The 1952 Dutch Grand Prix was a Formula Two race held on 17 August 1952 at the Circuit van Zandvoort. It was the seventh round of the 1952 World Drivers' Championship, which was run to Formula Two rules in 1952 and 1953, rather than the Formula One regulations normally used. The 90-lap race was won by Ferrari driver Alberto Ascari after he started from pole position. His teammates Giuseppe Farina and Luigi Villoresi finished in second and third places.
After failing to make it to the championship calendar in the previous two years, the Dutch Grand Prix was finally approved to join the championship calendar for 1952. The Circuit Zandvoort, located only half an hour West of the Dutch capitol of Amsterdam would serve as host for the grand prix. Since 1948, Circuit Zandvoort had hosted the Dutch Grand Prix, a minor grand prix event that had yet to make it within the prestigious 'Grand Epreuves'. Zandvoort, a fast sweeping circuit located in the Dutch sand dunes was built on the former supply lines of the German military from the Second World War. The Frenchman, Louis Rosier had the most success at the circuit, winning the previous two events of the Dutch Grand Prix. However notably, neither he nor the Dutch Grand Prix's inaugral winner in 1948, Prince Bira of Siam were in attendance for the grand prix's entrance onto the world championship.
- Ferrari: The championship was now over, Alberto Ascari's fifth straight win at the Nurburgring helped to secure his first world title in a most dominant fashion. Despite having won the championship, Ascari was determined to do well in the final two rounds to secure his cleansweep of the opposition. Alongside the reigning champion, Ascari and the former champion, Giuseppe Farina, Luigi Villoresi made his world championship return for Ferrari in 1952. A road accident early in the season had prevented his participation early in the season and had left him sidelined despite still competing in minor categories. Villoresi, replacing the unavailable Piero Taruffi was the only man on the grid to have won the Dutch event before, having done so back in 1949. Aside from the three works Ferrari entries, only Charles de Tornaco's yellow Ecurie Francorchamps entered Ferrari 500 was entered for Ferrari.
- Gordini: The three French regulars of Robert Manzon, Maurice Trintignant and Jean Behra were once again in attendance for the Gordini outfit. Paul Frère, the racing journalist would also enter an older Simca-Gordini model owned by friend and fellow Belgian, Johnny Claes.
- HWM: With Peter Collins unavailable for the Dutch event, Lance Macklin was therefore left in charge as HWM's lead driver. Duncan Hamilton was once again brought in as a substitute alongside Dries van der Lof, a successful Dutch industrialist who also competed as an amateur race driver. Van der Lof was provided the opportunity to represent his country at their home event whilst racing for HWM.
- Maserati: The works squad had made a brief return in Germany with Felice Bonetto piloting their new A6GCM chassis. The team however opted to focus on development work for the new car rather than attend the new grand prix. The team hoping to refine the car for a successful performance at Monza, home of the team's home grand prix. Nonetheless, the minor Escuderia Bandeirantes team had brought along A6GCM cars for its drivers, the Brazilians Chico Landi and Gino Bianco. One extra car was entered for the local talent of Jan Flinterman, who gained funding to join the team with assistance from the race organisers.
- ERA: The ERA G Type had been having an incredibly difficult time in 1952. Stirling Moss had yet to bring the car up to speed or get it to finish a race during the championship season. Nonetheless, the team returned once again in Zandvoort and Moss would be hoping the project, unlike the BRM project he was also involved in would not become a total failure.
- Cooper: The Cooper T20's were proving incredibly impressive at times, the manufacturer's drivers being able to regularly climb to the top of the midfield. The young Mike Hawthorn, entered by a team ran through his father had proven to be one of the best young British hopefuls piloting the Cooper's. Hawthorn would be the lone Cooper entry in Zandvoort, however he was hoping another strong result would gain him the attention from the big teams in the grand prix scene.
- Connaught: After their impressive debut in Silverstone, the Connaught A car was likewise proving capable of mixing with the top running Formula Two teams. Ken Downing, who had been having much success in the Connaught in minor events would once again return to the world championship at Zandvoort.
- Frazer Nash: Like the Cooper's and Connaught's, Frazer Nash was likewise proving the capability of British engineering on the Formula Two grid. Ken Wharton driving for Scuderia Franera had already scored points and was a regular competitor in 1952. Wharton would once again would be expected to be one of the midfield stars.
As he had done all season, Ascari once again dominated the practice timesheets. A 1:46.5 securing him pole position, a full two seconds faster than teammate Farina. However the big surprise of practice was when Hawthorn managed to put his Cooper-Bristol third on the grid. Hawthorn was still a full five seconds off the pole time, however he gained the attention of Ferrari when he beat the returning Villoresi to third on the grid. Villoresi in the final works Ferrari was left disappointed upon his grand prix return, Hawthorn beating his time by two tenths.
Not even the Gordini cars had an answer for Hawthorn's impressive lap in the Cooper. Trintignant was the fastest of their cars, two seconds slower than Hawthorn. Behra, in the second Gordini was a second off Trintignant's time whilst Manzon could only manage eighth. He was only two tenths slower than Behra, however it was still enough for the Frazer Nash of Wharton to split the Gordini cars and take seventh.
The leading HWM's of Macklin and Hamilton were only ninth and tenth, whilst their local representation of Van der Lof could do no better than fourteenth. Frère in the old Simca-Gordini started from eleventh ahead of Bianco in the fastest Maserati.
Downing's Connaught was settled in a disappointed thirteenth, ahead of the two Dutchman Van der Lof and Flinterman. Landi in the final Maserati and De Tornaco's private Ferrari were the slowest drivers during practice. The ERA of Moss would once again experience teething problems. Fatigued after travelling from the Goodwood 9 Hours sportscar race, Moss elected to not practice and start from the back of the grid for the race.
Whilst Ascari had impressed with his usual dominance in practice, the fast times of Hawthorn in the underpowered Cooper had drew most of the attention heading into the race. Ascari made his customary strong start from pole position, whilst Hawthorn sped right past Farina to take second place in the run to the first corner. Hawthorn's Cooper even seemed capable of challenging Ascari's Ferrari until the superior might of the 500 chassis allowed Ascari to pull away from the Cooper on the second lap.
It was immediately evident that the Cooper would be no match for the Ferrari's, Farina making it back past Hawthorn on the second lap. Hawthorn was able to briefly maintain third to Villoresi's third Ferrari, however eventually the Ferrari superiority won out and Villoresi took third to create another 1-2-3 situation for Ferrari.
Hawthorn may have lost the podium places to the Ferrari's, however he still maintained a healthy advantage over his nearest challengers in the Gordini cars. Behra had got the best start of the Gordini's, and after seeing the two Maserati's of Bianco and Flinterman retire, Behra pulled out of the race on lap ten with magneto failure. The final two Gordini's of Manzon and Trintignant were left to battle for the final points position.
After a bad start, Trintignant was left chasing Manzon, however despite continually hounding his tail, the second Gordini was unable to make it past. The Gordini squabble had allowed the ERA of Moss who had climbed from the back of the field to close within the Gordini's and have a chance for points.
Frère retired with clutch problems on lap fifteen whilst four laps later De Tornaco ended his day with engine troubles. The Connaught car of Downing also went on to retire after a disappointing showing. The locals were seeing little success for their home drivers. Van der Lof was experiencing mechanical troubles leaving him at the back of the pack whilst Flinterman had already retired from the race. The sole surviving Maserati of Landi came into the pits to allow Flinterman to take over his car and rejoin the race, however the locals had little to cheer as like Van der Lof he was well down at the back of the pack.
There was little racing action throughout the day, only the ERA of Moss chasing after the two Gordini's of Manzon and Trintignant providing any real entertainment. On lap 73, ERA's hopes for points were lost when the engine on Moss's car failed. Wharton in the Frazer Nash inherited seventh place, however three laps later a wheel bearing failure brought an end to his day.
The Ferrari's dominated once again, Ascari led the race from lights to flag to achieve another grand chelem. Forty seconds adrift of Ascari came the second Ferrari of Farina, whilst Villoresi was undoubtedly hoping for a better return after finishing more than a minute and a half adrift of Farina. The Ferrari's once again were unchallenged, Hawthorn in fourth place had been lapped twice by the three Ferrari's. However aside from the Ferrari's, no car came close to challenging Hawthorn in his nimble Cooper-Bristol.
Manzon rounded out the final points place for Gordini, finishing only just ahead of his teammate Trintignant whom he had battled all afternoon. Two laps down on the Gordini's came Hamilton's HWM to take seventh place, one lap ahead of teammate Macklin. The share car of Landi and Flinterman was in ninth whilst the final car of Van der Lof failed to even be classified.
Standings after raceEdit
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