After the dominance of Silver Arrows and their retirement from all motorsports after the tragic LeMans Disaster in 1955. In 1956, the reign F1 Champion Juan Manuel Fangio apparently need to join the other team to competed another year in F1, so he joined Ferrari, with his teammate Peter Collins from Britain. And bare in mind, Ferrari just handed all the technology from Lancia who withdraw from F1 in 1955 because of financial issue, so Ferrari was proven to be a strong team in 1956 season. Meanwhile, former Fangio’s teammate Stirling Moss and Jean Behra joined the Maserati.
The season summary was all about the rival between the Ferrari and Maserati. After 7 of 8 round in Nurburgring, Fangio have a good opportunity to won the champion in the next round, with 8 points clear to his teammate Collins and Behra from Maserati, both of them must finish 1st place and set the fastest lap of the race to scored the champion if Fangio retired from the race (Point system in 50s are 8,6,4,3,2 and 1 for fastest lap).
1956 Italian Grand Prix, the last round of 1956 season and also the championship deciding race. With Fangio on pole, Castellotti and Musso in the other Ferrari placing 2nd and 3rd. The other two championship contenders Collins and Behra were placing 7th and 5th. After the chequerd flag dropped, the race started. All four Ferrari quickly lock the front row in front of the Tifosi crowd, but it only lasted 4 laps, as the Monza Banking session (the Oval) playing havoc with their tyres.
With 8 laps to go, one of the champion contender Jean Behra retired from the race with steering problem while he shared his car with his teammates, with the French man retired, the champion will surely hand to Collins or Fangio. But when Fangio had a broken steering arm in lap 19, he retired, but he still had the chance of champion, what Fangio need to do is rejoin the track by sharing a car with one of his teammate——Collins or Musso. Collins was fighting for the champion, so Fangio was looking for Musso, but Musso was bluntly refusing to share his car at Monza as he had in Buenos Aires (Argentine Grand Prix). Fourth champion hope seems gone for Fangio. On lap 36, with just 14 laps remaining, Collins stood a very good chance of becoming the first British world champion by holding a second place, but instead of win the title, in an act of sportsmanship, he handed his car to Fangio,
“It’s too early for me to become World Champion- I’m too young. And Fangio deserves it anyway.”----said Peter Collins.
With Fangio inside of Collins’s car, Fangio won the title easily when he finished 2nd, just 5.7s behind of Moss. Moss stepped to 2nd of the drivers championship standing and became a runner-up behind Fangio for the 3rd consecutive time with 27 points——3 points behind Fangio who is the champion, Collins scored 25 and Behra 22.
”I was astonished when he handed over his car, but I did not stop to argue. In fact Peter pushed me into it, although he still had a great chance to win the Championship himself at the time. I know how much that renunciation meant to him. This is one of the things that make a friendship really great. I don’t know whether in his place I would have done the same. Collins was the gentleman driver.” ——said Juan Manuel Fangio
After a nearly “miss” of the title for Collins, just after 2 years later, tragic happened to him during the 1958 German Grand Prix, he was chasing Tony Brooks’s Vanwall at the “Green Hell” Nurburgring, lost control and goes airborne after he went wide, Collins was thrown and he struck a tree, sustaining critical head injuries, died later at the afternoon.
R.I.P Peter Collins (1931 ~ 1958) and R.I.P Juan Manuel Fangio (1911 ~ 1995)