there were a number of international teams entered for the race, meant there was a strong likelihood he was not going to place much inside the top five if everything went well. But not everything had been going well. Confidence certainly had to be spotty after the season Harry had been experiencing. Not surprisingly then, he would not make the trip back across the Channel and to Oulton Park. But he would give his A6GCM one last opportunity at success.
Instead of heading north across the English Channel, Schell would head southeast over the Alps. His final destination would be back along the Adriatic Coast. He would be making his way down along the coast to Pescara. For on the 15th of August Pescara would welcome the 23rd running of the Circuito di Pescara.
Unlike the Nurburgring, which was a purposely-built torture test, Pescara would be one of the few remaining throwbacks to the golden era of grand prix racing. The circuit was purpose-built for only one thing—life. It would be a mixture of all kinds of public roads. It would be a mixture of city streets, fast rolling countryside and precarious tight bends through the surrounding hills. Measuring 15.96 miles in length it would be the longest circuit many of the drivers would see, in their entire lives even.
Although the race took place on Italian soil, the team from Modena would come with a surprisingly light cavalcade. The only entry Ferrari would have in the 255 mile race would be Umberto Maglioli. But with Equipe Gordini, Equipe Rosier and a couple of cars entered under the Maserati factory name, the field would consist of some very talented racers.
Once again, Schell would be just one of a couple of Formula 2 cars entered in the race. And in practice, with the circuit boasting of straights measured not in feet but miles in length, the obvious power shortage would come to hurt Schell's starting position on the grid. The fastest in practice would be Stirling Moss in a Maserati 250F. And while it would look like Schell's A6GCM, it would certainly have more power at its beckon call. This would show in Moss' lap time of 10:23.0. Robert Manzon would end up claiming a front row starting position after turning in a lap time twenty-one seconds slower. Clemar Bucci would complete the front row setting a time a little more than a second and a half slower than Manzon. Fifty-three seconds would be the difference between Moss and Schell. As a result, Harry would star the race from the third row in the 8th position overall.
The first arduous lap would get underway. Just one of the 16 laps would be like five or more at other circuits. This would be deceiving as a number of competitors would fall out within the first couple of laps. And while it seemed as though they would only complete one or two laps, the actual mileage completed would be quite a bit more. Nonetheless, Manzon, Moss and a few others would all be out before the 5th lap of the race.
The trouble would throw the door wide open. And Luigi Musso would take advantage of it. Starting the race from the 5th position on the grid, Musso would soon find himself in the lead of the race, but he wouldn't be able to take it easy.
Prince Bira would start the race from the 9th place position on the grid but would be absolutely flying up through the field. He would go on to set the fastest lap of the race and would do his best to keep the pressure on. Of course, with a circuit measuring nearly 16 miles, a gap of a minute or so would be considered close.
Schell would also benefit from the trouble suffered by the others and he would be on an upward trend. He would follow Bira's progress up through the field and would be just a matter of minutes behind him. This was truly impressive considering Bira was driving a 250F and Harry was at the wheel of his A6GCM.
Like the long distance sportscar races, the gap between competitors wouldn't be a matter of seconds but of miles and minutes. Musso had taken over the lead of the race rather early on and just kept his head down the whole way. His steady driving would earn him in the victory. Averaging nearly 87 mph, Musso would have nearly three minutes in hand over Bira. Schell's Maserati held together and ran nearly perfect throughout the 16 laps. He would drive home to a delightful 3rd just short of four minutes behind Bira.
The race for Schell would truly marvelous. He would fight hard every mile of the race and would be reward for the supreme effort. Amazingly the car held together and seemed strong throughout. It would be one final highlight for the A6GCM.
The result at Pescara was a follow performance to the German Grand Prix that Schell hoped and prayed for, but it was clear to be truly competitive he would need to move up to a Formula One chassis. On the 22nd of August, one week after the splendid race at Pescara, he would get his first opportunity to drive one of the new 2.5-liter machines.
At the Swiss Grand Prix Schell would enter the race driving for the Maserati factory team. He would take to the wheel of a rather special 250F. Fangio had used the very same car to take victory in the Argentine and Belgian Grand Prix. It would then be used by the double World Championship Alberto Ascari at Reims. So the car had been driven by champions and had proven to be a champion. Schell couldn't have asked for a better car to give him his first taste of the new Formula One machines.
After the Swiss Grand Prix, however, Schell would come back to reality. Noted for his French patriotism, Schell would travel nearly to the middle of nowhere in order to take part in his next race. Out amongst the rolling farmland of southern France rests the small village of Cadours. 2.55 miles of undulating public roads to the northwest of the village made up the Cadours Circuit. And on the 12th of September these roads would host the 5th Circuit de Cadours.
The Cadours Circuit was a popular venue during the late 1940s. Despite its small size, the village of Cadours had come to host a number of large sporting events and demonstrations, but it was the hope of Louis Arrivet to host a grand prix near the village. By 1950, the Cadours Circuit was beckoning some of the best France had to offer. Unfortunately, the circuit would also take one of the best the nation had to offer. In 1950, Raymond Sommer would be killed at the circuit.
The Circuit de Cadours event would consist of two heat races and a final. Each of the heat races would be 15 laps in length. The final would be 30. The field would, not surprisingly, be mostly French, but there would be a couple of foreign entries as well.
Schell would be listed in the second heat. He would have the opportunity to watch Jean Behra battle with Andre Pilette, Louis Rosier and others. The starting grid for either heat would not be known. But what would be known was that, in the first heat, Jean Behra and Andre Pilette would be locked in a serious duel. But they wouldn't be alone. Louis Rosier had been having one of his worst seasons on record. Despite having a Ferrari 500, reliability issues would cause him to retire from a number of races. However, by Cadours, he had come to purchase a Maserati 250F and he was keeping right there with Behra and Pilette.
The three would leave the rest of the field, which were Formula 2 cars, well behind. The fight would be between them and it would be intense. Only three seconds would separate the three coming to the finish line. But at the line it would be Behra taking the victory with Pilette just one second behind and Rosier three seconds back.
Schell's heat would see him prepare to do battle with Fred Wacker, Fernand Navarro, Michael Young and a couple of others. In spite of the fact he was back behind the wheel of his Formula 2 A6GCM, Schell would still be considered one of the favorites in the heat despite the fact there was Wacker with a Gordini and Navarro had a Ferrari 625 for his use.
Sure enough, Schell would be strong in the heat race. He would have the lead and would fight hard to maintain it over Wacker. Wacker would keep the pressure on Schell but as the heat wore on, Harry would begin to inch out a larger lead. Schell and Wacker would fight hard enough that the two would leave the rest of the field behind.
Straining toward the line, it would be Schell taking the victory by three seconds over Wacker. Then there would be a pretty lengthy wait before Fernand Navarro came through to finish in 3rd.
Instead of finish time determining the starting grid positions for the 30 lap final, another round of qualifying would be in order. Nine cars would comprise the final grid, but unfortunately, the actual starting positions are something of a mystery.
What would be obvious, however, would be the fact the race would not go well for Schell. Heading into the final, Schell had to be considered one of the favorites despite going up against Behra and his Formula One Gordini chassis. But while he may not have had a chance at victory, he likely could have score a top five, or better, finish. As the race unfolded, Schell would have been just happy with finishing.
Problems started right away for many. Marcel Balsa and Jean Thepenier would be out within the first few laps. Then Jacques Cazalot would have brake failure thereby ending his race. In contrast, Behra would be out front pushing hard with Pilette taking up the chase once again. Rosier would also be there but was obviously not pushing like he had been during the first heat.
Schell would have liked to push hard to give himself a chance at scoring a top result. However, it was not to be. The rear axle on his Maserati would fail during the final and he would be forced out of the race. Yet again, promise would go right out the window because of poor reliability.
Jean Behra would be in formidable form in the final. Despite being matched by Pilette for the fastest lap of the race, Behra would be so consistently fast that Pilette would have no chance at catching and passing Behra for the lead. Therefore, after fifty-eight minute and forty-nine seconds, Behra would come through to take the victory. Fourteen seconds later, Pilette would come through to give Equipe Gordini a wonderful one-two. A minute and six seconds further back, Rosier would hang on to finish 3rd.
The weekend would be another frustrating and bitterly disappointing experience for Schell. He was fast and certainly was capable of competing for a top result, but reliability would again prove to be his Achilles heal, but not for long. The race at Cadours would end up being the final race for Schell's Maserati A6GCM in 1954.
The grand prix season was rapidly winding down. Only a couple of races remained. The first of these last couple of races in Europe would be a non-championship race, but it would be an important one nonetheless. Therefore, toward the end of September Schell would pack up his new Maserati 250F, the same one that Fangio and Ascari had used earlier in the year, and would head across the English Channel just one more time. Once in England he would head to Liverpool. His destination was the Aintree Racecourse. For on the 2nd of October Aintree would host the 1st Daily Telegraph Trophy race.
It would be fitting that a place known for horsepower would welcome the best in motor racing horsepower. It was a truly intriguing pairing. Famous for such names as Becher's Brook and The Chair, the Grand National, perhaps more than any other horseracing, identified with grand prix motor racing. Not an oval and a severe test of stamina, the Aintree Racecourse reflected the very heart of grand prix racing. What's more, the layout for the racecourse lent itself almost perfectly to being a site for both forms of racing. And in early October, instead of a thunderous heard of four-footed animals descending upon the track it would be a field of roaring machines. And yet, the similarities were endless.
The race would attract a number of international teams and drivers. Missing, however, from the field would be the Mercedes-Benz and Scuderia Ferrari teams. They would elect to forego the event. Nonetheless, the field would be filled with strong competitive drivers all armed with formidable Formula One machines. But now, Schell would be one of them.
In practice around the 3.00 mile circuit, Stirling Moss would prove to be fastest. His best time of 2:03.6 would be nearly a second and a half faster than Jean Behra's best effort. Mike Hawthorn would make it two Britons on the front row setting a time in the Vanwall two and a half seconds slower than Moss.
Schell would like the power offered to him by the 2.5-liter Maserati 250F. He would take full advantage of the power and would turn in some impressive lap times in practice. His best effort would be just under five seconds slower than Moss but would earn him the 4th, and final, spot on the four-wide front row.
In all, nineteen cars would be rolled out onto the starting grid in preparation for the 17 lap, 51 mile, race. The grandstands, which were the same for the Grand National, would be full of excited spectators tensely waiting for the start.
And as the field roared away, a tremendous battle would ensue right at the front of the field. Moss would be up front with Behra and Hawthorn all over him. Schell would also be right there enjoying his new Maserati so much.
At just 17 laps in length, the pace would be fierce. But surprisingly, attrition during the race would be much less than what many would have thought. In fact, the greatest threat to anyone's race seemed to be right up front. The battle between the top four would be hotly contested and fierce.
Stirling Moss was proving to have just that little bit extra. He would pull out a little bit of an advantage, but it still wouldn't be all that big that he could relax in any way. Behra would fight hard throughout but would run into trouble. Eventually, he would fall out of the race altogether with clutch failure. Schell, however, had new life with the 250F and would be all over Hawthorn in a battle for 2nd place.
The fight between Hawthorn and Schell was certainly very entertaining for the spectators. The two would run close to each other throughout the race with never more than a couple of car lengths in between them. Schell kept the pressure on Hawthorn each and every lap. This would end up allowing Moss to escape into the distance a fair bit, but the pressure applied by Schell would only inspire Hawthorn all the more. And so, while Hawthorn wouldn't be able to escape Schell's grasp, he would also prove fast enough to keep Schell behind him.
Schell had to be careful himself. Sergio Mantovani would be only a couple of seconds behind throughout the race. This would make for a truly exciting race from beginning to end. Of course, the overwhelmingly British fans would be more than pleased when Moss would forge ahead to take the victory.
It would take Moss just thirty-five minutes and forty-nine seconds to complete the race distance. And by the end he would manage to pull out a fourteen second advantage over the battlers for 2nd place. The duel for 2nd would come right down to the final corner and the last portion of straight leading to the finish. Heading into the final corner, Hawthorn held onto the lead, but by only a couple of car lengths. Schell would need to make one last attempt if he wanted the position. But there was literally nothing he could do. Hawthorn had gone toe-to-toe with him and had countered everything he threw at him throughout the whole of the race. Nonetheless, Schell would come across the line a second adrift from Hawthorn in a well-deserved 3rd place.
The true talent and pace of Schell was finally unleashed having the power of the Maserati 250F at hand. Finally, in the last stages of the season, Schell's true potential would begin to come to light. Going head-to-head with Moss and Hawthorn, Schell had proven he was more than capable. He truly had new life. The confidence was palpable. It would be like an enchained animal set free and allowed to run. And he would have one more opportunity to do some more running.
It had been a season full of ups and downs. But here, at the very end of the season, Schell's chances were seriously looking up. The 3rd place following Moss and Hawthorn at Aintree certainly was a sign of that fact. But it was October, and there was only one major grand prix remaining in Europe. It was the Spanish Grand Prix, the ninth, and final, round of the 1954 Formula One World Championship.
It had been a long season. Starting all the way back in January, the Argentine Grand Prix would seem like a very distant memory as teams and drivers arrived at the Pedralbes Circuit near Barcelona for the 313 mile Gran Premio d'Espana.
Spain had been a host to grand prix going back all the way to the 1920s with the steeply-banked Autodromo de Terramar located down the road about forty minutes from Barcelona. This was an impressive circuit featuring something of a kidney bean shape and some incredibly steep banking in the corners.
The Pedralbes Circuit would first be used during the late 1940s and then throughout the first half of the 1950s. It would be similar to the Terramar circuit despite being a true road course while the Terramar circuit was an oval. The one thing the two circuits had in common was the average speed. Although the 3.91 mile Pedralbes Circuit utilized city streets to make up its layout the layout would include streets that had many lanes for traffic. Therefore, the circuit was incredibly wide for a street circuit layout. This would allow driver to carry a lot of speed through the corners thereby increasing the overall average speed around the circuit.
All of the major players would be present and accounted for for the final race of the Formula One World Championship. Not only would Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari and Maserati be at the race but Lancia would finally make its Formula One debut with its radically new D50. On a circuit such as this with his A6GCM Schell would have little reason to be confident. But with his Maserati 250F, he knew he could put together a challenge.
He would make that clear during practice. Twenty-one cars would end up qualifying for the race. Alberto Ascari would prove the Lancia to be quite fast as he would put together a lap of 2:18.1 to grab the pole. The difference would be a second between Ascari on the pole and Juan Manuel Fangio starting in 2nd. A further second and a half would be the difference to Hawthorn starting in 3rd for Ferrari. Proving that he was full of confidence with his new car, Schell would surprise many by grabbing the 4th, and final, position on the front row. His time would be mere hundredths off of Hawthorn's time, but still it was a front row starting position. This was, by far, the best starting position Schell got to enjoy all year long.
Thousands upon thousands of fans would line the circuit ready to watch the final round of the World Championship on what was the 24th of October. The weather couldn't have been any better. It was sunny, mild and dry which meant the race would be fast, fast, fast.
As the cars were rolled out on the grid to prepare for the start of the 80 lap race they would be lined up on a grid looking down a long, long start/finish straight. This would give the field some time to sort itself out before heading into the hairpin turn leading onto the Cornella a Focas de Tordera. If Schell could make a great start off the line he would actually have a chance of leading a World Championship race.
Lined up on the grid awaiting the start, it was an incredible sight along the front row. Four different manufacturers occupied the top four positions. A real fight was looming for everyone and the spectators would be the real benefactors if everything went well.
The flag would wave and the race would be underway. To the amazement of all, Schell would get a great start off the line and would power his way down the long start/finish stretch before heading into the hairpin. At the hairpin, Harry would be clearly in the lead and would hold onto it throughout the first few turns of the first lap. A long train would develop behind Schell. He would continue to hold on and rounding the last turn it would become evident Schell would lead the first lap of the race over Hawthorn and Ascari. Fangio would not get the best start and would actually not look that fast through the first lap of the race.
The real man on the move would be Trintignant. He would start the race 8th but would quickly find himself up the road ahead of Fangio and trying to track down Ascari. Meanwhile, Schell would lead the 2nd lap of the race as well and would be looking incredibly strong against some of the greatest drivers in Formula One history.
Harry was fighting hard and was proving himself to be capable. But he was holding back a Juggernaut. Finally, on the 3rd lap of the race, Ascari would get around Hawthorn and Schell to take over the lead of the race. However, Harry wouldn't immediately give up. He would continue to fight and would stay right behind Ascari lap after lap.
The pace would already take a toll on some of the competitors in the field. Robert Manzon and Luigi Villoresi would both exit the race after completing just 2 laps. Manzon's engine would blow up while brake issues would obviously end Villoresi's day.
Ascari would lead the race over the next seven laps. However, on the 10th lap of the race he would withdraw to the pits with a clutch problem. This would hand the lead of the race back to Schell. He would hold onto the lead for a lap but he would find himself trying in vain to hold back a charging Maurice Trintignant. Trintignant obviously wanted the lead and would take it, but Schell was enjoying the view at the front of the field and would not give up the fight so easily. This would set up an incredible duel between the true Frenchman in Trintignant and the American-Parisian Schell. Over a period of ten laps these two would swap the lead some nine times. The racing between the two would be phenomenal and truly entertaining to behold.
Their pace would be brutal. Jacques Swaters, Jean Behra and Stirling Moss would all fall out of the running during this time. Juan Manuel Fangio would also fall back out of touch with them.
The lead going back and forth as it was would put tremendous pressure on both Schell and Trintignant. The pace would end up causing problems with Trintignant's car and would force him to slow his pace. But while Schell would lose Trintignant, he would regain his battle with Hawthorn. Unfortunately, the constant battling would end up getting the better of Harry. While in the lead of the race he would spin his car and would lose a lot of time. He would end up losing out on the lead of the race but would also fall back behind Fangio on the circuit. This was a setback but if he recovered himself and focused a great result was still on the table for him.
But then the final blow came. After having completed 29 laps, rear axle problems would arise with his 250F. He would find out really quickly that he could not carry on with the problem and after an incredible early part of the race, Schell would have to retire from the last round of the World Championship, the last race of his season.
The race would take a huge toll on the field. The pace around the fast street circuit would lead to a number of mechanical problems that would claim no fewer than twelve competitors. Heading into the final 10 laps of the race, only nine cars would still be out on the circuit still running.
After Schell's and Trintignant's departure from the race, Hawthorn would find himself in the lead with clear track ahead of him and a pretty clear track behind him. Hawthorn would not look back but would keep his head down. But he really had things well in hand. Fangio had fallen back holding onto his 3rd place. Luigi Musso was now in 2nd but was more than a minute behind.
Hawthorn would drive steadily and fast. He would stay out of trouble and would experience great reliability from his 553. Heading around on the final lap of the race he knew he had things well in hand. Just a couple of laps beforehand he had put Fangio a lap down and would certain of his advantage over Musso. Therefore, Hawthorn would just cruise around on the final lap and would take the victory in the final round of the World Championship. Luigi Musso would be contented with a 2nd place result finishing a minute and thirteen seconds behind. Fangio would actually come across the line ahead of Musso in time but would be a lap down in 3rd.
In spite of the retirement from the race, Schell would have good reason to be encouraged and pleased. He had shown himself more than capable of fighting with the best in the world. And if he avoided mistakes, and would enjoy some reliability, he had confidence in the fact he could put together a podium-worthy performance. It really wasn't a bad way to end the season, especially given the retirements he had suffered over the course of the season.
The 1954 season, on a whole, would be difficult to score for Schell. He had earned a number of incredible results, and mostly driving an older, underpowered Maserati A6GCM. However, those successes would be largely off-set by the numerous retirements he experienced, and often at races where he had a good chance of earning a top result.
Nonetheless, Schell still proved he was one of the talented drivers in the field. This would never be more evident than when he actually had a 2.5-liter Formula One car at his disposal. And while the 1954 would draw to a close with Schell only having a Formula One car for use at less than a dozen events, he would be in a much stronger position heading into the 1955 season.
When it was all said and done, Schell enjoyed two top ten performances at the Argentine and German grand prix and, of course, had the lengthy period in the lead in the Spanish Grand Prix. Once again, however, Schell had proven his prowess as a driver taking inferior machines and making them perform to a level that would earn him good results, and the good results came when he was able to secure the use of an Italian Maserati.