Jose Froilan Gonzalez
- October 05, 1922
- June 15, 2013
- Not Active
- Ferrari Talbot,Maserati,Vanwall
Jose Froilan Gonzalez (1922 – 2013) was an Argentine racing driver who was active in the first decade of Formula One between 1950 and 1960, recording 26 starts, two victories, and fifteen podiums.
He was a driver who gave the first ever F1 victory to Scuderia Ferrari by winning the 1951 British Grand Prix at Silverstone. His second F1 win also came in a Ferrari at 1954 British Grand Prix. In 1954, Gonzalez was also the Le Mans 24 Hours winner, sharing a Ferrari 375 Plus with Maurice Trintignant.
El Cabezon was a sportsman from early years
Born in October 1922, Jose was a son of a Chevrolet dealer in Arrecifes near Buenos Aires. Jose was a chubby kid who grew up into a chubby man, so his racing colleagues called him 'El Cabezon' (Fat Head). Despite that, he was a sportsman in the young age, entering motorsport in the late 1940s.
After competing in touring car races, Jose earned enough money in father's trucking business to travel to Europe in 1949, together with Juan Manuel Fangio.
Second place at 1950 Albi Grand Prix
In 1950, Gonzalez participated in many Formula 1 non-championship races, driving mostly a Maserati 4CLT for Scuderia Achille Varzi. His best result was the second place in the Albi Grand Prix at the Circuit de l'Albigeois, behind Louis Rosier.
Some other notable results were 2nd place in the Chilean Grand Prix and 7th place in the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort.
Two starts in the inaugural F1 Championship
The inagural Formula One World Championship was set in 1950, with seven races on a calendar. Gonzalez participated in two races, the Monaco Grand Prix and the French Grand Prix. Driving the #2 Maserati 4CLT-48, he was the third fastest qualifier in Monaco, but his car was damaged in the first-lap massive crash so his retired a lap later when a fire caught a car.
He made his second F1 championship start in July, at Reims-Gueux circuit, in the #36 Maserati. He was the 8th fastest qualifier but retired early again, after just three laps, due to engine failure.
Unsuccessful Le Mans debut for Gonzalez and Fangio
In June 1950, Gonzalez and Fangio participated for the first time at 24 hours of Le Mans. They were driving the #33 Gordini T15S, entered by a factory. Unfortunately, they didn't finish the race because the Simca 1.5L engine expired after 95 laps.
A year later, Gonzalez returned to Le Mans together with another Argentine co-driver, Onofre Marimon, to drive the #7 Talbot-Lago T26. They retired in the mid-race, after 128 laps, with a broken radiator.
Gonzalez scored the first ever F1 championship win for Ferrari
In the 1951 Formula 1 World Championship season, Gonzalez had the first start with Talbot-Lago T26C-GS in the Swiss Grand Prix at the Bremgarten. He retired after ten laps. In July, at the French Grand Prix, he was hired to drive the #14 Ferrari 375 for Scuderia Ferrari. After 35 laps, he handed a car to Alberto Ascari, whose car was broken, and they finished second, behind Alfa Romeo's Juan Manuel Fangio and Luigi Fagioli.
In the next race, at Silverstone, Gonzalez started from pole in the #12 Ferrari and managed to beat Fangio in the race, scoring his maiden win but also the first win for Ferrari. Until the end of the season, Gonzalez was on a podium three more times (3rd Nurburgring, 2nd Monza, 2nd Pedralbes), finishing third in the final championship standings, behind Fangio and Ascari.
One start with Maserati in the 1952 F1 Championship
In 1952, Gonzalez spent most of the year driving a Ferrari 166 for A.C.A. team in the South American races, scoring lots of good results in Formula Libre events. In the Formula 1, he had just one championship start, joining Maserati factory team for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
He started good in the #26 Maserati A6GCM and led for 36 laps but lost a race to his former teammate Alberto Ascari in a Ferrari 500.
1953 - full season and three podiums with Maserati
In 1953, Gonzalez spent a season with Maserati, participating in five Grand Prix races. He was on a podium three times, finishing third in Argentina, Netherlands and France. At the Dutch Grand Prix, he was sharing a car with Felice Bonetto.
In July 1953, Gonzalez also recorded his third attempt at Le Mans. This time, he and Clemente Biondetti were driving the #63 Lancia D20, retiring after 213 laps. In July, he had an accident in Portugal, driving a Lancia in a sports car race at Monsanto Circuit, skipping the rest of the season because of injuries.
Two great wins with Ferrari in just a few days
For the 1954 Formula 1 season, Gonzalez returned to Scuderia Ferrari. In January, he started a season with a third-place finish at Argentine Grand Prix. He was then fourth in Belgium and retired in France.
On July 12, he and Maurice Trintignant entered the Le Mans 24 Hours in the #4 Ferrari 375 Plus. Twenty-four hours later, they won the race ahead of factory-entered Jaguar D-Type.
Second place in the 1954 Formula 1 Championship
After his great victory at Silverstone, Gonzalez continued to achieve good results but never won again. He was on a podium in Germany, Switzerland and Italy, finishing second in the 1954 F1 Championship behind Juan Manuel Fangio.
Like two years earlier, his season was halted by an accident. On September 11, Gonzalez crashed out in a Ferrari 750 Monza during a practice for Tourist Trophy at Dundrod. Because of that crash, he missed out the last F1 championship race in Spain.
Four more starts in the Argentine Grand Prix
In 1955, Gonzalez slowed down his racing activities, participating only in the Argentine Grand Prix with Ferrari. He finished second behind Fangio, sharing the #12 with Nino Farina and Maurice Trintignant. In 1956, Gonzalez retired at Argentine Grand Prix in a Maserati 250F and also at British Grand Prix in a Vanwall.
In 1957, he finished fifth in Argentine Grand Prix in a Ferrari, sharing a car with Alfonso de Portago. The last Formula 1 race for Jose Froilan Gonzalez was the 1960 Argentine Grand Prix, in which he was driving the #32 Ferrari Dino 246, finishing tenth.