The Prancing Horse - A Lifetime with Ferrari
Established in 1929, by Enzo Ferrari, the Scuderia Ferrari team represented the world famous Ferrari Automobile company on the racing tracks. Scuderia Ferrari, which when translated means ‘Ferrari’s Stables’, raced as part of Alfa Romeo until 1939. Its Formula 1 racing debut in 1948 marked the beginning of an incredible dynasty that has dominated the racing tracks for over 60 years, becoming undoubtedly the most famous and most successful team in the history of the sport.
Followed around the world by its loyal supporters known as the ‘Tifosi’, Ferrari has always been instrumental in generating the great excitement and energy that defines Formula 1. Devised on the night of November 16, 1929, Enzo Ferrari started the racing team with 40 amateur drivers who drove Alfa Romeo cars. After financial issues forced Alfa Romeo to withdraw its own race team, Ferrari took over as the ‘acting racing team’ with the Tipo B racers. In 1938, Enzo Ferrari was made the manager of Alfa Corse, the factory racing division and in 1939, Enzo Ferrari left Alfa Romeo and despite a four year contract to race Alfa Romeo cars under the ‘Alfa Romeo racing team’ banner, he began work on the Tipo 815 - the first true Ferrari car.
The 50s: The Second World War saw a layoff in the sport, one that saw Ferrari returning to the tracks at the 1950 Monaco Grand Prix with the 125 F1. Alfa Romeo walked over the competition with 11 wins out of 11 in 1950 but it was a Ferrari driven by Jose Froilan Gonazalez that beat their winning streak in 1951. The year also saw the withdrawal of Alfa Romeo and thus, Ferrari notching up victories in almost all races in 1952. 1953 saw 5 race victories and a World Driver’s Championship medal for Alberto Ascari, but it was soon to come down in front of a possessed Juan Manuel Fangio in the divine Maserati. Two years later, it was Fangio in Ferrari colours, who won the championship before returning to Maserati. The following years, Ferrari rarely saw any silverware and was mostly bringing up the rear, racing on aging cars.
The 60s: This decade saw Ferrari bag 2 driver’s & 2 Constructor’s championships, in 1961 and 1964. An eventful 1961 season saw Hill and Von Trips competing for the championship only for the latter to die at the Italian Grand Prix. Hill took the championship and Ferrari also won the Le Mans 24 hour race. The 1964 season had Ferrari enter the North American races with a Private Team’s name NART and the American blue-white colours adorned the otherwise scarlet Ferraris. It also marked the 5th consecutive Le Mans win for team Ferrari.
The 70s: Three disheartening seasons saw the introduction of a certain ‘Niki Lauda’ to the Ferrari Stables in 1974. A poor race car brought no returns that year but Ferrari turned on the screws with the 312T in 1975. Developed with Niki Lauda, and driven by him, the 312T saw Ferrari take the Driver’s Championship as well as the Constructor’s, after a gap of 11 years. 1976 brought about a near-fatal crash for Niki Lauda but a surprising recovery saw him come back within 6 weeks. Lauda retired from the last race of the season, thus losing the championship by just 1 point, but still winning the Constructor’s title. 1977 was all about Niki Lauda and Ferrari. And similarly, 1979 was about Jody Scheckter and Giles Villeneuve who did the bidding of the Ferrari bosses with another Driver & Constructor double.
The 80s: A barren decade for Ferrari in terms of Drivers’ Championships began with ill omens. Giles Villeneuve, team leader and hot favourite of Enzo Ferrari, died in a crash in the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix. Team mate Didier Pironi suffered career ending injuries in the German edition of the race. Hurried replacements were Patrick Tambay and Mario Andretti, neither of whom was effective though Ferrari still won the Constructor’s title. Four race wins by Tambay and Rene Arnoux brought a Constructor’s title in 1983 and then tragedy struck the team.
On 14th August 1986, founder and owner, Enzo Ferrari died at the age of 90. Fiat took over 90% of the shares and a week later, Gerhard Berger and Michele Alboreto finished 1-2 at the Italian Grand Prix. 1989 saw the removal of Turbo charged engines, brought about by some major lobbying by Ferrari although the move almost backfired. Ferrari’s new car barely made the grade with horrendous reliability issues. Nigel Mansell barely finished a race until a hat-trick of podium finishes. Mansell also won a memorable race by beating world champion Ayrton Senna after qualifying 14th on the grid.
The 90s: Turbulent spells saw Ferrari rise and fall, and then rise again in the 1990’s. First, Alain Prost, reigning world champion replaced Gerhard Berger, to partner Nigel Mansell. A season riddled with internal squabbles saw Alain Prost lose to Ayrton Senna on the last race of the season and the exit of Nigel Mansell from the team. Jean Alesi came in for Mansell but team fortunes were on a downturn. No race wins for 3 years saw Jean Todt coming in as the team manager along with the return of Gerhard Berger.
Dearth of wins brought about major changes and in 1996, Ferrari signed two time defending world champion, Michael Schumacher, from Benetton. Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne came along with ‘Schumi’ and with Todt began re-designing the Ferrari race car. Changes meant unreliability and barely 3 wins including a phenomenal race under torrential rain in Spain where Schumacher’s car almost stalled, dropped down to 9th, and still managed to come back and win comfortably. 1997 was dramatic in the true sense of the word. It went down to the wire between Schumacher & Villeneuve, and Schumacher, penalized for swerving into Villeneuve in a bid to stop him passing, lost the title. Schumacher crashed and broke a leg in 1999, thus missing 7 rounds. Eddie Irvine, forced to play second fiddle for the season, took the charge and lost the title to Hakkinen on the last day of the season. 2000-2004 had Schumacher and Ferrari painted all over it. 5 titles in a row saw an incredible dominance period unmatched in the past. Irvine was replaced by, the very able, Rubens Barrichello, who in turn gave way to Felipe Massa in 2006.
2007 Season: The end of the 2006 season also saw Michael Schumacher retire as one of the greatest drivers to have stepped in behind the wheel of a racing car. Kimi Raikkonen replaced Schumacher and stepped into a dramatic first season with the Scarlet race car. A three horse race between Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso (McLaren Mercedes) and rookie driver Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes) ensued on the final day in Brazil. Hamilton led Alonso and Raikkonen by 4 points and 7 points respectively. Qualifying was breathtaking with Massa taking a last minute Pole position, Hamilton in second, Raikkonen in third and Alonso in at fourth (Ferrari-McLaren-Ferrari-McLaren). Raikkonen came out on top with Massa coming in at number two, resulting in another Driver-Constructor title win.
2008 Season: Jean Todt is CEO and Stefano Domenicali replaces him as the team boss. Ferrari launch the new F2008 and it has been all rosy for the Tifosi so far. Raikkonen leads the driver standings with Massa tied in at second spot with Lewis Hamilton. Out of 5 races in the season, Scuderia Ferrari is already setting the pace with 4 wins. Raikkonen & Massa have alternate wins to mark Ferrari’s lead in the Team’s championship as well.
Although Ferrari have, in the past, participated in other forms of racing such as the Le Mans 24 hours and the Millie Miglia sports car races, it is their exploits in Formula 1 that make them the dreaded power that they are. With a history of hiring the top drivers and being at the cutting edge of technology, nothing can stop Ferrari from being at the top for years to come.
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