Dominant Ascari takes a second title
Alberto Ascari claimed his second crown as Ferrari were again supreme in the second and final year of the Formula Two category. However, Fangio raced strongly for Maserati, signalling the start of four years of domination by the maestro.
Fangio was fit and back at the start of 1953, and heading a Maserati outfit which looked as if it might upset the Ferrari bandwagon. Joining him in a strong Argentinian line-up were Gonzalez and Onofre Marimon. Meanwhile, Hawthorn's performances with the Cooper had not gone unnoticed, and he had earned a seat with Ferrari, alongside Ascari, Farina and Villoresi.
With Hawthorn gone Cooper lacked a driver of substance, and Gordini provided the only real opposition to the Italian cars.For the first time the World Championship tag was justified by a race outside Europe, with the series kicking off at Buenos Aires. Unfortunately the race was marred by undisciplined spectators, and Farina was involved in a tragic incident when he hit a boy who crossed the track. Nine people were killed in the mayhem that followed. They were the first fatalities in a championship race.
Meanwhile, Ascari and Villoresi scored a Ferrari one-two, ahead of debutant Marimon. Hawthorn had a steady race to fourth, while local hero Fangio ran second, before retiring. Maserati's new car arrived for Zandvoort. It showed promise, but Ascari and Farina took the usual Ferrari one-two, with the best Maserati - which was shared by Bonetto and Gonzalez - in third. Fangio broke a rear axle.
At Spa the Maseratis were the cars to beat. Gonzalez and Fangio led the field until retiring. Inevitably Ascari was there to pick up the pieces, scoring his ninth consecutive win. The French race was back at Reims, and proved to be a classic encounter which saw Hawthorn come of age. After taking two fourths and a sixth in the opening races, he emerged as a front-runner, getting the better of a sensational duel with Fangio to score his first win - and the first for any British driver.
Strangely, Hawthorn could not repeat his French form at Silverstone, where Ascari was utterly dominant. Fangio chased very hard, and finished ahead of Farina, Gonzalez and Hawthorn. At the Nurburgring, Ascari was again the man to beat, but he lost a front wheel early on. He made it back to the pits, and later took over Villoresi's fourth-placed car. Farina maintained Ferrari's record, winning ahead of Fangio and Hawthorn. In his new car Ascari was closing in on the British driver when the engine blew.
Ascari clinched his second title at the penultimate race in Switzerland, yet it was anything but easy. Fangio led Ascari initially until gearbox and engine troubles intervened, and then Ascari lost the lead with a plug change. He dropped to fourth, but worked his way back to the lead, heading home Farina and Hawthorn. Maserati had threatened to win all year, and it eventually happened in the finale at Monza - in bizarre circumstances. After a great slipstreaming battle Ascari looked all set to triumph, but on the last lap he spun and forced Farina wide. Somehow the lapped Marimon also got involved, and through the dust cloud emerged Fangio, to score his first win since 1951.