In Their Cockpits: Ferraris in Barcelona, September 1950
It appears to be surprisingly cool in Barcelona on September 29, 1950, but it will soon heat up. The Ferrari team drivers sit in their cars in the temporary pit area before practice on the Pedrables street circuit for the running of the Gran Premio de Peña Rhin which was an end of season non-championship race.
Closest to the camera is Alberto Ascari in a new 4.5 liter 375F1. Next in line is Piero Taruffi who has an older 125F1 chassis, now upgraded with a 4.1 liter 340 motor. Last in this trio is the test and sports car driver Dorino Serafini who has also been assigned a 375F1.
The Alfa Romeo team chose to skip this last Grand Prix race of the year as they had locked up the first F1 Championship the prior month at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. But BRM had decided to come to Barcelona with two of their very powerful, if always fragile, 1.5 liter supercharged V-16s for Reg Parnell and Peter Walker. The rest of the field was a mixture of Talbots and Maseratis, both being older models, no longer competitive unless the Ferraris and BRMs might falter.
The Ferraris took the first three grid positions on the four-car front row, joined by Parnell's BRM. The Ferrari dominance in the absence of the Alfettas became even more obvious when
they finished in their grid order. Parnell's BRM would expire after two laps and Walker's did likewise after 31 of the 50 lap race. This allowed Philippe Êtancelin into fourth place with his Talbot 26C.
The young and superbly talented Ascari was now coming into his own and would come to share domination of Formula 1 with Juan Manuel Fangio in the coming years until his untimely death in testing in 1955. However, both Taruffi and Serafini were older prewar drivers who started on motorcycles and had moved to cars after the war years. Both participated in the Mille Miglia, Serafini suffering career-ending injuries in 1951 and Taruffi tasting victory in 1957 after which he retired.
Although Alfa Romeo had been at the height of their game in 1950, the speed of the new Ferraris would have been worrying, and for good reason as Alfa came to discover in the next year's season.
Photo by Louis Klemantaski ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com
To see more photos from our archive go to: http://www.klemcoll.com/TheGallery.aspx