First appearance of Ferrari, the most successful Formula One team in history

On May 11, 1947, 75 years ago in 2022, the Ferrari 125 S debuted on the track. It’s the start of the legendary car brand with the dancing horse. In Formula 1, Ferrari is the most successful team in history.

Enzo Ferrari

Enzo Ferrari was born on February 18, 1898 in Modena, Italy. At the age of ten he attended a car race in Bologna. He is instantly hooked and decides to become a racing driver. During the First World War he had to join the army. In 1918, Enzo contracted the Spanish flu, which ended his military career. After the war, Ferrari is looking for a job in the automobile industry. He offers his services to FIAT to no avail, but eventually becomes a test driver at the Milan car manufacturer CMN. For this brand, he made his racing debut in 1919 at Parma-Poggio di Berceto, a hill-climb race in which he placed fourth.

Alfa Romeo

The following year he would race for Alfa Romeo. He won his first race in 1923. In 1924 he won three races, making that year the best of his racing career. Ferrari was devastated by the deaths of drivers Ugo Sivocci in 1923 and Antonio Ascari in 1925 and as a result driving its races with the brakes. In 1932 his son Dino was born and Ferrari decided to stop racing. He races the 41 Grands Prix and manages to win 11.

Focuses on the management of Alfa Romeo racing cars. Ferrari knows how to put together a team of the best drivers. Drivers Giuseppe Campari and Tazio Nuvolari drive for this team. The Alfa Romeo Racing Division team has been operating under the Scuderia Ferrari name since 1929. The team is very successful because of the great cars and drivers. At this time the dancing horse appears on the racing cars.

galloping horse

Count Francesco Baracca is the best fighter pilot in Italy during the First World War. The earl drew a horse raised next to his plane. He died in 1918. In 1923, Ferrari met Countess Paulina, the mother of Count Baracca. She suggests putting a dancing horse on his cars as a symbol of good luck. They appear in company publications and official papers from 1929 onwards and later adorn Ferrari racing cars. The Cavallino rampante, the breeding horse, has become one of the world’s most famous emblems.

In the early 1930s, Alfa Romeo experienced financial problems. Despite the quality of the drivers, the team can hardly compete with Auto Union and Mercedes. In this period, German racing cars were dominant. In 1937, the Scuderia Ferrari was disbanded and renamed the Alfa Corse. Ferrari leaves Alfa Romeo in 1939 after a disagreement and establishes Auto-Avio Construzioni, which manufactures parts for racing teams. He has an agreement with Alfa Romeo that he will not use the Ferrari name to race cars for 4 years. In 1943 he moved to Maranello. At the end of the war he decided to make cars in his name. In 1947 he founded the Ferrari brand.

Ferrari 125S

Ferrari builds a race car with a V12 engine, the 125 S. The top speed is 155 kilometers and the car goes from 0 to 100 kilometers in 8 seconds. On March 12, 1947, Ferrari drove the first 125 s out of the gate in Maranello. On May 11 of that year, the 125 S raced for the first time in Piacenza with Franco Cortez at the wheel.

Ferrari is shutting down due to a fuel pump failure. At the Grand Prix of Rome on May 20, the 125 S, driven once again by Franco Cortez, won its first Grand Prix. The 125 S wins 6 of the 14 races the car takes part in. It is the beginning of Ferrari’s huge success as an independent car manufacturer. Ferrari sells sports cars to finance racing.


Selfie portrait of Enzo Ferrari at the Ferrari Showroom in Maranello, with the 125C in the foreground

Ferrari decided to take part in the so-called open-wheel racing, where the wheels are outside the body as in Formula 1 cars. The debut took place in 1948, and later that year, the first victory came. In 1949, the first big win in 24 hours was followed by Le Mans with 166mm. Since 1950, the Formula 1 World Championship has been organized and Ferrari is the only team that has been there since the beginning. In 1951, a Ferrari won the Formula 1 Grand Prix for the first time at Silverstone in Great Britain. With José Froilán González at the wheel. The story goes that Ferrari cried like a baby when it finally beat Alfa Romeo. In 1952, Alberto Ascari won the Formula 1 World Championship for the first time. The following year he again won the Ferrari championship.

Dino Ferrari

Ferrari has become a major player in motorsport. The brand records important victories during that time and dominates, for example, the 24 Hours of Le Mans by winning the race 6 times in a row. That is, from 1960 to 1965 and 9 times in total. In addition to Alberto Ascari (1952 and 1953), Juan Manuel Fangio (1956), Mike Hawthorne (1958) and Phil Hill (1961) won the Formula 1 World Championship in a Ferrari.

Dino Ferrari was born in 1932 and later studied economics and mechanical engineering. He must become his father’s successor. He works at a 1954 Monza 750. But he is best known for proposing to his father to build a V6 Formula 2 engine in 1955. Dino would never see the engine, as he died in 1956 at the age of 24 from Duchenne’s disease. Enzo and his wife Laura never recovered from Dino’s death. In his memory, Ferrari has named all its V6-engined racing cars after the Dino. Since the 1960s, sports cars have also bear his name, from both Ferrari and Fiat. The Autodromo Internazionale Dino Ferrari, also known as Imola, is named after him. After 1988, when Enzo Ferrari died, the name was changed to Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari.

Ferrari 250 GTO

The strong personality of Enzo Ferrari has not caused any harm to the company. But in November 1961 he came into conflict with important people in his company. Ferrari’s wife, Laura, has an important finger in the company’s pie. Some CEOs don’t like this and are calling for his wife to be taken out of the factory. These managers will be fired. They’re creating a new team, ATS, and they’re taking some drivers and customers with them.

It comes at a bad time for Ferrari. They are developing a new racing car model that will compete in long-distance races against the Jaguar E-Type, among others. Ferrari hires new people to finish the car. The Ferrari 250 GTO won the 1962 Sebring 12 Hours race in its class and is second in the overall standings behind the Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa. The 250 GTO will become one of the most famous sports cars in history. Only 39 copies were built, which sell for astronomical sums. For example, in 2018 the 250 GTO changed hands for $70 million!

Laying off some executives and hiring others works well for Ferrari. The ’60s are going well for the brand. In 1963, Ford wanted to acquire Ferrari. They nearly finished when Ferrari pulled out. Ford is so furious that it hires American auto designer Carroll Shelby to develop a race car that can beat Ferrari in the long-distance races. Shelby builds the legendary GT40 for Ford. The GT40 won the 24 Hours of Le Mans from 1966 to 1969. Ferrari has never won the top class in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.


Ferrari understands that in order to remain successful and grow, it needs a partner. In 1969, Fiat became 50 percent owner of Ferrari. The brand gets a financial boost. The effect on public road cars can be seen immediately, while the racing section remains almost the same. Ferrari FIAT supplies V6 engines from Dino Ferrari. They come in a FIAT Dino coupé and a FIAT Dino spider. As a result, Ferrari was able to sell enough cars to participate in the Formula 2 championship with the Ferrari Dino 166 F2.


Ferrari Dino GT

The ’70s went well with Ferrari in Formula 1. Niki Lauda won the world championships in 1975 and 1977. Jodi Schecter became world champion with Ferrari in 1979. The ’80s were bad for the Prancing Horse brand. Gilles Villeneuve was killed in an accident at the Belgian circuit Zolder in 1982. In Germany, almost the same thing happened to Didier Pironi that year. During the eighties Ferrari failed to win the world championship.

Enzo Ferrari dies

Enzo Ferrari died in 1988 at the age of 90. His latest model is the F40. FIAT owns more than 90 percent of the shares. Luca di Montezemolo became the new manager in 1991. He names Jean Todt head of the racing department. Todd was able to sign then two-time Formula 1 world champion Michael Schumacher in 1996. It would be a successful collaboration and would result in 5 world championships for Schumacher from 2000 to 2004. Ferrari won the constructors’ championship from 1999 to 2004. In 2008 Ferrari won the World Championship For the drivers for the last time, with Kimi Raikkonen at the wheel. The team also won the constructors’ championship.


Michael Schumacher celebrates his victory with Jean Todt

After that, Ferrari manages to win races and in some years the legendary Italian brand is competing for the world championship, without ever winning the title. This, while the team has one of the highest if not the highest budget in Formula 1 for years. 2020 is the worst year in 4 decades for Ferrari. He fails to win a race and is sixth in the final standings. Things will get a little better in 2021, because Ferrari finished third among the automakers. In 2022, the rules in Formula 1 changed, so that the cars were built almost entirely from scratch. This works very well, because driver Charles Leclerc in particular is strong and wins team races with the descending horse.

Charles Leclerc

Charles Leclerc in his car

Ferrari is the most successful team in Formula 1. The red cars have won a total of 16 factory titles and 15 drivers’ titles. Ferrari will drive a Formula 1 race for the 1,000th time during the Tuscany Grand Prix in 2020.


As mentioned, Ferrari started selling cars in order to finance the races. These beautiful Italian designs, often by designer Pininfarina, are among the world’s most desirable sports cars. Most Ferraris are red, which is the official racing color of Italy. In the 1990s, 85 percent of all new Ferraris were red. It is a dream for many to drive a Ferrari once and few may own just one. Ferraris are not only expensive, but maintenance is also very expensive. The profit margin on a Ferrari is the largest among all car brands in the world. In 2021, the Italian sports car manufacturer will generate a profit of close to 94,500 euros per car sold!

(Source:,,,,,,,,,, Wikipedia Images: Shutterstock and ANP)

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