• European Grand Prix 1954

Fangio win overshadowed by Marimon's death

Martin Williamson August 1, 1954
The start of the 1954 European Grand Prix © Getty Images

After a year off, the nomadic European Grand Prix returned in the familiar setting of Germany's Nurburgring. Although Juan Manuel Fangio won the race, the weekend was overshadowed by the death of Argentina's Onofre Marimon during practice.

Marimon had driven with Fangio for Maserati and as the son of one of his great friends, Fangio had taken him under his wing when he started out. On the Thursday he lost control on a corner, ploughed through a hedge and struck a tree. He died instantly. A distraught Fangio headed to the scene of the accident and checked the wreck of Marimon's car. He found it stuck in fourth gear even though he estimated the corner had to be taken in third - it was driver error.

Fangio and José Froilán González seriously considered withdrawing but eventually opted to race. Fangio duly took pole with Mike Hawthorn and Stirling Moss alongside, and from the off the two Mercedes (Karl Kling in the other car) powered clear. Moss lasted a lap before a wheel bearing collapsed and three laps later Hawthorn too retired.

On the 22nd lap Gonzalez, still affected by Marimon's death, pitted and Hawthorn, who had just reached the pits after walking back from his own abandoned vehicle, jumped in to replace him. He immediately counterattacked, passing Kling and eating away at Fangio's lead until slowed by a heavy shower.

Kling appeared set to finish third until he slowed near the end, gesticulating to his pits as he passed that his rear axle was causing major problems. He was forced to stop, and although he resumed he was overhauled by the Ferrari of Maurice Trintignant.

Not counting the Indy 500, this was the longest world championship race in history - it lasted three and three-quarter hours. The crowd was estimated at being more than half a million.