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Ferrari: Formula 1's Most Successful Team Enters a New Era


Ferrari F1 Team Car

Last race celebration for Schumacher's retirement in 2006.

Photo (c) Ferrari

Vital Statistics:

  • Founded: 1929 - 1946
  • Based: Maranello, Italy
  • World Constructors' Titles: 16
  • World Drivers' Titles: 15
  • Grand Prix Victories: 216
  • Pole Positions: 205

Enzo Ferrari:

Born in 1898, Enzo Ferrari raced in the 1920s and 1930s, mostly for Alfa Romeo, founding the Scuderia Ferrari in 1929 as the Alfa Romeo race team. Just before World War II he severed his ties with Alfa Romeo and founded his own company. But the first Ferraris were not built until 1946. After winning Grand Prixs, the Mille Miglia and Le Mans, Ferrari then joined Formula 1 in 1950. Its driver, Alberto Ascari, won the title in 1952. Enzo was a charismatic leader with above all a love for cars and racing, but also huge respect for his best drivers, like Tazio Nuvolari and Gilles Villeneuve. Ferrari died in 1988.

Jean Todt:

Although Michael Schumacher gets most of the credit for turning Ferrari around and making it the dominant team of the past decade, things really began to change when Jean Todt joined the team as sporting director in 1993. After several years worth of creating winning rally and endurance racing teams for Peugeot, Todt joined Ferrari to conquer auto racing at the highest level. His skill was in both hiring the right people - including Schumacher and his technical allies from the Benetton team - and in making the team a cohesive whole, and not the several fighting factions it had become before Todt joined.

A Brief History:

Although the Ferrari company also builds luxury sports cars for the road, the main reason the company has continued to exist since its inception is to race in Formula 1. Since the 1950s, the red team was the one where all drivers wanted at some point in their career to race. With most of the greatest drivers from Ascari to Juan Manuel Fangio in the 50s to Phil Hill and John Surtees in the 60s and Niki Lauda, Jody Scheckter and Villeneuve in the 70s and even Alain Prost in the 1990s, Ferrari is the Formula 1 team with the greatest pedigree.

More Recent Times:

Even so, Ferrari's history in Formula 1 has been marked from the beginning by waves of highs and lows. From its dominant early years, it was somewhat overshadowed in the late 1960s and early 1970s by other more modern teams, such as Lotus. Then, in the mid-1970s it returned to the forefront, winning two titles with Lauda in 1975 and 1977 and one with Scheckter in 1979. But with the death of Villeneuve in 1982, and the team's last constructors' title in 1983, Ferrari entered the darkest period of its history.

The Schumacher Years:

It was not until Schumacher joined the team in 1996 that Ferrari began its climb toward domination and a period like none other for any team in F1 history. Todt hired not only Schumacher from the world champion Benetton team, but also Ross Brawn, the technical director, and Rory Byrne, the designer. Together, these three men, along with Todt's overall management skills, charted a rise that would lead to the longest string of both drivers' and constructors' titles by any team and driver in the sport's history, winning all constructors' titles from 1999 to 2004 and all drivers' titles from 2000 to 2004.

The Future:

Ferrari faces not only a future without the driver that brought it all of its titles, but also a change in roles for various key directors. Brawn is taking at least a year off, in 2007. Byrne has been talking about retirement for years, but accepted to stay, yet with reduced responsibilities. Todt will have less of a hands-on role of the race team. The question is not so much whether Kimi Raikkonen or Felipe Massa can replace Schumacher, but whether the team will fall back into the factional infighting that marked it in the 1980s and early 1990s.
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