It happened today – 22 January

It happened today – 22 January

On 22nd January 1956, the Argentinian Grand Prix was held in Buenos Aires as the opening round of that year’s Formula 1 World Championship. Scuderia Ferrari was on hand with three D50s, the cars inherited from Lancia and updated in Maranello, one 555 F1 fitted with a 4 cylinder engine and another 555 F1 fitted with the 8 cylinder. Juan Manuel Fangio, Luigi Musso, Eugenio Castellotti, Peter Collins and Olivier Gendebien took turns during free practice and qualifying on all the cars available to ensure they would be able to drive all of them in the race, a practice which was allowed back then and which would prove decisive in the race. In fact, Fangio, on his debut for Ferrari in the World Championship started from pole position, but was quickly forced to retire with a broken fuel pump on lap 21. At the time, Menditeguy was leading in a Maserati, from team-mate Moss and the Ferraris of Castellotti and Musso. The Maranello garage decided to call in the latter to put Fangio in his car.

Shortly afterwards, the Argentinian went off the track, which cost him a lot of time, to the extent that the race leader almost managed to lap him. The cunning of the reigning champion tricked Menditeguy who, while trying to stay in his wake also went off the track and was unable to get going again. Fangio’s irresistible climb up the order continued until he was second: the Argentine then began to put pressure on the new leader, Moss, whose car broke down on lap 70 of 98, forcing the Englishman to retire. Fangio thus flew to his first win with the Reds in Formula 1, one he shared however with his team-mate Musso, whose sacrifice was the key factor.

Of the other Ferraris, only Gendebien’s hybrid made it to the finish, in fifth place, in those days the last one to count for points.

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