Spa, June 3rd.
The permanent road circuit that lies within the triangle formed by the three villages Francorchamps, Malmedy and Stavelot, in the Spa region of the Ardennes, is one of the finest in Europe, and each year the Royal Automobile Club of Belgium organise their Grand Prix on this circuit. With its extremely high lap speeds, fast uphill and downhill corners, long sweeping curves, and its hairpin, it is one of the greatest tests for a Grand Prix car and driver, and really sorts out those who are in the Grand Prix class and those who are not.
This race is one of the more straightforward Grande Epreuves, unhampered by sideshows or other races, and each year three practice sessions are provided, the first two in the evenings of Thursday and Friday and the third on Saturday afternoon. The first session saw the Ferrari team out with two cars and Fangio, Castellotti and Collins as drivers, for Musso was absent following his accident the previous week at Nurburgring. Maserati had three cars out, one the prototype ducted-radiator model, and all with carburetter engines, the three works drivers, Moss, Behra and Perdisa, changing cars frequently. Since, last year the corner at Malmedy has been completely resurfaced and the edges cleaned up so that a fast entry into the Masta straight is possible, while each year the long curve at Stavelot settles a bit more and becomes smoother and smoother. With these two improvements it seemed likely that faster laps than last year would be recorded, but at first the Maseratis were circulating a lot below the 4 min. 20.6 sec. recorded during last year's race by Fangio with the Mercedes-Benz. Although this counted as the lap record, Castellotti had done 4 min. 18.1 sec. in practice last year with the original D50 Lancia. The first intimation of the possibilities of this year's cars was given when Fangio went out and within a few laps got below last year's record and then surpassed the best ever with a lap in 4 min. 17.4 sec. Castellotti went out in the other Lancia/Ferrari but kept having to stop for minor adjustments, and finally stopped altogether when a circlip came out of a half-shaft and let all the steel balls in the driving splines come out. As Fangio was monopolising the other car Collins did not get a drive.