Teams1951 Formula One Season: Ecurie Rosier By Jeremy McMullen
Louis Rosier was one of France's most famous racing drivers throughout the years after World War II. He achieved many notable wins and was always a consistent driver, which enabled him to snatch good results when other drivers failed to finish. Whether it was grand prix or sports cars, Rosier knew how to prepare his cars to be competitive. His talent as a driver and team owner made Ecurie Rosier one of those smaller teams that the larger ones always had to respect.
The previous year, the first for Formula One, Louis drove for both the factory Talbot-Lago team and his own team. He had also provided a ride for fellow Frenchman Henri Louveau at the final round of the championship.
In 1951, Ecurie Rosier supplied drives for as many as five drivers; Louis Rosier, of course, Henri Louveau, Jose Froilan Gonzalez, Guy Mairesse and Louis Chiron. The racing schedule for the team was a busy one that year and started as early as March.
Toward the middle-part of March, the team travelled to Sicily, Italy for the Grand Prix of Siracusa. Two Talbot-Lago T26Cs (see Talbot-Lago T26C article) were prepared for Rosier and Louveau. Only twelve drivers would start the 80 lap race and both Rosier and Louveau qualified toward the back-end of the grid. Ascari took the pole in his V12 Ferrari 375, while Henri qualified 7th and Louis 9th. Mechanical failures at the beginning part of the racing year were not that uncommon and any failure out of twelve starters made the field seem really small. A race in which over half of the field fails to finish looks more like an exhibition than a competitive race. Louveau and Rosier finished the race well in 4th and 5th, but were the last cars running on the track. Of course what truly matters is the fact they finished and that is something that could not have been said for other top drivers like Ascari and Farina.
Two weeks later, the Grand Prix du Pau took place. Ferrari would pose the greatest threat to the pairing of Rosier and Louveau. Ferrari brought three cars driven by Ascari, Villoresi and Serafini. The Ferrari trio ended up qualifying 1st, 2nd and 3rd. Louis qualified well, starting the long 110 lap race from 4th place on the grid. Louveau struggled with his car and qualified near the back of the field in 13th.
The race on the 1.7 mile street course was one of attrition. Out of the 15 starters, only 6 would still be running by the end. Henri was the last of the entrants to have retired from the race. Eighteen laps from the end the Frenchman lost control and damaged his car too much to proceed. The attrition only further helped Rosier's race however. When Alberto Ascari's transmission failed after 46 laps, and, Dorino Serafini's Ferrari retired due to steering problems, Rosier, who started the race 4th, moved up two spots and was able to hold on to finish the race 2nd. In all reality, Villoresi and Rosier were in a class by themselves at Pau. Rosier was the only car Villoresi was not able to lap during the course of the 110 laps, but the two of them held a three lap advantage over the 3rd place finisher Giuseppe Farina.
Rosier was second at Pau, a month later, he would be second again, but of another sort. This time, it would be an undesirable honor bestowed upon him.
Toward the end of April, Ecurie Rosier headed into Italy, and Ospedaletti, for the Grand Prix of San Remo. Ferrari was again the main force of contention for the 90 lap race. Scuderia Ferrari qualified 1st, 2nd and 4th for the race. Louis, undaunted, was able to qualify 6th. Henri struggled, yet again, and qualified toward the back of the field in 15th.
As already stated, Rosier would go on to finish the race 2nd, but it was in order of who had retired from the race. The Prince Bira suffered an accident within the first five laps of the race and was forced to retire. Eight laps had passed when Louis' T26C developed engine problems, specifically problems with the pistons. This meant Louis' race lasted a total of 16 miles on the 2.0 mile road course.
Despite starting well down in the field, Louveau's race fared just a little better. His race made it past half-way. On lap 79, he was forced to retire his Talbot-Lago. Alberto Ascari went on to win the race, covering the 186 miles in just under three hours.
The disappointment suffered in San Remo would be quickly overcome just one week later in Bordeaux. The 1st Grand Prix of Bordeaux was not a short race despite taking place on only a 1.5 mile street course. The event was 123 laps in totality and would be three hours of tough physical exertion. Yet, despite all of the challenges the race posed, Rosier wouldn't remember any of it in the end.
Fifteen cars qualified for the race. Rosier took the pole. Rosier was undoubtedly helped by the lacking presence of either Alfa Romeo or Ferrari. But what was their loss was Louis' gain. Henri couldn't take advantage of their absences though as he qualified well down in the field once again. He would start the race 14th out of 15.
During the race it was all Louis and Ecurie Rosier. He was able to lap the field up to 3rd and he cruised home to his first victory of the year. Henri was actually able to turn his poor qualifying effort into a good result as he would finish the race 6th, albeit seven laps down to his teammate. Rosier's average speed over the course of the event was a little over 60 mph.
In the early part of May, Ecurie Rosier travelled to England for the 3rd BRDC International Trophy Race at Silverstone. This would be one of the first races in which the Alfa Romeo SpA team was present. Meanwhile, Ecurie Rosier had taken part in just about every grand prix race in the season to that point. For many of the teams and drivers, due to the extreme weather, the trip to Silverstone would be a costly affair.
After two heat races, the final was set to start. The heavy rain, not uncommon in England in May, turned torrential. Despite this, the race got underway. Reg Parnell seemed half fish as he disappeared into the heavy rains while many other teams and drivers struggled. Rosier had been able to position himself 5th, while Louveau sat back in 11th. By the time Parnell was on lap six, the torrential rains began flooding the track. Reg seemed to be rather unaffected by this and had already lapped the field up to 2nd place. However, the rains and flooding were too much and the officials called the race complete after only six laps. Parnell won the race, but Louis was able to hold onto 5th. Henri held on but wasn't able to improve upon his 11th place finish.
After the crazy race at Silverstone, the busy schedule for the team kept rolling on and the Rosier stable pulled into Boulogne, France for the Grand Prix de Paris. For this race on home soil, the team brought a third car to be driven by Jose Froilan Gonzalez. The street course set up in Boulogne was 1.55 miles in length. Given the nature of the track, the organizers decided to make the race 125 laps in length or a total of 194 miles.
Qualifying, for Gonzalez, didn't go well as he struggled to get his car set up. He would start the race 13th on the grid, second-to-last. It went well for Rosier and Louveau, however. Louveau would crack the top-ten in qualifying for the first time and Louis would start the race 7th.
The race itself proved to be a great day for the team even-though the team would not win the race. Giuseppe Farina, driving his own Maserati 4CLT/48 was unable to be beaten and won the 125 lap event. However, 2nd through 4th would be a clean sweep for Ecurie Rosier. Despite his struggles in qualifying, Jose used the 125 laps almost to perfection and came up through the field, not to finish 4th, but 2nd! Somehow, Jose managed to be the only remaining car on the lead lap with Farina. Rosier drove a steady race to finish 3rd and Henri had his best finish of the year to that point when he finished in 4th.
A week later, the grand prix season stopped in Bremgarten, Switzerland for the Swiss Grand Prix. In '51, this was the first round of the Formula One World Championship. This meant all of the big names and teams were present. Alfa Romeo and Ferrari each brought four cars for the race. Ecurie Rosier brought three cars of their own driven by Rosier, Louveau and Gonzalez.
The race distance was 190 miles on the 4.5 mile temporary road circuit. Alfa Romeo and Ferrari dominated qualifying for the 42 lap race. Alfa Romeo and Ferrari occupied the first seven spots on the grid after qualifying had come to an end. Louis put in a splendid performance and would be able to start the race from the 8th spot on the grid. Louveau and Gonzalez would start the race 11th and 13th respectively. Twenty-one drivers would start the race. The attrition rate was actually rather low, and so, this made earning a points paying position, if you didn't have an Alfa 159 or a Ferrari 375, very difficult. Of course, one first had to finish to be even able to fight for any points. Finishing the race was Jose's problem as his race came to an end after 10 laps due to an oil pump problem. Henri knocked himself out of any chance for points when he lost control of his car and had an accident. Louis was the closest that day to having a chance at scoring points, but even then, he didn't really stand a chance. Louis would end the race three laps down in 9th place. He followed behind the HWM 51/Alta of Stirling Moss. Fangio scored the victory with Taruffi coming in 2nd, followed by Farina in 3rd.
When the race at Bremgarten finished the team quickly packed up and headed back across the English Channel and into Northern Ireland for the 5th Ulster Trophy Race at the Dundrod circuit. Though seemingly short when just looking at the number of laps, the race at Dundrod was a rather lengthy ordeal as the road course was 7.4 miles in length. And so, though only 27 laps, the distance covered in the race was 200 miles.
After his struggles throughout the year, Louveau was released from driving and Guy Mairesse took over piloting one of the other T26Cs. As expected, Louis drove the other Talbot and during qualifying was able to only post the 14th fastest time out of the 20 who would start the race. Mairesse fared worse as the best he could do was 17th.
During the race, both of the drivers were able to turn things around and made their way up through the field. By the end, Mairesse would be four laps down and 12th overall though he would end up retiring from the race on the 23rd lap. Also, Louis would steadily climb up through the field and would end the race two laps down in 7th. Louis had continued to prove his talent and ability by his competitiveness on both slow and twisty tracks and those with higher average speeds like what Dundrod was. Giuseppe Farina's winning average speed was over 90mph. Though Rosier's was obviously not the same, as he was lapped twice, to finish 7th after starting 14th proves the pace he was able to maintain.
The Ulster Trophy race took place on the 2nd of June, 15 days later, the team was back at the track racing. This time it was the 2nd round of the Formula One season and a points paying race. The 2nd round in '51 was the Grand Prix of Belgium. Contested over the old course which consisted of 8.77 miles of public roads, the average speed per lap would be much higher than even that at Dundrod.
The starting field for the Belgian Grand Prix would be surprisingly small. Only 13 would end up qualifying for the race. Also, both of the top teams, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari, only brought three cars each instead of four as they were known to do at certain grand prix races. The smaller field, however, helped teams like Ecurie Rosier as there were more opportunities to finish in the points. And the team would end up taking advantage of the smaller field that year.
Of course after qualifying, the circumstances didn't appear quite as promising. Alfa Romeo SpA and Scuderia Ferrari were dominating and occupied the first six starting spots on the grid, with Fangio on the pole for Alfa. However, starting immediately after them was Rosier and his Talbot-Lago. Then, in 9th on the grid, was Louis Chiron, who would replace Guy Mairesse. During the race, however, three of the first six suffered from problems, including Fangio. This meant that if Louis could put in the necessary performance he had the opportunity to move up into a points paying position by the end of the race. The same hope held true for Chiron, albeit much more of a slimmer one.
Well, for Chiron, the opportunity would end up being lost as on the 28th of 36 laps his Talbot suffered an engine failure and forced him to have to retire from the race. In Louis Rosier's case, he was showing his prowess as both a flat-out driver and one who could take car of his equipment. Though he was lapped twice before the end of the race, Rosier's performance was such that he was able to hold the car together to make it to the end and fend off competitors. Rosier would end up finishing the race 4th. This result netted him three points in the World Championship. Rosier's performance ensured that each of the makes of car that qualified for the race would end up scoring some number of points. This was a good race for the record crowd that was on hand to watch, despite the fact Fangio suffered from problems with new wheel technology that took him out of contention.
Fresh from the team's points scoring performance at Belgium, Ecurie headed into the next round of the championship looking to keep the good results, and the points, coming. This race, of course, would also be about national pride as the Formula One season headed to Reims, France.
The race on July 1st of that year took place on the old 'triangle' 4.8 mile public road course that ran between Reims and Gueux. It was, in essence, three incredibly long straights interrupted by tight hairpin turns. The race would test each driver's nerves and the integrity of the machine he sat within. The engines, gearboxes and brakes of all of the entrants would especially take the brunt of what the track was going to offer. Reims, and qualifying, was all about speed. Compared to the Alfa 159 and the Ferrari 375s, the T26C was an older design, though updated, but therefore, couldn't match the pace. Although, Chiron certainly did the best he could and proved the French car could still perform. The top-seven spots on the grid went, once again, to either Alfa Romeo or Ferrari. However, Chiron was able to push his car and qualified 8th. Louis couldn't match the pace of his teammate and had to settle for the 13th fastest time. Fangio once again took pole in his 1.5 liter supercharged Alfa Romeo 159.
Despite the fact that Ascari, Fangio and Sanesi ran into troubles for Ferrari and Alfa Romeo, there were enough cars within the two teams to dominate the first few spots during the race. Reg Parnell was able to squeeze his way into the top-five but he was driving yet another Ferrari, only, one owned by Vanderwell. Fagioli was able to hold off Gonzalez for the win. Only Gonzalez was still on the lead lap by the end of the race. The pace of the top-two was such, however, that there was a three lap gap from 2nd to 3rd place. Chiron ended the race six laps down but finished the race 6th. This was a bittersweet result for Chiron as he missed out on two points by just one place. Of course, he was chasing Farina in his Alfa 159, and that meant it would have been almost impossible unless Farina ran into trouble. In the end, Chiron was two laps behind Farina for 5th.
While the European Grand Prix went well for Chiron, it didn't go all that well for the team's namesake. Forty-three laps into the race, Rosier ran into trouble with his rear axle and was forced to retire from the race.
By the time Ecurie Rosier left Reims its grand prix season was still only a little over half-way done. The team's very next race was another round of the World Championship, the British Grand Prix.
Only two cars were prepared for this round of the championship. The two cars were driven by Louis Chiron and Louis Rosier. With the exception of Rosier's team and the powerhouse Alfa Romeo and Ferrari teams, the entrants for the 90 lap race were mostly teams and drivers that were from, or very near, the United Kingdom.
Qualifying appeared to have the look and feel of just about every other Formula One race up to that point. First and second were Ferrari and Alfa Romeo. But then, a huge surprise happened. Joe Kelly, in an Alta GP laid down a lap that earned him a 3rd place starting spot on the grid! The hold that Ferrari and Alfa Romeo had had on the top three places appeared to be broken. Rosier put in another top-ten qualifying performance. He would start the race, on the 2.88 mile road course around a previous RAF base, 9th. Chiron was bested by Rosier and could only manage a 13th starting spot on the grid. However, Ecurie Rosier had both of their cars hovering around the top-ten and if they could have stayed out of the trouble, and, if other higher qualified cars failed, they would have been in a good position for a positive result. This was not to be.
Forty-one laps into the race Louis Chiron's Talbot developed brake problems and he was unable to continue. Rosier's race fared a bit better but he wasn't able to improve upon where he qualified. By the end of the race, Louis was six laps down to race winner Gonzalez and finished 10th overall. Although the race didn't prove all that successful for the team, for the fans, it was an improvement upon the flooded exhibition that took place during the BRDC Trophy race earlier that year.
After the string of Formula One races, the non-championship Grand Prix of the Netherlands was next on the calendar. Because the focus was shifting toward the championship, neither Ferrari, nor Alfa Romeo were present at Zandvoort. Of course Alfa wasn't present because they had already been running into financial difficulty due to the costs of grand prix racing. So the absence of the two top teams meant that other smaller teams and privateers would have a chance to taste victory in the Netherlands.
The odds had to favor Rosier's team at Zandvoort. Ecurie Rosier had been consistently one of those teams, that wasn't either Ferrari or Alfa Romeo, battling in the top-ten. Of course, each of the team's drivers had suffered from failures and poor performances throughout the year, but for the most part, Ecurie Rosier had the pace to achieve success wherever it went. It became a matter of whether or not the other top teams were present. So, Zandvoort was to be the team's opportunity to shine.
The 2.6 mile road course suited the Talbot-Lago. The track had a descent overall average speed but it was still a track that required a stable car as much, or more, than sheer power. Chiron proved this right-away during qualifying. Chiron was able to pilot his T26C to a 2nd place starting spot on the grid. Surprisingly, Rosier struggled. Most people would not call starting 8th 'struggling'. However, given the fact only 12 started the race, and, Chiron started 2nd…Rosier struggled. He turned it all around during the race though.
The grand prix was 90 laps for a total of 234 miles and Rosier used every one of those laps to exert his dominance. By the end of the race, Rosier had lapped the field. He had overcome the sub-par 8th starting spot to claim his second victory of the year! And he did so with authority. Chiron could not do anything to make it an Ecurie Rosier 1-2 as his race came to an end on lap 41 due to a brake problem.
While one of Ecurie Rosier's driver was brimming for a fight with the championship contenders during the last third of the season, the other would just long to see a checkered flag.
July 29th, one week after Rosier's victory in the Netherlands, the Formula One Championship fight resumed, this time at the Nordschliefe. The Nordschliefe, used in 1951, was a twisty 14.1 mile road course known as the 'Green Hell' This was due to the danger the track posed due to its length and the fact that it consisted of more than 160 turns! It was easy to loose concentration on the track, and yet, quite dangerous were someone's concentration lapsed. Twenty-three drivers came to Nurburg and qualified to try and tame the beast.
Both Alfa Romeo and Ferrari brought four cars to the race, and they occupied 1st through 7th on the starting grid. Only Rudolf Fischer, driving for Ecurie Espadon was able to deny a clean sweep by Alfa and Ferrari in the first-eight spots on the grid. Of course, Fischer's car was just a Ferrari 212 driven under the Espadon team name. Chiron and Rosier were only able to battle their way to qualify 13th and 15th respectively.
The race that year was 20 laps, covering a total of 283 miles. Over the course of those 20 laps, and the fact of the constantly turning, twisting track, the engine, transmission, brakes…everything took a pounding and was unsurprisingly prone to fail. For the Alfa Romeo 159s, the fallout was surprisingly immediate, though the financial woes the company was facing made it understandable. Three of the four 159s were out of the race by lap 12. Chiron, however, would have probably sold a body part to have been able to make it to the 12th lap. Failure after failure had been plaguing Chiron and he just could not get his car to finish races. At the Nurburgring, it was Chiron's engine that failed him and forced him out of the race. Rosier's car, on the other hand, seemed indestructible.
Unfortunately for Rosier, there were just too many Ferraris still running at the end of the race for him to be able to finish in the points. However, Louis was able to climb up through the field from his 15th place starting spot to finish the race 8th. Given his starting spot, and the competition, it was rather impressive that he only missed out on points by three places. Yet, the reality was the fact of the sheer pace of the Ferraris and Alfa Romeos. At 14 miles long, with one lap taking over 9 minutes to complete, it would have seemed that those who finished in the top-ten would not have been able to be lapped. But the facts are that some were even lapped more than once. And still, these were cars that finished in the top-ten. Rosier was one of them that had been lapped once before the conclusion of the race.
Leaving the German wilderness, on August 5th the Grand Prix de l'Albigeois was held near Albi, France. At 5.5 miles in length, the road course near Albi was quite a bit shorter in length than the Nordschliefe, and yet, quite long. The field for the race was almost entirely composed of French drivers and teams. There were a couple token internationals. Once again, this would be an opportunity for Ecurie Rosier to shine. And, it would be an opportunity for Chiron to overcome the difficulties that had been ailing him so badly throughout the middle-part of the grand prix season.
During qualifying, it didn't appear that Chiron would have a good race. Though he would qualify 8th for the race, when compared with his teammate, it seemed there was more that could have been done to qualify higher. In contrast, there wasn't too much more Rosier could have done during qualifying. While he wasn't able to take the pole, Rosier did put in a splendid performance to start the race 2nd.
Though Rosier had the better qualifying attempt, when it came to the actual race, it was Chiron who probably put together the most inspiring drive. Rosier had the 2nd position straight-away; it was his to lose in all reality. So Rosier, for all intents and purposes, drove a rather uninspiring, and yet, steady race to finish 2nd behind Trintignant in his Simca-Gordini T15. Chiron, who started 8th and benefited from the mechanical woes of others, was able to put together a truly splendid drive and finally finished a race, doing so in 3rd.
After the non-championship grand prix in Albi, another non-championship grand prix took place ten days later at another incredibly long track, the Grand Prix of Pescara.
The road course for the Pescara Grand Prix roamed throughout the countryside and coastline around Pescara, Italy. At almost 16 miles in length, just one lap was an epic journey and it would not be so unbelievable if a car failed to complete even the first lap due to mechanical problems after only a couple of miles.
After almost 11 minutes out on the track, Alberto Ascari set the fastest time in qualifying for Scuderia Ferrari. Though the track was almost 16 miles, the average speed was not as high as some shorter tracks. This played into the hands of the Ecurie Rosier teammates. Chiron benefited the most as he was able to wield his car through the miles to set the 3rd fastest time in qualifying. Rosier wasn't too far behind. Louis was able to guide his T26C to set the 5th fastest time. This, then, meant both Ecurie Rosier team cars would start in the top-five. Scuderia Ferrari teammate Villoresi would start 2nd, but if either he, or he and Ascari, were to have problems, the Rosier teammates could really have a chance at a great result.
The Rosier stable got the best case scenario. Ascari's race came to a very abrupt end; before he had even completed a single lap. Problems with the oil pressure in his 375 forced him out. Then, on the 4th lap, Villoresi developed transmission problems and this put him out of the race. After only about 65 miles of the scheduled 192 miles the first two qualifiers, and two of the three Ferraris, were out of the race. This enabled Rosier and Chiron to take advantage, but they couldn't do anything with the other Ferrari of Gonzalez.
In the end, Gonzalez took the win for Ferrari. Seven minutes passed, and then, Louis Rosier came across in 2nd. Another two minutes passed before Chiron came across in 3rd. But what a day for Ecurie Rosier; both of their cars were on the podium!
The team had the opportunity to revel in their success as they would stay in Italy in order to take part in the next couple of grand prix. The first one took place in the early part of September that year and it was the Bari Grand Prix.
Rosier had been his same steady, fast self throughout the year. Since Chiron came to drive for the team, his experience had been a bumpy one. Failure after failure kept striking him. Then, in the last couple of races, he had been able to experience some much needed success. Were someone to believe in luck, or sabotage, it would have been easy to say Rosier had it all and that Chiron had no luck at all, or, had been the victim of constant sabotage. Well, whatever a person may believe, the seeming conspiracy would return in Bari.
Qualifying for the 65 lap event on the 3.44 mile circuit went rather well for Chiron. Despite the presence of two Alfa Romeo SpA 159s and four Ferrari 375s, Louis had been able to break into their dominance and qualified 6th. Rosier wasn't too far behind as he would start the race from the 8th spot.
Unfortunately, all of the promise offered by qualifying would disappear for Chiron once again during the race. After only 5 of the 65 laps, Chiron's Talbot suffered from a failure of the head gasket and was such that it was impossible and ineffective to try and fix. As a result, Louis was the first entrant out of the race.
The other Louis, as usual, soldiered on up through the field. Helped by the retirement of the three of the top teams' cars, Rosier was able to come up through the field without much of a fight. He would end up getting by one other and would finish 4th. This would have been another great result toward the championship, but unfortunately, it had been another non-championship race. For Rosier, this further helped to increase his confidence before heading to Monza for the Italian Grand Prix, which took place a couple of weeks later. For Chiron, questions had to be returning about whether the car would finish or fail once again.
Twenty-three drivers would end up qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix. The interest in the race was high. Ken Richardson, for British Racing Motors, had even qualified for the race, and rather well, but was prohibited from taking part in the race due to having the wrong license. Monza had always been one of those places that many drivers longed to compete. It was, however, one of those races that had the highest attrition rates. BRM lost another one of its drivers before the race even started when Reg Parnell suffered from engine problems during warm-up. The Ecurie Espadon pilot Rudolf Fischer didn't even get to qualify for the race when he suffered an accident during practice.
Four cars for both Scuderia Ferrari and Alfa Romeo SpA meant qualifying in the top-ten would be difficult. Once again, it would not have been to wild to think that the top-eight spots on the grid could have been taken by Ferrari and Alfa Romeo. In fact, this almost was the case, only, Reg Parnell was able to squeeze his way in there and interrupt the flow. He had qualified 8th. Then, before the race, he suffered his engine problems. This effectively handed the spot back to the dominant two teams as the 9th place qualifier had been Emanuel de Graffenried for Alfa Romeo SpA.
Neither Rosier nor Chiron could break into the top-ten. Most likely due to the high average speed over the 3.9 miles, the best Rosier could do in his T26C was 15th. Chiron did even worse. All that he could manage was 17th. However, they each had a chance if they could get their cars to the end. The attrition rate had always been notoriously high and could have played out in their favor. For Rosier, as usual, it did. For Chiron, as usual…no.
The race distance was 80 laps, but the high average speed of around 110 mph meant the Talbots would struggle. In Rosier's case, this meant that he would end up getting lapped seven times. For Chiron…well, the main concern was whether or not he would be able to nurse his car to the finish. He wouldn't.
Only 9 of the 23 entered for the race would see the finish. Alberto Ascari went on to win the race with Gonzalez following in 2nd. Rosier was able to be mindful of his car and his performance and he was able to trade-up. Louis climbed up from starting 15th to finish the race 7th. He had only missed the points by two places.
Louis Chiron had suffered once again and was only able to make it to lap 22 before having to retire due to ignition problems. There was a gaggle of drivers who had failed to make it to lap 10 of 80. This, therefore, meant that Chiron's placement after his retirement was still a respectable 13th. It was still an improvement upon his 17th starting spot on the grid before the race. Of course this was no consolation.
The Formula One season in 1951 still had one more stop on its calendar before the end of the year and it was the final race for Ecurie Rosier that year as well. It was the Spanish Grand Prix held at Pedralbes, which is outside of Barcelona, Spain.
Despite the fact that it was the end of October when the race took place, it was extremely hot and dry. And, the race was not going to be a short one. The race consisted of 70 laps of the 3.9 mile street circuit.
Due to the heat, over half of the field would suffer failure throughout the race. Engine related problems were, obviously, a large part of those failures, but tires would also play a huge part. Five of the ten that either did not finish or start were the result of the engine problems. The championship, itself, would be decided upon by tire issues in the hot weather and high track temperatures.
This was Alfa Romeo's last race, but they still had not lost their potency as they started 2nd, 4th, 6th and 8th. Ferrari filled in the gaps from 1st through 7th. Chiron qualified well for the race as he would start 12th.This race, was not looking so good for Rosier comparatively. He struggled with his car and would actually start the race from dead last. But situations like the one facing Rosier create great opportunities, and Rosier took every opportunity given him through out the race.
Almost as usual, Chiron had to make an early exit from the race. After only 4 laps of the scheduled 70, Chiron's Talbot-Lago developed ignition problems and forced him to retire from the race.
Juan Manuel Fangio would end up winning the race and the championship. He had battled many to take the win and the championship. Rosier would battle hard throughout the length of the Spanish Grand Prix and put in one of the most impressive performances. Helped out by attrition, Rosier still kept his foot to the floor and pushed his way through the pack. By the end of the race he was some 6 laps down. However, he had been able to climb his way up from dead last (20th) to finish the race 7th. Although he missed the points by just two places, Rosier put together a fantastic performance. Of course it was frustrating after such a performance to be that close, and yet, not score any points.
As the season drew to a close, Ecurie Rosier, and especially Rosier himself, had to be a little proud of what had been accomplished. Without the Indianapolis 500 in the picture, which actually counted toward the championship, Rosier actually finished the sophomore Formula One season in 11th overall having amassed three points. Chiron pretty much had a season to forget. And with the winter approaching, he would have been able to start thinking about 1952.
Louis Rosier proved himself to be a talented and competitive race car driver. He also proved himself to be a good team manager. This blend helped to make Ecurie Rosier a very competitive team, always ready to pounce upon any mistake or opportunity presented. Could Ecurie Rosier, then, take advantage in 1952?