As the 1954 Formula One season began, the main constructors, Ferrari, Maserati and Gordini, retained the chassis of the previous season, choosing only to upgrade the engines to comply with the new 2.5 liter formula. With the reigning champion, Alberto Ascari, unable to race due to contractual issues with Scuderia Lancia, the early season was dominated by Juan Manuel Fangio in a privately entered Maserati 250F. In the season’s fourth race, the French Grand Prix at the Reims-Geaux circuit, Mercedes-Benz debuted its new works team, with Fangio, Karl Kling, and Hans Hermann, and new, state of the art W196 grand prix car. Applying the same desmodromic valve and direct mechanical fuel injection technology that Daimler-Benz used on the ME-109, the 152 cubic-inch, twin-cam, straight-eight made over 290 hp, and 217 lbs of torque at 5800 rpms. The new Silver Arrows roared into the lead and never looked back, as Fangio and Kling finished 1st and second. Fangio would go on to win 4 of the remaining 6 races to become world champion.
In the World Sports Car Championship, Ferrari’s 375MM spider dominated the season, gaining victories for Giuseppe Farina and Umberto Maglioli at Buenos Aires, Maurice Trintignant and Jose Froilan Gonzalez at Le Mans, and Maglioli again at the Carrera Panamericana; Mike Hawthorn would pick up another victory for the Scuderia at Dundrod in a 750 Monza. Jaguar introduced it’s new D-type at Le Mans, with Tony Rolt and Duncan Hamilton finishing second in its maiden outing. Lancia introduced a new car of its own, the D24, at Sebring, where Porfirio Rubriosa and Gino Valenzano finished in second place. Alberto Ascari and Piero Taruffi would each claim victories for the D24 at the Mille Miglia and Targa Florio respectively. The Maserati brothers spinoff, O.S.C.A. (Officine Specializzate Costruzioni Automobili – Fratelli Maserati SpA), would get a surprise overall victory for its 1500cc MT4 with a brilliant drive by Bill Lloyd and Sterling Moss at the Sebring 12 hrs.
The MQ AV squad has rounded up this brief retrospective of the year in motor sport. Enjoy!