1953 F1 Season Review

© P-H Cahier / F1-photo.com

The 1953 F1 Season was in keeping with the Formula Two rules used for a second consecutive season. This meant that there was a small number of Formula One teams surrounded by numerous lesser formulae teams and, as with prior years, the F1 championship races were ran alongside Formula Two races. However, only the Formula One races would count towards the championship.

1953 was predicted to be a battle between the dominant Ferrari and the improved Maserati team. Fangio had made a full recovery from the injuries that saw him miss the 1952 season and spearheaded the Maserati team. Fangio was supported by his protege Onofre Marimon and the very quick Gonzalez. At Ferrari 1952 world champion Ascari was joined by Farina, Villeresi and new recruit Mike Hawthorn. Hawthorn’s fantastic performances in 1952 being enough to impress Enzo Ferrari.

The season was could consist of nine races – eight in Europe and one in America. From these races the best four finishes would count towards the drivers championship. Again, as in the last three years, there was no constructors title.

The first championship race was the Argentinian Grand Prix where Fangio turned up with the 1952 model Maserati. The 1953 model was not yet quite ready. In the race Fangio was giving chase to the Ferrari of Ascari until his engine failed leaving the path clear for Ascari to record an easy win. Ascari was followed by team-mate Villoresi with Hawthorn fourth. The Maserati of Marimon prevented utter Ferrari domination.

The race however will be remembered for the tragic loss of the lives of ten spectators. Farina had swerved to avoid a boy who had run in front of him, but careered into the crowd with fatal consequences.

The next event was the Dutch Grand Prix where again Ascari was a dominant winner. Fangio again failed to finish owing to an axle problem. Farina followed Ascari home but it was the third place of Gonzalez that was the race highlight. Taking over team-mate Felice Bonetto’s Maserati after his own had rear axle problems, he chased the Ferraris hard but was unable to close and pass.

For Spa the Maserati drivers finally laid their hands on the new car. Fangio and Gonzalez made exceptional use of them too, streaking in to the lead until they were denied by unreliability. Gonzalez suffered from a broken accelerator pedal and Fangio succumbed to engine failure.

Fangio took over a team-mate’s car but skidded on some oil and crashed out of the race suffering minor injuries. Ascari secured another win, his ninth in a row.

Next up was Reims, and finally Ascari’s stranglehold was broken. The race was run between Fangio and Hawthorn, racing wheel to wheel for the lead. Hawthorn took victory but by the narrowest of margins while Ascari only managed fourth place.

At Silverstone Ascari returned to form and took another victory to add to his impressive tally. Fangio finished second. The Maserati was suited to the quick tracks, but the Ferrari had the better handling.

At the German Grand Prix Ascari drove another fine race. However, he suffered a hitch when the car he was driving lost a wheel and was forced to return to the pits on just three. ¬†Ascari then took over Villoresi’s car and gave chase to the leaders before his car failed. Farina won the race, with what was to be his final victory.

Ascari and Fangio battled for the lead at the Swiss Grand Prix until both were forced to pit. Fangio took Bonetto’s car which later expired leaving a cloud of thick smoke. Ascari meanwhile had needed a change of plugs and had been able to rejoin in fourth place before taking the lead. Farina won followed by Farina and Hawthorn.

Monza was the host of the final championship race but it was Maserati not Ferrari who took the spoils. Fangio battled with Ascari and Farina for the lead until Ascari made a rare mistake while slipstreaming, Farina mounted the grass avoiding a collision but Fangio calmly avoided all trouble and took his only victory of the 1953 season.

Ascari took the championship with 34.5 points, Fangio was second with 28.