This is then current World Champion Alberto Ascari in his Ferrari 500F2 at the Swiss Grand Prix held on August 23, 1953 on the Bremgarten park circuit in the city of Bern. The circuit was approximately 4.5 miles in length, quite fast with almost all sweeping corners and very dangerous when wet due to the paving stones used for its surface. In common with most circuits at the time, there was almost no run-off in event of a loss of control as trees lined most of the roadway with wooden spectator fencing along the short bending run past the start/finish area.
Ferrari and Maserati which were the main factory contestants each brought four cars. In addition, there were four private year-old Ferraris and two private Maseratis, each basically similar to their respective works entries, all with the F2-mandated two liter motors. Not as competitive were three HWMs with Alta engines and two Gordini 16s.
The fight for the World Championship title was finally balanced between three of the Ferrari drivers, Ascari, Nino Farina and Mike Hawhtorn, but one of the two latter would have to win both at Bern and at the next and final race at Monza while Ascari would have to get no points. It was Ascari’s Championship to win.
In the first dry evening practice Juan Fangio with his Maserati A6GCM took what would become pole when the next day’s session would see rain. He was 0.6 seconds up on Ascari and two more seconds ahead of Farina. Hawthorn was much slower in getting to grips with this scary track. Fangio led from the start but Ascari was soon in the lead and pulling away. But the race was thrown into confusion at about two-thirds distance when Ascari came into the pits with a sick-sounding motor. A change of spark plus seemed to cure the problem and he rejoined in fourth place behind Farina, Hawthorn and Onofre Marimon’s Maserati. Marimon soon retired with his Maserati well used up.
The ending laps were a case of team orders in which Farina and Hawthorn were signaled to hold position while Ascari who whether he saw the signal or not kept going hard and came past his teammates to win by well over a minute and thereby gain another Championship. Ferrari instructions of this sort to guarantee a desired result were ill-disguised even that many years ago.
Photo by Louis Klemantaski ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com
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