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1950 British Grand Prix

The first race in the history of Formula 1 World Championship took place on May 13 in the Great Britain at the Silverstone circuit, receiving the honorary title of European Grand Prix. This event aroused great interest among the public, and more than 150 thousand people came to watch the race. Also present at this Grand Prix for the first time were the members of the royal family, including King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, who watched the race from a separate tribune.

The Silverstone track, located on the territory of the military airfield, was a network of roads running along its perimeter and fenced with bales of straw and metal barrels filled with concrete. The length of the track was 4,649 km, while the drivers had to complete 70 laps. 


The main surprise of the upcoming Grand Prix was the absence of Scuderia Ferrari, as Commendatore preferred to field his team in the Formula-2 race in Belgium with a higher prize fund. Besides, Amadeus Gordini's team also missed this event, but considering the past non-championship races, in which Alfettas dominated, noone expected a victory from these teams anyway. The Milan team was also confident in its superiority and was only afraid of sabotage, so every night Italian mechanics took the cars away from the track.


At the same time, to improve their look on English soil, the Italian team recruited 39-year-old Englishman Reg Parnell for this one race, who was recognized as the best British driver in 1947-48 and became teammate of Nino Farina, Juan-Manuel Fangio and Luigi Fagioli. Meanwhile the French Talbot team was represented by four drivers Philippe Etancelin, Louis Rosier, Yves Giraud-Cabantous and Eugene Martin, whereas the Italian Maserati team put up the only car for Louis Chiron. Besides, two private teams of Enrico Plate and Scuderia Ambrosiana also used Maserati cars, which were brought to the start by Prince Bira, Tulo de Graffenried, David Murray and David Hampshire, while the rest of the field took British drivers on British ERAs and Altas.


Qualifying, as expected, took place with a clear advantage of Alfa Romeo drivers, who occupied the entire first row of the starting field. Farina was the fastest with a time of 1'50.8, while Fagioli and Fangio lost the Italian 0,2 sec, and Parnell was more 1.2 sec behind.


The best of the rest was Prince Bira on a Maserati from Enrico Plate's team, in only 0.4 sec behind Parnell, and the prince's teammate Baron de Graffenried also did well with 8th result. At the same time, the driver of the official Maserati team, Louis Chiron, lost to both of them and became only 11th, having problems with the bonnet on his car. The 6th and 7th results were shown by Giraud-Cabantous and Martin, on whose Talbot-Lagos the engines of the latest modification were installed, while Louis Rosier had a less powerful engine and managed to take only 9th place on the grid. Meanwhile the fastest driver in a British car was Peter Walker on ERA, who lost almost 6 sec to Farina, taking 10th place on the starting field.


Before the start of the first ever Grand Prix of Formula-1 World Championship, the royal couple took a car ride along the track, then greeted each of the drivers and finally took their place in the royal box.


After the wave of the British flag, the cars took off and the Grand Prix began!


Start. Alfa Romeos retain their positions, as does Prince Bira, while Graffenried passes both Talbot-Lagos and rises up to 6th place. Etancelin also starts well , who won four positions, as well as Claes, who broke through from last place to 16th. Louis Chiron, on the contrary, fails the start, rolling back to 15th place, and the first problems began with British drivers: the supercharger is malfunctioning on Johnson's ERA, while Walker drives into the pits with gearbox problems.


Positions after the 1st lap: Farina, Fagioli, Fangio, Parnell, Bira, Graffenried, Martin, Giraud-Cabantous, Rosier, Etancelin. Meanwhile Walker, after a 40-second stop in the pits, returns to the track.

Lap 2: Alfa Romeo drivers stick to each other, whereas Bira starts to lag behind the Italian cars.

Lap 3: Graffenried loses his position to Martin, dropping into 6th place. Meanwhile the supercharger on Johnson's car breaks down and explodes with a fire, forcing the Englishman to steer onto the grass and jump out of the car without even waiting for a full stop!

Lap 6: On Walker's car, the gearbox fails completely, and the Englishman retires.

Lap 9: Martin has problems with an oil pressure on his new engine and leaves the race.

Lap 10: Fagioli attacks Farina and takes the lead!


Meanwhile Fangio and Parnell are still following closely behind, whereas Bira is already 22 sec behind!

Lap 11: Harrison passes Gerard and moves into 10th place.


Lap 14: Giraud-Cabantous overtakes Graffenried and becomes 6th.


Lap 15: Fangio passes both Farina and Fagioli on this one lap and takes the lead in the race!


Meanwhile Farina also attacks Fagioli and passes him through!


Lap 16: Farina does not stop there, now he attacks Fangio and regains the lead!


Lap 17: Fagioli also passes Fangio, now taking second place!


Lap 20: Farina, Fagioli and Fangio are still driving close behind each other, with Parnell 2 sec behind, while Bira lose the leading Alfa Romeos already 50 sec!

Lap 25: Etancelin drives into the pits to replace spark plugs and drops to 11th place, missing Harrison and Gerard.


Meanwhile Louis Chiron after a nondescript race retires with a clutch failure.


Lap 29: Kelly stops in the pits for refueling and drops to last place.


Lap 30: Crossley also pulls in to refuel, but due to problems with the fuel hose his stop lasts 125 sec, and the Englishman drops to last place without any chance to catch up with his rivals.


Lap 33: Prince Bira also stops in the pits for refueling and lets Giraud-Cabantous through into 5th place.


Lap 37: In the middle of the race, it's time for Alfa Romeos to refuel. Fangio turns into the pits first, losing 25 sec, and he let Parnell through to third place.


Meanwhile, the last year's winner of British Grand Prix, de Graffenried, retires with a broken connecting rod, losing 7th place.


Lap 38: Farina also drives into the pits to refuel, missing Fagioli and Parnell.


Lap 39: Fagioli and Parnell simultaneously pull in for refueling, losing 25 and 30 sec respectively, and return to the track well behind Farina and Fangio, thus losing all their chances of winning.


Lap 40: Rosier passes Prince Bira, now taking 6th place.


Positions after 40 laps: Farina, Fangio, Fagioli, Parnell, Giraud-Cabantous, Rosier, Bira, Harrison, Gerard, Etancelin.

Lap 41: Gerard overtakes Harrison, moving into 8th place.


Lap 44: Crossley flies off the track due to transmission failure, retiring.

Lap 45: The engine fails on Murray's car , and the British leaves the race.


Lap 50: Prince Bira's Maserati ran out of fuel! Marshals are trying to push the car back to the pits, but to no avail, and the prince has no choice but to leave the race.


Meanwhile, Fangio continues chasing Farina and is now only 1.2 sec behind, whereas Fagioli is already 23 sec behind the two leaders but still ahead of Parnell by 16 sec. As for the fifth-placed Giraud-Cabantous, he is already a whole lap behind.

Lap 55: Parnell knocks down a hare that unexpectedly ran onto the track, causing the car to lose half of the radiator grille! Fortunately, this incident did not affect the behavior of the car in any way, and the Englishman continues the race in 4th place.


Lap 60: Fangio still presses Farina, only 0.6 sec between them!

Lap 63: Fangio's chase ends with his mistake in the Stowe turn, causing him to collide with a bale of straw fencing the track which damages the oil line on his car. After that, the Argentine had no choice but to pull into the pits and retire.


Thus, Fagioli is now second, 40 sec behind the leader, and Parnell is third.

Last lap: Farina slows down and calmly crosses the finish line, winning the first round of the World Championship! The second is his teammate Fagioli, and the third, to the delight of the local public, is Parnell! Thus, Alfa Romeo takes the greatest start of the season, occupying all places on podium in the very first race of the championship! Meanwhile, Giraud-Cabantous and Rosier on Talbot-Lagos take 4th and 5th places, losing more than two laps to the winner, whereas Bob Gerard, who took 6th place, becomes the best of the British drivers in a British car. 

Podium of the 1950 British Grand Prix

Interesting facts:

- the first Grand Prix in the history of the Formula 1 World Championship;

- Nino Farina's first victory;

- Nino Farina's first pole position;

- Luigi Fagioli's first podium;

- Reg Parnell's first podium;

- Alfa Romeo's first victory;

- Alfa Romeo's first pole-position.

Driver standings

Alternative GP results

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