From the Motor Sport Archive
A Demonstration of High Speed Driving
Spa, June 5th.
The Royal Automobile Club of Belgium, who organise the Grand Prix on the hilly and wooded Spa-Francorchamps circuit, invariably prefer a small entry of top drivers to a large entry of assorted talent, and this year was no exception. Of the 15 entries only two were private owners, the rest being factory runners, while unlike many meetings race day was confined solely to the Belgian Grand Prix, which counted points for the World Championship.
Since last year some improvements had been made to the circuit, notably the complete resurfacing of the long, and previously bumpy, Stavelot curve, the wide tarmac road having a 12-in, edging of concrete flush with the road circuit. Thursday evening saw the first practice period take place and Mercédès-Benz and Ferrari were out in full force, the Stuttgart firm having three different cars, while the Italians had three Tipo 555 cars and one spare car of the older type, the 625 model. The Mercédès-Benz team consisted of a medium-length wheelbase car, with outboard front brakes, to be driven by Fangio, a similar length car with inboard brakes, for Moss, and a long-chassis car as the training-car which Kling, Uhlenhaut and the other two drivers all shared. The Ferrari team were in the unusual position of having three entries, four drivers and five cars, Farina and Frère were definite starters, while the third place lay between Trintignant, not fully recovered from his accident at Monza the previous week, and Schell, the practice times of these two deciding who would start. In spite of bruises and a stiff leg Trintignant was the faster, and Schell was retained as spare driver.
After the tragic loss of Ascari, the Lancia team were in an unhappy position and though they had two entries for the race, only Castellotti turned out, he having two cars to use in practice and choose the best. There never has been a surfeit of good Grand Prix drivers, but usually there were enough to go round, but nowadays the shortage is becoming acute and even the best cars have to stand idle at times. No Maseratis arrived in time for the first practice evening, and the list was completed by Hawthorn with the Vanwall.