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Ferrari: A Lasting Legacy

Written by Alessandra Leporati, Edited by Simran Kanthi

Credit: Mark Thompson / Getty Images

Enzo Ferrari famously said, “Ask a child to draw a car, and certainly he will draw it red.” Sebastian Vettel notably quoted in 2016 that, “Everyone is a Ferrari fan. Even if they say they're not, they are Ferrari fans.” But is that true? Is everyone really a Ferrari fan? Even the Mercedes guys who said that Mercedes is the greatest brand in the world? And if this would eventually be real, how, in which ways, and when did Ferrari become a lasting legacy?

Ferrari S.p.A. is an Italian car manufacturer founded on 12 March 1947 by Enzo Ferrari in Maranello and the Scuderia Ferrari, which is still the main division of the racing division of Ferrari, on 16 November 1929 in Modena. Until 1932, the Scuderia held the role of the technical-racing subsidiary of Alfa Romeo, while from 1933 it became the semi-official racing department, starting to design in addition to the management of racing cars. This commitment continued successfully until the end of 1937 when the team was dissolved because Alfa Romeo set up a new internal racing department led by Ferrari. After leaving this assignment in 1939, on September 13 of the same year, Ferrari was founded in Modena, in the same place where Scuderia Ferrari was based two years earlier, the Auto Avio Costruzioni car manufacturer. Due to some contractual clauses that linked Ferrari to Alfa Romeo, Enzo Ferrari was prevented from using his surname on the cars he produced until 1944. The first Auto Avio Construction car was built in 1940, the 815, and only two models existed. During WWII, automotive activity was suspended and the company's orders became mainly the construction of components for military aircraft. In 1943, the headquarters was moved to Maranello and, after it was bombed by the Allies in 1944, it was rebuilt in 1945. After the Second World War, Enzo Ferrari started to build cars with his own brand and in 1957 founded Auto Costruzioni Ferrari. The first car to bear this name was the 125 S, which debuted in Piacenza on 11 May of the same year, driven by Franco Cortese, the first driver and test driver of the house. The debut ended with a retirement, but already at the second race, held in Rome two weeks later, Cortese won the first historic Ferrari victory.

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In 1955, the FIAT group intervened in favour of Ferrari, financially helping it in the development of the Scuderia for five years. This decision was born to stem the technical-economic power of Mercedes which had won Formula 1 championships in 1954 and 1955, in addition to the Mille Miglia of 1955. In early 1950, the road was to also attempt to revive the agreement with Alfa Romeo but after some exchanges of proposals, the hypothesis was abandoned by the Milanese company that saw Ferrari as a sporting antagonist more than as a possible partner. Despite the great sporting successes, Ferrari fell into a serious crisis following the abolition of road racing, decreed in most of the world after the Le Mans disaster of 1955 and, also in Italy, after the Guidizzolo tragedy of 1957. The elimination of such races had reduced the clientele of Ferrari, mainly composed of wealthy gentleman drivers who competed for the reduced production of the "Cavallino" racing cars.


Scuderia Ferrari started its activity in 1929 in Modena as a technical-agonistic branch of Alfa Romeo. From 1933 to 1937, it became the racing department of Alfa Romeo, a collaboration. During these years, the team was involved in the design and management of Alfa Romeo racing cars, facing competition with brands like Auto Union, Bugatti, and Mercedes-Benz, and achieved many successes both in the context of the Grand Prix and in that of the Sport Prototipo races. At the end of 1937, it was dissolved as in 1938, Alfa Romeo gave birth to a new racing department called Alfa Corse headed by Enzo Ferrari, who carried out this task until 1939 when he decided to resign.

Scuderia Ferrari resumed operations at the end of World War II in Maranello, when in 1947, Enzo Ferrari, founded its namesake car company. The first car built was the 125 S, which was brought to the race for the first time by Franco Cortese, the first single-seater, but it was the 125 C that debuted at the Italian Grand Prix in September 1948 in Turin and was driven by Raymond Sommer, who finished in third place behind Jean-Pierre Wimille (Alfa Romeo) and Gigi Villoresi (Maserati).

The debut of Scuderia Ferrari in the Formula 1 World Championship dates back to 1950 at the Monaco Grand Prix, the second round of the season, where it came second thanks to Alberto Ascari who also, in the same season, finished second in the Italian Grand Prix, meanwhile, the first pole position and first victory came the following year at the British Grand Prix, courtesy of José Froilán González.

The first World Championship won by Ferrari (the constructors' championship did not exist until 1958) was in the 1952 season, when Alberto Ascari graduated world champion in a Ferrari 500 F2. Ascari also won the championship in 1953. In the next two seasons, it was Mercedes that was dominant, but Ferrari returned to win the World Drivers' Championship in 1956 thanks to the victory of Juan Manuel Fangio in a Lancia D50, a car sold to "Cavallino" by the Italian automaker of the same name because the latter retired from racing, which was caused by the death of his flagship driver, Alberto Ascari, in the meantime passed to Lancia. The success in the drivers' championship was repeated in 1958 thanks to Mike Hawthorn and in the same season the constructors' championship was established, but it was won by Vanwall. In 1961 Ferrari won both championships, drivers and constructors, with the American driver Phil Hill. After a few years, in 1964, Ferrari won again both championships, thanks to John Surtees, who is still the only driver in the history of motorsport to have won the world title both in the World Championship and in Formula 1. Later, Niki Lauda took the World Title back to the Scuderia in 1975, both in the drivers' and manufacturers' championships, the following year Ferrari only won the Manufacturers' Championship and, in 1977 it won both again. In 1979, Ferrari again won both championships with the South African driver Jody Scheckter. In 1982 and 1983, Ferrari managed to win the constructors' championship. Sixteen years later in 1999, it was Michael Schumacher and Eddie Irvine that brought Ferrari again to win the constructors' championship. Michael Schumacher and Ferrari peaked and were the most dominant in the years 2000 to 2004 when they won five consecutive Drivers' and Constructors' championships. In 2007, Kimi Räikkönen became the last driver to become a world champion with Ferrari and the last constructors' championship Ferrari won was in 2008.

From 1953 to 1973, Scuderia Ferrari took part in the World Sportscar Championship, the highest competition reserved for Sport, Prototype, Sports Prototype, and Gran Turismo cars. In total, Ferrari won thirteen constructors' titles: in 1953, 1954, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1967, and 1972. No car manufacturer has been able to match this result. During the twenty-one years of Ferrari's tenure in the Sport Prototipi World Championship, the Constructors' Championship has always been the only one to guarantee the attribution of the world title by the FIA. Subsequently, at the behest of Enzo Ferrari, he retired to focus exclusively on Formula 1, but since 2012, Scuderia Ferrari has decided to compete in the World Endurance Championship with touring cars, where it has collected six manufacturers' and four drivers’ titles.

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The Ferrari brand is a black “Prancing Horse” on a yellow field, with the letters “S F” at the bottom for Scuderia Ferrari, with three stripes - green, white and red - at the top. This is the logo that is applied to all racing cars directly supported by the team and it is a registered trademark of Ferrari.

In the first two years of operation, the Scuderia Ferrari cars did not have their own logo and continued to use the Alfa Romeo Quadrifoglio, very well seen by drivers for reasons of superstition. The first cars to get into the race with the coat of arms of the Prancing Horse on the yellow field were the two Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Mille Miglia Zagato Spider short pitch deployed by the Scuderia to the 24 Hours of Spa of 9 July 1932, that finished 1st and 2nd with the crews Brivio/Siena and Taruffi/D'Ippolito.

The prancing horse was originally the personal emblem of Major Francesco Baracca, a pilot of the First World War, who had painted it on the sides of his aircraft. The original colour of the horse was probably red, and the most famous black colour was instead adopted in mourning by his fellow squadron after his death.

In 1945, Ferrari had a new prancing horse redesigned by Eligio Gerosa. In the project, the canary yellow background was added as it is one of the colours of Modena. It was also Eligio Gerosa who in 1947 designed the official logo of the team with a slender horse and re-proportioned in size. The prancing horse was not used solely by the Ferrari brand: the engineer Fabio Taglioni, a fellow citizen of Baracca, applied it on Ducati motorcycles between the late 50s and early 60s.

In 2013 and 2014, the Ferrari brand was recognized as the most influential brand in the world according to the annual Brand Finance ranking with the following motivation: “The prancing horse on a yellow background is immediately recognizable all over the world even where there are no roads yet. In its native country and among its many admirers all over the world, Ferrari inspires much more than loyalty to the brand, more than an almost religious cult and devotion.

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Ferrari cars are also famous for their exclusivity, so much so that the company has decided to limit production to maintain this feature. Among the designers and bodies that have collaborated with Ferrari, there are Pininfarina, Scaglietti, Bertone, and Vignale. The engines used in Ferrari cars are mainly V8 and V12.

In terms of colour, Italian racing cars have been painted red since the 1920s. This was the usual colour for Italian cars that competed in car championships based on a measure taken in the years between the two world wars by the association that was later called FIA. In the scheme of the federation, among others, French cars were blue, white for German, and green for English.

The hue of red gradually shifted from dark red (known as Alpha Red) to a significantly brighter hue, known as Race Red. This colouration has remained unchanged for the Ferraris of series, while for those of Formula 1 after the acquisition by the Fiat Group, there have been variations of shades of red wanted by the various sponsors. However, it should be noted that Ferrari, as imposed by Enzo himself, has always kept the red colour imposed in the early years to maintain the nationality of the brand.

Ferrari has become the most successful car team in F1 history, winning sixteen Formula 1 World Constructors' Championships, plus fifteen World Drivers' Championships.

So, are you a Ferrari fan?


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