We are standing on the front row of the grid at the Nürburgring just before the start of the German Grand Prix on August 5, 1956. Closest to the camera is the Ferrari-Lancia of poleman Juan Manuel Fangio who is pulling on his gloves at the side of his car. The next two cars, also Ferrari-Lancias, have Peter Collins in n. 2 and Eugenio Castellotti in n. 3. On the far side of the four-car front row is a Maserati 250F which is being driven by Stirling Moss. The race would be run over 22 laps of the demanding Nordschleife, a distance of 312 miles.
The German Grand Prix would be a Ferrari vs. Maserati affair. The Scuderia Ferrari had entered five of its Ferrari-Lancias and Maserati three works 250Fs, backed up by another eight privately-entered 250Fs and an earlier A6GCM fitted with a 250F motor. Fangio, leader of the Ferrari team, even though he and his advisor Marcello Giambertone had a somewhat tempestuous relationship with Enzo Ferrari, was the odds-on favorite. Ferrari had now got the Lancia D50 well developed, a fact not missed by Fangio who was truly expert at picking the best mount year after year.
Ia addition, the spectators were looking forward to seeing the race lap record broken, as it had stood to Hermann Lang in a Mercedes, set during the Eifelrennen in 1939. And indeed the record fell, back and forth between Fangio, Collins and Moss with the Argentinean leaving the mark at 9 minutes 41.6 seconds, an improvement of almost 11 seconds, not so shabby given the much lower horsepower under the 2.5 liter formula.
So Fangio would lead all the way, initially followed by Collins who was almost overcome by exhaust fumes and pulled in on the 9th lap, then by Moss. Collins, now recovered, then took over de Portago’s car only to crash out after getting back up to third place. Castellotti was another retirement when he spun and stalled after taking over Musso’s Ferrari-Lancia. Four of the five Ferraris now out left second place to Moss, some 47 seconds back, and third place to Jean Behra’s factory 250F.
As Ferrari moved further away from the original D50 Lancia design and Maserati lightened and improved the 250F, again noticed by Fangio, the winning cars would be different in 1957 but the winning driver would remain unchanged.
Photo by Louis Klemantaski ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com
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