Why do people say fangio couldn't drive sports cars?
Posted 28 May 2004 - 22:49
In 1953 he was 2nd in the Mille Miglia driving an Alfa Romeo. This was the occasion when he drove the last third of the race with only one wheel steering. He also won the Carrera Panamericana in a Lancia. Although he didn’t win any of the eight stages he won the race overall.
I can’t find any records of him racing sports cars in 1954. Could this be due to his contract with Mercedes?
In 1955 driving the 300 SLR Mercedes he won the non-championship Swedish GP and Eifellrennen.
In 1956 and 1957 he won the Sebring 12 hrs without hitting a single oil drum.
So where does the idea come from?
Is it because Moss won the three sports car classics in 1955 with Fangio ‘only’ second? But Moss was young and hungry and the old man won in Sweden and the Nurburgring anyway.
Or was it after the British GP in 1954 when he hit some oil drums in the Mercedes W196 streamliner? Many reports say he had difficulty placing the car, as he couldn’t see the wheels. This is clearly wrong; is it an early example of PR-speak obscuring the truth? He won twice at Sebring, a featureless airfield circuit with corners marked by oil drums and he never had any difficulty there. What is far more likely is that the Mercedes was experiencing aerodynamic instability in addition to the unpredictable behaviour of the Continental tyres in the changing damp/dry conditions. Can anybody clarify what really went wrong that day?
Posted 28 May 2004 - 23:02
I agree that it's totally unfair to say Fangio was no good in sports cars. He had car trouble (injection?) in that Mille Miglia when Moss won too, and drove it alone, especially to mention that he didn't have the aid of 'navigation' like Moss had. I also wonder if he had as much practice as Moss did with and without Jenks?
But there were two other races that year that could come into the equation if your question really is about Fangio v the rest in sports cars...
The Targa Florio, where Moss and Collins had an offroad excursion, a boiled-dry engine and long pit stop to contend with... and Dundrod... what happened there?
This, of course, means we only compare Fangio to Moss, who was seemingly second only to the maestro in GP cars anyway, and (as you say...) younger and hungrier.
There's a whole horde of other drivers out there that he left in his wake, and not only in the M-B years...
Maybe he figured this was only secondary and he'd paid his dues in the sports cars when his co-driver died in the Andes? Maybe he wasn't prepared to take those chances any more, except in racing at the pinnacle of the sport, in F1?
Posted 28 May 2004 - 23:50
I think it's the case that when he did all that could be done, and was not a young man anymore, he didn't feel he had to prove himself in sports car races (which IMHO favoured endurance and stamina, rather than precision and sheer skill), and at the time he was showing "who 'da man is" on the GP circuits, with finesse and dominance of the true Maestro.
I don't know about his ego, but I wonder if he knew Moss was going to be rated as one of the very best and finest drivers ever, in GP cars and anything he ever sat in, would Maesto have gone that extra mile, even in sports cars, to show his dominance. Even though, I still doubt he would go chasing Moss, driving like madman (with no little help from Jenks) up and down Italy- and I don't think he could have made it*.
* this in no way (I don't think I need to point this out here, but still) should be belittling his skill and talent, but Moss' and Jenks' '55 MM might very well be one of the greatest races ever.
Posted 29 May 2004 - 02:39
As for Fangio's sports car racing abilities, I recall that Moss always felt he had the upper hand on Fangio in sports cars. Otherwise, the notion that Fangio "couldn't race sports cars" is another of those myths that seem to pervade motor racing.
Posted 29 May 2004 - 07:41
Posted 29 May 2004 - 09:07
Posted 29 May 2004 - 09:42
Posted 29 May 2004 - 22:19
Posted 30 May 2004 - 16:14
I have seen a number of reasons suggested for the poor performance of the 1954 Mercedes at Silverstone. Karl Ludvigsen, in Mercedes-Benz Racing Cars, says that the tyres were at fault, saying that Continental had been out of Grand Prix racing for fifteen years. Pomeroy, in The Design and Behaviour of the Racing Car, quotes Uhlenhaut that understeer, which had been deliberately designed into the early W196 was the problem. Setright, in The Grand Prix Car, repeats Pomeroy (no surprise there!), but goes on to suggest that the bodywork introduced oversteer at certain speeds. It was the change between the dynamically induced understeer and the aerodynamic oversteer that caused Fangio' problems.
Originally posted by Don Capps
The problem at Silverstone in 1954 is said to be best attributed to the Continental tires which simply were not working well that day.
Whatever the problem, it had been solved two weeks later wehen Fangio won the German Grand Prix. Any handling problems at Silverstone would surely be even more serious at the Nurburgring. We know that Mercedes had addressed the bodywork problem. It may also be siginificant that the Merecedes again had handling problems at Monza when they next used the streamlined bodworok.
Posted 31 May 2004 - 08:03
Nevertheless, I think it is fair to say that he didn't exhibit the same superiority as he did on Grand Prix cars. THis clearly had nothing to do with mechanical sympathy or personal stamina; both were major strengths throughout his career. It may have been because the sports cars of the day required less precision and ultimately less skill than the Grand Prix cars.
Originally posted by Vicuna
The notion that JMF could not drive sports cars is so stupid it really doesn't warrant discussion.
Posted 31 May 2004 - 12:35
Originally posted by Wolf
.....Moss' and Jenks' '55 MM might very well be one of the greatest races ever.
I think one of the greatest race reports... undoubtedly a supremely well reported win.
But as a drive... well, maybe not quite on the pinnacle. Certainly something that can't be denied, but there are others to consider which might not have been so eloquently catalogued...
Posted 31 July 2010 - 16:41
I found this photo on Motorgraphs. It shows Kling's Mercedes at Silverstone in 1954 with a substantial dent in the front wing. This confirms that it wasn't only Fangio who had handling troubles that day.
Kling also spun off between Copse and Magotts accompanied by a huge cheer from the crowd!. Fangio did well to finish fourth that day. The Mercedes looked a real handfull.