TeamsHWM-Alta: 1952 Formula One Season By Jeremy McMullen
During the later part of the 1940s George Abecassis and John Heath came together to form the HWM racing team. The team built streamlined cars for competition in Formula 2 and achieved considerable success. Then, heading into 1952, the regulations concerning Formula One changed. Seemingly, Formula One was playing right into the hands of HWM-Alta.
Over concerns of competition and costs, regulations concerning Formula One in 1952 changed. The cars that would compete in the World Championship would need to conform to Formula 2 specs. This included engines with a maximum displacement of 2.0-liters. This appeared to be the perfect scenario for HWM. The team had been building cars for Formula 2 for half a decade already. Not only had they been building cars to Formula 2 specs, the team was also quite successful. Perhaps this move in the regulations would see HWM rise to the top in Formula One? Hopes and dreams often filter out many aspects of reality. For HWM, that reality was Scuderia Ferrari, the Ferrari 500 and the costs still associated with World Championship grand prix racing.
Coming into the season, HW Motors would enter their small, heavily rounded HWM 51 and 52 chassis with the small Alta 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. While the chassis and engine combination would be a constant throughout the season, the drivers who would be behind the wheel were something like a revolving door.
The season started for HWM-Alta in the middle of April with the 4th Richmond Trophy race at Goodwood. The Richmond Trophy race, as with a number of others throughout 1952, still allowed the cars that conformed to the Formula One regulations the previous years to run in the race. Therefore, the larger liter engines, like that of the dominant Ferrari 375 were allowed in the race. Undaunted, HWM co-founder George Abecassis entered one of his HWM-Altas in the 12 lap race around the 2.39 road course at Goodwood.
The short course, with its rather short straights, played into the hands of the Alta four-cylinder. During practice leading up to the race, George was able to set the second-fastest time around the track and would start 2nd next to Jose Froilan Gonzalez in a Ferrari 375. Gonzalez had provided Scuderia Ferrari its first-ever Formula One victory just the year prior in a Ferrari 375. Therefore, Abecassis had to know the dominant Ferrari 375, of just one year prior, would still be a very potent foe. Also starting alongside George on the front row were Tony Rolt in a Delage 15S8 and Graham Whitehead in an ERA B-Type R10B.
At only 12 laps, the race would be short. It also meant that any mistake would have severe consequences. Should there be a bobble, or a car get by, the likelihood of getting the place back before the end of the race was severely diminished. This would be almost exactly what would happen.
At the start of the race, Gonzalez was able to pull out his lead. Abecassis was quickly embroiled in a battle up near the top with a number of other drivers who had started the race further behind. Mike Hawthorn, in a small Cooper-Bristol T20, and, Duncan Hamilton in a 4.5-liter Talbot-Lago T26C, were able to get by George.
It only took Gonzalez nineteen minutes and thirty-five seconds to finish the 12 laps. He would score the victory by twenty-six seconds over Hawthorn and thirty-three seconds over Hamilton. George would finish the race 4th, down some forty seconds at the end.
On the same day, George Abecassis would enter the 4th Lavant Cup at Goodwood. The Lavant Cup was an even shorter race distance. At only 6 laps, the race would only take a little over ten minutes to complete. The Lavant Cup was for the smaller ‘Formula' race cars, including the HWM-Alta.
It would be hard to believe that a race could be any shorter than 6 laps, but George's race would end up being just that. While Mike Hawthorn would go on to take the win by over twenty-one seconds over Alan Brown and Eric Brandon, George's race was overtaken by a crash on the 2nd lap. Thus, George's race lasted only 4.78 miles.
While George was at Goodwood competing in a couple of shorter races, another part of the HW Motors racing team was in Pau, France for the first round of the French F2 Championship.
The 13th Grand Prix de Pau would be the first time HW Motor's HWM 52 would compete against Scuderia Ferrari and the Ferrari 500. By the time of the first meeting between the HWM 52 with its 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine and the Ferrari 500, the Italian machine had already exerted its dominance. The question was whether the little chassis with the four-cylinder engine could pull out a surprise?
As with all of the rounds of the French F2 Championship, the event would be a timed three hour race around the 1.75 mile circuit comprised of Pau's tight streets. HW Motors entered three cars in the race. Number ‘1-52' was driven by Lance Macklin. Car ‘2-52' was driven by Peter Collins and the third ‘3-52' was driven by Yves Giraud-Cabantous.
The Ferrari 500 would prove to be fastest throughout practice. Alberto Ascari would take the pole with a time of one minute and forty-three seconds. Ascari's friend and teammate at Ferrari, Luigi Villoresi, would start 2nd. Lance Macklin would keep HWM-Alta close, however. His best time was just over three seconds slower than Ascari's, but good enough to start from the front row in 3rd. Collins' best time was just a second and a half slower than Macklin's, but Peter would be relegated to start in the middle of the third row. Giraud-Cabantous' best time was less than three seconds slower than Macklin's but Yves would start 11th on the grid, which was on the three-wide fifth row.
Retirements in racing usually are the result of a series of unfortunate events. This would be true for Giraud-Cabantous at the start of the race. While every one was battling it out, trying to find a comfortable pace for the three hour race, Yves' would come to an end. After a little over eight minutes, or four laps, into the three hour race, Rudolf Fischer's race came to an end due to a problem with an oil pipe in his Ferrari 500. Likely because of oil on the track, Giraud-Cabantous would spin and crash out of the race.
The race wouldn't fare any better for the other two drivers by the end. Peter Collins' race came to an end after 42 laps had been completed. His HWM-Alta would suffer a failure of the rear axle and brakes. Macklin would be able to continue on until the end of the race. However, the pace of his HWM-Alta was nowhere near that of Ascari's in the Ferrari 500. Lance would end up not being classified by the end of the race due to being down so far from Ascari at the finish. Alberto would win the race incredibly comfortably. The 2nd place finisher, Louis Rosier, wouldn't just end up seconds behind, but laps. Rosier finished the race three laps down. Jean Behra would finish 3rd, another two laps further down.
All three of HW Motors would fail to finish the first race of the French Formula 2 Championship. This did not bode well for the team for the rest of the season. However, many teams had had all of their cars fail races, the important thing was whether the team would prove able to overcome the setback. The ability to do so, or not, is what is most telling of a team's quality.
The next opportunity HW Motors would have to overcome the disappointment of the first round of the French F2 Championship would end up being back across the English Channel one week later at the 1st Ibsley Formula 2 Race.
HW Motors would enter just one car driven by George Abecassis. The race at the 2.00 mile Ringwood road course would be yet another short distance race. The race was only 15 laps. Heading into the race, it seemed Abecassis would take home a victory for HWM.
Throughout practice, George was fast. In fact, George would end up setting the fastest time. As a result, he would start the race from the pole. Mike Hawthorn would start the race 2nd followed by Bill Dobson in 3rd. The rest of the five-wide front row consisted of Rex Woodgate and John Barber.
A lot can happen in only 15 laps. Though seemingly the fastest car, the race was far from settled. Right from the start, George was in a battle with Hawthorn for the lead. During the course of the battle, George would end up setting the fastest lap of the race with a lap of one minute and thirty-eight seconds.
Throughout the 15 laps, or the twenty-five minutes it took to cover the race distance, the battle raged between Abecassis and Hawthorn. In the end, Hawthorn would prove to be the faster driver as he would take the victory by five seconds over Abecassis. This would end up being a splendid podium result for HWM after a difficult start to the season.
While the team had not earned any victories, things were seemingly going well over in the United Kingdom. Over on the continent, HW Motors was still trying to get its act together. In an effort to jump-start the season, three cars would be entered in the second round of the French F2 Championship, which was the 10th Grand Prix de Marseille.
On April 27th, HWM-Alta prepared to take part in the three hour 10th Grand Prix de Marseille. The race took place around the sweeping 1.65 mile Parc Borley Circuit. As with the first round of the French F2 Championship, HW Motor's entries would be driven by Lance Macklin, Peter Collins and Yves Giraud-Cabantous. Also, as with the first round, the team would have to face the presence of Scuderia Ferrari and a host of Ferrari 500s.
The sweeping Parc Borley Circuit didn't seem to suit any of the HWM drivers. Ascari would take the pole with a time of one minute and seventeen seconds. Robert Manzon, of Equipe Gordini, would start the race 2nd with a time just over a second slower than Ascari's. Luigi Villoresi would round-out the front row starting in 3rd. Macklin would end up being the best starting HWM driver. His time was five and a half seconds slower and put the Englishman in the middle of row three in 8th place. Collins and Giraud-Cabantous would end up starting next to each other in the fifth row. Collins would start 13th and Yves 14th.
Being that the course wasn't all that long, a number of laps would end up being completed over the course of three hours. In Giraud-Cabantous' case, the number of those laps to be completed would end up being able to be counted off by just one hand. While Ascari would pull away at the front of the pack, Yves was more worried about just being able to continue. On the 3rd lap of the race, Giraud-Cabantous' HWM-Alta suffered from problems with an oil pump. This would end the Frenchman's race. Only 57 laps later, he would be joined by a fellow HW Motor teammate.
On the 60th lap of the race, Macklin's race would end up coming to an end due to fuel tank problems. Out front, Ascari was running away with the race. His pace was such that by the end of the race he would have a five lap advantage over 2nd place. The furious pace would also cost a number of other drivers to fail to be classified at the end of the race due to not having completed enough laps. Unfortunately for HWM, Collins would be one of them. Ascari would take another victory. This time Ascari would win over Robert Manzon (in Prince Bira's Simca-Gordini T15) and Johnny Claes. Once again, HWM struggled in a race on the European continent.
It happened to work out that one of the next races during the 1952 was the 4th BRDC International Trophy held at Silverstone. This would allow the struggling team to come to England and try and get things sorted. If it could, it would be great momentum for the World Championship that would start just one week later.
The International Trophy race at Silverstone consisted of two heat races. The practice times before each heat would determine the starting positions for each driver in each heat and during the final race.
Each of the heat races was 15 laps of the 2.92 mile road course that wound around what used to be an old Royal Air Force base. New for 1952, the start/finish line would be moved to the straight between Woodcote and Copse.
HWM would enter four cars for the race. In heat one, two of its drivers were set to take part in the 15 lap race. Peter Collins and Lance Macklin would give the team some strong hope. Collins started the race 2nd and Macklin 4th. Both were on the front row at the start of the race. Mike Hawthorn would end up winning the heat, but only by a little over two seconds over Jean Behra. HWM teammates, Collins and Macklin, would finish nose-to-tail in 3rd and 4th.
In the second heat race, Yves Giraud-Cabantous was replaced by Duncan Hamilton. George Abecassis would enter his HWM to make up the fourth car. Hamilton would start the best out of the two HWM drivers. Hamilton would start from the front row in 4th. Abecassis' best time in practice would only be good enough for the Englishman to start the race from the fourth row in 12th. Many teammates will work together and share information in order to help the team during a race. Unfortunately for Hamilton and Abecassis, they would end up sharing the same bad things. The same problem would end up visiting Hamilton and Abecassis during the second heat race. On the 4th lap of the heat George's race came to an end due to problems with the car's differential. Only two laps later, the same problem would strike Hamilton's car, thus ending his heat.
Hamilton's car would end up being repaired in time for the 35 lap final race. Unfortunately, George's car would end up being unable to take part. This left three cars for the final race. The pace of the three cars during each practice session was such that each would have a fight on their hands throughout the entire race. Robert Manzon had the pole for Equipe Gordini. Peter Collins would start on the third row in 8th. Macklin would start on the same row as his teammate in 10th. Hamilton would start further down the order. He would end up starting second-to-last in 25th.
One important entry would end up out of the race after the end of the first lap. Transmission problems in the T16 of Manzon would lead him to be knocked out of the race. While Collins could not prosper from Manzon's retirement, Macklin sure would. While Collins was mired down near where he started the race, Macklin, in contrast, was on a charge up through the field. His pace was such that he would end up lapping Collins.
Lance would go on to take the victory for HWM by ten seconds over Tony Rolt in 2nd. Emmanuel de Graffenried would finish 3rd. Peter Collins would be unable to move forward throughout the course of the race. He would end up a lap down to Macklin and in 9th place. Duncan Hamilton seemed to have the cursed HWM-Alta. His race ended after only 9 laps due to a fuel feed problem. The victory earned by Macklin was a great result for the team after its troubles over on the continent. It would also prove to be a momentum-builder for the team, but just not immediately.
The first round of the Formula One World Championship took place on the 18th of May. The first round in 1952 was the Swiss Grand Prix. Therefore, the team headed back across the Channel to Bern, Switzerland. The team would end up taking four cars for the race on the 4.52 mile Bremgarten road circuit. The team's drivers for the race would be Lance Macklin, Peter Collins, George Abecassis and Stirling Moss.
Alberto Ascari was absent as he was preparing to take part in the Indianapolis 500. However, Scuderia Ferrari still had a former World Champion in their employment. Giuseppe Farina, the 1950 World Champion, would end up taking the pole for the race in a Ferrari 500 with a time of two minutes and forty-seven seconds. Ferrari teammate, Piero Taruffi, would start 2nd after setting a time over two seconds slower. Robert Manzon would start 3rd.
While the team would not start from the front row, HWM proved during practice it would not be totally blown out of the water. Peter Collins greatly impressed by qualifying 6th for the race with a time over eight seconds slower than Farina. HWM-newcomer, Stirling Moss, wouldn't start that much further down. His time was good enough that the Englishman would start 9th. Co-founder, George Abecassis would also be able to position HWM-Alta well as he would start 10th. HWM would end up with all four of its cars starting the race within the top-twelve when Lance Macklin was able to start 12th after setting a time just under thirteen seconds slower than Farina.
It would be obvious through the course of the race that HWM had a curse on itself every time the team would enter a race outside of the United Kingdom. Once again, the troubles happened in pairs, and on the same lap. Only 12 laps into the 62 scheduled, problems struck HWM. Both Abecassis and Collins would end up retiring from the race due to halfshaft failures. The troubles only continued. Keeping in line with doing things in pairs, the race totally came to an end for HWM when, on their 24th lap, both Macklin and Moss withdrew their cars from the race. All of the promise heading into the race vanished like a vapor.
One week after the utter disappointment of the Swiss Grand Prix, the HWM team split up and headed to different races. Stirling Moss and Duncan Hamilton departed with HWM-Altas built the previous year and went to the Nurburgring for the 16th Internationales ADAC Eifelrennen. The other pairing of Lance Macklin and Peter Collins headed back into France for the third round of the French F2 Championship, which was the 6th Grand Prix of Paris held at Montlhery. Over the course of the two events, HW Motors would end up finding out the curse only seemed to be on its new cars and in countries like France and Switzerland.
The ADAC Eifelrennen, on the 25th of May, was 7 laps around the 14 mile long Nordschleife. While it did feature a number of long straights where top-speed was very important, the majority of the circuit was and is comprised of twisty sections where handling and acceleration are more of a premium. This would benefit the smaller HWM 51 driven by Moss and Hamilton.
Rudolf Fischer, driving a Ferrari 500, would take the pole for the race. However, the two HWM drivers would be right there. Stirling Moss would start 2nd and Hamilton would start 3rd. Both of the drivers would start from the front row of the grid.
Meanwhile, back at Montlhery, Lance Macklin and Peter Collins were preparing for the third round of the French F2 Championship. The two Brits were joined once again by Yves Giraud-Cabantous. The three hour race would take place around the 3.90 mile Troisieme Circuit, which featured a good portion of the banked oval. Unfortunately for HWM, Scuderia Ferrari did not go to Germany.
Robert Manzon would take the pole for the race. The Ferrari teammates, Taruffi and Villoresi would complete the three-wide front row. Peter Collins would be the best starting driver for HWM-Alta. He would start from the third row in 8th place. Lance Macklin struggled comparatively. He would start from the fifth row in 11th. Giraud-Cabantous would also struggle. He would start also on the fifth row in 13th.
As both races, separated by about 300 miles, got underway, two different storylines would unfold. As usual, the team in France would suffer. After only two laps, HWM was down to one car. Peter Collins' race came to an end due to magneto problems. In contrast, both Moss and Hamilton were fighting it out with Fischer up at the front of the field along the long Nordschleife.
Back at Montlhery, the Ferrari 500s of Piero Taruffi and Giuseppe Farina left everyone behind, even another Ferrari 500 driven by Louis Rosier. The pace was furious and such that Macklin was struggling to try and keep up. In a bid to try and rectify the situation, Macklin turned the car over to Peter Collins. It didn't help. Only three cars would end the race as still running, and each was a Ferrari 500. Taruffi would win the race by three laps over Farina in another 500. The last car officially running at the end was Rosier. He would end up in 3rd, but four laps down. Though not classified, Lance Macklin and Peter Collins would finish 4th, albeit ten laps down. Yves would also end the race not classified. He would complete 51 laps and would be twenty-three laps down at the end.
While Macklin, Collins and Giraud-Cabantous were near the front, they were not one of the ones setting the pace. This was the difference three hundred miles away. Fischer had the lead, but was being chased by Moss and Hamilton. Untouched by problems throughout the race, HWM was able to keep the pressure on Fischer. However, after an hour and sixteen minutes, Rudolf Fischer crossed the line to take the victory. Then all waited to see where everyone else would finish. Being that the circuit was fourteen miles long, Moss would finish in 2nd, but not that far back. He would end up forty-one seconds behind Fischer. Ken Wharton was able to take over 3rd place and pulled away from Hamilton, but not by much. Hamilton would finish 4th, down by only twenty-three seconds to Wharton.
In the lead up to the third round of the Formula One World Championship, a number of non-championship races were run. One of those non-championship races, in which HWM would compete, would be the 22nd Grand Prix des Frontieres at Chimay, Belgium on the 1st of June.
Seeing that the race was held in Belgium, HWM-Alta would hire some natives to drive its cars in the 22 lap race around the 6.75 mile fast road course. Average speeds around the public road course regularly exceeded 89 mph, and therefore, would take a toll on drivers and equipment. This was one thing HWM didn't need any more—cars failing.
HWM's driver lineup featured Belgians, Paul Frere and Charles de Tornaco. In addition, HWM co-founder, John Heath, would enter a third car for the race. Another Belgian driver, Johnny Claes, would end up taking the pole for the race. John Heath would impress with a 4th place starting spot on the second row of the grid. Frere would start on the third row in 8th. Charles would start from the fourth row in 10th.
As with a number of other races, Heath's qualifying effort showed lots of promise for the team before the race started. However, that promise would disappear after 11 laps. Claes would drop out of the race on the first lap due to a crash with Roger Laurent. This opened the door for HWM, and especially Heath who had started 4th. He would push hard. Unfortunately, he would end up pushing too hard. On the 11th lap, Heath would make a mistake and would crash out of the race. This left the team's hopes with de Tornaco and Paul Frere, both of whom qualified further down in the field. However, they would not disappoint.
Often times it pays to hire somebody with local knowledge. Paul Frere would go on to set the fastest lap of the race and would win the race by one second over Kenneth Downing. Charles de Tornaco would finish the race one lap down in 5th.
One week after Chimay, HWM would stick with a Belgian driver, but this time Johnny Claes, to take part in the 5th Grand Prix of the Autodromo of Monza. Duncan Hamilton would also be entered in the race by the team.
The grand prix of Monza was a slightly different race than usual. The race consisted of two heat races, but no final. The final results would be determined by the aggregate time and number of laps completed in each heat race.
Seeing as how the race took place at Monza, it wasn't all that surprising the grid was full of Scuderia Ferrari entries and Ferrari 500s. In fact, three out of the four that would start on the front row were driving Ferrari 500s. Alberto Ascari, back from the United States, had the pole. Duncan Hamilton would end up being the best starter for HWM. He would start the race from the third row in 11th. Right behind him in the fourth row was the other HW Motors team car driven by Claes. Johnny would start the race 15th.
In sheer pace around the 3.91 mile road course, nobody could touch Ascari. At the start of the first 35 lap heat race, Ascari would pull away in dominant fashion. While Alberto's prancing horse was just getting up to a full gallop, one of HWM's horses was pulling up lame, and the other…well…it decided to just carry on at a trot. On the 8th lap Hamilton's race came to an end. Claes's race continued on, but was nowhere near Ascari's pace.
Alberto would end up winning the heat by more than a minute over Giuseppe Farina and more than a lap over Andre Simon. Johnny Claes would end up finishing the heat 14th, down three laps.
The second heat would end up being a lesson in perseverance. Only 14 laps in, Ascari's race came to an end due to a broken camshaft. Giuseppe Farina would end up holding on for the win in the second heat. Johnny would also finish, but in 7th and down three laps.
When the aggregate times were taken into account, the steady driving of Farina awarded the former World Champion with the victory. Andre Simon would finish 2nd. Rudolf Fischer would finish 3rd. Hamilton would end up not finishing and Claes would end up not classified by the end.
Another race with the same kind of aggregate scoring system took place on the same day at Aix-les-Bains, but it would end up with a different result.
John Heath and Lance Macklin had entered the race around the 1.50 mile street course. The race consisted of two 40 lap heat races. The nature of the short circuit would seemingly help HWM. In practice before the first heat race, Macklin would end up starting 5th from the second row of the grid. Heath would start two rows further back in 9th. Jean Behra had the pole for Equipe Gordini.
Over the course of the first heat race, Macklin would be able to take the fight to Behra. However, the two would be joined by Behra's teammate, Robert Manzon. Heath would also move forward during the race but could not emulate the pace of Macklin.
At the end of the first 40 laps, Behra would hold on for the win over Manzon by five seconds. Macklin would finish the heat 3rd down twenty-two seconds. Heath would end up down one lap in 7th.
During the second heat race, the fight from the first heat would pick right back up where it started. However, after two laps one of the important players in the battle would be out of the running, and it wasn't Macklin. The rear axle on Manzon's T16 suffered from a failure and dropped the Frenchman out of the running. This left Macklin with a chance to overcome Behra. Unfortunately for HWM, its second entry, driven by Heath, would also drop out of the running due to ignition troubles.
Jean Behra would claim victory again in the second heat race. Macklin would end up finishing 2nd. The margin between the two was twenty-three seconds. Though he would not end up taking the victory when the times were added together, Macklin still scored a very impressive 2nd place finish for the team, and on French soil! The curse had seemed to shift from France to Italy, at least for these races anyway.
About two weeks after the team competed at two different races throughout the European continent it came back together in order to prepare for the third round of the Formula One World Championship. The third round in 1952 (the Indianapolis 500 counted as the second round) was the Belgian Grand Prix and it took place on the ultra-fast 8.77 mile Spa Circuit.
Coming into the race, HWM brought four cars, of which two would be driven by Belgians. The Brits, Peter Collins and Lance Macklin, would be joined by Roger Laurent and Paul Frere.
In qualifying, Scuderia Ferrari dominated. Alberto Ascari would qualify on the pole with Giuseppe Farina and Piero Taruffi also starting on the front row. Paul Frere would put an HWM inside the top-ten on the starting grid when he qualified 8th. The team's other drivers were not able to put together the same kind of laps in practice. Peter Collins would start 11th. Lance Macklin and Roger Laurent would start 14th and 20th respectively.
Twenty-two drivers prepared to set off into the rain at the start of the race. And, with the exception of one lap led by Jean Behra, the race absolutely belonged to Alberto Ascari. It wouldn't belong to Peter Collins that was for sure. His race came to an end after only three laps due to a broken halfshaft. Other than Collins' troubles, the day would end up being a good day for HWM-Alta.
Ascari would lead 35 of the 36 laps and would score the victory by almost two minutes over Farina. Manzon would finish in 3rd almost four and a half minutes behind. Paul Frere used his local knowledge and guided his HWM-Alta to a points-paying 5th place finish. Both Macklin and Laurent would also improve their finishing positions over their starting spots. However, Laurent was, by far, the biggest gainer of the two. Lance would finish 11th. Roger would come up from 20th to finish 12th. Both would end up four laps down to Ascari. Though two laps down at the end, Frere would end up earning two points toward the driver's championship standings.
There would not be any break for HW Motors as the team was in the busiest part of its season. Therefore, one week after the Belgian Grand Prix, the team travelled to Reims, France for the fourth round of the French F2 Championship, which was the 20th Grand Prix de la Marne.
For the race around the 4.45 mile public road course, the team entered four cars. The drivers for the cars were Lance Macklin, Peter Collins, Yves Giraud-Cabantous and Stirling Moss. The layout at Reims made the circuit an ultra-fast course. With average speeds in excess of 100 mph for three hours, the Reims circuit was a car breaker. HWM had proven during all of the other French F2 Championship rounds it didn't need any help destroying cars. Unfortunately, the track would end up deciding to help anyway.
The small four-cylinder engine suffered on the long straights. Ascari would grab the pole with a time of two minutes and twenty-six seconds. The best HWM qualifier would be Moss in 10th with a time fourteen seconds slower. Giraud-Cabantous would start 13th. Collins and Macklin would start the race 16th and 18th.
Despite starting on the pole, the race would not be a runaway for Ascari. In fact, Ascari wouldn't even end up finishing the race. Luigi Villoresi retired early on. In a selfless gesture for his friend, Ascari gave up his car to Villoresi for the remainder of the race. Collins' race would also come to an end on the 13th lap due to engine failure. Ten laps later, Macklin's race ceased due to ignition troubles. Two of HWM's drivers would end up carrying on until the end, however, only one would officially finish.
Behra would take the victory by a lap over Farina. Villoresi would end up 3rd. Stirling Moss would end up not being classified due to not completing enough laps. Yves would be the only driver to actually finish the race for HWM. He would end up 8th.
HWM had found the source of its troubles. It was any round of the French F2 Championship driven with its new car. This did not bode well when the next round of the World Championship would also count toward the French F2 Championship.
On the 6th of July, the Circuit Rouen Les Essarts prepared to host what was the fourth round of the World Championship, and, the fifth round of the French F2 Championship. Since it was part of the French F2 Championship, the race would not be based upon a set number of laps, but instead, upon a three-hour time limit.
HW Motors entered three cars for the race. The drivers would be regulars for HWM: Collins, Macklin and Giraud-Cabantous. Another constant would be Scuderia Ferrari's position on the grid for the start of the race. Ferrari would again sweep the first-three spots on the grid, with Ascari on the pole. Collins would end up being the best starter for HWM. He would start 8th. Giraud-Cabantous and Macklin would start 10th and 14th.
The 3.16 mile street course seemed like Ascari's own personal playground. Right from the very start Ascari had the lead and wouldn't let go of it throughout the remainder of the race. All that was left was to sort out the details. If there were no failures in any of Ferrari's cars the details would also be concluded. Sure enough Scuderia Ferrari came home one-two-three, but staggered. Farina finished in 2nd one lap down. Taruffi finished 3rd, two laps down.
While the race was practically perfect for Ferrari, for once, a round of the French F2 Championship wasn't all that bad for HWM either. Peter Collins barely missed out on making it two World Championship races in which the team scored points. Collins would finish the race seven laps down in 6th place. He had missed the final points-paying position by only one position. Lance Macklin would end up finishing the race 9th, also seven laps down. Giraud-Cabantous would end up making it all three HWM cars in the top-ten when he finished the race 10th. This was another strong showing from HWM at a World Championship race during 1952.
The results at the Grand Prix of France seemed to help the team turn the corner, especially at rounds of the French F2 Championship. The next opportunity the team had to put this belief to the test would be just one week later at Les Sables.
The 2nd Grand Prix de Sables d'Olonne was the sixth round of the French F2 Championship and took place at the short 1.45 mile Les Sables public road course. As with all the others, the race would be a three hour timed event. Once again, HWM brought three cars to the race driven by Macklin, Giraud-Cabantous and Collins.
As usual, Scuderia Ferrari would sit on the front row. Ascari would have the pole. Farina started alongside. Macklin would be the best qualifier of HWM as he would post a time four seconds slower than Ascari and would start from the third row in 7th. Collins would start right next to him in 8th. Yves struggled. He set a time over five seconds slower and would start on the fifth row in 11th.
Being that the course was a little less than a mile and a half in length, the race would end up covering over one hundred laps. This meant a lot of gear changes, braking and acceleration. Surprisingly, it would be crashes that would reduce the field more than normal attrition. In all, five competitors would be knocked out of the race due to crashes. What was most surprising was the fact that two of them were Ferrari's highest starters, Ascari and Farina. This opened a door for other competitors. HWM's drivers pushed hard. In Macklin's case, he perhaps pushed too hard as his engine would fail him on his 88th lap of the race.
It was perhaps easy to forget that Ferrari had another wonderful driver by the name Luigi Villoresi. He would not be forgotten by the end of the race, however. Villoresi would go on to take the win having completed 136 laps. Surprisingly, given the team's struggles, HWM's Peter Collins would end up finishing 2nd, down three laps! Yves almost made it two HWMs in the top-five, but unfortunately, he was too far back and would end up not classified by the end of the race. Though too late concerning the French F2 Championship, it did seem HWM had truly turned the corner.
Another week after the sixth round of the French F2 Championship, the Formula One World Championship resumed, across the English Channel at Silverstone. On the 19th of July, the 5th British Grand Prix was set to run.
Being an English-based team, HWM was going to be competing in front of the home crowd. Tension and excitement was running high. Of course qualifying for the event reminded the team of the realities before them.
Scuderia Ferrari would again sweep the front row, but there would be a shake-up. Farina would end up clipping Ascari for the pole of the race. Taruffi would start 3rd.
For the race around the 2.92 mile road course HWM brought three cars to the race, all of which would be driven by British drivers. Macklin and Collins were behind the wheel as usual, but Duncan Hamilton rejoined the team for the race. In practice, Hamilton would end up being the fastest of the HWM drivers. He would end up starting the race 11th. Collins wasn't much slower and would start the race 14th. Macklin suffered troubles throughout practice and would only be able to start the race 29th. In all, thirty-two cars prepared for the start of the race.
On the day of the race, it was overcast but dry. The field roared away at the start of the 85 lap race with Ascari taking the lead from Farina. That would be the closest anyone would be to Ascari throughout the remainder of the race, unless of course, he was lapping traffic.
Some of those Alberto would lap would be the HWM cars. While the cars of Collins and Hamilton struggled throughout the race, Macklin had to make his way from the back of the grid, but he was flying doing so. On lap 44, the race ended for Hamilton due to an engine failure. Twenty-nine laps later, Collins' race ended with a misfire problem. This knocked out HWM best starting entries.
Un-phased out front, Ascari would carry on to the checkered flag without a single problem. He would lead every one of the 85 laps and would take the win by a lap over Taruffi. Mike Hawthorn would impress in the little Cooper T20 by finishing 3rd. Were it not for his poor starting position, Macklin, perhaps, could have really wowed the British fans some more. He would end up coming all the way from 29th to finish the race 15th. This was the first World Championship event HWM entered whereby it did not have a car finish in the top-ten.
The team's next chance to redeem themselves after the poor showing in front of the home fans would come on the 3rd of August with the German Grand Prix, held on the 14 mile long Nordschleife in Nurburg, Germany.
The last time HWM had entered a race at the Nordschleife it was the ADAC Eifelrennen and its cars had finished 2nd and 4th. The team was looking for the same kind of result during the sixth round of the World Championship. Unfortunately, the one thing that was missing at the Eifelrennen back in May compared to the German Grand Prix in August was Scuderia Ferrari.
Unlike the Eifelrennen, things were not looking good for the team even before the waving of the green flag. While Ascari would take the pole in easy fashion, all of the HWM drivers would struggle. Belgian racers, Paul Frere and Johnny Claes were behind the wheel for HWM, but their closer living proximity did little to help the team start the race with a better position. Paul Frere would start the race 13th. Claes would start the race all the way back in 32nd. Peter Collins would best Claes, by one. He would sit on the grid in 31st.
After the French Grand Prix, HWM had begun to suffer at World Championship races. The British Grand Prix didn't go particularly well, and neither would the German Grand Prix. The bad news started for HWM even before the start of the race. Problems with Collins' HWM-Alta would force the Englishman to not start the race. This left the team with only two remaining cars.
The 18 lap race would start with Ascari in the lead and absolutely blowing everybody away. A number of cars would fail after just one lap of the 14 mile circuit. One of those would be Frere. His car retired from the race with gearbox related problems. This left HWM with just one car, that of Claes, and he had to make his way up the field from 32nd. The retirements would help to sling-shot him forward. Meanwhile, Ascari soldiered on. He would be able to take the win, even after a lengthy stop to get oil put in the car. Farina would finish 2nd followed by Ecurie Espadon's Rudolf Fischer in 3rd. Claes put together a truly inspiring performance and was able to come all the way from 32nd to finish the race 10th. Such was Ascari's pace; however, that Claes ended up three laps down on a circuit that was over 14 miles in length! At least HWM had been able to get a car to finish in the top-ten once again.
On the 10th of August, the seventh round of the French F2 Championship was set to take place at St. Gaudens. The race was the 16th Grand Prix de Comminges. The race in 1952 took place on a 2.73 mile portion of the larger 17 mile public road course around St. Gaudens.
Ascari would take the pole, yet again, but would be surrounded by Equipe Gordini entries. Yves Giraud-Cabantous re-joined Macklin and Collins behind the wheel of an HWM-Alta 52. Collins would have the best qualifying position of any of the HWM drivers. He would start the race 9th. His time around the circuit was ten seconds slower than Alberto's. Macklin and Giraud-Cabantous would start beside each other in 12th and 13th.
Bad fortunes at a French F2 event would return to haunt the team. Collins would end up finishing 61 laps before his race came to an end due to magneto failure. Eight laps later, Macklin's race ended, also with magneto issues. This left Yves to try and carry on for HWM. He would. However, he would end up far enough behind Ascari (who had taken over Andre Simon's Ferrari 500) that he would end the race not being classified.
The seventh round of the World Driver's Championship took place on the 17th of August. It was a new venue for the World Championship, at least when it came to a race that counted toward the Driver's Championship. It was the Dutch Grand Prix and it was held on the 2.64 mile Zandvoort Circuit.
The driver line-up for HWM was altered slightly once again. Macklin remained, but Duncan Hamilton and Dutch driver Dries van der Lof would drive the other two HWM-Altas.
Like a broken record, Ascari would take the pole and Farina would start 2nd. Newcomer, van der Lof just could not come to grips with the HWM-Alta like Hamilton or Macklin. He would start the race 14th. Hamilton would put an HWM in the top-ten of the starting grid with his 10th place grid position. Macklin would make it two inside the top-ten when he qualified 9th.
The race was 90 laps in length and would be thoroughly controlled by Ascari throughout. Only eighteen cars would start the race. Attrition would end up being incredibly high. Only nine cars would be running by the end of the race. Fortunately for the Dutch driver, Dries, he would not be one of those that failed to finish the race. However, his pace was such that he would end up 12th, and yet, not classified in the final standings because of being too many laps behind 10th and 11th place cars that had actually retired from the race due to failures.
Macklin and Hamilton would end up many laps down to Ascari by the end. However, each of them would finish in the top-ten and came close to another points-paying finish. Macklin would finish the race 8th, six laps down. Hamilton would end up getting by Macklin and would end up finishing 7th. Hamilton had missed out on the points by just two places. Ascari would lead every one of the 90 laps and would take the win over Ferrari teammates Farina and Villoresi.
After the rather successful Dutch Grand Prix, it was back to France for the final round of the French F2 Championship. The eighth and final round of the championship was the 11th Grand Prix de la Baule and it took place on the 24th of August.
The usual suspects of Macklin, Collins and Giraud-Cabantous were behind the wheels of the HWM-Altas. Each one would struggle during practice. While Ascari took yet another pole, the best any of the HWM drivers could do was 12th. That position went to Lance. Both Yves and Peter would start the race from the back-end of the grid. Collins would start 17th and Yves 18th.
While the vast majority of the French F2 rounds had not been the best for HWM, the final round would end up being a blessing from above for almost every one of the team's drivers. Alberto would pull away at the start of the race. A crash between Farina and Manzon on the 2nd lap of the race would help Ascari be able to get away. Also, from the start of the race, Giraud-Cabantous and Collins were on the hunt from the back of the field. Over the course of the three hours, they would make their way into the top-ten and would be looking for even better results.
A good result would not happen for Macklin, however. His French F2 Championship would come to an end after 33 laps when his engine failed. Nothing seemed to be hindering his HWM teammates though. Ascari would win the race by a lap over Villoresi. Louis Rosier would finish 3rd, down four laps. Trailing one lap behind Rosier was Collins in his HWM-Alta. Yves would finish the race 5th, another two laps behind Collins. After all of the struggles, the team would end the championship on a strong note. The points scored in the final event would enable Collins to finish the F2 Championship 7th with 10.5 points. Giraud-Cabantous would end up finishing 14th with 4 points. Macklin struggled throughout the championship but would end up 18th with 1.5 points.
The French F2 Championship had ended during the later-part of August. In the early part of September, the eighth, and final, round of the Formula One World Championship was to take place at Monza, Italy.
Alberto Ascari's domination led to the championship being over well before the last round of the championship. Therefore, the Italian Grand Prix was, for many, a last chance to end the grand prix season on a good note. In the case of HW Motors, the team was looking for just one more race in which one of its cars would be able to score some points.
For the race around the 3.91 mile road course, HWM brought only two cars to the race. The two cars would be driven by the team's regular drivers, Lance Macklin and Peter Collins. Thirty-five entries would try to qualify for the race. While HW Motors was looking for just one more good result to end the 1952 Formula One World Championship season with, the Italian Grand Prix would end up being the team's lowest point of the season. Neither Macklin nor Collins would end up qualifying for the race.
At the end of the Formula One World Championship, Paul Frere ended up 18th in the standings with his 5th place finish for HWM at the Belgian Grand Prix all the way back in June. The team would also score a number of top-ten finishes throughout the 1952 World Championship season. But the utter disappointment of Monza would be a bitter end for the team.
The team could not end the season with a pair of Did Not Qualify marks. Therefore, the team would enter just two more races in 1952, but both would be on the 14th of September though separated by about 600 miles. Macklin would stick around another week after the Italian Grand Prix to take part in the 3rd Grand Prix of Modena. The race would fare better than at Monza, but not much. Lance would qualify well down in the order in 13th.
The race was to be 100 laps around the 1.4 mile road course. Macklin would end up being happy just to make it half of the distance. On the 41st lap of the race, the transmission in the HWM-Alta failed. Yet again, an HWM car failed to make it to the end of a race.
The same day Macklin was struggling in Modena, Collins and Giraud-Cabantous were in Cadours, France for the 4th Circuit de Cadours. The race consisted of two 15 lap heat races and one 30 lap final.
Collins was in the first heat and would start from the front row in 2nd. Over the course of the 15 laps, Collins would hold station behind the pole-sitter Rosier and would finish 2nd. The same setup and result would take place for Yves. He too would start the race from the front row in 2nd beside Harry Schell. The race, unfortunately, would not work out the same for Yves. Schell would end up winning over de Graffenried and Crespo. Giraud-Cabantous would end the heat in 4th.
The grid for the 30 lap final saw Collins on the front row with Rosier. Yves would be positioned on the fifth row in 8th. Unfortunately for Collins, cylinder head problems would force the Brit to fail to start the race, despite having a front row position on the grid. In contrast, Yves would turn his poor starting position around over the course of the race. Louis Rosier would win the event by more than forty seconds over Harry Schell. Emmanuel de Graffenried would finish 3rd. Yves would provide the only bright spot over the course of the team's last two races of the 1952 season. Giraud-Cabantous would end up being the last car on the lead lap but would finish the race 4th.
Although the team achieved some success, it was obvious HW Motors would not rise to the top as one of Formula One's major teams. The revolving door of drivers and chassis that either could or could not make an entire race distance surely hurt the team's potential for even greater success. HW Motors