Formula One’s Historic Cars

The first World Championship Grand Prix race in Formula One was held at Silverstone on May 13th, 1950 and was won by Giuseppe ‘Nino’ Farina. In the nearly 73 years since that first race was held, Formula One has changed a great deal.

The drivers, who were once middle aged men with an enthusiasm in motorsports are now elite level athletes. The car’s that once sped around the rickety tracks of the 1950s would be ground into the dust by today’s modern super cars

That’s not all that has changed in Formula One either, the sport is now a multi-million dollar industry with fans all over the world eager to tune in to the latest racing action and get the very best motorsports betting odds.

In this article we leave all of those intangibles behind and instead focus on the early cars that were driven around F1 racetracks in the 1950s. Read on to find out all about F1’s most historic and famous cars.

Alfa Romeo 158 ‘Alfetta’

The car that Nino Farina drove to success at Silverstone was the Alfa Romeo 158, affectionately known as the ‘Alfetta’. To this day it remains one of the most successful racing cars ever produced with that and it’s derivative the 159 winning 47 of the 54 races that they were entered in.

First manufactured in 1938 by Gioacchino Colombo, who, potentially influenced by the domestic Futurist movement wanted to create the fastest car the world had ever known. The first version of the car produced about 200bhp and had a top speed of 232kph (144mph).

Later versions of the car would reach the mind-boggling speed of 305kph (190mph). The car continued in use until 1953 with its last race outing coming at the Merano Grand Prix where it was driven by Juan Manuel Fangio.

(The Alfa Romeo 158 sounds less like a racing car and more like an air raid siren.)

Ferrari 125 F1

Italy was the place to be when it came to ground-breaking racing cars in the first part of the 20th century. Founded in 1939 by Enzo Ferrari after splitting from Alfa Romeo, Ferrari built its first car in 1940.

Ten years later the Ferrari 125 F1 was produced, the company’s first F1 car, sharing its engine with the 125 S sports racer which was released a year earlier. Weighing in at 710kg, this car used a supercharged 1.5 litre V12 engine and had a double wishbone suspension.

All of which allowed it to reach a top speed of 210kph (131mph), oh and it of course came in the famous racing red of Ferrari.

(A noise guaranteed to set the pulses racing of any petrol head.)

Maserati 250F

It is hard to overstate the influence of the futurist movement on Italy during the early part of the 20th century. What started out as an artistic movement soon became a social one too, with the Italian public and politicians coming to prioritise technology, speed and efficiency.

With all that in mind, it is perhaps no surprise that all three of the original major car production manufacturers in F1 came from Italy as nothing really embodies the principles of futurism more than a high-speed racing car.

The Maserati 250F used the SSG 220bhp 2.5 litre Maserati A6 straight-six engine and registered a top speed of 289.7kph (180mph). It is best known for being the car driven by Argentinian driver Juan Manuel Fangio at the German Grand Prix in 1957.

Ahead of the race Fangio worked out that the Ferrari drivers would not break for a Pit Stop and took the daring decision to half fuel his car and use softer tyres, meaning he would have to break for a pit stop midway.

That pit stop proved to be a disaster. After going into the break 30 seconds ahead of the nearest driver, he left the pit lane in second place, 48 seconds behind the leader thanks to a careless pit stop mechanic allowing a wheel nut to roll under the car.

With all hope seemingly lost Fangio broke the lap record 9 times in his next 10 laps to catch Mike Hawthorn and win the race, which clinched him the Formula One World Championship.

(Fangio’s 1957 drive in the German Grand Prix is widely regarded as one of the greatest driving feats in the history of the sport, all done in the super-fast Maserati 250F.)


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