The first decade of the Formula One World Championship, founded in 1950, was dominated by Juan Manuel Fangio. The Argentine became World Champion five times with four different manufacturers, including in 1954 and 1955 with the Mercedes-Benz W 196 R. In the first outing of this race car on 4th July 1954, Fangio won the French Grand Prix in Reims ahead of his teammate Karl Kling.
At this point, the World Champion of 1951 in a Maserati was already 43 years old. In 1954, he also won at the European Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, at the Swiss Grand Prix in Bern and at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, and won the car World Championship quite convincingly.
The 1955 season began with success at the Argentine Grand Prix for the local hero. In the incredible heat, Fangio was the only one to keep going without a change of drivers. Victories at the Dutch and Italian Grands Prix followed and brought him the second World Championship title with Mercedes-Benz. After the withdrawal of Mercedes-Benz from motorsport, he became World Champion with Ferrari in 1956 and Maserati in 1957.
In 1958, Fangio ended his career. With 24 victories in 51 grands prix, he attained a success rate of almost 50 per cent. In order to find out who the greatest Formula One driver of all time is, after the first 1,000 grands prix in 2019, the magazine “auto motor und sport” used a comprehensive formula to compare all Formula One drivers with one another. According to that formula, Fangio is the best, ahead of Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton.
Alfred Neubauer, the race director of Mercedes-Benz in the 1930s and 1950s, said of Fangio:
“He understood how to achieve the maximum in all conditions and to use his machine economically. That is to say he wasn’t a wild daredevil, but had the ability, tactics and capacity to see the machine as a whole and to adapt this whole to the requirements of that very moment.”Alfred Neubauer, Mercedes-Benz race director in the 1930s and 1950s
His biographer, journalist Günther Molter, characterised the racing driver, who had grown up in modest circumstances, with the following words: “Fangio was always shy, reserved, almost distrustful. And, on the other hand, even as a big star, he was always modest, unassuming and human.”
The great racing driver died on 17th July 1995 in Buenos Aires.
Source: Motorsport history of Mercedes-Benz – Newsletter 2/2021 (Dated 26th May 2021)