The 21st May 1950 was destined to become an historic date in the world of motorsport, for it was on this day, at the Monaco Grand Prix, that Scuderia Ferrari made its Formula 1 debut with a car built in Maranello.
Enzo Ferrari fell in love with motorsport on 6 September 1908 when, at the age of ten, his father took him to watch the Coppa Florio on the outskirts of Bologna. From that moment, he decided he wanted to be a racing driver. He made his race debut on 5 October 1919 and four years later he won at the Savio circuit. It was here that he met the mother of Great War hero Francesco Baracca. She admired Ferrari’s courage and entrusted him with the prancing horse emblem that her son carried on the fuselage of his war plane.
On 12 October 1929, Ferrari was invited to the celebrations for the world land speed record set by Baconin Borzacchini at Cremona. At the time, Enzo, Alfredo Caniato and Mario Tadini were setting up the Scuderia and the project came to life on 16 November in the offices of Modena lawyer Alberto Della Fontana and was officially approved on the 29th of the same month. Scuderia Ferrari was officially registered to “buy Alfa Romeo race cars and to take part in races on the national racing calendar and on the calendar of the National Association of Automobile Clubs”. The president was Mario Tadini and others involved were Enzo Ferrari, Alfredo and Augusto Caniato and Ferruccio Testi as well as Alfa Romeo and Pirelli. In the Thirties, the Maranello team won a lot of races, but when the noise of engines gave way to the sound of exploding bombs during the Second World War, the relationship with Alfa Romeo had already come to an end and Ferrari was ready to race under his own name. In 1947, Enzo registered the Ferrari company and began racing cars with his name on.
In 1949, the FIA (International Automobile Federation) launched a new Formula 1 World Championship to start the following year. The calendar would feature six European Grands Prix and the Indianapolis 500 in the United States. The season began with the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, but Scuderia Ferrari did not take part because of a disagreement over start money and went instead to a Formula 2 race at Mons in Belgium, making a clean sweep of the top three places Alberto Ascari, Luigi Villoresi and Franco Cortese driving the 166 F2.
On 21 May in Monaco, the Scuderia was ready for the start of the second ever championship Grand Prix. Ferrari entered three turbocharged 125 F1s for Italians Ascari and Villoresi and Frenchman Raymond Sommer. The Maranello cars did not have the power of the rival Alfa Romeos and were also heavier. Enzo was aware of this and was already thinking of a new car. There was an accident on the opening lap, caused by an unexpected wave of water hitting the track at Tabac corner that caused Giuseppe Farina to spin his Alfa Romeo, when he was second behind team-mate Juan Manuel Fangio. The Italian and nine other drivers retired in the incident.
Fangio dominated, after starting from pole and setting the fastest race lap. Alberto Ascari was second, with Sommer fourth. Villoresi retired with transmission troubles. Enzo Ferrari was not satisfied and decided to accelerate plans to introduce the new car, fitted with a more powerful engine. He pressured his technical staff to deliver and over the course of the season they produced the 3,300cc
275 F1, then the 4,100cc 340 F1 and finally the 4,500cc 375 F1, all using normally aspirated V12 engines. Three evolutions in the space of a few months was a gargantuan task which showed the potential of the Maranello team.