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1950 Formula 1

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Italy Officine Alfieri Maserati

YearConstructorEngineChassisDrivers
1957Maserati Maserati 250F1 2.5 L6, Maserati 250F1 2.5 V12Maserati 250F Formula 1 image Jean Marie Behra

Formula 1 image Juan Manuel 'El Chueco' Fangio

Formula 1 image Paco Godia

Formula 1 image Hans Herrmann

Formula 1 image Carlos Alberto Menditeguy

Formula 1 image Sir Stirling Moss

Formula 1 image Giorgio Scarlatti

Formula 1 image Harry Schell 
1956Maserati Maserati 250F1 2.5 L6Maserati 250F Formula 1 image Jean Marie Behra

Formula 1 image Joakim 'Jo' Bonnier

Formula 1 image Gerino Gerini

Formula 1 image Paco Godia

Formula 1 image José Froilán González

Formula 1 image Francisco Sacco 'Chico' Landi

Formula 1 image Umberto Maglioli

Formula 1 image Carlos Alberto Menditeguy

Formula 1 image Sir Stirling Moss

Formula 1 image Cesare Perdisa

Formula 1 image Piero Taruffi

Formula 1 image Luigi Villoresi 
1955Maserati Maserati 250F1 2.5 L6250F Formula 1 image Jean Marie Behra

Formula 1 image Clemar Bucci

Formula 1 image Peter John Collins

Formula 1 image Horace Gould

Formula 1 image Sergio Mantovani

Formula 1 image Carlos Alberto Menditeguy

Formula 1 image Roberto Mieres

Formula 1 image Luigi Musso

Formula 1 image Cesare Perdisa

Formula 1 image Harry Schell

Formula 1 image André Simon 
1954Maserati Maserati 250F1 2.5 L6, Maserati A6 2.0 L6Maserati 250F

Maserati A6GCM 
Formula 1 image Alberto Ascari

Formula 1 image Birabongse 'B. Bira' Bhanudej

Formula 1 image Juan Manuel 'El Chueco' Fangio

Formula 1 image Paco Godia

Formula 1 image Sergio Mantovani

Formula 1 image Onofre Marimón

Formula 1 image Roberto Mieres

Formula 1 image Sir Stirling Moss

Formula 1 image Luigi Musso

Formula 1 image Louis Rosier

Formula 1 image Harry Schell

Formula 1 image Luigi Villoresi 
1953Maserati Maserati A6 2.0 L6Maserati A6GCM Intérim Formula 1 image Felice Bonetto

Formula 1 image Johnny Claes

Formula 1 image Juan Manuel 'El Chueco' Fangio

Formula 1 image Oscar Alfredo Gálvez

Formula 1 image José Froilán González

Formula 1 image Hermann Lang

Formula 1 image Sergio Mantovani

Formula 1 image Onofre Marimón

Formula 1 image Luigi Musso 
1952Maserati Maserati A6 2.0 L6Maserati A6GCM Formula 1 image Felice Bonetto

Formula 1 image José Froilán González

Formula 1 image Franco Rol 
1950Maserati Maserati 4CLT/48 Formula 1 image Louis Chiron

Formula 1 image Franco Rol 

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By Jeremy McMullen

It is noted that out of motor racing comes refinement and the evoking of passions and desires. It would seem almost a crime, for those without millions of dollars, to see a speck of dust on a Ferrari or Bentley. And yet, most of the exotic, high-performance machines so highly desired and sought after, at one time or another, could be found at the race track covered in the grime of hot rubber, smoke and oil. This became the seal of horsepower royalty. Among the royalty and racing pedigree is Maserati. Neptune's trident evokes images of luxury, but that luxury is based upon its heritage as a nasty, bloodied fighter on the race track.

Each of the five Maserati brothers had a fascination with automobiles. Carlo worked for Fiat and became a driver for the car manufacturer Isotta Fraschini and Bianchi until his death. Carlo was able to get Alfieri a job with Isotta Fraschini and Bindo soon followed. Ettore and Ernesto, the younger brothers, too worked for various car manufacturers. Ettore even started a small shop working with Carlo.

When World War I rolled around, Bindo and Alfieri started making a number of engine components for the war effort. Isotta Fraschini declined during this time and it enabled the bothers to make a whole line of components under their own family name. The younger brothers soon joined Bindo and Alfieri and they began designing and building their own racing machines for the Italian car manufacturer Diatto. Diatto became very successful in the motor racing scene as a result.

Diatto dropped out of racing and this allowed the brothers to acquire any remaining racing cars and to redesign them to improve upon the models. As a result, the brothers formed their own company, Officine Alfieri Maserati S.p.A. They started their company in a tiny garage in Bologna.

In 1929, the Maserati brothers designed a car with a pair of 8-cylinder engines that reached speeds of over 150mph. News of this achievement earned the brothers high praise in Italy, even from soon-to-be competitor Enzo Ferrari.

Soon, the Maserati works team began to be highly competitive and successful. In 1931, its works Maserati 26M came home in 3rd and 4th at the French Grand Prix. At the German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, the Maseratis of Fagioli and Dreyfus qualified in the third row. However, both suffered DNFs.

Fagioli finished 1st in the final race of the Reale Premio Roma at the Littorio circuit in 1932. At the Targa Florio Ruggeri brought his Maserati 8C home in 5th. In July of that year Ernesto Maserati co-drove with Ruggeri in the heat II race at the Nurburgring in a 4CL. The duo was able to finish the 23 lap race in 2nd. The team also had an 8C chassis take part in the 25 lap heat I race but it failed to finish the race. Later in the year, Fagioli, driving an 8C, was able to finish 2nd at the Masarykuv Okruh in Brno. At the Italian Grand Prix, the next year, a Maserati works car finished 2nd with Fagioli at the wheel. The other Maserati works car of Ruggeri finished in 8th. Castelbarco, in a privately entered Maserati grabbed the pole for the race.

In 1932 tragedy struck, and did so in a way that many believe caused Maserati to never be the same or achieve the success that seemed immediately on the horizon. Alfieri, at age 42, died due to internal injuries he suffered from a crash during a race at Messina back in 1928. Alfieri was the undisputed leader of the brothers since Carlo had died and was an engineering master-mind in his own right. But most importantly, Alfieri understood business. Alfieri seemed to be a blend of engineering marvel and necessary businessman capable of taking Maserati to a spot amongst the top automobile manufacturers.

As a result of the loss production by the remaining Maserati brothers dropped off. This showed in the apparent lack of success by the works racing team during the early 30s, and then, there total absence by the middle of the decade. Lacking business savvy and vision as a car manufacturer the remaining brothers sold controlling interests of the company to the Orsi family in 1937. The brothers stayed on, using their engineering prowess to design high-end racing cars.

The Maserati brothers were given freedom to design and produce racing cars but without the success being attributed to them. The brothers had no say in company policy or company decision making. However, the wealth of the Orsi name helped the brothers immensely. They were able to create the supercharged Maserati 8CFT and were back in grand prix racing by the 1938 Italian Grand Prix. The team emerged in force, brining three cars to the race. But neither of the three helped Alfieri Maserati return in style as two failed to finish the race and one was disqualified.

Of course Alfieri Maserati re-emerged during the time of the dominant Auto Union D and Mercedez-Benz. Victories were hard to come by. However, Alfieri Maserati soon proved it was one of the best teams out there. At the third event of the championship for 1939, the German Grand Prix, an Alfieri Maserati came home in 3rd place with its new 4CL, driven by Paul Pietsch. Luigi Villoresi, in the other Maserati retired with an oil leak.

Given the advances of the German military during this time it was an obvious point that war was imminent. Mussolini's aligning with Hitler led the Orsi management to concentrate upon production of war material. This meant the auto racing feature, though not necessarily discouraged from competing, was, in effect, hindered by this switch of focus and the Alfieri Maserati team was not able to achieve any real level of success. The team did continue to compete into the early 1940s however.

The team took part in the 1.5 liter voiturette races during 1940 as there were no official 'great trials' that year. Alfieri Maserati used the 4CL chassis and made some minor improvements to it for that year.

Two days after the Germans swept into Rotterdam, the Alfieri Maserati team took part in the Tripoli Grand Prix. Villoresi and Cortese brought their 4CLs home in 4th and 5th place after battling with the Alfa Romeo 158s of Farina, Biondetti and Trossi.

The 4CLs of Alfieri Maserati came home 1-2 in the final grand prix race to take place on European soil in the Targa Florio at Palermo. Villoresi started from the pole with his teammate Cortese starting alongside. That was the way they started and the way they ended. What was really interesting about this race is that it was totally comprised of 16 either works or privately entered Maserati chassis. This would be the last event the team would compete in until the end of the war.

The decline of the Maserati brothers after the death of Alfieri, which led to the sale of the works to the Orsi family meant that when Maserati emerged after World War II, Afieri Maserati was no longer considered the sole works Maserati team. Scuderia Ambrosiana, started by a couple of former Alfieri drivers Villoresi and Cortese, became another Maserati works team.

Soon after purchasing Maserati, the Orsi family moved the works from Bologna to Modena. Yet, despite the involvement of the company in manufacturing parts for the Italian war effort, the factory was not badly damaged from the war. Soon Maserati was back to producing cars and the Alfieri Maserati team back to racing.

In 1948 there were five 'great trials' or grand prix, but there were many other smaller grand prix races. By the time the series showed up at the Bremgarten circuit for the Grand Prix of Europe the new 4CLT/48 San Remo chassis had arrived. In fact, the name San Remo was given to the new car when it debuted at a smaller grand prix in San Remo earlier in the year. At the final 'great trial' event of '48, the British Grand Prix, the Alfieri Maserati team was entered with a single 4CLT/48 driven by British driver Leslie Brooke. However, the team did not take part in the race.

The Alfieri Maserati team took part in a few races leading up to the inaugural Formula One season in 1950, but with little to no success. At the first event of the new World Championship series, the Alfieri team arrived with a single 4CLT/48 driven by Louis Chiron. Chiron qualified his Maserati in the 11th spot on the grid behind the dominant Alfa Romeo 158s. Chiron's race ended after 11 laps due to clutch problems.

At the next event, the Monaco Grand Prix, the team arrived with two cars driven by Chiron and Franco Rol. Despite the existence of the model 50 4CLT, the Alfieri team arrived with a their two-year model, the 4CLT/48. In qualifying Chiron performed well setting the 8th fastest time. Rol set the 17th fastest time. While Rol got caught up in the first lap accident that took out a good majority of the field, Chiron made it through and drove a splendid race to finish 3rd, some 2 laps behind race winner Fangio. At this point in the 1950 season Chiron was sitting 5th in the standings with 4 points.

After the Indianapolis 500, Chiron and Rol were back behind the wheels of their 4CLT/48s for the Swiss Grand Prix held at Bremgarten. Qualifying did not go well for the Alfieri team however. Rol didn't make it into the race and Chiron was only able to qualify 16th, some 24+ seconds behind the time set by the pole-winner Fangio. Chiron's race did fare better however. Despite not finishing in the points Chiron was able to come up through the field to finish 9th, three laps behind Farina's Alfa Romeo.

The Alfieri Maserati team sat out the next event, the Belgian Grand Prix held at Spa-Francorchamps but emerged for the French Grand Prix in July. While Chiron was to start the race from 14th without a posted qualifying time, Rol's qualifying effort went rather well. Rol qualified 7th for the race, despite being some 16 seconds off the pace of the Alfa Romeos. The race was a disappointment for the team. Both Rol's and Chiron's race ended on the same lap, with the same problem. On lap 6 both Rol and Chiron developed engine problems and were forced to retire.

Going into the final race of the world championship, Alfieri Maserati undoubtedly looked to end the season on a high point. Rol continued to out-pace Chiron in qualifying and started the race from the 9th starting spot on the grid while Chiron started 19th. Though seemingly poor, Chiron's time separation from the pole winner, when compared to other races, was rather small.

The Italian Grand Prix was noted for its attrition. Chiron's race came to an end rather early on when his 4CLT/48 developed oil pressure problems. Louis was forced to retire after only 13 laps. Rol's race lasted a while longer; almost half-way. Franco retired his car on lap 39 of the 80 lap event.

Despite the fact the team's performances did not improve over the course of the season Chiron's four points he earned in Monte Carlo meant he ended the first championship season 10th.

Besides the 'official' championship races there were many non-championship grand prix, a few of which the Alfieri Maserati team competed. The first one in which the team competed was the San Remo Grand Prix in April of 1950. Rol and Chiron piloted their cars to 5th and 6th place finishes respectively.

The Alfieri Maserati team didn't compete in another non-championship race until the end of July at the Grand Prix des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Chiron beat his teammate to come home 7th, while Rol finished the race 9th.

Franco Rol did not arrive at the next non-championship race the team competed at, the BRDC International Trophy race held at Silverstone. Chiron did arrive with his 4CLT and ended the final race in 8th.

The last non-championship race the Alfieri team competed during the 1950 season was the Penya Rhin Grand Prix in Pedralbes. Rol qualified 9th for the race, while Chiron started the race 12th. On the 3rd lap of the race Rol went off the track and crashed. Chiron continued on until lap 19 when he was forced to retire with transmission problems.

When Officine Alfieri Maserati began it had a bright future. Unfortunately, tragedy struck and the outlook looked rather bleak. However, the Maserati brothers continued to do what they had the talent to do—design high-performance race cars. And the brothers proved capable of building one of the cars to have for grand prix racing. Chiron's good result at Monaco in the inaugural world championship season proved to be a bright spot for the team's future. All that was needed was another man of talent and of vision like their late brother and team namesake. Fortunately, for Officine Alfieri Maserati, that man was coming…soon. Within the next few years Officine Alfieri Maserati would realize its potential on the race track and helped to firmly affix the Maserati name among the car manufacturing elite.

Sources:

International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 13. St. James Press, 1996.

Maserati contributors. 'The Passion: Maserati Company History.' Maserati: Excellence Through Passion, Maserati Spa a socio unico. Web. 14 May 2010.

Brown, Allen. 'Formula 1 1950.' Old Racing Cars, Old Racing Cars. Web. 14 May 2010.

Wikipedia contributors. '1950 Formula One season.' Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 24 Apr. 2010. Web. 11 May. 2010.

Wikipedia contributors. 'Alfieri Maserati.' Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 3 Mar. 2010. Web. 11 May. 2010.

Wikipedia contributors. 'Maserati.' Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 28 Apr. 2010. Web. 11 May. 2010.

Wikipedia contributors. '1950 Formula One season.' Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 24 Apr. 2010. Web. 11 May. 2010.


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