Tag Archives: T2

Ringmeister – Maserati 250F T2 #2529

For the 1957 season Maserati manufactured 3 lightweight versions of the 250F to keep pace with the Lancia Ferrari D50’s which Juan Manuel Fangio drove to his fourth World Drivers Championship title in 1956.

Third of the three T2’s was chassis #2529 which was shared during 1957 between Stirling Moss, Harry Schell and the returning ‘Old Man’ Fangio who despite his success was not overly enamoured by his time at Maranello.

Maserati 250F, by Paul Chenard

Pen&ink and markers on watercolour paper 9″x 7″ © Paul Chenard 2014

Fangio won the opening two championship races of the 1957 season at home in Argentina and in Monaco, the third race of the Championship season was the Indy 500 for which only Giuseppe Farina of the regular World Drivers Championship contenders was entered.

Farina did not start the ’57 Indy 500 which was won by Sam Hanks in the Epperly Special. Fangio then drove today’s featured 250F T2 chassis #2529 to victory in the 1957 French Grand Prix.

Maserati 250F, by Paul Chenard

Acrylic on canvas 10″x 12″ © Paul Chenard 2014

At the British Grand Prix Fangio retired #2529 with an engine problem leaving Tony Brooks and Stirling Moss to share the first championship Grand Prix victory for Vanwall.

Fangio qualified #2529 on pole, with a time 16 seconds faster than he had driving a Lancia Ferrari 1956, for the 1957 German Grand Prix alongside him Mike Hawthorn qualified 2nd in his Lancia Ferrari with the lightweight 250F T2 of Jean Behra and Lancia Ferrari of Peter Collins filling out the front row of the grid.

Maserati 250F, Denise McCluggage by Paul Chenard

1957 German Grand Prix Mural @ 9′ x 18′ © Paul Chenard 2014, with Denise McCluggage at European Motorsports, Lawrence, MA

On a hot day at the Nurburgring on August 4th 1957 the Ferrari’s of Hawthorn and Collins set off into an immediate lead of the 311 mile German Grand Prix, but by lap 3 Fangio had passed both and unbeknown to the Englishmen sailed off into the distance in order to make a large enough lead to enable him to make a scheduled pit stop, having started the race like Behra in fourth on half empty tanks.

During his pit stop Behra lost time when he broke his filler cap off while climbing back into the car. Fangio was even less fortunate spending 54 seconds in the pits after a mechanic had lost a wheel nut. Fangio rejoined the race in third place 48 seconds behind the battling Howthorn and Collins.

Maserati 250F, SIr Jackie Stewart, Goodwood Revival

Over the next 10 laps Fangio broke the Nurburgring lap record nine times seven times in succession passing Hawthorn for the lead on the penultimate lap with two wheels on the grass to record possibly the greatest Grand Prix victory ever, enough to secure “El Maestro” his fifth and final World Championship Victory.

Fangio noted after the race “I have never driven that quickly before in my life and I don’t think I will ever be able to do it again”, and later admitted “Nürburgring was my favourite track. I fell totally in love with it and I believe that on that day in 1957 I finally managed to master it. It was as if I had screwed all the secrets out of it and got to know it once and for all. . . For two days I couldn’t sleep, still making those leaps in the dark on those curves where I had never before had the courage to push things so far.”

As it turned out Fangio would not win any more championship Grand Prix races before retiring mid way through 1958, meaning the car #2529, seen driven by Sir Jackie Stewart at Goodwood Revival above, was the won in which possibly the greatest driver of all time won his last two Grand Prix victories.

Unusually unlike many of the other Maserati 250F’s it’s number was never used on any other chassis nor did it ever carry any other chassis number. Fangio drive #2529 to second place finishes championship races at Pescara and Monza with Harry Schell taking the car over for the GP Modena where he finished 3rd.

Fangio drove the car to 4th with fastest lap in the non championship 1957 GP du Maroc and 4th in the opening round of the 1958 Championship in Argentina. The car was then sold on to Scuderia Sudamericana who entered #2529 for Giorgio Scarlatti and Jo Bonnier who achieved little by way of success apart from a win for Bonnier in a non championship Formula Libre race at Watkins Glen.

Scuderia Ugolini entered the #2529 again for Giorgio Scarlatti in 1959 it’s final championship appearance being in the 1960 Argentinian Grand Prix from which Scarlatti retired with overheating issues.

After spending time in the Briggs Cunningham museum #2529 was bought by Hartmut Ibing in 1988 in a silent auction.

I did not realise it at the time I took the photograph but having Sir Jackie Stewart drive Fangio’s ’57 German Grand Prix winning car at Goodwood was particularly pertinent because Sir Jackie also took a famous win at the Nurburgring, but this time in the rain in the German Grand Prix of 1968.

My thanks to Paul Chenard for kindly allowing me to use reproductions of his artwork in today’s post.

Thanks for joining me on this “Ringmeister” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when for a look at a Bugatti. Don’t forget to come back now !

PS in a fitting tribute to David McKinney who wrote the definitive “Maserati 250F” last weeks featured 250F #2522/16/23/26 now owned by Graham Adelman was present at Davids funeral last week. My thanks to Tim Murray for forwarding this information.


Life is More Important Than A Championship – Ferrari 312 T2 #028, #027 & #026

Today’s photographs come courtesy of another school friend Sven Platt who was lucky to see one of the most controversial British Grand Prix of all time at Brands Hatch in 1976.

The 1976 Grand Prix season was probably the most fascinating of all time, it had technical innovation in the form of a six wheel car, it had a dashing up and coming Englishman given a last minute chance in a top team, all trying to wrest the drivers and constructors title from the reigning champions Ferrari and “Super Rat” Niki Lauda, the first titles Ferrari had won since 1964. The track action was matched by some equally spectacular off track twists and turns that saw Ferrari and McLaren pressure all and sundry who stood in their way. To put into perspective the grandeur of the season Ron Howard famed for making films like Cocoon, Apollo 13 and The Da Vinci Code is currently shooting a film in England all about the 1976 Grand Prix Season called ‘Rush’ which will probably be released before the end of the year.

Niki Lauda started the 1976 season pretty much where he left the 1975 season off taking two straight wins and his team mate Clay Regazonni taking Ferrari’s third straight win of the season all with 1975 Ferrari 312 T’s. Then at the Spanish Grand Prix new rules were adopted mostly tightening up the maximum dimensions of the cars including the overall width. The big technological innovation was the six wheel Tyrrell driven by Patrick Depailler 3rd behind Niki Lauda and James Hunt, McLaren’s last minute signing at the start of the season, who was on his third pole position from four races.

James Hunt crossed the line first in his modestly revised McLaren M23 and Niki Lauda came in second with a more heavily revised 312 T2 still with the 180 degree V12 engine the same transverse gearbox but an all together slimmer model than it’s predecessor the 312 T. Then the fun and games really started when the M23 failed its post race technical inspection for being 1.8 cm less than an inch too wide. This saw James instantly disqualified elevating Niki Lauda to the top spot of the podium. McLaren immediately posted an appeal, and the circus moved on to Belgium and Monaco where Niki Lauda again triumphed both times form pole.

Pending a McLaren appeal Niki was now in an almost unassailable lead in the championship with 5 victories from six races and with Ferrari pending appeal on six for six. In Sweden however real technological innovation broke the Ferrari by taking it’s one, and only, win and an easy second place in the hands of Jody Scheckter who beat team mate Patrick Depailler driving the novelty six wheel Tyrrells since the two Tyrrells had three axles a piece in theory they locked out the three step between them !

Ferrari 312 T2, Brand Hatch, Sven Platt

However the six wheel Tyrrells were never to win, let alone dominate, a race again and at the French Grand Prix it was James Hunt who pending his Spanish appeal made his first win for McLaren official. The next race was the British Grand Prix where these photo’s were taken by my school friend Sven. On the opening corner of the opening lap of British Grand Prix Clay Regazzoni starting from 4th on the grid got the drop on Hunt starting second but in the process lost control clipping Lauda who was ahead of him and leaving James Hunt no place to go except to broadside Clay in the #2 Ferrari.

This collision brought out an immediate red flag Lauda’s car was undamaged, Clays car could take no further part and James car took a short cut back to the pits for hasty repairs. There was nearly a riot when James was initially refused permission to take the 2nd start but following a near riot the organisers saw sense and let the race go ahead with a full compliment of cars. James won the race from the second start with Lauda second. Immediately after the race followed more protests which saw Regazzoni disqualified for failing to start in the same car he qualified. Hunts win was also protested all the way to the FIA who would decide Hunts fate some months later.

Around this time the outcome of the Spanish GP was decided in favour of James Hunt after the the governing body of the FIA accepted McLaren’s argument that their car had only been too wide because the tyres when not moving buldged outwards by at least the amount of the infraction due to the absence of centrifugal force acting on them when measured and therefore the infraction was not deliberate and gave no advantage. Immediately after the Spanish GP McLaren narrowed the rear track of their cars to prevent any reoccurence of this problem.

So it was on to the German GP where this Niki Lauda fan had the questionable privilege of spectating as first Hunt beat Lauda to pole and then not more than half a mile away from me a thin column of smoke arose on the second lap where Niki Lauda who pitted on the opening lap for slick tyres had come to rest with his car ablaze after loosing control of it on a relatively simple part of the Nurburgring.

Ferrari 312 T2, Brand Hatch, Sven Platt

With the track blocked fellow drivers Guy Edwards, Harold Ertl, Brett Lunger and Art Mezairio were the only people in reach to release Niki from his burning car. Eventually a helicopter arrived and took Niki to hospital where he would be read the last rights by a priest before making an astounding come back just six weeks later.

Hunt won the restarted German Grand Prix and the Dutch Grand Prix in Niki’s absence with John Watson driving the Penske scoring the last Grand Prix victory until this day in an American entered car, at the intervening Austrian Grand Prix.

At the Italian Grand Prix Ferrari showed in strength with an unusual for the time three car team one car for Regazzoni which qualified 9th, a car for new signing Carlos Reutemann which qualified 7th and amazingly a car for Niki Lauda who’s head was still heavily rapped in bandages from the burns he had received 6 weeks earlier in Germany qualifying fastest of the Ferrari’s in 5th.

Further shenanigans came to ahead when Watson, Hunt and his team mate Jochen Mass had their Saturday qualifying times of 8th to 10th respectively disallowed due to fuel irregularities which rendered them out of the race until it was found that Otto Stupacher had already gone home and then Art Mezario and Guy Edwards had both withdrawn allowing Hunt, Mass and Watson back into the race at the back of the grid.

Ferrari 312 T2, Brand Hatch, Sven Platt

By the races end it mattered little neither Hunt nor Mass finished and Lauda made moved only 3 points further ahead of Hunt with a 4th place finish. Hunt was then disqualified from the British Grand Prix for an alleged push start away from the incident with Regazzoni on the opening lap. At the Canadian Grand Prix James lead from pole making up nine points on Niki who qualified sixth but could only finish out of the points in 8th.

Still 8 points behind Lauda going into the US Grand Prix East James won from pole again scoring nine more points but Niki managed to convert 5th on the grid to an unbelievable, considering he was still heavily wrapped in bandages, 3rd place and four points and so maintained a 3 point lead going into the final race of the season at Fuji in Japan.

Mario Andretti took pole in the single most improved design of the 1976 season the Lotus 77 with championship contenders Hunt and Lauda right behind him in 2nd and 3rd. Race day dawned monsoon like with mist and fog shrouding the track. Despite much debate and water running across the track the race went ahead with all drivers taking the start and Hunt leading the way from Andretti, at the end of the opening lap Niki with no eyelids decided his life was worth more than a title and pulled into the pits virtually handing James the title on the plate.

However as the track dried Hunt started to fall back and pitted with a puncture rejoining in 5th place with just two laps to go since Andretti had by now lapped the entire field. Hunt went storming off needing to over take at least two cars to level the points and take the title on a count back of wins 6-5 in favor of James, he pulled it off passing Alan Jones and Clay Regazzoni who were struggling on the drying track with their worn wet tyres, James completely unaware of his position in the race or the Championship then passed Depailler in the six wheel Tyrrell to take third and win the title by a single point.

Ferrari 312 T2, Brand Hatch, Sven Platt

Ferrari won the constructors championship by nine points, having a more reliable car and having a higher scoring 2nd string driver in Regazzoni than Jochen Mass in the McLaren. So ended possibly the most storied season in Grand Prix racing, certainly so far as the author, who got up at 5am to watch the final race of the season on television is concerned.

In the first two photographs the #1 Ferrari is seen driven by Niki Lauda, during practice in the top photo without his name on the cokcpit side. This chassis 028 was brand new for the British Grand Prix, where Niki was eventually awarded the win. In the second photo Niki is seen leading Welshman Tom Pryce driving a Shadow whom Niki had just lapped. At the following race in Germany Niki so very nearly met his maker when he lost control of chassis 028 on lap 2 of the German Grand Prix, impact with the crash barrier knocked Niki’s helmet off while the car simultaneously burst into flames. #028 was never to be seen in public again.

Clay Regazzoni is seen in the third photo driving the #2 car chassis #027 which Clay used throughout the 1976 season from the Monaco Grand Prix onwards scoring two second place finishes in Holland and Italy. Clay damaged this car during the first corner fracas at the British Grand Prix and so took the restart in chassis #026 for which he would later be disqualified for not having used it to qualify for the race.

In the fourth and final photo Clay is seen prior to retirement, and eventual disqualification, battling with Gunnar Nilson in the #6 Lotus 77 at the entrance to the notorious off camber downhill Paddock Bend after the restart of the race. Chassis #026 was used by Niki Lauda early in the season with which he came 2nd in Spain and First in Monaco and third in Sweden, the car was then past over to Regazzoni who after damaging it at the British Grand Prix only used it as a spare car for practice there after in Germany and Holland before it was re prepared for Niki’s comeback in Italy and the remainder of the season scoring 4th in Italy and a 3rd place in the United States East.

My thanks to Sven Platt for the use of his photo’s.

Thanks for joining me on this ‘Life Is More Important Than A Championship edition of ‘Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres’, I hope you will join me again tomorrow, don’t forget to come back now !