TeamsScuderia Milano: 1951 Formula One Season By Jeremy McMullen
Few names in Formula One's early history are so well known, and yet, not, as Scuderia Milano and its founder Arnaldo Ruggieri. Scuderia Milano was one of only a couple of teams that had been on either side of the 'pond'.
Luigi Villoresi competed in the 1946 Indianapolis 500 in a Scuderia Milano Maserati 8CL and finished the race 7th. Most other grand prix teams of the day stayed in Europe. Scuderia Milano; however, was just as involved in Europe and practically stayed on the continent during the years right before Formula One came into existence. Of course, costs played a part in that decision.
In 1950, Formula One's first season, Ruggieri purchased two 4CLT/50s and had them modified. They became known as the Milanos. Mario Speluzzi incorporated the de Dion axle to the rear of one of the two and replaced the double stage roots supercharger with one single stage blower. One of the team's modified 4CLT/50s took part in three official Formula One races during the 1950 season. Felice Bonetto, driving the 4CLT/50 in the Swiss Grand Prix, was able to finish the race in the final points-paying position, which was 5th. This earned Bonetto two points toward the driver's championship that year.
The team had entered two other Formula One races that year, the French and Italian Grand Prix, and was forced to retire due to problems in both of them. Many other good teams and talented drivers went the entire season having not scored a single point. Bonetto's two points helped him to finish the championship 19th.
Coming into 1951, money had well and truly begun to run dry for Scuderia Milano. The team, though they needed money, had to run a limited schedule. The team's racing schedule was so limited that neither of the team's cars took part in a race until July of that year.
On July 1st, Scuderia Milano, with its driver Onofre Marimon, prepared to take part in the European Grand Prix, held at Reims, France. This was the fourth round of the Formula One World Championship. Twenty-three cars were set to start the race. Juan Manuel Fangio had the pole in his Alfa Romeo 159. Giuseppe Farina sat on the starting grid second in another Alfa Romeo. And Alberto Ascari started third for Scuderia Ferrari.
Scuderia Milano's driver, Marimon, was rather inexperienced, but, the team couldn't afford to hire some of the more talented and experienced drivers at the time. Despite his inexperience, Onofre was able to start the 77 lap race from 15th on the grid.
As all of the teams and drivers prepared for the race on the 4.85 mile public road course, a real concern amongst everyone was reliability. The day was sunny and incredibly hot. Keeping the highly tuned grand prix engines cool was an important, but a not so easy task. Sure enough, engine problems would begin to plague teams as soon as the race started. Unfortunately, it also plagued Onofre and Scuderia Milano.
The average speeds at Reims were quite high given the number of long straights. In addition to this, tight hairpin turns put extra strain on the engine and transmission as the drivers would push the cars hard to come out of its lower-rev range and push the car up to its top possible speeds.
The strain ended up being too much for Marimon's Speluzzi powered Milano (Maserati). On the second lap, Marimon's race came to an end. His engine had had all it could take. Juan Manuel Fangio would go on to take the win in Fagioli's car. Alberto Ascari would finish 2nd in Jose Froilan Gonzalez's Ferrari 375 and Luigi Villoresi would be able to finish in his own Ferrari 375 in 3rd.
The failure at Reims, and the costs of grand prix racing itself, caused the team to miss the next round of the Formula One season, which was the British Grand Prix.
While some teams were fighting for a championship, others were fighting just to continue to go racing. In those days there was still good prize money to be had at non-championship races provided the team was able to do really well. Therefore, with the absence of both Alfa Romeo and Scuderia Ferrari, Ruggieri's team entered the Grand Prix of Albi.
Albi was another high average speed venue. The race was set for 34 laps of the 5.56 mile road course. Similar to Reims, Albi's road course was made up of public roads and was laid out in a triangular pattern. This meant the course pretty much was comprised of three long straights broken up with sharp, hairpin turns.
Scuderia Milano had another driver for the race. The team would employ Brazilian, Chico Landi, to drive their Milano (Maserati)-Speluzzi. Although he had not faced any real competition, Landi had been able to prove himself as a capable racing driver back in his native Brazil.
Landi would prove that he did have talent. Chico's pace during practice was good enough to have him start the race from 7th on the grid. This put him in the middle of the three-car third row. Landi's time was seventeen seconds slower than that of pole-sitter Maurice Trintignant.
Maurice would lead from flag to flag. He would have an average speed of over 101 mph. Louis Rosier started the race 2nd and would finish 2nd. Louis Chiron started the race 8th, but, would be able to fight his way up through the field to finish the race on the final step of the podium.
Landi's race came to an end only a couple of laps away from the halfway mark when his Speluzzi engine began suffering from problems with an oil pipe. Once again, the team entered another costly race and earned nothing but the need for more expensive repairs.
Money and the need for repairs caused the team to take a break and not enter the next two grand prix race on the calendar, which was the Pescara Grand Prix and the Grand Prix of Bari. Surprisingly, the Italian team did not even take part in the Formula One event in its home country. Instead, Scuderia Milano took what little money it still had and prepared for the last round of the Formula One season, which was the Spanish Grand Prix.
The Spanish Grand Prix was held at the end of October in 1951, and it took place under some truly oppressive conditions. Despite being the end of October, the weather was more like the middle of summer. The air and track temperatures were incredibly high. The conditions were going to take a toll of the cars and the drivers.
The race took place on the 3.9 mile Pedralbes street circuit, near Barcelona, Spain. The two major championship contenders sat one and two on the starting grid. Ascari had the pole and Fangio sat 2nd. Another Ferrari 375 driver, Jose Froilan Gonzalez, would start 3rd.
For the first time all season long, Scuderia Milano had brought two cars to a race. Once again, the team had new drivers. This time, the team had two Spaniards for its drivers. Juan Jover was one of them. He was one of those drivers who earned rides through his wallet, more so than through his talent. The team's other driver was a rookie. His name was Paco Godia.
Despite being less experienced than Jover, Godia was able to out-qualify his teammate, although it wasn't much of an accolade. Godia would start the race 17th. Though not something to get too excited about, what was impressive about Godia's performance was that he had done it in the team's early '49 model Maserati 4CLT. Jover qualified 18th.
Although the team had brought two cars to the race it was down to one before it even began. Despite being a street circuit, Pedralbes actually was a high speed circuit. When combined with the incredible heat, the track could truly bite. This happened to Jover. His race never happened as his engine decided it didn't even want to attempt to do the 70 lap race distance. This left Scuderia Milano's hopes for at least one good result squarely on the shoulders of its rookie driver. While he would not end up anywhere near the points, he didn't disappoint either.
In many respects the race was decided before it even began. The incredible heat virtually handed the title to Fangio in his Alfa Romeo simply because of tire choice. Fellow Argentinean Jose Froilan Gonzalez ended up finishing 2nd, over fifty-five seconds behind. Giuseppe Farina finished 3rd, a minute and forty-five seconds behind.
Paco Godia would end up being the last car running. Ten seemed to be the number for him as he ended up ten laps down to Fangio and finished in 10th place. Paco's debut, while not spectacular, given the equipment he was driving, was respectable.
At the end of 1951, Scuderia Milano had contested two rounds of the Formula One World Championship. Out of the two races, the team only had one car finish one race and scored no points and led no laps.
Because of its poor results and financial difficulties, Scuderia Milano withdrew from the Formula One World Championship in 1952 and would only briefly appear again in 1953. Unfortunately, the team, like so many in Formula One's history, lasted only for a moment and then vanished, only to be reminded of in pages of auto racing history. Scuderia Milano