01 September 2022
José Froilán González is not the most famous or successful of the Ferrari Formula 1 drivers.
On 14 July 1951, at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, the burly Argentinian gave Enzo Ferrari’s young team its first-ever F1 World Championship win.
The win was spectacular for a couple of reasons; firstly, he beat the defending world champion, Nino Farina and Juan-Manuel Fangio, both driving Alfa Romeos; secondly, he won by an outstanding 50 seconds, and thirdly, probably most importantly, it was a turning point for Ferrari as it was the first race since the introduction of Formula 1 in 1950 that hadn’t been won by Alfa Romeo.
In the 1952 season, Alberto Ascari, Gonzalez’s teammate, was crowned World Champion, with Ferrari winning every race, making Ferrari the world’s most successful F1 team.
Born in Buenos Aires, González was spotted by his fellow Argentinian, Fangio. He made his first F1 appearance in the 1950 season, achieving third place driving a Maserati; Enzo was so impressed he immediately signed José for the 1951season. Enzo also presented him with a gold watch with a Prancing Horse on the face.
José was a large fellow; this, coupled with his charging racing style, became known as The Pampas Bull and fondness by the other race drivers as ‘El Cabezón’ (fat head).
José will never know, but at Silverstone, in 1951, he had written the first chapter in the most successful story in F1 racing history.