TeamsEcurie Rosier: 1954 Formula One Season By Jeremy McMullen
Ever since the very beginning of the Formula One World Championship in 1950 Louis Rosier had been one of the most potent of the smaller privateers. Scoring World Championship points in the first two years of the World Championship, the Formula 2 years of 1952 and 1953 would see his Ecurie Rosier team earn a number of top ten results, but no points. But heading into the 1954 season the team looked poised for a comeback to its place of prominence amongst the smaller teams and privateers.
Rosier had started race well before the Second World War. His time in the Resistance during the war would prove to be a testing ground in its own right. Working under cover and always on the edge psychologically, Rosier would be used to living life one moment, one day at a time.
After the war's end, he would return to racing. The dawn of the 1950s would shine bright as he would win the 24 Hours of Le Mans with his son (still the only father and son combination to have won the French classic).
1950 would also see the beginning of the Formula One World Championship. And between 1950 and 1951 Rosier would earn a number of top ten results in a Talbot-Lago T26C. His best results would be a couple of 4th place finishes at the Italian Grand Prix in 1950 and the Belgian Grand Prix in 1951.
The Formula 2 era would see Rosier compete with a privately entered Ferrari 500, one of the few to have the dominant car for their use. He would use the car to great effect but with the dominance of Ferrari and the rising ascendancy of Maserati the best Rosier would manage to gain would be a number of top ten results.
Change awaited for 1954 but Ecurie Rosier seemed more than prepared. The era of Formula 2 in the World Championship had come to an end. New Formula One regulations would come online at the start of the 1954 season.
Ecurie Rosier appeared to be in a very strong position. Not only would they still have the Ferrari 500 for their use. But they would also be online for a Ferrari 625. The Ferrari 625 conformed to the updated Formula One regulations, which included a 2.5-liter engine.
In addition to the cars, Rosier would also have a potent driver lineup. Not only would he be driving but Robert Manzon would be hired to drive for his team as well. Robert Manzon had been with Equipe Gordini throughout 1950 all the way up to 1952. However, in 1953, Manzon had grown tired of the fragility of the Gordini chassis and left the team. This would be Rosier's gain.
While not all of the pieces were in place, Ecurie Rosier would leave European shores at the beginning of the new year and would head across the South Atlantic to Argentina. The team would head to Argentina to take part in the first round of the 1954 Formula One World Championship, the Argentine Grand Prix, but would also take part in another non-championship race while there as well.
The first Argentine Grand Prix, held the year before, had been struck by tragedy when a young boy wandered onto the track in hopes of getting a better view. What he would get is an eye-full of Giuseppe Farina bearing down on him. Farina would swerve to miss the boy. And when he did, he would lose control of his car and would plow into spectators assembled along the circuit. Many would be killed. Farina would physically escape with very little other than some scraps and cuts. Therefore, the first proper round of the World Championship would be mired in tragedy. Everyone would be hoping the follow-up Argentine Grand Prix would be a much safer affair.
Ecurie Rosier would arrive at the Autodromo 17 de Octubre and would begin unloading its cars. The team would unload its Ferrari 500. Interestingly, the team would also have a Ferrari 625 to use for the race but it chassis number would be ‘5'. This actually was a Scuderia Ferrari chassis that would be used by Ecurie Rosier for the race. Besides the car not exactly being Rosier's, the second driver would also not be Manzon. Another Frencman, Maurice Trintignant, would take to the wheel of the Ferrari 625 while Rosier would drive the Ferrari 500.
Eighteen cars would begin to roll out onto the 2.42 mile circuit number 2 at Autodromo 17 de Octubre for practice. And although there would be a lot of question marks surrounding Ferrari at the end of the 1953 season, especially with the fallout between Enzo and Alberto Ascari, Ferrari would do very well in practice. Giuseppe Farina would prove to be fastest around the circuit with a time of 1:44.8. Just one-tenth of a second would separate himself from Jose Froilan Gonzalez, Farina's Ferrari teammate. Juan Manuel Fangio would break up the Ferrari dominance slightly qualifying 3rd in a Maserati 250F. However, the final front row grid position would go to the third, and final, Ferrari pilot Mike Hawthorn.
Maurice Trintignant, driving the same car as Farina, Gonzalez and Hawthorn would perform well in practice. His best time around the circuit would be 1:47.7. This was just under three seconds slower than Farina but would be good enough for the Frenchman to start the race 5th from the second row of the grid. Having to make due with Formula 2 power, Rosier would be off the pace a bit during practice. His best lap time in the 2.0-liter Ferrari would be nearly seven seconds adrift and would lead to Louis starting the race from the fourth row of the grid in the 13th position.
Sixteen cars would be rolled out onto the grid in preparation for the 87 lap, 211 mile, race on the 17th of January. And as the cars were rolled out to their grid positions the skies were overcast and certainly appearing to want to drop some rain. Nonetheless, the engines would roar to life and would then come to a crescendo as the field roared away at the start of the race.
Farina had the lead from the very start but he would be closely followed by Fangio and Hawthorn. Gonzalez would make a poor start and would be doing everything he could to get up to pace and begin to attack.
The first couple of laps would click off with Farina holding onto the lead ahead of Fangio and Hawthorn. However, by the 3rd lap of the race problems began to arise amongst those in the field. Unfortunately, the first to run into problems would be Rosier in his Ferrari 500. After just 2 laps brake failure had come upon Rosier's Ferrari. This would lead to him being the first to retire from the race. Thankfully for the team, Trintignant was still running and running well.
Trintignant had managed to hold station from the start and was not too far behind the front-runners. Gonzalez would make up for the poor start and would be soon challenging Hawthorn and Fangio for their positions behind Farina. He would dispatch both on the same lap and would be threatening to take over the lead of the race by the 15th lap.
Gonzalez would do just that. He would remain at the front of the field when a sudden down pour soaked the circuit. By this point in time the field had already been reduced by three. But when the rain fell, all chaos would break out all over the circuit. Gonzalez would spin off the circuit and would recover, but not before losing a lot of time in the process. The rain was so bad for Farina that he would decide to stop to get a visor. About that same time, Hawthorn would spin off the circuit. Just like that, Fangio was in the lead. Trintignant had been running well but had faded slightly. When the weather came he would further slip down the order slightly, but he would still be running in a very solid position.
The solid position for Trintignant would end up improving. After the early rain storm Trintignant was well back. Fangio was in the lead but was losing ground once again due to the track drying out. However, he would no more be caught and passed for the lead by Gonzalez and Farina that another rain storm descended upon the circuit. In the wet, Fangio was the master of the field and he would retake the lead. Farina would hold on over Gonzalez. Hawthorn would end up spinning off the circuit once again. Jean Behra would also spin off the circuit. Both of them would end up being disqualified from the race for receiving outside assistance in the form of a push start. This would promote Trintignant into 4th place, a very comfortable 4th place.
Heading into the final 10 laps, or so, Trintignant was still running out on the circuit and was still running strongly in 4th place. He had a lap advantage over Elie Bayol. But even closer behind Trintignant was Fangio. There was nothing Trintignant could do on this day. Fangio was just faster than him. Therefore, Fangio would go on by putting Trintignant a lap down. Nonetheless, the team was on par for its points-paying result in over two years.
Despite the sun coming out to shine toward the last portion of the race, Fangio would be too far ahead to be caught by Farina. He was the Argentinean hero and it was the Argentine Grand Prix. The sun was obviously shining for a reason. After three hours and fifty-five seconds Fangio would come across the line to a chorus of frenzied Argentineans cheering and shouting his name. A minute and nineteen seconds would be his advantage over Farina at the finish. The Argentineans would have further reason to celebrate as Gonzalez would come across the line earning the final spot on the podium. He would be just over two minutes behind Fangio.
In spite of Rosier's misfortune very early on in the race, it still had been a good day for the Ecurie Rosier team. Trintignant would benefit from the rain and some mechanical problems to come through in 4th place. Although a lap down to Fangio, he would enjoy a lap advantage of his own over Bayol in 5th.
The season started out the way Rosier had hoped for. While he would not make it to the checkered flag, his team would still come away from the first round of the Formula One World Championship with 3 points. This was certainly a result upon which to build the rest of the season. It would certainly build the team's confidence. And that would be obvious at the very next race.
Thankfully, the Argentine Grand Prix wouldn't be the only race teams could take part in after having traveled all the way across the Atlantic. After the Formula One World Championship race on the 17th, the Autodromo 17 de Octubre, and the same 2.42 mile number 2 would host a Formula Libre race. The 10th Gran Premio Cuidad de Buenos Aires would take place on the 31st of January and would feature many of the same teams that took part in the Argentine Grand Prix, but it would also boast of some other talented teams and individuals like Alfredo Pian, Francisco ‘Chico' Landi and others.
Once again, Ecurie Rosier would enter two cars in the race. Trintignant would again be behind the wheel of chassis ‘5' while Rosier would be driving Ferrari 500 chassis number ‘186-F2'.
If Trintignant had a good starting position for the Argentine Grand Prix, then his starting position for the Formula Libre race would be even better. Once again Farina would prove to be the fastest in practice and would take the pole. And, as before, Gonzalez would start from the 2nd position on the grid. Fangio would be slower during practice this time. This would allow Hawthorn to make it a clean sweep of the first three positions on the starting grid for Ferrari. Technically it would be four-straight.
Trintignant would look very strong in practice. Having more time behind the wheel of the Ferrari he was able to improve and certainly feel more comfortable. This would pay off with a 4th place starting spot, the final position on the front row. Unfortunately, the rest of the starting grid is something of a mystery, but it wouldn't be all that unfair to assume that Rosier had started further down on the grid.
The race would be nearly as long as the Argentine Grand Prix. At 65 laps, the race would be another early test for the Ecurie Rosier team. And once again, Louis Rosier's Ferrari 500 would fail the exam.
Louis would be one of the first out of the race. However, Trintignant looked good fighting against the other Ferraris of Farina, Gonzalez and Hawthorn. But he would still certainly need a break to turn the opportunity into success, especially after Giuseppe Farina turned the fastest lap of the race.
But fastest laps mean absolutely nothing if the one setting the fastest lap isn't able to make it all the way to the finish. And this would be Farina's problem. His car would break and would force him out of the race, at least his car. He would then take over Gonzalez's car for the remainder of the race but would lose a lot of time in the process. Mike Hawthorn would fail to make it to the finish when his engine let go.
Therefore, Trintignant would be in the lead of the race and would have a comfortable margin on the rest of the field. Still, Trintignant couldn't take it entirely easy. Farina was back on track and would be pushing hard to regain what he had lost.
Nine cars remained running as the final lap got underway. Trintignant would look solid. He would be steady and would be precise as he circulated the track for the final time. Coming through the final left-hand bend toward the finish line, it would be another great day for Ecurie Rosier. The team had lost one of its cars but its other would hold on to bring home the victory for Maurice Trintignant. A little under thirty seconds later, Roberto Mieres would finish in 2nd place driving a Formula 2 Maserati A6GCM. Giuseppe Farina would push hard in Gonzalez's car but would come up short. He would finish the race in 3rd, some eight seconds behind Mieres.
While bitterly disappointing for Rosier, all would be forgotten when Trintignant came across to take the victory. The team had traveled a great distance and had been rewarded for its journey. Brimming with confidence, it was time to pack everything up and head back across the Atlantic to Europe to begin preparations for the start of the grand prix season on the continent.
There would be quite a long wait in between races for Ecurie Rosier. In many ways, the season would start all over again, instead of it resuming. After the race in Buenos Aires on the 31st of January it wouldn't be until the 11th of April before the next race would come up on the calendar. Ecurie Rosier's Ferrari 500 would be at that race, the Gran Premio di Siracusa. However, it would not be Ecurie Rosier entered as the team. Robert Manzon would gain use of the car to use in the race and would enter it under his own name. No, the next race for Ecurie Rosier wouldn't come for another week.
Only a little more than 300 miles from where Rosier was born, Ecurie Rosier would be in Pau, France for its next race of the season. The event was a non-championship race. The Pau Grand Prix, one of the oldest grand prix in the world, would take place on the 19th of April and would be a three-hour endurance race.
As the team arrived home from its trip to South America it would soon receive its own Ferrari 625. Therefore, instead of using chassis ‘5', the team would get a new chassis. Its number would be '54-1'. It and the team's Ferrari 500 would again be unloaded and readied for the tough Pau Grand Prix.
The site of the very first grand prix, the Pau Grand Prix, though not originally called that, would undergo a number of changes over the years. The very first race would be much more like a cross-country rally. Taking place over 250 miles of road stretching all the way to Bayonne and back, it was a true road course. The routing would change over the years until the 1930s when it would be moved to Pau's streets. It would be at this time it would become known as the Pau Grand Prix.
Reminiscent of a Pyrenees version of Monaco, the Pau circuit consists of a number of tight hairpin turns and is, itself, quite tight given that the race takes places on the steep banks of the city overlooking the Gave de Pau.
While the field for the race would be rather small at only twelve cars, the competition would certainly be fierce. Scuderia Ferrari would bring three cars. Three other cars would be entered under the Maserati factory team name. Equipe Gordini would have four cars in the field. That left just two remaining cars and they would belong to Ecurie Rosier. Robert Manzon would now be the second driver along with Louis Rosier. Due to burns suffered in Sicily, Mike Hawthorn's replacement at Ferrari would be Maurice Trintignant.
This would be a great move for Trintignant as he would end up being second-fastest in practice. Giuseppe Farina would continue to be fast earning the pole for the race. Despite having less power, Manzon would end up being the fastest Ecurie Rosier driver in the field. He would start the race from the fourth row of the grid in the 8th spot. Louis Rosier, despite having 2.5-liters at his disposal, would end up being the slowest. He would start 12th, dead-last in the field.
Although the race was a three-hour timed event, the laps would go by quickly given the 1.72 mile circuit length. This meant a long day of racing nonetheless and it would be very easy to lose concentration and make a mistake.
As the field tore away from the grid, everyone would make it through the first few laps without any problems. But despite Farina's pace in practice, Jean Behra would be the one that was looking the most impressive during the race. He would continually apply pressure at the front of the field.
Problems would come after a half a dozen laps. Harry Schell's rear axle would fail on his Maserati taking him out of the running. Then, 10 laps later, trouble would find one of the Ecurie Rosier cars. Manzon had been the best starter for the team, but after 16 laps his race would be over with gearbox failure.
Behra's race up at the front would be tough on the rest of the competition. Farina would fade over time. Gonzalez would retire after just 24 laps due to crankshaft failure. But Behra's wasn't so much a product of himself as much as the intense pressure he was continually under from a former teammate, Trintignant. These two would continually lap the circuit nose-to-tail and even closer than that. This would be what left the rest of the field broken, or, well behind.
One of those well behind would be Rosier. And while he was already more than a handful of laps behind coming to the end of the race, he was still actually running, which was more than could be said for a number of the other favorites.
The greatest battle on the circuit would be the battle for the lead. Behra and Trintignant would fight it out every single one of the remaining laps. There would be no let up. It was a great battle between two French drivers in the old French race. The French spectators would be enthralled by what they were witnessing.
Coming out of the final esses and down the start/finish straight for the final time, anything but who would win was decided. Behra had an incredibly slim advantage over Trintignant and it was growing ever-slimmer as the two approached the line. After three hours and 109 laps the race would come down to these two. And at the line…it would be Behra beating Trintignant by a margin of just two-tenths of a second, about half a car length! Everyone else was just coming in for the show. Roberto Mieres would finish in 3rd, albeit some three laps down. Rosier would be five laps down when it was all over. But that would matter little as he would finish the race in 6th.
Finally, Rosier had finished a race; an important race on top of that. He had driven a steady race and enjoyed a car that had the reliability he needed. And while, for the third time in a row, the team would have one car fail and one car succeed, it would be an important race as it would help to keep the team's confidence and momentum rolling forward.
Onwards the team's season would go. Though Rosier was something of a regular in major races on English soil, he would not send a single car across the Channel to take part in the Easter Monday races at the Goodwood Circuit. Instead, Ecurie Rosier would wait until the month of May before it took part in another grand prix. Then, on the 9th of May, the team would be in the wine capital of the world, Bordeaux. They would be there to take part in the Bordeaux Grand Prix.
Under Roman rule around 60 BC, the region around Bordeaux would be better known for its tin and lead than its wine. But its place in history, especially in French history, would be undeniable. A place of great contestation, Bordeaux's importance would never be in doubt. Even during the Second World War the city would be an important base for German U-boats that would take part in the Battle of the Atlantic. However, at war's end, the city would return to much more tranquil pursuits. But then that would be interrupted when the grand prix cars arrived.
As with many circuits of the day, the Bordeaux Grand Prix would take place right in the heart of the city, just like at Pau a couple of weeks prior. The influential part of Bordeaux rests on the west side of the Garonne River. And it would be on the west side the race would take place.
The race would draw similar numbers to Pau but the numbers within the teams would be quite different. The factory Maserati team wouldn't even have a car in the field. Scuderia Ferrari would only have two. Equipe Gordini would again have four. But the remainder of the field would consist of privateers, with the exception of Ecurie Rosier.
The team would arrive at the race again with two cars. Rosier would be back to driving the Ferrari 500 while Manzon would be at the wheel of the 625. This would give Manzon, who was clearly the fastest amongst the team's two drivers, the best chance at a great result.
It would certainly seem likely to pay off after practice. Manzon's best time around the 1.53 mile circuit would be 1:23.6. This time would be just three-tenths of a second slower than Prince Bira, but this would still be fast enough to keep Manzon on the second row of the grid in the 5th position overall. The front row would look like this: Trintignant would continue to look impressive for Ferrari. His lap of 1:21.8 would earn him the pole by three-tenths of a second over Gonzalez. Jean Behra would occupy the 3rd, and final, spot on the front row. His time would be half a second slower than Gonzalez. Louis Rosier, a former winner of the race, would also enjoy a rather strong starting position considering his was driving a 2.0-liter machine. He would start the race from the fourth row of the grid, 10th overall.
As the race began, the circuit was already wet. Of the front row starters, Behra and Gonzalez would be the only ones to actually make a descent start of things. Stirling Moss would be even better. So too would Elie Bayol. The running order at the front of the field would be entirely thrown upside down. Manzon wouldn't actually start all that well either but wouldn't be that far behind either.
Peter Whitehead would be the first out of the race, but once again, Rosier would struggle in the 500. He would end up being the second out of the race after completing just 9 of the scheduled 123 laps.
Although Rosier would be out of the running, Manzon would be doing his best to keep in touch with those at the front. Gonzalez would start to come into his own in the wet conditions. He would get even faster as the track began to dry out. He would go on to set the fastest lap of the race and would firmly take over the lead of the race.
Behra's race would be over after 34 laps when gearbox failure brought his race to a premature end. Elie Bayol, who had started out really well, would fade and would be a number of laps down to the front runners.
Behra's retirement allowed Manzon to take over 2nd in the running order. During the early stages of the race Manzon had managed to get by Trintignant in the wet conditions. The two had been teammates at Gordini until last year, but both would be enjoying Ferrari 625s for the 1954 season.
Manzon would be strong in the 625. Not only would he get by Trintignant early on in the race but he would continue to gradually pull away as well. But compared to Gonzalez, Manzon would come up short.
Gonzalez would be magnificent in the wet early on and would only have to hold on toward the end. After 123 laps, and 188 miles, Gonzalez would power his way down along the Garonne for the final time. He would cross the finish line to take the victory. He would complete the race distance in three hours, five minutes and fifty-five seconds at an average speed of a little more than 60 mph. Forty-six seconds later, Manzon would bring home the Ecurie Rosier Ferrari in 2nd place. This would be an incredible result after starting the race 5th. Trintignant would follow Manzon by nineteen seconds.
Yet another great race for Ecurie Rosier. A podium finish would do so much to build momentum and confidence within a team already running pretty strongly. Now if the team could just get both cars to the finish they would really be in a strong position.
The tough races just kept coming. After the 2nd place scored by Manzon at Bordeaux the team would have to quickly pack everything up and head north. Once arriving at the English Channel coast the team would continue north to England for the first time. They would then carry on until reaching Silverstone. They would be heading to Silverstone to take part in the 6th BRDC International Trophy race held on the 15th of May.
Listed in Edward the Confessor's Domesday Book, Silverstone would come to be of great importance during World War II and beyond. During World War II the rolling countryside would become RAF Silverstone and would a base for the training of RAF bomber crews. However, soon after being decommissioned, the airbase would begin hosting motor races. The British Grand Prix would be held there in 1948. But then, in 1949, the International Trophy race would be birthed at the circuit. And from the first moment Silverstone hosted the International Trophy race in 1949, the race would become one of the most popular races to take part on English soil.
The field would be large. Well over twenty entries would arrive for the race. But not all of the entries would take to the circuit at once. The International Trophy race consisted of two heat races and a final. Each of the heat races lasted 15 laps while the final was 35.
Louis Rosier would be listed in the first heat while Manzon would be in the second. Rosier, as was usual at the other races, would take part in the event driving the Ferrari 500. Manzon would obviously take to the 625.
As usual for England, conditions would not be all that great heading into the first heat race. In practice, Rosier's best time around the 2.88 mile circuit would be 1:58. This time would end up being just fast enough for Rosier to start the race 10th overall. He would line up on the third row of the grid along with Prince Bira, Leslie Marr and Jimmy Somervail. Rosier's best time would end up being a full ten seconds slower than pole-sitter Jose Froilan Gonzalez. He would be joined on the front row by Jean Behra in 2nd, Stirling Moss 3rd and Alan Brown 4th.
The cars would be lined up on the grid in preparation of the start of the heat. The rain would be heavy and the circuit would be exceedingly wet. In the conditions, Rosier would let his experience work for his benefit. He would take it easy, but would demonstrate good car control to actually move up the running order. Of course, Prince Bira would show himself quite comfortable in the wet conditions. He would jump from 8th on the grid to run inside the top three. He would be in a tight battle with Stirling Moss.
The most comfortable in the conditions would be Gonzalez. He would hold onto the lead from the very start and would only increase his lead as the race wore on. It would help that Behra faded due to the conditions along with Alan Brown. The presence of Bira would keep Moss occupied.
Aided by the fastest lap of the heat, in the rain, Gonzalez would fly to the victory completing the distance in thirty-one minutes and forty-nine seconds. Fourteen seconds would be the difference back to Prince Bira who would hold off Moss by a couple of seconds.
Louis Rosier would do well in the heat race. Not only would he manage to get the car to make it to the end of the heat but he would improve upon his starting position as well. By the end of the heat he would be running pretty much all by himself in the 8th position and would be a minute and forty-seven seconds behind Gonzalez.
The second heat would see Manzon go up against the likes of Trintignant, Reg Parnell, Roy Salvadori and others. In practice, Trintignant would be fastest for Scuderia Ferrari. The times would be tight, however, as Parnell would lose out on the pole by mere tenths. Andre Simon and Bob Gerard would complete the front row. Gerard would be something of a surprise seeing that he was driving a Formula 2 Cooper-Bristol T23. Manzon would struggle in practice. The conditions being what they were, Manzon would struggle to make his way to the 8th place starting position on the grid, which was the inside of the third row.
The second heat race would be quite different from the first. The weather would be quite a bit better. The track would also start to dry out quite well as the second heat cars roared away. Trintignant would have the lead and he would be chased by Parnell. Simon would be right up there but Gerard would almost immediately drop back. One that was not dropping back was Salvadori. Salvadori would start the heat 12th on the grid and he would immediately come up through the field to be running inside the top five. His progress forward would only be hindered by the progress of another.
Manzon had started the race from the 8th position but he too would make a great start and would like the drying conditions much better. He would fight his way up the running order and would soon be right up there with Simon looking for even more.
While Parnell and Trintignant disappeared into the distance, Manzon would manage to get by Simon and would set sail after the two. Just like that, the top three would consist of Ferrari 625 chassis. Salvadori would follow Manzon through and would be running in the 4th position.
The pace would leap upwards in the second heat. Chased by Parnell, Trintignant would turn in a fastest lap time of 1:57 at an average speed of 90 mph. This would help the two pull away from Manzon in 3rd.
At the end of the heat, it would be Trintignant crossing the line a minute and forty seconds faster than Gonzalez's time in the first heat. He would also cross the line six seconds in front of Parnell. Manzon would pull away from Salvadori over the course of the heat and would finish in 3rd place about forty-seven seconds back.
Finishing times would be important in the entirety of the race as they would determine final grid positions. This would spark some controversy amongst the Ferrari team. Apparently, right after the first heat race Gonzalez's engine would seize. But instead of taking over Umberto Maglioli's car for the final, he would take over Trintignant. And since grid position was determined not by the driver but by the car, Gonzalez would be promoted to the pole while Trintignant would be shuffled back to 6th on the grid using Maglioli's car. The rest of the front row included Reg Parnell in 2nd, Robert Manzon would start on the front row in 3rd and Roy Salvadori would complete it starting 4th. Since Gonzalez's car would not start the final, Rosier would actually start the final from the 13th position on the grid.
Each of the heat races had been tests, but at 35 laps on top of what had already been completed, the real test was about to begin. And as the field tore away from the grid, it would claim one of its first victims just 2 laps in. To the bitter disappointment of Ecurie Rosier it would be Manzon in the 625. Though starting 3rd on the grid, the transmission on the car would fail leaving Robert to sit the remainder of the final out. The team still had hope though as Rosier was still out there battling.
Gonzalez would be out in front and would be very quick in the dry conditions. He would soon turn in a lap of 1:50 and would put the pressure on everyone else. The pressure would end up getting to Parnell, Prince Bira and Stirling Moss before the race would be over. In fact, eight cars would either not start the race or would fail to finish.
Louis Rosier, however, was not one of them. Not only was he still running, but he was also climbing up the running order. With the exception of Roberto Mieres, Rosier would be the highest running Formula 2 car in the field coming down to the final couple of laps. He would run consistently fast laps and would only be a lap down coming to the end. He certainly had been driving an incredible race.
Gonzalez would look even better. Certainly enjoying Trintignant's car, Gonzalez would leave Jean Behra and Andre Simon behind and would power his way to a convincing victory. His average speed over the course of the final would be nearer to 93 mph, a 10 mph increase from his first heat pace. Jean Behra would be the only remaining car on the lead lap. He would finish the race a rather lonely 2nd some thirty-six seconds behind. Andre Simon would finish in 3rd a lap down.
It would be a great day for Rosier. Despite Manzon's retirement, the Ferrari 500 would work like clockwork and he would power his way to a 6th place finish just one lap down to Gonzalez!
Having a two car team continued to pay off. Once again, the team would fail to have both cars finish but the one still running at the end would more than make up for it. The team would have to be pleased after its performance in another tough race. But there would be absolutely no time for the time to sit around and enjoy it.
There was only one week, and over a thousand miles, between races for Ecurie Rosier. Therefore, the team immediately packed everything up and headed back south to the coast. Once back on the European continent, the team would hurry its way down the eastern coast of Italy to Bari. For in Bari would be held the 7th Gran Premio di Bari, a 207 mile, 60 lap non-championship race.
Positioned along the Adriatic Coast, Bari's old part of the city would feature such sites as the Basilica of Saint Nicholas, the Bari Cathedral and the Swabian Castle. One interesting aspect of Bari is the obvious influence numerous cultures have had on the city throughout its existence. This would make it a perfect site for a multi-national grand prix.
Truly a picturesque street circuit, the 3.45 mile Bari circuit would be located to the west of downtown but would be partially situated right along the coast, practically hanging out right over the Adriatic.
Although the field would be relatively small for the race it would be full of some very strong teams. Scuderia Ferrari, Officine Alfieri Maserati and Equipe Gordini would all bring at least two or three cars to the race. Ecurie Rosier would again bring its two Ferrari chassis. Manzon would again drive the 625 while Rosier would be at the wheel of the 500.
Jose Froilan Gonzalez would be enjoying his move back to Ferrari as he would again be fast in practice and would end up earning yet another pole-position on the season. Trintignant would be 2nd. Jean Behra would break up the Scuderia Ferrari monopoly on the front row of the grid when he managed to be third-fastest in practice.
Manzon wouldn't be far off the pace. His best effort in the 625 would net him a second row starting position and 5th overall. While it is not clear how well Rosier did in practice it is believed he would start from the 10th starting spot overall, which, of course, would be the fourth row of the grid.
At the start of the race Gonzalez would hold onto the lead over Trintignant. Marimon would be fast initially, as would Behra. Manzon would be going well off the start. Rosier, who had enjoyed a couple of nice race finishes over the last couple of races, would be starting out with a steady pace looking to move forward as the opportunities presented themselves.
Marimon would be fast right out of the gate. He would set the fastest lap of the race with an average speed of a little more than 89 mph. However, he would run into trouble and would end up falling back. This would leave Gonzalez in the lead with Trintignant giving chase. Behra continued to run in the 3rd position but was losing ground to the two Ferraris at a regular clip.
Sergio Mantovani would be the first out of the race. His race would end after just 3 laps. Ecurie Rosier had been flirting with trouble at each and every race. They would lose a car early but would manage to have its other car finish strongly. At the International Trophy race, Rosier had the opportunity to pick his team up after Manzon fell out of the running in the final. However, at just about every other race it was either Manzon or Trintignant bailing out the team while Rosier retired early.
At Bari, Rosier would again go out early. This would put the team's hopes squarely on Manzon. For a while, the team seemed safe to hedge its final bets on Manzon. However, just short of halfway, the house would take their last chip. The engine in the Ferrari 625 would blow up. Ecurie Rosier's race was over. They no longer had a leg to stand on.
Manzon's and Rosier's retirements would be lost in the background along with just about every other competitor out there on the circuit. This was because Gonzalez and Trintignant would leave everyone else behind. And by the last couple of laps of the race, just Jean Behra remained on the lead lap.
Gonzalez, averaging nearly 88 mph, would again be too tough for everyone else. He would come through to take the victory some seven seconds ahead of Trintignant. Behra would complete the podium finishing just over a minute behind.
For the first time all season long Ecurie Rosier had its two cars fail to finish a race. However, the team had been flirting with such disaster at every other race it had taken part in, and therefore, it certainly seemed to be just a matter of time before such a thing resulted. The unfortunate part of the whole thing was that the Formula One World Championship was set to resume in a matter of weeks. The team would need to recover from the setback and gain some momentum before taking part in their next World Championship race.
Thankfully for Ecurie Rosier there would be a few more weeks before their next scheduled World Championship race. In the meantime, there would be a number of non-championship races the team could choose to take part in order to help regain some momentum. Two weeks after the race in Bari there would be another important non-championship race in Italy. On the 6th of June, the 13th Gran Premio di Roma would be scheduled to take place on the Castel Fusano road course. It would be similar to Bari. It would be 60 laps of a 4.09 temporary road course that would end up covering a total of 246 miles.
The 1954 edition of the Gran Premio di Roma would take place on the 4.09 mile Castel Fusano street circuit for the very first time. Situated mere yards from the Mediterranean, the street circuit, not surprisingly, would be quite flat all the way around. Never varying any more than about thirty to forty feet all the way around, the circuit did have some shallow dips on curves that provided spectators with some interesting vantage points. But otherwise, it was a rather featureless circuit.
While the circuit may have been relatively boring, it was still Rome, and it would be a race any patriotic Italian would not miss. Not surprisingly, the entry list would be full of Italian cars and teams. Even Spa Lancia would be hopeful of making it to the race despite the fact their chassis continually faced delay after delay. But while the entry list would be filled with Italian teams a couple of the biggest names would not end up making it to the race.
Scuderia Ferrari would not arrive at the race because none of their cars would be ready in time for the race. Juan Manuel Fangio had also been on the list. But he too would not arrive. In fact, his entry would be withdrawn altogether. To top it all of, Alberto Ascari and Spa Lancia would also fail to make it to the race but that was not at all surprising to those within the sport.
All of this meant that as Ecurie Rosier unloaded their two cars, they would be considered one of the big teams in the race. The Maserati factory team would enter three cars under the Officine Alfieri Maserati banner. The Maserati team would be joined by Equipe Gordini who would only bring two of their cars to the race.
This would be a great opportunity for the team, especially Manzon. And in practice, it was clear Robert understood it all very well. Louis Rosier would also take advantage of the situation.
Onofre Marimon could not be overlooked as one of Maserati's entries. He would end up being the fastest in practice and would take the pole. However, Manzon would be a little less than two seconds slower and would end up starting right beside Marimon in 2nd. Manzon would beat out Moss by just one-tenth of a second while Jean Behra would complete the front row with a time seven-tenths slower than Moss. Louis Rosier would enjoy one of his best starting positions of the entire season to that point when he would start the race 7th and from the second row of the grid.
As the cars were rolled out onto the grid before the start of the race, Ecurie Rosier would be in a very good position. Both of their cars would be well inside the top ten. This would be the time the team would need to have both cars make it to the finish. If that were to happen, the likely great result would lead to an enormous wave of momentum to build for the team.
The field would peel away from the grid with Marimon out front and the rest of the field bunched up right behind him driving hard trying to get into a rhythm and jockey for position. Trouble would begin to strike the field right from the beginning. Two cars would blow their engine before even completing the first lap of the race. Three more engine failures would happen by the time the 5th lap had been completed. While this would be a little unnerving for Ecurie Rosier, they would still have their two cars out on the circuit running very strong.
Lap after lap, Rosier and Manzon were looking strong. Other favorites would end up retiring from the race giving them perhaps the best opportunity they would get all season long. And while Marimon continued to decimate the field, Manzon and Rosier were still online to get very good results.
Marimon was driving an incredible race. He was certainly in formidable form. And though he had the lead, his pace was such that he was going to win by default because everyone else would blow up and retire from the race. And heading into the final 20 laps, this was a scenario that wasn't far out of the realm of possibilities.
Just seven cars were still running on the circuit. Thankfully for Ecurie Rosier, two of the seven still remaining belonged to them. But just when it seemed the team would finally have both of its cars finish a race, and finish incredibly well, Manzon would pull out with steam just pouring from the under the car. The cooling had failed on his 625. His race was over. Once again, the team would be left with just one car to hope and pray for.
There really was only one car still running out on the circuit. Every other was just jogging, trying in vain to make it to the finish. Marimon would be heading into the final couple of laps with at least two laps in hand over the remainder of the field. Rosier would be on the same lap as Jean Behra, who had taken over Andre Simon's car, but Rosier wouldn't really press the issue all that much as a race finish was more important than racing, and perhaps, breaking.
Averaging 106 mph, Marimon would run away with the race. He would finish the race more than two laps ahead of Harry Schell in 2nd and Sergio Mantovani in 3rd. It was truly the best performance of Marimon's short career.
In many respects, Ecurie Rosier had blown their opportunity. Providence had seen them through and they managed to have one of their cars finish the race. But with Manzon starting 2nd, the team really should have scored better. So while the momentum would build, it would not have been the wave the team could have experienced. But it was time to move on.
It was now June. The team would leave Italy and would head back home. There would be a number of races, including the Belgian Grand Prix, in which the team could have taken part over the next few weeks. However, the team would not enter a single race for the remainder of the month of June. Of course, the 24 Hours of Le Mans would take place on the 13th and 14th of the month and Rosier and Manzon would be teamed together for Scuderia Ferrari driving a Ferrari 375 Plus. But it would have to be believed another reason why the team did not take part in any more races during the month of June was simply because of the trouble the team had been experiencing in its other races.
The team was consistently failing to get two cars to finish. In the last race Manzon had the best starting position only to have the car, the 2.5-liter car, fail on him. The team would need that car working properly to put together a proper assault for some championship points. Whatever the real reasons were, the team would not take part in another grand prix until the 4th of July and it would be another big race on French soil.
On the 4th of July, amongst the rolling countryside to the west of Reims, the French Grand Prix would be held. One year earlier, Reims would be the site of one of the greatest races in grand prix history. Many would return the following year praying for a repeat, but they would be blessed to witness something truly momentous.
Featuring long straights and a layout that boasts of average speeds well over 120 mph, the Reims circuit was one of a couple ultra-fast circuits on the Formula One World Championship calendar in 1954. It would also be the perfect site to unveil the speed of an entirely brand new car and the return of a one dominant team. Ecurie Rosier thought they would just have to deal with Scuderia Ferrari, Officine Alfieri Maserati, Equipe Gordini and a number of other swift privateers, but on that weekend in 1954 Mercedes-Benz would return to grand prix racing. Not only would the team come with a new car, the W196, but they would come with three of them and one would be driven by Juan Manuel Fangio.
It would be all the more clear the opportunity the team had lost back in Rome one month prior when seeing the vast sea of competitors heading out for practice. Fangio would show how fast the new Mercedes was as he would put the car on pole a full second ahead of Karl Kling in another W196. Alberto Ascari would be at the race as well driving for Maserati. He would complete the front row with a time just a tenth off of Kling. There would be very little difference in times between Manzon and Rosier. This would be rather disconcerting considering the power difference. Nonetheless, Manzon would start the race from the fifth row in the 12th position and Rosier would start right beside him in the 13th. Just one-tenth of a second separated the teammates around the 5.15 mile circuit.
As the cars were rolled out to their starting grid positions the skies would be becoming more and more overcast. Nonetheless, the circuit, at the time of the 2pm race start, would be dry and ready for the some truly fast racing. As the flag waved, Fangio and Kling would pull out an advantage heading into the first turn. This would be just a introduction to the way in which the race would go. Ascari would be left behind at the start and would soon be left out of the race altogether when his transmission failed after just one lap.
As Fangio and Kling traded the lead, many expected there would be a repeat of the incredible 1953 race between Fangio and Hawthorn. However, by the 10th lap of the race, Hawthorn would be out of the running. He would be just one of a number that would fall out of the race. In fact, ten would be out by the 20th lap.
The skies would then open up and the circuit would be soaked. But it would do very little to slow down Fangio or Kling. In fact, while everyone else would either run into trouble or just slow down, these two would just keep pushing as hard as they had from the very start of the race. Another that was thriving in the wet conditions would be Manzon. Despite curiously starting 12th, he woul ride the wave of attrition and the wet conditions and would soon find himself in the top five. If the car kept going he could expect to do even better. Rosier would also be amongst those still circulating the track.
It seemed as though the team would be in a position to experience their first race with both cars finishing, and this despite incredible competition. However, just after the 27th lap of the race, the Ferrari 500 would have enough of the incredible pace and would give up. Rosier would be out. However, over the course of the next 10 to 20 laps, Manzon's position would only improve.
Heading into the final couple of laps, Fangio and Kling maintained the lead and continued to swap it amongst themselves. They would have at least a lap advantage on those still remaining, which would be only four others. And while thoroughly dominated by Fangio and Kling, Manzon would be running an incredible race. He would find himself in 4th chasing Prince Bira. At a time he would have desperately wanted to slow and take it easy in order to ensure finishing the race, he just couldn't. Prince Bira was just up the road. And a possible 3rd awaited.
Kling would have the lead going around on the penultimate lap. But on the final lap, it would be Fangio in the lead. He would still have Kling right there with him but it was clear the team was thinking about the World Championship ramifications. Rounding the Thillois hairpin and powering down the long straight, Kling would pull abreast of Fangio and the two W196s would cross the line just a tenth of a second apart in a Le Mans-style finish, clearly demonstrating their dominance. The race for 3rd was far from over. Powering his way around on the final lap of the race, Prince Bira would notice that not all was well. And coming down the straight, his Maserati would begin to have pickup problems. His car was running out of fuel. Manzon, having never backed off, would be right there when the troubles arose and would power by to take an incredible 3rd, bearing Bira by just a second at the line!
While frustrating for the team, the race would be an absolutely joyous moment as well. On home soil, the team would pull off a podium finish and would earn four more points. In spite of the overwhelming competition, the team had come through to score its best result in the World Championship ever. Any momentum lost had been found, and the way in which it would happen would only give the team more confidence heading into their next race.
It would be good the team had its momentum rolling once again for the team's next race would come just one week after the spectacular finish at Reims. After the French Grand Prix, the team would head a couple of hours to the west to the Seine River valley and the Foret du Rouvray. Amidst the beautiful surroundings, the team would be there to prepare for the 4th Grand Prix de Rouen-les-Essarts.
Rouen-les-Essarts had served as the site of the French Grand Prix in 1952. Its mixture of beautiful surroundings, impressive elevation changes and a mixture of blind corners, fast sweepers and a slow hairpin would make the circuit a favorite for driver and fan alike.
Its popularity would draw many of the top teams and the 4th edition on the 11th of July would be no different. Scuderia Ferrari, Equipe Gordini and Ecurie Rosier would all be in the field along with a number of other privateers.
Maurice Trintignant would be quickest in practice. Jean Behra would be eight-tenths of a second slower and would start 2nd. Mike Hawthorn would make it two Ferrari teammates on the front row when he qualified 3rd. Fresh from his 3rd at Reims, Manzon would qualify 6th for Rouen. He would be just under four seconds slower than Trintignant and would start from the third row of the grid. Rosier would be nearly ten seconds slower and would start the race from the fifth row in 11th.
The 95 lap, 301 mile, race would get underway. Hawthorn and Behra had been close in practice times. This would cause problems on the first lap as the two would come together during the early part of the race. Both would end up being disqualified after receiving a push start. This, and Trintignant's sheer pace, would leave everyone well behind the Frenchman.
Trintignant would set the fastest lap of the race and would appear to have no problems while everyone else would have some kind of difficulty. Jose Froilan Gonzalez would drop out of the race as would Harry Schell. Both of the Ecurie Rosier cars remained in the race but there would be no surprise podium finish this day, not unless everyone else retired from the race. Rosier would be numerous laps down but would only be doing just a little worse than Manzon in the 2.5-liter 625.
Nobody had an answer for Trintignant. As a result he would blow through the 95 laps absolutely untouched. He would complete the race distance in three hours, forty minutes and thirty-four seconds and would take the victory by a whole lap over Prince Bira. Five laps would be the difference back to Roy Salvadori running in the 3rd position.
It was incredible. After keeping within a lap of Fangio and Kling in the W196, Manzon would struggle to keep up with another 625. He would finish the race in a rather lowly 7th some 15 laps behind. Incredibly, while the team would be absolutely blown out by Trintignant, this would be the one race in which both cars would finish. Rosier would complete his race and would finish in 8th. He would be 22 laps behind Trintignant.
The team would finally have its two cars finish a race, but it would be greatly overshadowed by exactly how far back the two finished. The team had to fight to finish, and had. But it was clear they were still a ways away from where they wanted to be. It was clear they had some issues. But unfortunately, they didn't have the time to really deal with them if they wanted to take part in the next round of the Formula One World Championship.
On the 17th of July, just one week after Rouen, the Ecurie Rosier team would be back across the English Channel preparing to take part in another Formula One World Championship grand prix. The race was the British Grand Prix and that meant the team would be back at Silverstone.
The last time the team had been at Silverstone it had been for the International Trophy race. In the final, they had Manzon poised 3rd on the grid. He looked due for a great result but it would not come to pass. And while Rosier would put together an impressive 6th place finish, the British Grand Prix would be a chance for the team to gain some retribution. And after the result in the French Grand Prix, it seemed possible.
Ecurie Rosier, of course, would be about the furthest from anyone's minds coming into the race. The dominance of Mercedes-Benz at Reims would have the crowd all abuzz. And during practice, Juan Manuel Fangio would show everyone why. He would go out in practice and would continually put together some incredible lap times. But not all was right. The sleek body of the W196 absolutely bothered the Argentinean and he could no longer see the apex of the corners. In spite of this, he would go out in practice and would set a new lap record and would be the first to average more than 100 mph around the 2.88 mile circuit. He would deservedly earn the pole, but he would have some tough competition on the front row with him. Gonzalez would start 2nd and he had won the International Trophy race back in May. Then there would be Mike Hawthorn in 3rd and Stirling Moss starting 4th, the darlings of the British faithful.
Manzon, rightly so, would be the fastest qualifier for Ecurie Rosier. He would start from the fifth row in 15th. While Manzon's starting position wouldn't be all that great, Rosier's would be absolutely terrible. He would join Alberto Ascari and Roberto Mieres on the ninth, and final, row of the grid. Rosier would start 29th.
As with every other World Championship round in which the team had taken part in 1954, the British Grand Prix would be set to go under overcast skies with a great threat of some rain. And as the field tore away to start the 90 lap race, Gonzalez would look to make the most of the dry track. He would break away first and would be clearly in the lead before the first turn. He would be chased by Stirling Moss and Mike Hawthorn, Fangio would make a poor start and would actually slow others up as he tried to get up to pace. And while Rosier would be carefully making his way from the very back, Manzon would find himself heading into Copse in a tightly-packed crowd.
Both Ecurie Rosier cars would make it through the first lap of the race and seemingly would be able to settle into a long day of racing. But that wouldn't happen. Like so many other times throughout the season, Rosier's car would last just two laps before the engine let go ending his race. One more time, the team would be down to one remaining car, and with more than a majority of the race still to go.
And for the second time on the season, the sole remaining car would not be able to come through. Manzon's race would last just 16 laps before a cracked cylinder block would bring about an end to his race. From then on, the team would be just like every other spectator assembled around the circuit.
And what everyone would witness was Gonzalez putting together an absolutely dominant performance, similar to that of the International Trophy race. While he pulled away at the front, Moss would try in vain to hold off Hawthorn. Fangio had finally gotten going and would pressure Hawthorn but a little further back was coming Onofre Marimon. He had started the race from 28th on the grid and would pass an incredible 19 cars just on the first lap alone.
Moss, like sixteen others, would retire late in the race, which would give Marimon a definite podium finish if he continued on. Marimon would not only be helped out by Moss, but by a number of others.
Gonzalez would lead but Fangio would make his way to 2nd. However, the blindness he was experiencing in the corners was absolutely giving him fits. Soon, the corners of his car would be utterly destroyed. On top of it all, gearbox problems would drop him back behind Hawthorn, and then, Marimon.
Gonzalez would not be concerned at all. He would be so far out front that he would just half to hold on through the rain during the middle part of the race. As the track began to dry out toward the end, he would continue to fly around the circuit enjoying every moment.
In spite of the fact Gonzalez would share the fastest lap of the race with six others, Gonzalez would be untouchable throughout the 90 laps and would cross the line to take his second British Grand Prix victory. A minute and ten seconds would be the difference to Hawthorn in 2nd. Marimon would be a lap down but would be twenty-seven seconds ahead of Fangio to take his first podium finish, a fine 3rd.
The troubles Ecurie Rosier experienced in Rouen certainly seemed to come to a head in Silverstone. It was the middle of the racing season. And just as it seemed the team was getting stronger, a weakness would ruin things. And of course, reliability obviously remained the team's biggest weakness.
The team would have another race a week after the double failure at Silverstone. Back on French soil, the team would arrive in Caen to take part in the 3rd Grand Prix de Caen. This non-championship race, set to take place on the 25th of July would be a 60 lap race covering a total of 131 miles.
The capital of the Basse-Normandie region, Caen would be a huge strategic objective for Allied forces during World War II. The second-largest port city next to Le Havre, by capturing the city the allies would have an important port from which further advances across the European continent could take place. Unfortunately, a good majority of the city would be destroyed in the process.
As with the allies, Caen would be a very important strategic objective for Ecurie Rosier given the failure over in England. Since the team would take part in the race just a week after a couple of engine blow-ups, it would be an important race to help the team's season to keep from going any worse.
Only nine cars would arrive for the race. It was another perfect opportunity, but the grid positions would not reflect that. Trintignant would be on the pole. A tight battle would ensure for 2nd on the grid. In the end, Moss would take the position beating out Jean Behra by mere hundredths of a second. Manzon would again be fastest amongst the team, but he would start from the fifth row in 7th. Louis would start the race dead-last in 9th.
Trintignant and Moss would be off the line well and would immediately become locked in a duel at the front. Their pace would challenge the rest of the field, and right from the very beginning. Moss would be all over Trintignant pushing incredibly hard and turning in the fastest lap of the race as a result. In spite of averaging a little more than 92 mph, Trintignant would manage to keep Moss behind him lap after lap.
The two would feel free to do battle after Behra exited the race after just 4 laps. A couple of others would depart from the race before Manzon would suffer yet another retirement. Perhaps explaining the poor pace in practice, engine timing would be blamed for the problem and Louis Rosier would again be called upon to carry the team.
Louis and Robert would spend nearly equal time bailing the team out of a bad situation. However, in the team's last race, both had come to naught. And Louis still had a lot of racing to go when Manzon retired after just 38 laps.
Trintignant and Moss would retire everyone else over the course of the race. The two would leave everyone else behind and would have at least two laps in hand over the entire field heading into the final lap. And despite Moss' intense pressure, Trintignant had proven to have the answer and would come across the line to take yet another victory. He would beat Moss by three and a half seconds. Jean Behra would take over Jacques Pollet's Gordini after his early retirement. He would drive strongly but would still finish two laps down in 3rd place. Louis would hold on to save the team. He would be the last car still running. He would end the race four laps down in 5th.
Rosier and Manzon had become quite adept in bailing each other out. Unfortunately for the team, each and every race would be an adventure. Instead of confidence, Ecurie Rosier could only be confident that one of their cars would fail to finish; which one was the adventure.
Once again, the races continued to come in rapid succession. On the 1st of August, just one week after the race in Caen, Ecurie Rosier would do its best impersonation of the allied march across into Germany. The team would arrive in the small village with a fearsome reputation. Nurburg, Germany would be the site of the next race on the calendar at it was the German Grand Prix. It would take place at the Nurburgring and the infamous Nordschleife.
Loved by very few and hated by most, the 14 mile long Nordschleife was quite simply the result of a perverse mind gone mad. Never ending, barely straight and always climbing and descending, it was perhaps the most demanding purpose-built road circuits in the world and it was understandable why most drivers only did the least required amount of laps around the 'Northern Loop'.
After not looking so good at Silverstone, the German Grand Prix would be very important for Mercedes. A sense of 'having to win' hung in the air around the team. Around Ecurie Rosier the air would be somewhat different. It would be more of a petitioning prayer asking for both cars to finish and none to fail. The team was a two car operation and it had been a good thing, or else, the team may not have earned the results it had if it was a single. But they entered two cars two have two great results. This is what they desired most of all and it had only happened just once.
Of course priorities would be put right after practice. When Onofre Marimon crashed and died in the fast downhill run toward the Adenau bridge, Marimon would lose control of his Maserati around a very fast left hand kink. He would plow through some hedges and would roll a number of times before coming to a rest. His death would be hard to take by many, especially by the Argentineans. It would overshadow an incredible performance by Fangio that would place the German car on the pole for the German Grand Prix. Mike Hawthorn would start 2nd while Stirling Moss would line up 3rd. Manzon's best lap time around the circuit would be 10:16.1. This would be twenty seconds slower than Fangio and would lead to the Frenchman starting the race from the fourth row of the grid in 10th overall. Rosier would struggle in practice. His best time would be nearly a minute slower than his teammate. As a result, Louis would start the race from the seventh row in 16th.
Surprisingly, one of the places that it was just a given for unexpected weather would actually provide Ecurie Rosier its first rain-free round of the World Championship. A long day awaited at the 2pm start of the race. The race distance would be increased to 311 miles, which meant an increase from 18 to 22 laps.
With an incredible crowd assembled, Gonzalez would take away the immediate honor from Fangio and the Mercedes team. However, at the end of the first lap, it would be Fangio leading the way. And since one lap of the circuit counted for two or more at other circuits it was worthy of note for Ecurie Rosier that both of its cars remained in the race running quite strongly.
The expected fight between Fangio, Hawthorn and Moss would not transpire. By the 4th lap of the race Hawthorn and Moss would be out of the running. But Fangio would still have Gonzalez giving chase. And then there would be Karl Kling. Kling had started dead-last but was fired up in the race. In a matter of just a couple of laps he would be running in the top three. He would then get by Gonzalez to make it a Mercedes one-two.
Trouble continued to visit a number of competitors. And while neither Rosier nor Manzon were battling it out at the front of the field, they were at least still running. In fact, Rosier would be ahead of Manzon heading into the final portion of the race.
Kling would push his car hard. He would end up taking over the lead of the race from Fangio but had taken too much out of his car to do so. This would make the team unhappy since there was no need to push so hard, especially since Gonzalez had turned his car over to Hawthorn for the remainder of the race as a result of still grieving for Marimon. Kling would hurt his car and would have to make a lengthy stop. This would hand the lead back to Fangio.
Once with the lead back in his hands, Fangio would not relinquish it again. He would drive a controlled and steady race. Speaking of steady, both Rosier and Manzon would have plenty of space around them in the waning moments of the race. Therefore, the two would take it easy to ensure the team would have both of its cars finish a World Championship round.
Heading to the line for the final time, Fangio would be all alone. Greeted to a rising chorus, Fangio would cross the line to take the victory for Mercedes. A minute and thirty-six seconds would be the advantage Fangio would have over Hawthorn in 2nd. Maurice Trintignant would manage to enjoy a 3rd place result. He would be a little more than five minutes behind. Rosier would enjoy an 8th place finish. He would complete the race distance a lap behind Fangio. Following a good distance back of Rosier, and a further lap down, would be Manzon in 9th.
While it would be the perfect moment for the team to break into celebration having both cars finish the race, the mood would quickly change and would be much more subdued in remembrance of Marimon. It was almost perfect. Marimon's death would provide the perspective. And worrying about one or two cars finishing would seem of little importance when just surviving such a circuit was certainly reason to celebrate in and of itself.
Having survived the threat of the Nurburgring the team had an entry in the 1st International Gold Cup set to take place on the 7th of August at Oulton Park. The pace of races had become a little too much. In order to make the race the team would have to pack up immediately and not just make it to the English coast. They would then have to travel a few hours northwest to arrive at Oulton Park and get ready for the race. The team had been very busy and not all was quite well with the team. On top of it all, they had just scored only their second two car finish on the season. They would certainly like some more time to better prepare their cars so they could repeat the feat. Therefore, the team would abandon the idea of racing on English soil at that time and would have a little bit of a break.
The break would be short-lived. On the 15th of August, just two weeks after their last race, the team would be preparing to go at it once again. The team would be back in Italy and back along the Adriatic coast. They would be taking part in the 23rd Circuito di Pescara, a race that would take place on the public road course even longer than the Norschleife.
Situated along the low-lying coast but with foothills off in the distance, the 15.96 mile Pescara Circuit would utilize every kind of geological feature the area had to offer. From fast, long, flat terrain to slow, hilly switchbacks, the circuit would be an amalgamation, a true road course.
Not surprisingly, the field for the race would be littered with Italian machines. In fact, the field would consist of just three Gordini chassis. The rest would either be Maseratis or Ferraris. The fastest of all of these in practice would be Stirling Moss in a Maserati 250F. He would take the pole by a margin of twenty-one seconds over Robert Manzon in the Ferrari 625. Yet again Manzon would have a great starting position. The question remained whether he would be able to take advantage of it or not. The final position on the front row would go to Clemar Bucci. His time would be a little less than two seconds slower than Manzon's best. Having a 2.0-liter engine, Rosier would be quite a bit slower. His best effort would be nearly fifty seconds slower than Moss and would lead to Louis starting the race from the third row in the 7th position.
The race distance was to be 255 miles totaling 16 laps of the immense circuit. And as the field roared away to start the race, trouble would also begin its haunt. Unfortunately, Manzon would be the first victim. After just one lap his engine would fail leaving yet another opportunity unfulfilled. Another four competitors would share the same fate. Attrition was no respecter of persons and that would be proven when Stirling Moss retired after 3 laps with a broken oil pipe. Just like that, before the 5th lap of the race, two-thirds of the front row would be out of the running. This would dramatically change the race.
Clemar Bucci would start the race from the 3rd position. And as Manzon and Moss would run into trouble, it would be not to unthinkable that Bucci would take over as the leader. However, he would drop off the pace and would find himself running amongst the tail-end of the field heading into the last couple of laps of the race. This threw the door to the victory wide open.
Proving attrition was no respecter of persons and a merciless player in each and every race, there would be absolutely no grace given the Ecurie Rosier team. All throughout the season the team had made its living on the edge relying on a single car to carry their hopes to the finish. However, on the incredibly demanding Pescara circuit, Louis Rosier would fall foul to trouble and would leave Ecurie Rosier's hopes totally unfulfilled.
With a totally wide open race, the real drama would be who would be able to take advantage, meaning who would take the lead and be able to carry it all the way to the finish. That one would be Luigi Musso. Starting 5th on the grid, Musso would keep himself out of trouble and would be in the lead of the race ahead of Prince Bira who had started 9th.
Bira would set the fastest lap of the race but on a circuit the size of Pescara, all Musso would have to do was hang on and not make any mistakes and his advantage would be more than enough to carry him to the victory. Sure enough, after two hours, fifty-five minutes and fifty-four minutes Musso would cross the finish line to take the surprise victory nearly three minutes ahead of Bira in 2nd. Harry Schell would finish the race in 3rd some six minutes and forty-eight minutes behind.
Unlike the early part of the season, the dual failures had really started to come with more frequency for Ecurie Rosier. The season was headed into its later part. The team would need to tighten things up to ensure they could be as strong as possible at the end of the season. Thankfully, the team would have a couple of weeks in order to do what they could.
Three weeks would feel like a month or more after the stretch Ecurie Rosier had just endured from the end of June through August. But it was sorely needed. The team would need the break to give themselves the time needed to really make an assault on the final races of the season. The team's first target would be back in Italy. In early September the team would arrive at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza in order to take part in the eighth round of the Formula One World Championship, the Italian Grand Prix.
Situated along the Lambro River, a tributary of the Po, Monza had come under Roman occupation during the 3rd century BC. Throughout its history the city would play an important ecclesiastical role in the region. From the days of the Lombards when a small church would be built near the Lambro River to the 14th century and beyond when Christianity really began to sweep through the city and the region, Monza would be at the heart of the movement. Therefore, it would be fitting that a place considered to be the heartbeat of the region would become the center of motor racing in Italy. Despite Ferrari and Maserati based at Modena, and of course Rome the nation's capital, Monza would certainly become the home of Italian motor racing.
Ecurie Rosier would bring its two cars to the event. They would be just two of an incredible lineup of teams, cars and drivers. Alberto Ascari would be back with Ferrari for the one race, Of course, there was Fangio, Kling and Herrmann driving for Mercedes. Then there was the rest of the Scuderia Ferrari team and those driving for Officine Alfieri Maserati. Surely, the 80 lap, 312 mile, race would be a tough event.
Despite his vision problems, Fangio would be entered in the race with the streamlined W196. The reason for this was obvious and would be a good reason why Fangio would earn the best time in practice with a time of 1:59.0. As a result, he would take the pole. Alberto Ascari would show why he was the first double World Champion as he would return to Ferrari and would be just two-tenths of a second slower than Fangio. Stirling Moss would complete the front row in his Maserati 250F. He would be just a tenth off of Ascari's best.
Against such competition, it wasn't all that surprising that Manzon would qualify a little further down in the field. His best effort would be nearly five seconds slower than Fangio and would lead to him starting from the fifth row in 15th. Challenging a field mostly comprised of Formula One cars, Rosier would have a tough road ahead of him especially when the 3.91 mile circuit played out nearly as fast as the steeply banked oval used years prior. Therefore, Rosier, given his horsepower disadvantage, would struggle comparatively. His best would only be good enough for dead-last on the grid, 20th.
A beautiful sun-filled day awaited the start of the race. And at the start, Kling would make the best start and would lead the field. Fangio, Ascari and Gonzalez were bunched together giving chase. Kling would lead the field around on the first lap of the race. All would stay relatively the same through the first two laps of the race. However, on the 3rd lap, Jean Behra would be out with a blown engine. This would set off a day filled with drama.
Manzon would be in the middle of the pack pushing to get toward the front. Rosier would be trying to make his way from dead-last. His greatest tactic would be to outlast everyone else. This would not be easy given the pressure he would be putting his Formula 2 Ferrari 500 through.
However, it would be Manzon that would run into trouble. Kling had already made a mistake and dropped down the order. Then, after 16 laps, near the same time Jose Froilan Gonzalez would retire with gearbox failure, Manzon would also find his day come to an end with a blown engine. Once again, the team would be left with just one car. Rosier would have to do what he could to carry the team.
Ascari would be in the lead of the race ahead of Fangio and Moss, who had gotten around Gonzalez when his gearbox failed. The three men would be locked in a spirited duel for a number of laps.
The pace of the front-runners would leave the rest of the field well back. In fact, heading into the final half of the race, a large number of competitors would find themselves a number of laps behind with many more laps to go before the end.
Moss would be looking like the car to beat. He would get around Fangio and would be fighting with Ascari lap after lap. After swapping the lead, Moss would take away the lead from Ascari for the final time on the 49th lap of the race. Engine failure with Ascari's Ferrari would hand Moss the lead. With Fangio taking care of his car, Moss would pull away in the lead of the race and would actually hold onto the lead until the 67th lap when he would have to pit for more oil. Fangio would take over the lead of the race at that point and would never look back.
While Moss had been putting together one of the most impressive performances in the lead of the race, Rosier would be taking care of his car using attrition to move him up the running order. And despite being five laps down heading into the 10 laps, he would find himself running inside the top ten. If he could just hang on; he would help to bail his team out once again.
Moss' performance had been truly incredible. However, on the 71st lap of the race it would all come to naught when his engine blew. Sitting tired and worn out from the effort, the Brit would impress many that day. But it was Fangio leading the race ahead of Mike Hawthorn and Gonzalez, who had taken Umberto Maglioli's car after his car's gearbox failed.
Fangio could absolutely cruise to the victory. With a lap advantage over Hawthorn, he could back right off to ensure completing the race. Averaging nearly 112 mph over the course of the race, Fangio would earn his sixth victory of the season in the World Championship and would certainly ensure his second World Drivers' Championship title. Hawthorn had been close to staving off being lapped. But in the end, he would cross the line a little more than twenty-four seconds behind Fangio one lap down. Gonzalez would be impressive taking over Maglioli's car. Despite being two laps down, he would finish the race in 3rd.
Before the end of the race Rosier would lose one more lap to Fangio. However, he would still manage to complete the race still under power. He would be six laps behind but would finish in 8th position.
The team continued to live on the edge, but Rosier, and the venerable Ferrari 500, would come through once again. At such a tough race, Rosier's result would be very welcome by the team, especially since it was another top ten result. But this bringing up the end of the running order wasn't where Rosier wanted his team to be. They needed both cars to finish and they needed another car capable of running up near the front, not the rear.
After the Italian Grand Prix, the team would leave Italy for the final time in 1954, but they would leave with another piece of Italy. Onofre Marimon's Maserati 250F would be repaired and would be driven by Harry Schell at the Swiss Grand Prix. Rosier would come to own the car some time after the Pescara race. This would offer the team even more confidence. Therefore, the team would head back to French soil, but not to rest. One week after the eighth round of the World Championship the team was slated to take part in another non-championship race. The race was the 5th Circuit de Cadours.
Cadours, is really nothing more than a small village located in the Tarn-et-Garonne department, however, its passion for motor racing would exude well beyond its meager size. The hope and vision of Louis Arrivet, the 2.55 mile Cadours Circuit, located to the northwest of the small village, would begin hosting races by the late 1940s. But in 1949, the race would receive Grand Prix status. But just when the vision would seemingly be taking off, it would come crashing back to earth when Raymond Sommer died at the circuit in 1950.
The Circuit de Cadours would be conducted in a fashion similar to the International Trophy race. It would be comprised of two 15 lap heat races and a 30 lap final. The entire field would be split between the two heats. Louis Rosier would be the only entry for Ecurie Rosier. This meant the team would be down to its lone hope right from the beginning. Rosier would find himself in the first heat along with Jean Behra, Andre Pilette and others.
An incredible right would occur between Behra, Rosier and Pilette in the first heat race. They would leave everybody else behind but never more than a couple of seconds would separate the three drivers over the course of the 15 lap heat race.
In the end, Behra would take the victory averaging 72 mph around the technically difficult circuit. Just one second would be the difference between Behra and Pilette in 2nd. Two seconds would be the difference back to Rosier in 3rd.
The second heat would see Harry Schell take the victory driving a Maserati A6GCM. He would manage to beat Fred Wacker by three seconds. Well behind Wacker in the Equipe Gordini T16 would be Fernand Navarro. He would finish in 3rd but would be nearly a full minute behind Wacker.
Finishing times would not be used to determine the final grid positions. However, it is something of a mystery as to what the final grid actually looked like. However, it was certain that Behra, Pilette, Rosier, Wacker and Schell would be the favorites heading into the 30 lap final.
Behra and Pilette wouldn't disappoint. The two would be fast right from the very beginning. Rosier would be right there with them at the start but was beginning to lose touch with the two men.
As Behra and Pilette would go on to set matching fastest laps, Schell would run into trouble and would be one of four that would retire from the race. The pace of the two Gordini pilots would be such that they would even put the other Gordini pilot, that of Wacker, a lap down before the end.
Rosier couldn't keep touch, but he was still looking very good in the Maserati. Behra and Pilette would fight it out, but toward the last half of the race Behra would dominate. Behra would complete the distance in fifty-eight minutes and forty-nine seconds to take the win. Pilette would follow some fourteen seconds behind. What a difference a car would make. Rosier would finish the race earning one of his best results of the entire season in the process. Though a minute and nineteen seconds behind Behra, Rosier would finish the event in 3rd. It was certainly a strong start for the team with the Maserati.
Ecurie Rosier needed another car that was competitive. And given the struggles the 625 had been experiencing, the team needed a car capable of taking up the challenge the Ferrari just didn't seem willing to want to take on. This seemingly inconsequential race certainly had to provide a lift to the team's confidence going forward.
It was time for the French to invade Germany for a change. On the 19th of September the Ecurie Rosier team would be one of a number of foreign teams preparing to take part in the 1st Grosser Preis von Berlin. The race would take place at the ultra-fast Avus Circuit and would be 313 miles of full throttle racing.
But the defenses to quench the invasion would be stiff. Being the capital of East and West Germany, the very heart of the German people, nearly everyone of the thousands upon thousands of fans to arrive for the race would be pulling for just one team—Mercedes-Benz.
Located in the American zone of Berlin, the Avus Circuit would come into existence well before the Second World War. Initially some 12 miles in length, the circuit produced some truly incredible speeds in its day given to its incredible long straightaways. The circuit would get even faster with the addition of two steeply-banked tear drop-shaped turns at either end. However, after Bernd Rosemeyer's death in 1938 the circuit would be deemed too dangerous. Nonetheless, the shortened post-war version measuring 5.15 miles would still provide the crowds with the thrill of the speeds Avus had become synonymous with.
The Avus Circuit would suit the streamlined W196s perfectly and it would be demonstrated in practice the best. Fangio would end up sitting on the pole after setting a time of 2:12.3. Nearly a second and a half would be the difference to Hans Herrmann in another W196. The final position on the front row, not surprisingly, would also go to a W196 piloted by Karl Kling. Mercedes had a clean sweep of the front row and an obvious advantage over everyone else in the field when the times were compared.
Ecurie Rosier would bring its two cars to the race. Now the roles seemed reversed. Instead of Manzon looking like the number one driver, it would be the veteran Rosier that seemed to have the advantage driving the 250F. And in practice it would prove itself to be true as Rosier would be fifteen seconds slower than Fangio but would start in the 6th position on the grid while Manzon would end up starting 8th. Nonetheless, the two teammates were on the same row together.
A long stretch of road awaited the field as the engines roared in desperate anger to start the race. And as the field peeled away and headed down that long road toward the slow hairpin, to everyone's surprise, the three Mercedes-Benz machines would not be all alone. Jean Behra obviously intended to push his Gordini to its absolute limits as he rode in the slipstream down the straight. Heading into the hairpin, Behra would manage to slip by one of the Mercedes. The very next time through, he would do the same thing until he was running right behind Fangio. The crowd would be stunned, especially when everyone else in the field would already begin to be lost in the distance.
Robert Manzon would be left back in paddock as he would not start the race. And while this would be truly disappointing for the team, Rosier's race would be utterly devastating. After a strong performance at the little-known Circuit de Cadours, the Berlin Grand Prix would be the perfect opportunity for the team to see just what they were truly capable of with having such a potent car as the Maserati 250F. However, as the cars strained on the grid waiting to launch on the first lap of the race, Rosier's Maserati would come up lame. The driveshaft would break right at the start and the race would be over for the entire team.
Behra's pushing of his Gordini beyond the limits each and every lap meant he too was running out of time. And in this 60 lap race, it would take just 14 laps before his engine would absolutely blow into pieces. From that moment on it would be a Mercedes-Benz demonstration run.
It would be an incredible demonstration of dominance. Lap after lap, all three cars would run in lockstep with each other never missing a beat and never more than mere feet from each other. Truly incredible, the three cars would sweep by the remainder of the field leaving them all feeling underpowered also-rans.
The only question left would be, 'Who would actually take the victory amongst the Mercedes trio?' At the French Grand Prix Karl Kling led the penultimate lap but would give way to Fangio to take the victory and increase his lead in the championship standings. Well, at Avus, the favor would be returned. Coming through the 'Wall of Death' for the final time, it would be Kling leading home an incredible Mercedes one-two-three. Lined abreast, less than a second would be the separation between Kling in 1st, Fangio in 2nd and Herrmann in 3rd.
The departure of both cars without having completed even a single lap would absolutely have to gut Ecurie Rosier. The lift in confidence after Cadours would be thrown away and the team would practically be left with the same situation they had been dealing with throughout the majority of the season. The one bright spot the team had would be the simple fact they now had two competitive race cars. They still just needed them to make it through a race giving it everything they had.
In spite of the fact it was well and truly the final few weeks of the grand prix season, the races just kept coming for Ecurie Rosier. A little less than a week awaited the team's next race, and it wouldn't be all that close by either. Therefore, the team would quickly head out back across the English Channel yet again. But instead of travelling far north, the team would go just a few miles away from the coast to Chichester. There near Chichester is the Goodwood Circuit, and on the 25th of September it would host a series of races. One of those races would be the 7th Goodwood Trophy race.
Turned into a motor racing circuit during the late 1940s, Goodwood would actually come into existence first as RAF Westhampnett and would serve as an auxiliary landing field attached to RAF Tangmere during the days of the Second World War. However, after the war, the 2.39 mile perimeter road around the airfield would serve as the perfect site to host motor races of all kinds. And in the spring and fall, the circuit would host days filled with racing from all different categories. The Goodwood Trophy race would be one of the marquee features in the fall.
The entry list for the race would demonstrate the race's importance. In all, nineteen cars would be listed to take part in the 21 lap, 50 mile, race. But while the race would attract a number of entrants, most of them would be British drivers that took part in relatively minor races around the island nation. Still, there would be some very strong competition.
This would be obvious in practice when Stirling Moss recorded the fastest time and would take the pole. Peter Collins would be four seconds slower but would still take the 2nd spot on the starting grid. The remainder of the front row would also be occupied with the British drivers. Bob Gerard would line up 3rd while Reg Parnell would be 4th.
Ecurie Rosier would only bring a single car to the race. Rosier would come with the new Maserati 250F to do battle with the best Britain had to offer. His best lap time in practice would certainly be a few seconds adrift of Moss. Still, Rosier would start the race from the third row in the 10th position.
At the start of the event, Moss would have the lead over Collins and Bob Gerard. Rosier would be further down in the field and would have to fight hard to stay out of trouble, make his way up the running order and keep from another mechanical failure. This would be a lot for Rosier to deal with and he would be mired down in the field as a result.
Reg Parnell would be one of just three unfortunate competitors to retire before reaching the end of the race. However, the rest of the field could do little with Moss up front. He would lead from the very beginning and would only increase his lead as the race went on. The greatest fight in the field would be between Bob Gerard and Roy Salvadori, who would come up after Parnell's departure. The two would fight it out for a number of laps, but soon, Salvadori would make his way past the Cooper-Bristol and would gradually increase his advantage. However, Gerard would not give up easily. He would ask his Formula 2 car to hang with the 250F of Salvadori and would do so quite well.
The race would take just a little more than a half hour to complete. Unfortunately for Rosier, that would be more than enough time to go a lap down. Nonetheless, he would still be running well, but perhaps not as well as he had expected.
Moss would leave everyone behind. And after thirty-three minutes and three seconds he would come around to take the victory having averaged 91 mph in the process. Collins would hold on to finish 2nd. The final spot on the podium would go to Salvadori who would have four seconds in hand on Gerard by the end. Rosier would do well in the race, but perhaps not as well as he had hoped. In the end, he would finish a lap down but would come across the line in a rather decent 8th place.
Though it was another top ten result for the team, it certainly was a safe performance Rosier put together. Considering he was driving the same car as that which eventually put him a lap down, and the fact that a number of Formula 2 cars beat him, the race would be something of a lackluster performance. It was clear the focus of the team in the race was surviving. With just two races remaining, could the team thrive?
Rosier and his team would hang around England for yet another week as there was another rather big non-championship race coming up just a week after the race at Goodwood. The race was the 1st Daily Telegraph Trophy and it would take place at the same place as the famous Grand National. The race at the Aintree Racecourse would be 17 laps and cover a total of 51 miles.
Fostered by Raymond Mays and Earl Howe, the Aintree Racecourse seemed to be the perfect setting to host a grand prix. There was plenty of area in and around the Grand National layout and it allowed the grandstands to be used for both events, which made it seem obvious it would be a great venue. Therefore, a 3.0 mile circuit would be designed within the confines. And on the 2nd of October, in 1954, it would prepare to host its first-ever motor race.
Like the Goodwood Trophy race, the Daily Telegraph Trophy event would see nineteen cars prepare for the race. And as with Goodwood Trophy race, Stirling Moss would dominate in practice. His time of 2:03.6 would be nearly a second and a half faster than Jean Behra and would give him the pole. A second would be the difference between Behra and Hawthorn in 3rd. Nearly two and a half seconds would then be the gap between Hawthorn and Schell in the final position on the front row. Again, Rosier would be the only entry for Ecurie Rosier. And, once again, he would be a great deal slower than Moss in practice. In a virtual repeat from Goodwood, Rosier would end up starting the race from the third row in the 10th position.
While there would be some different players in the race, the Daily Telegraph Trophy would play out rather similar to the Goodwood Trophy. Moss would again be out front leading the way. Hawthorn would do everything he could to keep pace but would gradually lose ground to his fellow Brit. But while Moss leading would be similar, Rosier's performance would not be. He would still be down in the field a little ways but he would manage to make his way forward much more efficiently and would even remain on the lead lap throughout the race.
But against the pace Moss was laying down each and every lap, there was little Rosier, or anyone else for that matter, could do to cope. In spite of Hawthorn's best efforts, Moss would counter and would charge to the victory. He would finish the race in under thirty-six minutes and would beat Hawthorn by a margin of a little more than fourteen seconds. The best battle would be between Hawthorn and Schell for 2nd. And while Hawthorn would take the position Schell would finish just a second behind.
The race would have a truly different feel to it for Rosier. He would be pushing from the very beginning. This would show in his ability to keep every other Formula 2 behind him and the fact he remained on the lead lap with Moss. In the end, Rosier would end up more than two minutes behind but would finish in the 6th position.
The near top five result was a welcome sight for the team. The confidence seemed to be there; the fight was there. And in the end, the car held together well earning the team a truly good result upon which the team could launch from and head into its final race of the season.
The team's final race of the season wouldn't be a throw away race by any stretch of the imagination. Taking place nearly three weeks after the race at Aintree, the final race of the season for Ecurie Rosier would be the ninth, and final, round of the Formula One World Championship, the Spanish Grand Prix.
The teams and drivers would head back to the Pedralbes Circuit for the first time since it was the final round of the World Championship back in 1951. That race would be an incredible event that would see the searing heat play havoc with Alberto Ascari's tires. This effectively ruined the Italian's bid for his first World Championship and would give Juan Manuel Fangio his first instead. But now, three years later, both Ascari and Fangio would be back, but the World Championship fight had long since been decided.
Although the final round of the World Championship would take place on the streets just outside of Barcelona, the venue wouldn't play out anything like the tight and winding streets of Monaco or Pau. Measuring 3.91 miles in length and featuring some very wide city streets, the circuit would actually boast of some incredible high average speeds, and therefore, horsepower would be very important around the circuit.
Finally, at the final race of the season, Ecurie Rosier would be in a position to be able to take full advantage of the high speed circuit Pedralbes actually was. Bringing their Ferrari 625 and the Maserati 250F, the team would have two cars capable of speeds equal to those of the front-runners. They would just need both to end up at the front, which was the other real problem the team had.
Another problem Ecurie Rosier would have was the presence of yet another very competitive manufacturer. Finally, after a long time waiting, Lancia would finally make it to their first World Championship race. That meant double World Champion Alberto Ascari and Luigi Villoresi would be amongst those in the field.
In practice, the new Lancia D50 would prove fast in the hands of Ascari. He would end up taking the pole with a time that was a full second faster than Fangio's best effort in the W196. Mike Hawthorn would start the race from the 3rd position having a time a second and a half slower than Fangio. Harry Schell would surprise many taking the 4th, and final, spot on the front row. He would actually come within mere hundredths of a second from taking 3rd away from Hawthorn.
The competition would be tight throughout the field. Just a little more than eleven seconds would separate the entire field. Therefore, Manzon and Rosier would find the going tough for a top starting position. In the end, Manzon would end up on the fifth row starting 17th. Rosier would actually start right behind his teammate on the sixth row of the grid. His overall position would be 20th.
As many would expect, the weather at the time of the race would be sunny, warm and dry. The cars would be rolled out onto the grid one final time. And as with Avus, a long straightaway awaited the field.
Harry Schell had surprised many in practice and would keep the surprises coming as the field roared away one final time. Heading down the long straight Schell would power his way to the front and would be clearly in the lead of the race heading into the tight first corner. Schell would be chased by Hawthorn and Ascari. Fangio would start poorly and would actually further lose out when Maurice Trintignant made a great start from 8th.
While Schell would keep the crowds in awe, many would fail to notice yet another race in which Ecurie Rosier would be left with just a single car. After just 2 laps, the engine would let go once again in Manzon's car. For one final time, Rosier would have to carry the team's hopes to the finish line and Manzon would be left experiencing yet another devastating season of failure upon failure.
After a couple of laps, Ascari would take over the lead of the race and it seemed the natural order had been restored. However, Schell would find himself back in the lead of the race after Ascari retired just 10 laps in with a failed clutch. This would set the stage for one incredible duel between Schell and Trintignant. Each would spend some time in the lead of the race and neither would be more than a couple of car lengths from the other. The battle would be so tight between the two that many would forget about the rest of the field.
The rest of the field wouldn't just be forgotten about it would also suffer great bouts of attrition. By the halfway mark of the 80 lap race, many of the favorites in the race would be out of the running. Ascari, Villoresi, Behra, Moss and others would be out. Unfortunately, attrition wouldn't leave the titanic battle between Schell and Trintignant alone though either. After a spin, Schell would end up retiring after 29 laps with gearbox failure. Trintignant wouldn't be any safer though. He would end up out of the running after 47 laps with engine failure. This would throw the race into the hands of the quiet, nearly forgotten about ones still running.
Hawthorn would inherit the lead and would be quite happy to take things from there. Enjoying a sizable margin over Luigi Musso, Hawthorn would keep his foot on the gas but would remain focused on not making a mistake throughout the final stages of the race. Even being careful, Hawthorn would throw down a pace that would leave many others hopeless.
Hawthorn would take the gift and would power his way to the victory. Averaging nearly 97 mph throughout, Hawthorn would have a minute and thirteen seconds in hand over Musso at the finish. Fangio would suffer from Hawthorn's pace and would be a lap down by the end. Nevertheless, Fangio would complete his World Championship season standing on the podium in 3rd.
Rosier would be a model of consistency throughout. Despite being the sole remaining car in the race for Ecurie Rosier he would fight his way to the finish and would climb all the way, with the help of attrition, to finish 7th. It was a great way in which to bring about the end of the season.
In the end, Robert Manzon would use his 3rd at the French Grand Prix to finish 15th in the standings. And while many of Trintignant's points would come with Ferrari, he would still finish the season in 4th in the standings. Though Rosier would not earn any championship points, his performances at the end of the season to bail Manzon and the team out would be nearly priceless.
The early part of the season seemed to suggest Ecurie Rosier would be a serious contender over the course of the season. And while the team would score a number of top ten results, reliability issues would steal the team's confidence and willingness to push its cars to the absolute limits. Therefore, the season, on a whole, would be something of a disappointment. There was more the team could do, but it just never really got the chance. Manzon had dealt with this at Equipe Gordini and had left as a result. At the end of the season, he would do the same to Rosier. Amazingly, Manzon would agree to return to Gordini for the following season. This would leave the team to focus solely on the Maserati 250F for the 1955 season.
But while the 1954 season certainly could have been considered frustrating, it would finally see Rosier make his way back into the points. Throughout the season, Ecurie Rosier remained one of those teams that, if everything went right, they could seriously pull off a great result. And this would be encouraging moving forward. Ecurie Rosier