1954 German Grand Prix

Another serious mistake the organisers made was to run two National sports-car races and three International sports-car races at the same meeting as the Formula 1 teams who were competing for world honours, with the result that the very restricted paddock and pit space was overcrowded. Many problems would be solved if organisers would take a leaf out of the Belgian book and devote their whole energies to running the Grand Prix, as is done at Spa. However, to get under way with practice, which started on the Thursday before the race, only Maserati and Ferrari teams were out and the weather was decidedly dull. Ferrari were still sticking to their 1953/54 cars, the new short-chassis ones being discarded for the time being, until there was sufficient time to do some really serious and detailed testing. They had four Formula 1 cars and a 750S sports car to use for training, the sports car having a 2 1/2-litre engine fitted and the opportunity being taken to do some testing preparatory to the 1,000 kilometre race at the end of the month. With Farina still out of action Ferrari had signed up Taruffi to take the fourth car, along with Gonzalez, Trintignant and Hawthorn. All the chassis were of the 1953 pattern and Gonzalez and Hawthorn had the new engines, as introduced at Rouen last month, with the further modification of having the twin magnetos mounted vertically in front of the engine as on the 750S sports engine. In fact the crankcases were identical to the sports engines, even having the flange on the timing case for mounting a dynamo between the two magnetos, as illustrated in last month's Motor Sport. Trintignant had a normal 1953/54 car, as did Taruffi, the latter's being the car which won at Caen the previous weekend. All the team drivers were taking turns with the sports car in between using the single seaters, but with the dull weather and it being first practice no fast times were being recorded.

The Maserati team were in their usual state of uncertainty, Ascari wisely deciding not to drive, as the last two attempts had proved so ludicrous, though Villoresi was prepared to have another go, having nothing to lose. There were four red de Dion Maseratis present, the drivers being Villoresi, Marimon, Mantovani and Mieres, though the last two were privately-owned, but were looked after and controlled by the factory. After some persuasion Moss agreed to accept factory support for this event, which meant that the car had to be painted red, but mainly that the factory were now behind him in the event of mechanical trouble. After his last two races, at Silverstone and Caen, Maserati were beginning to realise he was no flash-in-the-pan and a green Maserati in front of their own red ones did not look good. As a concession they agreed to let Moss keep the nose cowling of his Maserati painted green, even though it clashed horribly with the rest of the car which was hurriedly painted red. The factory cars of Villoresi, Marimon and Mieres were all fitted with a new oil system, with the tank mounted in the extreme tail of the car, instead of under the carburetters. This was an attempt to reduce the oil temperature and the resultant frothing in the tank and it appeared to be successful, though the mass of piping running along the side of the tail looked very Heath Robinson. Marimon had a brand new car, the latest to be built, with a new type of heavily-riveted petrol tank and the car of Mieres also had this fitting. Now that Moss had factory support he was given some new bits for the engine and as a result his car was not ready in time for the first practice so he was allowed to put in some laps on Mieres' car, as also did Villoresi.

On Friday it looked as though everyone was going to turn out for practice, but then the skies opened and torrential rain fell so that no one was inclined to practise more than necessary. The Ferrari team took turns in getting wet in the single-seater, and keeping dry in the sports car. Moss was out in his own car, as was Schell, while Rosier and Manzon were out in their private Ferraris. Mercédès-Benz at last made an appearance, Kling and Hermann going round in one of the streamlined cars, but there was still no sign of any new Mercédès-Benz cars. What might have developed into an interesting practice period was completely ruined by the awful weather conditions and once more no fast times were recorded, though the 10-minute mark for a lap was being approached, which was quite good considering the weather conditions. Saturday morning, the last practice period saw a very different state of affairs, for the weather was warm and dry and conditions were good for high-speed motoring. The fastest lap ever turned on the 22.81 kilometres of twists and turns was set up in 1939 by Hermann Lang with a time of 9 min. 52.2 sec., a speed of 138.5 k.p.h. and bearing in mind that last year Ascari got down to 9 min. 56 sec. with a 2-litre Ferrari it seemed pretty reasonable to suppose that the 1954 Formula 1 cars might approach Lang's record. Mercédès-Benz at last produced their single-seaters, which were mechanically identical to, those described last month and seen at Silverstone, but the streamlined bodywork had been cut away and wrapped as close as possible round the existing frame tubes. This resulted in a rather gormless-looking single seater of vast width, the only real improvement over the Silverstone cars being that the driver could now see the wheels. Three of these single-seaters appeared, to be driven by Fangio, Kling and Lang, with Hermann in one of the original streamlined cars. Ferraris were still out and about as were the Maseratis, while Bira also appeared with his blue and yellow car. There were four Gordinis, Behra on the five-speed model and Frere and Bucci on the other two official cars, with Pilette supporting them with the Belgian-owned Gordini. The single-seater Veritas, driven last year by Hermann, was being driven by Helfrich and had been renamed the Klenk-Meteor, the ex-Mercédès-Benz sports-car driver still being its owner. During the morning, practice really got under way and Fangio was the first to break 10 minutes for a lap, then going faster and faster until he got down to within fractions of the record and finally he did one searing lap in 9 min. 50.1 sec., easily beating the pre-war record and rather giving the lie to all the nonsense talked about how badly the swing-axle cars were handling, for a time like that needed more than just a good driver. Hawthorn was the next closest, with 9 min. 53.3 sec. and only these two succeeded in getting below the 10-minute mark, though Moss missed it by decimal points, he being easily the fastest Maserati driver. While all this fast lappery was at its height it was heard that Marimon had crashed just before the Wehrseifen bridge. This was on the far side of the course and news was slow in reaching the pits, so Gonzalez jumped into the sports Ferrari and went to find out what had happened. When he returned he carried the terrible news that Onofre "Pinocchio" Marimon had died a few minutes after crashing. Many were the tears that were shed for the likeable young Argentinian for he had always been so happy and cheerful, friendly to everyone and liked by all those who knew him. It wasn't so much that the Grand Prix field had lost a good driver, nor that the Argentinians had lost a fellow countryman, but that everyone had lost a good friend. With this terrible blow all enthusiasm for practice dwindled and most of the drivers lost interest in going fast, the morning ending on a very sad note.

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