Scuderia Ferrari, the oldest of all the current Formula One teams, have been competing since the sport’s inception in 1950. The Italian marque joined the championship from the very first race at Silverstone, and to this day continue to drive passion through the motor sporting fraternity and the fans who line the tracks the world over.
Ferrari, often called Scuderia Ferrari as scuderia is Italian for stable, is a sub-division of Ferrari’s road car manufacturing operation. Based in Maranello in Northern Italy and founded by Enzo Ferrari in 1929 as a driver sponsorship organisation, the company started making luxury sports cars in 1947 and is now owned by Fiat. The prancing horse logo which adorns all cars they make comes from World War I pilot Francesco Baracca. The symbol was placed on his fighter plane and after his death Baracca’s parents – who were good friends with Enzo – asked for the symbol to be continued on his cars as a sign of gallantry, sportsmanship and boldness.
The first season of organised racing saw rival Italian car manufacturer Alfa Romeo dominate, but their success would soon be broken in 1951 when Jose Froilan Gonzalez won the British Grand Prix from pole position. So fantastic around Silverstone, Gonzalez close to minute ahead of second placed driver Juan Manuel Fangio after all 90 laps were up. The success of the race didn’t end there though, as joining in on the celebrations was Luigi Villoresi in the sister car, finishing third and completing an almost perfect result for the team. By the end of the year Gonzalez was third in the championship and fellow Ferrari driver Alberto Ascari was second and Villoresi fifth.
In 1952, Ferrari dominated the season with Ascari taken the team’s first drivers title and winning six times in succession. 1953 saw a similar performance from Ascari and the Ferrari, despite only winning five races. From ’54 onwards though, the dominance of Fangio and the Maseratis meant Ferrari didn’t reach the top step until 1958. Although racing hard and winning from time to time, it was the era of Fangio and his mesmeric performances eluded even the greatest of drivers. In the bitter-sweet ’58 season though, Britain’s Mike Hawthorn clinched the title, but his success followed the deaths of both Peter Collins and Luigi Musso, each at the wheel of a Ferrari.
1958 also marked the first year of the constructors championship, designed to reward the greatest teams and car builders. Vanwall won the first title, but thanks to the success of Collins and Musso prior to their deaths, and combined with Hawthorn’s ability to keep going, Ferrari finished second just eight points behind.
Ferrari would have to wait until 1961 before winning the championship again, this time with American driver Phil Hill. However, it seemed as though victory would be turbulent for the team as they then suffered another slump in performance. A change of designers meant that the team had to use the same car for two seasons, leading to no race wins and doubts cast over the Italian squad.
By 1964 a new car had been built and was to be raced by John Surtees, Lorenzo Bandini and Pedro Rodriguez. Although it wasn’t the best on the grid – that accolade went to the Lotus of Jim Clark – the Ferrari’s reliability allowed Surtees to clinch the title by just one point, and the team took the constructors with a margin of three. The following year though would prove to be less successful as Lotus improved their reliability and Clark stormed to the title in impressive style.
Keeping up with Ferrari tradition, another dry spell occurred, and although in ’66 they managed two victories, Brabham took the spoils for two years in a row. 1967 was perhaps one of the Scuderia’s more difficult seasons, as loyal driver Lorenzo Bandini crashed at the Harbour Chicane during the Monaco Grand Prix. His rear-left wheel clipped a guard rail, causing an uncontrollable skid into a street light which in turn flipped the car over. He slid into straw bales lining the track and it is thought that these ruptured the fuel tank and they ignited. Marshals pulled Bandini out of his car unconscious, but the Italian suffered third degree burns and ten fractures to his chest. Lorenzo fought for three days, but finally succumbed and died in Monaco. 100,000 people attended his funeral in Reggiolo, Italy on May 13th 1967, and straw bales were soon banned in light of Lorenzo’s accident.
However, Bandini’s untimely passing wasn’t all that conspired against Ferrari in ’67, as Mike Parkes was injured just weeks later during the Belgian Grand Prix, his career being forced to end abruptly. And the third Ferrari driver from that season, Ludovico Scarfiotti retired having witnessed Parkes’s accident.
1968 and ’69 saw little success with just a one win from Jacy Ickx, but the sale of the Ferrari company to Fiat meant that Enzo, who retained a 50% stake, was able to spend the money gained from the deal to reconstruct his team. Ferrari did compete in ’69 but it was generally accepted as a matter of course while everything was put in place for a resurgence in the ’70’s.
Although more effort was put into the Formula One team, Enzo pulling out of GT racing and eventually sportscar racing, it would take the team until 1975 to find their feet again. Having signed Niki Lauda in ’74, the pieces of the puzzle were starting to come together. The 312B3 car that was raced in ’74 was terrible though, and Lauda could only manage fourth in the title race. However, with reprised effort the team developed the 312T with Lauda, and in 1975 the Austrian convincingly took the championship, some 19.5 points clear of second placed driver Emerson Fittipaldi. The constructors battle was of similar proportions, Ferrari defeating Brabham by 18.5 points.
1976 proved to be another success in terms of the car performance and Niki Lauda looked set for a another title to add to his collection. Winning four of the first six and finishing in second in the other two, by his fifth win of the season he had more than double the points of his nearest rival, Jody Scheckter. However, a crash at the German Grand Prix held on the Nordschleife left Lauda with severe burns. A suspected rear suspension failure caused his Ferrari to swerve off the track, up an embankment and then back down into the path of Brett Lunger’s Surtees. Trapped inside the car, Lauda suffered horrific injuries before fellow drivers Lunger, Arturo Merzario, Guy Edwards and Harald Ertl managed to pull him free from the wreckage. Amazingly, Lauda picked himself up and appeared to be okay. Very quickly though it was obvious he wasn’t and the Austrian was rushed to hospital to have his burns treated. Niki also inhaled toxic gases which damaged his lungs and he fell into a coma shortly after arriving. A priest read him his last rites and it looked very bad.
Lauda miraculously survived though, and despite suffering major scars on his face and body, only had enough reconstructive surgery to ensure his eyelids still worked. Six weeks after the accident, Niki turned up at the Italian Grand Prix and finished a fine fourth. But his championship lead had taken a dent from James Hunt, and a further two victories meant the Briton was only three points shy of Lauda going into the final race of the season in Japan. Torrential rain on race day, however, resulted in dreadful driving conditions, and on the second lap Lauda retired his Ferrari saying it was too dangerous race. Hunt led for much of the event, suffered a puncture but then managed to get his way back into third place. At the chequered flag, James Hunt was world champion by a single point. However, due to the hard work by Lauda, his team mate Carlos Reutemann and his stand-in for two races Clay Reggazoni, Ferrari took the constructors with a margin of nine points over McLaren.
Back in the saddle, Lauda took the ’77 title, but relations with the team deteriorated and for ’78 Ferrari ran the then unknown driver Gilles Villeneuve alongside Reutemann. Reutemann was able to Lauda (who moved to Brabham) but it was only for third in the championship. The whole field had been completely outclassed by the ground-effect Lotus 79 at the hands of Mario Andretti.
The final season of the ’70s though proved much better and Jody Scheckter was able to steer the team to success with his rear-gunner Villeneuve. It was a supreme year for the team having taken the constructors by a huge 38 point margin. Little did Ferrari know though, that this would be the last drivers title they would win for a very long time.
In fact, the 1980 campaign was the worse position the team had found themselves in their history. Although their paltry points score of seven in 1969 had been beating, they only managed tenth in the constructors. The following year saw some improvement with a fifth place in the final standings, but tragedy struck again in 1982 when lovable driver Gilles Villeneuve was killed n qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix. After a fiercely competitive battle with team mate Didier Peroni all season, Villeneuve found himself just 0.1s shy of beating his time. Villeneuve’s insatiable competitiveness forced him to take to the track for one final attempt. During his flying lap he came across Jochen Mass who was cruising back to the pitlane. Villeneuve commited himself to passing on the right, but Mass had already started to cede the racing line to Gilles. Villeneuve’s front left made contact with Mass’s rear right and the Ferrari was catapulted into the air. His car came down into the soft earth to the side of the track and then somersaulted down the armco. The shocking violence of the accident reduced Villeneuves car to the monocoque and Gilles seat came away from the cockpit. A fence stopped Gilles from moving any further.
The first people on the scene were Derek Warwick and John Watson who stopped their cars and ran back to assist Villeneuve. They removed him from the fence Gilles lay motionless on the ground. He stopped breathing and the medical crew chose not to resuscitate him at the track. Gilles died from his massive injuries in hospital later that day and Formula One lost one of its most admired and cherished sons. It is thought that the initial impact of the car landing is what caused the fatal injuries, and the sport was gripped in sadness for a long time.
This wasn’t the end of the ’82 season though. Ferrari continued in Villeneuve’s honour, and Peroni quickly became the favourite for the title – he would have been the first Frenchman to have won the championship. However, a breakdown in Peroni’s marriage and the witnessing of Ricardo Paletti’s death when the Italian ploughed into Peroni’s stalled car many believe contributed to an overly-stressed situation for Didier. At the German race held around the Hockenheim circuit, Peroni dangerously lapped the track in torrential rain at very high speed. It was only a practice session and his aggressive driving was completely unnecessary. He passed Derek Daly’s Williams and came across Alain Prost’s Renault. With no time to react Peroni smashed into the back of his Frenchman. The ensuing accident left Didier’s legs severely injured and he never raced cars again.
From all this though came the constructors title for Ferrari, somewhat remarkably. Peroni finished in second place in the drivers title, Keke Rosberg overhauling the points difference in the remaining races.
René Arnoux and Patrick Tambay won the squad another constructors title the following year, but Nelson Piquet was too fast for the drivers to keep and that title was beyond them. It was to be the only high point until the end of the decade.
In 1988 Ferrari founder Enzo Ferrari died aged 90. Fiat took further control of the company upping their stake to 90% and Enzo’s son inherited the remainder. A week after Enzo’s passing, Gerhard Berger took an emotional victory in front of the teams home crowd – the tifosi – at the Italian Grand Prix. The result was compounded with Michele Albereto finishing just behind in second. Berger dedicated the win to Enzo and the team continued without its father.
In 1989 Ferrari managed to convince the powers-that-be to end turbo engines and this allowed the team to catch up with pace with the ensuing redevelopment of the engines. Ferrari used a V12, and without the turbo they ran very high revs which resulted in a narrow power band. Thus Ferrari engineer John Barnard had to develop a new style gearbox that would eventually be adopted by every single Formula One team. The new ‘box – a paddle-operated semi-automatic – debuted at the first race of the season and new Ferrari driver Nigel Mansell spectacularly won the event. Mansell won again in Hungary, passing Ayrton Senna in the process, but could only manage a few podiums otherwise. Berger, despite having a slow start to the season, also found himself on the podium a few times and the team appeared to be slowly improving.
The moved into the nineties with renewed optimism and vigour and left the ’80s behind with no drivers titles and only two constructors championships.
Alain Prost replaced Gerhard Berger in 1990, and coming to the team from winning the 1989 title resumed the role of lead driver. This apparent superiority led Mansell to become very suspicious of Prost, and although the pair did well, their relationship began to deteriorate. At the British Grand Prix Nigel complained that his car didn’t feel the same as it previously had, and he later found out Prost had switched them over, believing that it was Mansell who had the superior car. Enraged by this, Mansell left the team at the end of the year, and Prost missed out on the drivers title to his arch rival Senna.
Fellow Frenchman and Tyrrell-sensation Jean Alesi joined the team for 1991, but the aging V12 engine was little match for the new, light and efficient V10s the other teams were starting to adopt. Towards the end of the year and with little to show for his hard work, Prost publicly criticised the team and he was fired before the season was over.
1992 saw little difference with the team and they again failed to win a race. Alesi scored eighteen points to his team mate Ivan Capelli’s three. Gerhard Berger returned for 1993 but the car was hopelessly unreliable, the team scoring just 28 points and finishing fourth in the constructors race.
1994 and ’95 saw a win each for Alesi and Berger, but seeing that change had be made in order for the Scuderia to return to their winning ways, new principal Jean Todt set about sorting the squad out. At the end of 1995 he made a very bold move with backing from Philip Morris through their Marlboro brand, was able to lure the then double world champion Michael Schumacher with a tempting salary of approximately $30m.
With Schumacher came key Benetton personnel and the whole team was revamped. Ferrari finally said goodbye to the dated V12 and introduced a now standard V10. The car was overhauled as was the structure of the team itself. Michael worked tirelessly during the off-season and partnered with Eddie Irvine, entered into the 1996 season.
Schumacher won in style at the Spanish Grand Prix, held in atrocious conditions. It was to be the first win of many for the German, and while they perhaps didn’t know it at the time, they were about to dominate Formula One like never before seen, with the only possible exception of McLaren in the mid-late eighties.
Schumacher went on to a further two victories and the team finished in a fine second place with 70 points, only beaten by the formidable Williams and the pairing of Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve. The following year Schumacher won five events and the team finished the season with 102 points. Slowly but surely the Scuderia puzzle was forming, and 1998 they found themselves with 133 at the end of the year and six more race wins under their belt.
1999 finally saw the team mount a serious attempt at the crown. While they had come close in previous years, Williams had been strong and McLaren were making a comeback. Schumacher scored two wins in the early part of the season, but as with all-things Ferrari, drama struck at about the midway point. At the start of the British Grand Prix, Schumacher crashed at Stowe and broke his leg. Guessing he would be out for the remainder of the year, the team employed Finnish Mika Salo and put their weight and resources behind Eddie Irvine, the first race winner of the season. Eddie won the British event after it was restarted, and went on to take a further three victories. However, it just wasn’t enough and Mika Hakkinen took his second world championship in succession. The team did win the constructors and was celebrated by Schumacher who returned for the final two events, scoring two second-places in deference to his team mate and his plight.
The new millennium saw continued domination from Ferrari, a period in which the team developed some of the greatest F1 cars in the sports history. Schumacher stayed with the Italian marque and together with a strengthening squad both at the track and in the factory at Maranello, the decade saw six constructors championships fall their way, to date.
This article is not finished yet. In fact it hasn’t even been proof-read so is likely to be full of spelling and grammar errors and many facts have not been verified. Please check back soon when it is complete.