• Belgian Grand Prix 1954

Fangio bids a winning farewell to Maserati

Martin Williamson June 20, 1954
Jose FroilanGonzalez waves frantically to his mechanics after his Ferrari broke down on the first lap - he later took over an exhausted Mike Hawthorn's car © Getty Images

The Formula One roadshow returned to Europe where Juan Manuel Fangio took his second win of the season in the Belgian Grand Prix. It was to be his final drive for Maserati before he took up his contract with Mercedes.

The field was only of 14 cars and made up of only three makes - Maserati, Ferrari and Gordini - and although Fangio was outqualified by the Ferraris, at the last minute he switched to team-mate Onofre Marimon and immediately took pole.

Jose Froilan Gonzalez's Ferrari broke down on the first lap and Fangio, outpaced by his rivals' superior acceleration off the line, started to claw his way back to the front. Nino Farina (his arm in plaster after a Mille Miglia accident) and Fangio had a ding-dong battle until the Ferrari's engine overheated. Mike Hawthorn also had a bad day, collapsing with heat exhaustion as he pitted and having to be dragged out his car by his mechanics.

Fangio had his own troubles as the race neared its end as the temperature gauge steadily rose. As he coasted into the pits after the finish it was found the spark plugs had melted.

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