Many will know the intrigue that surrounds that race was whether Juan Manuel Fangio let Moss win. Stirling always maintained in both public and private that he genuinely didn’t know, because when asked the question, Fangio always denied it. But then again, Fangio was a gentlemen down to his race boots, so there’s no great surprise in that.
Which is also why it has been argued that Fangio did indeed gift Moss that victory. He already had two World Championships in the bag with Stirling very much the number two driver in the team. They were already great friends, despite being unable to speak each other’s languages, and Fangio would not have doubted for moment that Stirling would be his wingman for the rest of the year and duly help deliver championship number three. What better way to repay such loyalty than to just ease off a touch and let the lad win in front of his adoring home crowd? It is worth noting that at the flag they were separated by 0.2 seconds, not much after over three hours of racing.
So let’s look at it the other way. First it was Moss who secured pole position, not Fangio. Second they were not the only two Mercedes drivers there that day. Indeed no fewer than four W196s were entered, short wheelbase cars for Fangio and Moss, standard cars for Karl Kling and Piero Taruffi, both fine drivers but, with every will in the world, neither in the same postcode as messrs Fangio and Moss. Which meant the two second stringers could act as buffer zone to hold the rest of the field at bay (comprising factory Ferraris, Maseratis and Vanwalls) while the superstars did battle up front.