George Edgar Abecassis DFC (born 21st March 1913 in Chertsey, Surrey, United Kingdom – died 18th December 1991 in Ibstone, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom) was a former Formula One racing driver and Technical Director of the HWM and Aston Martin F1 Teams.
Pre Formula 1
Pre-World War II
Abecassis began racing at age 22 in 1935, racing for the Austin 7 Racing Team where he participated in the local events around the UK. In 1935 and 1936 seasons he raced rather uncompetitevely and it wasn't until 1937 where he made a move to the ERA Racing Team good results started happening with regualar finishes on the podium, in this year he also started racing in hillclimb events for the ERA Team as well where in his first season won 2 events.
In 1938 Abecassis moved to the Alta team in motor racing but remained with ERA in hillclimbs, 1938 was a good year for George as he took multiple podiums throughout the season in the UK and also started participating Internationally (however with not much luck), hillclimbing was a success as well as he took the British Championship Trophy in that year. 1939 was even better as his Alta not only gave him multiple podiums but his one and only major victory in his career at 1939 Imperial Trophy at Crystal Palace.
World War II
With the outbreak of World War II, Abecassis racing career was put on hold. George signed up for the RAF joining the secret Moon Squadrons were he ferried agents in and out of France under enemy territory. In 1944 he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Post-World War II
With the Wars end Abecassis returned to his normal life of motor racing in 1946 returning with Alta (however he had now retired from Hill Climbing Events). In 1946 George became good friends with fellow Alta Driver and Race Engineer John Heath. George under the tutelage of Heath pursuit a career in engineering alongside his racing career and in 1948 designed the Alta teams racing car for the season which took some strong success. In that year Heath came up with the idea of founding their own team for 1949 which they named HWM standing for Hersham and Walton Motors. The pair although no longer in Alta still had a strong relationship with the team and supplied Alta engines for the car. Heath was Team Principal while Abecassis worked as Technical Director and both of them were apart of the HWM racing squad. In 1949 Abecassis acheived strong results for HWM finishing regularly in the top 10 in races.
Formula One and Formula Two
For 1950 the team entered into the newly formed Formula Two Championship with Heath, Abecassis and Stirling Moss who would be beginning his very first year in motor racing (Moss would one day become one of F1s greatest drivers ). The team had a strong season in their first year in F2. Abecassis had a major high this year when he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Lance Macklin in an Aston Martin.
In 1951 Abecassis participated in hs first F1 race alongside Moss at the opening round in Switzerland, driving the ALTA powered HWM 51. He qualified second last and retired from the race due to Magneto trouble. The team did nor run again in F1 that year since the car was not able to run on F1 regulations, however in F2 one of their newly recruited drivers Johnny Claes won the teams first race at the French Grand Prix in F2 that year.
However in 1952 HWM moved up into F1 permanently as F1 now ran on F2 regulations. Abecassis particpated in one Grand Prix at Switzerland, this time in the HWM 52, qualifying a place behind teammate Stirling Moss, but retired from the race. This was his final championship race and he resided to running the team alongside Heath, leaving the driving up to the HWM squad of Lance Macklin, Peter Collins and Tony Gaze. Abecassis participated in some Non-Championship events and in 1952 came second in the 12 Hours of Sebring alongside Reg Parnell.
Post Driving Career
HWM continued throughout 1953 but for 1954 however F1 returned to their own regulations which meant the HWM like many other F2 teams were no longer compatible to race in the series. However Heath and Abecassis did attempt to make an F1 car suitable for the regulations and was entered into a few races in the season with Macklin at the wheel but it wasn't a success so the team returned to the F2 championship with Heath, Abecassis and Macklin at the wheel. However the team was uncompetitive and struggled throughout the season. 1955 was a bit better but tragedy struck in 1956. The team entered the Mille Miglia for that year and during the course of the race, Team Principal John Heath was tragically killed. With this tragedy Abecassis retired from motorsport and instead turned to running full time the HWM operations as Team Principal. The team ran one more year until Abecassis sold the team to Aston Martin.
Aston Martin 1959-1966
After marrying Angela Brown, the daughter of Aston Martin Chairman David Brown he became a high ranking employee of Aston Martin and when the team entered their F1 team in 1959, Abecassis became the Technical Director with Brown as Team Principal. The team was uncompetitive and in 1960 the team withdrew from F1 and so permanently ended Abecassis racing career. Abecassis worked for Aston Martin until 1966 at the age of 53 and so ended his motoring career.
Post Racing Career
Abecassis opened a small business, running a grocery store successfully until retiring fully in 1978, aged 65. He died in December 1991, aged 78.
Formula One Statistical Overview
F1 Career Record
|1946||George Abecassis||Alta||No Grand Prix Championship|
|1947-1949: Did Not Compete|
|1949||John Heath||HWM-Alta||No Formula One Championship|
|Formula One World Championship|
|1950||John Heath||HWM-Alta||Non-Championship Race Only|
|1951||HW Motors Ltd||HWM-Alta||0||NC||Report|
|1952||HW Motors Ltd||HWM-Alta||0||NC||Report|
|Front Row Starts||0|
|Complete Formula One Results|
|3rd||DNQ||Did not qualify|
|5th||Points finish||DNPQ||Did not pre-qualify|
|14th||Non-points finish||TD||Test driver|
|Italics||Scored point(s) for Fastest Lap||DNS||Did not start|
|18th†||Classified finish (retired with >90% race distance)||NC||Non-classified finish (<90% race distance)|
|4thP||Qualified for pole position||[+] More Symbols|
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