L&T Motorsport

Top ten F1 races: British GP 1950

With the new Formula One season upon us we here at LTMSport decided it would be a great idea to look back over some of the more pivotal and exciting races that have happened over the history of F1. Grand Prix racing has been taking place since the 1920’s but the sport as we know it started with the FIA’s standardisation of the rules in 1946 and the first ever World Championship took place in 1950 and thus Formula One as we know it was born.

Over the next four to five weeks leading up to lights out in Melbourne we take a look back on some of those races that are engrained in the history of the sport. It might be a dominating performance, a close finish or even a big moment in history that changed the course of the sport.

We start at the beginning with the first ever World Championship race in 1950. The date is 13th of May and the location is Silverstone, UK. The race was designated as the Grand Prix of Europe as well as the RAC British Grand Prix. Being tagged with the Grand Prix of Europe was the first time a GP had been given this tag and was not being hosted in either France or Italy. Most people know that Ferrari have been an ever stay in F1 since the start of Formula One but they decided to skip the first ever World Championship event.

The official entrance list of 22 seen four Alfa Romeo’s, seven Maserati’s five ERA’s and two Alta’s with nine countries represented through the drivers with the UK fielding nine drivers. All cars were powered by 1.5litre engines with either straight four, six or eight cylinder configuration. The race also seen the likes of Juan Manuel Fangio, Giuseppe ‘Nino’ Farina, Luigi Fagioli and Louis Chiron. Other members of the field including a Prince in Prince Bira of Siam and Baron Toulo de Graffenried of Switzerland.

To couple this a well know Jazz musician at the time in Johnny Claes finished the race in 11th.The Belgium driver, born in London, was known for his smooth jazz beats with his music and band Johnny Claes and the Clay Pigeons but turned to racing as of 1942. Johnny was one of many gentlemen racers at the time, something that was prominent in the early days of grand prix and Formula One.

 Qualifying was dominated by the Alfas with Farina fastest with the other Alfas lining up beside him. As it was normal at the time the grid lined up in rows of four and three alternating up to the final row. And so in front of around 200,000 spectators, including His Royal Highness King George VI, Queen Elizabeth, Princess Margaret and Lord and Lady Mountbatten the race took place. Farina took advantage of pole position to lead with Fagioli and Fangio in hot pursuit. The three swapped the lead around between themselves over the early laps of the race several times to the amusement of the watching crowd around the former airfield circuit.

Reg Parnell was keeping pace with the front runners and took up third place when Fangio dropped out with engine troubles. He would manage to finish in third in his home race even though he hit a hare that caused damage to the car. The 70 race took over two hours and was won by Farina who led for 63 of the 70 laps, winning from Fagioli by 2.6 seconds with Parnell 52 seconds back in third. Four place was taken by Frenchman Yves Giraud-Cabantous in one of the Talbot’s, over 2 laps down on the dominating Alfa’s. The final point scoring place was taken by a second Talbot/French driver combo with Louis Rosier. Of the 21 runners (one non starter from the 22 entries with the Maserati of Felice Bonetto) only 11 were classified with three drivers being over six laps down.

The win would propel Farina forward in the new World Championship and he would go on to win the first ever World Title from Fangio and Fagioli. Apart from the Indy 500 Alfa Romeo won each of the seven races with only Farina and Fangio being the only race winners in the World Championship events. Farina would go on to drive for another another few seasons till 1955, including a spell at Ferrari as well. He also attempted a one off at Indianapolis in a conventional Indy Car but struggled to get to grips with it and withdrew after his team mate took his car for a drive to check it and crashed to his death. After his retirement he was involved in Alfa and Jaguar distributionship as well as assisting in the Pininfarina factory.

The first ever Formula One Champion died in 1966 at the age 59 in a road car on his way to the French Grand Prix after hitting a telegraph pole. The Italian was visiting not only to spectate the race but also to film as part of his adviser and stunt double role in the film Grand Prix. But his place in the history books had already been guarentted for live as the first official Formula One World Champion and also on this day in Silverstone the first ever grand slam with fastest lap, pole and the win.

Andrew Campbell

Main Photo Credit: essentiallysport.com
Circuit Layout: wikipedia
Secondary Photo: dailymail.com


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