The 1954 season turned into a great triumph for Mercedes-Benz and Fangio: he followed up his victory in France with further wins in Germany (Nürburgring), Switzerland (Bremgarten) and Italy (Monza). Fangio was crowned Formula One world champion for the second time, with almost double the points of his nearest rival.
The Argentinean dominated the 1955 season in similar fashion, winning the grand prix races in Argentina, Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy, and finishing second behind teammate Stirling Moss at the British Grand Prix. Other exceptional performances by Fangio during this season included second spot at the Mille Miglia, driving solo in a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR (W 196 S). Winner Stirling Moss, on the other hand, was accompanied by a co-driver, Denis Jenkinson, as was most of the field.
Following Mercedes-Benz’s withdrawal from motor racing at the end of the 1955 season, Fangio went on to win two more world championship titles with Scuderia Ferrari in 1956 and Maserati in 1957.
Fangio will forever be remembered for saving the greatest drive of his life to win his fifth and final World Championship in a Maserati 250F. Fangio started the 1957 season with a hat-trick of wins in Argentina, Monaco and France, before retiring with engine problems in Britain.
At the next race, the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring circuit, Fangio needed to extend his lead by six points to claim the title with two races to spare. From pole position Fangio dropped to third behind the Ferraris of Hawthorn and Collins but managed to get past both by the end of the third lap. Fangio had started with half-full tanks since he expected that he would need new tyres half-way through the race. In the event Fangio pitted on lap 13 with a 30-second lead, but a disastrous stop left him back in third place and 50 seconds behind Collins and Hawthorn. Fangio came into his own, setting one fastest lap after another, culminating in a record-breaking time on lap 20 a full eleven seconds faster than the best the Ferraris could do. On the penultimate lap Fangio got back past both Collins and Hawthorn, and held on to take the win by just over three seconds. With Musso finishing down in fourth place, Fangio claimed his fifth title. This performance is often regarded as the greatest drive in Formula One history, but it was to be Fangio’s last win. At the end of the race, Fangio confessed that he had driven “in a state of grace” and that it was the best he had ever driven.
The following year, the Argentinean called an end to his racing career at the age of 47. In 1974, he assumed the post of President of Mercedes-Benz Argentina S.A. His five Formula One world championship titles remained a record until Michael Schumacher eclipsed the feat in 2003.
June 24, 2011 would have marked the 100th birthday of the legendary racing great Juan Manuel Fangio. Among others, celebrations will take place in the UK at the Goodwood Revival on 16-18 September 2011. Their annual feature tribute will be to Juan Manuel Fangio, on the centenary of his birth and 60th anniversary of him winning the first of his five world championships. A daily track parade will include a variety of his most famous cars, to honour the life and achievements of this incredible man.
Constant tributes to Juan Manuel Fangio include five identical life-size bronze sculptures depicting the exceptional racing driver together with the W 196 R. They can be found in front of the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, outside the Mercedes-Benz headquarters in Buenos Aires, as well as at the Nürburgring, Monza and Monaco circuits.
There is also a Fangio Museum in Balcarce that is run by a local association. Featuring numerous vehicles and other exhibits, it is dedicated to the racing driver’s whole life story.
[Source: Mercedes-Benz; Maserati; Wikipedia]