Reims ’54 – Mercedes Returns to GP Racing
There are dozens of reasons why this image of the grid of the Grand Prix at Reims in 1954 is astounding. I love how simple, almost bucolic, the facilities appear. In this crop, you can’t see the grandstands or pits crowding the grid; making it almost look like the track is in an otherwise empty field. The grid itself is amazing. That’s Fangio (#18) on pole with Kling in the other Mercedes (#20), with Ascari’s Maser (#10) on the front row.
The thing I like most about it, however, is that this single image captures something fundamental about Formula 1 racing that has been spectacularly lost and is unlikely to return: a unique voice from each manufacturer in the design of their racing car. The variety of the design of the machinery on this grid is obvious. The enclosed wheels of the streamliner Mercedes machines is the most immediate example of that, but the rest of the field shows the personalities of each maker shining through as well. This era when the lines between a Formula car and a sportscar were blurred is sorely missed.
The Mercedes machines ran away with it from the start, marking their spectacular return to Grand Prix racing.