Early beginnings - Enzo Ferrari

The prancing horse motif of Ferrari is one of the best known icons in motor sport. Enzo Ferrari took the emblem from the First World War Italian fighter ace Francesco Baracca - click here to find out more about this Italian air ace.

Enzo Ferrari was born in 1898 and in his early years he enjoyed some success as a racing driver. He joined Alfa Romeo in 1920 as a driver but he soon moved to the technical and design side. In 1929, Alfa Romeo withdrew from motor racing and Ferrari took over their workshops under the name Scuderia Ferrari, and continued to build what were essentially Alfa Romeo cars.

It was after World War 2, in 1947 that the first 'true' Ferrari single seater design was produced and Ferrari soon gained a reputation for reliability.

The Glory Years

The FIA Formula 1 Championship was launched in 1950 and was initially dominated by Alfa Romeo but in 1951 at the British GP, Ferrari achieved their first win – the first of many Grand Prix victories. The driver was Froilan Gonzalez.

Alberto Ascari - Drivers World Champion 1952 & 1953

Ferrari took the Drivers World Championship in 1952 and 1953 with Alberto Ascari driving one of the all-time classic single seater racing cars – the Ferrari 500. In two seasons – 1952 and 1953 the Ferrari 500 won every Grand Prix except just one race.

The mid-1950s saw Mercedes-Benz return to and dominate Grand Prix racing but the 'silver arrows' team withdrew from motor sport after one of their sports cars crashed into the crowd at the 1955 Le Mans 24 hour race. The great Argentinean driver Juan-Manuel Fangio who won the 1955 Drivers World Championship driving for Mercedes moved to Ferrari.

Juan-Manuel Fangio - one of the all time great drivers took the World Championship for Ferrari in 1956

Ferrari took over Lancia's formula 1 car design (Lancia was having financial problems) and this raced as the Lancia-Ferrari and Fangio took the Drivers World Championship for Ferrari in 1956. Fangio however had a strained relationship with Enzo Ferrari and moved to the rival Maserati team the following season.

Mike Hawthorn 1958 Drivers World Champion

In 1958, Mike Hawthorn driving for Ferrari became the first British World Drivers Champion.

But Grand Prix racing was changing – a new formula with a 1.5 litre normally aspirated engine was introduced and rear engined cars became the ‘standard’. Ferrari produced the famous ‘shark nosed’ GP car and Phil Hill of the United States took the 1961 Drivers World Championship with this car, after his team mate Wolfgang von Trips was killed in racing accident at the Italian Grand Prix.

John Surtees 1964 Drivers World Champion

John Surtees who had transferred to F1 racing, after a very successful motorcycle-racing career, became the Drivers World Champion driving for Ferrari in 1964. Surtees like Hawthorn before him, established a good working relationship with Enzo Ferrari, but left the team early in 1965 season after a disagreement with the team.

The Changing World of Grand Prix Racing

During the 1960s and 1970s, new teams such as Lotus, Tyrell, and McLaren began to dominate F1 and be the innovating force.

Niki Lauda - Drivers World Champion 1975 and 1977

Ferrari now had to wait eleven years for their next Drivers World Champion – Niki Lauda became World Champion in 1975 driving for Ferrari. The following year Lauda had a horrific crash in his Ferrari and suffered major burns, but Lauda recovered from his injuries and in 1977 he took the World Drivers Championship for Ferrari.

The South African Jody Schekter took the Drivers World Championship for Ferrari in 1979. But Ferrari would have to wait 21 years for its next Drivers Championship!

The 1980s and 1990s – the lean years

Highly professional organised teams such as McLaren and Williams dominated Grand Prix racing in the 1980s and 1990s. Ferrari in comparison always seemed to race in a politically charged passionate atmosphere, which many of their drivers found difficult to cope with. Enzo Ferrari died in 1989 at the age of 90, but almost up to his death he still exercised influence and had his own autocratic style of management.

The Ferrari team had the services of some of the finest drivers of the day - for example: Alain Prost who did not seem to enjoy his time with the team and Nigel Mansell who was idolised by the fanatical fans as 'il Leone' (the lion). But neither driver was able to deliver the Drivers World Championship to Ferrari.

Ferrari is now part of the Fiat motor group, so financial support and resources have been available. It is believed that Ferrari have the largest operating budget in F1 - thought to be about £80M (US$120M) per season. What is unique about Ferrari F1 cars - they have always raced in the bright racing red of Italy but these days they are sponsored by Marlboro cigarettes, and Ferrari pride themselves on building the whole car - chassis and engine.

The new millenium – Return of the Golden Years

Michael Schumacher - Brings the F1 Drivers Championship to Ferrari

The desire by Ferrari to once again have a World Champion Driver never diminished, and Ferrari has remained in the top echelon of teams. Michael Schumacher – twice World Drivers Champion – moved to Ferrari in 1996 and a new international management team was assembled including Jean Todt and the British master strategist - Ross Brawn (who had worked with Schumacher at Benetton). Schumacher was runner up in the World championship in 1997 and 1998. Schumacher has signed a very lucrative contract to stay at Ferrari and his efforts were rewarded by taking the F1 Drivers Championship in year 2000 (21 years since Jody Schekter took the title for Ferrari). Schumacher has taken the Driver World Championship four more times for Ferrari – including record breaking 6th World Championship in 2003.

The credentials of the Ferrari team are impressive – they are the only F1 team to be continuously active in the current World Championship since its inception over 50 years ago. The team continue to enjoy world wide support and particularly fanatical support in Italy and it has scored the largest number of Grand prix wins of any team, but competition in F1 racing remains fierce.

Ferrari and the main competitors
Total Number of Driver World Championships
Since 1970 – the number of driver World Championships

Scuderia Ferrari
13
7

McLaren International and predecessor team
9
9

Williams Grand Prix Engineering
7
7

Team Lotus (no longer racing)
6
3

Since 1950 these four teams have accounted for over 60% of the Drivers Championships. and since 1970 for 26 of the 33 Drivers Championships

Of course Ferrari is very active in sports car racing and also produce some of the World’s most desirable and expensive road going supercars.

Drivers who have won the Drivers World Championship for Ferrari

1952 Alberto Ascari (Italy)

1953 Alberto Ascari (Italy)

1956 Juan-Manuel Fangio (Arg)

1958 Mike Hawthorn (GB)

1961 Phil Hill (USA)

1964 John Surtees (GB)

1975 Niki Lauda (Austria)

1977 Niki Lauda (Austria)

1979 Jody Schekter (South Africa)

2000 Michael Schumacher (Germany)

2001 Michael Schumacher (Germany)

2002 Michael Schumacher (Germany)

2003 Michael Schumacher (Germany)

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