History of the Grand Prix before 1950
The history of the Automobile Grand Prix did not just begin with the introduction of the Automobile World Championship , which was held according to the rules of Formula 1 , in 1950 , but much earlier. As early as the mid-1890s, the Automobile Club de France (ACF), founded in 1895 as the first automobile club in the world, organized a “big” race once a year, which was the highlight of the season. These were still so-called "city-to-city" races on public country roads, in which the participants were sent out one by one at time intervals. These events were subsequently declared Grands Prix by the ACF .
With the races for the Gordon Bennett Cup , which are also held annually, there was also a first attempt to hold a kind of automobile world championship from 1900 to 1905 . In view of constantly increasing speeds, the ACF issued technical regulations in the form of a so-called racing formula for the first time in 1902 , which the participating cars had to comply with. Nevertheless, the frequency of accidents continued to increase so that from 1903 only circuit races could be carried out on closed courses. In that year, fixed national colors were also introduced, which were essentially retained in motorsport until the sponsorship was approved at the end of the 1960s.
As the successor to the Gordon Bennett Races, the main race organized by the ACF ran for the first time in 1906 under the name Grand Prix (in German: "Großer Preis"). The first Grand Prix winner in history was the Hungarian-born driver Ferenc Szisz in a Renault . In retrospect, however, the ACF also retrospectively awarded the city-to-city races held between 1895 and 1903 the designation Grand Prix , which is why the race from 1906 to this day is still officially known as “9. Grand Prix de l'ACF ”.
After attempts had initially been made to establish counter-concepts to the Grand Prix with the Targa Florio in Italy and the Kaiserpreis race in Germany , in the 1920s the automobile clubs of other countries gradually began to organize Grand Prix races. so that the name of the country was added to distinguish it (e.g. “Gran Premio d'Italia”, “Grand Prix of Germany” etc.). The 1922 Italian Grand Prix was also the first Grand Prix to be held on a purpose-built permanent circuit, the Autodromo di Monza . In order for the automobile manufacturers to be able to take part in all of these races, it was also necessary to pass the technical and sporting regulations that had previously been independently laid down by the ACF for its races in the form of the respective Grand Prix formula through the International Automobile Association (at that time still under the Designation AIACR) now to be regulated across countries. For this purpose, the Sports Commission (CSI) was set up in 1922 , from which the International Grand Prix formulas were subsequently adopted, from which Formula 1 ultimately emerged. Further milestones in the development were the introduction of mass starts in 1922 , in which the cars were sent into the race simultaneously from a common rolling or standing starting formation , the increasing use of supercharged engines from 1923 and the approval of single-seat racing cars (so-called monopostos in 1927 ), after a mechanic had previously been mandatory on board the racing cars in addition to the drivers.
In the mid-1920s, the idea of a world championship was also taken up again, for which the results of the international Grand Prix races of one year were added together. As with the Grand Prix races themselves, this was a pure competition between the automobile manufacturers, but there was no driver classification. The first world champion was Alfa Romeo in 1925 , followed by Bugatti in 1926 and Delage in 1927 . At the end of the 1920s, however, the Grand Prix sport fell into a crisis because, in view of the enormous increase in technical complexity and finally also under the impact of the global economic crisis, hardly any manufacturer could afford to develop special Grand Prix racing cars based on the given racing formula . Instead, a heyday of so - called formula - free races began , in which the numerous private drivers who were represented provided impressive starting fields that were interesting for the spectators. The participants financed themselves mainly through inaugural bonuses negotiated with the organizers (so-called “ entry fees ”), the amount of which usually depends on the attractiveness of the respective audience. The CSI finally bowed to this development and from 1931 largely dispensed with any technical specifications in its official racing formula, so that the Grand Prix participants could now compete with practically any type of racing car that was accepted by the respective organizer. Another development towards greater proximity to the people was the increasing spread of races on street circuits . The first such event was the Monaco Grand Prix in 1929 , which was raised to the rank of Grande Épreuve from 1933 (the distinction had become necessary due to the inflationary use of the term Grand Prix even for less important races).
However, the technical development soon afterwards again led to such a rapid increase in mileage that the CSI was again forced to react through technical restrictions in 1934 . By setting an upper weight limit, engines that are too large and powerful should be prevented. This so-called "750 kg formula" benefited above all the two German automobile companies that had just entered Grand Prix racing, Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union , which, in view of their technical and financial possibilities and not least with support from the Nazi Regime in terms of lightweight construction and chassis technology were able to achieve a technological lead. Grand Prix racing in the second half of the 1930s was characterized by the complete dominance of the German Silver Arrows , while at the same time automobile racing in the other traditional motorsport nations was increasingly being pushed into other racing categories. In France, for example, interest turned primarily to sports car races with large-volume naturally aspirated engines up to 4.5 liters, while in Great Britain and finally also in Italy the so-called Voiturette class with turbocharged engines up to 1.5 liters became more popular from year to year .
After the end of the Second World War , automobile sport had to be completely reorganized with the loss of the German Grand Prix racing teams. For this purpose, the International Grand Prix Formula adopted for 1947 was heavily geared towards the available vehicles. The result was essentially a combination of the Italian and British Voiturettes with French sports cars converted into makeshift racing cars, in which Alfa Romeo soon dominated the action. At the same time, a second Grand Prix formula was officially introduced for the first time in 1948 as the successor to the previous Voiturette class, which had been upgraded in this way, and the organizers of races below the Grandes Épreuves could now opt for it. In order to be able to differentiate between the two formulas by name, designations such as “Formula A” and “Formula B” were used at the beginning until the terms Formula 1 and Formula 2 gradually became established in common parlance .
For 1950 , the international automobile umbrella organization , which has meanwhile been renamed FIA , finally announced the renewed introduction of an automobile world championship (see history of the automobile world championship ).
The first documented races for vehicles without wind or muscle power drive from around the second half of the 19th century were about performance comparisons between self-propelled steam tractors , the main aim of which was to demonstrate the usefulness of such machines. Only with the appearance of the first vehicles designed for individual transport towards the end of the 19th century did the sporting aspect become increasingly important, with the early events closely related to cycling, which was also quite young. In any case, "automobiles" were initially only viewed as another type of "horseless vehicle" and it was initially not foreseeable which drive concept would ultimately prevail.
For example, in 1894 for the trip from Paris to Rouen , which is generally regarded as the first major competition in motor sport history, in addition to automobiles equipped with internal combustion engines, according to today's conception, two- and three-wheelers, as well as vehicles with steam, electric or even spring or Muscle power drive registered. Although this event was not yet a "race" in the modern sense of the word, because it was not the speed achieved alone that was decisive for the award of the winner's prize, but above all criteria such as ease of use and economic efficiency in operation Distance, Count Albert de Dion on his steam wagon , received the greatest public attention among the participants.
The Era of the Great City-to-City Races (1895-1903)
This set the course and in 1895 the first “real” automobile race took place with the race from Paris to Bordeaux and back , in which the aim was to cover a given distance in the shortest possible time. The fastest over the distance was Émile Levassor on Panhard-Levassor , whose car, however, did not comply with the regulations. Paul Koechlin on a Peugeot was therefore declared the first official racing winner in the history of motor racing . In the same year, the Automobile Club de France (ACF), the first automobile club in the world, was founded, whose primary objective was to organize further such racing events every year from now on. Also in 1895, the Chicago Times-Herald Contest was the first major car race in the USA. The winner under adverse conditions was James Frank Duryea , who thus established the history of American motor racing.
These first major automobile races were held on public roads, with the participants being sent out individually and at predetermined intervals. The distances to be covered were enormous, and there were no paved roads or any barriers or any other safety precautions. Internal combustion engines had already become generally accepted as the only drive source usable for racing events, but from a modern point of view, the cars were still primitive and very prone to defects, required constant lubrication and technical care in operation, and tire damage or broken wheels were practically the order of the day for the participants. In order to repair the damage and to be able to maintain the journey at all, there was always another mechanic on board in addition to the driver. And although the through-town passages were usually "neutralized" (ie not timed), as the speed increased, people on the lane and in particular the risk of collision with animals moving around became an almost constant threat, especially since the development of chassis technology and brakes clearly lagged behind those of Year on year the engine performance rose sharply. In 1895, the first race from Paris to Bordeaux and back was completed with an average of less than 25 km / h, whereas in 1903 the fastest participants achieved over 100 in the last big city-to-city race from Paris to Madrid on the same route section km / h is more than four times the average speed. With engine sizes of regularly around 15 liters displacement, performance values of around 100 hp have already been achieved. Even the interim introduction of a first racing formula, with which the curb weight of the car was limited to 1000 kg (plus 7 kg extra for vehicles with magneto ignition) from 1902 onwards , had not been able to slow down this development in the long term, which was mainly due to the increasing spread of engines controlled valves played a decisive role. Instead - often with a very generous interpretation of the term "empty" - all possibilities of weight saving were used by reducing the car to its absolutely necessary components at least during vehicle acceptance, often without any form-giving body, passenger seat or other similarly "superfluous" Facilities. In parallel to the ongoing increase in performance, there was also a general change in the design principles. While in the early races the vehicles were still largely reminiscent of motorized horse-drawn carriages, by the turn of the century the long-term “modern” form of the automobile with front-engine and rear-wheel drive had already established itself.
Almost as quickly as the technical development, the change in automobile sport from the curious public spectacle and pastime of technology-loving members of the upper class to a tough competition among automobile manufacturers for success and market shares took place. Race victories were synonymous with brand prestige and successful cars could often be sold directly on site to exclusive customers, sometimes even at a multiple of the actual list price. As a result, in addition to the development of increasingly sophisticated racing cars designed solely for competitive use, the participating automobile companies also made increasing use of contractually bound professional racing drivers. In this way, a certain long-standing gap soon developed between the so-called “amateur” or “ gentlemen's drivers ” and the “works” or “factory drivers” , who are often former racing cyclists or personnel recruited from mechanics acted. This even went so far that individual events were expressly reserved for one or the other group of participants.
All in all, motorsport also experienced increasing spread internationally. The ACF, founded in 1895, was followed in 1896 by the Belgian, 1897 by the British and in 1898 by the automobile clubs of Austria, Italy and Switzerland, and from 1898 onwards , the annual Grand Race organized by the ACF also regularly connected European capitals. Also in the German Reich in 1899 the efforts, which at first diverged in the individual states, were so oriented that a common umbrella organization could be founded with the "German Automobile Club" (DAC; today AvD ). Nevertheless, the ACF remained practically the only one to set the tone when it came to organizing important - and at least rudimentary "international" - races.
In view of the impossibility of adequately cordoning off the stages that stretched over hundreds of kilometers, there was considerable resistance from the beginning, especially among the rural population, to the implementation of automobile races. With the increase in speed, the number of incidents increased to the same extent, often with fatal results, so that after such incidents there were increased difficulties in the approval of such events. After all, the tragic course of the "death race" from Paris to Madrid in 1903, which had to be prematurely stopped after eight deaths on the way, also meant the end of the era of great city-to-city motor racing.
Trailblazer for the Grand Prix : The Gordon Bennett Cup and the first circuit races (1900–1905)
The idea for the first international automobile competition in history stems from an unsuccessful challenge to the winner of the Paris – Bordeaux 1899 race, Fernand Charron , by the American racing driver Alexander Winton . Until then, all races had been national events in principle, in which at most a few foreign guest starters had participated. James Gordon Bennett , the publisher of the New York Herald newspaper , took up the idea of a competition between the automobile nations and donated a challenge prize for 1900 with the Coupe Internationale , for which the name Gordon Bennett Cup soon became common. The regulations provided for a race to be held once a year, with the victorious automobile club then having the right to organize events for the following year. A certain minimum distance was stipulated for the races and a maximum of three cars per nation were allowed to compete, all of which had to be manufactured in the respective country.
The first editions of the Gordon Bennett Cup turned out to be a farce. The superiority of the French cars was overwhelming and the response abroad was little or no response, especially since smaller countries in particular had major problems with completely producing racing cars at all. H. including all accessories such as tires and ignition - to be manufactured in your own country. At the first event in 1900 with representatives from Belgium and the United States, at least according to paper, there was still international participation, in 1901, for example, the French team was even completely among themselves. A chance arose for the sparsely represented foreign competition if the cars from France were canceled, as in 1902 , when the trophy went to a foreign club for the first time after the victory of the British Selwyn Edge on Napier . Instead of a real “race”, in these first editions of the Gordon Bennett Cup , given the small fields of participants and the high dropout rate at the same time, it was primarily just a matter of overcoming the distance somehow in order to achieve success. Attractive independent competitions that justified the organizational effort could not be achieved in this way. If the first edition in 1900 was at least an independent event - albeit largely unnoticed by the public - the Coupe Internationale was wisely recognized by the ACF in the following years in the form of special ratings in other important races ( Paris-Bordeaux 1901 and Paris- Vienna 1902 ), whereby the winners of the Gordon Bennett Cup did not reach a position in the middle of the overall ranking.
Of all things , the last of the great city-to-city races from Paris to Madrid in the spring of 1903, which went down in history as the death race, made a decisive contribution to an unlikely upswing in the Gordon Bennett Cup. After this catastrophe, a general ban on all speed competitions on public roads that were not cordoned off put an abrupt end to the previous format, but the solution that saved the day was to switch to the new type of circuit racing .
Even in the early years of motorsport there were competitions on horse races or other stadium-like facilities, but this form of "oval race" prevailed above all in the United States. In Europe, such events were seen as undemanding spectacle for the public, only races on "real" roads over corresponding distances were viewed as true sport. The right way out was found in 1902 when, at the instigation of the Belgian racing driver Baron Pierre de Crawhez, a really important race was held for the first time on a demanding road circuit on the 85.4 km long Circuit des Ardennes (Ardennes circuit ) near Bastogne, which was a total of six times . In contrast to the classic city-to-city races over hundreds of kilometers, this offered the opportunity to temporarily block the race track from general traffic and at least to secure it in basic features with a manageable number of stewards and marshals, without any major losses having to accept the total distance. For the spectators, this also had the advantage that they could now see the participants in the race several times and thus better follow the action.
After the British Automobile Club had decided inevitably for a road circuit near the Irish city of Athy for the 1903 Gordon Bennett Race to be organized by it, due to the lack of a suitable cross-country route , the event remained the only major motor sport event of the year after the "city races" were banned left. The participation was accordingly, and with teams from Great Britain, France, Germany and the USA, the Gordon Bennett Cup really lived up to its claim as an international competition for the first time. From now on, the Gordon Bennett Races represented the absolute highlight of the season, accompanied by a correspondingly large media presence. There was no longer any shortage of car manufacturers willing to take part, and with the participation of all the major automobile nations, motorsport was increasingly caught in the widespread national fever. In the public perception, racing victories were equated with national prestige, especially since the racing cars now also had to be painted in dedicated national colors, which were essentially retained until the sponsorship was approved at the end of the 1960s. Especially between France and Germany, whose team won the Gordon Bennett trophy at the first attempt in 1903 with the victorious Mercedes racing car of Belgian Camille Jenatzy , a particularly pronounced rivalry developed in the period that followed, which was not least fueled by that the German imperial family made the race, which was held in Germany in the following year, a national matter through its official presence and participation.
From France in particular, however, there was now increasing criticism of the competition mode, although Léon Théry with Richard-Brasier was last able to beat the German Mercedes racing cars both times in 1904 and 1905 . In the meantime, however, up to ten French automobile manufacturers were pushing for their participation, so that separate national elimination races had to be held there to determine the three representatives for the official international competition. There were up to thirty participants at the start, so that the competition in the French preliminary rounds was sometimes even tougher than in the actual Gordon Bennett races. It was felt all the more unfair that, in stark contrast to this, Mercedes, taking advantage of a loophole in the regulations, was able to compete with up to six cars in the Cup, i.e. twice as many as the entire French automotive industry put together. The "trick" was to declare three of the cars as vehicles from German production and three from the Austrian branch ( Austro-Daimler ). Although the trophy was subsequently won twice by French cars (in 1904 on German soil), this ultimately led to the ACF defending the Cup in 1906 no longer being willing to host another race for the Coupe Internationale . He replaced the Grand Prix de l'ACF , in which the French automobile club was now again sole director and could decide on the conditions of participation.
Birth of the Grand Prix -race (1906-1911)
Due to the reservations about the existing regulations, the demand arose from the ranks of the French automobile industry as early as 1904 to combine the French elimination race with the Coupe Internationale (in the form of a special ranking). The new big race that emerged in this way was to run under the title Grand Prix de l'Automobile Club de France and give all manufacturers equal opportunities to participate, regardless of their national origin. The ACF took up this idea willingly, but wanted to continue to allocate different contingents of participants to the individual countries according to the “importance” of the respective automotive industry. Naturally, this proposal met with the resistance of the other nations, so that at a congress of the recently founded International Automobile Association AIACR ( Association Internationale des Automobile Clubs Reconnus ) in early 1905 the compromise was reached, the Gordon Bennett Cup and the Grand Prix in to run in two separate races this year. However, this again met with strong rejection of the French automobile companies, who wanted to see “their” Grand Prix as a kind of world championship in the form of a stand-alone season highlight. The result was that the ACF postponed the hosting of the Grand Prix to 1906, but at the same time announced that it would no longer hold a race for this competition if France won the Gordon Bennett Cup in 1905.
So finally in 1906 with the race for the Grand Prix de l'ACF the first official Grand Prix in automobile history was organized. Regardless of the country of origin, up to three racing cars per automobile manufacturer were admitted, as was originally requested by the representatives of the French industry. In accordance with its rank as the most important of all competitions, the race was held over a track length of over 1200 km and on two consecutive days. For the first time, a parc fermé was set up because, according to the regulations, it was not allowed to work on the cars between the two runs. The most important technical innovation was the introduction of removable rims with pre-assembled tires, which enabled the participants equipped with them to achieve a decisive time advantage for the extremely frequent tire damage.
Otherwise a certain uniformity had developed in the racing cars. With a few exceptions, the cars were equipped with four-cylinder cylinders, each with a cylinder capacity of between 12 and 18 liters cast in pairs, with some aimed solely at maximum power output through the greatest possible engine volume (e.g. Panhard, Lorraine-Dietrich), while other manufacturers ( e.g. Brasier, Renault, Darracq) accepted somewhat smaller cylinder dimensions in favor of a little more leeway in terms of chassis strength and optimization of load distribution.
The undisputed first Grand Prix winner in history was Ferenc Szisz in a Renault, who comes from Hungary but lives in France, with an average speed of around 101 km / h, followed by Felice Nazzaro in a Fiat and Albert Clément in Clément-Bayard . Szisz, who drove in the great city-to-city races of 1902 and 1903 as a mechanic in the Louis Renault car, was thus also a prime example of the progressive professionalization of Grand Prix sport. In 1903 the German Automobile Club refused, for professional reasons, to start with Wilhelm Werner , the recognized best German driver, and Otto Hieronimus as “employees” in the German Gordon Bennett team, and instead preferred foreign gentlemen's drivers such as the Belgians Camille Jenatzy, Baron Pierre de Caters and the American Foxhall-Keene , son of the President of the San Francisco Stock Exchange, were given preference, industrial drivers employed by the automobile manufacturers - mostly former mechanics and chauffeurs - soon set the tone.
After French cars had been successful in all other important races in addition to the Grand Prix in 1906 (Renault had almost doubled its sales figures from 1,600 cars in 1906 to 3,000 the following year), the decision of the ACF to take the Grand Prix as its successor was an easy one to firmly establish its former big city races again in the future. This also began a process of identification, from which a standardized event format gradually developed over the years. In the first few years in particular, the Grand Prix races were subject to numerous changes. In the second edition, for reasons of practicality, they returned to the one-day race. At the same time, the Grand Prix found a new home at Dieppe with a significantly shorter but also more curvy triangular course .
Another expression of the search for suitable event modalities was the now beginning annual change of the racing formula. If the technical regulations had remained stable for five years in the form of the "1000 kg formula" introduced in 1902, this was replaced by a consumption formula for 1907 according to which each participant was entitled to 30 l of fuel per 100 km of route. This should actually reduce the existing over-motorization and ultimately also the tire wear, so that the cars should be more suitable for everyday use and races could be won more “on the track”. However, the formula missed its target, as the top teams had already stayed below this limit in 1906. At the second Grand Prix , the majority of “one-tonne vehicles” took to the starting line, albeit mostly with reinforcements on the chassis and further increased engine power due to the elimination of the weight limit.
The classic Grand Prix teams from Fiat, Darracq , Renault, Brasier and Lorraine-Dietrich decided the outcome of the race again. After a varied race, Nazzaro won in a Fiat ahead of last year's winner Szisz in a Renault and Paul Baras in a Brasier. None of the participants had any serious problems with fuel consumption. After the Targa Florio and the Kaiserpreisrennen, Fiat had won the third important race of the season - and thus among all three racing formulas used.
With the Coupe de la Commission Sportive , which was held at the same time , the ACF also defined a second car category, the race of which led over a shorter distance and for which fuel consumption was limited to 15 l per 100 km. The winner was a certain de Langhe on Darracq. At the same time, however, efforts were made in other countries to counter the Grand Prix with its own racing formats and formulas. In the USA, the races for the Vanderbilt Cup had been going on in front of an initially enormous crowd in front of the gates of New York City since 1904 , conceived as a kind of comparison between the continents with the aim of spurring the American automotive industry to better performance, and the Italian one With the limitation of the cylinder bore, the Targa Florio from 1907 was the first direct control of engine dimensions as the subject of a racing formula. In Germany, too, where an annual touring car race has been held since 1905 with the Herkomer competitions , the Kaiserpreis race of 1907 attempted a real alternative to the Grand Prix , with an impressive field of no less than 77 cars and of course also with its own racing formula, which with a displacement limit of 8 liters, a wheelbase of at least 3 meters and a minimum weight of 1175 kg should steer the direction more towards everyday touring cars. This development finally led to the Prince Heinrich rides from 1908 and further to the later rallies , but also had an impact on Grand Prix racing at least insofar as z. For example, separate runs for Grand Prix and Kaiserpreis cars were carried out both at the subsequent Ardennes race and at the Coppa Florio.
In order to put a stop to the impending fragmentation, the Grand Prix formula for 1908 was no longer adopted by the ACF alone. Instead, the representatives of the international automobile clubs agreed for the first time on a real "international" racing formula at a congress in the Belgian seaside town of Ostend . With this step, the role of the "Grand Prix races" as the epitome of the highest motorsport category was finally secured. Only in America has a racing car category established itself permanently against it with the Indy Cars , but at the American Grand Prize , the "European" Grand Prix rules were also used here.
In the racing formula that went down in automotive history as the Ostend formula , the cylinder bore was limited to 155 mm for four-cylinder engines (or 127 mm for six-cylinder engines) in addition to the specification of a minimum weight of 1100 kg. This should leave the designers free to choose between slow-running long-stroke engines with a large displacement and high-speed short-stroke engines. The limiting factors turned out to be the piston speed and the problems with cooling cylinders that were too long, so that the formula achieved its purpose of preventing further growth in engine size, which eventually leveled off at around 12 to 13 liters displacement.
After the race of 1907 - despite the success of a foreign racing team - was again a great public success, hardly any well-known automobile manufacturer could afford to stay away for 1908 . Even months before the race, extensive press coverage of the preparations of the individual manufacturers and the creation of their new racing cars began. Numerous models were specially developed for this competition and the teams traveled to the track weeks before the actual race date to complete an intensive program of training and test drives. The trend clearly pointed away from side-controlled engines towards OHV valve control , and there were even the first engines with overhead camshafts in the field.
No less than 51 cars from 17 manufacturers from six nations finally gathered for the start, with the foreign participants outweighing the number of locals for the first time. The intention of the racing formula was apparently also in this respect to make the Grand Prix a truly international event. On the other hand, the idea of the Grand Prix as a stage for the presentation of the products of the superior French automotive industry was lost. Ironically, the German arch-rivals - above all Mercedes - set new standards in terms of tactical preparation, organization and fine-tuning and the race even ended, to the general shock, with a German triple victory by Christian Lautenschlager in a Mercedes ahead of Victor Hémery and René Hanriot in a Benz . Mercedes had succeeded in compensating for the performance disadvantage of the still side-controlled engines with a particularly light and compact design, balanced weight distribution and optimal coordination of the car with the conditions on the route.
For 1909 , a further tightening of the racing formula was originally planned by limiting the bore to 130 mm while reducing the minimum weight to 900 kg. After two years in Dieppe, the venue for the Grand Prix should now have changed to the Circuit d'Anjou near Angers . But after the defeat of 1908, which was perceived as a humiliation, the established French automobile companies - who were also involved in internal quarrels among each other - shied away from participating in the face of the risk of further loss of face. In any case, the market for luxury vehicles was currently largely saturated, so that the trick of boosting sales through Grand Prix victories is no longer correct for traditional manufacturers such as Panhard, Mors or Lorraine-Dietrich, but also for top foreign brands such as Mercedes or Fiat worked. An agreement between the manufacturers finally resulted in the cancellation of the race for 1909, just as the Grand Prix activities in Europe practically came to a complete standstill for a while.
On the other hand, it was precisely at this stage that Grand Prix races flourished briefly but intensely in the United States. American designs had taken part in the Gordon Bennett and Grand Prix races again and again since 1900, but neither there nor in the races for the Vanderbilt Cup on Long Island had they presented any serious competition for the European makes. Most of them were more or less modified production models that were no match for the thoroughbred racing cars from Europe. Nevertheless, it was in the USA at the end of 1908 on the Savannah-Effingham Raceway , a road circuit near Savannah in the state of Georgia with the Grand Prize of the Automobile Club of America (often referred to as the American Grand Prize in literature) for the first time the term Grand Prix in the title carried out outside France. Due to the attractive prize money, practically the entire European elite had come and accordingly the local representatives were once again lost from the start, although among them the Chadwick Six , driven by Willie Haupt, was the first racing car with a supercharged engine at a Grand Prix race started. The victory went to Fiat driver Louis Wagner in front of Victor Hémery and Felice Nazzaro. In 1909 the race was canceled due to disputes in the association and in 1910 the event was only secured so late that only Fiat and Benz were able to send cars from Europe in time. In the end, however, the driver of a European make, the American David Bruce-Brown , to whom Benz had provided a car this time, won again. It is reported that the runner-up, Bruce-Brown's team-mate Hémery, is said to have poured champagne over the American at the award ceremony; this was possibly the first case of such a “champagne ceremony” in a Grand Prix race. Bruce-Brown was again the winner of the American Grand Prize in 1911 , this time - in the absence of any restriction by a racing formula - on a Fiat with gigantic dimensions. In general, the European companies had meanwhile started more and more to only bring their cars to America and then make them available to local drivers there.
In the meantime, however, a development had helped to slowly put an end to the brief heyday of the American Grand Prix races in those early years. After the first permanent racetrack opened in Brooklands in Great Britain in 1907, the first such “racetrack” opened in the USA in 1909, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway . In contrast to the classic circuits on public roads, these were stadium-like systems, where the spectators could see large parts of the mostly quite simple route from fixed stands (although the shape of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, strictly speaking, was more like a rectangle or Trapezoid with rounded corners, the term oval has become common for such routes ). This new form of motorsport quickly gained popularity, especially in the United States, so that the 500-mile race in Indianapolis , which had been held since 1911, quickly became the main event of the year there and the Grand Prize more and more overtook the rank. When, a short time later, Grand Prix races were held again in Europe, it only led a shadowy existence for a few years without significant European participation and was finally stopped entirely in 1917 with the entry of the USA into the First World War .
Resumption of Grand Prix races (1911–1914)
In the history of Grand Prix racing, it has often been the case that in times of crisis other, supposedly “subordinate” racing categories came to the fore all the more successfully. The first "Grand Prix-free" period from 1909 to 1911 was an early example and the first heyday of the so-called Voiturette class developed in these three years . At the same time, this was also a reflection of a general development in which the automobile increasingly lost its exclusivity as a toy for wealthy rulers and, in contrast, smaller and therefore more economical models in everyday use for working medium-sized companies - doctors, sales representatives, etc. - more and more in the Moved to the fore. In 1906, the magazine l'Auto organized the Coupe de l'Auto (often referred to as Coupe des Voiturettes ), the first major race for this vehicle category. Compared to the Grand Prix class, the participating cars were lighter and less motorized, but high-performance models specially developed for racing. Despite a few excesses in the regulations - the initially only limited bore with an approved stroke soon led to sometimes extremely long-stroke, sometimes tower-like cylinder designs - this race, as well as its new edition in the following year, were so successful that in 1908 the ACF itself finally also devoted itself to this car category and held a Grand Prix des Voiturettes on the day before its real big race .
In this way, from 1909 the races for the Coupe de l'Auto became the new highlight of every racing season. At the same time, completely new automobile brands such as Lion or Lion-Peugeot (Peugeot's brand for light automobiles), Sizaire & Naudin , Delage , or soon Hispano-Suiza came to the fore, while already among the established Grand Prix manufacturers such legendary names as Panhard & Levassor, Mors, Clément-Bayard or Renault disappeared from the Grand Prix stage for good. An interesting development was that many of the new companies refrained from designing their own motors and instead relied on third-party products - primarily built-in motors from de Dion-Bouton . In a way, this represented an anticipation of the use of Coventry-Climax or Ford-Cosworth engines by numerous Formula 1 teams in the 1960s and 1970s.
In the meantime, however, the ACF came under increasing pressure, as its actual task was seen in the implementation of the annual "big race". After a three-year break, the club announced a new Grand Prix formula for the first time in 1911 , in which the cylinder dimensions were limited to 110 mm bore and 200 mm stroke for a total displacement of approximately 7600 cm³. However, the response from the manufacturers remained very low and so under the title Grand Prix de France (not to be confused with the Grand Prix de l'ACF ) only a formula-free race took place, that of the Automobile Club de l'Ouest - and thus without direct involvement of the ACF - at the location of the first Grand Prix of 1906 at Le Mans. The racing cars based on the new Grand Prix formula only formed their own sub-category, which was, however, sent into the race together with cars of all classes. The questionable importance of this event is underlined by the fact that in second place was the Bugatti of the Alsatian driver Ernest Friderich with an almost tiny engine of 1.3 liters displacement - about a tenth of the engine size of the victorious Fiat by Victor Hémery - came to the finish.
In 1912 the ACF made another attempt, this time wisely without any given racing formula. As if that weren't enough, the race was merged with this year's Coupe de l'Auto (for so-called "light cars" up to 3 liters as the successor category of the Voiturettes ) due to concerns about insufficient participation . In view of such fears, it seems almost ironic that from now on up to five cars per team have been admitted to the Grands Prix, but this quota was not fully used by any of the manufacturers. The overall sizeable field of over 40 cars ultimately conceals the fact that the actual Grand Prix class with 14 participants was actually only very weak. Nevertheless, this still rather timid new beginning heralded the first fundamental generation change in racing car construction. While the established manufacturers still competed with cars of the tried and tested design - four-cylinder with over 14 liters displacement - a new challenger entered the Grand Prix stage with Peugeot, who brought with him the latest state of engine technology when he rose from the voiturette category: The Peugeot EX1 or L-76 with a displacement of "only" 7.6 liters is considered to be the first "modern" Grand Prix construction in history, whose construction principle - spherical combustion chambers with four positively controlled valves per cylinder and valve train via two overhead camshafts - has since been found in practically all racing engines. Georges Boillot succeeded at the end of the race again (as last in 1906) over two days as the first French Grand Prix winner ever to win over the comparatively powerful Fiat, even if they had initially determined the course of the race.
This began a period of Peugeot dominance, whose cars also won the second race of the year for Grand Prix cars with the Coupe de la Sarthe (in the context of which the second Grand Prix de France was held this year as a special rating for Voiturettes ) and in the following year became the first European team to win in Indianapolis. During this time, Peugeot also introduced other innovations in Grand Prix racing, such as the conversion of the engines to dry sump lubrication , the use of a wind tunnel to optimize the vehicle's aerodynamic shape and, in particular, the introduction of four-wheel brakes (until then, the cars were mostly just over gear brakes acting on the drive wheels are braked). In general, the racing cars were now aerodynamically better designed and now had real bodies that were more than the rudimentary fairings of the early Grand Prix models. In addition, removable wheels were now also permitted, which significantly accelerated the pit stops, and an expression of the further increasing internationalization and professionalization was that the teams no longer proceeded primarily according to national criteria when selecting tire manufacturers, but now also select the best across national borders Contract offers followed. For example, in 1913 Peugeot switched from “German” Continental tires to “Italian” Pirellis and then in 1914 to the British brand Dunlop .
After the very interesting course of this first new edition, the ACF slowly took more courage and wrote the Grand Prix of 1913 as an independent race again, which for the first time since 1907 no longer in Dieppe, but on a new course, the Circuit de Picardie in was held near Amiens. For a change, the Commission Sportive of the ACF once again relied on a consumption formula that was combined with a weight restriction. With a permissible car weight between 800 and 1100 kg, the participants were not allowed to use more than 20 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers of racing - a reduction of 33% compared to the 1907 formula. This was intended to prevent oversized engines on the one hand and overly fragile constructions on the other.
Naturally, under these regulations, the more efficient modern engine concepts had an advantage over the traditional "displacement monsters", whose days were now finally numbered. Peugeot meanwhile achieved performance values of 20 hp per liter displacement, while z. B. the victorious Fiat of 1907 only had 8 hp per liter. The "traditional companies" left the field completely to the "upstarts", of whom Delage, Peugeot's toughest competitor in the Voiturette class, has now made the rise to become a Grand Prix manufacturer. With Sunbeam , a reasonably competitive British racing team was added for the first time. With a total of 20 cars from eight different manufacturers from five nations, the field of participants was rather average because, not least because of the absence of Fiat and Mercedes, the big foreign names were missing. Nevertheless, there was an exciting battle for the top between the two leading French brands, which in the end was again last year's winner Boillot with a full 15 seconds ahead of his teammate Jules Goux in the narrowest outcome of a Grand Prix race to date for Peugeot. Boillot was thus also the first driver to record two Grand Prix victories, and thus finally became a folk hero in his homeland, one of the first superstars of Grand Prix sport.
With this success, Peugeot was of course again clearly favored for 1914 , even if the two main foreign opponents, Mercedes and Fiat, who had caused the two most painful defeats of the French Grand Prix companies in 1907 and especially in 1908, were again involved . The ACF had also reshuffled the cards and, in addition to another change of the venue ( Lyon ), now for the first time set a general displacement limitation to 4.5 liters as a racing formula with otherwise completely approved cylinder dimensions and a weight limit of 1100 kg. 14 automobile manufacturers from the six traditional European automobile nations (France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Great Britain and Switzerland) answered the call and submitted entries for a field of no less than 41 participants, among them practically all the big names in automobile sport - including also all four previous Grand Prix winners - were represented. In a tense atmosphere on the eve of the First World War - just a week earlier , the Austrian heir to the throne Franz Ferdinand had been murdered in Sarajevo - and in front of an impressive backdrop of 300,000 spectators, the stage was set for a new high point in Grand Prix history, which took place in the episode was often referred to as the "greatest" race ever.
While Peugeot, like Delage and Fiat, once again seemed to have a technical advantage through the use of four-wheel brakes for the first time, Mercedes, for its part, relied on consistent lightweight construction while at the same time dispensing with the last technical refinements, as well as particularly careful tactical preparation for the race - virtues that had already led to success in 1908. For the first time, scheduled tire changes were planned from the outset in order to avoid tire damage on the route - and thus a correspondingly greater loss of time - as far as possible. In the end, this calculation worked out perfectly and so the Mercedes team - this time with Christian Lautenschlager, Louis Wagner and Otto Salzer even with a triple victory - the French manufacturers once again suffered another major defeat. Less than four weeks later, however, the war broke out and completely pushed motorsport out of the general perception. Only in the United States were racing operations continued until they entered the war in 1917.
The rise of the Italians (1919–1924)
While Indianapolis was already driving again in May 1919, motor racing in badly shaken Europe only got back on track very slowly after the First World War . As the first major race, the Targa Florio was not driven again until over a year after the end of the war in far-away Sicily , just as a notable racing operation was initially started mainly in Italy. In France, on the other hand, only the Coupe des Voiturettes (with Ernest Friderich in a Bugatti as the winner) took place as a kind of “test run” in 1920 . However, it took until 1921 for the ACF to host a real Grand Prix again . There were starting this year, now even a second such major event: As part of the race weekend of Brescia also a race for the first time became the Gran Premio d'Italia down.
During the Grand Prix de l'ACF was initially in the almost annual exchange continues to take place on traditional road courses, his Italian counterpart found from the following year his - with a few exceptions - permanent home to the newly created race track of Monza . The Autodromo di Monza is thus the first specially built for Grand Prix races and thus also the oldest still in use facility of this type and at the same time was also the first race track ever used for a Grand Prix with a completely paved surface. This gave the Italian Grand Prix a completely different character in terms of infrastructure and spectator-friendliness, but last but not least, the racing itself, because the short distance of just 10 km lap length with its comparatively high proportion of straights and fast corners completely different requirements of people and material than was the case on the classic street courses. Only gradually were further, more or less similarly designed permanent Grand Prix circuits added, which were, however, repeatedly criticized because of their supposedly insufficient driving demands. However, the ACF now also chose significantly shorter circuits, so that the lap lengths leveled off at the (from 1922) generally prescribed total distance of 800 km at 10 to 25 km.
One of the most groundbreaking innovations in the conduct of the Grand Prix was the transition to the mass start for the first time at the French Grand Prix of 1922 was applied. In contrast to the previous practice of starting the racing cars individually or in pairs at certain time intervals, all participants were now sent into the race simultaneously from a common starting formation, albeit initially in the form of a "rolling" start . It was only with this change that circuit races got their format, which is still used today, in which the fight for positions is comprehensible at all times for both participants and spectators, even without a stopwatch, and the first at the finish is automatically the winner of the race. The positions on the starting grid were initially usually determined by drawing lots.
Of course, the introduction of a second Grand Prix was also an expression of a certain loss of status for the ACF, which soon became just a national automobile association among several peers. Accordingly, the need arose to regulate the racing formula, uniform racing distances and, above all, the scheduling from now on on an international level. For this purpose, the AIACR founded the Commission Internationale Sportive (CSI) in December 1922, chaired by the racing driver pioneer Baron René de Knyff . As one of its first decisions, this commission decided to award one of the Grands Prix the honorary title of a Grand Prix of Europe every year from now on . As a kind of race of the year, this should take the rank that had previously been awarded to the Grand Prix de l'ACF alone. The first choice was the Italian Grand Prix in 1923 , followed by France (1924) , Belgium (1925) and Spain (1926) .
Unlike in the pre-war period, the holding of such large racing events was no longer called into question from year to year. Instead, Grand Prix races have been an annual normal since 1921, which so far has only been interrupted once by the Second World War. With a general increase in racing, also at the local and regional level, the grand prizes in the early 1920s were still the absolute highlights of the season, despite the occasional sparse starting fields, which were accompanied by months of extensive reporting. Nationalism was still very pronounced, although France's arch-rival Germany had not yet been re-accepted into the AIACR after the end of the First World War. The national automobile clubs were therefore able to decide for themselves when organizing their Grands Prix whether they would allow racing cars from Germany or not. France and later Belgium in particular remained very restrictive for a long time, while Mercedes was allowed to take part in the Targa Florio again in spring 1922 and entries from German manufacturers were also accepted for the Italian Grand Prix .
Overall, however, the Grand Prix participation of European automobile companies remained significantly lower than in the pre-war period. The starting fields were usually between 10 and 20 participants, at the 1921 Italian Grand Prix there were only two teams with three cars each. A major reason for this was the technical and industrial progress triggered by the war. On the one hand, many armaments companies set up for mass production switched to the series production of primarily cheap, easy-to-manufacture car models for everyday use, on the other hand, a rapid technical development had taken place, especially in aircraft engine construction, which now also led to extremely complex and expensive high-performance designs in racing car construction . As a result, participation in Grand Prix races was only of interest to a few automobile manufacturers who were willing to bear the development costs. High-compression six and eight-cylinder engines that easily reached speeds of over 4000 revolutions per minute were now standard. The compressor supercharging, which Mercedes used for the first time in the 1922 Targa Florio, also took over from aircraft engine manufacturing, led to another real leap in performance. After the first victory of Fiat with supercharged engines at the Italian Grand Prix in 1923, there was no Grand Prix success for a racing car with an uncharged naturally aspirated engine until the beginning of the Second World War. The triumphant advance of the compressor also meant the end of some interesting aerodynamic and chassis technology approaches, such as the Bugatti Type 32 "Tank" with a fully clad, streamlined body , the Voisin Laboratoire with an early wooden monocoque construction taken from aircraft construction, or the Benz teardrop car , the first Grand Prix racing car with a mid-engine . However, none of these designs were able to compensate for the power boost of the supercharged engines, as was the Delage 2LCV , the first twelve-cylinder in Grand Prix history, whose impressive V12 DOHC engine, which was highly complex for the time, was regarded as a masterpiece of engineering has been.
While the European manufacturers were initially reluctant, teams from the United States also started more frequently in the early 1920s. This was made possible because the racing formula introduced for Indianapolis in 1920 with a displacement of 3 liters and a minimum weight of 800 kg had also been adopted for the European races in 1921. With Jimmy Murphy on Duesenberg , an American driver was able to compete for the first time at the first Grand Prix de l'ACF of the post-war period (and for a long time only for a long time until Dan Gurney in an AAR Eagle at the Belgian Grand Prix in 1967 ) add an American brand to the list of winners. Against the American eight-cylinder racing cars with their hydraulic brakes, the bolides of the French Ballot racing team, developed by the former Peugeot designer Ernest Henry , to the disappointment of the local audience on the new circuit of Le Mans, came up short after the Americans followed had left again, finally to success at the first Italian Grand Prix in Brescia over the Fiat team, which was participating there for the first time again.
Its heyday began with the introduction of the new racing formula in 1922 , in which the displacement and minimum weight were now reduced to 2 liters and 650 kg, respectively. This meant that the engine size was more than halved compared to 1914, while at the same time the minimum distance for the Grands Prix was set at 800 km. As a result, 15 manufacturers registered for one of the two Grand Prix races of the year, including for the first time Bugatti , which had now become a purely French brand after the transfer of Alsace-Lorraine . At the season opener in Strasbourg , Fiat's new six-cylinder model Tipo 804, despite some technical problems and despite the fatal accident of Biagio Nazzaro (nephew of the winner Felice Nazzaro), was so oppressive that most companies immediately decided to take part in the Italian Grand Prix canceled again. A Fiat victory was practically certain there, too, before the inauguration race in Monza. Pietro Bordino , who is regarded as one of the best racing drivers of this era, won by a large margin over his team-mate Nazzaro and the Bugatti driver Pierre de Vizcaya . A special feature of this race was that, contrary to the usual practice, all participants were flagged immediately after the winner had crossed the finish line, even if they had not yet covered the full race distance.
Despite the somewhat disappointing course of the 1922 season, the CSI apparently viewed the existing 2-liter formula as a success and made the decision to extend it up to and including 1925 . For the first time, manufacturers were offered the security of being able to use the increasingly expensive and complex racing car designs over a longer period of time instead of just once or twice. For the French Grand Prix of 1923 , Fiat returned with a groundbreaking new design, the Tipo 805 , the first supercharged Grand Prix car. However, the Italian racing cars, which for a long time looked like certain winners, were all thrown out of the race on the new circuit near Tours due to engine defects because their compressors were not adequately protected against the intake of dust and stones. This cleared the way for the first - and for many years only - victory by a British driver on a British make, Henry Segrave on Sunbeam, which was essentially a copy of the Fiat design from the previous year. The racing cars from Bugatti and Voisin with their revolutionary vehicle concepts, which were very futuristic at the time , remained far behind due to their inadequate engine power.
Until the home race in Monza Fiat had but get the problems by using other compressors under control and since both Sunbeam after the victory at the French Grand Prix and Bugatti were virtually certain defeat out of the way and also the first time An incoming team of Alfa Romeo to After the fatal training accident of Ugo Sivocci withdrew his model P1 racing car , which was also equipped with compressors, Carlo Salamano's Fiat victory in the first European Grand Prix was no longer in danger. Sunbeam, on the other hand, took the opportunity and came a little later at the first edition of the Spanish Grand Prix at the new Autodrom of Sitges-Terramar near Barcelona (whose status as a Grande Épreuve in literature is, however, controversial) after a lap-long thrilling Fight against the American Miller racing car designed for such oval courses by Louis Zborowski , an Englishman of Polish descent, to yet another success of the season.
In 1924 , however, Fiat domination was abruptly ended. The main reason for this was the constant departure of key personnel, which was increasingly being lured away by competing companies. In the previous year, the former Fiat engineer Vincenzo Bertariore had already put the successful copy of the Tipo 804 from 1922 on the wheels for Sunbeam. In 1923, not least at the instigation of the then Alfa Romeo driver and later company founder Enzo Ferrari , who thus appeared for the first time in Grand Prix history, Fiat chief designer Luigi Bazzi , but above all the highly talented, changed later star designer Vittorio Jano to Alfa Romeo , where they put the new Alfa Romeo P2 , of course also with an in-line eight cylinder and compressor, on the wheels. Fiat, on the other hand, had no choice but to start the season with practically unchanged models from the previous year.
At the Grand Prix de l'ACF of 1924 , which was once again held near Lyon, but now for the first time on roads with paved roads throughout, the competition among the participants was higher than it has been in a long time. The cars from Sunbeam, Fiat and Alfa Romeo were alternately in the lead, with slight advantages for the cars from Milan , and Delage was also able to keep up with the uncharged V12 engine despite the power deficit. After an exciting seven-hour race, in which Fiat and Sunbeam were increasingly experiencing technical problems, Alfa Romeo driver Giuseppe Campari finally crossed the finish line for his first Grand Prix success two days ago. Fiat director Giovanni Agnelli was so angry about the circumstances of the defeat that he finally announced the complete withdrawal of his company from the Grand Prix sport in the run-up to the Italian Grand Prix. Alfa Romeo only encountered relatively weak competition at its home race, mainly from the Mercedes team, which was participating again for the first time after the war. The new eight-cylinder racing cars designed by Ferdinand Porsche , however, still showed considerable deficits in handling and were finally taken out of the race after Louis Zborowski's fatal accident. Alfa Romeo came to the end of a triumphant season with Antonio Ascari , Louis Wagner, Giuseppe Campari - who was replaced at the wheel during the race by Cesare Pastore - and Ferdinando Minoia to the first quadruple victory of a brand in Grand Prix history.
Below the Grand Prix level, a displacement limit of 1.5 liters became the de facto standard for the Voiturette category in the 1920s . Analogous to the real Grand Prix sport, the factory racing teams set the tone here too and the races, which were very popular in France in particular, were dominated by Talbot and Bugatti, with the exception of individual appearances by Fiat , whereby the manufacturers also meet here directly if possible avoided. One class lower, two other French companies fought for supremacy in the so-called cycle car class up to 1.1 liters displacement: Amilcar and Salmson . In Italy in particular, another trend developed, which had its origins not least in the Targa Florio . Many older Grand Prix racing cars were now in private hands here, and they regularly competed with the works teams in the classic racing in Sicily. Little by little, a series of “Everyman” races developed in which the participants could compete against each other with cars of all categories and cubic capacities that they could get their hands on. In the heyday of these so-called Formula Libre - that is, formula- free - races, from 1923 onwards, drivers increasingly began to acquire racing cars of foreign origin, so that the level of these events increased significantly.
The first world championships (1925–1927)
As with many other disciplines, the idea of international championships had come up several times in automobile sport in the early 20th century. In February 1925 , at the instigation of the Automobile Club of Italy - the Italian racing teams were now clearly setting the tone in international races - the AIACR announced the introduction of an official world championship. As with the Grand Prix in general, only automobile companies could participate, so it was a brand world championship . From the combination of compulsory events (different depending on the manufacturer's country of origin), deletion results and a point system that took some getting used to - in principle, the best placements of a brand were added together so that the lowest total number of points was decisive for the awarding of the title - a complex and Opaque championship regulations that motorsport historians have so far not been able to fully understand in view of the scarce public relations work of the AIACR.
Of course, the three official Grand Prix of the season ( France , Italy and, for the first time, Belgium and Europe ) were designated for the races , and - to do justice to the name World Championship - the Indianapolis 500-mile race was the most important American racing event, which is why it was often referred to as the "Grand Prix" in press coverage. After all, in the applied since 1923 in the United States International Formule (the International Grand Prix Formula ) fixed displacement limit of 2 liters, while in return, now the Europeans taking along a mechanic on board (in this case still remains two-seater) racing cars waived. Despite this alignment of the regulations, only a few racing teams on both continents were still willing to undertake the time-consuming voyage to the other side of the Atlantic.
In addition, there were more and more races in Europe that had the title “Grand Prix” in their title, but otherwise had little in common with the objective of the official International Grand Prix as a competition for the automotive industry. These were mostly events with a more or less regional reference ( Grand Prix de Provence , Grand Prix de la Marne , Gran Premio di Milano , etc.), which were also available as formula -free races ("Formula Libre") for the increasing number of private drivers were open to racing cars of all kinds, or, like the Grand Prix des Voiturettes, were only reserved for subordinate vehicle categories. The organizers were free to decide on the format of the event, the class division and all other provisions, as well as who they invited to participate in their races. Grand Prix races in countries that were not considered to be among the “big” automobile nations (Sweden, Switzerland, Poland, Brazil, the North African colonies, etc.) were also not yet considered to be of equal rank. The German Grand Prix, which was also held for the first time in 1926, was regularly held as a sports car race in its early years , not least to protect German manufacturers from competition from highly developed foreign racing cars. With the Nürburgring , inaugurated in 1927 , a permanent racetrack was opened here, which, in contrast to other artificially created racetracks (Monza, Montlhéry , Brooklands , Indianapolis, or the Berlin Avus , which opened in 1921 ), has the route of a classic street course with numerous "natural" curves, Inclines and declines.
To distinguish it from such a proliferation of event titles and sets of rules, the generic term Grandes Épreuves (in German Great Examination ) developed for the classic Grand Prizes officially approved by the AIACR from around the mid-1920s , with certain privileges - in particular, priority over all other motor sport events in the calendar adopted annually by the CSI - but also the obligation to hold the races according to the applicable International Grand Prix racing formula ("Formule Internationale") and still only allow works teams to participate. The growing number of Grand Prix races, as well as the increase in racing operations as a whole, inevitably led to a certain decrease in attention to the respective individual event. The racing teams now usually no longer had time for weeks of test and training programs on the various Grand Prix tracks, especially when the races were taking place abroad, and sometimes only traveled with very small delegations or, in individual cases, even left local private drivers Start up “on behalf” of the plant.
There were few changes, especially in the last season of the 2-liter formula, which expired in 1925. The clear aspirant for the world championship title was Alfa Romeo with last year's successful model, the Alfa Romeo P2 , with which the team then also won the two Grand Prix in Belgium and Italy . The only serious competitor would have been Delage , where the V12 engine was finally also equipped with a compressor over the course of the season and thus penetrated into previously unattained performance regions. Despite the "given" victory in the French Grand Prix (after Alfa Romeo had taken the car out of the race there after Antonio Ascari's fatal accident), and although they were even at the top of the intermediate championship standings before the last race, However, the team finally fell completely out of the classification due to the fact that they did not compete in the mandatory Italian Grand Prix. Behind world champion Alfa Romeo, second place went to the US manufacturer Duesenberg, who had also won the race in Indianapolis. Third was Bugatti , where they still refused to use the compressor and did not really take part in this first world championship. Instead, the focus was now on the marketing of the Bugatti Type 35 , the world's first freely available Grand Prix car. Private owners soon drove from success to success at countless smaller events all over Europe on this model, which was soon to be available with various engine variants and was characterized primarily by simple handling and easy maintenance.
Grand Prix racing , on the other hand, headed towards a new low point in 1926 with the switch to the new 1.5-liter formula. It was precisely the reduction in displacement that meant that more effort was made in engine development to achieve a performance advantage, and not all of the automotive companies involved so far were prepared to practically start all over again in such an arms race. Above all, Alfa Romeo found itself in economic difficulties and after winning the world championship actually had nothing more to prove, so that in Grand Prix racing there were only three manufacturers left with Delage, Bugatti and Talbot . Worse still, both Talbot - which had previously represented the Franco-British STD group very successfully in the Voiturette class and now consequently replaced Sunbeam as the in-house Grand Prix brand - and Delage reached their limits with their extremely sophisticated models economic opportunities. Not only did this delay the car's readiness for racing for months, but in the end the development of the racing car even put the existence of both companies in serious danger.
What was particularly striking about the new racing cars from both companies was the extremely low chassis construction. Without the need to accommodate a passenger on board, the drive train could now be moved sideways past the driver so that a lower seating position was possible. In addition to lowering the center of gravity, this also led to a significant reduction in the frontal area and thus the air resistance. In addition, with the newly developed short-stroke inline eight-cylinder, with which the magical value of 100 hp per liter displacement was exceeded for the first time, a real leap in speed and performance was achieved again, so that the new racing cars were practically as fast again as their larger displacement cars Predecessor.
Bugatti, on the other hand, chose a simple but pragmatic approach and presented the Type 39A, a version of the tried and tested Type 35 that is now finally also compressor- charged and reduced to 1.5 liters . At the beginning of the 1926 season, it was the only team ever able to compete in the 1926 Grand Prix de l'ACF . The race on the Miramas oval course, which is not particularly demanding in itself, is therefore considered to be a low point in Grand Prix history, in which Jules Goux did his laps practically all the time due to technical problems of his two teammates and in the end he was the only one came into the evaluation. At least the European Grand Prix in San Sebastián , Spain , went a little better , with at least a second team at the start, even if the new Delage Type 15 S 8 was slowed down by a serious design error. The incorrectly positioned exhaust caused the cockpits to heat up to such an extent that the drivers regularly even suffered burns and constantly had to come to the pits to change drivers. Goux on Bugatti achieved a second win in a row ahead of Delage , who was driven alternately by Edmond Bourlier and Robert Sénéchal . The Spanish automobile club had prudently decided beforehand to hold the actual Spanish Grand Prix as a Formula Libre race a week later in order to get a reasonably adequate field of participants. With the victory of the later team boss Bartolomeo "Meo" Costantini, this race also became a clear Bugatti affair, with at least ten cars at the start, the European Grand Prix as the official Grande Épreuve was clearly surpassed.
For the British Grand Prix on the venerable Brooklands track, Talbot also brought his team to the start for the first time this season, but all three racing cars were slowed down due to a design fault on the front axle and retired from the race prematurely. Delage, on the other hand, finally achieved its first success of the season, but although the drivers suffered less from the conditions in the cooler English climate than in the heat of Spain, Sénéchal and Wagner had to take compulsory breaks at the wheel of the victorious car again and again to cool their feet . In view of these circumstances, both Delage and Talbot subsequently decided not to make the season finale at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, especially since Bugatti was already world champion based on the results so far. Here too, with only six participants - including two racing cars from the new Maserati brand for the first time at a Grand Prix - a completely safe Bugatti victory was achieved. After all opponents were canceled , “Sabipa” , who started under a pseudonym, and Bartolomeo Costantini were able to do their laps on their own for almost the entire second half of the race. In retrospect, it seems astonishing that the Grand Prix races were still followed with great interest by the spectators despite such disappointing performances.
In 1927, the year of the last fully played World Championship for the time being, Delage finally got the problem of cockpits overheating under control. Chief designer Albert Lory had quickly turned the cylinder head of the engine so that the exhaust could now be routed along the opposite side of the vehicle, further away from the pilot's feet. Now the real potential of the car could finally come into its own and Robert Benoist was successful in all four grand prizes of the season. Right at the start of the season at the French Grand Prix as well as at the final in Great Britain , the team was even able to record a triple victory. After Talbot had previously stopped racing during the season for financial reasons and Bugatti also mostly avoided direct confrontation, the world championship was decided early in the season. Having reached the goal of his long-term endeavors, Louis Delage announced the withdrawal of his factory, so that not only the 1.5-liter formula, but also the Grand Prix sport in its previous form no longer had any prospects.
The "formulaless" years (1928–1933)
The period between 1928 and 1933 marks one of the most drastic upheavals in Grand Prix racing. After Talbot and Delage had withdrawn, only Bugatti remained as the last well-known manufacturer in the 1928 season , which meant that the concept of competition among automobile companies that had been the basis since the first Grand Prix in 1906 could practically no longer be maintained. Instead, in a conversion process lasting several years, in which there were three unsuccessful attempts until 1930 to somehow continue the old-style brand world championship, the completely contrary idea of the so-called "free formula" ("Formula Libre") finally prevailed. This type of race had its origins in events such as the Targa Florio and enjoyed steady popularity from around the mid-1920s - as the crisis in official Grand Prix sport progressed - initially primarily in Italy, but increasingly also in France, both the number of races, as well as the size and composition of the starting fields and, last but not least, the audience interest. Soon races like the Coppa Acerbo in Pescara, the Coppa Montenero in Livorno, the Premio Reale di Roma , or the Grand Prix de la Marne in Reims developed into real classics with fixed dates in the annual racing calendar. With the Grand Prix of Tripoli on the specially built Mellaha racetrack , the leap to the North African colonies was made, which was soon followed by the Grands Prix of Tunis and Algiers on the French side .
Participation in such races was practically possible for anyone who had a suitable racing vehicle, as was the case above all with the various versions of the Bugatti Type 35, which is freely available for sale. Maserati soon followed suit and began to manufacture small series racing cars for paying customers. In addition, there were the former Grand Prix racing cars from Delage, Talbot and Alfa Romeo, which now increasingly also came into private hands, since the factories no longer had any use for them. The fields were completed by a hodgepodge of voiturettes , self-made racing cars, makeshift converted sports cars and other vehicle models of all types and engines. In order to create a certain equality of opportunity in view of such diversity, there were usually class divisions according to cubic capacity (usually up to 1100 cm³, 1500 cm³, 2000 cm³, 3000 cm³ and above) for which, in addition to the overall classification of a race, separate ratings were usually made .
After some hesitation, this principle of success finally became - after only a corridor for minimum and maximum weight had already been specified in the International Racing Formula for 1928, the old idea of a consumption formula was once again clung in vain for 1929 and 1930 - also by the AIACR as accepted the new Grand Prix format, and even if the national organizers of the Grand Prix continued to handle the admission of “independents” very differently, it should essentially remain in place for the next 50 years. Only with the transformation of Formula 1 into a closed racing series reserved for the “constructors” organized by the FOCA did they finally return a little to the original approach at the beginning of the 1980s, even if the image of automobile racing has of course changed fundamentally in the meantime would have. With the introduction of Formula Libre , the paths separated again between Grand Prix racing, which was predominantly European in character, and racing in the USA, where Indianapolis initially continued with the previous 1.5-liter racing cars and soon afterwards was completely independent Racing formulas was driven.
Finally, the AIACR finally dropped all technical restrictions for 1931 . In order not to sink completely into the lowlands of "ordinary" Formula Libre races, the rules now stipulate a minimum duration of 10 hours for the official Grand Prix. Grand Prix racing thus took on the character of endurance races, especially since two drivers per car had to be registered who could then take turns at the wheel. Nevertheless, the format was unsatisfactory for participants and spectators alike, so that for 1932 (minimum race duration five hours) and 1933 (minimum distance 500 km), the race gradually returned to the vicinity of "normal" racing distances. At the same time, the regulation that racing cars had to be two-seater also eliminated one of the last restrictions on freedom for designers, which now also made it possible to use single-seaters ( monopostos ) for Grand Prix races , as was the case in Indianapolis, for example, since the early 1920s Years ago.
The "formulaless" years in particular offered exciting motorsport like never before, with the "event character" becoming increasingly important for the racing events. A prime example of this was the Monaco Grand Prix , where the cars literally drove the spectators past the coffee table. Motorsport came to the public instead of the other way around, and this completely new type of inner-city race track quickly spread to many other places as well. In 1933, the positions on the starting grid were assigned for the first time based on the lap times achieved in training, which also significantly increased the entertainment value of the training sessions.
The consequence of all these changes was that the focus was no longer primarily on the makes, but now the drivers were also more and more in the foreground. For example, the European championships advertised from 1931 onwards, as well as the later world championships, were held as driver championships . This may also be a reason why the grand prix greats of the 1930s, above all Tazio Nuvolari - who was one of the first to perfect the spectacular driving technique of four-wheel drift , in which the car is turned slightly to the inside over all four The wheels drifted around the curve - together with Achille Varzi , Louis Chiron , Luigi Fagioli and Rudolf Caracciola, they became the first “superstars” of automobile racing to be celebrated across national borders.
In view of the numerous Formula Libre races, which continued to take place below the great stage of the Grandes Épreuves in all corners of Europe, the proverbial Grand Prix circus soon developed , in which the drivers and teams initially mainly in their own country, soon but increasingly traveled across borders from venue to venue and financed themselves according to their market value through the entry fee individually negotiated with the organizers. The organizers of the races again tried to get an attractive, diverse field of participants together with names that were as attractive as possible in order to attract a correspondingly large number of paying spectators. The emergence of the first professional “independent” racing teams, which were not just racing departments of automobile manufacturers, is related to this. Its origins lie in the mergers of individual private drivers to form so-called racing communities , which in this way saved personnel, material and travel costs for the use of their racing cars. Some of these teams soon expanded their fleet so that they could also make racing cars available to other drivers for a fee. One of the pioneers in this field were 1928, of Emilio Materassi established Ecurie Italienne (which its founder in after the tragic death of the Italian Grand Prix from 1928 in Scuderia Materassi was renamed) that the discarded Grand Prix racing car of the 1927 resolution Talbot racing team took over, like Scuderia Nuvolari , a merger of Tazio Nuvolari with his driver colleagues Cesare Pastore and Achille Varzi, who had ordered 35C racing cars from Bugatti. The Scuderia Ferrari , founded in 1929 by Scuderia Ferrari , became even more famous and a little later even officially competed in the races on behalf of Alfa Romeo and from which today's Formula 1 team and the sports car manufacturer of the same name emerged. Ferrari is also given the somewhat dubious honor of being the first racing team to have a legal dispute over the contractual relationship with its drivers (Tazio Nuvolari and Mario Umberto Borzacchini ) in 1933 .
Of course, such teams were interested in being able to use their valuable racing cars as often and permanently as possible, which was ultimately the reason why racing formulas and other rule changes were hardly accepted. At the height of Formula Libre , some vehicles were in use for years, and their changing owners sometimes modified and modernized them again and again in order to keep them competitive. Even the manufacturers, who soon found their way back to Grand Prix racing at the factory thanks to the success of their products in the hands of private drivers, now in some cases held on to the basic designs of their models for a very long time and mostly limited themselves in the struggle for supremacy to the simple and inexpensive solution of essentially just increasing the size of the motor. At Maserati, for example, this development led from the 1.5-liter Maserati Tipo 26 from 1926 through various intermediate stages to the Maserati 8C from 1932/33 with 3-liter displacement - with otherwise basically the same basic construction of chassis and engine - even to one overall Doubling. Models of this era, such as the Bugatti Type 51 , Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 "Monza" , Maserati 8CM or especially the Alfa Romeo Tipo B, are true icons of motorsport history to this day. The fact that this development could not be continued indefinitely was prevented by the state of the art in tire, chassis and material technology at the time, so that excesses such as a number of twin-engine racing cars ( Maserati V4 and V5 , Alfa Romeo Tipo A ) or the excessive Bugatti Type 54 with 5 liters displacement, soon turned out to be a dead end, which were practically only suitable for use on pure high-speed railways. On all other courses, however, these track cars were largely without a chance due to their large mass, high consumption and, above all, their enormous tire and brake wear.
At the beginning of the “formula-free” era, the countless Bugatti were still clearly in control of the action. With the 2-liter Type 35C model, now available as a compressor version, works driver Louis Chiron and Tazio Nuvolari won almost at will with his private car in 1928. In addition to successes at the Grand Prix of Rome and San Sebastián , Chiron also won the tragic Grand Prix of Italy , the only Grande Épreuve of the year based on the international racing formula , in which Emilio Materassi lost control of his Talbot at top speed and was thrown into the stands has been. After the Le Mans disaster of 1955, with 23 deaths, this is the second most serious accident in motorsport to date and the most serious in Grand Prix racing. Materassi, who also died in this accident, had, together with his team-mate Luigi Arcangeli, achieved a few notable successes with his Grand Prix Talbots of the 1.5-liter formula, but they were not yet fully developed Maserati couldn't get past Luigi Fagioli's victory in a relatively insignificant race in Sicily. Only a single Alfa Romeo P2 from 1924, which was first used by Giuseppe Campari and then by Achille Varzi from the middle of the season , proved to be on a par with the Bugatti, but ultimately had to bow to the majority.
Varzi had initially started the season as a partner (and sponsor) of Nuvolari in his private Bugatti racing team, but a legendary rivalry soon developed between the two Italians, which would have a major impact on the coming decade in Grand Prix racing. In addition to their duels on the track, the two top stars of their time also regularly tried to outmaneuver each other by changing teams at the right moment. Varzi initially had an advantage because, thanks to his better financial situation, he could afford to change materials more often. Due to its promising results with the Alfa Romeo, the factory, which was meanwhile very dependent on lucrative armaments contracts and therefore heavily influenced by the fascist Mussolini regime, which was very sympathetic to motorsport, officially took over the maintenance of its car again in 1929 and now also set up a second one for Gastone Brilli-Peri . With the two relatively old racing cars, the team was able to achieve a surprisingly large number of victories in the Italian races, including Varzis' successes in the races of Rome and Monza, the two most important races of the season (together with the Targa Florio ) . Bugatti, on the other hand, fell with the victories of William Grover-Williams in Monaco , Albert Divo in the Targa Florio and, last but not least, Louis Chiron in the Grand Prix de l'ACF - with this race there was again only one Grande Épreuve in the season - the dem Name after overall slightly higher quality successes. However, there had only been a direct encounter with the Italians at the Targa Florio in Sicily and the Permio Reale di Roma , while both sides otherwise largely limited themselves to participating in races in their own country.
The 1930 season was by and large very similar at first. With the Grand Prix of Monaco (winner René Dreyfus ), Belgium / Europe (Louis Chiron) and France ( Philippe Étancelin ) again all three races with the title Grand Prix went to Bugatti, whereby again only for the race in the Belgian Spa Francorchamps the International Racing Formula was applied. However, the main rival Alfa Romeo had not competed in any of these races. On the other hand, Varzi was able to break through Bugatti's five-year winning streak in this classic in a dramatic finale with the Alfa Romeo P2, which had been completely redesigned and modernized over the winter at the Targa Florio. From the middle of the season, however, Maserati suddenly gained the upper hand with the new 2.5-liter Tipo 26M model . After the three regular drivers Baconin Borzacchini , Luigi Arcangeli and Luigi Fagioli had already achieved some successes in the Italian Formula Libre races, Varzi changed sides without further ado and now also competed for the relatively young Italian racing car brand. With his three victories in the races in Pescara, Monza and San Sebastián, the year finally became the most successful Maserati season ever.
Both Bugatti and Alfa Romeo had to react immediately and came up with new 2.3-liter models for 1931. Once again, Achille Varzi changed teams at the right moment and gave the new Bugatti Type 51 , the first Bugatti with two overhead camshafts, its first victory right at the start of the season in Tunis, North Africa, followed by another triumph for the brand in the Grand Prix of Monaco by Louis Chiron. The new Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 first appeared in a sports car version for the Mille Miglia , which was followed by a special Grand Prix version with a significantly shorter chassis for the Italian Grand Prix . At this first long-distance Grand Prix according to the new 10-hour rule, Giuseppe Campari together with Varzi's arch rival Tazio Nuvolari and their teammates Ferdinando Minoia / Baconin Borzacchini even landed a double victory for Alfa Romeo, which gave the model its honorable nickname from now on "Monza" brought in.
At the subsequent French Grand Prix , Bugatti struck back with Varzi and Chiron and was also successful again a little later with “Williams” / Caberto Conelli in Belgium . The first title holder in the newly introduced European Championship for drivers was nevertheless an Alfa Romeo driver thanks to a rather unrealistic evaluation mode with Ferdinando Minoia, although he had not won a single one of the three Grandes Épreuves of the season. In the meantime, Maserati had also turned the displacement screw one more time and released a 2.8-liter version of the proven in-line eight-cylinder. Fagioli succeeded in the prestigious "Race of the Giants" in Monza, on this fast track, both the new twin-engine Alfa Romeo Tipo A and the mighty Bugatti Type 54 "Track-Cars" with 5 liters displacement from Varzi and Chiron in their place point. Overall, however, the team fell short of expectations after the short highs of the previous season, also because the departures of Varzi and Arcangeli could not be fully replaced by the newcomers of René Dreyfus and Clemente Biondetti .
As in 1932 with the shortening of the duration of the race for the official Grand Prix from ten to five hours to a tolerable for all participants format returned and also permitted single-seater in the same step race car to participate, Alfa Romeo brought in time for the home race for the Italian Grand Prix with the Alfa Romeo Tipo B, the first racing single-seater ( monoposto ) designed for Grand Prix use . Nuvolari, who had previously won the Monaco Grand Prix and the Targa Florio with the previous "Monza type", once again achieved an almost befitting debut success, which was followed by further victories at the French Grand Prix , as well as the Race classics from Pescara and Livorno followed. Only at the German Grand Prix - the first according to the international racing formula - did he have to give way to his new stable mate Rudolf Caracciola due to the stable order , who also benefited from technical problems with Nuvolari's racing cars at the Monza Grand Prix.
The admission of the German to the Alfa Romeo team, like the signing of the Frenchman René Dreyfus by Maserati, was an expression of the increasing internationalization that Grand Prix sport experienced during these years. Until then, only Bugatti competed regularly with a mixed French-Italian team, certainly due to the company's founder's personal background, but the combination of top drivers of different nationalities soon became the norm. For example, Caracciola, together with his friend and partner Louis Chiron, even formed a private German-French racing community for 1933, which did not last too long, however, because the German had a serious accident while training for the Monaco Grand Prix that left him with the rest incapacitated the season.
Alfa Romeo had meanwhile been transferred to state ownership and as a result, racing had officially ceased for the second time since 1926. In previous years, the works team had nominally only entered the really important races themselves and had otherwise been represented by Scuderia Ferrari as a kind of "satellite team" at the less important events, which now had to hold the flag high for Alfa Romeo all by itself . Ferrari was able to take over the two top drivers of the former works team with Nuvolari and Borzacchini, but because Alfa Romeo did not want to give the valuable Tipo B to someone else's hands, they had to be content with older models of the "Monza" type. After all, the team had now bored out the engines to 2.7 liters displacement, which in turn led to a significant overload of the drive train and, as a result, an increase in the number of failures. At the same time, the new 3-liter Maserati 8CM monoposto had major problems with the road holding due to the softly designed frame, so the Bugatti Type 51 was suddenly competitive again at the beginning of the season. Varzi took the opportunity to narrowly prevail in Monaco in one of the most exciting Grands Prix of all time after dueling with his permanent rival Nuvolari on the track for almost the entire race.
By the middle of the season, Nuvolari's dissatisfaction with the material and with his lack of a say in the team had grown so much that he left Scuderia Ferrari in an argument with his close friend Borzacchini. Her move to Maserati eventually resulted in one of the first legal disputes in the history of automobile racing. Thanks to his experience and his technical understanding, Nuvorlari was able to identify the design flaws of the new Maserati 8CM and at least remedy them to the extent that he could win the Belgian Grand Prix . After Campari had already won a Grande Épreuve for Maserati for the first time with the French Grand Prix on an older model , Alfa Romeo finally had to react and now demot the Tipo B again. Fagioli and Campari, who felt that their position in the team at Maserati had been neglected by the two newcomers, then moved to the warehouse of Ferrari and Alfa Romeo, where they were joined by Chiron shortly afterwards. Both teams had swapped their teams practically once since the start of the season. Although the other results were clearer than what was still highly competitive on the racetracks, the rest of the season belonged to the Alfa Romeo drivers again with victories for Nuvolari and Chiron at the Italian and Spanish Grand Prix . At Bugatti, on the other hand, Varzi and Dreyfus were now completely sidelined because the plant had to fulfill an order for the production of railcars due to economic hardship, so that the development of the new Grand Prix model Bugatti Type 59 with 2.8-liter engine made hardly any progress.
Unfortunately, the "formulaless" period was overshadowed by fatal accidents again and again. One of the reasons was, not least, the practically unbridled increase in engine performance in connection with more and more track-like racetracks, while at the same time the safety standards had not been significantly improved compared to the pre-war period. The racing itself became increasingly tougher even from the beginning of the 1930s. With the audience's increasing appetite for sensation, and not least because of the enormous increase in entry and prize money, the drivers began more and more frequently to "defend" their positions against attempts by their opponents to overtake, which at that time was largely frowned upon or, until recently, was common was still punished. It is not uncommon for such maneuvers to result in dangerous situations with not always good results. Five years after the biggest catastrophe to date, there was another particularly tragic climax in the same place in 1933, when the two top pilots at the time, Giuseppe Campari and Baconin Borzacchini, first played a duel on the "Black Day of Monza" and shortly afterwards - this time without any influence other participants - the Polish racing driver Stanisław Czaykowski also had a fatal accident.
The era of the Silver Arrows (1934–1939)
In view of the alarming increase in engine sizes and speeds of the racing cars, the AIACR was finally forced to adopt a new Grand Prix racing formula for the 1934 season , which included technical specifications for the first time after three “formulaless” years that the racing cars had to match. Since then, such provisions have been an integral part of the Grand Prix regulations, even if they have been fundamentally changed several times in the meantime and have increased significantly in scope and complexity in modern Formula 1.
In order not to repeat the mistake of 1926 when it was passed, when all existing Grand Prix racing cars were no longer allowed to be used with the stroke of a pen, the new regulations were deliberately based on the currently available designs and only tried to reduce their performance level by limiting them To a maximum “dry weight” of 750 kg (without operating materials and tires), so to speak “freeze”. In addition to the requirement of a minimum width of 85 cm and a minimum distance for the Grand Prix races of 500 km, the constructive freedom remained practically complete, so that the three manufacturers who had been involved in Grand Prix racing up to then (Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Bugatti) only had minor problems adapting their current Grand Prix models, which were at or just slightly above the weight limit. However, the idea of using such a formula to prevent the engine sizes from expanding further should all too quickly prove to be a mistake, because the possibilities of lightweight construction as well as technical progress as a whole - especially after the entry of large automotive groups with their research and Development departments - had completely underestimated. In the end, the engine capacity increased even faster than before, despite the weight limit. And the problem of the over-heavy and difficult-to-control track cars , which are often equipped with double engines, could not really be alleviated, because the official racing formula was only mandatory for the Grandes Épreuves , but not for the numerous " formula -free" races that continued to exist.
The fact that the years between 1934 and 1939 are then generally regarded as the high point and golden age of Grand Prix sport before 1950 is less related to the new racing formula, but is primarily due to the fact that with the entry of the two German automobile groups Daimler -Benz and Auto Union a sporty, technical and not least organizational level was achieved that was practically unimaginable until then. The German racing cars, which with their futuristic-looking streamlined shapes and spectacular driving performance had little in common with the everyday conception of automobiles, became symbols of almost limitless technical progress and the men who were able to tame such machines true hero worship as modern gladiators. This was especially true for the National Socialist regime that had ruled Germany since 1933 , which exploited the successes of German drivers and constructions on a large scale for propaganda purposes.
The Silver Arrow myth also played an important role . Instead of the traditional German racing color white, the racing cars of both companies always started with bodies made of bare metal, which once again emphasized their technical aesthetics. Even if the history of its origins - according to a story by the long-time Mercedes racing director Alfred Neubauer , the white color of the racing cars was sanded off for weight reasons on the eve of the Eifel race in 1934 - is now highly controversial, Mercedes-Benz has maintained the Silver Arrow legend to this day Tag as an identity-creating core part of its motorsport tradition.
At the same time, both companies received substantial government funding. This did not only apply to the substantial direct financial contributions for the racing teams, which, despite considerable sums, were primarily a symbolic contribution and were only able to cover a certain proportion of the expenses. However, the Daimler-Benz group in particular soon had almost inexhaustible resources due to its involvement in the state armaments program . In return, the German companies were able to present their technological capabilities to the public with victories on the racetracks, but also with record attempts that are now regularly carried out, and recommend themselves for consideration for further state contracts.
Despite the new weight limit, the engineers managed to almost triple the engine output from the approx. 215 hp Alfa Romeo Tipo B from 1932 to the Mercedes W 125 from 1937 with 575 hp (with an engine weight of only 250 kg) within just a few years in several development steps . Up until the turbo era of the 1980s, no other Grand Prix racing car had such performance values for over 40 years. At the same time, the sixteen-cylinder of the rear-end (or, in today's parlance, mid-engined) racing car from Auto Union developed by the star designer Ferdinand Porsche - which anticipated the successful concept of all Formula 1 racing cars from 1959 onwards by a full 25 years - finally reached 6 liters displacement within the weight limit engine sizes as only the superheavy previously monster racing cars of the "free formula" (the double-engined Alfa Romeos and Maseratis, the Bugatti Type 54 or the Mercedes SSK) were exhibited. On the Avus in 1937 the racing cars of both manufacturers reached speeds of almost 400 km / h with their fully streamlined bodies specially developed for this route (in the race!). And the modern chassis technology also set completely new standards in terms of traction and road holding. Until the early 1930s, the racing cars were mostly long-legged and with rigid axles, leaf springs and cable brakes barely got beyond the 1914 level, the two German companies had numerous innovations within a short time, such as independent wheel suspension, transaxle construction, Dion axle, hydraulic damper, coil and torsion suspension and limited slip differentials as well as the use of wind tunnels to optimize aerodynamics were introduced into Grand Prix racing. Only hydraulic brakes (after Duesenberg's brief guest appearance at the French Grand Prix of 1921) had already been used again by Maserati in Grand Prix racing in 1933. In cooperation with the chemical industry, special fuels were also developed which were composed of substances such as benzene, alcohol, acetone and ether and whose exhaust gases literally took the driver's breath away. And for the first time in Grand Prix racing, construction details and technical specifications have now been kept secret, in order to keep the competition in the dark about the level of performance achieved for as long as possible.
In general, the team organization had become a very decisive success factor. Tire wear and gasoline consumption were enormous (the Mercedes W125 from 1937 is certified as 160 liters per 100 km), so that the outcome of the race depended crucially on the number, timing and sequence of pit stops. Well-rehearsed pit teams were just as important as a well-prepared racing strategy. In extensive test programs before and during the season, as well as in the training sessions for the races, optimal settings for tire selection and the right drive ratio for each race track were determined in advance, and sometimes the drivers even had the choice between cars with different wheelbases or suspension geometries. The German teams sometimes came to the important races with up to eight emergency and replacement vehicles and sometimes five or six drivers with tactical tasks that were meticulously coordinated with the course and the opponents and agreed in advance. Often one or two drivers were instructed to put the competition under maximum pressure from the beginning, regardless of their own material, at high speed, while the team-mates should initially wait and see in order to then benefit from possible problems of the opponents. Another new feature of Grand Prix races was that an experienced race director on the track used display boards to convey information and tactical instructions to the drivers during the race - an idea that, like so many other things from the races in Indianapolis, had been adopted so that the team and drivers were able to react immediately to changed racing situations in this way. In the event that one of the team captains got into trouble with his racing car, one of the cars controlled by a so-called "junior" driver was often ordered to the pits so that his prominent teammate could continue the race with it.
At German instigation, after a two-year break, the idea of a European championship was revived for 1935, for which the dominance of German cars was certainly not entirely insignificant. In contrast to the two championships of 1931 and 1932, this one actually received broader public attention, which of course was also due to the extensive reporting on the successes of German drivers and cars. The championship scoring mode was essentially retained in that the top 3 placements of a driver were added together and the title was then awarded to the driver with the fewest points. In contrast to before, four points were now uniformly awarded for the places from fourth place upwards and the same number of points was also given to those who had covered at least 75% of the set race distance in the event of a failure. As a result, it was no longer absolutely necessary for the championship standings that drivers behind the wheel had to complete the remaining laps after the winner had crossed the finish line. In previous years, this had repeatedly led to dangerous situations when spectators streamed onto the track after the supposed end of the race. The last Grand Prix race in which this was still handled in the old way was the Grand Prix of Germany in 1934. For the individual classification of a race (and thus also for the distribution of the prize money), however, was still a prerequisite for most events that the participant had to cross the finish line again at the end, so that since then there has sometimes been some confusion when cars got stuck shortly before the end of the race, while some of those lapped several times are still included in the results. The procedure, which was used for the first time at the Monaco Grand Prix in 1933 , of setting up the racing cars at the start based on the lap times achieved in practice, quickly became more widespread. Only the organizers of the Belgian Grand Prix insisted, even in 1949, on awarding the positions on the starting grid in the traditional way by drawing lots or on the basis of other self-selected criteria.
By far the most successful driver of the era was Rudolf Caracciola, who won 10 of a total of 30 Grandes Épreuves for Mercedes-Benz and was thus able to secure the European title three times ( 1935 , 1937 and 1938 ). Until well into the 1934 season, it was not at all clear whether he would ever be able to drive again after his training accident at the Monaco Grand Prix of 1933. To be on the safe side, Mercedes race director Neubauer and Manfred von Brauchitsch had signed the ambitious Italian Luigi Fagioli as the nominal number 1 driver, which over the course of the following three years repeatedly led to violent internal conflicts. On Caracciola's recommendation, his long-time friend Louis Chiron was added to the team in 1936 . This year, however, Mercedes had exceeded the technical development and - not least for reasons of weight - put a much too short chassis on the wheels for the Mercedes-Benz W 25C , which proved to be almost impassable, especially on faster routes. The subsequent realignment of the team for the 1937 season with the establishment of an independent racing department under Rudolf Uhlenhaut finally also fell victim to the two foreigners, while Caracciola rushed from victory to victory almost unchallenged with the new Mercedes-Benz W 125 .
At Auto Union in 1934 the experienced Hans Stuck was signed as team captain, who with his victory in the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring immediately ensured the first ever success of a Silver Arrow in a Grande Épreuve . He was joined in 1935 by the Italian star driver Achille Varzi, who had left Alfa Romeo, but who soon became increasingly out of step due to professional and personal problems. Not least because of political considerations, to the disappointment of the Italian, it was often decided within the team by stable management who of the drivers got the right of way in a race. In addition, his reputation in the team was also significantly strained by his liaison with the wife of the substitute or "junior" driver Paul Pietsch . When he got a drug problem on top of that, his contract was not renewed for 1937.
On the other hand, Bernd Rosemeyer experienced an absolutely meteoric rise , who in 1935, as a young up-and-coming driver, switched straight from motorcycle racing to the Auto Union Grand Prix team and - as one of the few Grand Prix drivers - right away with the unfamiliar one among the others Drivers usually found the driving behavior of the rear-engined racing car to be very problematic. In his second year as a racing car driver, he even clinched the European Championship title in 1936 with three Grand Prix victories in a row - this year Mercedes had temporarily run into a constructive dead end with a chassis that was much too short - and even won the European Championship and won his carefree Kind of built on and off the slopes by the Nazi regime into an idol of the masses. His brief, dazzling career came to an abrupt end at the beginning of 1938 when he had a fatal accident while attempting a record on the autobahn in his specially designed streamlined car. With the French Guy Moll († 1934 at the Coppa Acerbo in Pescara in an Alfa Romeo) and the British Richard Seaman († 1939 at the Grand Prix of Germany at the Nürburgring in a Mercedes-Benz), two other, similarly up-and-coming young talents were also killed in racing accidents even before they could reach the peak of their promising careers.
The other manufacturers were completely surprised by the performance of the two German teams from the start. Bugatti in particular soon sank completely into insignificance with the Bugatti Type 59, which was still two-seater and developed according to the design principles of the 1920s, which compared to the ultra-modern German Silver Arrows looked like it was out of date. And Maserati, too, where Bugatti had now taken over the role of Bugatti as a supplier for private racing drivers, was now coming under increasing pressure in view of the limited possibilities of this small and always underfunded racing car manufacturer. After a brief and unsuccessful attempt to counter the German Silver Arrows with a modern racing car design with the Maserati V8RI from 1935/36, the focus was then practically only on the reviving Voiturette class.
But also Scuderia Ferrari, which was still responsible for the Alfa Romeo racing cars, was completely unprepared for the new competition from Germany in 1934. Convinced of being able to dominate the season over the two other traditional Grand Prix manufacturers, the Alfa Romeo Tipo B had only been refined comparatively slightly compared to the previous year and was instead mainly focused on doing as many, even "smaller", races as possible - often in several places at the same time - and collect a maximum of entry and prize money.
Nevertheless, Alfa Romeo remained the only serious challenger for the Silver Arrows until 1937 , especially after Tazio Nuvolari's return to Ferrari, which was allegedly caused by Italy's dictator Benito Mussolini himself in 1935 , who at least occasionally managed to achieve individual sensational successes. Above all, Nuvolari's victory at the German Grand Prix of 1935 on the now technically outdated Tipo B (which has now been used for the fourth season) has since been considered one of the absolute highlights in Grand Prix history. But despite - or perhaps because of - the almost desperate attempt by chief designer Vittorio Jano to catch up on the technical deficit by developing several models in parallel, even an exceptional driver like Nuvolari could not prevent the distance to the Germans from widening in the following period.
The situation for private drivers had also become increasingly difficult beforehand. In contrast to the works teams, who now often benefit from model improvements and increases in displacement several times a year, they of course could not always afford new racing cars in order to keep pace with rapid technical developments. Even Nuvolari, who was always striving for independence, finally had to recognize this at the end of 1934 after a disappointing season with alternating missions on Maserati and Bugatti when he unwillingly returned to Scuderia Ferrari in 1935. Others, such as the two Frenchmen Philippe Étancelin and Raymond Sommer or the Swiss Hans Ruesch , managed to keep themselves successful for a while with mostly discarded vehicle material from the works teams in less important races, whereby Ruesch in particular developed talent for racing events to track down in increasingly exotic locations. From ice races in Scandinavia to the southern tip of Africa, from South America to Asia, Grand Prix-style races with sometimes adventurous fields of participants came into fashion everywhere. The organizers of the great European racing classics, on the other hand, were more anxious than ever to organize the entry and prize money in such a way that as well-known teams and drivers as possible were attracted to their races, which of course was primarily at the expense of private drivers. The French ACF fell so far back into its old ways of thinking that from 1934 onwards it no longer accepted any reports from independent participants for its Grand Prix (after which it was even discussed to exclude the race from the newly launched European Championship). The Belgian Automobile Club also acted in a similar way, handling the allocation of starting places for its Grand Prix in a particularly restrictive manner, so that rarely more than ten participants were represented at the races. The founding of the Independent Drivers Organization (a kind of union for the representation of interests) could only change the situation little, so that the mass of private drivers, who at the end of the 1920s had made a decisive contribution to the survival of Grand Prix sport, have now changed primarily had to turn to other racing categories. In particular, this led to a real boom in the “small” voiturette category for racing cars up to 1.5 liters displacement, for which, from 1935, even completely independent racing events were increasingly being held. For this category, Maserati and the British racing car manufacturer ERA in particular offered vehicles that were on the one hand reasonably affordable, but on the other hand absolutely competitive, resulting in exciting races with colorful fields like at the best of Formula Libre .
At the same time, public interest in the Grand Prix class began to flatten again significantly in view of the increasingly monotonous dominance of the two German racing teams. So after the two successful years 1934 and 1935, in which in addition to the then record number of six Grandes Épreuves more than 20 other international races were held, more and more organizers turned to other racing categories - above all even the venerable ACF, his Instead, the Grand Prix of 1936 and 1937 once again ran as a sports car race in the 4.5-liter class, which is strongly promoted in this country. In addition, a whole series of other events had to be canceled due to the increasing international conflicts (such as the Spanish Grand Prix as a result of the civil war that broke out there in 1936 , as well as the Masaryk races in Brno in 1938 after the occupation of the Sudetenland by the German Empire ), which further thinned out the Grand Prix calendar of the immediate pre-war years.
To turn the tide again, the AIACR tried to redistribute the cards by issuing a new Grand Prix formula for 1938. After the unsuccessful attempt to effectively curb the performance gains of the Grand Prix models in the previous formula by limiting the weight, a return was now made to limiting the displacement, whereby the assignment of engine sizes to minimum weights in the form of a "sliding scale" also allowed for weaker engines , but wanted to give lighter racing cars a chance. In addition, for the first time in the history of Grand Prix racing, a fixed ratio was set for the displacement of naturally aspirated and supercharged engines in order to ensure more balance and structural diversity. For the first time in ten years, the Grand Prix formula and the regulations for the Indianapolis race were also standardized again. In the end, however, the factor of 1.5: 1 in favor of the naturally aspirated engines proved to be just as inadequate as the assignment of the minimum weights in the "sliding scale", so that in the end the German manufacturers with their 3 liter supercharged engines again set the tone.
Thanks to a further increase in development effort, they succeeded in largely compensating for the loss of power associated with halving the displacement by means of maximum increases in engine speed. In particular, the ultra-flat Mercedes-Benz W 154 , in which the drive shaft was guided past the pilot's seat thanks to the sloping V12 engine, set new standards in perfection and elegance and Caracciola was able to win three of the five Grandes Épreuves of the season in 1938 secure the European title for the third time. Only once, right in the first race of the new formula in 1938 at the race in Pau , the Silver Arrows had to win with René Dreyfus on his Delahaye 145 (which was basically a pure sports car with the headlights and fenders removed ) accept a defeat against a foreign make - in this case even a 4.5-liter naturally aspirated car. However, this was a one-off slip and for the rest of the time until the outbreak of war, Mercedes and Auto Union then did the races on their own again.
During this time there was also a breakthrough for Hermann Lang at Mercedes , who - much to the displeasure of his established team colleagues Caracciola and von Brauchitsch - had worked his way up from a simple mechanic to a regular driver since 1935 and finally in 1939 with victories in the Grand Prix of Belgium and Switzerland , as well as in Pau and the Eifel race, celebrated its most successful season. Because the AIACR was no longer able to act after the outbreak of the Second World War at the end of the year, NSKK leader Adolf Hühnlein declared Lang to be the “European champion” without further ado , even though the Auto-Union driver was actually the Auto-Union driver when the points system that had been in effect up until then Hermann ("HP") Müller would have led the ranking with only one victory in the French Grand Prix . As early as 1938, the Briton Richard Seaman sensationally won the German Grand Prix as a so-called “junior” driver in the team . However, the promising young talent died the following year after a serious accident at the Belgian Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps.
The Auto Union team, on the other hand, was paralyzed at the beginning of the 1938 season after Rosemeyer's accidental death, which was the sole focus of all activities, and it took a while before it was able to recover from this setback, especially since Hans Stuck quickly reactivated due to his age, actually no longer regarded as a top pilot of international stature. In addition, Ferdinand Porsche had ended the collaboration in the meantime in order to devote himself to the Volkswagen project. Only when Nuvolari, finally disappointed by Alfa Romeo, joined the team in the middle of the 1938 season, the new Auto Union "Type D" developed by Professor Eberan von Eberhorst for the new 3-liter formula (which had Auto Union racing cars never official names, the typing was only introduced later by motorsport authors for the purpose of better differentiation) and at the end of the season the Italian was able to clinch another victory for Auto Union at the Italian Grand Prix in front of his home crowd after more than a year.
Despite these successes by an Italian driver, interest in the Grand Prix class races in Italy decreased. After the Alfa Romeo 12C-37 from 1937 had proven to be a complete flop, which, in addition to Nuvolari's departure from Auto Union, also resulted in the immediate dismissal of chief designer Vittorio Jano , the collaboration with Ferrari was terminated and the factory was now increasingly turning to the Voiturette class, for which Gioacchino Colombo put an absolutely successful model on the wheels with the Alfa Romeo 158 "Alfetta" , with which victory after victory soon followed. In the Grand Prix class, on the other hand, in the search for a remedy against the oppressive superiority of German racing cars in 1938, initially three completely different engine concepts were pursued, mostly simultaneously. However, it is precisely this fragmentation that is considered to be one of the main reasons why none of the undertakings was really crowned with success. Because, due to the increasing international tensions with France and Great Britain (the League of Nations imposed sanctions on Italy after the war in Ethiopia at the end of 1935 and both sides were in opposing camps both in the Spanish Civil War and in the Sudeten crisis), the Mussolini regime decided Italian teams and drivers were increasingly banned from starting foreign races and in Italy, in view of the oppressive superiority of the German Silver Arrows at the Grand Prix, all eyes were now only on the Voiturette races, Alfa Romeo finally even completely stopped the Grand Prix activities .
A brief reawakening of Maserati, whose perfectly lying but not too stable Maserati 8CTF in the initial phase of the races in the circle of the Silver Arrows could cause temporary unrest and finally in 1939 and 1940 even succeeded twice in Indianapolis with Wilbur Shaw , could Do not change the fact that the days of this Grand Prix formula were practically numbered. After more and more race organizers had switched to the Voiturette class, the Italians finally took the consequences for 1939 and announced that all of their races would only be advertised for the 1.5 liter category, where the "Alfettas" are now had worked out an absolutely dominant position. To the surprise of the Italians, Daimler-Benz was not deterred by this and developed the Mercedes-Benz W 165 in a record time of six months, a scaled-down version of the W-154 Grand Prix model with a 1.5-liter in-line eight-cylinder, the Lang and Caracciola promptly achieved a sensational double victory over the entire Italian racing elite at the first and at the same time only appearance of this type in the particularly prestigious race for the Tripoli Grand Prix, before the two cars immediately disappeared behind the closed factory doors.
In nominal terms, however, the existing 3-liter formula remained in force, as the AIACR could no longer make any other resolutions due to the outbreak of war. Otherwise, the general switch to the 1.5-liter class as the new Grand Prix formula would have been expected in 1941, for which in Germany - still in the certainty that the war would probably end soon with a positive outcome - not only the Mercedes W 165 but also the Auto Union was already working on the development of a suitable model from 1939. Most recently, however, Nuvolari was able to achieve one more Grand Prix victory of his long and successful career in a race in Belgrade for Auto Union , three days after the German attack on Poland, and in Italy, where Alfa Romeo and Maserati continue undaunted After working on new types of racing cars, racing started again until the country entered the war in June 1940. In the USA, Indianapolis was also used until 1941 , before the racing engines finally fell silent worldwide.
Departure into the new era (1945–1949)
At the end of the Second World War, large parts of continental Europe were in ruins and even in regions that were less directly affected, the inhabitants often had to fight an everyday struggle for basic supplies of food, clothing and other everyday goods. For most of the population, individual automobile traffic was a luxury that was practically impossible to reach. Not only were motor vehicles confiscated for military purposes in many places, but the supply of fuel and tires in particular posed a considerable problem, so gasoline rationing and general driving bans were still the order of the day for some time in almost all of Europe - even in neutral Switzerland were.
The clearer expression of the general longing for normality and distraction is the fact that just four months after the end of the fighting in Europe (and only one week after the capitulation of Japan ) another car race was held in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris . In front of a backdrop of over 200,000 spectators, practically everything that was available in France at that time in terms of more or less competitive vehicles of all ages, roughly divided into three different classes, from the small Simca 1100 self-made sports car to the last pre-war Grand Prix Bugatti model with the powerful 4.7-liter supercharged engine, with which Jean-Pierre Wimille also emerged as the winner of the main race of the day.
From 1946 on there were racing events all over Europe, even in occupied and divided Germany that was excluded from international motorsport. The differences to the last Grand Prix season before the war could hardly have been more serious. Many time-honored traditional race tracks such as Monza , Brooklands or the Nürburgring were partly confiscated for military or other purposes, badly damaged by the war events or even completely dismantled, so that for the first post-war races mainly improvised courses on public roads or in parks, motorway sections were obsolete Military airfields and the like had to serve, preferably within the city limits or directly outside the gates of larger cities, so that it was even possible to get a larger audience to the route in view of the limited means of transport. Not infrequently, some approval hurdles first had to be overcome because the public authorities were often very restrictive of such “waste of resources”.
What was astonishing was the often very strong line-up in the races from the start. "Real" Grand Prix racing cars were rare (which corresponded to the provisions of the last Grand Prix racing formula from 1938) because practically only the two German automobile groups Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union developed new models in this category until recently had. In principle, the only really modern example of such a "formula racing car" was the Alfa Romeo Tipo 308 from 1938 with a 3-liter eight-cylinder engine, with which Jean-Pierre Wimille drove the still to be found, albeit much older, Grand- Prix types such as B. Maserati 8CM, Bugatti Type 51, Alfa Romeo "Type Monza" etc. was clearly superior. In contrast, the racing cars of the Voiturette class survived the war in significantly larger numbers, for which Maserati in particular (and to a lesser extent the British ERA racing team) had produced vehicles for private drivers who were hungry for racing before the war. Racing team owners such as Reginald Parnell in Great Britain or the brothers Emilio and Arialdo Ruggeri with their Scuderia Milan had also bought up racing cars in a row during and after the war, which they could now make available to other drivers for a fee. Before the war, France, on the other hand, turned to the category of racing sports cars with a displacement of up to 4.5 liters without a compressor, so that numerous Talbots, Delahayes and Delages were available, which were made by removing spare wheels, headlights and fenders, and sometimes also by replacing entire ones Bodies that could be transformed into "makeshift racing cars" with relative ease.
Nominally, the International Automobile Association AIACR , which renamed itself to FIA (for Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile ) in the summer of 1946 , had the Grand Prix racing formula originally valid until 1940 (essentially racing cars with supercharged engines up to 3 liters displacement and with naturally aspirated engines up to 4.5 liters displacement) officially extended again until the end of the year, but because no other official Grandes Épreuves were held in 1946 with the exception of the 500 miles from Indianapolis , the organizers were not bound by it and could issue their own regulations for their races. Due to the existing vehicle fleet, the combination of the 1.5-liter voiturettes with supercharger and the 4.5-liter racing / sports cars with naturally aspirated engines soon prevailed, which was finally approved by the FIA with a touch of pragmatism for 1947 also became the official new International Grand Prix racing formula ("Formule Internationale") and essentially remained in force until 1953 . Starting with the Swiss Grand Prix of 1947 , regular official Grand Prix operations were resumed.
With the promotion of the 1.5-liter racing car to the new Grand Prix class, the previous Voiturette formula had of course become obsolete, so that in the successor (with supercharged engines up to 1.1 liters and naturally aspirated engines up to 2 liters) again enforced a new quasi-standard. Nevertheless, for 1948 the FIA felt compelled to add a second, "smaller" racing formula ( Formule Internationale No. 2 ) to the still valid Formule Internationale (or from now on Formule Internationale No. 1 ) for the first time officially . Surprisingly, however, the capacity limitation for compressor motors was again reduced significantly to 0.5 liters. As a result of this, many small companies that had previously been very popular, such as Gordini , Cisitalia or Stanguellini , found themselves in a constructive dead end with their 1.1-liter racing cars derived from the Fiat Millecento , so that the new category was soon completely replaced by the Ferrari 166 with 2 -Liter V12 engine was dominated.
With the introduction of this new, additional racing formula, the organizers were able to choose between two categories - insofar as they were not Grandes Épreuves . In order to distinguish between the various terms used initially, the terms Formula 1 and Formula 2 gradually gained acceptance . In fact, the introduction of the "small" formula also meant the end of the "formula-free" races. In theory, the organizers were still free to choose their terms and conditions, but in practice - at least in Europe - from now on almost all available racing cars corresponded to one of the two racing formulas. Only in South America had a large number of discarded older Grand Prix racing cars accumulated in the meantime, with which from the winter of 1946/47 onwards every year in the off-season - when racing in Europe largely stopped due to the season - a series of Formula Libre Race was carried out, which were summarized under the term Temporada . Soon more and more European drivers and racing teams recognized the potential of these events, at which they not only fill their racing coffers properly with the attractive entry and prize money during the otherwise race-free time, but also by selling their discarded racing cars on site could generate additional income. At the same time, the local drivers had the opportunity to compete directly in the fight with the Europeans, and not a few succeeded in switching to the great Grand Prix , not least thanks to generous state funding from the Peron regime in Argentina. Prix stage.
In the meantime, in the middle of the 1946 season, the Alfa Romeo works team had finally returned to Grand Prix racing in Europe after they had managed to hide six of the superior Alfa Romeo Tipo 158s of the earlier Voiturette class in various barns and factory halls To save war. Even if the team only focuses on a few selected, really important racing events in its racing activities, such as the 1946 Grand Prix des Nations in Lausanne, Switzerland or the Gran Premio del Valentino held in the city park of Turin , as well as, of course, the Grandes that take place regularly from 1947 onwards Épreuves , the action on the Alfa Romeo racetracks was immediately dominated again. At the first appearance in 1946 in the Paris suburb of Saint-Cloud , the two started Alfettas were thrown out of the race due to defects, but afterwards an uninterrupted series of victories of no fewer than 26 races in a row began, in which the constantly further developed racing cars were just barely at the beginning below 200 HP (when they first appeared in Livorno in 1938), they finally achieved an engine output of over 400 HP by the 1951 season thanks to a continuous increase in the compressor boost pressure.
The team was often itself the main opponent because there was often strong rivalry between their own top drivers - despite the iron stables being directed by race director Giovanni Battista Guidotti . For example, long-time regular driver Giuseppe Farina left the team at the end of 1946 due to such internal team conflicts and Wimille, who was finally accepted into the works team after his success with the Tipo 308 , was repeatedly excluded from his own team management for some races because he himself had not previously followed the previously agreed order. After the pre-war star Achille Varzi, who had regained his strength after the war and was cured of his drug addiction, died in an accident during training for the Swiss Grand Prix of 1948, Alfa Romeo was in a race in South America after Wimille's accidental death and was diagnosed with cancer Carlo Felice Trossi ended up without a top driver at the beginning of the 1949 season . Because the company was also in a phase of upheaval again and in view of its own successes there was nothing more to prove anyway, the decision was finally made to retire from Grand Prix racing for a year in order to take on the new one that began in 1950 To be able to reorganize the automobile world championship .
In the 1946 races without Alfa Romeo, the Scuderia Milan and their top driver Raymond Sommer (as a practically unofficial works team for Maserati) had the better end for themselves. For the team, the great pre-war star, Tazio Nuvolari, won the Grand Prix d'Albi for the last time at the wheel of a racing car on one of their Maserati 4CLs . Overall, however, the Ruggeris team had taken on itself financially and organizationally, so that from 1947 onwards the Scuderia Ambrosiana with its two top drivers Luigi Villoresi , the most successful driver of this era in terms of race victories, never won one the official International Grand Prix succeeded, and the still quite inexperienced Alberto Ascari rose to the new flagship team for Maserati. End of the season also the only existing Talbot-seater the managed the returned after many years of break Grand Prix veteran Louis Chiron in the absence of Alfa Romeo (Wimille had just fallen once again in favor with the team) Ecurie France at the French Grand Prix yet once a victory in a Grande Épreuve .
The Italian-British businessman and engineer Antonio "Tony" Lago bought the Talbot plant in Suresnes, France, from the bankruptcy estate of the STD group (for Sunbeam , Talbot , Darracq ) in 1936 in order to primarily produce sporty models there. It quickly turned out that these cars offered a good platform for participation in sports cars and before the war three thoroughbred racing cars (in addition to Chiron's later winning car, two models with a laterally offset cockpit in the style of racing cars) were produced. In view of Chiron's success, the idea finally matured to derive a further developed Grand Prix model from it and to produce it in small series for private driver customers, whereby the Lago-Talbot brand made a decisive contribution to the Grand Prix fields from 1948 onwards to fill. Although the Talbot T26C with their 4.5-liter in-line six-cylinder naturally aspirated engines could not keep up with their supercharged Italian competitors in terms of engine output, they were often able to race without them due to their comparatively low fuel consumption to get through time-consuming refueling stops.
Although Farina, who started on his own account after being thrown out of Alfa Romeo , was also able to win a Grand Prix classic for Maserati at the Monaco Grand Prix in 1948 , it was Scuderia Ambrosiana that was the first two at the race in San Remo that year Copies of the new model Maserati 4CLT / 48 , were made available. Right off the bat, Ascari was able to achieve the first more significant victory of his career ahead of his teammate Villoresi, which immediately earned the new Grand Prix type the honorable nickname San Remo Maserati . The season also brought the first steps of the 37-year-old Argentinian Juan Manuel Fangio - the future five-time world automobile champion - who had his final breakthrough at the start of the 1949 season with three victories in a row on another Maserati 4CLT / 48 of the Argentine automobile club, which operates with state support Automóvil Club Argentino (ACA) could celebrate.
The entry of Ferrari , which has been the only manufacturer of Grand Prix racing cars since 1948, virtually symbolized Formula 1 for decades, had an even more far-reaching influence on the further course of Grand Prix history . After Enzo Ferrari left Alfa Romeo in 1938, he began building new racing cars in Maranello during the war . At the 1948 Italian Grand Prix , three pure-bred Ferrari 125C Grand Prix racing cars, drawn by Gioacchino Colombo (the "father" of Alfetta ) , competed for the first time . The somewhat clumsy vehicles with their, in contrast to Alfa Romeo and Maserati, only simply charged 1.5-liter V12 supercharged engines were not yet a resounding success, and although the strongest opponent had disappeared in 1949 with the exit of Alfa Romeo, they had to fight The Villoresi and Ascari (jointly, because inseparable) poached from Maserati even beat the heavy and comparatively underpowered new Talbot T26C from Louis Rosier at the Belgian Grand Prix , because this one with the frugal 4.5 liter naturally aspirated engine wins the race once more could drive through without refueling. This was also the last International Grand Prix in which the starting grid was not determined based on the lap times achieved in training.
Although Ascari was able to achieve the first Grand Prix successes for Ferrari at the Swiss Grand Prix and then at the Italian Grand Prix with a model that was once again significantly improved, the performances were in each case behind those of the Alfettas in the previous year. This, together with the experience from Spa , finally moved Ferrari to start developing a new 4.5-liter model with a naturally aspirated engine for 1950 .
Continuation: The Automobile World Championship (from 1950)
When the motorcycle world federation (then still FICM ) announced the introduction of a motorcycle world championship for the following year in the summer of 1948, demands were immediately raised among the functionaries of the international automobile umbrella organization FIA to also transfer this to the automotive sector. At the annual conference as part of the Paris Motor Show , the decision was finally made to host a world championship for drivers from the 1950 season in Grand Prix racing , for which the results of the official International Grand Prix of the classic automobile nations (the Grandes Épreuves ) including the Indianapolis 500 mile race in the USA should be considered. As was the case before at the European Grand Prix Championship in the 1930s, this was not given too much attention by the public or the relevant press in advance, especially since the FIA's non-transparent and extremely restrictive information policy its predecessor organization, AIACR, continued quite consistently during this time.
The fact that the introduction of a world championship was initially not perceived as an overly decisive event from the point of view of that time can also be seen in the fact that in the first year there was hardly any interest among the teams in a really serious participation. After all, the prospect of such a prestigious title was reason enough, at least for Alfa Romeo, to revise the withdrawal from Grand Prix racing announced in the previous year, which is not a great risk for the team given the previous dominance of the Alfettas was connected. For the other racing teams, however, the individual races continued to predominate. Ferrari, after all the most successful team in the previous season, did not even compete in the first race of the new season at the British Grand Prix of 1950 because it was impossible to agree with the organizers about the entry fee to be paid to the team.
It was only in the face of the exciting title fight in 1950 and the epic duel between Alfa Romeo and Ferrari in the 1951 season that things took a turn and the fight for the world championship now became more and more the focus of public attention, not least because it was constantly increasing Number of races the importance of the individual races decreased more and more.
While from today's point of view, more popular publications, countless Formula 1 statistics sites on the Internet and, not least of all, the FIA and the Formula One Group themselves, as sponsors of today's Formula 1 World Championship, often take the approach that the history of Formula 1 on the However, in the opinion of many specialist authors, reducing the number of years since the introduction of the world championship in 1950 merely represents a further, albeit particularly sustainable, step in the development of Grand Prix racing that goes back to the beginnings of automobile history. For example, the first automobile world champion history, Giuseppe Farina, was by no means able to win his very first Formula 1 race straight away with the Grand Prix of Great Britain in 1950 , but on the contrary already looked at 20 participations in Grand Prix and Formula 1 races and also already on a victory in a Grande Épreuve (at the Grand Prix of Monaco 1948) back.
From 1906 to 1949 a total of 81 Grandes Épreuves - or until 1922 Grands Prix de l'ACF and Gran Premio d'Italia - were held according to the provisions of the official International Grand Prix racing formula. Borderline cases are:
- American Grand Prize 1908-1916; seven races in total - not included
- Gran Premio d'Italia 1921 - term of Grandes Épreuves by the International Automobile Association AIACR not yet officially in use - included
- Swiss Grand Prix 1934 - not yet classified as Grande Épreuve by the AIACR - included
- Swiss Grand Prix 1935 - not yet classified as Grande Épreuve by the AIACR , but classified as part of the European Grand Prix Championship - included
- 1936 Hungarian Grand Prix - not classified as Grande Épreuve by the AIACR and no run to the European Championship - not included
- Masaryk Race ( Velká cena Masarykova in Czech ; often referred to as the Czechoslovak Grand Prix ) 1930–1937; a total of seven races - not classified as Grandes Épreuves by the AIACR and also no races for the European Championship - not included
- 1949 Grand Prix of Great Britain - Grande Épreuve status not assured - included
- 1949 Czechoslovak Grand Prix - not classified as Grande Épreuve by the FIA - not included
- Indianapolis 500 mile race from 1911 to 1949; A total of 33 races - classified as Grandes Épreuves and regularly valued at the Automobile World Championship , but generally not carried out according to the regulations of the International Formula - not included
- Other Grands Prix of France , Belgium , Spain and Germany , which were not held according to the regulations of the International Formula (e.g. as a sports car race ) - not included
In the period from 1906 to 1949, a total of 427 drivers took part in at least one Grande Épreuve or at least one official International Grand Prix of one of the major automobile nations. Drivers who started at the Swiss Grand Prix of 1939 and 1947 only in one of the preliminary heats, but not in the main race (a total of six drivers), were not counted, nor were all participants who entered a Grand Prix and / or traveled there but then did not drive in the race for various reasons. However, all drivers who took over from another driver at the wheel during a race were also counted, even if only a few laps were involved.
Lists all drivers who competed in Grand Prix races before 1950 and
- have achieved at least one podium finish in a Grand Prix race in their career (even after 1950)
- have at least five GP participations before 1950
- whose GP career began before 1921 and who have participated in at least three GPs
- whose GP career continued after 1949
- in addition, all drivers from Germany, Austria and Switzerland
|driver||nation||from||to||GP starts total||GP starts before 1950||Wins overall||Victories before 1950||Total podium places||Podiums before 1950|
|Harry Schell||USA / France||1949||1960||58||1||0||0||2||0|
|Juan Manuel Fangio||Argentina||1948||1958||22nd||2||24||0||35||0|
|Louis Chiron||Monaco / France||1927||1955||53||38||6th||6th||11||10|
|Roy Salvadori||Great Britain||1949||1962||48||1||0||0||2||0|
|Emmanuel de Graffenried||Switzerland||1938||1956||35||13||1||1||2||2|
|" Prince Bira "||Thailand / Great Britain||1938||1954||28||9||0||0||1||1|
|Hans Stuck||Germany / Austria||1934||1953||27||24||2||2||9||9|
|Johnny Claes||Belgium / Great Britain||1949||1955||27||4th||0||0||0||0|
|Manfred von Brauchitsch||Germany||1934||1939||24||24||2||2||11||11|
|Peter Whitehead||Great Britain||1947||1954||16||6th||0||0||1||0|
|Carlo Felice Trossi||Italy||1933||1948||15th||15th||2||2||6th||6th|
|Reginald Parnell||Great Britain||1947||1954||13||7th||0||0||1||0|
|Hermann Paul Muller||Germany||1937||1939||10||10||1||1||2||2|
|Bob Gerard||Great Britain||1947||1957||10||2||0||0||1||1|
|Francis Howe||Great Britain||1931||1936||10||10||0||0||0||0|
|William Grover-Williams||Great Britain||1927||1936||8th||8th||2||2||2||2|
|Richard Seaman||Great Britain||1936||1939||7th||7th||1||1||2||2|
|Pierre de Vizcaya||Spain||1922||1926||7th||7th||0||0||2||2|
|Arthur Duray||France / USA / Belgium||1906||1930||7th||7th||0||0||0||0|
|Kenelm Lee Guinness||Great Britain||1908||1924||7th||7th||0||0||0||0|
|Cuth Harrison||Great Britain||1947||1950||7th||4th||0||0||0||0|
|Henry Segrave||Great Britain||1921||1926||6th||6th||1||1||1||1|
|David Murray||Great Britain||1949||1952||6th||2||0||0||0||0|
|Duncan Hamilton||Great Britain||1949||1953||6th||1||0||0||0||0|
|George Eyston||Great Britain||1926||1933||5||5||0||0||0||0|
|Ernst von Delius||Germany||1935||1937||5||5||0||0||0||0|
|Raymond Mays||Great Britain||1935||1949||5||5||0||0||0||0|
|Peter Walker||Great Britain||1949||1955||5||1||0||0||0||0|
|Ferenc Szisz||Hungary / France||1906||1914||4th||4th||1||1||2||2|
|Gastone Brilli Peri||Italy||1925||1928||4th||4th||1||1||1||1|
|Ralph DePalma||United States||1912||1921||4th||4th||0||0||0||0|
|George Abecassis||Great Britain||1948||1952||4th||2||0||0||0||0|
|Tony Rolt||Great Britain||1949||1955||4th||1||0||0||0||0|
|George Heath||USA / France||1906||1908||3||3||0||0||0||0|
|Dragutin eater||Germany / France||1912||1914||3||3||0||0||0||0|
|Leslie Johnson||Great Britain||1947||1950||3||2||0||0||0||0|
|David Hampshire||Great Britain||1949||1950||3||1||0||0||0||0|
|Brian Shawe-Taylor||Great Britain||1949||1951||3||1||0||0||0||0|
|Jimmy Murphy||United States||1921||1923||2||2||1||1||2||2|
|Hermann zu Leiningen||Germany||1934||1934||2||2||0||0||0||0|
|Geoffrey Crossley||Great Britain||1949||1950||2||1||0||0||0||0|
|Philip Fotheringham-Parker||Great Britain||1949||1951||2||1||0||0||0||0|
|René Le Bègue||France||1939||1939||1||1||0||0||1||1|
|Horst von Waldthausen||Switzerland / Germany||1933||1933||1||1||0||0||0||0|
|Ernst Günther Burggaller||Germany||1934||1934||1||1||0||0||0||0|
|Henri Simonet||Switzerland ?||1937||1937||1||1||0||0||0||0|
|Hans Hugo Hartmann||Germany||1939||1939||1||1||0||0||0||0|
Listed all manufacturers of racing cars that took part in Grands Prix between 1906 and 1949 (actually started), including the participation of private drivers. Each race is only counted once, even if several vehicles of the same make have participated.
|brand||nation||from||to||GP starts total||GP starts before 1950||Wins overall||Victories before 1950|
|Mercedes Benz)||Germany||1906||2020||246 A||35||122||20th|
|Aston Martin||Great Britain||1922||1960||7th||2||0||0|
|Mathis||Germany / France||1913||1921||3||3||0||0|
|Halford Special||Great Britain||1926||1927||2||2||0||0|
|Eldridge Special||Great Britain||1925||1925||1||1||0||0|
|Cooper Engineering||United States||1927||1927||1||1||0||0|
|Thomas Special||Great Britain||1927||1927||1||1||0||0|
- Adriano Cimarosti: Car races - The great prices of the world, cars, tracks and pilots from 1894 to today , Hallwag AG, Bern, 1986, ISBN 3-444-10326-3
- Paul Sheldon with Yves de la Gorce & Duncan Rabagliati: A Record of Grand Prix and Voiturette Racing, Volume 1 1900-1925 , St. Leonard's Press, Bradford, 1987, ISBN 0-9512433-0-6 (English)
- Paul Sheldon with Yves de la Gorce & Duncan Rabagliati: A Record of Grand Prix and Voiturette Racing, Volume 2 1926-1931 , St. Leonard's Press, Bradford, 1990, ISBN 0-9512433-3-0 (English)
- Paul Sheldon with Duncan Rabagliati, Yves de la Gorce & Jean-Maurice Gigleux: A Record of Grand Prix and Voiturette Racing, Volume 3 1932–1936 , St. Leonard's Press, Bradford, 1992, ISBN 0-9512433-7-3 (English )
- Paul Sheldon with Duncan Rabagliati, Yves de la Gorce & Jean-Maurice Gigleux: A Record of Grand Prix and Voiturette Racing, Volume 4 1937–1949 , St. Leonard's Press, Bradford, 1993, ISBN 0-9512433-8-1 (English )
- Hodges, David: AZ of Grand Prix Cars , The Crowood Press, Ramsbury, 2001, ISBN 1-86126-339-2
- Karl Ludvigsen: Classic Grand Prix Cars - The front-engined Formula 1 Era 1906–1960 , Sutton Publishing, Stroud, 2000, ISBN 0-7509-2189-7
- Robert Dick: Mercedes and Auto Racing in the Belle Epoque 1895 - 1915 , MacFarland & Co, Jefferson, 2005, ISBN 0-7864-1889-3 (English)
- Tim Considine: American Grand Prix Racing - A Century of Drivers & Cars , MBI Publishing, Osceola, 1997, ISBN 0-7603-0210-3 (English)
- Carlo Demand, Paul Simsa: Kühne Männer Tolle Wagen - The Gordon Bennett Races 1900–1905 , Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart, 1987, ISBN 3-613-01099-2
- Martin Pfundner: From Semmering to the Grand Prix - The automobile sport in Austria and its history , Böhlau Verlag, Vienna, Cologne, Weimar, 2003, ISBN 3-205-77162-1
- Halwart Schrader: Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows - The legendary racing cars of the era 1934–1955 , BLV Verlagsgesellschaft, Munich, 1987, ISBN 3-405-13380-7
- Jon M Bill: Duesenberg Racecars & Passenger Cars Photo Archive ; Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum (Ed.), Iconografix, Hudson WI, Photo Archive Series, ISBN 1-58388-145-X (English)
- Griffith Borgeson: The Golden Age of the American Racing Car , 2nd edition (1998), published by SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers), Warrendale PA, ISBN 0-7680-0023-8 (English)
- JA Martin and Thomas F. Saal: American Auto Racing - The Milestones and Personalities of a Century of Speed , McFarland & Company, Inc., Jefferson NC, ISBN 0-7864-1235-6 (English)
- Alessandro Silva: Back on Track - Racing in the 1940s , Fondazione Negri, Brescia 2019, ISBN 88-89108-40-6 (English).
- Doug Nye: The Autocourse History of the Grand Prix Car 1945-65 , Hazleton Publishing, Richmond, Surrey, 1993, ISBN 1-874557-50-0 (English)
References and comments
- The traditional name Grand Prix de l'ACF was only retained until 1968 for the French Grand Prix .
- In the literature, the view is sometimes taken that the wagons were subject to regulations regarding the maximum weight of 1000 kg from the start. However, other representations contradict this. In particular, the fact that the Panhard racing cars used in 1900 and 1901 corresponded to the models that were also used in other races raises doubts. The sources - in particular Robert Dick: "Mercedes and Auto Racing in the Belle Epoque" (McFarland & Co., Jefferson (NC); 2005) - indicate car weights well above the limit of 1000 kg. It was not until 1902 that the new weight formula was generally introduced by the ACF for the races it organized.
- 1901 the organizer of a race in Pau with the Grand Prix du Sud-Ouest awarded a prize with such a designation in the title for the first time
- Christoph Maria Merki: The bumpy triumph of the automobile 1895–1930 . for the motorization of road traffic in France, Germany and Switzerland. 1st edition. Böhlau, Vienna 2002, ISBN 978-3-205-99479-4 , pp. 273 .
- Representations that the Grand Prix de l'ACF of 1935 was actually not counted as a European Championship are based on a subsequently widespread misunderstanding by a British journalist in his report on the decisive meeting of the international motor sport authority CSI
- cf. Back on track - Racing in the 1940s. Retrieved February 10, 2020 .