Top 10 Ferrari F1 drivers. Pos. 8 Froilan Gonzalez image

In the shadows of Ascari and Fangio lies a giant. With a mobster like allure, powerful as a wrestler and fast as hell, he is the man who broke the Alfa Romeo domination in GP racing, at the wheel of the Ferrari 375, at Silverstone 1951, Ferrari’s day of days for many decades. Despite his bulky physique, the Argentine was something of a sporting all-rounder, and his hand-to-eye gift translated to the wheel.

With his huge frame, he could dominate a car, bend it to his will backed by a resolve, in pursuit or defense, that was unwavering. From 1951 to 1955 he alone could consistently live with Ascari and Fangio, and on a good day his performance was worthy of comparison with the best. He was lying second in the 1951 French GP, his first race for Ferrari, when teammate Ascari’s sister 375 suffered gearbox problems. And Gonzalez was duly asked to hand over to his team leader. Having complied, he suspected an identical fate lay in store when the same thing happened in Silverstone, but having been in frame for the win right from the start, he was waved on his way after a final pit stop. Ascari was thus among the onlookers as “Pampas Bull” recorded Ferrari’s maiden win in the World Championship.

“I have forgotten many races. But always fresh in my mind is 14 July 1951, speaks him many decades after. I was young, a country boy. And now more than twenty years have gone by. But still I remember July 1951 and often find myself again in that turmoil of hands, voices, and cries which, if I close my eyes, I can still see and hear around me …”

He won again for Enzo’s team at Silverstone 1954, in stormy rain, but returned home at the year’s end. Facing family pressure to cut back on his racing following Onofre Marimon’s death, he rarely appeared in Europe after that. He made a few guest appearances , most usually with Scuderia Ferrari, but now he was past his best. However, the legacy of his wins and commitment with Ferrari will live on.

by Berndt