|Juan Manuel Fangio|
|Born||24 June 1911|
|Died||17 July 1995 (aged 84)|
Buenos Aires, Argentina
|Formula One World Championship career|
|Years Active||1950-1951, 1953-1958|
|Team(s)||Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari|
|First Grand Prix||1950 British Grand Prix|
|Entries||52 (51 starts)|
|Career Points||245 (277 9⁄14)|
|Drivers' Championships||5 (1951, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957)|
|Final Grand Prix||1958 French Grand Prix|
Juan Manuel Fangio (June 24, 1911 – July 17, 1995), nicknamed El Chueco ("the bowlegged one", also commonly translated as "bandy legged") or El Maestro ("The Master"), was a racing car driver from Argentina, who dominated the first decade of Formula One racing, winning the World Championship of Drivers five times.
Biography[edit | edit source]
Pre-Formula One[edit | edit source]
Juan Manuel Fangio was born in Balcarce, Argentina in 1911 at 12:10 am on San Juan's Day. His grandparents had immigrated to Argentina in 1887, while Fangio's father immagrated with his wife later. During his childhood he became known as El Chueco, the bandy legged one, for his skill in bending his left leg around the ball to shoot on goal during football games. When Fangio was 13, he dropped out of school and worked as an assistant mechanic. When he was 16, Fangio started out riding as a mechanic for his employer's customers. He also developed pneumonia during a football game which almost proved fatal. He was bed-ridden for two months and cared for by his mother.
After recovering, Fangio served compulsory military service at the age of 21. His driving skills caught the attention of his commanding officer to appoint Fangio as his official driver. Fangio was discharged before his 22nd birthday after taking his final physical examination. He returned to Balcarce where he aimed to further his football career. Their team-mates at Balcarce suggested the two work on Fangio's hobby of building his own car and his parents donated a part of a small section of their home where a rudimentary shed was built. Fangio's racing career began in 1934 when began using a Ford Model A which he re-built. He also drove Chevrolet cars while racing in Argentina and was Argentine National Champion in 1940 and 1941. He also took part in many road races, including the Argentine Road Race in which in 1938 he and Luis Finocchietti came seventh in a 1937 Ford Coupe.
Formula One[edit | edit source]
1948 - 1949[edit | edit source]
In 1948 Fangio went to race in Europe. He was funded by the Argentine Automobile Club and the Argentine government. Fangio's first entry into Grand Prix racing came in the 1948 French Grand Prix at Reims, where he started in 11th on the grid in a Simca Gordini but eventually retired. He did not drive in Formula One again until the following year at Sanremo, but having upgraded to a Maserati 4CLT/48 sponsored by the Automobile Club of Argentina he dominated the event, winning both heats to take the aggregate win by almost a minute over Prince Bira. Fangio entered a further six Grand Prix races in 1949, winning four of them against top-level opposition.
1950[edit | edit source]
For the first World Championship of Drivers in 1950 Fangio joined the works Alfa Romeo team alongside Giuseppe Farina and Luigi Fagioli. With competitive racing cars and technology following the Second World War still in short supply, the pre-war Alfettas proved dominant. Fangio won each of the three races he finished, but Farina's three wins and a fourth place allowed him to take the title. In non-championship races Fangio took a further four wins and two seconds from eight starts.
1951 - 1952[edit | edit source]
In 1951 Fangio stayed with the Alfa team with their new 159 car, winning the Swiss, French and Spanish Grands Prix, and with the Ferraris now much improved they began taking points off his team mates, allowing Fangio to take the title in the final race, six points ahead of Ferrari driver Alberto Ascari.
Alfa Romeo pulled out of the World Championship at the end 1951 leaving Fangio without a drive for 1952. Eventually he signed up for the Maserati team, but before he could start racing in the championship season he suffered a broken neck in a racing incident at a non-championship event at Monza. He crashed into a grass bank on the second lap, and was thrown out of the car as it flipped end over end. He was taken to hospital and spent the rest of the year recovering in Argentina.
1953[edit | edit source]
For 1953 Fangio was back in Europe and in full fitness, he rejoined Maserati for the championship season, and against the dominant Ferraris led by Ascari he took a lucky win at Monza. Along with that win, Fangio secured three second places to finish second in the Championship, and also came third first time out in the Targa Florio. He ended 1953 in a Lancia D24 winning the Carrera Panamericana in record time.
1954[edit | edit source]
For the first three races of the 1954 season, excluding the Indianapolis 500, Fangio continued with Maserati winning both the Argentine and Belgian Grands Prix, before switching to the Mercedes team. After switching to the Mercedes team mid way through 1954, Fangio went onto win four more races and claim the Driver's title using the technologically advanced Mercedes-Benz W196.
1955[edit | edit source]
For 1955 Fangio remained with the dominant Mercedes-Benz team and their W196 car. For 1955, Fangio subjected himself to training programme which was strenuous in an effort to keep up his fitness levels high which was comparable to his younger rivals. This worked and once again he dominated the championship winning four races. At the end of the year Mercedes pulled out of Formula One after the 1955 Le Mans disaster leaving Fangio without a drive
1956[edit | edit source]
In 1956 Fangio moved to Ferrari to win his fourth title. Enzo Ferrari and Fangio did not have a very warm relationship, despite their shared success. At the season-ending Italian Grand Prix, Fangio's Ferrari team mate Peter Collins, who was in a position to win the World Championship with just 15 laps to go, handed over his car to Fangio. They shared the six points won for second place, giving Fangio the World title.
1957[edit | edit source]
In 1957 Fangio returned to Maserati, who were still using the same iconic 250F which Fangio had driven at the start of 1954. Fangio started the season with a hat-trick of wins in Argentina, Monaco and France. At the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring circuit, Fangio needed to extend his lead by six points to claim the title with two races to spare. It what is regarded as one of his best races he set several fastest laps one after another before breaking the lap record to win the race and the championship.
1958[edit | edit source]
In 1958, after three appreancaes including the 1958 Indianapolis 500, Fangio decided to retire. At his final race, leader Hawthorn had lapped Fangio and as Hawthorn was about to cross the line, he braked and allowed Fangio through so he could complete the 50-lap distance in his final race. Fangio was held in high respect by drivers, and he records would go on to last decades. Getting out of the Maserati after the race, he said to his mechanic simply, “It is finished.”
After Formula One[edit | edit source]
He won 24 World Championship Grands Prix from 52 entries – a winning percentage of 46.15%, the best in the sport's history (Alberto Ascari, who is in second, holds a percentage of 40.63%). His number of Driver's Championships also went unbeaten until Michael Schumacher won his sixth in 2004.
During the rest of his life after retiring from racing Fangio sold Mercedes-Benz cars, often driving his former race cars in demonstration laps. Even before he joined the Mercedes Formula One team, in the mid-1950s, Fangio had acquired the Argentine Mercedes concession. He was appointed President of Mercedes-Benz Argentina in 1974, and its Honorary President for Life in 1987.
Juan Manuel Fangio died in Buenos Aires in 1995, at the age of 84; he was buried in his home town of Balcarce. His pall-bearers were his younger brother Ruben Renato ("Toto"), Moss, compatriot racers José Froilán González and Carlos Reutemann, Jackie Stewart, and the president of Mercedes-Benz Argentina.
Complete Formula One results[edit | edit source]
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position; races in italics indicate fastest lap)
* Shared drive. † Car ran with streamlined, full-width bodywork.
Formula One records[edit | edit source]
Fangio holds the following Formula One records:
|Highest percentage of wins||46% (24 wins out of 52 entries)|
|Highest percentage of pole positions||55.8% (29 pole positions out of 52 entries)|
|Highest percentage of front row starts||92.31% (48 front row starts out of 52 entries)|
|Oldest World Champion||46 years, 41 days (1957)|
|World Champion with most teams||4 teams (Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Mercedes and Maserati)|