• 1956

Collins helps Fangio win fourth title

ESPNF1 Staff
Stirling Moss chases Juan Manuel Fangio, who took the title in a Ferrari D50 © Getty Images
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Season's results | Drivers' Championship

Following the withdrawal of Mercedes, Fangio switched to Ferrari and won his fourth World Championship. But the Argentinian needed some luck - and the incredible generosity of his sensational new team-mate, Peter Collins.

The two Mercedes stars did not spend much time contemplating unemployment. Fangio joined Ferrari, where another fresh face was talented British youngster Collins, along with Musso and Castellotti. The promising Lancias had also found a new home at Ferrari. They had, in fact, been entered by the Scuderia at Monza the previous year, but had non-started owing to tyre troubles. Modified over the winter, they became Lancia-Ferraris. Meanwhile, Moss returned to Maserati to race the still competitive 250F alongside Behra. Prospects looked good for the British teams. Hawthorn and Tony Brooks joined BRM, while Vanwall had modified cars for Trintignant and Harry Schell. Connaught hoped to build on the Syracuse success.

Fangio won the opener in Argentina, but he had to take over Musso's car after his own retired. The Maseratis struggled, although Behra took second place. Maserati hit back at Monaco, where Moss scored a fine second grand prix victory. A seemingly very off-form Fangio damaged his own car and this time took over the sister machine of Collins, which he maintained in second place.

At Spa Fangio and Moss both hit trouble, and Collins scored a famous victory in his Lancia-Ferrari. He became the third British race winner in as many seasons. Local star Paul Frère earned a fine second place, while Moss took over another car and recovered third. Collins scored his second win at Reims a month later, heading home Castellotti, Behra and Fangio, the champion, delayed by a pit stop. Surprise of the race was Harry Schell, who flew in the Vanwall after an early delay.

Collins went into the British Grand Prix leading the championship from the consistent Behra and Fangio. His thunder was stolen by Hawthorn and Brooks, who led the field on the return of BRM. Both hit trouble early on, however. Moss and Roy Salvadori each led until retiring, which allowed Fangio to take the honours. Collins took over the car of Alfonso de Portago and was runner-up, ahead of Behra. Fangio was an easy winner at the Nurburgring.

For the first time in several seasons the title fight went down to the wire at Monza. Fangio was well placed on 30 points, but Collins and Behra were eight behind - and could take the title by winning the race and setting fastest lap. Schell again surprised everyone by running at the front in the Vanwall and, when he retired, Moss, Fangio and Collins were left to fight it out. Fangio's hopes faded with steering trouble, but he was saved when Collins - who could still have won the title - stopped and handed his car over.

It was a remarkable gesture, which Fangio would never forget. Despite a scare when he ran out of fuel, Moss just held on from Collins/Fangio in an exciting finish. With BRM and Vanwall having already shown well during the year, it was Connaught's turn to earn some success as Ron Flockhart took advantage of a high attrition rate to come in third. Further British success seemed just around the corner.

Reproduced from The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Formula One published by Carlton Books

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