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Little Classics News: 13 May 2015

Alfa Romeo Celebrates 65 Years since Victory at First F1 Race

Alfa Romeo Alfetta 158 race cars at Silverstone, 1950

Exactly 65 years ago today, on 13th May 1950, four Alfetta 158 race cars created history at the Silverstone race track in Northamptonshire, with Giuseppe "Nino" Farina, Luigi Fagioli, Juan Manuel Fangio and British driver Reg Parnell behind the wheel of their respective cars. It was the first race in the inaugural Formula One season and it set the stage for what is today amongst the world’s most prestigious and popular global sporting entities.

Juan Manuel Fangio at Silverstone, 1950

Nino Farina not only claimed pole position and the fastest lap of the race, he also won the race outright (indeed, Alfa Romeo enjoyed a podium clean sweep), a pattern that was to continue for the rest of that seminal championship season as the trio of Farina, Fagioli and Fangio dominated race after race. King George VI himself waved the chequered flag to bring the British Grand Prix to a triumphant close for Alfa Romeo, and later personally congratulated all the drivers of team for their exceptional achievements.

Alfa Romeo Alfetta 158 race cars at Silverstone, 1950

Farino went on to claim the first Formula One championship in the Alfetta 158, a feat that was repeated the following year by Juan Manuel Fangio, and today the Alfetta 158 remains one of the most prestigious cars from the Museo Storico Alfa Romeo, not only for its important place in Alfa Romeo’s history but for its global relevance in the world of motorsport.

Alfa Romeo Alfetta 158 race cars at Silverstone, 1950

Originally developed in 1938, the Alfetta had to wait for peace and prosperity to return to the world before it could prove itself on the world motorsport stage, evolving from its original 195hp output to close to 300hp by the time it took the Silverstone racetrack – an impressive output from its supercharged, eight-cylinder, 1,479cc inline engine.

Uninhibited by fuel or weight limits, the 158 evolved into the equally dominant “159”, with a new two-stage supercharger and numerous other improvements, for the 1951 season. Producing up to 450hp in test trim and 425hp in race specification, it powered Fangio and Alfa Romeo to a second consecutive championship, at which point Alfa Romeo officially retired from racing to concentrate on the series production of some of the most technically advanced and aesthetically stunning road cars of the time.



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