Passion

<em>Photo: Getty Images</em>

10 - The first Formula 1 Driver's Title

In 1952, Alberto Ascari won the first world title for Scuderia Ferrari

On 7 September 1952, Monza crowned its new king: Alberto Ascari won his sixth consecutive race, taking home the richly deserved crown of Formula 1 World Champion, and bringing Scuderia Ferrari its first ever Driver's Title. His supremacy was absolute, particularly considering the five pole positions and six fastest laps that the Milanese driver also achieved during the race.

Indeed, for Ferrari, the world championship podium was no longer enough. In 1951, Ascari came second in the championship ahead of his teammate José Froilan Gonzalez, who had in turn been the first driver to win a Formula 1 Grand Prix behind the wheel of a Prancing Horse car. For Scuderia Ferrari, the goal for 1952 was clear: to win the world title.


Alberto Ascari after winning the 1952 Italian Grand Prix at Monza Photo: Getty Images

The regulations for that year and the following stipulated that F2 chassis cars powered by 2-litre naturally aspirated engines or cars with 750 cc turbocharged engines would be used, without any weight limit. Ferrari chose to deploy their single-seater models, powered by naturally aspirated engines. When crowning the absolute winners, it was determined that the four best results obtained over the eight races of the championship would be taken into consideration. As was customary, the race calendar also included the Indianapolis 500; at the time, European manufacturers did not usually take part in the race, but that year Enzo Ferrari decided to enter a car for Alberto Ascari, the 375 Indianapolis. This marked the first and only time Ferrari officially participated in the famous North American race.

Alberto Ascari at the wheel of the 500 F2, on his way to winning the 1952 Italian Grand Prix in Monza<em> Photo: Getty Images</em>
Alberto Ascari at the wheel of the 500 F2, on his way to winning the 1952 Italian Grand Prix in Monza Photo: Getty Images

1952 was a year full of challenges for the Maranello-based company. Beyond Formula One, Ferrari's victory in the Mille Miglia race represented another illustrious achievement, while the endurance races between Sports class cars continued to gain increasing importance, enabling the brand to sell to private teams. That year, for example, Vittorio Marzotto brought Ferrari victory in Monaco for the first time, behind the wheel of a 225 S. In the F1 World Championship, Scuderia Ferrari boasted a killer line-up consisting of Alberto Ascari, Nino Farina and Piero Taruffi, joined by Gigi Villoresi and André Simon on a couple of occasions.

Due to his preparations for the Indianapolis 500 in late May, Ascari was forced to skip the Grand Prix in Bern, Switzerland, which was held two weeks earlier, and won by Taruffi. Unfortunately, Ascari had no luck in the United States, and was forced to pull out due to problem with one of his wheels.


Alberto Ascari with his wife Mietta. Ascari won the World Championship in 1952 and ‘53 Photo: Getty Images

With two failures behind him, it appeared that the writing was already on the wall for his year, but incredibly, from the third test at Spa-Francorchamps onwards, he went on to win the remaining six races of the Championship. He repeated his success the following year, winning his second Driver's Title. Since then, no other Italian has ever managed to win the title of World Champion in the top category, and the only driver who got close was another Milan native, Michele Alboreto, in 1985 - behind the wheel of a Ferrari, no less.

 

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