It is just after the start of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on July 18, 1953. This image was taken as the leaders approached “The Motor” pedestrian bridge which was placed just before entry to the sweeping right hander called Copse. The leading car is a Maserati A6GCM which had a six-cylinder two liter motor and is being driven by Juan Manuel Fangio. If you wonder if it would rain, given the dark clouds above, it did, but not until the final laps.
1953 was the second and ultimate year in which the World Championship would be decided by Formula 2 cars. The motor in Maserati’s F2 car was a development of the company’s sports car motor and would be further developed and refined to become the motor for the firm’s famed 250F.
This year’s British Grand Prix saw multi-car teams from HW Motors, Connaught, Cooper, Gordini, Ferrari and Maserati. Alberto Ascari with a Ferrari 500F2 started from pole with Fangio next to him, but the Argentinean driver was initially ahead with Ascari here hidden behind him. On the far left is Giuseppi “Nino” Farina with one of the Scuderia Ferrari’s 500F2s with Tony Rolt in Rob Walker’s Connaught A between them. Mike Hawthorn with his white helmet visor in another Ferrari 500F2 is visible behind and to the right of Fangio’s Maserati.
Even though Fangio, led from the start, at their first time around Copse he slid wide and Ascari took over the lead which he would hold straight through to the end of the race. The image to the left shows Fangio at Copse later in the race. Fangio would finish second exactly one minute behind Ascari, they each having lapped the field twice!
There was a moment to remember early in the race when Hawthorn got a bit over his head at Woodcote, the high speed corner which was also the location of the start/finish line and led onto the pit straight. Hawthorn went off onto that grass verge seen in the top photo on the right and not far from the grandstand where he had a 360° spin before continuing after a stop at his pit across the track.
There was no question that at this time the British teams were a long way behind the likes of Ferrari and Maserati. Rolt’s Connaught, the best of them, had qualified six seconds slower than Ascari’s Ferrari. But both Vanwall and Cooper would show their winning potential before the end of the decade.
Photos by Louis Klemantaski ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com
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