Ferrari is a name shrouded in myth and legend, the only team to
compete in Formula One from sport's very first season in 1950 to
the present day. In that time the Italian marque has achieved
unparalleled success, winning sixteen constructors' and fifteen
drivers' titles courtesy of over two hundred wins and pole
Founded in 1929 by eponymous team principal Enzo Ferrari, at
first the team acted as the racing subsidiary of Alfa Romeo.
Throughout the thirties the squad fielded some of the most talented
names in motor racing, including the likes of Tazio Nuvolari. The
relationship foundered towards the end of the decade, and Ferrari
became a separate entity - their factory officially opening in
Maranello in 1943. From this base they competed in numerous events,
including the Mille Miglia and numerous non-championship races.
Ferrari retains a proud heritage in different series, winning the
World Sportscar Championship on thirteen occasions and the Le Mans
24 Hours nine times.
Ferrari signed up to participate in the newly established
Formula One World Championship in 1950, although they missed the
first race at Silverstone in a debate over prize money. The season
was dominated by Alfa Romeo, but in 1951 Ferrari took their first
victory inBritainwith José Froilán González at the wheel. Alfa
Romeo's withdrawal at the end of the year ensured that Ferrari were
left to dominate the sport between 1952 and 1953, winning both
titles with star driver Alberto Ascari. Successes throughout the
rest of the fifties were more sporadic, although the legendary Juan
Manuel Fangio bought the team a third title in 1956.
The sixties marked a renaissance in the Prancing Horse's
fortunes, as a new design brought success in 1961. Team-mates Phil
Hill and Wolfgang von Trips fought over the title, but the latter
was killed at the final round inMonzaand the American won the
championship for the Italian team. Ferrari struggled for pace in
subsequent years, but excellent reliability ensured that eight
times world motorcycle champion John Surtees was able to bring the
title back to Maranello in 1964. The rest of the decade's campaigns
were hindered by disagreements, injuries and the death of Lorenzo
Bandini in 1967. Money was also an issue, and Enzo opted to sell
half of his road car business to Fiat in 1968, using the money to
revitalise his team.
After a poor start to the seventies, the hiring of Niki Lauda
proved a decisive moment for the team's resurgence. The Austrian
led the team back to prominence, winning the 1975 world
championship and leading James Hunt in 1976 before nearly losing
his life in a fiery crash at the Nürburgring. He lost out to the
Englishman that year, but returned to reclaim his title the
following year. A falling-out ensued soon after, and Ferrari only
managed to challenge Lotus for more honours in 1979, winning both
titles with Jody Scheckter. It was to be the start of a twenty-one
year wait for another drivers' title.
The 1980s started in disastrous fashion, their title defence
consisting of just eight points. The team rallied for 1981, the
talismanic Gilles Villenueve taking two victories for the Scuderia.
The Canadian fell out with team-mate Didier Pironi the following
year, and was killed attempting to outpace the Frenchman in
qualifying for the Belgian GP at Zolder. This devastated team
founder Enzo Ferrari, who had developed a close bond with the young
driver. Later that year Pironi's career was ended in a wet weather
crash at the German Grand Prix. The team signed Arnoux and Tambay,
who brought home another constructor's title for the team in 1983.
It was to be their last in sixteen years, as the team failed to
consistently rise to the standard set by Williams and McLaren in
the mid-to-late eighties. The iconic Enzo died in 1988, just weeks
before his team scored a fortuitous 1-2 in front of their home fans
At the beginning of the nineties, Ferrari looked strong enough
to challenge once more. They signed disgruntled McLaren star Alain
Prost in 1990, and the Frenchman took the title fight to the final
round inJapan, but Ayrton Senna forced his rival off the circuit to
win the championship. The following year was less successful, and
Prost left the team under a cloud. Years in the wilderness
followed, until the surprise coup of Michael Schumacher in 1996.
The double world champion set about rebuilding the team, bringing
in the likes of Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne to return the famous
marque to the top. His efforts bore fruit, but a combination of
penalties, bad luck and a broken leg put an end to several strong
title challenges in the second half of the decade. There was some
glory for the Scuderia, which won the Constructors' championship
for the first time in sixteen years in 1999.
The noughties saw Ferrari return to the top of the sport in
considerable fashion. They gave Schumacher clear number one status
within the team and a series of formidable cars, culminating in
five consecutive drivers and constructors titles between 2000 and
2004, and unprecedented period of dominance. Schumacher lost his
title to Renault's Fernando Alonso in 2005, and retired the
following year. His replacement, Kimi Raikkonen, won the title in
his debut year with the team having mounted a late challenge - and
the team also won another constructor's title following the
disqualification of McLaren. A year later and Felipe Massa missed
out on a maiden championship by a whisker, being pipped at the post
at his home race inBrazil. However, the team fell from grace in
2009, misinterpreting the rules and coming a distant fourth in the
The team marked sixty years in Formula One by signing double
world champion Alonso to the team, in a three year deal which was
later extended to 2016. The Spaniard mounted a late title challenge
in his first year for the team, but missed out due to poor
strategy. The team was unable to consistently challenge the
following year, winning just one race - the British Grand Prix at
Silverstone, on the anniversary of their first victory in the sport
at the same venue sixty years earlier.
In 2012, Ferrari will again field Fernando Alonso and Felipe
Massa. They will be aiming to return the drivers and constructors
titles to Maranello for the first time in several years, and ensure
their own place in a proud legacy which has seen the Italian team
win more points, races and titles than any other in the history of
the sport. With the team currently in the self-induced state of
flux, it remains to be seen if the pair can take on the rampant Red
Bulls and usher in yet another era of success for the Prancing
Previously known as the co-founder of F1Lite (a Twitter-only
service), Alex Norton joined PortalF1 as the English language
editor in January 2012.
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