1950

 

At the start of the Formula One Championship era we have to review the way things were done.

 

Today the terms Formula One Race and Formula One Championship Race are the same thing as there are no longer formula one races that are not championship races. When the championship started there were formula one races that counted towards the championship and formula one races that did not. This lasted until 1981 at an international level. There were domestic (national) races and championships run to formula one rules until 1984. On top of this a varying number of the best results from the championship races counted towards the drivers' championship. For instance the 1950 season had 6 Formula One World Drivers' Championship races and 1 race, Indianapolis 500, which was run to ACC rules but still was a Drivers' Championship race. Out of these 7 races the driver would select his best 4 results, most points, which then determined the Driver who was the Champion. If more than 1 driver raced a car during the race then the points would be shared amongst the drivers irrespective of the number of laps each driver actually drove.

 

 

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The terms Entrant, Constructor and Team are also synonymous these days but were not in bygone times. A constructor was the manufacturer of the racing car who entered a race and an entrant was an entity that took someone else's car and raced it. A team consisted of an entrant or a constructor together with the mechanics, drivers and support staff. This was the case until 1981 when the FIA rules stated that an entrant must be the entity that assembled a chassis to compete in the Formula One World Drivers' Championship or the Formula One World Constructors' Championship. This is also the year when these titles came into being and the first Concorde Agreement was signed. This rule eliminated the private entrants from participating in formula one, leaving constructors as the only possible entrant. A trade off to this agreement was that all the constructors/entrants had to participate in every race in a season. Prior to this agreement a constructor could choose which races they entered.

 

The first season of the World Drivers' Championship was held in 1950. There were a total of 7 races which could be counted for the World Drivers' Championship and 17 non championship races. The championship grand prix were British, Monaco, Swiss, Belgian, French and Italian with the Indianapolis 500 being the 7th race.

 

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The point system used for the formula one races was 8 for 1st, 6 for 2nd, 4 for 3rd,3 for 4th, 2 for 5th and 1 point for the fastest lap during the race. The best 4 results from the 7 races counted towards the World Drivers' Championship.

 

There were 30 entrants to the championship races of which 9 were constructors in Europe. A further 15 constructors qualified for the American race. Of interest was that of the entrants that qualified, there were a lot of entrants that did not qualify, for the Indianapolis 500, all of them used the Offenhauser engine. Alfa Romeo dominated the season by winning all the races except the Indianapolis 500 in which they did not compete.

 

In Europe the race wins were on Pirelli tyres while the Indianapolis 500 winner was on Firestone tyres. Tyres were not mandated by the rules, except in America, and an entrant could use whatever tyres they wanted to.

 

81 drivers competed for the inaugural World Drivers' Championship. They were entered 156 times at events for practice and qualifying. After eliminating the drivers who Did Not Qualify (DNQ), Did Not Start (DNS) or were Disqualified (DSQ), these drivers raced 153 times in all the races. Entrants could field as many cars and drivers as they wished. Other than the odd competitor that we will mention in the relevant year, the grand prix races and the Indianapolis 500 were competed for by different drivers and entrants. The top 10 drivers are listed below -

 

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Pos.

Driver

GBR

MON

500

SUI

BEL

FRA

ITA

Pts.

1

Giuseppe Farina

1

Ret

 

1

4

7

1

30

2

Juan Manuel Fangio

Ret

1

 

Ret

1

1

Ret

27

3

Luigi Fagioli

2

Ret

 

2

2

2

3

24

4

Louis Rosier

5

Ret

 

3

3

6

4

13

5

Alberto Ascari

 

2

 

Ret

5

 

2

11

6

Johnnie Parsons

   

1

       

9

7

Bill Holland

   

2

       

6

8

Prince Bira

Ret

5

 

4

   

Ret

5

9

Peter Whitehead

 

DNS

     

3

7

4

10

Louis Chiron

Ret

3

 

9

 

Ret

Ret

4

 

Who was this first ever World Driver Champion? Giuseppe Farina was an Italian race driver who was 44 years old when he won the championship. He was born on October 30,1906, in Turin, Italy. In the late 1930s he won a lot of minor races in the Voiturette, up to 1500cc, class with Alfa Romeo. He was the Italian Drivers' Champion for three years in this class from 1937 to 1939. His first major win was at the 1940 Tripoli Grand Prix which was held in Libya. War interrupted his racing career. After the war he raced a privately owned Maserati. In this he won the 1948 Monaco Grand Prix. Giuseppe was known for introducing the straight arm driving style which has been emulated by many drivers even today.

 

The Indianapolis 500 race was a 500mile (804.7km) race run on the rectangular oval track which had a (2.5mile) (4.023km) length. To achieve the desired distance the race was run for 200 laps. In 1950 the race was abandoned after 138 laps because of heavy rain. Johnny Parsons won the race and collected prizes of $57 458. That was the richest race anywhere in the world at that time.

 

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