Ferrari’s first F1 victory 70 years ago |

Ferrari’s first F1 victory 70 years ago |

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Ferrari’s first F1 victory 70 years ago |

At the twelfth race in the history of Formula 1, the British Grand Prix 1951, Ferrari took the first of 238 victories in the premier category of motoring. Crossing the finish line as a winner was July 14 it was José Froilan Gonzalez, then a 30 year old Argentine driver nicknamed ‘El Cabezon’ because of the size of his head. After an unsatisfactory 1950, Enzo Ferrari focused on Gonzalez (who had made his debut with the Varzi team’s Maserati) to get his first success in F1, so much so that he promised him a berlinetta as a gift for his first victory. Despite a Red with older chassis and engine than teammates Alberto Ascari and Luigi Villoresi, ‘El Cabezon’ still managed to take pole position ahead of the two Alfa Romeos of Juan Manuel Fangio and Nino Farina.

F1 | British GP 1951, Qualifying

1José Froilán GonzálezFerrariScuderia Ferrari1: 43.4
2Juan Manuel FangioAlfa RomeoSA Alfa Romeo1: 44.4+1.0
3Nino FarinaAlfa RomeoSA Alfa Romeo1: 45.0+1.6
4Alberto AscariFerrariScuderia Ferrari1: 45.4+2.0
5Luigi VilloresiFerrariScuderia Ferrari1: 45.8+2.4
6Consalvo SanesiAlfa RomeoSA Alfa Romeo1: 50.2+6.8
7Felice BonettoAlfa RomeoSA Alfa Romeo1: 52.0+8.6
8Peter WhiteheadFerrariGA Vandervell1: 54.6+11.2
9Louis RosierTalbot-Lago-TalbotEcurie Rosier1: 56.0+12.6
10Bob GerardWASPrivate1: 57.0+13.6
11Duncan HamiltonTalbot-Lago-TalbotPrivate1: 57.2+13.8
12Brian Shawe TaylorWASPrivate1: 58.2+14.8
13Louis ChironTalbot-Lago-TalbotEcurie Rosier2: 00.2+16.8
14Johnny ClaesTalbot-Lago-TalbotEcurie Belge2: 05.8+22.4
15David MurrayMaseratiScuderia Ambrosiana2: 06.0+22.6
16Philip Fotheringham-ParkerMaseratiPrivate2: 13.2+29.8
17John JamesMaseratiPrivate2: 17.0+33.6
18Joe KellyHighPrivate2: 18.4+35.0
19Peter WalkerBRMBRM
20Reg ParnellBRMBRM

At the start of the race, Felice Bonetto in an Alfa Romeo takes the lead, but soon has to give way to the two contenders, Froilan Gonzalez in a Ferrari and Juan Manuel Fangio in an Alfa Romeo. On lap 10 he is ahead of Fangio, Gonzalez at 39th. ‘El Cabezon’ then enters the pits to leave his car in Ascari, who had retired, but the Italian encouraged the Argentine to continue his excellent race. So Gonzalez got back on track and cleared Fangio by 51 seconds at the finishing line of the 90 laps at Silverstone.

F1 | Classification GP Great Britain 1951

PosPilotCarTurnsTime / WithdrawalGridPoints
1José Froilán GonzálezFerrari902: 42’18.20018
2Juan Manuel FangioAlfa Romeo90+ 51,00026
3Luigi VilloresiFerrari88+ 2 laps54
4Felice BonettoAlfa Romeo87+ 3 laps73
5Reg ParnellBRM85+ 5 Laps202
6Consalvo SanesiAlfa Romeo84+ 6 laps6
7Peter WalkerBRM84+ 6 Laps19
8Brian Shawe TaylorWAS84+ 6 laps12
9Peter WhiteheadFerrari83+ 7 laps8
10Louis RosierTalbot-Lago-Talbot83+ 7 laps9
11Bob GerardWAS82+ 8 laps10
12Duncan HamiltonTalbot-Lago-Talbot81+ 9 laps11
13Johnny ClaesTalbot-Lago-Talbot80+ 10 Laps14
DelayNino FarinaAlfa Romeo75Clutch31
NCJoe KellyHigh75Not classified18
DelayAlberto AscariFerrari56Exchange4
DelayPhilip Fotheringham-ParkerMaserati46Oil leak16
DelayDavid MurrayMaserati45Engine15
DelayLouis ChironTalbot-Lago-Talbot41Brakes13
DelayJohn JamesMaserati23Radiator17

When in ’51 Gonzalez in a Ferrari, for the first time against us directly [con l’Alfa Romeo, ndr], he left behind the 159 and the entire Alfa team, I cried for joy, but I mixed tears of enthusiasm with tears of pain, because on that day I thought: “I killed my mother”“, He declared Enzo Ferrari, remembering that first world success of the Maranello cars. From the book “My terrible joys”, Drake also drew a picture of Froilan Gonzalez, who then won only one more GP in F1, again at Silverstone in 1954: “He was a compatriot of Fangio, but there was no affinity between the two, indeed, in a sense Gonzalez was his opposite. The Cabezon, as everyone called it, was just the opposite of Fangio’s continuity, of regularity. He alternated very happy periods of unusual speeds, even unknown ones, with alarming pauses. When he was in the lead, he slowed down until he was inexplicably overtaken, when he was chasing he was a wrecking ball. He was therefore the opposite of Ascari in this respect“.

Enzo Ferrari struggled to understand Gonzalez: “I confess that I never understood why this man represented such an extraordinary sine wave in racing behavior. Nor did I ever understand why he ran to get so tired, to sweat so much, to worry so much. However, I must conclude that he was a courageous, strong-willed, generous driver. I cannot forget that he offered Ferrari magnificent satisfactions, both at Silverstone, when he managed to beat the Alfa Romeo and Mercedes teams for the first time, and in Argentina, when he defeated Mercedes twice in a row, and at Le Mans, in a thrilling 24 Hours“. The 1951 world championship went to Juan Manuel Fangio (Alfa Romeo) with 31 points, 6 more than Alberto Ascari (Ferrari) and 7 more than Froilan Gonzalez (Ferrari). Enzo Ferrari had to wait a year for his first victory in the drivers’ championship, with Alberto Ascari becoming champion in 1952.