This past weekend was the 1000th Grand Prix of the modern era of Formula 1, held at Shanghai in China. Today let’s take a look back at some photographs from the first Grand Prix of this era. It was the British Grand Prix which also had the title of Grand Prix d’Europe and took place at Silverstone on May 13, 1950. In 1950 Alfa Romeo was the leading team with their 158 which was an update of a prewar design. Car number 1 in front of the lineup in the rudimentary Silverstone pits of the four Alfettas will be driven by Juan Manuel Fangio. Other Alfa drivers will be Giuseppe “Nino” Farina, Luigi Fagioli and British garagiste Reg Parnell.
Before the race started, King George VI (in the grey suit) greeted the drivers. Here he is speaking with Louis Chiron as Toulo de Graffenried awaits his turn and Prince Bira leans in patiently at the right. The Royal Family would watch the race from a small private elevated stand.
The Silverstone paddock was directly behind the pits and was pretty informal being simply a mown field inside the runways of the old RAF wartime airfield. Here again, is the Alfa Romeo team with car number 4 to be driven by Reg Parnell.
Here is another view of the Alfettas in the paddock with the pits in the background and the Alfa Romeo transporters at the right. Car number 3 will be driven by Fagioli and number 2 by Farina.
And here is Farina with his imperious driving position on the approach to Stowe Corner at the far end of the circuit. He swapped the lead at various times during the race with Fangio and Fagioli. Parnell was driving somewhat cautiously being a guest driver for the great Italian team.
The Talbot Lago 26C was really an open-wheeled sports car design of which there were five examples entered, two by Antonio Lago’s Automobiles Talbot-Darracq and three by private teams. This example was a Talbot team entry piloted by the French prewar driver Eugène Martin. He did not finish.
Monégasque Louis Chiron was a famous prewar driver who eventually became the oldest driver to start a Grand Prix when he drove a Maserati 250F at Monaco in 1958. At Silverstone, he was already 50 and drove a factory-entered Maserati 4CLT/48 but failed to finish.
In another Maserati 4CLT/48 was English amateur driver David Hampshire whose car was entered by Scuderia Ambrosiana. This Italian private team, created by Giovanni “Johnny” Lurani, allowed English drivers to maintain racing cars outside of England and thereby avoid both Purchase Tax and, by swapping expenses, the then limitation on taking Sterling funds outside of England.
This is Fagioli seen braking for Stowe Corner with his Alfetta. He would finish second to Farina after Fangio hit a straw bale and then suffered engine failure.
Before the start of the Grand Prix, Raymond Mays drove a slow demonstration lap in the B.R.M. 15 which was not yet ready to race after numerous disappointments. Here he is coming out of Abbey Corner and past the pits which at this time were located between Abbey and Woodcote.
The race is over and the Alfa Romeo mechanics surround Reg Parnell’s third-place car as he heads to the prize-giving. The smashed grille in its nose resulted from a fatal argument with a hare during the race. There was no other damage caused by the collision.
Nino Farina receives his laurels as the winner of the first Grand Prix counting for the World Championship which he will go on to win in 1950.
The winner and World Champion to be, Nino Farina
Photos by Alan R. Smith & Louis Klemantaski ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com