Jose Froilan Gonzalez handed the Prancing Horse team their first-ever Formula One grand prix victory.The Argentinian also pocketed a 24 Hours of Le Mans win.
Argentina’s Jose Froilan Gonzalez won the first World Championship Formula One Grand Prix race for Scuderia Ferrari in 1951. On June 15th, Gonzalez passed away at the age of 90.
His first of two victories in the premier world championship series came at the British Grand Prix on the Silverstone Circuit. On July 14th in 1951, the driver he held off was his own countryman, Juan Manuel Fangio. It was an historical moment for both Argentineans placing one-two at the finish line.
It was not the first Formula One race for Gonzalez, but it was his first with Ferrari, having contested two Grand Prix races with the privateer Scuderia Achille Varzi Maserati team in 1950, and his own entry of a Talbot-Lago T26C-GS for the Swiss Grand Prix and again with a Maserati team in Belgium.
Ferrari signed “The Pampas Bull” for the rest of the Formula One 1951 season, and in his first race with the Italian team, he finished second in the French GP.
Ferrari and Gonzalez came in only their second race together. The Argentinian went on to give the Prancing Horse three more podium finishes in his first year as a Ferrari works driver. He finished third in the world championship.
Back in the early years, there was a lot of switching teams and cars but when he returned to Ferrari in 1954, “The Pampas Bull” took his second Grand Prix victory to again stand on the top step of the podium in Great Britain. He finished second in the championship that season.
Luca di Montezemolo, Ferrari president, commented: "The news of the death of Gonzalez saddened me greatly. We had spoken not that long ago, talking about cars and racing, the topics he was most enthusiastic about.
"Over all these years, he was always very attached to Ferrari and, as a driver and a man, he played an integral part in our history. His death means we have lost a true friend."
The Argentine racer also landed a victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1954 with co-driver Maurice Trintignant.
Gonzalez retired from Formula One in 1960 at his homeland Grand Prix. Once again he was racing a Prancing Horse -- the Ferrari Dino 246 with V6 power. He finished 10th.
In July 10th 2011, Ferrari celebrated their first Formula One victory in the hands of Gonzalez at the British Grand Prix. It was the 60th Anniversary of the historic win, and it apparently brought some luck to the Scuderia Ferrari team as Fernando Alonso stood on the top step of the podium. Earlier that day, the Spaniard took Gonzalez' Ferrari 375 F1 for four laps of the Silverstone track.