Fangio’s Greatest Race

Fangio, Maserati, Nurburgring

This marvelous color image shows Juan Manuel Fangio braking for the South Curve complex shortly after the start/finish line on the old Nürburgring during the famous German Grand Prix of August 4, 1957. This photograph was taken early in the race while Fangio built up an initial lead with his Maserati 250F over the Ferrari 801s of Peter Collins and Mike Hawthorn.

The lap record on the Nordschleife (the North Circuit of the Nürburgring) before this race stood at 9’41.6″. This was demolished by Fangio in practice who took pole with a lap at 9’25.6″. Indeed, the first two rows of the grid were all under the old record. The story of this race has been told many times. It was perhaps the occasion of the most exciting F1 race of all time. Fangio started the race on half tanks and moved out to a lead of 28 seconds. He then came in to refuel and change tires which, due to an Italian opera of a pit stop, left him down some 45 seconds to the Ferraris of Hawthorn and Collins when it was finally completed. Then began a great stern chase with Fangio cutting some half dozen seconds off the Ferrari lead on each lap. With two laps to go, Fangio had caught the Ferraris and passed them both on the ensuing lap, thereby ensuring an unbelievable victory. In doing this, Fangio left the lap record at an astounding 9’17.4″.

This race was unquestionably the highlight of Fangio’s brilliant career. He himself remarked that in catching the Ferraris he had taken risks far beyond anything he had done before and would not venture there again.

Photo by Yves Debraine ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com

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