• Italian Grand Prix 1952

Ascari rounds off dominant season with home win

Martin Williamson September 7, 1952
Ascari won in front of his home fans © Getty Images
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Monza provided a fitting setting for a season which had been dominated by an Italian team - Ferrari - and an Italian driver - Alberto Ascari. In six starts out of the seven previous rounds, Ascari had won five times, with the only blot on his record coming when he retired in the Indianapolis 500. In the only other European grand prix, which Ascari missed, Piero Taruffi had given Ferrari another victory.

Huge crowds flocked to the circuit and were kept happy when Ascari put his Ferrari on pole, although Maserati belatedly had got its act together and Jose Froilan Gonzalez was next to him at the front of the 24-car field. The form book was briefly discarded as Gonzalez raced away first, and Ascari found himself fighting off a determined challenge for second from Maurice Trintignant in a Gordini.

The reason for Gonzalez's flying start became clear when he had to stop after 38 laps for fuel, dropping him back to fifth, but he showed the Maseratis had pace to ruffle if not overhaul the Ferraris by battling back to second place. Gigi Villoresi finished third for Ferrari ahead of Nino Farina, while the second new Maserati of Felice Bonetto was fifth ahead of Andre Simon's Ferrari.

Ascari dominance was complete, and had he not missed the opening round in Switzerland to try to make a mark on the Indianapolis 500 less than a fortnight later, he may well have completed a unique European clean sweep. The only question remaining was would Juan Manuel Fangio be back in 1953, and if so, would the new Maseratis be good enough for him to mount a serious challenge to the champion.

Martin Williamson is managing editor of digital media ESPN EMEA

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Martin Williamson is managing editor of digital media ESPN EMEA Martin Williamson, who grew up in the era of James Hunt, Niki Lauda and sideburns, became managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group in 2007 after spells with Sky Sports, Sportal and Cricinfo