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Former F1 racer Robert Manzon dies

Robert Manzon, the last surviving driver to compete in the inaugural Formula 1 World Championship in 1950, has died at the age of 97.
Robert Manzon, the last surviving driver to compete in the inaugural Formula 1 World Championship in 1950, has died at the age of 97.

The Frenchman, who was a founder of the former Grand Prix Drivers' Club, passed away at his home in Cassis in southern France on Monday.

His name is closely associated with the Gordini story in both F1 and endurance racing. He was spotted by Amédée Gordini and made his F1 debut in the 1950 Monaco Grand Prix becoming one of the French make's musketeers along with Maurice Trintignant, Jean Behra and André Simon.

Manzon started 28 grands prix in total and scored 16 points during an F1 career that spanned six seasons. His best results were two podiums, finishing third in the 1952 Belgian Grand Prix and the 1954 French Grand Prix.

Born in Marseille on April 12 1917, Manzon also famously raced at Le Mans, taking in the endurance classic on six occasions, although he never saw the chequered flag as he was let down by his car.

His best race in the Sarthe was in 1952 when, with Jean Behra, he held off the Talbots and Mercedes-Benz for almost half the race. In fact, his Simca-Gordini T155 was leading by a lap when Manzon was forced to pit as the brakes had given up the ghost.

He hung up his helmet in 1956 and then devoted himself to his Renault dealership.

More recently – June 12 2013 - he was inducted into the Le Mans 24-Hours Drivers Hall of Fame by Gérard Larrousse, the President of the International Drivers' Club, in the presence of Jean Guichet (winner in 1964) with whom he had driven in 1956.

“A chapter in the history of French motor sport has closed with the death of Robert Manzon so soon after that of another hero of our passion, Jean-Pierre Beltoise,” said Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l'Ouest.

“Manzon was a great driver who had a steely character. When he was inducted into the Le Mans 24-Hours Drivers' Hall of Fame he talked about his retirement [from that race] in 1952 with a dash of humour and enthusiasm. Gordini decided to stop his car as it had no brakes so Manzon asked him if he could set a new lap record as he wouldn't need any brakes to achieve this!

“The Automobile Club de l'Ouest felt particularly honoured when, in June 2013, he agreed to become a member of this very restricted circle for his exploits, his talent and his immense attachment to the Le Mans 24 Hours, of which he was one of the greatest ambassadors.”

All at Crash.net send our condolences to Manzon's family and friends.

Tagged as: Robert Manzon

Related Pictures

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Robert Manzon (F), Equipe Simca Gordini. French GP, Reims (02/07/1950)

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