Juan Manuel Fangio

 
Fangio is the only Argentine driver to have won an Argentine Grand Prix. He won four times. |  His five World Championship titles remained a record for 46 years before Michael Schumacher broke it. |  With 24 wins in 51 Grand Prix starts, Fangio has the best winning percentage, 47.06 in the sport’s history. |  On February 23, 1958, he was kidnapped by Cuban rebels but released later. He remained good friends with his captors. |  He died in Buenos Aires in 1995, at the age of 84.

FACTFILE

Name: Juan Manuel Fangio
Nickname: The Master, El Chueco
DOB: Jun 24 1911
Place Of Birth: Balcarce
Nationality: Argentine
Most Races For: Maserati - 19
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  • PROFILE
  • MILESTONES
PROFILE
Juan Manuel Fangio

Many call him the greatest driver of all time and many others swear by his skills in a Formula One car, but Juan Manuel Fangio just cannot be described with words. It was always his driving that spoke. Fangio was born on June 24, 1911 on San Juan’s day in Balcarce, Argentina. Born to Italian parents, this five-time world champion began racing in Argentina in 1934, when he drove a 1929 Ford Model A. He was the Argentine National Champion in 1940 and 1941. With remarkable achievements at this level of motorsports, the Argentine government and the Argentinian Automobile Club did not hesitate to send him to race in Europe in 1949.

“The Master” Fangio made his Formula One debut at the age of 37 and was the oldest driver in most of the races he featured in. The 1948 French Grand Prix was his first F1 race and he failed to finish after starting 11th on the grid. But in 1949, in a Maserati, Fangio won four races, beating a mighty opposition and caught everyone’s attention.

For the first Formula One World Drivers’ Championship in 1950, Fangio drove an Alfa Romeo and won three out of the five races he competed in. Other races were hurdled by the ongoing World War II but Fangio proved his mettle in that inaugural season of the Formula One Championship, nonetheless. He was placed second with 27 points in the Drivers’ run.

The following season, “The Master” won the Swedish, French and the Spanish Grands Prix and was second in Great Britain and Germany. In just his second season in F1, Fangio won the title with Alfa Romeo.
Also known as “El Chueco” (knock-kneed), Fangio was left out in the cold when Alfa Romeo pulled out of the championship in 1952. He missed the first race of the season and was hoping that Maserati would have a place for him. They did, but for a single race at Monza. Fangio was racing for BRM in the meanwhile at Albi and Dunrod and had to reach Monza as quickly as possible. He missed a connecting flight and ended up driving from Paris through the night to show up half an hour prior to the race. Starting from the back of the grid, a fatigued Fangio crashed out in the second lap as his car took several topples to the side. He fell out of the machine and was hospitalised with multiple injuries and a badly bruised neck.

Driving for Maserati in 1954, a fully fit Fangio was second in the Drivers’ Championship with four podium finishes and 28 points in his Maserati. Like this was just a build-up to what was going to happen in the next four years, Fangio’s extraordinary driving won him the next four World Championship titles like it was nobody’s business. With six wins and 42 points in the 1954 season with Mercedes and Maserati, Fangio resurrected his championship title in the most brilliant fashion that one could imagine.

Out of the six races that he raced in a Mercedes during 1955, he won four and was second in the British Grand Prix. It was his third title win and it resurrected his stature in the F1 fraternity. Moving to Ferrari in 1956 after Ascari’s death in an accident, if anything, just added to Fangio’s glory and he won yet another title. Remarkably, he had taken over his teammates’ cars after a mechanical failure in his engine in Argentina, Monaco and Italy. It spoke about his diligence to finish all races that he took part in.

Not someone who would stick on to the same team if he sensed an opportunity in another, Fangio saved his best for the last. In 1957 he returned to Maserati. He had a bullish start, winning the Argentine, Monaco and the French Grands Prix. The following race at Nurburgring, is considered to be one of the best drives in the history of F1. Fangio started on pole position and was just six points away from clinching the title when he lost his position to Hawthorn’s and Collins’ Ferraris. He gained back his position in the third lap and had a 30 second lead over the Ferraris. He was running on half-tank and a slow pit stop on the 13th lap gave the Ferraris an opportunity to take a 50 second advantage over Fangio. Like a champion with a ‘never give up’ attitude he drove the race of his life, setting fastest lap after fastest lap and on the 20th lap he was a full 11 seconds quicker than the best time the Ferraris had managed in the entire race. In the penultimate lap, Fangio who was perhaps in a trance, overtook both Hawthorn and Collins and won the race and his fifth World Championship title with a whopping lead of three seconds over the Ferraris.

In the following season, “The Master” featured in two Grands Prix in Argentina and later in France. In the French Grand Prix, Fangio’s final, Hawthorn had already lapped the dark stallion but paid homage to this invincible figure of racing by braking just before the finishing line to allow this true champion to finish his 50 lap race distance in his very last Grand Prix.

Juan Manuel Fangio, with the kind of respect that he has earned in motorsports and his five World Championship titles will go down as one of (if not the most) indispensable part of F1 history.

-Anup Pareek

MILESTONE

  • YEARS
  • TEAMS
  • ENGINES
  • GPs
  • CIRCUITS
STATISTICS
YEARS
YearTeamClaGPs WinsPolesPods FLsPts
1950Alfa Romeo2nd6343327
1951Alfa Romeo1st7345537
1953Maserati2nd8124229.5
1954Maserati, Mercedes1st8657357.14
1955Mercedes1st6435341
1956Ferrari1st7365433
1957Maserati1st7446246
1958Maserati14th201017
Total 5124293523277.64

Juan Manuel Fangio - HEAD TO HEAD (TEAM-MATES)

Juan Manuel Fangio - Season Performance

According to stats...

  • Fangio is the only Argentine driver to have won an Argentine Grand Prix. He won four times.
  • His five World Championship titles remained a record for 46 years before Michael Schumacher broke it.
  • With 24 wins in 51 Grand Prix starts, Fangio has the best winning percentage, 47.06 in the sport’s history.
  • On February 23, 1958, he was kidnapped by Cuban rebels but released later. He remained good friends with his captors.
  • He died in Buenos Aires in 1995, at the age of 84.

QUOTES ON JUAN MANUEL FANGIO

"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.”
-Michael Schumacher on Fangio



OTHER DRIVERS

Most successful drivers to have raced with Juan Manuel Fangio