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Juan Manuel Fangio

When an F1 legend grabbed the title after a mid-race driver change

Just imagine: Max Verstappen must take points during the season finale to become World Champion. In the middle of the race, his steering rod breaks. Teammate Sergio Perez is so sporting that he immediately drives into the pit lane. Not for a pit stop, but to hand over the wheel to his teammate. Unthinkable, right? Yet such a situation once occurred in Formula 1.

Remember the moment Michael Schumacher provided his helmet to David Coulthard? Or that race when Sebastian Vettel got Mark Webber's front wing on his car (which the Australian did not agree with, by the way)? Exchanging items in Formula 1 doesn't happen often, but it's certainly not uncommon either.

Simply getting into your teammate's car, however, is a different matter. Especially when it happens in the middle of the race. RacingNews365 takes you back in time.

Season finale spectacle

To be precise, we you back to 1956. The season finale is held in Italy, at the famous Monza circuit. Three-time World Champion Juan Manuel Fangio qualifies on pole position.

Italians Eugenio Castellotti and Luigi Musso start second and third respectively in their home race. Fangio's biggest challenger, Stirling Moss, starts the Italian Grand Prix from sixth.

At the end of the first lap, the starting lineup is shaken up. Castellotti leads the way, followed by Musso and Fangio. American Harry Schell has a world-class start - starting in tenth place and in no time makes his way into fourth. Behind him are Peter Collins and Moss.

As the race progresses, so does the amount of trouble. Castellotti and Musso suffer blowouts, something that also happens to Alfonso de Portago. Meanwhile, Schell grabs the lead while feeling Moss' hot breath on his neck.

Text continues below photo, showing Fangio (left) and Moss (right) during the 1955 GP of the Netherlands.

			© Nationaal Archief, CC0
	© Nationaal Archief, CC0

Dropping out, or not?

While Moss is pressuring Schell, something happens that no one expects - Fangio, driving behind the two leaders, slowly enters the pit lane. His steering rod appears broken, which has occurred due to the concrete blocks of Monza's banked corners.

Fangio sees his hopes fourth world title go up in smoke. Meanwhile, it begins to rain and Moss snatches the lead, simply because he is a lot faster than his American rival.

While Moss continues on his way to victory, Fangio sees from the pit lane that his teammate Peter Collins is showing great speed in his Lancia-Ferrari.

In the 35th race lap, Collins comes in for a pit stop. Not only is the left front tyre of the Ferrari replaced; there is also a driver change. Fangio thanks the Briton and takes over the wheel of the car.

Fangio makes the most of it and ends up finishing second, behind rival Moss. Fangio's second place earns him enough points for the World Championship title - even though he has to share the six World Championship points for second place with Collins - and so the Argentine becomes champion for the fourth time.

His fifth and final title-winning campaign followed a year later. Fangio's record of five World Championships was not broken until 2003 when Michael Schumacher surpassed his tally.

Today, such a swap would be impossible as a car is inseparable from the driver whose starting number is on it.

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