Pioneer F1 driver Manzon passes away

A tribute to a 1950s racing star, who scored world championship points and two podiums.

Two weeks after the loss of Jean-Pierre Beltoise, it is with sadness that we learned about the death of another former F1 racer from France, Robert Manzon.

Before he passed away aged 97, he had been the sole points-scoring survivor of the 1950 F1 season - The first year of F1’s world championship.

The start of his racing career

Born in Southern France, Manzon first drove taxis before entering competition right after WWII, in 1946, with rally cars. He also showed interest in sports cars and single seaters, and then took part in the inaugural Formula One World Championship in 1950. 

His attempts in Monaco and Monza were only rewarded by a DNF, but a fierce fourth in Reims rewarded his efforts with a Simca Gordini. 

Maiden podium

The following year was a disappointing season for him, but 1952 brought a podium at Spa-Francorchamps and many other points finishes placed him sixth in the classification.

In 1953, Manzon chose to race with Lancia in sports cars but returned to F1 in 1954 with Ferrari. His last entry in the points is a memorable one: a home podium behind the wheel of the famous red machine. 

Two more seasons with Gordini did not produce any points finishes, and he chose to retire in 1956, to run a Renault dealership.

1956 'unofficial' victory

Although Manzon never won a world championship race, history will remember his win on the 1956 Naples Grand Prix, a race that wasn't included in the official F1 calendar. 

He also finished second in the 1952 Marseille Grand Prix and 1954 Grand Prix de Bordeaux.

Manzon is survived by a son, Jean-Pierre, and a daughter, Danielle.

Guillaume Navarro

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jean-Pierre Beltoise , Robert Manzon
Article type Obituary
Tags french, manzon, rip