I feel that Froilan Gonzalez is often underrated because people only remember the winners of the world championship.
Yet, in his first grand prix start, Gonzalez was third on the grid. Over eight seasons he only competed in 25 championship events, yet in modern day parlance he was 15 times on the podium and all his other finishes were in the points (two firsts, seven seconds, six thirds, two fourths and a fifth).
Allowing for the driver changes of the time, he had seven DNFs and two other retirements.
I assume he would have won at Reims in 1951, if driver swapping had not been allowed, by beating Fagioli and so would have been runner-up in the championship that year. He was runner up in ’54, even though he was not at Barcelona after the injuries he sustained in the Tourist Trophy which virtually ended his F1 career. That was the day when Hawthorn repeated his Silverstone defeat of the Mercedes.
Having once sat in a V16 BRM I realise his driving style was dictated by not fitting in the cars, being bigger than either Fangio or Ascari, the only drivers who regularly beat him. In fact they were the only men to beat him in the championship races in which he competed, except Rheims 1953 when he finished third, 1.4 seconds behind Hawthorn.
In a similar vein, Fagioli is often regarded postwar as being past his prime, but four seconds and a third in ’50, on the days when he wasn’t another of Farina’s Tabac victims, is not bad.
I am,Yours etc,
Nick Ward, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia