- History In The Making
- Successful Decades
- Restructuring Times
- Gloomy Period
- Schumacher Era
- New Age, More Conquests
- Recent Years
- Still Chasing Silverware
Ferrari and Formula 1 racing have become synonymous for many people. The Italian brand is the only team that has participated in every world championship season since its inception.
The founder of the company, Enzo Ferrari, had a humble dream which has now transformed into one of the most iconic and globally recognised brands. Their success began with Alberto Ascari and John Surtees, and despite facing some tough times, the team continued to thrive with the likes of Niki Lauda in the 1970s and Michael Schumacher in the 2000s.
During this period, Ferrari won an unprecedented five consecutive title doubles, establishing itself as the most successful and decorated team in Formula 1 history. In this article, we will take a closer look at the history of Ferrari in Formula 1, precisely from its early days to the present.
History In The Making
In 1929, Scuderia Ferrari emerged through the hands of motorsport enthusiast Enzo Ferrari and initially became the racing team for Alfa Romeo. Alfa Romeo decided to enter racing under its name in 1938 and established the Alfa Corse organisation that took over Ferrari.
Enzo Ferrari disagreed with this decision and departed from Alfa Romeo in 1939. The Italian was forbidden from participating in motor racing under his name for four years. During this time, Ferrari began developing its racing car, the Tipo 815, designed by Alberto Massimino.
However, the outbreak of World War II put a halt to racing, and the brand shifted its focus to machine tool work. After the war, Ferrari started a new company and recruited former Alfa Romeo employees to design and build their cars.
Twenty-one years before the first official season of Formula 1, Scuderia Ferrari was at full speed to raise the value of the automotive environment and on the streets and making its history.
The 1950s and 1960s were particularly successful decades for Ferrari in Formula 1. The first victory in an F1 race took place in 1950 at the British Grand Prix with the Argentinean Froilan Gonzalez at the wheel. Then, the first title in the drivers’ world championship came in 1952, thanks to the Italian Alberto Ascari.
From that time, the Italian brand went on to win again in 1953, 1956, and 1958. In the 1960s, Ferrari continued its dominance, winning consecutive titles in 1960, 1961, 1964, and 1965. During this time, the team had legendary drivers such as Juan Manuel Fangio, Phil Hill, and John Surtees.
Despite a strong performance in the 1950s and 1960s, the early 1970s were so dismal for Scuderia Ferrari that the team faced the possibility of shutting down. However, in 1973, Fiat stepped in as a partner, bringing a young sporting director named Luca di Montezemolo. Despite leadership changes, Enzo Ferrari remained the number one man.
The team’s fortunes improved when Niki Lauda secured his first championship. Lauda went on to win the F1 championship titles in both 1976 and 1977, and in 1979, Jody Scheckter brought home another drivers’ championship title for Ferrari.
In the 1970s, Ferrari went through a period of restructuring, and the team’s success in Formula 1 declined. Scuderia Ferrari has been unsuccessful in creating a championship-winning car since 1979. Nevertheless, in the 1980s, Ferrari began to bounce back.
In the 1982 season, the team designed a powerful machine but lost two drivers preventing them from dominating the championship. Gilles Villeneuve died in a crash during the Belgian GP Qualifying Session, and Didier Pironi, the championship leader, broke his legs in training for the German GP and never raced again. Ferrari eventually won the constructors’ championship as a consolation.
The 1990s were a mixed period for Ferrari in Formula 1. Although the team won championships in 1999 and 2000, it struggled to keep up with the dominant Williams and McLaren teams.
Scuderia Ferrari faced winless years until hiring designer John Barnard who had previously outlined victorious McLaren cars. The signature of Gerhard Berger in 1987 and the creation of semi-automatic transmission in 1989 brought back success. Afterwards, Alain Prost came aboard hoping to win the F1 world title in 1990.
In 1991, the team faced command problems despite having excellent pilots in Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell. Prost wanted to be treated as the first driver, while Mansell rejected Cesare Fiorio as sporting director.
The pilots’ relationship deteriorated, and Mansell tried to disrupt Prost’s race at the Portuguese GP. The team faced technical crises until Luca di Montezemolo became the president in 1992, and Gerhard Berger and Jean Alesi joined as drivers.
Once again, Scuderia Ferrari underwent restructuring, hiring Jean Todt as sporting director. Gerhard Berger’s win at the 1994 German GP ended a three-year winless spell and marked the beginning of constant growth. The arrival of Schumacher in 1996 defined a turning point for the team, and Ferrari began to rebuild its dominance.
With Michael Schumacher at the wheel, Ferrari made excellent progress, but only from 1997 onwards. The following year the German fought against Mika Häkkinen’s McLaren until the last race but was defeated by personal flaws.
In 1999, Michael Schumacher fractured his right leg in an accident at the British GP and was left out of the fight for the championship, a task that fell to the second driver, Eddie Irvine. The Irishman was able to battle Hakkinen but also failed. As in 1982, the consolation was the constructors’ title.
Worn out with the team, Irvine left Scuderia Ferrari, and Rubens Barrichello took the vacant spot in 2000. Schumacher finally brought an F1 championship title, but Barrichello’s help, as a squire, was fundamental.
The early 2000s saw Ferrari dominate Formula 1 like no other team before it. Schumacher won five consecutive championships from 2000 to 2004, and Ferrari won six constructors’ championships in a row during that same period. Schumacher’s dominance was unmatched, and his partnership with team principal Jean Todt proved to be one of the most successful in history.
New Age, More Conquests
Michael Schumacher retired at the end of the F1 season in 2006, making room for the signing of Kimi Räikkönen in 2007, who won the drivers’ championship title. Ferrari also easily won the constructors’ title as their main rival McLaren disqualified for espionage.
The team had everything to be champion in 2008 with Felipe Massa, but successive errors in strategies and mechanics took the title away from the Brazilian. At least Scuderia Ferrari took the constructors’ title that season, being the last title to date.
Years later, Ferrari again fought for the title in 2012. Even with a less capable car, Fernando Alonso, with the direct help of Felipe Massa, was able to fight for the championship. However, Sebastian Vettel was better and took the title, along with Red Bull Racing.
Furthermore, Felipe Massa and Ferrari started to have a rough relationship since the team preferred Fernando Alonso. Kimi Räikkönen replaced Massa, but affiliations with Fernando Alonso also soured, and he left, giving way to Sebastian Vettel.
With Vettel and Räikkönen, Scuderia Ferrari F1 started competing again for the world title. Although since 2014, even with all the efforts of Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari has not been able to beat the superiority of Mercedes and Red Bull.
The most recent years have seen Ferrari struggle to keep up with the dominant teams, but it remains one of the most popular and successful in Formula 1. Since the 2021 season, the drivers’ lineup includes the highly-touted Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr., poising to make a comeback and reclaim its place at the top.
Despite the lack of championship contention in 2021, the team has made significant progress compared to the previous year, surpassing McLaren to secure the third spot. The team’s total points for the season have doubled from their 2020 tally. The latest addition, Carlos Sainz, has performed better than his teammate Charles Leclerc by securing four podiums compared to Leclerc’s one.
At the beginning of the last season, the head title race showed promise, with Charles Leclerc taking two out of the first three races. But due to various factors such as driver mistakes, mechanical issues, and misjudged strategies, Ferrari was relegated to a distant second place behind Red Bull. On a positive note, Carlos Sainz achieved his first career victory in Silverstone.
Still Chasing Silverware
As the 2023 season started, Ferrari maintains a title drought. The team vowed confidence in the duo of Leclerc and Sainz to push for the dream.
So far, the first races didn’t end well for both drivers, falling well behind the expectations outlined for a team of such magnitude. The best result is the fourth place obtained by Carlos Sainz at the Bahrain GP, while Leclerc’s case was seventh at the Saudi Arabian GP.
There’s a whole season in front, but it is possible to at least battle for a place at the podium. This time an intense dispute between Mercedes, Aston Martin and Ferrari will make things interesting.
It is now up to the team to raise performance at each race and continue to look for ways to be a serious threat. Who knows, soon we will see the mythical Ferrari again become a world champion.