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First Ferrari winner in Formula One, Jose Froilan Gonzalez, dead at 90

Jun 15, 2013, 4:30 PM EDT

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Argentine driver Jose Froilan Gonzalez, Ferrari’s first race winner in the Formula One World Championship, has passed away at the age of 90 according to media reports from his homeland.

At the 1951 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Gonzalez defeated fellow Argentinian and Formula One legend Juan Manuel Fangio by 51 seconds for the first of what would be many, many victories for Maranello’s finest.

“The news of the death of Gonzalez saddened me greatly,” Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo told the marque’s official website. “We had spoken not that long ago, talking about cars and racing, the topics he was most enthusiastic about. Over all these years, he was always very attached to Ferrari and, as a driver and a man, he played an integral part in our history.

“His death means we have lost a true friend.”

Nicknamed the “Pampas Bull” and “El Cabezon,” Gonzalez would win twice in his Grand Prix career, adding another victory at Silverstone in 1954. That year was a particularly good one for him, finishing second in the World Championship to Fangio and also scoring a win with Maurice Trintignant in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Altogether, Gonzalez raced in 26 Grand Prix events, with his last one coming in front of his home fans at the 1960 Argentine Grand Prix. In 2011, he was honored by Ferrari on the 60th anniversary of his first British GP victory; Fernando Alonso went on to win at Silverstone that day after he had earlier turned a few laps in Gonzalez’ Ferrari 375.

With Gonzalez’ death, three-time World Champion Sir Jack Brabham, 87, is now the oldest-living Grand Prix race winner.

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