New 1500cc engine capacity/600 kgs minimum weight rules were introduced for 1926 and some great names – Alfa Romeo (albeit to return in triumph some years later), Fiat and Sunbeam – withdrew from Grand Prix racing. That left Delage, Bugatti and newcomers Talbot as that the year’s leading protagonists.
With the global economy in crisis, the first major race of the year emphasised the fragility of the category at the time. The French Grand Prix was a strange affair with three Bugattis the only cars to start. Veteran Jules Goux was the only classified finisher after four and a half hours racing on the new Miramas oval in the south of France.
There was more of a challenge a week later for the European GP at Lasarte although Goux won again. That was at the beginning of the San Sebastian speed week which culminated with team-mate Meo Costantini’s T35 winning the Spanish GP with Goux second. The final Grande Epreuve of the year at Monza was also a Bugatti benefit with the little-known “Sabipa” leading Costantini home. Those Bugatti successes were rewarded with victory in the second constructors’ world championship.
With the original Delage 15S8 exhausts running under the cockpit, its drivers suffered from inhaling exhaust fumes and from burnt feet. That caused numerous driver swaps during its debut in the European GP but it won the British GP at Brooklands – Louis Wagner taking over from Robert Sénéchal in the winning car.
There was also an inaugural Grand Prix in Germany, run at Avus to sports car rules. Future Mercedes superstar Rudolf Caracciola won the race although that day was marred when leader Adolf Rosenberger crashed into the timekeepers’ hut. Rosenberger survived but three occupants were not so lucky.
NOTE: Round 1 of the 1926 World Championship was the Indianapolis 500 which is included in the AAA National Championship and Indycars.