On this day in 1950, Giuseppe “Nino” Farina won the first ever Formula One race on board an Alfa Romeo Grand Prix Tipo 158 Alfetta at Silverstone.
It was the first of eight races that made up the inagural FIA F1 World Championship. Countries that had been at war with one another only a few years earlier were united in a single sporting event. It was an historic moment and it turned out to be a historic triumph for Alfa Romeo.
The first four places on the starting grid were occupied by four Alfetta 158 models. Farina took pole, the fastest lap and the final victory. Second came Luigi Fagioli, and third Reg Parnell. The first F1 podium was monopolised by Alfa Romeo.
The 158 combined outstanding speed, handling and reliability which made it the ultimate achievement of motor car technology of that moment.
At its first launch in 1938, it had a 1.5-litre engine with a 185hp compressor. For its second launch, after the war, the compressor became dual-stage and the engine reached 275hp and by 1950 it had reached 350hp at 8,600rpm. Thanks to its extreme lightness, its weight/power ratio was only 2kg/hp, a value in line with today’s super sports cars.
On 3 September 1950, for the Monza Grand Prix, Alfa Romeo tried out the Alfetta 159, actually developed for use in the following year’s Championship. The new Alfetta made its debut with a victory. At the wheel was Farina, who became the first ever Formula 1 World Champion. Juan Manuel Fangio repeated the success in 1951, piloting the 159 to a second consecutive championship for Alfa Romeo.
Technical superiority brings victories. For the press, Farina, Fangio and Fagioli became the “the 3Fs team”, an unbeatable trio which demolished all rivals. The three Alfa Romeo aces won all the Grand Prix races they took part in, ending on the podium 12 times and achieving five fastest laps. As Giuseppe Busso, Alfa Romeo designer and collaborator of Gioachino Colombo, put it later “our main problem was deciding which of the three drivers should win any given race”.