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Pit Your Wits

Pit Your Wits

Find below the answers to our 'Pit Your Wits' newsletter. 

Pit Your Wits

1. What were the two names of this first race?

Officially it was the Grand Prix d’Europe - the first time that title had ever gone to a race outside Italy or France - but as the race was held on UK soil it incorporated the British Grand Prix.

2. What was the first corner of this first British Grand Prix ?

Woodcote was the first corner the drivers tackled from 1952 until 2011 Woodcote was Silverstone’s final bend, but for the inaugural world championship event the sweeping right hander was the 4.6km circuit’s first corner - and thus the first corner tackled in the history of F1 racing. From there the drivers would take on six other turns - Copse, Maggots, Becketts, Chapel, Stowe and Club - before arriving at the final corner, Abbey. The pit lane and starting grid were situated between Abbey and Woodcote, with the cars lining up for the start in 4-3-4 formation.

3. Name the very regal guest in attendance

It was estimated that up to 120,000 spectators lined the track on race day, though by far the most important was His Royal Highness King George VI, who attended the race with Queen Elizabeth, Princess Margaret and guests Lord and Lady Mountbatten. It remains the only time a reigning monarch has attended a British motor race.

4. How many drivers took part?

A Thai prince and a Swiss baron took part. Among the 21 drivers that took the start were Prince Birabongse Bhanudej Bhanubandh (better known as Prince Bira or B.Bira), a notable racer and member of the Thai royal family, and Baron Emmanuel 'Toulo' de Graffenried, a Swiss driver who’d won the 1949 edition of the British Grand Prix in the pre-world championship era. Bira, who remains the only Thai to have raced in F1 competition, qualified his Maserati fifth at Silverstone but retired in the race when he ran out of fuel. Similarly De Graffenried failed to make the flag after his identical 4CLT-48 developed engine problems.

5. The surnames of the three pre-race favourites all began with ‘Fa’ please name them? 

Alfa Romeo’s 158 may have been 13 years old by the time of the first world championship race, but the 1.5-litre supercharged machine was still the car to beat, and that helped the Italian manufacturer sign three of the era’s biggest names: Guiseppe ‘Nino’ Farina, Luigi Fagioli and Juan Manuel Fangio, affectionately known as the ‘Three Fs’. The trio duly qualified their scarlet cars in the top three grid slots, with British driver Reg Parnell a second down the road in fourth in the final Alfa Romeo entry.

6. Who won the race?

In the race Farina, Fagioli and Fangio predictably ran away from the rest of the field, which was otherwise made up of a mixture of ageing Maserati’s, ERAs, Talbots and Altas. After 70 laps and nearly two and a quarter hours of racing - during which the leading trio had traded places several times - it was Farina who triumphed, leading fellow Italian Fagioli across the line by 2.6s. But it was Parnell and not Fangio who completed Alfa’s clean sweep of the podium places after the Argentine had been forced into retirement with a broken oil pipe - possibly as a result of clipping a straw bale at Stowe.

7. Who was the well know jazz musician who finished in 11th place?

Johnny Claes enjoyed considerably more success with his splendidly named combo ‘Johnny Claes and the Clay Pigeons’ than he did in Formula One racing. The Belgian driver (who was born in London) qualified his Talbot dead last at Silverstone, a full 18s back from Farina’s pole-sitting Alfa, but he did at least reach the chequered flag in the race, coming home six laps down on the Italian in 11th.

8. Stirling Moss came second in the support race, which years would he go on to win the British Grand Prix?

Stirling Moss would go on to win the British Grand Prix in both 1955 and 1957, but at the inaugural world championship Grand Prix in his homeland the then 20-year-old only appeared in the 500cc support races, not in the main event. Moss won his heat and was involved in a barnstorming battle for the lead in the final, but in the end had to settle for second place after his Cooper-JAP suffered a piston failure at the final corner.