Before the July 14, 1951 British Grand Prix at Silverstone where the modern Formula 1 had begun with the 1950 British Grand Prix here are three of the top Italian drivers, from the left, Alberto Ascari, Luigi Villoresi and Giuseppe “Nino” Farina. Farina was driving for the Alfa Romeo team in an Alfetta 159 while Ascari and Villoresi would have the increasingly competitive Ferrari 375F1s. The supercharged 1.5 liter Alfa Romeos had been dominant in Grand Prix racing for five years, but the 4.5 liter naturally-aspirated Ferraris had nearly as much power combined with considerably better fuel consumption. At Silverstone both Alfa Romeo and Ferrari fielded teams of four works cars.
The weekend shocked everyone. This started in practice when José Froilán González, seen at the left, replacing an ill Piero Taruffi, put his Ferrari on pole by a full second ahead of the Alfetta of Juan Manuel Fangio and another half second ahead of Farina’s Alfetta who was third fastest. Ascari and Villoresi with their Ferraris were a full two seconds behind the time set by González.
For the race Felice Bonetto’s Alfetta led the first lap of the Grand Prix, but was soon passed by the Ferrari of González. Fangio then took over for some 20 laps until González overtook his countryman on Fangio’s pit stop. González then kept the lead during a quick refueling stop and continued to the finish, leading Fangio by 51 seconds. Both Ascari and Farina had retired and Villoresi would finish third two laps in arrears.
Photos by Alan R. Smith ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com
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