The 1954 F1 Season finally saw a review of the rules that stated Formula One races were run to Formula Two rules, and with that the restrictions to a 2.5 litre engine were out. The second big news story was that Mercedes would return to Grand Prix racing and they did so determined to win.
Mercedes signed Juan Manuel Fangio and it was clear from the off that they would pose a serious threat. Despite spending five successful seasons with the Ferrari marque Alberto Ascari decided he needed a stronger team and left for Lancia who were developing a new car.
As it happened neither Lancia nor Mercedes has their cars ready for the season opener in Argentina. At the beginning of the race Jose Froilan Gonzalez led in Nino Farina in the Ferraris but when rain hit Fangio passed and went on to win in a borrowed Maserati. Ferrari protested post-race that too many mechanics had serviced Fangio’s car during the pit stop (the maximum was three) but the protest was thrown out.
Fangio also used the Maserati at the Belgian Grand Prix and won the second race of the season despite driving with broken suspension late in the race. Following the Argentinian was Ferrari’s Maurice Trintignant followed in turn by Stirling Moss. Moss, a patriotic man had refused to drive foreign cars and for 1954 there was little by way of competitive British cars. Feeling the strain Moss relented and bought a Maserati 250F.
Reims hosted the comeback of Mercedes and the car was a stunner. The streamlined W196 helped Fangio and team mate Karl King storm to victory by over a lap from the others and to wrap up a great race the teams third driver Hans Herrmann achieved the fastest lap. But the conquering team were not as steadfast in Britain where the Silverstone track exposed floors in the cars handling – the bodywork concealed the two front wheels which meant that the drivers couldn’t get the car to corner how they wanted it to. In the race Fangio was lucky to hold on to fourth while Gonzalez and Hawthorn brought joy to Ferrari fans by finishing first and second.
The German Grand Prix was held at the Nurburgring and for their home race Mercedes brought an updated version of their car which wasn’t streamlined. It solved the issues enough for Fangio to take victory but the race brought no joy as Marimon was killed in practice. Gonzales was too upset to continue and handed his car to Hawthorn who finished second.
At the Swiss Grand Prix Fangio took another victory in the un-streamlined car. For the quick Monza track Fangio reverting back to the streamlined version of the W196 where the straights outweighed the corners, but even here the cornering of the Mercedes looked unconvincing. Fangio fought with Gonzalez and Ascari but Stirling Moss was the true star in his Maserati that had become a works car. Moss was leading until his car expired nine laps from the end with with a ruptured oil tank which handed victory to Fangio. Moss himself rejoined the race only for his car to stop just short of the line to which Moss’ response was to push it across the line to tenth place.
Barcelona hosted the final race of the season where the Lancia V8 made it’s debut. During the race Ascari and Villoresi were out early while Fangio had his own troubles after paper was sucked in to the air intake. This left Mike Hawthorn to claim victory but Fangio had done enough to win the 1954 F1 drivers championship with 42 points on the board.
Fangio had dominated the season recording 42 points.