- Argentinean Grand Prix 1954
Fangio wins in the wet as Ferrari protest failsMartin Williamson January 17, 1954
The World Championship re-instated Formula 1 with 2.5 litre engines (or 750 cc supercharged) and the category was to last unchanged for seven years. The rules changed because Mercedes-Benz, Lancia and Vanwall all pledged to join the series. Jose Froilan Gonzalez had switched to Ferrari as had Maurice Trintignant. Emerging talent Stirling Moss would race a semi-works Maserati while Juan Manuel Fangio started the season with Maserati while the Mercedes team was preparing to resume racing.
Double champion Alberto Ascari had left Ferrari as it would not offer him what he felt was a decent salary and joined Lancia - it proved career suicide as its car was not ready until almost the end of the season.
The iconic 250F Maserati, on its debut, was good enough for Fangio to win his home grand prix in wonderful style. He qualified third behind Farina and Gonzales and the two Ferrari drivers held the early lead until it started to rain. But as the circuit became damper, Fangio sailed into the lead.
As the track dried, Fangio dropped to third but a second heavier shower put the ball back in his court and he pitted for some experimental rain tyres as a row broke out in the pits. Ferrari's team manager protested that too many mechanics had worked on Fangio's car - the permitted three had addressed the car while two others fitted a rain visor to Fangio's helmet.
Confident that the Maserati would be excluded, slowed his cars down allowing Fangio to roar past. It proved a big mistake because the protest was rejected and Fangio took the win.
Martin Williamson is managing editor of digital media ESPN EMEA