With Lancia still delayed (also forcing Ascari into a Maserati) Mercedes appeared unbeatable. At Silverstone, however, the W196’s all-enveloping bodywork made it difficult even for Fangio to judge the wide-open corners. He could only finish fourth in a car dented from hitting the oil drums that marked the course. Jose Froilan Gonzalez repeated his 1951 win for Ferrari, but despite this, the team was unable to satisfactorily develop their new F1 cars throughout the season.
Now equipped with conventional open-wheel bodywork, Fangio won the German, Swiss and Italian GPs to secure his second World Championship. It is the only time a driver has won the title having represented more than one marque. Sadly, Fangio’s win at the Nurburgring was marred by the death in practice of his friend Onofre Marimon.
The Lancia D50 finally appeared at the last race of the year in Spain. Ascari qualified on pole position, led in the early laps and set the fastest race lap. Clutch problems finally intervened but its promise was evident. Mike Hawthorn benefited from Lancia’s unreliability that day to win in the Squalo Ferrari.