Fangio, whose father had emigrated to Argentina from Abruzzo, had won here in 1950 – after doing his utmost to usher hobbled Alfa Romeo team-mate Luigi Fagioli over the line – and now he set the pace during Saturday’s two practice sessions. His Maserati 250F on pole by more than 10 seconds, the locals anticipated a home victory.
But Stirling Moss knew the circuit, too. He had been leading handsomely in 1954, having been on pole by 2 seconds, when his 250F’s lubrication system sprang a leak. Now, as was his wont and right as the team’s number one, he tried all four Vanwalls present and found Stuart Lewis-Evans’ to be the fastest on the two long straights and, running on Armstrong dampers, the most settled over the incessant bumps.
The British cars had been all at sea at the Nürburgring a fortnight before and as a result, much suspension work had been done since. This was about to pay dividends.
The 9am start – to avoid the worst of the sun – was chaotic, with mechanics caught unawares having to duck and dive as the cars accelerated. Luigi Musso took the lead in the only Ferrari present, the Roman having persuaded Enzo to send it despite an ongoing dispute with the government, papacy and national governing body over ‘Fon’ de Portago’s calamitous accident in May’s Mille Miglia. Musso had asked Vanwall for a drive but been politely declined.