On September 7 1952, Monza crowned a new king when Alberto Ascari won his sixth consecutive grand prix to become, very deservedly, F1 World Champion and give the Scuderia Ferrari its first Drivers’ World title. Ascari had completely dominated the season delivering five poles and six race fastest laps on top of his victories.
Ferrari was no longer content with simply getting to the podium after the second position delivered by Ascari the previous year ahead of team-mate José Froilan Gonzales, the first driver to win an F1 grand prix in a Prancing Horse single-seater. The Scuderia Ferrari’s goal for 1952 was clear: win the championship. The World Drivers’ Championship for that year and the following season – 1953 – imposed Formula Two regulations, with limits on the engine displacement set at a maximum of 2 litres (naturally-aspirated), or 750 cc (supercharged) in a F2 chassis and there was no weight limit. Ferrari thus fielded the 500 F2 equipped with the new 2-litre in-line four-cylinder engine. The overall rankings would be based on the best four results out of the eight races. As usual, the race calendar included the Indy 500, although not all of the European constructors normally took part. That year, however, Enzo Ferrari decided to enter a car for Alberto Ascari, the 375 Indianapolis. This was to be Maranello’s first and only official participation in the legendary North American race.
1952 was a significant year for the Italian company on and off the track. As well as the F1 title, another major milestone was winning the Mille Miglia and endurance racing in the sports-prototype class was increasingly important for selling cars to privateer teams. A good example was Vittorio Marzotto’s victory at the Monaco Grand Prix with the 225 S, Ferrari’s first on that track. In the F1 World Championship the Scuderia Ferrari fielded a blistering trio comprising Alberto Ascari, Nino Farina and Piero Taruffi, who were flanked on a couple of occasions by Gigi Villoresi and André Simon.
To prepare for the Indy 500 at the end of May, Ascari had to skip the Swiss Grand Prix in Berne, which took place two weeks beforehand and was won by Taruffi. Ascari had an unfortunate time of it in the US and was forced to retire after a problem with a wheel. Two races in and with no points to his name, his season seemed compromised but starting with the third round at Spa-Francorchamps, the Italian won all six remaining rounds of the Championship. He repeated that feat the following season to win his second Drivers’ title. No other Italian driver has been F1 World Champion since and only Michele Alboreto has come close, also – unsurprisingly – in a Ferrari in 1985.