1955 Dutch Grand Prix (partially found footage of Formula One World Championship race; 1955)
The 1955 Dutch Grand Prix was the fifth race of the 1955 Formula One Season. Occurring on 19th June at the Zandvoort Circuit, the race would ultimately be won by Juan Manuel Fangio in a Mercedes-Benz, with him and teammate Stirling Moss achieving a controlling 1-2. The event is also the earliest known race to receive full live television coverage.
The 1955 Dutch Grand Prix was the third running of the event within the Formula One calendar, as well as the fifth in Grand Prix history. Having missed the 1954 Season, the 100-lap race returned the following year once Zandvoort's surface was restored to a good condition. The race ran on a frequent basis until being dropped from the Formula One schedule following financial difficulties in 1986. Nevertheless, both the track and event would make a return to Formula One from 2021 onwards.
Heading into the race, Formula One and the entire motor racing world was shaken following the 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans disaster, which claimed the lives of Mercedes driver Pierre Levegh and 84 spectators. Four races, including the French, German, Swiss, and Spanish Grand Prix, were all cancelled. Additionally, only 16 cars were entered, with both Lancia and Vanwall withdrawing from the event. 1950 World Champion Nino Farina meanwhile retired following the previous race at Belgium. This enabled Ferrari to hire Eugenio Castellotti and Mike Hawthorn to drive alongside 1955 Monaco Grand Prix winner Maurice Trintignant and replace Farina. They would all be driving the Tipo 555, which following teething problems, was reportedly improving. Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz's line-up was unchanged, with the team also gaining an advantage by privately booking the circuit to conduct tests on the morning of qualifying.
In qualifying itself, Fangio achieved pole position with a time of 1:40, which was over 10 seconds faster than the record time set by a 2-litre Ferrari. Directly behind Fangio were his Mercedes teammates Moss and Karl Kling, in second and third respectively.
With the starting order decided, the 1955 Dutch Grand Prix commenced on 19th June. Fangio actually jumped the start, although did not pull out a substantial lead to convince anyone to file a complaint. Meanwhile, Maserati's Luigi Musso made a strong start from fourth to overtake Moss and Kling for second. Moss would quickly move back into second however and closed the gap to Fangio. Nevertheless, while Mercedes would begin to pull away, Musso remained in contention to give the German team some concern. Fangio controlled proceedings, his short car designed for Monte Carlo gaining advantages during the pit hairpin as opposed to Moss' medium-length design.
By the halfway point, Fangio and Moss were close to each other, while being 17 seconds ahead of Musso. Even by lap 60, Musso was still considered a threat to Mercedes. However, light rain began to pour down, which caused Musso to drop back. Gradually, Mercedes extended their lead until by lap 85 they were more than a minute ahead of Musso. While Moss' engine was experiencing issues on the last lap, it was the only real concern Mercedes had all race, with Fangio leading from start to finish to claim victory and eight points in the Drivers' Championship. Moss was just a length behind in second, with Musso taking third. Maserati's Roberto Mieres and Castelotti claimed the final points positions in fourth and fifth respectively. Ferrari's drivers were unhappy with the 555's performance in the race, complaining of significant understeer. Ferrari would therefore re-enter the 625 for the following race, the British Grand Prix.
Based on research conducted surrounding Formula One television broadcasts, the 1955 Dutch Grand Prix is the earliest-known race to receive full live coverage, courtesy of Dutch channel NTS. It also received highlights from Belgian channel BRT. Neither broadcast has resurfaced, however, having originated from an era where telerecordings were rare until videotape was perfected in the late-1950s. Nevertheless, footage of the race is available, including from an onboard perspective.
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- Circuits of the Past detailing the history of Zandvoort and the Dutch Grand Prix. Retrieved 10th Aug '22
- Motorsport Magazine providing a detailed race report. Retrieved 10th Aug '22
- Racing-Reference detailing the qualifying and race results of the event. Retrieved 10th Aug '22
- Autoweek reporting on the return of the Dutch Grand Prix to the Formula One calendar. Retrieved 10th Aug '22
- Grand Prix Ferrari summarising the race and Ferrari's performance in it. Retrieved 10th Aug '22
- List of Formula One television broadcasts noting NTS provided full live coverage, while BRT provided highlights. Retrieved 10th Aug '22
- Web Archive article discussing how most early television is missing due to a lack of directly recording television. Retrieved 10th Aug '22