This marvelous overhead photograph shows Alberto Ascari turning into Station Hairpin during early morning practice for the 1955 Monaco Grand Prix which would be held on May 22. Ascari is driving the new Lancia D50 2.5 liter grand prix car, a very complex and sophisticated design by Vittorio Jano, the great prewar Alfa Romeo designer.
Practice displayed that the Lancias would be a real challenge to Mercedes-Benz, with Ascari taking second position on the grid and Eugenio Castellotti fourth. Mercedes had Juan Manuel Fangio on pole and new boy Stirling Moss in third position. Fangiio and Moss led from the start, trailed by the Ascari and Castellotti Lancias. At half distance Fangio retired, having set fastest lap, leaving Moss in the lead. With 80 of the 100 laps run, Ascari made a mistake at the Chicane and shot off the road into the harbor, from which he was quickly rescued. Almost immediately Moss blew his motor and retired which left a surprising victory to the Ferrari 625 of Maurice Trintignant with Castellotti second.
The Lancia D50 would have become a very competitive car had the deteriorating financial situation at Lancia allowed. Just two months later Lancia had to close its racing department and turned over its cars and spares to Ferrari. Enzo Ferrari was initially somewhat dismissive of what he had received, but the financial support from Fiat which came with it overcame his resistance. The resulting Ferrari-Lancia of 1956 was very effective and delivered a fourth World Championship to Juan Manuel Fangio.
Photo by Günther Molter ©The Klemantaski Collation – http://www.klemcoll.com