Juan Manuel Fangio- The man who gave Formula One a new direction


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Juan Manuel Fangio
Full nameJuan Manuel Fangio
NicknamesEl Chueco (“the bowlegged” or “bandy legged one”) El Maestro (“The Master” or “The Teacher”)
ProfessionFormula one driver
Years active1950 – 1951, 1953 – 1958
No. of championships5

Juan Manuel Fangio was an automobile racer from Argentina known for dominating the whole inaugural decade of Formula One. He won the World Driver’s Championship five times, a record that stood for 46 years before Michael Schumacher won his sixth driver’s championship in 2003.

Fangio holds the record for being the only Argentine driver to have won the Argentine Grand Prix (four times). Other than this, he also has the highest winning percentage in Formula One at 46.15%, winning 24 of 52 Formula One races he entered.

Considered one of the greatest F1 drivers in the history of the sport, Fangio was and is still the oldest world champion. After retiring from racing, he remained the honorary president of Mercedes-Benz Argentina from 1987 until his death in 1995.

Juan Manuel Fangio Personal Biography

Date of birth24 June 1911
Place of birthBalcarce, Argentina
Year of death17 July 1995 (aged 84)
Marital statusUnmarried
GirlfriendAndrea Berruet
ChildrenOscar ‘Cacho’ Espinosa, Rubén Vázquez
ParentsLoreto Fangio, Herminia Déramo

Fangio was born on 24 June 1911 in Balcarce, Argentina to Loreto Fangio and Herminia Déramo.

His mother was a housekeeper while his father worked in the building trade, becoming an apprentice stonemason.

When Fangio was 13, he dropped out of school and started working as an assistant mechanic.

Fangio never got married but was in a major romantic relationship with Andrea Berruet.

Together the couple had a son named Oscar ‘Cacho’ Espinosa (1938), but he was officially acknowledged in 2000, 5 years after Fangio’s death.

Fangio has another son Rubén Vázquez through a very brief relationship with Catarina Basili.

His nephew, Juan Manuel Fangio II, is also a quite successful racing driver.

Juan Manuel Fangio’s Career Highlights

  • Fangio began his racing career in 1936 in Argentina where he drove a 1929 Ford Model A that he himself had rebuilt.
  • While racing in Argentina, he won the Argentine National Champion in 1940 and 1941 in Chevrolet cars.
  • Fangio made his Grand Prix race debut in 1948 at the French Grand Prix but had to retire from the race.
  • For the first World Championship of Drivers in 1950, Fangio was signed by the Alfa Romeo team.
  • In 1951 Fangio won his first World Title with Alfa Romeo after a fierce battle with the Ferrari team.
  • Fangio has won five world titles with four different teams, Alfa Romeo, Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari, and Maserati.
  • After a series of consecutive championships, Fangio retired in 1958 and the French Grand Prix was his last entry.

Juan Manuel Fangio’s Achievements

  1. His record of five World Driver Championship titles stood for a record 45 years.
  2. 7 times world champion Lewis Hamilton has called Fangio the “Godfather of our sport”.
  3. In October 2020, when The Economist ranked champion drivers by the relative importance of car quality to driver skill, Fangio turned out to be Formula 1’s best driver of all time.
  4. Carteret Analytics used quantitative analysis methods to rank Formula One drivers in November 2020 and it turned out again that Fangio is Formula 1’s best driver of all time.
  5. In Argentina, Fangio is revered as one of the greatest sportsmen the nation has ever produced.
  6. Six statues of Fangio stand at race venues around the world, all of which are sculpted by renowned artist Joaquim Ros Sabaté.
  7. The Museo Juan Manuel Fangio is a museum of motor racing cars, dedicated to Juan Manuel Fangio.

Also Check the List of20 Best F1 Drivers

Formula One World Championship career

Active years1950 – 1951, 1953 – 1958
TeamsAlfa Romeo, Maserati, Mercedes, Ferrari
Championships5 (1951, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957)
Pole positions29
Fastest laps23
Career points245
First entry1950 British Grand Prix
First win1950 Monaco Grand Prix
Last win1957 German Grand Prix
Last entry1958 French Grand Prix

Kidnapping by Fidel Castro

On 23 February 1958, two gunmen of Fidel Castro’s 26th of July Movement kidnapped Fangio while he was in Havana to take part in the Formula One race. The motive behind the kidnap was to force the cancellation of the race and embarrass the Batista regime.

However, the kidnappers didn’t harm Fangio in any manner and rather he was taken care of very well. They even allowed him to listen to the race via radio. Fangio was released after 29 hours.

The whole Fangio kidnapping scenario has been presented in a dramatized yet classic way in the 1999 Argentine film Operación Fangio.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is the greatest F1 driver the world has ever seen?

Juan Manuel Fangio

How did Fangio die?

Fangio died in 1995 from kidney failure and pneumonia.

Who was the first F1 world driver’s champion?

Giuseppe Farina

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