Of course he will be several places higher on any list of all time greats. But not in Ferrari terms. Fangio didn’t care too much for the Scuderia or his “Cappo” Ferrari. And Enzo, despite being conscious that the Argentinian is a truly great driver, didn’t like him or his manner.
Equiped with the innovative Lancia-Ferrari D50, and with such young guns as Castelotti, Musso and Collins as his team mates, Juan Manuel was almost every time the faster of the lot, as his 6 poles from 7 races demonstrates. In theory Ferrari had no official number one driver despite the strengghts of Fangio’s palmares. Yet, he took Musso’s D50 to win in the season opener in Argentine, and then grabbed Collins healthier car to put it in second in Monaco, and more famously-in Italy(where the brit volunteered his car after Musso refuse to stand down).
Never in his career did he made so much unforced errors, such as his double mistakes in Monaco, but when all was right, more natural afternoon followed, and his masterful victory at the Ring is the greatest example. A very cerebral driver, he would do only what was necessary, so when not pushed, his wins looked almost routine, coming so easy they seemed to place few demands on his spirit. But when he summoned his reserves, like that days in Monaco and Nurburgring, the opposition reeled, open-mouthed that such ferocity could reside in such an ostensibly gentle frame.
Having secured his fourth title he deserted to Maserati where he found a more natural home, leaving Ferrari almost in disgust. Yet, he remains the first man to win the title in his very first season at Maranello. Of course, he could have done it more convincingly, but this wasn’t his style, his manner of driving. And on top of all, Enzo Ferrari didn’t regard him as a the dominant driver of the era. For “Il Commendattore” he was just one of his drivers, even if the fastest of them all.