Formula 1

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Italy Scuderia Ambrosiana

1954Ferrari Ferrari 500 2.0 L4Ferrari 500 F2 Formula 1 image Reginald Harold Haslam Parnell 
1951Maserati 4CLT 1.5 L4s4CLT/48 Formula 1 image David Murray 
1950Maserati Maserati 4CLT/48 Formula 1 image David Hampshire

Formula 1 image David Murray

Formula 1 image Reginald Harold Haslam Parnell 

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By Jeremy McMullen

Grand pix racers like to go it alone; there is no room for anybody else in a single-seater. When it comes to starting teams, grand prix racers like to go it alone; no ego struggle concerning who knows best how to run the team. Competitive juices lead to individual racers shying away from joining forces with other racers to create a team. However, when racers apparently believe in something higher than themselves it is quite possible a union could be forged. And in the case of Giovanni Lurano, Luigi Villoresi and Franco Cortese, their apparent belief in something higher led to the creation of Scuderia Ambrosiana.

Named after the patron saint of Milan, Saint Ambrose, Lurano, Villoresi and Cortese were placing their trust in the patron saint to deliver supernatural results. However, life and the lure of self interests attack unions and can reduce what could have been supernatural to nothing more than just average. And it's these occurrences, when there seems to be so much unfulfilled promise, that a person is left always asking the question, 'What could have been?'

Born in 1905, Giovanni Lurano became an engineer and a racer. Lurano competed in the Mille Miglia almost a dozen times and won three times. After taking part in the second Italo-Abyssinian War, Giovanno started Scuderia Ambrosiana with Villoresi and Cortese in 1937. While racing a Maserati 4CM at Crystal Palace in 1938, Lurano suffered a hip injury which led to his retirement from single-seat competition.

Villoresi, nicknamed 'Gigi', was born in 1909 and was the older brother of the talented Emilio Villoresi. The brothers would compete in races together during the early parts of their careers. In 1936, the brothers, who were from a rather wealthy family, ended up purchasing a Maserati that the two of them would take turns racing in different events. Emilio would end up being signed by Scuderia Ferrari, but while testing the Alfa Romeo chassis Emilio crashed and it ended up costing him his life. In 1937, Luigi joined forces with Lurano and Cortese driving a Maserati chassis. At the time, the main competition was the German Silver Arrows. Luigi would end up winning the South African Grand Prix in 1939, just prior to the outbreak of World War II. After the war, Villoresi went back to racing. He would continue driving Maserati cars, but would end up switching to Ferrari come 1949. He would end up taking part in Formula One's first season, but not for the team he helped found.

Cortese, another Italian born racer, was born in 1903 near Turin. Franco started racing in 1926 with Itala and would end up competing in the Mille Miglia a record 14 times. Cortese drove for some of the most famous teams, as well as, drove some of the most famous chassis in racing history. Franco drove for Scuderia Ferrari in 1930, but also had the privilege of driving cars from Alfa Romeo and Bugatti. Then, in 1937, Cortese began voiturette racing with Maserati. Cortese, however, is most remembered for his years with Ferrari, which produced several victories, including the 1947 Grand Prix of Rome and the 1950 Grand Prix of Naples.

Despite the force these drivers, together, represented, none of them were with the very team they founded when Formula One came into existence. In fact, on a team founded by Italian drivers, by 1950 and the start of Formula One, Scuderia Ambrosiana was comprised totally of United Kingdom drivers. Reg Parnell and David Hampshire were from Derby, England. David Murray was from Edinburgh, Scotland.

Reg Parnell would start out the season driving for Alfa Romeo but would switch to Scuderia Ambrosiana after Indianapolis. David Murray saw limited action throughout Formula One's first season, racing only the first and the last race on the F1 calendar. Travel to and from events was much more difficult in those days and few teams made it to every event and with the same drivers. Only those those truly fighting it out for the first ever driver's championship were the exception.

These drivers from the U.K. undoubtedly desired to put on a good show in Formula One's opening race of its inaugural season, especially since it took place at Silverstone in England. Driving Maserati 4CLT/48s (See Maserati 4CLT article) David Hampshire qualified in the 16th spot. This effort was disappointing but not as bad as Murray who could only manage 18th best. This meant the teammates would start the race on the 5th row together. Though starting from the back of the grid, the race would fair far better for Hampshire. By running consistently, and due to an attrition laden race, Hampshire was able to end the race finishing 9th, six laps behind the leader. Murray's race was a whole less noteworthy. Despite making his way up through all of the attrition, Murray became a victim of car failure himself when his engine let go. Unofficially, Murray finished in the 15th spot after finishing 44 laps.

The team did not make it to the next race in Monaco. After the Indianapolis 500, Reg Parnell made his first start for the team. Parnell was the only Ambrosiana driver that made the trip to Bremgarten for the Swiss Grand Prix. However, the first start did not go well as Reg was unable to qualify for the race.

The Scuderia Ambrosiana team did not make the trip to the Belgian Grand Prix. Between all of the non-Formula One grand prix races and the Formula One events themselves, many of the teams were struggling to field teams for races. As a result of the long season, only 14 cars made the trip to Belgium.

At the next race, the French Grand Prix at Reims-Gueux, Scuderia Ambrosiana brought two cars, piloted by David Hampshire and Reg Parnell. Neither of the two drivers posted a time in qualifying, and so, Reg Parnell was posted a 12th place starting spot and David Hampshire was relegated to the 18th spot on the grid. Despite making it to the race, and bringing two cars, the race did not go well at all. Neither of the two drivers would make it past ten laps. David Hampshire's race ended after only five laps due to engine failure. Reg Parnell's race ended the same way, but at least he made it to lap nine.

The final race of the Formula One season, the Italian Grand Prix, was held at Monza. Scuderia Ambrosiana fielded only one car for the Italian Grand Prix. David Murray started only his second race of the Formula One season. Murray qualified 24th for the race; some 23 seconds off the pace of pole-sitter Juan Manuel Fangio. Officially, the race faired little better for Murray who ended up retiring from the race due to a broken gearbox. However, unofficially, Murray had a good race. Attrition was high, which helped, but Murray drove consistently and kept his Maserati running well until his gearbox troubles. Unofficially, David finished the race 8th, having completed 56 laps.

There was little in the way of highlights for the Scuderia Ambrosiana team competing in Formula One's first season. Neither of the team's drivers scored any points while driving for the team. Reg Parnell had scored a third place finish at Silverstone, but that was while driving for Alfa Romeo. Between the drivers and the car, the biggest letdown for the team was obviously the car. The team only had one driver see the checkered flag throughout the whole of the Formula One events and that was with David Hampshire all the way back at the first race of F1's season at Silverstone.

It seemed the patron saint, Saint Ambrose, left the team when Lurano stopped racing single-seaters, and then took away any blessing at all when Villoresi and Cortese left to go race for Ferrari. However, even up until the start of the Formula One World Championship, Scuderia Ambrosiana experienced little success. Come the start of the F1 World Championship, Scuderia Ambrosiana experienced even less success. Even the team's founders, however, experienced most of their success while driving for other teams. It seemed apparent the team was going to be in need of someone else with even 'higher' connections if the team desired to be one of Formula One's elites.


'Scuderia Ambrosiana.' Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 24 Dec 2008, 15:25 UTC. 28 Feb 2009

'Giovanni Lurani.' Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 7 Jun 2008, 23:58 UTC. 28 Feb 2009

'Luigi Villoresi.' Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 10 Feb 2009, 15:02 UTC. 28 Feb 2009

'Franco Cortese.' Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 22 Jan 2009, 19:11 UTC. 28 Feb 2009

'1950 Formula One season.' Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 10 Feb 2009, 16:38 UTC. 28 Feb 2009