The 1950 Monaco Grand Prix was the second race of the inaugural Formula One World Championship in 1950. The 100-lap race took place on 21 May 1950 and was won by Juan Manuel Fangio from flag to flag. Fangio also set the fastest lap, thus completing the first Grand Chelem in Formula One history.
The Monaco Grand Prix had returned to the grid after a year's absence from the calendar following the death of the city-state's prince, Louis II. After a year of mourning, Prince Rainier III welcomed the grand prix circus back to the principality.
The last race in 1948 had been won by Giuseppe Farina, the Alfa Romeo driver who had also had the pleasure of winning the opening round of the championship at Silverstone. Monaco had one representative for its nation in the race, Louis Chiron, the local favourite would be participating for the Maserati works. There was talk of Chiron taking a one-off drive at Alfa Romeo, if possible the Monegasque would be in prime position for the potential for a second home win, adding to his Monaco victory from way back in 1931. However Alfa Romeo opted to stick with its regular line-up of Farina, Fangio and Fagioli, although the team did name Chiron as their reserve driver for the weekend.
The Monaco race would see the debut of manufacturers, Ferrari and Simca-Gordini in the world championship. Ferrari had snubbed the opening round of the championship at Silverstone, the team feeling the Brits' prize money was insignificant, Enzo Ferrari placing greater value of a minor Formula Two race at Monza over the World Championship debut event. Following the Alfa Romeo domination at Silverstone, the Ferrari drivers of Luigi Villoresi, Alberto Ascari and Raymond Sommer were believed to be the only true rivals to the Alfa's strength. Aside from the works Ferrari's, Peter Whitehead would enter his privately owned Ferrari 125 to enter for the event. The Ferrari 125 was believed to be the only car capable of matching the Alfa's. It had been the strongest car throughout 1949 in the absence of the Alfa Romeo's following their withdrawal. However despite its speed it had yet to test itself against the mighty Alfa's. To make matters worse for Ferrari, the 125's lead designer, Gioacchino Colombo, had left the team to defect to Alfa Romeo upon their return in 1950. In response to this, the new lead designer for Ferrari, Aurelio Lampredi, had taken Colombo's promising apprentice engineer Valerio Colotti for his own and had begun designing a new Ferrari V12 engine to replace the current model of the 125.
The other manufacturer to debut at Monaco was the Simca-Gordini outfit. The minor French manufacturer was expected to be a solid midfield team with Maurice Trintignant, André Simon and Robert Manzon racing at their helm. Simon, however would cancel his entry prior to the beginning of the event. After a disappointing run in Silverstone, the major French manufacturer had scaled back its works team to fielding only Yves-Giraud Cabantous, although Philippe Étancelin, Louis Rosier, Pierre Levegh, Charles Pozzi and Johnny Claes would continue to compete in the modern T26C's as privateer racers.
Louis Chiron and Franco Rol continued as the works Maserati drivers whilst privateer team, Scuderia Achille Varzi made their debut with Maserati machinery. The Argentine run outfit, named in tribute of the great Achille Varzi, had been funded by the Automobil Club of Argentina and had allowed Juan Manuel Fangio to find success the previous year. The youthful Argentine, José Froilán González, had joined the team as successor to Fangio whilst alongside him was another great Argentine veteran, Alfredo Piàn. The Enrico Platé squad continued with Prince Bira and Toulo de Graffenried as their drivers, whilst Clemente Biondetti was also racing a Maserati 4CLT, albeit the car had been modified by his team, Scuderia Milano.
Bob Gerard and Cuth Harrison would also participate as minor privateers, the duo competing in old A and B Type ERA machinery. Notably making his grand prix debut was American, Harry Schell. Schell would notably debut with a Cooper car designed for Formula Two and Formula Three racing, the small nimble Cooper was powered by a JAP motorcycle engine. It was also notably the first car in Formula One in which the engine manufacturer and chassis design had been built independently from one another.
In order to increase competition for the qualifying sessions, the event organizers decreed the first five grid positions would be allocated to the first five fastest cars in the first timed practice sessions. This decision had caught Ferrari unawares, the works team had not planned to arrive at the circuit until the Saturday qualifying sessions. This provided a huge advantage for Alfa Romeo with their main rivals unable to secure a position in the top five grid slots, Fangio ran excellently to take pole, his time being 2.6 seconds faster than teammate Farina's best time. Fagioli appeared to be struggling in his Alfa and could not better his two teammates. In fact, the old Italian veteran was pushed down to fifth as young gun José Froilán González had managed to put his Maserati third on the grid in his first grand prix qualifying. Philippe Étancelin had also done well to put his private Talbot-Lago into fourth. Fagioli who was struggling bounced back on the second day of qualifying, his time being good enough for second on the grid, however his poor run on Friday had meant he would have to start from fifth.
When Ferrari arrived for the second timed session, their times meant they were running competitively, however neither Villoresi, Ascari or Sommer could beat the top three of Fangio, Farina and surprisingly González's Maserati. Their absence from the first session meant Villoresi and Ascari would start from sixth and seventh whilst Sommer had been bumped down to ninth when local hero, Louis Chiron put in a strong time to put his car into eighth. Rounding out the top ten was Louis Rosier's Talbot-Lago.
Robert Manzon was the fastest Simca-Gordini in eleventh ahead of De Graffenried's Maserati and his teammate Maurice Trintignant. Cuth Harrison was fourteenth ahead of a disappointed Prince Bira in fifteenth. Bob Gerard in his old ERA A Type was sixteenth ahead of Franco Rol and Johnny Claes. Whilst González had impressed for Scuderia Achille Varzi, his teammate Alfredo Piàn had also been running well. In unofficial practice he had put in times fast enough for sixth on the grid, but at the end of the session he had spun his Maserati on oil and crashed against the guard rail. Piàn sustained a broken leg and subsequently could not participate in the race, the team's expectations being pinned solely on González.
Yves-Giraud Cabantous's Talbot-Lago had significant mechanical troubles which saw him participate in none of the practice sessions at the circuit, the problems were so bad he was forced to withdraw his entry to the event. The withdrawal of Cabantous meant Talbot-Lago had no works entry for the race, the manufacturer having to rely on its privateers to represent its presence in the race. Peter Whitehead also withdrew his private Ferrari when he suffered three engine failures in rapid succession during practice, the costs being too high to maintain an entry into the race. The entry's of Charles Pozzi and Clemente Biondetti were also removed when they failed to turn up to the event. Harry Schell in his little JAP engined Cooper had experienced multiple problems during practice, he had failed to set a lap time in either timed session, however he vowed to continue on in the race albeit starting from the back of the grid.
|1||34||Juan Manuel Fangio||Alfa Romeo||1:50.2||100%||103.884|
|2||32||Nino Farina||Alfa Romeo||1:52.8||+2.6||102.4%||101.489|
|3||2||José Froilán González||Maserati||1:53.7||+3.5||103.2%||100.686|
|5||36||Luigi Fagioli||Alfa Romeo||1:54.2||+4.0||103.6%||100.245|
|12||52||Emmanuel de Graffenried||Maserati||2:00.7||+10.5||109.5%||94.847|
|19||8||Harry Schell||Cooper-JAP||No Time|
|20||4||Alfredo Piàn||Maserati||No Time|
|______________||2||Juan Manuel Fangio|
|José Froilán González|
|13||Emmanuel de Graffenried|
The weather ahead of the race was cool, yet sunny. The waves from the harbour were crashing against the shoreline, sometimes spraying the circuit around the area of Tabac. Alfa Romeo looked set to retain their dominant advantage, however they faced closer competition than they had done in Silverstone, setting the stage for a hopefully exciting race.
Farina got away well and took the lead into the first corner ahead of Fangio. However, it was Villoresi's Ferrari who got the best start, climbing to third, disposing of Fagioli, Étancelin and González. Farina's lead did not last long as only after a few corners, Fangio had reclaimed the lead from his teammate.
Farina chased hard, but at Tabac, he was caught out by the residual water laid down by the seaside waves, he spun into the wall before bouncing into the paths of the oncoming cars. Villoresi, Étancelin, Ascari, Chiron and Sommer all managed to dodge past, but Farina's Alfa teammate, Fagioli, spun wide into the barriers. González collided with Farina's car which started a chain reaction of collisions down the field. The midfield was almost totally wiped out of the race as the narrow circuit left the cars with no path to go except crash into one another. Aside from Farina, the cars of González, Fagioli, Rosier, Manzon, De Graffenried, Trintignant, Harrison, Rol and Schell were all eliminated from the race.
Both González and Fagioli attempted to keep going, Fagioli however only managed as far as the pitlane to bring his crippled car into retire. González attempted to complete a further lap, until a ruptured fuel tank burst, causing his car to crash at the Gasworks Hairpin and burst into flames. González leapt from his vehicle, however still received second degree burns to his arms in the process Despite the severity of the accident, the only other driver to be injured was the works Maserati of Franco Rol who had broken an arm in the multi-car pile-up..
The aftermath of the first lap crash meant the wreckage of almost half the field was left at Tabac corner. The surviving nine cars were forced to navigate around these cars for a number of laps as if it was an extra corner. Prince Bira even found time to stop his car outside the scene of the accident and berate the marshalls for not clearing the wreckage fast enough.
Following the accident, Fangio led the race ahead of Villoresi, Chiron, Ascari, Sommer, Étancelin, Bira, Claes and Gerard. However on the second lap whilst navigating the car obstacles at Tabac, Villoresi stalled his Ferrari which dropped him to last place. Thereafter, with the exception of Fangio's Alfa, Villoresi was the fastest car on track and provided much of the excitement as he fought back through the field. Chiron could not maintain second place for long and his Maserati dropped back behind the Ferrari's of Ascari and Sommer. Shortly after Villoresi was also past Chiron and by lap 14 he had made his way into third when he overtook teammate Sommer. On lap 31, Villoresi had caught up to the rear of Ascari, the two Ferrari drivers duelled ferociously until Villoresi came into the pits for fuel on lap 37. His stop took 32 seconds, the following lap Ascari came into the pits, in contrast his stop was 37 seconds which allowed Villoresi to return to second position. The same lap, Étancelin retired from sixth place with an oil leak.
Villoresi would attempt to chase down race leader Fangio, however the Alfa driver had the race well under control. When it was his turn to come into the pits for fuel on lap 52, he retained the lead of the race by 30 seconds to Villoresi's second position. Shortly after, Fangio's last remaining serious race rival, Villoresi, dropped out of the race on lap 63 with a fractured rear axle. Being over a lap clear of the new second place man, Ascari, Fangio decided to come in for a second pit stop a lap after Villoresi's retirement.
The last 36 laps were fairly processional and without order change, Fangio consolidated his race lead before taking his first world championship race victory an entire lap clear of Ascari in second. Chiron, the local driver scored a popular third position after reclaiming the position from Sommer's Ferrari. Sommer was fourth whilst Bira claimed the final points placing. The final two finishers, six laps adrift were a battling Claes and Gerard for sixth place. In the final laps, Gerard managed to move past the Talbot-Lago to take sixth, providing some final entertainment for the Monagasque crowd.
Fangio's dominant win at Monaco had allowed him to draw level with teammate Farina in the championship standings. The two drivers shared nine points apiece, with both taking a victory and a retirement in the opening two rounds. Fagioli, Alfa Romeo's third driver was still not far behind, he had six points, however his non-finish in Monaco meant that all his points had been earned at Silverstone. The Ferrari's evidently still had more work to do, poor reliability had cost Luigi Villoresi a well-deserved second place, only the car of Alberto Ascari in second place scored points.
Fangio's first race win had been dominant, however he would walk away from Monaco in concern following the injuries sustained to his friends, fellow Argentinians and former teammates, Alfredo Pián and José Froilán González. Following the race he remained in Monte Carlo to tend to his friends injuries. He took this time to drive Pián all the way to Bologna to an orthopedic hospital to tend to his broken leg, Fangio then returned to Monaco to drive González to a specialist burns unit in Italy.
|1||34||Juan Manuel Fangio||Alfa Romeo||100||3:13:18.7||98.701||1||9|
|2||40||Alberto Ascari||Ferrari||99||+ 1 lap||97.251||7||6|
|3||48||Louis Chiron||Maserati||98||+ 2 laps||96.191||8||4|
|4||42||Raymond Sommer||Ferrari||97||+ 3 laps||95.451||9||3|
|5||50||Prince Bira||Maserati||95||+ 5 laps||93.363||15||2|
|6||26||Bob Gerard||ERA||94||+ 6 laps||92.317||16|
|7||6||Johnny Claes||Talbot-Lago||94||+ 6 laps||92.254||18|
|Ret||14||Philippe Étancelin||Talbot-Lago||38||Oil leak||4|
|Ret||2||José Froilán González||Maserati||1||Accident||3|
|Ret||32||Giuseppe Farina||Alfa Romeo||0||Accident||2|
|Ret||36||Luigi Fagioli||Alfa Romeo||0||Accident||5|
|Ret||52||Emmanuel de Graffenried||Maserati||0||Accident||12|
|DNP||18||Charles Pozzi||Talbot-Lago||Not present|
|DNP||20||Yves Giraud-Cabantous||Talbot-Lago||Not present|
|DNP||22||Pierre Levegh||Talbot-Lago||Not Present|
|DNP||46||Clemente Biondetti||Maserati||Car unavailable|
|1||34||Juan Manuel Fangio||Alfa Romeo||?||1:51.0||103.135||1|
|1||Juan Manuel Fangio||1–100||100||318.000 km|
|1||Juan Manuel Fangio||100||318.000 km|
Drivers Championship only
|2||Juan Manuel Fangio||9|
- Juan Manuel Fangio's first pole position, victory, fastest lap, double, hat-trick and Grand Chelem.
- First Formula One Grand Chelem.
- First Entry & Race - Alberto Ascari: The 32-year-old Italian racer, Alberto Ascari, son of the famous 1920's race driver, Antonio Ascari, made his Grand Prix entry into racing in 1940. However the Second World War prevented him from truly getting his career underway until 1947. Like his father before him, Ascari proved incredibly fast and he began producing impressive results in his private Maserati. His father, before his death in 1925 had befriended racer turned team manager, Enzo Ferrari, who had began to follow the son of his late friend's career develop with great interest. In 1949, Enzo Ferrari signed the younger Ascari to his own team, Scuderia Ferrari. During 1949, Ascari won four Formula One races, more than any other Ferrari driver. Ascari continued with Ferrari for 1950, and was considered to be one of the best up and coming drivers of the new generation.
- First Entry & Race - José Froilán González: The 28-year-old Argentine racer, González, was the most junior driver to enter the Monaco Grand Prix. His racing career had began in 1946 where he had began to quickly impress in local Argentine categories. In fact, his career rise mirrored the rise of Argentina's top driver, Juan Manuel Fangio, a man González idolised and revered. González impressed the international scene when he fought amongst the best international drivers when they came to race at Pelarmo in Buenos Aires. Subsequently, he bought a Maserati 4CL off Giuseppe Farina and travelled to Europe, following his idol, Juan Manuel Fangio. When Fangio left Scuderia Achille Varzi at the beginning of 1950, a team funded by the Automobile Club of Argentina, Fangio recommended the fast but inexperienced González to take his place.
- First Entry & Race - Robert Manzon: The 33-year-old French racer, Robert Manzon, had began his racing career in 1946. Throughout 1946 and 1947, he produced some decent results in the tail ender Cisitalia chassis. He proved a successful racer in the minor categories and was a solid runner in the midfield for grand prix racing. Amédée Gordini, the founder of Simca-Gordini, found him a staunch competitor to race against and for 1948 signed Manzon as apart of his race team. Simca-Gordini was an ambitious team but it lacked the resources to be a front runner, Manzon nonetheless remained faithful to his team.
- First Entry & Race - Franco Rol: The 42-year-old Franco Rol, like many of his time was a wealthy hobby racer who made it into the higher categories through virtue of his talent. Beginning his career in 1947, Rol joined the Simca-Gordini team in Formula Two for the 1948 season. A series of retirements plagued his career and in 1949 he returned as a privateer racer. For 1950, Rol would start his first serious venture into Grand Prix racing when he joined the works Maserati team.
- First Entry & Race - Harry Schell: Born to wealthy motorsport enthusiasts, 29-year-old Harry was the son of former American racer Laury Schell and wife Lucy, a keen motorsport follower who invested into major European teams such as Delahaye in the 1930s. A veteran of the Second World War, he had flown in the Finnish Air Force against the Soviet Union in the Winter War of 1939 and then served in the United States Tank Corps in World War Two. His motor racing career had began in 1940 whilst racing in the United States, notably participating in the 1940 Indianapolis 500 with a Maserati. Following the conclusion of the war he returned to motor racing, he primarily raced casually in Formula Two or Formula Three, but proved a talented racer. For 1950, Schell decided to enter his Formula Two, Cooper-JAP, into the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix despite its serious power deficiency in comparison to the Formula One cars.
- First Entry & Race - Raymond Sommer: One of the most experienced racers in the field, Sommer was one of the few remaining major pre-war racing drivers. At 43, he was still young enough to have a career ahead of him. He was famous for primarily racing independently as a privateer racer, rather than remain devoted to a major team and attempt to gain success. His career began in 1932, the same year he had won the 1932 24 Hours of Le Mans, the following year he repeated the feat in his first drive for a works team, this being Alfa Romeo. Nonetheless, rather than stay as a works driver he returned as an independent racer. He gained a reputation as one of the best independent racers. During 1937 and 1938, he was known for regularly swapping between being a privateer and racing for Talbot and Scuderia Ferrari throughout the seasons. In 1938, he committed to one team for the first time when he raced a season for Alfa Romeo. Sommer led at every major race but his machinery always let him down. Following the war, Sommer returned as a privateer in Formula One and Formula Two. In 1948 he completed a full season with Ferrari before in 1949 he swapped to the works Talbot-Lago team. For 1950, Sommer has rejoined Ferrari for the World Championship.
- First Entry & Race - Maurice Trintignant: 33-year-old Trintignant had began his racing career in 1938 racing private Bugatti's. He resumed his career in 1947 when he joined the newly founded Simca-Gordini racing squad. He was known fondly in the Grand Prix scene as the 'rat dropping's man' after he retired from a race when his car became clogged with rat droppings. At the 1948 Swiss Grand Prix, Trintignant had a serious accident which left him in a coma for 6 weeks. Nonetheless, he returned to racing and the Simca-Gordini team for 1949.
- First Entry & Race - Luigi Villoresi: The 41-year-old Villoresi began his motor racing career in 1933, but it was not until 1936 when he joined the Scuderia Ambrosiana team, racing private Maserati's that his career began to truly take off. After winning a series of minor Grands Prix, Villoresi joined the works Maserati team in 1938. He was regularly seen competing in Grands Prix alongside his younger brother, Emilio, but Emilio was killed in 1938 whilst testing for Alfa Romeo. Following the conclusion of the war, Villoresi returned to his old team, Scuderia Ambrosiana, where between 1946 and 1948 he was a regular race winner. His recent success meant that in 1949, Enzo Ferrari signed him as lead driver for his Scuderia Ferrari team. 1949 was another successful year, yielding a number of Grand Prix victories.
- First Entry & Race - Cooper: Cooper Car Company, was only three years old in 1950, following its inception by Charles and John Cooper in 1947. In this period, the manufacturer had not planned to enter Formula One, its T12 chassis proved dominant in Formula Three, but it was not up to Formula One standard. The works team had not yet entered Formula One, and Harry Schell's decision to enter his T12 privately as a minor competitor did not see the accompany of the works team; however, nonetheless, Monaco 1950 saw the debut of Cooper cars in the Formula One field.
- First Entry & Race - Ferrari: Although only operating as a manufacturer since 1947, Enzo Ferrari's team had been operating since 1929 where it proved to be the most successful team running Alfa Romeo chassis. In the late 1930s, Scuderia Ferrari had been one of the only teams capable of challenging the might of the German auto giants, Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union. Following the war, Enzo Ferrari finally decided to start building his own cars. Ferrari immediately proved to be one of the most impressive new stables, following Alfa Romeo's original withdrawal from racing in 1948, Ferrari had been the fastest cars throughout 1949. With the return of the dominant Alfa's in 1950, Ferrari was believed to be the only manufacturer capable of challenging the Alfa's.
- First Entry & Race - Simca-Gordini: Another new manufacturer formed following the conclusion of war. Simca-Gordini was formed in 1946 by Amédée Gordini; the name symbolised the relationship between Simca, the French division of automotive supergiant Fiat, and Gordini's own independent manufacturer. Nonetheless, the team ran on a tight budget, and was still behind France's top motor racing manufacturer, Talbot-Lago, in terms of pace. Nonetheless, the team and drivers were skilled and the cars ran successfully in the Formula Two division taking many victories.
- First Entry & Race - JAP: JAP standing for 'JA Prestwich Industries' was an engine manufacturer that supplied engines to the Cooper Formula Three teams. What is now common place in modern Formula One, the partnership of Cooper and JAP where the engine and chassis manufacturers were completely different was a novelty in 1950. The JAP engine in the Cooper T12 was a motorcycle engine, commonly used in motorcycle Grand Prix, but not in motor cars. It had success in Formula Three, but the engine power was believed to be nowhere near strong enough to compete with the powerful engines of Formula One.
- First Entry - Clemente Biondetti: At 52 years old, Biondetti was one of the most senior racers on the grid. He had began his career way back in 1927. He distinguished himself well as a privateer racer. During the 1930s, he raced primarily for minor Maserati teams as well as a full season for the works Maserati in 1931. His career was littered with bad luck and retirements; however, in 1937, he joined the Scuderia Ferrari outfit and immediately hit success. From 1938 to 1939, he finally hit success taking a number of victories and podiums for the works Alfa Romeo team. However, the war cut short his career just as it was on the rise. This seemed to be the end of his career but he was offered to take part in a number of races for Enzo Ferrari's new Ferrari team in 1948, he impressed but his time was considered behind him. Nonetheless Biondetti since returned to racing, participating mainly as a privateer.
- First Entry - Pierre Levegh:
- First Entry - Alfredo Piàn:
- First Entry - Peter Whitehead:
- Final Entry & Race - Alfredo Pián:
- Final Entry & Race - JAP:
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