Monza: The 1950 Italian GP

Admittedly, short of any footage or primary sources on this first season, I am anxious to move on to 1951.  Although not a true Tifosi, I am pretty excited to Ferrari’s first Formula 1 World Championship win at Silverstone next spring.  So, again, I’ll just lay this out in terms of the facts and then a brief commentary.


The Facts of the 1950 Italian GP


September 3, 1950.  80 laps × 3.915 miles per lap = 313.171 miles total.  Weather: hot and sunny.  Pole position: Juan-Manuel Fangio – 1:58.6 (Alfa Romeo).  Fastest race lap: Juan-Manuel Fangio – 2:00.0 [lap 7] (Alfa Romeo).


Monza circa 1950.


English: Diagram of the Autodromo Nazionale di...

Diagram of the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza after being modified in 1950, hosted the Formula One World Championship Italian Grand Prix from 1950 to 1954 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The high-banked oval was already gone by the time the XXI Gran Premio D’Italia rolled around.  However, there are several differences between Monza of today and Monza in 1950.  First, the chicanes have not been added yet, which made Monza even more of a high-speed track than we know it today.  Second, parabolica is no in existence yet.  Rather, the track is extended farther with to right-angle corners instead of the curved final corner of Monza that we know today.


A (fairly) Brief Commentary to the 1950 Italian GP


I mentioned that I would keep an eye on qualifying verses fasted lap times, as I see some interesting characteristics and implications to the relationship between the two.  The qualifying pole position time from Juan-Manuel Fangio was about a second-and-a-half faster than Fangio’s own fastest race lap of 2:00.0.  So, perhaps the fact that the fastest lap at Spa occurred, not during qualifying, but rather the race, was an outlier.  In any event, Fangio again, just like the last race at the 1950 French GP, reached his fastest race lap on lap seven.


It does not appear that this years Italian Grand Prix was the most interesting of races.  Giuseppe “Nino” Farina led from laps 1 to 13.  Ascari was recorded as the leader for the next two laps and then Nino Farina led from lap 16 to lap 80.  The Talbot-Lagos finished fourth and fifth; both were five laps down.


Ferrari Continues to Improve


Ferrari arrived with the new 1950 375 F1.  As mentioned previously, under the direction of Enzo Ferrari, the company was pursuing a progressive engine design as they developed their new v12 racing engine.  Finally, they had raised the block to its largest displacement, 4493 cc, just under the 4.5 liter limit.  Notably, Alberto Ascari qualified only 2/10 off of Fangio’s pole position lap.  Not only that, but Ascari’s Ferrari even led the race for two laps.  Finally, Ferrari is showing true form.  Finally, Ferrari is showing the necessary pace to defeat Alfa Romeo’s dominance.


Alfa romeo and Enzo Ferrari

Alfa Romeo and Enzo Ferrari (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Pirelli’s Distant Start in Formula 1


Mostly, I just thought this was a fantastic picture.  It’s need to see how far back Pirelli’s history goes in Formula 1.  Also, I had no idea how old their logo was.  It’s so well done, I really thought that it was a modern logo.  I had a close look at this picture, and the logo appears to be the same as a modern one.  Anyway, I just thought this was a fantastic picture of Fangio examining tires sometime before the beginning of the 1950 Italian GP.


Fangio in foreground examining a tire.  Pirelli personnel in the background.

Fangio, around Pirelli personnel. examining tires.


Fangio Dominated the 1950 Season, but Fate Was Not On His Side


Anectodally, the Argentinian of Italian descent, Juan-Manuel Fangio dominated the 1950 season.  As only your  best four performances counted toward the final championship, Fangio could have one had he scored at least 3 additional points in the race.  He has clearly shown himself to be the quickest.  However, to be ultimately quick requires reliability and speed.  To be sure, reliability was not on Fangio’s side in the closing race of the 1950 F1 Championship Season.  First, Fangio retired on lap 23 due to a gearbox failure in his Alfa Romeo.  Then, he took over a teammates car hoping to at least achieve split points.  However, he was forced to retire on lap 34 due to an engine failure.  This would not be his season, but Fangio would be back.  Remember, he wins five out of the seven championships that he enters.


Español: autografo de Juan Manuel Fangio

Juan-Manuel Fangio’s Autograph (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


An Unusual Jaguar/Ferrari Hybrid


The unusual story of Clemente Biondetti bares some mention.  He wanted to enter his Jaguar into the Formula 1 championship.  Somehow or another, this was not permitted.  So, he shoved his Jaguar straight-six into the Ferrari 166 chassis.  The marriage was not meant to be, and Biondetti retired on lap 17 due to an engine failure.  However, this would be Jaguar’s only real participation in Formula 1 until the 2000 Formula 1 Championship Season.




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