• Belgian Grand Prix 1956

Collins claims maiden victory

Martin Williamson June 3, 1956
Peter Collins claimed his maiden grand prix victory at Spa © Getty Images
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Twenty-four year-old Peter Collins capitalised on Juan Manuel Fangio's ill fortune to win the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa, his first victory and one that caused problems within the Ferrari team.

Although he had only joined at the start of the season, Fangio was unhappy with his treatment by the team, not least that it refused to name him as the No.1. The sniping war of accusation and counter-allegation continued long after had left to rejoin Maserati. And while at Monaco he had commandeered Collins' car when his was damaged, there was no such swap this time.

It was typically wet at Spa and Stirling Moss' hopes of a second successive win ended after ten laps when he shed a wheel. Although he sprinted back to the pits and jumped into Cesare Perdise's Maserati, he was unable to make up the lap he had lost.

Fangio seemed on course for a win but two-thirds of the way through the race his gearbox expired and Collins roared past and into a commanding lead, a minute-and-a-half ahead of Jean Behra and Paul Frere, the local journalist-racer again enjoying an outing at his home race.

In the closing stages, Moss repeatedly broke the lap record and surged up to third place. Behra slowed and dropped back so Frere, in his last appearance, came home a magnificent second. Harry Schell gave Vanwall their best finish to date, with fourth place.

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