F1: Ferrari was running in white and blue instead of red and this is why

F1: Ferrari was running in white and blue instead of red and this is why

Ferrari is Rossa Corsa. When you think Ferrari, you think red. However, the Scuderia’s Formula 1 cars have not always been red in motorsport’s premier class and here’s why.

Nowadays, the color schemes of Formula 1 cars are mainly determined by the sponsors, but that was very different. The Gordon Bennett Cup was held every year between 1900 and 1905. Count Elliott Zborowski believed that participating cars should be painted in national colors. Yellow was for Belgium, white for Germany, blue for France and red for the United States. When Briton participated for the first time in 1902, the blue, white and red had already been taken. As a result, Napier’s winning Selwyn Edge was painted green, a color often used in England for famous engines, for example. This later became British Racing Green. From 1904, the Italians also participated in the Gordon Bennett Cup with Vincenzo Lancia, the future founder of the car brand of the same name, in the leading Fiat. Because no Americans participated that year, Italy was able to pass the deep red.

Official national color

Rossa Corsa only became the official national color three years later in 1907. Then the competition from Beijing to Paris took place and it was the Italian activist Prince Scipione Borghese who won with his Itala 35/45 HP, despite the detour of hundreds of kilometers between Moscow and St. Petersburg to celebrate the victory. Because Borghese’s Itala was red, this color was registered as Italy’s national color by the Association Internationale des Automobile Clubs Reconnus, the forerunner of the FIA, after the Beijing to Paris race. While red was taken by Italy, teams from the United States later appeared wearing white and blue Cunningham– streaks.

Borghese after a two-month trip from China to France

Ferrari wanted yellow

Enzo Ferrari himself started racing in the early 1920s and founded his own Scuderia Ferrari at the end of the decade, although he still raced Alfa Romeos at the time. A man from Modena actually wanted to paint it yellow, because that was the color of his city, but in the end he decided to follow the guidelines and use red cars. Alfa Romeo dominated both before and after the war, winning the first European Grand Prix with Ferdinando Minoia and Tazio Nuvolari in 1931 and 1932. Ferrari began building its cars from 1947 and less than a year later achieved its first ever victory in the competition that. The 1948 Garda Grand Prix with Giuseppe Farina’s 125 car. In 1952 and 1953, Ferrari won its first world titles with Alberto Ascari, after Alfa Romeo withdrew from Formula 1 after two dominant seasons.

Ascari on his way to victory at Monza in 1952

Ferrari is not always red

The Ferraris used by Scuderia Ferrari were always red with a few exceptions. Olivier Gendebien, a Belgian who was very good at racing and a favorite of Enzo, competed as a guest driver at his home race at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in the 1961 Formula 1 season.shark-noseThe ‘-156 was allowed to be painted yellow as a tribute to the Écurie Francorchamps racing team, which always raced in Belgian yellow.

Gendebien (8) in his yellow Ferrari battles with the red Ferrari of Richie Ginther (6) for the podium

Enzo also sold Ferrari Formula 1 cars for what is known individuals. These Ferraris were not used by the Scuderia, but by other teams. Vandervell would build its own Vanwall cars in the late 1950s and become constructors’ champion in 1958, but in 1951 it bought and modified Ferraris. The Ferrari 375 Thinwall Special appeared later in green, because Vandervell was British. Enzo didn’t really like that, but he really needed the money from the sale of the cars. That same year, Chico Landi’s Ferrari was shown in dark Brazilian yellow and in 1952 France’s Ecurie Rosier went around with blue Ferraris.

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Disputes between Ferrari and the FIA

Ferrari wanted to have 250 GTOs assembled for GT racing in 1962 and according to the rules, 100 production cars, of which the racing car was built, had to be built for public roads. Legend has it that Enzo showed half the production cars before inviting the FIA ​​for a cup of coffee. Then they would go somewhere else where the other half of the production cars were. However, during the coffee break, the Ferrari crew had moved the first batch of 250 GTOs to another location. The FIA ​​then inspects the same cars. Two years later, Ferrari wanted to have the 250 LM homologated and once again the Italian brand could not build 100 production cars. The international automotive community did not agree this time and rejected the 250 LM. The ACI, the national association of Italian athletes, did not support Ferrari in this case and in anger Enzo decided to surrender his competitors’ license in September 1964 and vowed not to compete again in Rossa Corsa. It looked like a split between Ferrari and Italy.

Surtees (left) with Enzo Ferrari (right)

North American Racing Team

John Surtees and Lorenzo Bandini now had a big problem. Both Ferrari drivers were championship contenders with two Grands Prix going into the 1964 Formula 1 season, but because Enzo had retired, they no longer had cars. Fortunately, the last two races were held at Watkins Glen and Mexico City. Luigi Chinetti was an American Alfa Romeo car dealer who had made a deal with Enzo to take over Ferrari sales in North America, after winning the 1949 24 Hours of Le Mans with a Ferrari 166MM. Chinetti then founded the North American Racing Team (NART) in 1958 to further promote Ferrari in endurance racing. Enzo made sure that Surtees and Bandini could register for the US and Mexican Grands Prix at NART.

Surtees followed by teammate Bandini in Mexico

Champion of Surtees

A little ago for Surtees. NART was the American branch of Ferrari and was run professionally as a factory Scuderia. He also had his Ferrari 158 available again for the North American F1 race. The real big change… was the color scheme. At the end of 1964, Enzo Ferrari still kept his promise that his cars would no longer compete in Rosso Corsa and so Surtees’ car could be seen in white and blue. Cunninghamstripes, the national colors of the United States. Surtees finished second at Watkins Glen and had the same result as Mexico City. He won the world championship by one point over Graham Hill’s BRM. Surtees remains the only driver to have won world titles on two and four wheels. Bandini had to settle for the Ferrari 1512, a more unreliable V12 version of the 158, and retired at Watkins Glen with a blown engine. After third place in Mexico, Bandini finished fourth in the final standings behind Hill and Jim Clark.

Special color scheme with yellow accents at Monza in 2023

Surtees is the only driver to win a world championship with a non-red Ferrari. Enzo went back on his promise in 1965 and painted the Ferrari Formula 1 cars red again. That year, and also in 1969, NART still took over Scuderia duties for the North American Grands Prix, but NART cars also appeared in red instead of white and blue. It doesn’t look like Ferrari will enter the premier class with a completely different livery than red in the near future, although a special edition with a yellow extra was very popular during the 2023 Italian Grand Prix.