1953 German Grand Prix

APART from being the eighth round in the World Championship, the German Grand Prix is a special event in itself, for it is held on the fabulous Nurburgring circuit with its multitude of gradients and corners throughout its lap of 22 kilometres. At most Grand Prix events the circuit is merely the 'Beene upon which the rival teams and drivers battle against each ether for honours. but at Nurburgring a driver must first of all do battle with the circuit, endeavouringto learn and conquer as many of its twists and turns as possible, and then the matter of personal Or team rivalry can be attended to. It is true to say that to be successful on the Nurburgring a driver must first of all like the circuit and have an inner determination to beat it at all costs, or otherwise he will either finish in the hedge or make deplorably slow times. Fortunately Nurburgring is not a dangerous circuit, even though the average speed is high. and though many people get caught out by its tricky corners and come to grief, there is seldom any damage done, fOr the whole route is bordered on both sides by comparatively soft hedges and grassy banks. Being a Championship event, everyone was there. or nearly everyone, the only notable omission being the I I.\ .7t1. team, who, though they were placed second and third in the Fifelrennen meeting earlier

in the year, were refused admission to t t;rand Prix, their places being taken by various German-owned to?i-seater Veritas sports ears. Ferrari entered their usual team of 1seari, Farina, Hawthorn and Villoresi with the regular four-cylinder ears, and were opposed by Maserati with Fangio., Gonzalez; Bonetto and Marimon. Unfortunately the plump Gonzalez could not drive as he had crashed a sports Lancia in Portugal the week before and was not fit, this appearing to put a bit of a damper on the Maserati team. The Maseratis were the same six-cylinders that ran at Silverstone, supported by Graffentied with the Plate-owned car. while Ferrari were supported by the private cars of Rosier, Ecurie Franeorchamps, driven by Swaters, and Kurt Adolf driving the Feurie Espadon car driven last year by Fischer. Connaught Engineering were running three works cars; with MacAlpine, Bira and Salvadori as drivers, Clues driving his own yellow car, and Gordini entered his three regulars Trintignant, Schell and Behra with the hard-worked six-cylinder cars. Normal Cooper-Bristols were driven by Brown and Nuckey. Moss had his Alta engine and an E.N.V. gearbox in a normal Cooper Formula n chassis, while Glockler was loaned the Bob Chase Cooper with de Dion rear end, now fitted with a Bristol engine and gearbox in place of the touring 1,900 Alfa unit. To complete the list there was a collection of assorted Veritas and B.M.W.-engined ears, including one from the Eastern Zone of Berlin. now named an E.M.W.

Cold weather and rain marred the first two practice periods and discouraged most people from doing more than t he necessary qualifying laps, and on the first day only one Maserati appeared. while Ferrari had five ears out, practised, covered them up with waterproofs and sat back to watch. In between showers Hawthorn tried out a 41.1itre open two-seater, in readiness for the forthcoming 1,000-kilometre sports-car race. On this day no Gordinis appeared. nor did the Coopers Of Moss and Glockler. though Brown and Nuekey suffered the rain. Friday was again wet, though dry periods allowed some fastish lappery, but it vsas not until Saturday morning when conditions were perfect that the starting-grid times really took shape. On a long lap such as the Nurburgring the battle for starting positions can be viewed in seconds rather than split seconds, and Ascari showed his Mastery over all by being 3.9 sec. faster than Fangio, with Farina only 0.4 sec. behind, followed by Hawthorn another 8.5 sec. to the bad. These four formed the front row and behind came Trintignant, Villoresi and Bonetto, but only the first two had any hope of keeping the front row in sight. The fastest English car was the Cooper-Alta of Moss. 4L5 sec. behind Ascari, while Salvadori led the Connaughts being 9.2 set. behind Moss. Ascari's time was 9 min. 59.8 sec., the fastest yet recorded for a Formula II car, and, while brilliant, it must he remembered that the out-and-out record for the circuit is still held by 'Hermann Lang With the 1939 Mercedes-Benz, with a lap in 9 min. 53 sec. Altogether 33 ears came to the starting line, the notable absentees being the fourth Maserati—it having been offered rather late in the day to Lang and Pietsch, but both turned it down as there was insufficient time to accustom themselves to a very potent Mere of machinery— and Glockler's borrowed Cooper, looking rather niee in a coat of silver paint but minus a con.-rod, a big-end bolt having broken before he could do the necessary qualifying laps. The race was to be run over 18 laps of the circuit and every driver on the starting line was fully aware that it was going to be a matter of endurance as well as racing. It was Fangio who led away. the Maserati out-accelerating Ascari's Ferrari, and as the field streamed round the Sudkerve, preparatory to coming up the return leg past the back of the pits, Ascari and Fangio had already made a slight gap between themselves and the rest of the entry. It took the" maestro" less than half a lap to get past the Maserati and when they returned to the starting area a little over 10 minutes later, to Complete the first lap, Ascari was a clear 10 sec. in front. Fangio followed, but to everyone's joy Hawthorn was right on his tail, just as at Reims, and 16 sec. later Farina came by and then the rest of the field, already strung out, in the order Villoresi, Bonetto, Graffenried, Schell, Debra and Hermann, a promising new German driver of a single-seater Veritas owned by Hans Klenk, the Mercedes-Benz team driver. Salvadori's Connaught was the first British car to appear but he came into his pit and retired with his water and oil mixed together. MacAlpine also came in to change an oiled plug, and long after the tail end of the field had gone by Trintignant limped in with the sound of a broken crown-wheel and pinion, while Stuck did not complete a lap. Ascari was obviously quite uncatchable, his mastery of the Nurburgring being superb, and he steadily increased his lead by around 10 sec. per lap, so that he started on his fifth lap with 37 sec. lead over Hawthorn, who was now leading Fangio by a mere length, with Farina always 16 see. behind. Last year Ascari completed a "hat trick" on the Nurburgring, a thing never before achieved, and he now looked all set for a Fourth successive win. As the minutes ticked by while he went round on his fifth lap all eyes turned to the brow of the Tiergarten hill that leads onto the plateau where the starting area i8 situated. It was just a matter of seeing how much more he had gained on the Hawthorn-Fangio duel, everyone thought, when three cars appeared over the brow in a bunch, two Ferraris and a Maserati, and one of the Ferraris was heading for its pit, with the driver, waving his arm. It was Ascari and there was no wheel or hubnut on the off-side front hub—he was motoring on three wheels and a brake drum ! Not daring to apply the brakes for fear of locking the front drum and wearing away the elektron, he Coasted into the pit area and rolled past to come to rest at the very end of the long line of pits, Ferraris being in the first one, unfortunately. Keeping the engine running, he calmly waited while a mechanic rushed the length of the pit area with a " quick-lift" jack, which was thrust under the front, Ascari then reversing back to his own pit while the mechanic steered the jack. The brake drum was given a quick cheek over, a hubnut borrowed from Plate, another wheel put on and, after losing 4 min. 12 sec., Ascari rejoined the race amid the cheers of the crowd. While all this had been going on Hawthorn was now driving all he knew to keep the lead, but for some unaccountable reason Farina now began to go like the wind and made upmore than 10 sec. on the leaders in one lap, so that after Ascari had gone and the leaders appeared again, Hawthorn and Fangio were still within touching distance but Farina was only 3 see. behind, and the end of the next lap saw the three cars go by in a bunch and as they started lap eight the order WOB Farina, Fangio, Hawthorn. Farina was now driving superbly and it: almost seemed that he was inspired by Ascari's misfortune as he outpaced Fangio by as much as 10 see. a lap. Hawthorn began to tire and, feeling that the others were pressing on in a rather dangerous manner, wisely eased up, letting Fangio get as much as a half-minute lead. This urgent battle for the lead, and Ascari's missing-wheel episode rather overshadowed the rest of the field, in which some spirited driving was going on. Villoresi was all on his own, not being able to keep up with the leaders. but outpacing the followers, while Schell had been driving brilliantly and had caught and passed Graffeuried's Maserati, only to have the Gortlini head gasket blow. Last year IIarry Schell was regarded as rather a comic turn, not really justifying a place in the Gortlini team, but since the beginning of this season he-has made remarkable progress, getting better and better with each race. Marinum was not showing up too well on this difficult circuit, awl was delayed by a punctured rear tyre, while Debra, having worked his way up to sixth place, retired with a broken gear-change. After fitting the new wheel Ascari restarted in ninth place a long way behind Graffenried, but he needed less than a lap to catch him and Sehell's retirement at the same time put him into seventh place on the next lap, and on the eighth lap he set a new record for Formula II cars with a time of 9 min. 57.1 see, and was now after Bonetto for fifth place. This he managed on the next lap, hut he was still a long, long way behind

Race Results


Circuit - Nurburgring




Nurburg, Rhineland-Palatinate


Permanent road course


14.167 (Miles)


Jim Clark (Lotus 33-Climax), 8m24.1, 101.173 mph, F1, 1965