Scuderia Ferrari – The Beating Heart Of F1

Sports generally have that one team which everyone knows. Football and basketball have Manchester United and the L.A. Lakers respectively. The Italian car-maker Ferrari is known world-wide for it’s fast and exotic brand, keen to play to the rich and a toy of the famous. In Formula 1, it has been ever-present, contesting every single season since the sport’s comparably-humble beginnings in 1950.

Enzo

Enzo Ferrari was born into a wealthy family in 1898, in Modena, Italy. His family had their own car, which was rare at that time and a measure of their financial status. When he was 10, he and his brother were taken to a motorcar race in Bologna and it was this which began to light his passion for racing. He decided, after World War 1 had ended, that he himself wished tcome a racing driver. Whilst being the member of a wealthy family could have enabled him to buy a race seat, this was not the route he wished to take. He met people working in the FIAT factory whom he befriended and got a job as a mechanic. The first race in which he participated in was a company car race, in which his performance earned him a place in the classic Italian road race the Targa Florio. From then on, a passion for racing and desire to start his own team gave birth to the Ferrari team which began the F1 season in 1950 at the season’s second race, the Monaco Grand Prix. The team got its first win with Alberto Ascari winning the 1951 French Grand Prix. They would go on to win a further 26 races and a total of four World Driver’s Championships in the decade.

Success And Victory

Often associated with success, two drivers championship victories in the ’60s and three in the ’70s kept the brand as a winner. However, the 1980s were a quiet period as aerodynamics and Japanese engines had a progressively bigger say, leading rival team McLaren to five driver’s titles, including three-in-a-row. The 90s began smilarily and it wasn’t until 1996 where the emergence of the Ferrari of the modern era began. Three race victories that year was the precursor to a title challenge in 1997. From 1997 to 2008, the Scuderia only failed to produce a championship-battling competitive car once, in 2005. In this period, 6 drivers’ championships were won, setting a new record of five-in-a-row between 2000 and 2004.

Tifosi

Tifosi always appear in droves

One of the best known features is the Tifosi. Often fanatical and always passionate, they are a form of Italian Ultras, fans who go above and beyond regular support. The Tifosi have been a long-term part of football as well as cycling, and exist for many football clubs in the country, both major and local teams. In F1, Ferrari’s Tifosi are known for their loyal and unwavering support. Any driver who exhibits a passion for the team and and an understanding of what they mean will be taken to heart. Examples being the spectacular Canadian Giles Villeneuve, and the Frenchman Jean Alesi, who got his one race victory for Ferrari in Canada, with his car adorning Villeneuve’s number, 27. Such was the popularity of Alesi’s win, it was widely seen as the most popular victory of a season dominated by the Benetton and Williams teams. Fans stormed the track following Alesi clinching the victory, all desperate to show their fandom.

Fans making a track invasion, a rare sight

Schumacher 

Schumacher unveiled as Ferrari's new man for 1996

The team were often seen as guilty of giving preferential treatment to their number one driver in that period, Michael Schumacher. The German was signed to Ferrari from 1996, and arrived as a double world champion. Such was the expectation, an estimated crowd of 50,000 welcomed him with open arms. When you look through their history, you can see that it is typically for a driver’s first world title to be with Ferrari. They prefer to make champions on their own rather than bringing one in. Enzo Ferrari wished for this to be the way, with the exceptions being Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio, who won a record five champions in the ’50s. and Alain Prost, hired after Ferrari’s death. However, the mid-90s’ was in a time of woe for the Prancing Horse, when they were seen as a mid-grid team and certainly never given a thought from pundits for seriously challenging the then-top teams of Williams and Benetton. Schumacher went on to win five titles and earn himself a place as legend to the Tifosi. In later years, he himself admitted that when he signed for the Scuderia, he did not appreciate what they stood for.

“I did not know what Ferrari was when I joined, and I had to learn that. But now I feel like I know the brand and that I know what it feels like to drive for them. It is amazing to see how involved Italian people are with their team. For them it’s like a parent or the Pope. The whole country of Italy is behind us.”

Schumacher's famous victory leap, his trademark celebration

Ferrari are  the most successful team in the history of the sport. They top the tables of race wins, pole positions, podiums and points. Passion is rarely portrayed in the manner in which Ferrari do. They are integral to the sport. Many rival team members including drivers have often stated how crucial Ferrari are to the sport. Without them, Formula 1 would be a lesser force in the eyes of the world.

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