Showing posts with label Luigi Fagioli. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Luigi Fagioli. Show all posts

3 September 2017

Giuseppe ‘Nino’ Farina – racing driver

The first Formula One world champion

Giuseppe 'Nino' Farina had family roots in the automotive industry
Giuseppe 'Nino' Farina had family roots
in the automotive industry
Emilio Giuseppe Farina, driving an Alfa Romeo, became the first Formula One world champion on this day in 1950.

The 43-year-old driver from Turin - usually known as Giuseppe or 'Nino' - clinched the title on home territory by winning the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

He was only third in the seven-race inaugural championship going into the final event at the Lombardy circuit, trailing Alfa teammates Juan Manuel Fangio, of Argentina, by four points and his Italian compatriot, Luigi Fagioli, by two.

Under the competition’s complicated points scoring system, Fangio was hot favourite, with the title guaranteed if he was first or second, and likely to be his if he merely finished in the first five, provided Farina did not win.  He could have been crowned champion simply by picking up a bonus point for the fastest lap in the race, provided Farina was no higher than third.

Fagioli could take the title only by winning the race with the fastest lap, provided Farina was third or lower and Fangio failed to register a point.

Farina could win the title only by winning the race, recording the fastest lap and hoping Fangio finished no better than third place.  A top-three finish with the fastest lap bonus would do if Fangio did not score at all.

Farina on the cover of the Argentine motor racing magazine El Gráfico in 1953
Farina on the cover of the Argentine motor
racing magazine El Gráfico in 1953
In the event, Farina won and Fangio had a bad day, retiring twice – first in his own car, on which the greabox failed, and then in team-mate Piero Taruffi’s Alfa. He scored one point for the fastest lap, but that on its own was not enough.

It was a third victory of the season for Farina, who had also triumphed in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone and the Swiss Grand Prix at Bremgarten.

Born in Turin in 1906, Farina’s roots were in the car business.  He was the son of automotive coachbuilder Giovanni Carlo Farina and the nephew of the brilliant car designer Battista “Pinin” Farina.

Giuseppe excelled at skiing, football and athletics but was always likely to opt for motor sport.  He bought his first competition car while still at university and abandoned a potential career as an officer in the Italian Army in order to fulfil his ambitions on the track.

He made his competitive debut in 1933 and by 1936 was driving Alfas for Enzo Ferrari’s Scuderia Ferrari team. In 1937 he won his first Grand Prix in Naples and by the end of the season was Italian champion, a title he retained in 1938 and 1939, driving for Alfa Corse, then the official Alfa Romeo team.

The Second World War almost certainly robbed him of his best years. In the immediate years following, he fell out with Alfa Corse, but had some successes in a privately-entered Maserati before returning to Scuderia Ferrari. 

Farina in practice at Monza in 1955
Farina in practice at Monza in 1955
In 1950, however, he rejoined Alfa and enjoyed his best season, going back to Ferrari in 1954 only because Alberto Ascari – world champion in 1952 and 1953 - had left Ferrari and switched to Lancia, creating a vacancy for team leader.

Farina retired in 1955, after which he became involved in Alfa Romeo and Jaguar distributorships and later assisted at the Pininfarina factory.  He died in June 1966 at the age of 59 en route to the French Grand Prix, when he lost control of his Lotus in the Savoy Alps, near Aiguebelle, hit a telegraph pole and was killed instantly.

Travel tip:

Apart from the motor racing circuit, Monza is notable for its 13th century Basilica of San Giovanni Battista, often known as Monza Cathedral, which contains the famous Corona Ferrea or Iron Crown, bearing precious stones.  According to tradition, the crown was found on Jesus's Cross.  Look out also for Villa Reale, built in the neoclassical style by Piermarini at the end of the 18th Century, which has a sumptuous interior and a court theatre.

The church of Santa Giulia in Borgo Vanchiglia
The church of Santa Giulia in Borgo Vanchiglia
Travel tip:

Giuseppe Farina’s father established his coachbuilding business in the historic Borgo Vanchiglia district of Turin, near the confluence of the Dora Riparia river and the Po. The neo-Gothic church of Santa Giulia, on Piazzetta Santa Guilia, is at the heart of the neighbourhood, which is renowned for buildings of unusual design.

9 June 2016

Luigi Fagioli - racing driver

Man from Le Marche is Formula One's oldest winner

Photo of Luigi Fagioli in action
Luigi Fagioli in action in the 1928 Targa Florio
near Palermo in Sicily
Racing driver Luigi Fagioli, who remains the oldest driver to win a Formula One Grand Prix, was born on this day in 1898 at Osimo, an historic hill town in the Marche region.

Fagioli was a highly skilled driver but one who was also renowned for his fiery temperament, frequently clashing with rivals, team-mates and his bosses.

It was typical of his behaviour after recording his historic triumph at the F1 French Grand Prix at Reims in 1951 he announced in high dudgeon that he was quitting Formula One there and then.

He was furious that his Alfa Romeo team had ordered him during the race to hand his car over to Juan Manuel Fangio, the Argentine who would go on win the 1951 World Championship, which meant the victory was shared rather than his outright.

Nonetheless, at 53 years and 22 days, Fagioli's name entered the record books as the oldest F1 Grand Prix winner.

Fagioli trained as an accountant but was always fascinated with the new sport of car racing and his background - he was born into a wealthy family of pasta manufacturers - gave him the financial wherewithal to compete.

Having made his debut in 1926, he achieved his first major victories after signing as a works driver for Maserati in 1930, finishing first in the Coppa Ciano and the Circuito di Avellino.  He then won the Monza GP of 1931 and the Rome GP in 1932.

The bust of Luigi Fagioli in Osimo
In 1933 Fagioli was taken on to race Alfa Romeos for Enzo Ferrari, winning in the Coppa Acerbo and the Italian GP, which in turn earned him a move to Mercedes-Benz.

However, his relationship with team-mates Manfred von Brauchitsch and Rudolf Caracciola was fraught with problems. When team manager Alfred Neubauer ordered Fagioli to move over for Brauchitsch in his very first race, the Italian simply dropped out, abandoning his car in disgust.

Despite winning three races for Alfa Romeo in 1934 and 1935, Fagioli quit to join Auto Union in 1937, becoming embroiled in an altercation with Caracciola during his first season in which he attacked his former colleague with a wheel hammer.

Struggling with rheumatism, which restricted him to the extent that at times he needed the aid of a stick to walk, he did not race again before the Second World War but in 1950, in much better health, he returned to the sport to race for the Alfa Romeo factory team, finishing on the podium in all but one race and finishing third in the inaugural F1 World Championship.

After his controversial exit from Formula One, he signed to drive in sportscar events for Lancia, taking great delight in finishing in front of Caracciola when he was third in the 1952 Mille Miglia.

His aggressive driving style sometimes bordered on the reckless and he had many accidents, one of which forced him out of a supporting race at the Monaco GP meeting in June of that year.

He broke a hand and a leg, which seemed relatively minor injuries, but he developed complications as he recovered in hospital and three weeks later, at the age of only 54, he died.

Photo of Osimo Cathedral
The Cathedral of San Leopardo in Osimo
Travel tip:

The town of Osimo, perched on top of a hill about 15 kilometres from the port of Ancona, can trace its origins to 200BC and parts if the city walls dating back to that time remain intact.  It is dominated by the Cathedral of San Leopardo, the main structure of which was built between the 12th and 13th centuries.

Stay in Osimo with

Travel tip:

Luigi Fagioli is commemorated in a bronze statue which can be found in the Giardini Pubblici in Osimo

More reading:

Vittorio Jano - genius designer behind Italy's Formula One success

(Photo of Luigi Fagioli bust by Giorgio Gentili CC BY-SA 3.0)
(Photo of Catheral by Parsifall CC BY-SA 3.0)