• British Grand Prix 1956

Tide turns in favour of fortuitous Fangio

Martin Williamson July 14, 1956
Peter Collins, Stirling Moss and a far-from-well Juan Manuel Fangio on the Silverstone grid © Getty Images

Juan Manuel Fangio won the British Grand Prix even though he had not wanted to take part. He had been laid up for the previous ten days with "a reactive neurosis" and when he arrived at Silverstone he still had a high temperature. "The doctors did not want me to race," he said, "but the organizers insisted so they gave me pills to dull the pain and take the fever down. I raced and was lucky to win but after that I felt dead."

Almost half the 27-car field were British with the usual batch of privateers, but the first 15 laps were a battle between Fangio's Ferrari and Mike Hawthorn in a BRM and Stirling Moss in his Maserati. Hawthorn broke down with an oil leak, and then Moss led for the next 53 laps before his rear axle gave out. Fangio was thereafter unchallenged and won with more than a lap in hand.

Peter Collins, who started the day atop the drivers' championship after back-to-back wins, finished second after he took over Alfonso de Portago's Ferrari with 30 laps remaining.

It was otherwise a wretched day for the partisan 120,000 crowd. The up-and-coming Vanwalls both broke down, and after the race team boss Tony Vandervell announced the cars would be withdrawn until an issue which caused the fuel to dissolve the tanks and fuel pipes could be resolved.

The hapless BRM also struggled - Ron Flockhart broke down within 75 yards of the start while 23-year-old dental student Tony Brooks overturned at Abbey Curve and sustained a broken jaw and concussion. Collins aside, the high point was that Jack Fairman in a Connaught came fourth.