WI: No 1955 Le Mans Disaster

The 1955 Le Mans Disaster was possibly the darkest day in motorsport with how Pierre Levegh's Mercedes was catapaulted into the grandstands, killing 84 people (including Levegh) and wounding 120 others. It would prompt a ban on motorsport in Switzerland and the suspension of motorsport in France, Spain, and Germany, drastically cutting the 1955 season short with Mercedes pulling out of motorsport after the Le Mans disaster, but what if it didn't happen? What would happen next without the Le Mans Disaster? How would motorsport be affected by a lack of a Le Mans Disaster and Mercedes staying in motorsport instead of pulling out for over 30 years? Considering that in our world, Mercedes was already one of the dominant teams in grand prix racing at a time when "Scuderia Ferrari" referred to a bunch of Alfa Romeo privateers, I could see Mercedes here filling Ferrari's role as the team most synonymous with F1 (or at least being equal to Ferrari in that respect with both teams being what people first think of F1 in such a world).
 
Ferrari was not really competitive until mid 1970, due to conservatism and internal politics.
Mercedes had proved what they wanted to prove, and pulling out in 1955 avoided a duel they might not win with the advanced Lancia D50.
Regarding sports cars, Jaguar was the dominant force until Aston Martin took its place in 1959, and Ferrari kept an image of competitiveness mostly by entering a lot of races, with a lot of cars,.
The Le Mans accident, and two years later Portago's crash at the Mille Miglis, had a large impact on the press and on public opinion, but not that much of an impact on racing programs.
 

Riain

Banned
Didn't the Mercs have desmo valve gear? Would prolonged Merc participation make desmo more popular?
 
Didn't the Mercs have desmo valve gear? Would prolonged Merc participation make desmo more popular?
Well, that sounds interesting, considering the Mercs not leaving in '55 might make their competition copy their idea of desmo valve gear to catch up with them.
 
Didn't the Mercs have desmo valve gear? Would prolonged Merc participation make desmo more popular?
They had desmodromic valve gear and Bosh fuel injection to make more than 100HP per litre in 1954.
The Lancia V8 had the same power on two conventional valves per cylinder and carbs, but was more compact and could be used as a stressed structural frame member.
A 1956 fight between the Mercedes of Fangio and Moss and the Lancias of Ascari and Castellotti would have been the stuff of racing dreams.
IMO, more W196 seasons would have made fuel injection more popular faster rather than desmo valves.
 
Speaking as a fan and not a techie, I think it makes no difference. Even with the disaster LeMans went on as before and the Mille Miglia was not terminated until after Fon's deadly crash. Perhaps Mercedes remains in racing longer, perhaps not. Manufacturers are always coming and going from F1 and Sports cars. And as for Ferrari not being competitive until the 70's, please explain that to the spirits of Phil Hill, John Surtees, Lorenzo Bandini and Olivier Gendebien.
 
Speaking as a fan and not a techie, I think it makes no difference. Even with the disaster LeMans went on as before and the Mille Miglia was not terminated until after Fon's deadly crash.
Well, the lack of a ban on motorsport in Switzerland might mean there could be more Swiss in motorsport, considering that the Le Mans disaster caused Switzerland to ban it.
 
Speaking as a fan and not a techie, I think it makes no difference. Even with the disaster LeMans went on as before and the Mille Miglia was not terminated until after Fon's deadly crash. Perhaps Mercedes remains in racing longer, perhaps not. Manufacturers are always coming and going from F1 and Sports cars. And as for Ferrari not being competitive until the 70's, please explain that to the spirits of Phil Hill, John Surtees, Lorenzo Bandini and Olivier Gendebien.
Ferrari was a contender, just not the best.
Surtees won in 1964 because Lotus was having an off year. Jim Clark was the fastest, and would have been world champion with a bit more reliability. Even then, Surtees only won because Bandini took Hill out in the last race.
In 1961 the V8 Coventry Climax engine was not ready and Ferrari had the only real F1 engine in town. In 1962 the English teams showed just how obsolete the pretty 156 sharkmouth really was.
Ferrari won Le Mans in 60 to 64 basically racing against the much smaller Porsches. Their record in the years when they had competition is not really impressive. Jaguar beat them in 51, 53, 55, 56 and 57. Mercedes in 52. Aston Martin in 1959. In 53 Lancia made wrong options in setting up their cars and opted out in 54 and the Jaguars were not yet fully developed. In 58 Jaguar was gone and the Astons were not in their world beating 1959 shape yet.
Even in the Mille Miglia they had no answer to Lancia in 54, when Ascari just dominated everybody, and to Mercedes in 1955 when Moss set the record.
Between 1954 and 1969 Ferrari cars only dominated F1 in two years, and in 56 the team was running Lancias, that they managed to make less competitive in 57.
The first question in racing may be "who won?". But the second must be "against whom?"
Against really strong competition, the first time Ferrari ruled the game was in 1975 with the 312T. And then they had Luca di Montezemolo running the show and the old man could not supress him because he was Fiat's man.
 
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To Whiteshore - Before the ban I cannot recall any significant Swiss drivers. since then we have had Clay Reggazoni and Simona DiSilvestro, notably both Swiss-Italians. Perhaps there would be more but Switzerland before or after the ban was not a motor racing hot spot. As for Mercedes withdrawal, I suspect it happens within 1 or 2 years anyway but there is no way to tell for sure.
 
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