Philippe Étancelin

Last updated
Philippe Étancelin
Philippe Etancelin at the 1933 Grand Prix de la Marne (cropped).jpg
Philippe Étancelin at the 1933 Grand Prix de la Marne
Born(1896-12-28)28 December 1896
Died13 October 1981(1981-10-13) (aged 84)
Formula One World Championship career
Nationality Flag of France.svg French
Active years 19501952
Teamsworks and private Talbot-Lago, non-works Maserati
Championships 0
Wins 0
Career points3
Pole positions 0
Fastest laps 0
First entry 1950 British Grand Prix
Last entry 1952 French Grand Prix

Philippe Étancelin (28 December 1896 – 13 October 1981) was a French Grand Prix motor racing driver who joined the new Formula One circuit at its inception.

Formula One is the highest class of single-seater auto racing sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) and owned by the Formula One Group. The FIA Formula One World Championship has been one of the premier forms of racing around the world since its inaugural season in 1950. The word "formula" in the name refers to the set of rules to which all participants' cars must conform. A Formula One season consists of a series of races, known as Grands Prix, which take place worldwide on purpose-built circuits and on public roads.



Born in Rouen, Seine-Maritime, in Normandy, he worked as a merchant in the winter and raced cars during the summer. [1]

Rouen Prefecture and commune in Normandy, France

Rouen is a city on the River Seine in the north of France. It is the capital of the region of Normandy. Formerly one of the largest and most prosperous cities of medieval Europe, Rouen was the seat of the Exchequer of Normandy during the Middle Ages. It was one of the capitals of the Anglo-Norman dynasties, which ruled both England and large parts of modern France from the 11th to the 15th centuries.

Seine-Maritime Department of France

Seine-Maritime is a department of France in the Normandy region of northern France. It is situated on the northern coast of France, at the mouth of the Seine, and includes the cities of Rouen and Le Havre. Until 1955 it was named Seine-Inférieure.

Normandy Administrative region of France

Normandy is the northwesternmost of the 18 regions of France, roughly referring to the historical Duchy of Normandy.

His wife, Suzanne, served as his crew chief. Their three children were placed in a school in Rouen while she traveled with her husband to races around the world. She communicated with Étancelin through French sign language as he raced around the speedway.[ citation needed ] Suzanne told a reporter Étancelin bought a racing car to celebrate the birth of their second child, Jeanne Alice. He did not intend to race the car but merely use it for pleasure driving around the countryside. The couple once drove it up to a speed of 125 mph (201 km/h). After two years of recreational motoring, Étancelin decided to enter a race. [2]

He began racing a privateer Bugatti in 1926, entering local events and hillclimbs. [3] His first victory was the Grand Prix de la Marne at Reims in 1927, [3] the same year he recorded a third at the Coppa Florio in Saint-Brieuc. [3] He repeated his victory at Reims in 1929, ahead of Zenelli and friend Marcel Lehoux, making a Bugatti sweep of the podium. [3] Étancelin took a victory at the Grand Prix de la Baule and the Antibes Prix de Conseil General . [3]

In motorsport, a privateer is usually an entrant into a racing event that is not directly supported by an automobile manufacturer. Privateers teams are often found competing in rally and circuit racing events, and often include competitors who build and maintain their own vehicles. In previous Formula One seasons, privately owned teams would race using the chassis of another team or constructor in preference to building their own car; the Concorde Agreement now prohibits this practice. Increasingly the term is being used in an F1 context to refer to teams who are not at least part-owned by large corporations, such as Williams F1.

Bugatti Defunct French automaker

Automobiles Ettore Bugatti was a French car manufacturer of high-performance automobiles, founded in 1909 in the then-German city of Molsheim, Alsace by the Italian-born industrial designer Ettore Bugatti. The cars were known for their design beauty and for their many race victories. Famous Bugattis include the Type 35 Grand Prix cars, the Type 41 "Royale", the Type 57 "Atlantic" and the Type 55 sports car.

Hillclimbing form of motorsport

Hillclimbing is a branch of motorsport in which drivers compete against the clock to complete an uphill course.

Nicknamed "Phi Phi", [3] Étancelin also earned Bugatti a win at the 1930 Algerian Grand Prix, followed home by Lehoux. At the Formula Libre French Grand Prix, he defeated Henry Birkin's Bentley, and won the Grenoble Circuit de Dauphine , with a third at Lyons. [3]

The Algerian Grand Prix or Grand Prix d'Alger was a motor race held in the 1920s and 1930s at several coastal road courses in the department of French Algeria.

Formula Libre

Formula Libre is a form of automobile racing allowing a wide variety of types, ages and makes of purpose-built racing cars to compete "head to head". This can make for some interesting matchups, and provides the opportunity for some compelling driving performances against superior machinery. The name translates to "Free Formula" – in Formula Libre races the only regulations typically govern basics such as safety equipment.

French Grand Prix auto race held in France

The French Grand Prix, formerly known as the Grand Prix de l'ACF, is an auto race held as part of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile's annual Formula One World Championship. It is one of the oldest motor races in the world as well as the first "Grand Prix". It ceased shortly after its centenary in 2008 with 86 races having been held, due to unfavourable financial circumstances and venues. The race returned to the Formula One calendar in 2018 with Circuit Paul Ricard hosting the race.

He began the 1931 season in a Bugatti, placing behind Czaykowski at the Casablanca Grand Prix at Anfa. [3] He won the Circuit d'Esterel Plage at Saint-Raphaël. For major events, run to Formula Libre rules to a 10-hour duration, he shared with Lehoux. They dropped out of both the Italian and French Grands Prix. After Étancelin switched to Alfa later in the year, he came fourth in the Marne Grand Prix and won the four-hour Dieppe Grand Prix, ahead of Czaykowski's Bugatti and Earl Howe's Delage. He added wins at Grenoble and the Comminges Grand Prix at St. Gaudens. [3]

Stanisław Czaykowski Polish racing driver

Stanisław Czaykowski, also known as Stanislas Czaykowski and Stanislaus Czaykowski was a Polish Grand Prix motor racing driver.

Moroccan Grand Prix Formula 1 Grand Prix

The Moroccan Grand Prix was a Grand Prix first organised in 1925 in Casablanca, Morocco with the official denomination of "Casablanca Grand Prix".

Anfa Circuit Motorsport venue in Morocco

The Anfa Circuit was a street circuit in Anfa, Morocco used in the Moroccan Grand Prix in 1931, 1932 and 1934. From 1957 on the Ain-Diab Circuit was used, which bordered the old Anfa Circuit.

While Étancelin was a top privateer, he was consistently beaten by works teams in 1932, earning only one win, the Picardy Grand Prix at Peronne. [3]

In 1933, Étancelin's Alfa narrowly lost the 19th annual [4] French Grand Prix (organized by the French Automobile Club at the Montlhery Autodrome [ citation needed ] near Paris [4] ) following a "furious" [3] contest with Giuseppe Campari's Maserati, losing the lead on the final lap of the 500 km (310 mi) event. [4] Nevertheless, Étancelin won a second consecutive Picardy Grand Prix, over a "formidable" [3] Raymond Sommer, and placed second to an equally formidable Tazio Nuvolari at the Nîmes Grand Prix, with win over Jean-Pierre Wimille at the Marne Grand Prix. [3]

The new 750 kilogram formula brought the conquering Silver Arrows of Mercedes and Auto Union. Étancelin switched to a Maserati 8CM, [3] earning second places at Casablanca, Montreux, and Nice, with a win at Dieppe. He shared an Alfa with Luigi Chinetti to win Le Mans. [3]

Étancelin's 1935 season was no better, with only a third at Tunis. He gave Rudolf Caracciola's Mercedes a tough fight at Monaco in the little 3.7 litre Maserati, but suffered brake fade and came fourth. [3] Driving a Maserati for the Subalpina team, he also had a spectacular accident at the Swiss Grand Prix in Bern, with his car upturned and in flames, but he did not suffer injuries.

Entering one of the new 4.4 liter Maseratis in 1936, he was outmatched by the German entrants, suffering retirements in nearly every contest. He won only the Pau Grand Prix, and that was "against modest opposition". [3] He negotiated the 100 laps in 3 hours 21 minutes 22 seconds. [5] In October, Étancelin qualified 6th for the Vanderbilt Cup, which was run over 300 mi (480 km) near Westbury, New York, after a 20 mi (32 km) qualifier [6] at Roosevelt Raceway in Long Island. [2] By this time he had won the Marne Grand Prix three times. [1]

He stayed out of racing in 1937, returning in 1938 solely to share a new Talbot with Chinetti at LeMans, but did not score a win. For 1939, he put his Talbot third at Pau, following Hermann Lang and Manfred von Brauchitsch home. He also scored a fourth place at the French Grand Prix. [3]

Étancelin would enter the first motor race held in France postwar, failing to finish at the Bois de Boulogne in an Alfa. [3] He was not able to obtain one of the scarce new racers until 1948, when he purchased a 4½ litre Talbot, and put it second at the Albi Grand Prix, behind Luigi Villoresi in the Maserati.

His 1949 season saw second places at the Marseilles Grand Prix (to Fangio), the European Grand Prix at Monza (to Alberto Ascari), and Czechoslovakian Grand Prix at Brno (to Peter Whitehead in a Ferrari). In addition, he won the Paris Grand Prix at Montlhéry. [3]

Étancelin participated in twelve World Championship Formula One Grands Prix, debuting on 13 May 1950. He scored a total of three championship points. His fifth place in the 1950 Italian Grand Prix made him the oldest driver ever to score championship points.

In 1953, he ran third at the Rouen Grand Prix and at the 12 Hours of Casablanca, and decided to retire. [3] The government of France awarded him the Legion of Honour in recognition of his contribution to the sport of automobile racing that spanned four decades.

Étancelin retained an interest in racing, making occasional appearances in historic racing through 1974. [3]

He died at Neuilly-sur-Seine in 1981.

Major career wins:

Racing record

Complete European Championship results

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)

1931 M. Lehoux Bugatti T51 Bugatti 2.3 L8 ITA
BEL 24th21
1932 M. Lehoux Alfa Romeo Monza Alfa Romeo 2.3 L8 ITA FRA
GER 16th21
1935 Scuderia Subalpina Maserati 6C-34 Maserati 3.7 L6 MON
Maserati 3.3 L6 GER
Maserati V8RI Maserati 4.8 V8 ITA
1936 P. Etancelin Maserati V8RI Maserati 4.8 V8 MON
ITA 18th28
1938 Talbot Darracq Talbot T150C Talbot 4.5 L6 FRA
GER SUI ITA 24th29
1939 Automobiles Talbot-Darracq Talbot MD Talbot 4.5 L6 BEL FRA
GER SUI 16th28
Source: [7]

Post WWII Grandes Épreuves results

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position; races in italics indicate fastest lap)

1948 Philippe Étancelin Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot 23CV 4.5 L6 MON SUI FRA
1949 Philippe Étancelin Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot 23CV 4.5 L6 GBR
Automobiles Talbot-Darracq BEL
Source: [8]

Complete Formula One World Championship results


YearEntrantChassisEngine12345678WDC Pts
1950 Philippe Étancelin Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot 23CV 4.5 L6 GBR
500 SUI
Automobiles Talbot-Darracq Talbot-Lago T26C-DA BEL
Philippe Étancelin FRA
1951 Philippe Étancelin Talbot-Lago T26C-DA Talbot 23CV 4.5 L6 SUI
500 BEL
1952 Escuderia Bandeirantes Maserati A6GCM Maserati A6 2.0 L6 SUI 500 BEL FRA
Source: [9]

Indicates shared drive with Eugène Chaboud

Complete 24 Hours of Le Mans results

1934 Flag of Italy (1861-1946).svg Luigi Chinetti Flag of Italy (1861-1946).svg Luigi Chinetti Alfa Romeo 8C 23003.02131st1st
1938 Flag of Italy (1861-1946).svg Luigi Chinetti Flag of Italy (1861-1946).svg Luigi Chinetti Talbot T265.066DNFDNF
Source: [10]

Related Research Articles

Jean-Pierre Wimille French racing driver

Jean-Pierre Wimille was a Grand Prix motor racing driver and a member of the French Resistance during World War II.

Grand Prix motor racing, a form of motorsport competition, has its roots in organised automobile racing that began in France as early as 1894. It quickly evolved from simple road races from one town to the next, to endurance tests for car and driver. Innovation and the drive of competition soon saw speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour (160 km/h), but because early races took place on open roads, accidents occurred frequently, resulting in deaths both of drivers and of spectators.

Louis Chiron racecar driver

Louis Alexandre Chiron was a Monégasque racing driver who competed in rallies, sports car races, and Grands Prix.

1950 French Grand Prix Formula One motor race held in 1950

The 1950 French Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held on 2 July 1950 at Reims-Gueux. It was race 6 of 7 in the 1950 World Championship of Drivers. The 64-lap race was won by Alfa Romeo driver Juan Manuel Fangio after he started from pole position. His teammate Luigi Fagioli finished second and Peter Whitehead took third in a privateer Ferrari.

1951 Formula One season sports season

The 1951 Formula One season was the fifth season of FIA Formula One motor racing. It featured the 1951 World Championship of Drivers, which commenced on 27 May 1951 and ended on 28 October after eight races. The season also included 14 races that were open to Formula One cars but did not count towards the championship standings.

1950 Formula One season sports season

The 1950 Formula One season was the fourth season of the FIA's Formula One motor racing. It featured the inaugural FIA World Championship of Drivers which commenced on 13 May and ended on 3 September, as well as a number of non-championship races. The championship consisted of six Grand Prix races, each held in Europe and open to Formula One cars, plus the Indianapolis 500, which was run to AAA National Championship regulations. Giuseppe Farina won the championship from Juan Manuel Fangio and Luigi Fagioli.

The Grand Prix du Comminges was an automobile race held in France.

René Dreyfus French racing driver

René Dreyfus was a French driver who raced automobiles for 14 years in the 1920s and 1930s, the Golden Era of Grand Prix motor racing.

Tim Birkin British racing driver

Sir Henry Ralph Stanley "Tim" Birkin, 3rd Baronet was a British racing driver, one of the "Bentley Boys" of the 1920s.

Guy Moll French racing driver

Guillaume Laurent "Guy" Moll was a French racing driver.

The 1932 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 10th Grand Prix of Endurance that took place at the Circuit de la Sarthe on 18 and 19 June 1932. A significant year for the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) with the biggest changes to the circuit in the race’s history. A new section bypassing Pontlieue suburb was built starting with a long right turn after the pits, going over a hill then down to the Esses, a left-right combination, before rejoining the Hunaudières straight at the new right-hand corner of Tertre Rouge. This shortened the track by almost 3 km down to 13.491 km (8.383 mi).

Marcel Lehoux Pilote

Marcel Lehoux was a French racing driver and businessman.

Bentley Blower No.1

Bentley Blower No.1 is a racing car developed from the Bentley 4½ Litre by Sir Henry "Tim" Birkin to win the Le Mans twenty-four-hour race. The car was developed into its current form for racing at Brooklands.

Tunis Grand Prix motor race

The Tunis Grand Prix or Grand Prix de Tunis was a motor race held in the 1920s and 30s in Tunis, the capital of the African colony of the French protectorate of Tunisia.

1930 French Grand Prix

The 1930 French Grand Prix was a Grand Prix motor race held at Pau on 21 September 1930. The race was held over 25 laps of a 15.835 km circuit for a total race distance of 395.875 km and was won by Philippe Étancelin driving a Bugatti. The race was notable for the fact that Sir Henry Birkin came second in a 4.5 litre supercharged Bentley, which was a stripped-down road car.

1933 Belgian Grand Prix

The 1933 Belgian Grand Prix was a Grand Prix motor race held at Spa-Francorchamps on 9 July 1933. The 40-lap race was won by Tazio Nuvolari, of Scuderia Ferrari, driving a Maserati. Second and third were taken by the works Bugatti drivers Achille Varzi and René Dreyfus.

1932 Tunis Grand Prix

The 1932 Tunis Grand Prix was a Grand Prix motor race held at the Carthage Street Circuit in Tunis, the capital of colonial Tunisia, on 17 April 1932. Achille Varzi, in a privateer Bugatti, won the 37-lap race ahead of fellow Bugatti driver Marcel Lehoux, with Philippe Étancelin, in an Alfa Romeo, claiming third position. The leading drivers in the voiturette class were Louis Joly, Pierre Veyron and Luigi Castelbarco.

1957 Reims Grand Prix

The XXIII (23rd) Reims Grand Prix, was a non-championship Formula One motor race, held on July 14, 1957, at the Reims-Gueux circuit, near Reims in France. The race was run over 61 laps on an 8.302 km circuit of public roads and was won by Italian driver Luigi Musso in a Lancia-Ferrari D50. The race weekend suffered the deaths of Bill Whitehouse and Herbert MacKay-Fraser in separate accidents during the 1st Coupe de Vitesse Formula 2 support race.


  1. 1 2 "World's Best Drivers Vie For $60,000 In Cup Race", Washington Post , October 12, 1936, p.X15.
  2. 1 2 "Vite! Vite! To Victory, Or-", Edwardsville, Illinois 'Intelligencer, March 13, 1939, p.5.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 Twite, Mike. "Etancelin: Twenty Years Behind the Wheel", in Northey, Tom, general editor. The World of Automobiles (London: Orbis, 1974), Volume 6, p616.
  4. 1 2 3 "Campari Wins Paris Auto Race", The New York Times , June 12, 1933, p.22.
  5. "Wins Grand Prix", Olean, New York Times Herald, March 2, 1936, p.13.
  6. "Nuvolari Tops Qualifiers for Auto Race", Washington Post, October 8, 1936, p.X19.
  7. "THE GOLDEN ERA – OF GRAND PRIX RACING". Retrieved October 11, 2017.
  8. "Philippe Étancelin – Biography". MotorSportMagazine. Retrieved August 29, 2018.
  9. "Philippe Étancelin – Involvement". StatsF1. Retrieved August 24, 2018.
  10. "All Results of Philippe Étancelin". Retrieved August 24, 2018.
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Raymond Sommer
Tazio Nuvolari
Winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans
1934 with:
Luigi Chinetti
Succeeded by
Johnny Hindmarsh
Luis Fontés