At Spa-Francorchamps the rightward upward sweep of the hill after the left at Eau Rouge is Raidillon, with a gentle left bend just as you go over the crest. However, your car is weighted to the left side as you go up the hill, so the rightward weight transfer, combined with the loss of adhesion as the car unloads over the crest, can catch out the unwary. But this would not happen to Alberto Ascari, here in a Ferrari 500F2 during the 1952 Belgian Grand Prix which he would win by almost two minutes over his teammate Giuseppe “Nino” Farina.
The Ferrari 500F2 used a four cylinder two-liter motor designed for Ferrari by Aurelio Lampredi. Enzo Ferrari knew that the recent years’ Formula 1 limits of 4.5 liters normally aspirated or 1.5 liters supercharged would be replaced for 1952, following the withdrawal of Alfa Romeo whose prewar-based Alfetta 159 had reached the end of its development and the dominant position gained by Ferrari’s 375F1. When it was decided that the World Championship for 1952 and 1953 would be run under the existing Formula 2 rules with a limit of two liters unsupercharged (or 500cc supercharged), Lampredi was ready. He had a background in aeronautical motors and had spent time studying the Offenhauser fours as used at Indianapolis.
His new four cylinder F2 motor used a cylinder head which was cast as a unit with the block with screw-in cylinder liners so as to obviate the potential gasket weakness of a detachable head. The overhead camshafts were driven by a chain of gears at the front of the block and the crankshaft ran in a separate double-walled crankcase below the block/head assembly. The resulting motor, after extensive bench testing, was quite light and provided excellent torque characteristics.
The 500F2 was otherwise a fairly straightforward Ferrari design for the early 1950s, using transverse leaf springs front and rear with a de dion rear suspension which carried a rear-mounted transaxle with four speeds. Houdaille lever action dampers were used at the four corners. The total weight of the 500F2 was declared to be 545 kg (1200 pounds) with the motor initially putting out some 165 hp.
Alberto Ascari found this formula and Ferrari’s new 500F2 very much to his liking. In 1952 after his teammate Piero Taruffi won the Swiss Grand Prix at Bern and after Indianapolis which then counted for the World Championship, Ascari won the next seven races. For 1953 there was better competition from Maserati, but Ascari still won five of the eight races, excluding Indianapolis, for his second Championship. Ascari and his friend Luigi Villoresi moved to Lancia in 1954, but that’s another story entirely.
Photo by Louis Klemantaski ©The Klemantaski Collection