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When Ferrari raced in blue and white

10 ottobre 2018

Words: Richard Aucock

For two races in 1964, blue and white replaced Ferrari red

In the early days of Grand Prix racing, teams ran cars painted in their country’s national colours. Red is the traditional colour of Italy and synonymous with one team: Ferrari. Although some privateer Ferrari teams also ran national colours, Scuderia Ferrari’s rosso corsa, or racing red, was the official shade of the very first Ferrari Grand Prix car, the 125 F1, and has been used by every Formula One car from Maranello ever since. Well, almost every one… By the early 1960s, Ferrari’s racing empire was expanding. One notable success was the 1962 250 GTO, a car that went on to many sportscar wins.

Famously, though, it’s a car surrounded by myth. A certain number of road cars had to be built in order to meet racing criteria. And when officials from the FIA visited Maranello to count the number of cars, legend has it that not quite enough had been built – an issue creatively disguised by a coffee break and a group of cars being moved elsewhere within Maranello to be double-counted. Whether it is true or not, the grumbles to the FIA from competing teams persisted.

By 1964, Ferrari had another car ready to race, the 250 LM – and to the astonishment of the worldwide racing community, the FIA refused to homologate it. Enzo Ferrari was incensed, and became even more furious when the Italian motorsport governing body, the ACI, didn’t back the team up. Enzo reacted instantly. He handed back his competition licence to the ACI and vowed never to race in rosso corsa again. This occurred with just two fixtures of the 1964 F1 season left to run and, at the next race, Ferrari was true to his word. The race was in Watkins Glen, North America, and the team was entered not under the Ferrari name, but the North American Racing Team, or NART.

The livery worn by the 158 V8 racers was all-new, a blue base with a broad white stripe across the top. The drivers, Britain’s John Surtees and Italy’s Lorenzo Bandini, took to the circuit as NART racers, with a fresh manager in charge – Luigi Chinetti, Ferrari’s US importer, who had already achieved plentiful success racing Ferrari sportscars in North America. Surtees came through to score second place at ‘The Glen’. The scene was set for a showdown at the final race of the season in Mexico – and with the dispute still not resolved, Ferrari once again raced as NART, running in blue and white. 

The race was truly thrilling, with Surtees fighting hard and coming through to score second place – earning enough points to win the Formula One World Championship. It was a result that went down in the history books. Surtees was already a World Champion on two wheels, thanks to considerable success racing motorcycles. He thus became the only man to win on both two and four wheels. What’s often overlooked, though, is that Surtees is also the only Ferrari F1 driver to become World Champion in a car from the Scuderia not painted red.

The dispute was eventually resolved, of course, and by 1965, Ferraris were again racing in red, which has largely continued to this day. However, in recent years, Ferrari has occasionally run F1 cars in alternative liveries. In 1999, Ferrari ran the F399 of Eddie Irvine and Mika Salo (deputising for Michael Schumacher, who had broken his leg at the Silverstone race) with a livery featuring the official F1 logo instead of Marlboro sponsorship. For the 2001 Monza race, the red cars wore a black nose, to pay tribute to those killed in the September 11 attacks in New York. Ferrari also agreed with the team’s sponsors to run the cars with no logos – the bodywork was pure red and unadorned.

The 2005 Ferrari F2005 racers also ran with black nosecones in that year’s Bahrain Grand Prix, as a sign of mourning for Pope John Paul II. In happier times, Ferrari ran a special livery during the 2010 Turkish Grand Prix, to mark the Scuderia’s 800th Grand Prix. The historic event was a memorable way to mark the oldest surviving team racing in Formula One. More recently, Scuderia Ferrari celebrated 70 years of the company at the 2017 Monza Grand Prix, with special ‘Livrea 70’ logos for the engine cover.

The most recent special livery appeared for the 2018 Japanese Grand Prix, when long-time sponsorship partner Philip Morris International unveiled a distinctive new ‘Mission Winnow’ brand statement.