The Italian Master

Ferrari, Alberto Ascari, Swiss GP, Bremgarten

In 1952 and 1953 Alberto Ascari was totally dominant in the two-liter Formula 2 class which determined the World Championship for Drivers in those two years. Some would say that his dominance was perhaps as much the car as the driver because Enzo Ferrari was fully prepared, having known that the Championship would switch over to F2 from the prior F1 regulations which had reached the end of their competitive life. Ferrari had suggested to his chief designer Aurelio Lampredi that a lightweight four cylinder motor with excellent torque characteristics would be the way to go forward. It was a superb decision.

The Ferrari 500F2 was a small, simple and light car with a motor which gave superb power and drivability. Ferrari also had probably the best driver of his generation in Ascari, with talented backup from Giuseppi “Nino” Farina, the 1950 World Champion, Luigi Villoresi and Piero Taruffi with occasional appearances by André Simon. In 1953 the Ferrari team continued its success with Ascari again winning the title with the team now including the young Mike Hawthorn with Piero Carini and Umberto Maglioli joining them for the Italian Grand Prix at the end of the season.

The penultimate round in 1953 was at the Bremgarten park circuit in Bern, Switzerland on August 23rd where this photo of Ascari was taken. Bremgarten was a dangerous course with the “belgian block” sections of the road very slippery in wet weather, trees everywhere and the spectators right near the sides of the road in many places, protected, as here, by only a wooden fence. Although Juan Manuel Fangio took pole position with a Maserati A6GCM, he had trouble and switched cars during the race with Felice Bonetto, allowing Ascari to win and take the Championship ahead of his teammates Farina and Hawthorn.

1954 would again see new F1 regulations and new challenges…

Photo by Louis Klemantaski ©The Klemantaski Collection

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