Formula 1 Italian GP: the day that Juan Manuel Fangio was on the verge of death in Monza

The legend of Juan Manuel Fangio in Formula 1 began to be built in 1951, when he won the Drivers' World Championship for the first time; That titl

Formula 1 Italian GP: the day that Juan Manuel Fangio was on the verge of death in Monza

The legend of in began to be built in 1951, when he won the Drivers’ World Championship for the first time; That title would be followed by four others -1954, 1955, 1956 and 1957-. However, throughout his prodigious career, the Monza Autodrome emerged as one of his greatest challenges. There, in 1952, he suffered a serious accident during the that almost ended his life.

The champion of the second edition of the most important motoring championship in the world had had several obstacles to participate in the following season: the Italian government, owner of Alfa Romeo – the team represented by the Balcarce native – had opposed financing single-seaters for the competition. For this reason, the Argentine, not having a team, decided to participate in some non-scoring races with a BRM.

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On June 7 of that year, Fangio was present at the Dundrod circuit, located in Northern Ireland, to run in a short test. The next day, the “Chueco” was scheduled to travel to Monza: in the small Italian city, the presentation of the new Maserati that would be used in Formula 1 would take place. Although the event was not official, it was important for the future of the reigning champion.

Fangio at Monza: an avoidable crash

José Froilán González, another history of the discipline, urged the Master to make a stopover in Milan to prepare, but the pilot from Balcarce had other plans: he called Prince Bira -Birabongse Bhanudej, a Thai runner and high-ranking member of royalty- to ask your private plane. However, the Asian, dazzled by his meager performance in Irish lands, forgot his promise and left. The crack was adrift.

In this context, Fangio had to take a commercial flight to London and another to Paris, both urgent. Almost without sleeping, he contacted a friend who lent him a car to travel the 480 kilometers that separate the French capital and Monza, on a road that crosses the Alps. The best Argentine driver in history arrived at the track half an hour before the start of the race.

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On the second lap, and driving a car that he was not used to using, he lost control in the famous Lesmo curve, suffering a strong impact. At the time of crashing into the autodrome protectors, “Chueco” was wearing the helmet and the regulatory goggles, which allowed him to survive the accident. Finally, the native of Balcarce suffered multiple fractures in his vertebrae and other cervical injuries that left him 12 weeks out of the circuits.

Juan Manuel Fangio crashed into the protectors of the circuit.

“I heard the screech of tires on asphalt, the thud of the car lifting off the ground and flying into a dim perspective, with trees and shadows. I clung to the wheel, but he threw me out of the driving position and threw me forward, ”Fangio would explain later. “At 2 I arrived at Monza, at 2:30 it was the start and at 3 I was in the hospital”, completed the legend.

Fangio in Monza: the revenge of the legend

The 42 days of hospitalization allowed him to compete in the contest and, in the end, the Italian Alberto Ascari kept the title. Already in 1953, and although the representative of Ferrari would get the two-time championship, the Master would take his revenge. It happens that five years earlier, when Formula 1 had not been established as such and the Grand Prix were disputed, it had been the last time that he had triumphed at the racetrack located in the Lombardy region.

Alberto Ascari dominated Formula 1 from start to finish in 1952 at the helm of his Ferrari.

In 1950, he had managed to set the record in the preliminary laps in Italy and did the same in the race, but a technical problem gave victory to the local Giuseppe Farina. A year later, aboard an Alfetta and in Formula 2, similar circumstances deprived him of celebrating. “It seems unbelievable that this track gave me the candy when I debuted and denied me in all of them,” Fangio had said. His return to the GP at Monza, after the injuries that almost cost him his life, was victorious.

After the accident, the Balcarceño took revenge in 1953.