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The 1950 British Grand Prix was the inaugural round of the first Formula One World Championship. It was held on 13th May 1950 at the Silverstone Circuit.

The race was won by polesitter Giuseppe Farina, who also set the fastest lap. Alfa Romeo dominated the event, locking out the four-car front row and taking all three podium positions.

BackgroundEdit

Following the Second World War, the Formula One category was established in 1947 for grand prix racing. After a couple of transitional years, the Formula One World Championship was established for the 1950 grand prix season.

The season marked the return of the Alfa Romeo marque, the Italian squad had been dominating grand prix racing up until its recent withdrawal in 1948. The team returned with its aged but nonetheless highly competitive Alfetta 158. Doctor Giuseppe Farina was selected to lead the squad, the former racing apprentice of the great Tazio Nuvolari and a member of the original Scuderia Ferrari squad had returned to the great Alfetta to lead the squad in 1950. The team's second driver was Luigi Fagioli, the Italian grand veteran was one of the last remaining drivers who had raced in the dominant German Silver Arrows cars of the 1930's. At 52, Fagioli was one of the oldest drivers on the grid, however remained a reliable pair of hands for the powerful Alfa's. Alfa Romeo's third signing was late and somewhat unexpected. After he dominated a non-championship event at San Remo at the beginning of 1950, Alfa Romeo signed Argentina's best racer Juan Manuel Fangio to the team. After dominating in Argentina, the Automobil Club of Argentina sent Fangio to represent them in Europe where he quickly made his mark. As a one-off invitational drive, Alfa Romeo was represented by one of Britain's best up and coming talents following the conclusion of the war, Reg Parnell, for his home grand prix.

Alfa Romeo's main rivals, Ferrari were notably absent from the entry list of the British Grand Prix. Enzo Ferrari's team had withdrawn from the event, the team snubbing the event, unhappy with the starters money the British were willing to pay the teams. The Ferrari squad instead competing in a Formula Two event at Mons.

The Maserati's made up the majority of entrants into the British Grand Prix. Only, Louis Chiron, the grid's most experienced driver who had been on the grand prix scene since the 1920's was representing the works squad. Scuderia Ambrosiana had hired local drivers, David Hampshire and David Murray to race their 4CLT/48 chassis. The Enrico Plate team entered the semi professional royals, Baron Emmanuel de Graffenried of Switzerland and Prince B Bira of Thailand. Felice Bonetto entered a self-modified Maserati, entered as the Maserati 4CL/50 for his Scuderia Milano team. Whilst local driver, Joe Fry, a successful hillclimb racer entered an outdated 4CL chassis.

Talbot-Lago made their return as a works team, Anthony Lago hiring many of the manufacturer's customer clients to race for the reformed works team. Yves-Giraud Cabantous and Eugene Martin entered updated chassis of their T26C whilst Louis Rosier and Philippe Étancelin raced in the standard chassis. Belgian racer, Johnny Claes, was the sole driver to enter a Talbot-Lago as a privateer

The final entries on the grid were made up of the British machinery. Cuth Harrison and Bob Gerard entered old pre-war Type B ERA chassis whilst entering the more modern E-Type chassis was Peter Walker and Leslie Johnson who was hired by another British racer, Taso Mathieson to race in his own E-Type car. ERA founder, Raymond Mays, had also entered the event, however he opted to cancel his entry, prior to arrival. Racing the nimble little Alta's was Joe Kelly and Geoffrey Crossley.

A number of cars were denied entry into the British event. Brian Shawe-Taylor, had planned to enter a very old B-Type ERA and Tony Rolt planned to enter a Delage. Both cars were deemed unfit for race due to their significant age whilst George Abecassis who attempted to enter his newly created HWM car was rejected simply because it was too new. HWM was another new post-war British manufacturer trying to climb to the top of the sport. The newly designed HWM's had been largely untested against the modern grand prix machinery and much to the disappointment of team owners George Abecassis and John Heath were forced to withdraw their entries.

Entry ListEdit

The full entry list for the 1950 British Grand Prix is shown below:

No. Driver Entrant Constructor Chassis Engine Model Tyre
1 Argentina Juan Manuel Fangio Italy Alfa Romeo SpA Alfa Romeo 158 Alfetta Alfa Romeo Alfa Romeo 159 LBC 1.5 L8s P
2 Italy Giuseppe Farina Italy Alfa Romeo SpA Alfa Romeo 158 Alfetta Alfa Romeo Alfa Romeo 159 LBC 1.5 L8s P
3 Italy Luigi Fagioli Italy Alfa Romeo SpA Alfa Romeo 158 Alfetta Alfa Romeo Alfa Romeo 159 LBC 1.5 L8s P
4 United Kingdom Reg Parnell Italy Alfa Romeo SpA Alfa Romeo 158 Alfetta Alfa Romeo Alfa Romeo 159 LBC 1.5 L8s P
5 United Kingdom David Murray Italy Scuderia Ambrosiana Maserati 4CLT-48 Maserati 4 CL 1.5 L4s P
6 United Kingdom David Hampshire Italy Scuderia Ambrosiana Maserati 4CLT-48 Maserati 4 CL 1.5 L4s P
8 United Kingdom Leslie Johnson United Kingdom Taso Mathieson ERA E ERA ERA 1.5 L6s V12 3.5 D
9 United Kingdom Peter Walker United Kingdom Peter Walker ERA E ERA ERA 1.5 L6s V12 3.5 D
10 United Kingdom Joe Fry United Kingdom Joe Fry Maserati 4CL Maserati 4 CL 1.5 L4s D
11 United Kingdom Cuth Harrison United Kingdom Cuth Harrison ERA B ERA ERA 1.5 L6s V12 3.5 D
12 United Kingdom Bob Gerard United Kingdom Bob Gerard ERA B ERA ERA 1.5 L6s V12 3.5 D
14 France Yves Giraud-Cabantous France Automobiles
Talbot-Darracq
Talbot-Lago T26C-DA Talbot Talbot 23CV 4.5 L6 D
15 France Louis Rosier France Automobiles
Talbot-Darracq
Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot Talbot 23CV 4.5 L6 D
16 France Philippe Étancelin France Automobiles
Talbot-Darracq
Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot Talbot 23CV 4.5 L6 D
17 France Eugène Martin France Automobiles
Talbot-Darracq
Talbot-Lago T26C-DA Talbot Talbot 23CV 4.5 L6 D
18 Belgium Johnny Claes Belgium Ecurie Belge Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot Talbot 23CV 4.5 L6 D
19 Monaco Louis Chiron Italy Officine Alfieri
Maserati
Maserati 4CLT-48 Maserati 4 CL 1.5 L4s P
20 Switzerland Emmanuel de Graffenried Italy Enrico Platé Maserati 4CLT-48 Maserati 4 CL 1.5 L4s P
21 Thailand B Bira Italy Enrico Platé Maserati 4CLT-48 Maserati 4 CL 1.5 L4s P
22 Italy Felice Bonetto Italy Scuderia Milano Maserati 4CLT-50 Maserati 4 CL 1.5 L4s P
23 Ireland Joe Kelly Ireland Joe Kelly Alta GP Alta Alta 1.5 L4s D
24 United Kingdom Geoffrey Crossley United Kingdom Geoffrey Crossley Alta GP Alta Alta 1.5 L4s D

QualifyingEdit

With the Ferrari's non-competing, the Alfa Romeo's held an unquestioned dominance during Thursday practice. Giuseppe Farina took the first ever World Championship pole position, two tenths ahead of teammates Luigi Fagioli and Juan Manuel Fangio who set nearly identical lap times. The local favourite, Reg Parnell, who served as the Alfa guest driver could only manage fourth, a little off the pace of the Alfa regulars.

Prince Bira was the highest of the Maserati's, beating Cabantous and Martin in the newer Talbot-Lago's. De Graffenried led Rosier and then came Peter Walker in the ERA. Walker who had previously impressed in his E-Type was the highest qualifier of the British cars. Louis Chiron was a disappointing eleventh, the works Maserati well off the pace. Johnson and Gerard were next in their ERA machinery whilst Philippe Etancelin was well off the pace in his works Talbot-Lago. Cuth Harrison was fifteenth whilst the Ambrosiana Maserati's of Hampshire and Murray were a disappointing sixteenth and eighteenth, sandwiched by Geoffrey Crossley's Alta.

The back of the grid was made up of Kelly's Alta, Fry's Maserati and the Talbot-Lago of Johnny Claes. Felice Bonetto and his Maserati failed to turn up to the event and so his entry was withdrawn from the weekend.

Qualification ResultsEdit

PosNo.DriverConstructorTimeGap%Avg Speed
1 2Italy Giuseppe FarinaAlfa Romeo1:50.8100%151.051
2 3Italy Luigi FagioliAlfa Romeo1:51.0 +0.2100.2%150.778
3 1Argentina Juan Manuel FangioAlfa Romeo1:51.0 +0.2100.2%150.778
4 4United Kingdom Reg ParnellAlfa Romeo1:52.2 +1.4101.3%149.166
5 21Thailand Prince BiraMaserati1:52.6 +1.8101.6%148.636
6 14France Yves Giraud-CabantousTalbot-Lago-Talbot1:53.4 +2.6102.3%147.587
7 17France Eugène MartinTalbot-Lago-Talbot1:55.4 +4.6104.2%145.029
8 20Switzerland Emmanuel de GraffenriedMaserati1:55.8 +5104.5%144.528
9 15France Louis RosierTalbot-Lago-Talbot1:56.0 +5.2104.7%144.279
10 9United Kingdom Peter WalkerERA1:56.6 +5.8105.2%143.537
11 19Monaco Louis ChironMaserati1:56.6 +5.8105.2%143.537
12 8United Kingdom Leslie JohnsonERA1:57.4 +6.6106%142.559
13 12United Kingdom Bob GerardERA1:57.4 +6.6106%142.559
14 16France Philippe ÉtançelinTalbot-Lago-Talbot1:57.8 +7106.3%142.075
15 11United Kingdom Cuth HarrisonERA1:58.4 +7.6106.9%141.355
16 6United Kingdom David HampshireMaserati2:01.0 +10.2109.2%138.317
17 24United Kingdom Geoff CrossleyAlta2:02.6 +11.8110.6%136.512
18 5United Kingdom David MurrayMaserati2:05.6 +14.8113.4%133.252
19 23Ireland Joe KellyAlta2:06.2 +15.4113.9%132.618
20 10United Kingdom Joe FryMaserati2:07.0 +16.2114.6%131.783
21 18France Johnny ClaesTalbot-Lago-Talbot2:08.8 +18116.2%129.941

GridEdit

Pos Pos Pos Pos
Driver Driver Driver Driver
______________
______________ 1
______________ 2 Giuseppe Farina
______________ 3 Luigi Fagioli
4 Juan Manuel Fangio
Reg Parnell
______________
______________ 5
______________ 6 Prince Bira
7 Yves Giraud-Cabantous
Eugène Martin
______________
______________ 8
______________ 9 Emmanuel de Graffenried
______________ 10 Louis Rosier
11 Peter Walker
Louis Chiron
______________
______________ 12
______________ 13 Leslie Johnson
14 Bob Gerard
Philippe Étancelin
______________
______________ 15
______________ 16 Cuth Harrison
______________ 17 David Hampshire
18 Geoff Crossley
David Murray
______________
______________ 19
______________ 20 Joe Kelly
21 Joe Fry
Johnny Claes



RaceEdit

ReportEdit

Pre-Race Edit

1950 Silverstone Farina Fagioli

Farina leads Fagioli at the British GP

The first world championship grand prix was welcomed by a crowd of 200 000 British spectators for the inaugural event. The Royal Family was also in attendance to mark this prestigious occassion, King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and the Earl & Countess of Mountbatten were introduced to the drivers and toured the circuit by Earl Howe, a successful British pre-war driver who had been instrumental in the design of the Silverstone circuit.
1950 1 Fangio

Fangio retired from third with 8 laps to go

Before the race commenced, Raymond Mays publically unveiled the BRM V16 to the British public. The inaugral BRM car, funded by the British government and based on the design plans of the all-dominant pre-war German Mercedes cars was the first serious attempt for a British manufacturer to challenge the dominance of the Italian manufacturers such as Alfa Romeo and Ferrari in grand prix racing. Mays announced the V16 would make its racing debut in August at the BRDC International Trophy before challenging in the world championship for 1951. 

Race Edit

The start saw the Alfa Romeo's predicatably pull away, their grid order remaining the same. Farina leading Fangio, Fagioli and Parnell. Immediately distanced from the leaders, Bira leads the secondary pecking order with De Graffenried, Martin, Giraud-Cabantous, Rosier and Etancelin following behind.

Behind the Maserati's and Talbot-Lago's, the small British manufacturers trailed behind. The new E-Type ERA's were not fairing well, Leslie Johnson became the first retirement when his supercharger spectacularly blew up on the second lap. Shortly after, the second E-Type of Walker who was struggling with his gearbox pulled into the pits and swapped out of the car for his friend, Tony Rolt to see if he could make an improvement. However after 5 laps, the share car of Walker and Rolt was out of the race. After only 5 laps, the fastest British manufacturers had retired from the race.

Eugene Martin's Talbot-Lago had been struggling with failing oil pressure since the beginning of the race and he became the next retirement on lap 10. At the front, the Alfa Romeo's continued to dominate the field. The battle for the lead remained tight however, Farina only was able to contain a very narrow lead over his two main rivals of Fangio and Fagioli. Parnell, the local favourite had began to drop back from the regular Alfa drivers. Nonetheless he still held a significant lead over Bira in fifth.

Chiron's uncompetitive race for Maserati came to an end on lap 26 when he retired with clutch failure whilst battling the two B-Type ERA's of Bob Gerard and Cuth Harrison for tenth position. De Graffenried, another Maserati driver pulled out of the race on lap 36 with engine failure. Geoffrey Crossley in the little Alta retired on lap 43 with transmission problems, he and fellow Alta racer Joe Kelly had been trundling along at the back of the pack in their underpowered cars.

At the mid-distance of the race, most of the cars came into the pits for fuel. The order was left largely unchanged, the Alfa Romeo pit crew impressively getting the cars refuelled in a sub- 30 second pit stop. Etancelin lost his ninth position to the ERA's of Gerard and Harrison when he had to change a spark plug during his pit-stop. Other changes in the pit-stop phase saw Joe Fry swap out of his ERA to allow Brian Shawe-Taylor to finish the race. At the end of the pit-stop phase, Farina continued to lead Fangio and Fagioli whilst a distanced Parnell remained in fourth.

Bira who had been the only competitive Maserati in the race lost his fifth position to the Talbot-Lago's of Giraud-Cabantous and Rosier when he encountered engine problems. On lap 49, his car ground to a halt whilst going down the Hangar Straight.

After trailing Farina the whole race, Fangio made his challenge for the lead on lap 60. Exiting the Hangar Straight, Fangio attacked on the entry to Stowe, however his car ran wide and collided with one of the straw bales at the exit of the corner. The move had cost him second place to Fagioli, and then worst still, an oil pipe had been cracked and he was forced to pull into the pits to retire on lap 62.

For the remainder of the race, Fagioli continued to hound the tail of Farina, however he would not find a way past and Farina took the first world championship grand prix victory. Fagioli followed him 2.6 seconds adrift whilst Parnell was on the final step of the podium a further 50 seconds adrift. It was a near perfect start for Alfa Romeo with a 1-2-3 finish. The nearest non-Alfa cars of Giraud-Cabantous and Rosier were fourth and fifth, two laps adrift in their Talbot-Lago's.

Gerard and Harrison finished the race in sixth and seventh, the duo in their B-Type ERA's had battled throughout the whole race. Etancelin was disappointed to be eighth following his reliability problems whilst rounding out the finishers at the back of the field was David Murray in his outdated Maserati, the share car of Fry and Shawe-Taylor and Claes's Talbot-Lago. Joe Kelly had also managed to get his Alta to the finish, however clutch problems had seen him 13 laps adrift of the leaders and he was denied classification amongst the finishers.

It had been a dominant start to the season for Alfa Romeo, Farina left Silverstone a happy man with the full array of points, both taking victory and the extra point for fastest lap. Not to mention, the £500 he received in prize money for his race win.

ResultsEdit

Pos No. Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Avg Speed Grid Pts
1 2 Italy Giuseppe Farina Alfa Romeo 70 2:13:23.6 146.378 1 9
2 3 Italy Luigi Fagioli Alfa Romeo 70 + 2.6s 146.330 2 6
3 4 United Kingdom Reg Parnell Alfa Romeo 70 + 52.0s 145.433 4 4
4 14 France Yves Giraud-Cabantous Talbot-Lago 68 + 2 laps 142.171 6 3
5 15 France Louis Rosier Talbot-Lago 68 + 2 laps 141.053 9 2
6 12 United Kingdom Bob Gerard ERA 67 + 3 laps 140.055 13
7 11 United Kingdom Cuth Harrison ERA 67 + 3 laps 140.048 15
8 16 France Philippe Étancelin Talbot-Lago 65 + 5 laps 134.794 14
9 6 United Kingdom David Hampshire Maserati 64 + 6 laps 133.165 16
10 10 United Kingdom Joe Fry Maserati 64 + 6 laps 132.232 20
United Kingdom Brian Shawe-Taylor
11 18 Belgium Johnny Claes Talbot-Lago 64 + 6 laps 131.773 21
Ret 1 Argentina Juan Manuel Fangio Alfa Romeo 62 Oil Leak 3
NC 23 Ireland Joe Kelly Alta 57 + 13 laps 19
Ret 21 Thailand B Bira Maserati 49 Out of Fuel 5
Ret 5 United Kingdom David Murray Maserati 44 Engine 18
Ret 24 United Kingdom Geoffrey Crossley Alta 43 Transmission 17
Ret 20 Switzerland Emmanuel de Graffenried Maserati 36 Engine 8
Ret 19 Monaco Louis Chiron Maserati 26 Clutch 11
Ret 17 France Eugène Martin Talbot-Lago 8 Oil Pressure 7
Ret 9 United Kingdom Peter Walker ERA 5 Gearbox 10
United Kingdom Tony Rolt
Ret 8 United Kingdom Leslie Johnson ERA 2 Compressor 12
  • Shared drive contributions:
    • Car number 10: Joe Fry: 45 out of 64, Brian Shawe-Taylor: 19 out of 64 (10th)
    • Car number 9: Peter Walker: 2 out of 5, Tony Rolt: 3 out of 5 (Ret)

Fastest LapsEdit

Pos No. Driver Constructor Lap Time Gap Avg Speed Race
1 2 Italy Giuseppe Farina Alfa Romeo 2 1:50.6 151.324 1
2 14 France Yves Giraud-Cabantous Talbot-Lago 41 1:53.4 2.8 147.587 4
3 15 France Louis Rosier Talbot-Lago 10 1:55.4 4.8 145.029 5
4 16 France Philippe Étancelin Talbot-Lago 31 1:57.4 6.8 142.559 8
5 18 Belgium Johnny Claes Talbot-Lago 29 2:08.8 18.2 129.941 11

Lap LeadersEdit

Lap-by-LapEdit

Stint Driver Laps Total Distance
1 Italy Giuseppe Farina 01 – 09 09 41.841 km
2 Italy Luigi Fagioli 10 – 14 05 23.245 km
3 Argentina Juan Manuel Fangio 15 – 15 01 4.649 km
4 Italy Giuseppe Farina 16 – 37 22 102.278 km
5 Italy Luigi Fagioli 38 – 38 01 4.649 km
6 Italy Giuseppe Farina 39 – 70 32 148.768 km

TotalsEdit

Pos. Driver Laps Distance
1 Italy Giuseppe Farina 63 292.887 km
2 Italy Luigi Fagioli 06 27.894 km
3 Argentina Juan Manuel Fangio 01 6.419 km

MilestonesEdit

StandingsEdit

Pos. Driver Pts
1 Italy Giuseppe Farina 9
2 Italy Luigi Fagioli 6
3 United Kingdom Reg Parnell 4
4 France Yves Giraud-Cabantous 3
5 France Louis Rosier 2

Notes:

  • Only the best four results counted towards the championship.
  • The Constructors' Championship was not established until 1958.

NotesEdit

  • Whilst the field contained many experienced grand prix racers, the 1950 British Grand Prix marked the World Championship debut for every driver on the field.
  • Being the World Championship debut, Giuseppe Farina became one of three drivers to date to win on his championship debut. Farina was also the first driver to take pole position on his debut
  • Despite participating in every Formula One season to date, Ferrari notably did not participate in the first World Championship race. The team feeling the team's entry payment was too low and withdrew from the event.
  • Last Race: Joe Fry - Fry, who gained entry to the race due to his major success in British hillclimbing would be prevented the opportunity to further his grand prix career when he was killed in the Blanford hill-climb less than two months after the British Grand Prix.
  • Last Race: Leslie Johnson - Despite being a highly talented racer, a primary career focus on running his various businesses that he owned as well as a poor heart condition, prevented Johnson from racing more regularly. He was selected to race for BRM at the 1951 Italian Grand Prix but failed to make it to the circuit in time for testing. 

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