1953-1954 Formula One World Championships (partially found footage of Formula One races; 1953-1954)
The 1953-1954 Formula One World Championships were the fourth and fifth FIA-sanctioned top-level Grand Prix racing seasons. The 1953 season saw Alberto Ascari again dominate for Ferrari, winning five of the eight races and becoming the first back-to-back Formula One World Champion. In contrast, the 1954 season featured Juan Manuel Fangio and Mercedes-Benz controlling much of the season, winning six of eight events, with Ascari facing frustrations with an unreliable yet innovative Lancia D50. The 1953 season is historic for having the first Formula One races to be televised, with the British and Italian Grand Prix receiving partial broadcasts. Both races were also televised in 1954.
British Grand Prix
The 1953 British Grand Prix was the sixth round of the 1953 Formula One World Championship. Held on 18th July at the Silverstone Circuit, the 90-lap race would be won by Ferrari's Alberto Ascari, who had also qualified on pole. The race made television history, as it became the first Formula One race to be televised.
The 1953 British Grand Prix was the fourth time that the event was held. Prior to the race, defending champion Alberto Ascari was leading the standings on 28 points, ahead of Mike Hawthorn, who had scored 14 points. The race, like others held in 1952 and 1953, would actually be run under Formula 2 regulations, to encourage a larger competitor field to attend events following the withdrawal of Alfa Romeo after the 1951 World Championship.
The event would experience more exposure than most Formula One races back then, as the BBC was interested in televising it. Prior to the Second World War, the BBC had broadcast many sports for the first time, including football, cricket, and rugby. While Formula One did not exist until 1950, the BBC had a history of televising motor racing stretching back to 1937, when it televised an International Imperial Trophy race on 9th October.
BBC cameras were therefore situated at Silverstone, and commentary was provided by Raymond Baxter, a fighter pilot and prominent television and radio presenter. Baxter would also be present for the Thursday practice session, in a television broadcast that explained some of the terminology and workings of motor racing, as well as introduce the audience to some of the racing personalities and cars that made motor racing unique. The actual race would be broadcast on Saturday and would be expected to last from 11:30 to 2:30, complying with the international agreement where the Grand Prix must last three hours. The BBC would dedicate its Television Service to broadcasting the race for the entire expected duration plus a fifteen-minute overlap, with the broadcast being expected to end by 14:45.
According to issue 1,548 of Radio Times, multiple other events would also be held on Saturday, including 500cc., sports car and Formula Libre events. This explains further listings in the issue, including the 500cc. race expected to be held from 10-11, the sports car race from 15:30-15:45, and other events from 16:00-16:15 and 16:35-17:00. Further, a BBC recording would be broadcast showcasing highlights of the Silverstone races from 22:35-23:05. Despite the historic nature of the broadcast, the BBC would only occasionally broadcast Formula One races in the 1950s and 1960s, with regular coverage generally occurring from 1979 onwards.
Qualifying occurred on the 16th, in a session affected by rain. Ascari qualified on pole for Ferrari with a time of 1:48.0, a full second ahead of Maserati's José Froilán González, and 1.2 seconds ahead of Ferrari's Hawthorn. Former champions Juan Manuel Fangio and Nino Farina rounded out the top five, driving for Maserati and Ferrari respectively.
In the race itself, Fangio made a good start, taking the lead at the first corner. However, his Maserati then drifted wide, allowing Ascari to overtake him. Ascari led Fangio, Gonzalez and Ferrari's Luigi Villoresi, with Hawthorn last having spun backwards at the Woodcote Corner and having survived a high-speed gyration that could have resulted in career-ending injuries if a crash occurred. The only damage however would be a slight fuel leak on his Ferrari. Ascari broke the lap record shortly after with a time of 1:51, only for Gonzalez to set an equal time on the next lap. Therefore, Ascari drove even faster to extend the gap between himself and the Maserati, with the fastest lap of the race at 1:50. Because both achieved the fastest laps, Ascari and Gonzalez would both be awarded an additional half-point each, in addition to any points they would earn in their current positions.
The top four would for a long while consist of Ascari, Fangio, Villoresi and Gonzalez, Gonzalez having lost a place because he was instructed to enter the pits due to a concern his Maserati was leaking oil. He nevertheless continued. As expected, Ferrari and Maserati would occupy most of the top places, while many of the other entries began to falter. Ascari was comfortably ahead by lap 25, and would only continue to dominate the race. Villoresi would retire on lap 65 because of a broken rear axle. The grid would then consist of Ascari, Fangio, Gonzalez, Farnia, and Hawthorn, who had managed to recover following his early spin.
In the final half-hour of the race, heavy rain and hail affected proceedings, taking more competitors out of the race. Ascari remained unaffected though, and won the race after 90 laps, a full minute ahead of Fangio. Farina would at some point overtake Gonzalez for third, holding out for the final podium spot, with both drivers being two laps down from Ascari. Hawthorn finished in the-then final points-paying position of fifth, a further lap down from the winner. As a result of his victory, Ascari extended his lead in the championship to 17.5 points ahead of Hawthorn. González overtook Villoresi to third in the standings with 13.5 compared to Villoresi's 13, while Fangio moved up to fifth, also on 13 points, with four races still to go.
Italian Grand Prix
The 1953 Italian Grand Prix was the ninth and final race of the 1953 Formula One Season. Occurring on 13th September at the Monza Circuit, the race would ultimately be won by Juan Manuel Fangio in a Maserati, achieving a hard-fought victory when Ferrari's Alberto Ascari and Nino Farina both encountered trouble at the final corner of the last lap. The race to date is the last Formula One event to be held under Formula 2 regulations.
It was the fourth running of the event as part of the FIA's World Championship of Drivers, with the annual event lasting 80 laps. The Italian Grand Prix, has been held at Monza for all bar one instance in 1980 since Formula One's inception in 1950, and has garnered a reputation for being the "home" grand prix of Ferrari.
Heading into the race, both Ferrari and Maserati were testing new designs. For Ferrari, the new 553 design proved slower than the dependable 500, with two-time champion Ascari and its other drivers noting issues regarding handling and high oil temperature. Meanwhile, Maserati's modifications saw Fangio and Onofre Marimón improving upon their records set in 1952. When it came to practice however, Fangio almost was forced to withdraw from the race, when he became shaken after a rear tyre broke free while travelling across a right-hand curve at Monza. Ultimately, neither the test nor practice versions Ferrari and Maserati entered were utilised for qualifying by their top drivers.
In qualifying, Ascari took pole position with a time of 2 minutes and 2.7 seconds. Directly behind him was Fangio, with Farina lining up third out of 30 competitors. The race almost became Ferrari's last; since 1952, races were held under Formula 2 regulations to increase participation. However, with teams like Lancia and Mercedes set to enter in 1954, Formula One regulations were to return. Considering Ferrari's success in the Formula 2 era, it appeared that the regulations change was the reason Enzo Ferrari announced his team would withdraw from the Championship after this race. In actuality, Ferrari was using this as a ploy to gain further financial support from Fiat. This move paid off, and the "farewell" race for Ferrari became anything but.
With the starting order decided, the 1953 Italian Grand Prix commenced on 13th September. Ascari and Marimón made the best starts and were side-by-side on the first lap, while Fangio was hesitant and fell to sixth. Nevertheless, the 1951 champion made a comeback, and overtook Ascari for first on lap 7. Throughout the race, the battle for the lead turned into a four-horse race between the Ferraris of Ascari and Farina, and the Maseratis of Fangio and Marimón. None held the lead for long, contributing to nineteen lead changes throughout the event. In fact, the cars were so close together that all four would be pitting almost simultaneously, separated only by a few yards. This led to concerns at least one would not survive to the end because of engine issues. This ultimately proved true when on lap 46, Marimón suffered a damaged oil radiator, repairs of which during two pit stops cost him six minutes and took him out of contention.
However, Ascari, Farina, and Fangio were still in contention with 20 laps remaining. However, it appeared the champion Ascari was gaining the upper hand, when having overtaken Fangio on lap 53, he defended it for 27 consecutive laps. On the final lap, the trio continued their battle for the lead, with Marimón and Ferrari's Luigi Villoresi also mixed up in the battle, although both were at least a lap down. At the final corner, just when it seemed a photo finish was possible, Ascari suddenly spun twice on some oil, and was hit from behind by Marimón, Farina also colliding with Marimón's rear wheel. Ascari and Marimón were out, while Farina took evasive action.
This led Fangio to suddenly move from third to first, claiming his only victory in 1953 and eight points, which became nine as he posted the fastest lap. It was the first Grand Prix since the 1951 Spanish Grand Prix to not be won by Ferrari. Such was the confusion generated from the crash that the man responsible for the chequered flag forgot to wave it, forcing Fangio and Farina to race one more lap to ensure both were classified. Farina finished 1.4 seconds behind in second, with Villoresi a lap down in third. Ferrari's Mike Hawthorn and Gordini's Maurice Trintignant claimed the final points positions in fourth and fifth respectively. The result allowed Fangio to pip Farina for second in the standings, scoring 28 compared to Farina's 26. The race also marked Ascari's last full-time race for Ferrari, with him departing for Lancia.
1954 British Grand Prix
The 1954 British Grand Prix was the fifth race of the 1954 Formula One Season. Occurring on 17th July at the Silverstone Circuit, the race would ultimately be won by José Froilán González in a Ferrari, after having led the entire event.
It was the fifth annual running of the event within Formula One and seventh annual within the Grand Prix circuit in general, with the race lasting 90 laps. Since then, the British Grand Prix has been an annual race on the Formula One calendar, primarily taking place at Silverstone, although Aintree and Brands Hatch have also hosted the event.
Heading into the race, Mercedes-Benz's Juan Manuel Fangio was controlling the Drivers' Championship, with the German company deemed the favourites to win the event. Its appearance at that year's British Grand Prix would mark the first time it had entered England since Donnington in 1937. Meanwhile, with Lancia still having yet to debut its D50, it agreed to let drivers Alberto Ascari and Luigi Villoresi compete for Maserati. Ferrari were seeking to make a comeback in the Championship, but for qualifying, Fangio broke González's lap record in practice with a time of 1:45. It was also the first lap to set an average speed of 100 mph. González was second by posting a time of 1:46, with fellow Ferrari driver Mike Hawthorn lining up third out of 32 competitors.
With the starting order decided, the 1954 British Grand Prix commenced on 17th July. In a wet race, González shot into the lead on the first lap, and by five laps already led Fangio by five seconds. Fangio nevertheless kept in touch, firstly by reducing the gap to three seconds after 10 laps, and then only to a second by 15. Maserati's Stirling Moss meanwhile passed Hawthorn for third, but both would re-overtake each other a few times until Moss solidified his position. González increased his lead from Fangio to two seconds, with both drivers setting times of 1:50. However, Fangio began to fall behind as his Mercedes' aerodynamic body was unsuited for Silverstone. The Argentine made mistakes when navigating the track, damaging the car's nose on both sides by clipping oil cans used to indicate the inside of the corners, while also experiencing gearbox and brake problems that forced him to keep it held in fourth gear.
Thus, González increased his lead out front, while both Moss and Hawthorn passed the stricken Mercedes. By lap 60, González led by 19 seconds ahead of Moss, and controlled the race despite the rain showers. With ten laps remaining, Moss retired due to a back axle failing, promoting Hawthorn to second, while Marimón passed Fangio for third. By the race's end, González led Hawthorn by 70 seconds, claiming victory and eight points in the Championship. Hawthorn made it a 1-2, with Marimón third, Fangio fourth, and Ferrari's Maurice Trintignant claiming the final points position in fifth. Seven drivers notably posted the same fastest lap of 1:50. Because of this, they shared the point awarded for setting the fastest, thus being awarded 0.14 points each. This also marked González's final Formula One World Championship victory.
Italian Grand Prix
The 1954 Italian Grand Prix was the eighth race of the 1954 Formula One Season. Occurring on 5th September at the Monza Circuit, the race would ultimately be won by Juan Manuel Fangio in a Mercedes-Benz, following duels with Ferrari's Alberto Ascari and Maserati's Stirling Moss.
Heading into the race, both Ferrari and Maserati were looking to halt Fangio and Mercedes-Benz's dominance of the Drivers' Championship. In qualifying, Fangio did take pole position with a time of 1:59. However, Ferrari and Maserati had shown they could theoretically match the German opposition. Earlier in practice, Maserarti allowed Ferrari driver José Froilán González to drive the car, where he set a lap time under two minutes. In qualifying, Stirling Moss proved the quickest Maserati racer, lining up third out of 20 competitors after being boosted by the inclusion of a rear-mounted oil tank with the "Heath-Robinson" pipe system for the first time, which improved oil pressure and reduced oil temperature. Meanwhile, Lancia again had not finished its D50. Therefore, its driver Alberto Ascari made a deal to drive for Ferrari, the team he drove in his 1952 and 1953 Championship years. Ferrari ultimately agreed to this, feeling Ascari was the only driver that could challenge Fangio's pace. He qualified second with a time of 1:59.9, much to the delight of the Tifosi.
With the starting order decided, the 1954 Italian Grand Prix commenced on 5th September. Karl Kling, who qualified fourth in a Mercedes-Benz, made a strong start to take the lead on the first lap. Moss meanwhile overtook Ascari for third. Kling held the lead until Fangio re-gained first on lap 4 after Kling spun, seeing him also lose places to González, Ascari, and Moss. Fangio did not hold first for long, with Ascari successfully moving past the other lead contenders on lap 6, González also making a move on his fellow Argentine. Nevertheless, Fangio would regain second from González, and built a gap to him and Moss by lap 15 that enabled him to challenge Ascari. Two laps later, González retired due to a broken gearbox after being overtaken by Moss, but would continue competing after taking over the Ferrari of Umberto Maglioli. By lap 20, Fangio was challenging for the lead, and even overtook Ascari on lap 23. A lap later though, Ascari regained first.
Ascari led Fangio by a second by lap 40, but the Maseratis of Moss and Luigi Villoresi were fast-approaching. While the latter would retire on lap 43 due to a clutch failure, Moss closed in and overtook Fangio, before passing Ascari on lap 45 for the lead. Ascari regained it a lap later, but dropped it back to Moss on lap 49. Not long afterwards, over-revving from Ascari caused a valve issue, ending his race.
Moss therefore remained in front, and had a 15-second lead over Fangio, who was struggling against a resurgent González. He ultimately won that duel however, with González giving the car back to Maglioli. Moss was now 20 seconds ahead of Fangio, but on lap 68, he was forced to pit as he lost oil following an oil pipe fracture. While an oil stop enabled him to head out, by the next lap oil again was pouring out, and despite a warning from Ferrari's Mike Hawthorn to the Maserati pit crew about the issue, Moss' engine grinded to a halt. With Moss and Ascari out of contention, Fangio took over first and remained well in front of second place Hawthorn to claim victory and eight points in the Championship. Hawthorn finished a lap down in second, while Maglioli took third. Moss would push his car across the line to be classified in tenth place. Post-race, Fangio accepted that Moss was the superior driver at the event.
Unlike many other BBC sports television firsts, televised footage of the 1953 British Grand Prix could have been recorded, as methods to directly record live television was possible following the Second World War. While it is unlikely the whole race was recorded, the telerecording listed by Radio Times suggested at least some of the race, including the other Silverstone events, were captured and re-broadcast. However, as of the present day, this telerecording has never resurfaced, and has likely become a victim of wiping, a common practice by the BBC back then so that it could re-use its tapes. The televised footage is therefore presumed to be lost. Nevertheless, a one-minute British Pathé newsreel of the race remains publicly accessible.
According to research regarding Formula One television broadcasts, the 1953 and 1954 Italian Grand Prix reportedly received partial live coverage from RTE. According to Issue 1,600 of Radio Times, both the start and finish of the 1954 British Grand Prix would be televised live by the BBC. This include 30 minutes of start coverage, and 20 minutes to showcase the race's end. These broadcast have yet to publicly resurface, however, also having originated from an era where telerecordings were rare until video tape was perfected in the late-1950s. Nevertheless, some footage of these races are available from various sources, such as newsreels and documentaries.
- STATS F1 providing the championship standings heading into the 1953 British Grand Prix. Retrieved 13 Oct '21
- Topgear-Autoguide detailing how the 1952 and 1953 World Championships were held under Formula 2 regulations. Retrieved 13 Oct '21
- SW Londoner listing some of the sports the BBC televised for the first time live prior to the Second World War. Retrieved 13 Oct '21
- Issue 731 of Radio Times listing the International Imperial Trophy race, the first motor race to be televised live. Retrieved 13 Oct '21
- Motorsport Magazine noting BBC cameras were present at Silverstone, capturing footage for the television broadcast. Retrieved 13 Oct '21
- Speed Read F1: The Technology, Rules, History and Concepts Key to the Sport crediting Raymond Baxter as the commentator for the 1953 British Grand Prix. Retrieved 13 Oct '21
- Issue 1,548 of Radio Times, listing the Thursday pre-1953 British Grand Prix broadcast as Background to Sport: Motor Racing. Retrieved 13 Oct '21
- Issue 1,548 of Radio Times, detailing the expected 1953 British Grand Prix race time start and end, as well as providing a Silverstone Special column from Raymond Baxter. Retrieved 13 Oct '21
- BBC Genome archive of Radio Times issues listing the races that would be broadcast on 18th July 1953, including the 1953 British Grand Prix. Retrieved 13 Oct '21
- Issue 1,548 of Radio Times listing all of the races BBC Television Service was expected to broadcast on 18th July 1953, including the 1953 British Grand Prix. Retrieved 13 Oct '21
- Motorsport Broadcasting noting the BBC did not provide regular coverage of Formula One until 1979. Retrieved 13 Oct '21
- STATS F1 listing qualifying results for the 1953 British Grand Prix. Retrieved 13 Oct '21
- August 1953 issue of Motorsport Magazine, providing a detailed report of the 1953 British Grand Prix. Retrieved 13 Oct '21
- STATS F1 listing the 1953 British Grand Prix results. Retrieved 13 Oct '21
- STATS F1 listing the championship standings following the 1953 British Grand Prix. Retrieved 13 Oct '21
- Racing-Reference detailing the qualifying and race results of the 1953 Italian Grand Prix. Retrieved 7th Aug '22
- F1 Experiences detailing facts regarding the Italian Grand Prix. Retrieved 7th Aug '22
- Scuderia Ferrari Club detailing how Monza is considered the home of Ferrari. Retrieved 7th Aug '22
- Motorsport Magazine providing a detailed report of the 1953 Italian Grand Prix. Retrieved 7th Aug '22
- Conceptcarz detailing the 1953 Italian Grand Prix, noting it was the last to be held under Formula 2 regulations and potentially could have been Ferrari's last too. Retrieved 7th Aug '22
- Grand Prix Ferrari summarising the 1953 Italian Grand Prix and noting Ferrari's announcement of withdrawing was to tempt Fiat into providing further financial backing. Retrieved 7th Aug '22
- A Second A Lap detailing the 1953 Italian Grand Prix and providing photos of it.
- Racing-Reference detailing the final 1953 World Championship of Drivers standings. Retrieved 7th Aug '22
- The History Press detailing the history of the British Grand Prix. Retrieved 7th Aug '22
- Racing-Reference detailing the qualifying and race results of the 1954 British Grand Prix. Retrieved 7th Aug '22
- Conceptcarz detailing the 1954 British Grand Prix and noting this was González's final Formula One win. Retrieved 7th Aug '22
- Motorsport Magazine providing a detailed 1954 British Grand Prix report. Retrieved 7th Aug '22
- Grand Prix Ferrari providing a summary of the 1954 British Grand Prix and Ferrari's performance in it. Retrieved 7th Aug '22
- Motorsport Magazine providing a detailed 1954 Italian Grand Prix report. Retrieved 7th Aug '22
- Grand Prix Ferrari summarising the 1954 Italian Grand Prix and detailing Ferrari and Maserati's performances in it. Retrieved 7th Aug '22
- Racing-Reference detailing the qualifying and race results of the 1954 Italian Grand Prix. Retrieved 7th Aug '22
- Web Archive article discussing how most early television is missing due to a lack of directly recording television. Retrieved 7th Aug '22
- Mental Floss detailing the extent of wiping, which likely affected any recorded footage of the 1953 British Grand Prix. Retrieved 13 Oct '21
- List of Formula One broadcasts noting the BBC and RTE provided partial live coverage of 1953 and 1954 British and Italian Grand Prix respectively. Retrieved 7th Aug '22
- BBC Genome archive of Radio Times issues detailing the television coverage of the 1954 British Grand Prix. Retrieved 7th Aug '22
- Issue 1,600 of Radio Times listing the television coverage. Retrieved 7th Aug '22
- List of Formula One broadcasts noting the 1954 British Grand Prix received partial live BBC coverage. Retrieved 7th Aug '22