Here is the famous Alberto Ascari with his Ferrari 375F1 entering the hairpin corner at the end of the main straight on the Avenida del Generalisimo Franco of the Pedralbes street circuit situated in the western part of Barcelona during the Spanish Grand Prix on October 28, 1951. This was the final race of the 1951 Grand Prix season and there were three closely-matched contenders for the Championship: Ascari, Juan Manuel Fangio (Alfa Romeo) and José Froilán González (Ferrari).
During the 1951 season Ferrari had developed its 4.5 liter normally aspirated cars to a level where they were highly competitive with the latest versions of the supercharged 1.5 liter Alfa Romeo 159, based to some extent on their much better fuel consumption. In practice Ascari was by far the fastest, seen at left, on this circuit of just under four miles in length with only six rather slow corners, leading Fangio’s Alfa Romeo by 1.7 seconds. Other than Ferrari and Alfa Romeo, there were no other effective competitors as the remaining six cars of these two four-car teams filled the following six positions on the starting grid.
It was shaping up to be a very competitive race on this circuit , but there was one differentiating element. On this very fast circuit on a hot and dry day tires could perhaps become a factor. Ferrari was staying with their normal 16 inch wheels while the Alfas were on larger 18 inch rubber which would allow the tires to run somewhat cooler. Indeed, this situation would be the difference. Ferrari had tire trouble with the repeated hard acceleration from the slow corners and had to stop for new rubber which cancelled the advantage inherent in their better fuel consumption.
At the finish, Fangio won both the race and the Championship with his countryman González taking second place with his Ferrari but almost a minute in arrears. Ascari finished but was two laps down in fourth as the other two Ferraris retired.
With this final victory Alfa Romeo would announce their retirement from racing but Ferrari and Ascari, with help from Aurelio Lampredi’s superb engine design, would be ready and totally dominant under the new Formula 2 displacement rules for the following year.
Photos from Archivio Corrado Millanta® ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com
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