Juan Manuel Fangio
24 June 1911|
Balcarce, Buenos Aires, Argentina
17 July 1995 (aged 84)|
Buenos Aires, Argentina
|Formula One World Championship career|
|Active years||1950 – 1951, 1953 – 1958|
|Teams||Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Mercedes, Ferrari|
|Races||52 (51 starts)|
|Championships||5 (1951, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957)|
|Career points||245 (277 9⁄14)|
|First race||1950 British Grand Prix|
|First win||1950 Monaco Grand Prix|
|Last win||1957 German Grand Prix|
|Last race||1958 French Grand Prix|
Juan Manuel Fangio (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈfanχjo], Italian pronunciation: [ˈfandʒo]; 24 June 1911 – 17 July 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 Drivers' Championship five times.
From childhood, he abandoned his studies to pursue auto mechanics. In 1938, he debuted in Turismo Carretera, competing in a Ford V8. In 1940, he competed with Chevrolet, winning the Grand Prix International Championship and devoted his time to the Argentine Turismo Carretera becoming its champion, a title he successfully defended a year later. Fangio then competed in Europe between 1947 to 1949 where he achieved further success.
He won the World Championship of Drivers five times—a record which stood for 46 years until beaten by Michael Schumacher—with four different teams (Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Maserati), a feat that has not been repeated. A member of the Formula 1 Hall of Fame, he is regarded by many as one of the greatest F1 drivers of all time and holds the highest winning percentage in Formula One - 46.15% - winning 24 of 52 Formula One races he entered. Fangio is the only Argentine driver to have won the Argentine Grand Prix, having won it four times in his career—the most of any driver.
After retirement, Fangio presided as the honorary president of Mercedes-Benz Argentina from 1987, a year after the inauguration of his museum, until his death in 1995. In 2011, on the centenary of his birth, Fangio was remembered around the world and various activities were held on the occasion of his birthday.
Fangio's grandfather Giuseppe Fangio emigrated to Buenos Aires in 1887. Giuseppe managed to buy his own farm near Balcarce within three years by cutting and burning tree branches to transform them into charcoal fuel. His father Loreto, emigrated to Argentina from the small, central Italian town of Castiglione Messer Marino. His mother Herminia Dérano was from Tornareccio. Both parents are from the Chieti province, of the Abruzzo region and married on 24 October 1903. They lived on farms where Herminia was a housekeeper and Loreto worked in the building trade becoming an apprentice stonemason.
Fangio was born on San Juan's day 1911 at 12:10 a.m. in Balcarce, a small city in southern Buenos Aires Province, Argentina. His birth certificate was mistakenly dated 23 June by the Register of Balcarce. He was the fourth of six children. In 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.
Fangio started his education at the School No. 4 of Balcarce, Calle 13 before transferring to School No. 1 and 18 Uriburu Av. When Fangio was 13, he dropped out of school and worked as an assistant mechanic. When he was 16, he started out riding as a mechanic for his employer's customers. Fangio also developed pneumonia which almost proved fatal. This developed after a football game where Fangio had been hard at running and the effects caused a sharp pain in his chest. 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. In 1932, he was enlisted at the Campo de Mayo cadet school near Buenos Aires. 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. Fangio along with his friend José Duffard received offers to play at a club based in Mar del Plata. 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.
Early racing career
He began his racing career in Argentina in 1934, driving a 1929 Ford Model A which he had rebuilt. During his time racing in Argentina, he drove Chevrolet cars and was Argentine National Champion in 1940 and 1941. He first came to Europe to race in 1948, funded by the Argentine Automobile Club and the Argentine government.
In the Tourism Highway category, Fangio participated in his first race between 18 October to 30 October 1938 as the co-pilot of Luis Finocchietti. Despite not winning Argentine Road Grand Prix, Fangio drove most of the way and qualified in seventh place. In November of that year, the competition called the "400 km. of Tres Arroyos "in which he enrolled, was suspended due to a fatal accident.
In 1939, the circuit was in Forest, conforming well his last involvement with a Ford V8. With Hector Tieri as accompanist, in that year led a Chevrolet in Turismo Carretera, competing for the Argentine Grand Prix. Suspended by a strong rain, resumed in Cordoba, where he managed their first victory, winning the fourth stage from Catamarca to San Juan. On October, after 9500 km. competition in Argentina, Bolivia and Peru, won his first race in Turismo Carretera, winning the Grand Prix International North. He qualified TC Argentine Champion, the first ever driving a Chevrolet.
In 1941 beat Oscar Gálvez in the Grand Prix Getúlio Vargas in Brazil. For the second time, was crowned champion of Argentine TC. In 1942 the pilot ended South Grand Prix in tenth place in accordance with the general classification. In April won the race "Mar y Sierras" and had to suspend the mechanical activity due to the start of World War II.
In 1946, after a brief period of inactivity, returned to racing with two races in Morón and Tandil driving a Ford T. In February 1947, competed at National Mechanics (MN) in the circuit Retirement and 1 March started the race for Rosario City Award. Subsequently, triumphed in the circuit 'Double Back Window' Race.
Formula One racing
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Fangio, unlike later Formula One drivers, started his racing career at a mature age and was the oldest driver in many of his races. During his career, drivers raced with almost no protective equipment on circuits with no safety features. Fangio had no compunction about leaving a team, even after a successful year or even during a season, if he thought he would have a better chance with a better car. As was then common, several of his race results were shared with team mates after he took over their car during races when his own had technical problems. His rivals included Alberto Ascari, Giuseppe Farina and Stirling Moss. Throughout his career, Fangio was backed by funding from the Argentine government of Juan Peron.
World championship successes
Fangio's first entry into Grand Prix racing came in the 1948 French Grand Prix at Reims, where he started his Simca Gordini from 11th on the grid but retired. He did not drive in F1 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.
For the first World Championship of Drivers in 1950 Fangio was taken on by the Alfa Romeo team alongside Farina and Luigi Fagioli. With competitive racing machinery 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 1950s non-championship races Fangio took a further four wins and two seconds from eight starts. Fangio won three more championship races for Alfa in 1951 in the Swiss, French and Spanish Grands Prix, and with the improved Ferraris taking points off his team mates, Fangio took the title in the final race, six points ahead of Ascari.
With the 1952 World Championship being run to Formula Two specifications, Alfa Romeo were unable to use their supercharged Alfettas and withdrew. As a result the defending champion found himself without a car for the first race of the championship and remained absent from F1 until June, when he drove the British BRM V16 in non-championship F1 races at Albi and Dundrod. Fangio had agreed to drive for Maserati in a non-championship race at Monza the day after the Dundrod race, but having missed a connecting flight he decided to drive through the night from Paris, arriving half an hour before the start. Badly fatigued, Fangio started the race from the back of the grid but lost control on the second lap, crashed into a grass bank, and was thrown out of the car as it flipped end over end. He was taken to hospital with multiple injuries, the most serious being a broken neck, and spent the rest of 1952 recovering in Argentina.
In Europe, and back to full racing fitness in 1953, Fangio rejoined Maserati for the championship season, and against the dominant Ferraris led by Ascari he took a lucky win at Monza. Fangio qualified second with Bonetto seventh, and Fangio set fastest lap on his way to a 1.4-second victory over Nino Farina while Bonetto retired out of fuel. 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.
In 1954 Fangio raced for Maserati until Mercedes-Benz entered competition in mid-season. Winning eight out of twelve races (six out of eight in the championship) in that year, he continued to race with Mercedes—driving the W196 Monoposto—in 1955 in a team that included Stirling Moss. 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. At the end of the second successful season (which was overshadowed by the 1955 Le Mans disaster in which more than 80 spectators were killed, an accident which happened right in front of and nearly killed him) Mercedes withdrew from racing and after 4 attempts, Fangio never raced at Le Mans again.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. Fangio took over his team-mate's cars after he suffered mechanical problems in three races, the Argentine, Monaco and Italian Grands Prix. In each case the points were shared between the two drivers. 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.
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, before retiring with engine problems in Britain. At the next race, 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. From pole position Fangio dropped to third behind the Ferraris of Mike Hawthorn and Collins but managed to get past both by the end of the third lap. Fangio had started with half-full tanks since he expected that he would need new tyres half-way through the race. In the event Fangio pitted on lap 13 with a 30-second lead, but a disastrous stop left him back in third place and 50 seconds behind Collins and Hawthorn. Fangio came into his own, setting one fastest lap after another, culminating in a record-breaking time on lap 20 a full eleven seconds faster than the best the Ferraris could do. On the penultimate lap Fangio got back past both Collins and Hawthorn, and held on to take the win by just over three seconds. With Musso finishing down in fourth place, Fangio claimed his fifth title. This performance is often regarded as the greatest drive in Formula One history, and it was to be Fangio's last win.
After his series of consecutive championships he retired in 1958, following the French Grand Prix. Such was the respect for Fangio, that during that final race, 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. He would cross the line over two minutes down on Hawthorn. 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%).
The Batista Dictatorship of Cuba established the non-Formula One Cuban Grand Prix in 1957. Fangio won the 1957 event, and had set fastest times during practice for the 1958 race. On 23 February 1958, two unmasked gunmen of Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement entered the Hotel Lincoln in Havana and kidnapped Fangio at gunpoint. Local police set up roadblocks at intersections, and guards were assigned to private and commercial airports and to all competing drivers.
Fangio was taken to three separate houses. His captors allowed him to listen to the race via radio, bringing a television for him to witness reports of a disastrous crash after the race concluded. In the third house, Fangio was allowed his own bedroom but became convinced that a guard was standing outside of the bedroom door at all hours. The captors talked about their revolutionary programme which Fangio had not wished to speak about as he did not have an interest in politics. Fangio was released after 29 hours and he remained a good friend of his captors afterwards.
The captors motives were to force the cancellation of the race in an attempt to embarrass the Batista regime. After Fangio was released, many Cubans were convinced that Batista was losing his power because he failed to track the captors down. The Cuban Revolution concluded in January 1959, canceling the 1959 Cuban Grand Prix. The Fangio kidnapping was dramatized in a 1999 Argentine film directed by Alberto Lecchi, Operación Fangio.
Later life and death
Fangio attended the 1958 Indianapolis 500 and was offered $20,000 in an attempt to qualify in a Kurtis-Offy run by car owner George Walther, Jr. Fangio had previously attended the 500 in 1948 which expressed his interest in competing the race. However he was unable to qualify and Walther allowed for Fangio to stand aside before a contract with British Petroleum came to light who had not wanted another driver to take over Fangio's position.
During the rest of his life after retiring from racing Fangio sold Mercedes-Benz cars, often driving his former racing 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.
Following his retirement, Fangio was active in assembling automotive memorabilia associated with his racing career. This led to the creation of the Museo Juan Manuel Fangio, which opened in Balcarce in 1986.
Fangio was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1990. He returned to the spotlight in 1994, when he publicly opposed a new Province of Buenos Aires law denying driving licences to those over 80 (which included Fangio). Denied a renewal of his card, Fangio reportedly challenged Traffic Bureau personnel to a race between Buenos Aires and seaside Mar del Plata (a 400 km (250 mi) distance) in two hours or less, following which an exception was made for the five-time champion.
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 at the time.
In the early 1950s, Fangio was involved in a road accident when he was forced to swerve to avoid an oncoming truck. The car, a Lancia Aurelia GT clipped a pole, spinning twice and threw Fangio out, which led him to sustain grazed elbows. One passenger stated the incident was the first time Fangio had been so terrified since the Korean War.
Fangio was never married, but was involved in a romantic relationship with Andrea Buerret whom he broke up with in 1960. They had a son named Oscar Cacho Espinosa who was acknowledged as the unrecognised son of Fangio in 2000.
His nephew, Juan Manuel Fangio II, is also a successful racing driver.
The official Formula One website states of Fangio: "Many consider him to be the greatest driver of all time." Several highly successful later drivers, such as Jim Clark, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher, have been compared with Fangio. However, it is acknowledged that such comparisons are not realistic, since the qualities required for success, the levels of competition, and the rules have changed over time.
His record of five World Championship titles stood for 45 years, until German driver Michael Schumacher took his sixth title in 2003. Schumacher said, "Fangio is on a level much higher than I see myself. What he did stands alone and what we have achieved is also unique. I have such respect for what he achieved. You can't take a personality like Fangio and compare him with what has happened today. There is not even the slightest comparison."
In his home country of Argentina, Fangio is revered as one of the greatest sportsmen the nation has ever produced. Argentines often refer to him as El Maestro, el mejor, which translates into The Master, the best one.
Six statues of Fangio, sculpted by Catalan artist Joaquim Ros Sabaté, stand at race venues around the world: Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires; Monte Carlo, Monaco; Montmeló, Spain; Nürburgring, Germany; Stuttgart-Untertürkheim, Germany; and Monza, Italy.
An automobile museum was established in Balcarce (Fangio's birthplace) in 1986, and named the Museo Juan Manuel Fangio (Juan Manuel Fangio Museum).
Argentina's largest oil company, Repsol YPF, launched the "Fangio XXI" gas brand. The Zonda 2005 C12 F was named after him in 2005 because of his endorsement (the Zonda was originally intended to be named "Fangio F1," but was changed out of respect after his death). Maserati created a special website in 2007 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his fifth and final world championship triumph. A Mercedes-Benz W196R Formula 1 race car, driven by Fangio in his World Championship-qualifying Grand Prix races in 1954 and 1955, was sold for a record $30 million at an auction in England on July 12, 2013.
World Championship results
(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
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)|
Notes and references
- Up until 1990, not all points scored by a driver contributed to their final World Championship tally (see list of points scoring systems for more information). Numbers without parentheses are Championship points; numbers in parentheses are total points scored.
- "Formula 1™ – The Official F1™ Website". Formula1.com. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
- "The Official Formula 1 Website". Formula1.com. Retrieved 20 March 2011. "Many consider him to be the greatest driver of all time."
- Donaldson 2003, p. 7-8.
- "F1 Fanatics: Juan Manuel Fangio". F1fanatics.wordpress.com. 31 January 2011. Retrieved 20 March 2011.
- "Biography of Juan Manuel Fangio (Part One 1911–1936)" (in Spanish). Museo Fangio. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
- Tremayne, David (18 July 1995). "Obituaries: Juan Manuel Fangio". The Independent.
- "Juan Manuel Fangio – Developed Childhood Interest In Cars". jrank.org. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
- "Juan Manuel Fangio – Pieced Together Own Race Car". jrank.org. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
- Donaldson 2003, p. 14-15.
- Rendall, Ivan (1995) . The Chequered Flag: 100 years of motor racing. Weidenfeld & Nicolson. p. 166. ISBN 0-297-83550-5.
- / 2-second-hand-1937-1942 / "Part Two (1937–1942)". Argentina: Official website Fangio Museum. Retrieved 15 February 2011.
- Sabaris, Gerardo (2010). "Un tributo al chueco ... Biografica". Argentina: jmfangio.org. Retrieved 15 February 2011.
- part-1943-1949 / "Part Three (1943–1949)". Argentina: Official website Fangio Museum. Retrieved 15 February 2011.
- Benson, Andrew (27 January 2013). "Pay as you go, go, go: F1's 'pay drivers' explained". BBC Sport (BBC). Retrieved 28 January 2013.
- Jones, Hill 1995, p. 16.
- "Lancia Wins Big Road Race". Townsville Daily Bulletin. Townsville Daily Bulletin. Retrieved 13 April 2013.
- Donaldson 2003.
- "MASERATI AND FANGIO F1 WORLD CHAMPIONS IN 1957". www.greatcarstv.com. Retrieved 23 January 2009.[dead link]
- "Cuba Rebels Kidnap Champ Race Driver". The Milwaukee Sentinel. 24 February 1958. p. 1.
- "Cuban Rebels Kidnap Argentine Auto Racer". The Newburgh News. 24 February 1958. p. 1.
- "Rebels let Fangio see crash on TV". The Bulletin. 26 February 1958. p. 2.
- "Fangio Released by Rebels "Treated Very Well"". The Glasgow Herald. 26 February 1958. p. 7.
- "Rebels Free Fangio; Foul Play is Cry in Tragic Cuban Auto Race". The Portsmouth Times. 25 February 1958. p. 1.
- "Fangio Kidnapping Convinces Many Batista Powerless". The Free Lance-Star. 26 February 1958. p. 2.
- "Operación Fangio" (in español). Cine Nacional. Retrieved 20 March 2011.
- Davidson, Shaffer 2006, p. 144.
- "Juan Manuel Fangio". easybuenosairescity.com. Retrieved 4 August 2012.
- "Op bezoek bij Juan Manuel Fangio: de mythe". Autovisie. 1991 nr 1: Page 44–51. 5 January 1991.
- "''La Nación'': Cuándo los mayores no deben manejar" (in español). Lanacion.com.ar. Retrieved 20 March 2011.
- "Biography of Juan Manuel Fangio (1985–1995 Part Six)" (in Spanish). Museo Fangio. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
- Donaldson, Gerald (2003). Fangio: The Life Behind the Legend. London: Virgin Books. p. 304. ISBN 978-0-7535-1827-4.
- "Fangio gives Sandown crowd a treat". The Age. 13 September 1978. p. 54.
- «Un hijo no reconocido de Fangio vive en Cañuelas» InfoCañuelas, 17 de noviembre de 2009. Consultado el 19 de febrero de 2011.
- "DRIVERS: JUAN-MANUEL FANGIO". www.grandprix.com. Retrieved 23 January 2009.
- "The Official Formula 1 Website – Juan Manuel Fangio". formula1.com. Retrieved 16 October 2006.
- "Schumi: Fangio was greater than me". London: BBC. 12 October 2003. Retrieved 29 September 2006.
- "Champion Schumacher Rejects Comparisons To Fangio". usgpindy.com. Retrieved 29 September 2006.
- "Juan Manuel Fangio". f1-grandprix.com. Retrieved 22 September 2006.
- "Discovery Channel – Guide Car". discoverychannelasia.com. Retrieved 22 September 2006.
- "Maserati commemorates Fangio anniversary". F1Fanatic.co.uk. Retrieved 9 August 2007.
- "Mercedes sells at auction for record $30 million". Money. July 12, 2013.
- Donaldson, Gerald (2003). Fangio: The Life Behind the Legend. London, England: Random House. ISBN 978-0-7535-1827-4.
- Davidson, Donald; Shaffer, Rick (2006). Autocourse: Official History of the Indianapolis 500. Norwalk, CT: MBI Publishing. ISBN 1-905334-20-6.
- Jones, Bruce; Hill, Damon (1995). The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Formula One: The Definitive Illustrated Guide to Grand Prix Motor Racing. Carlton Books (Motorbooks International). ISBN 0-7603-0313-4.
|40x40px||Wikimedia Commons has media related to Juan Manuel Fangio.|
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- Juan Manuel Fangio at the Internet Movie Database