I n 70 years of Formula 1 there are 33 drivers entered into the list of world champions. Hardly anyone knows the first one in history. Guiseppe Farina, called Nino. Doctor of Economics and member of the Tournament High Society. He was the nephew of Battista Farina, the founder of the Pininfarina design studio. Not a natural talent like Juan-Manuel Fangio or Alberto Ascari, but a hard worker and tough opponent on the track. His upright posture with his arms outstretched behind the steering wheel established a new driving style.
Farina had made a name for herself in racing even before the war with Alfa Romeo and Ferrari. After the death of the Alfa Romeo aces Achille Varzi, Jean-Pierre Wimille and Count Carlo Felice Trossi, the works team was re-appointed for the first Formula 1 season in 1950. Alfa Romeo recruited the three “Fs”. All men of the set age. At 38, Juan-Manuel Fangio was the youngest of the trio, followed by Nino Farina at 43 and Luigi Fagioli at the proud age of 53. The fourth car was optionally occupied by Reg Parnell, Piero Taruffi and Consalvo Sanesi. The Alfa Romeo Tipo 158 was a design from 1937.
In the end, Nino Farina and Juan-Manuel Fangio remained as championship candidates. Farina prevailed, probably also because the Alfa team management favored him. Not undeserved, however. The rough Italian led 1,252 kilometers in the six Grand Prix of the year, his rival Fangio only 1,064 kilometers. Both won three races each, both hamstered three fastest race laps each, but Farina was once more in the points.
Farina was Alfa Romeo's dream world champion
Between the penultimate and last Grand Prix was two months off. Juan-Manuel Fangio started the last race with 26 points and Nino Farina with 22 points. Luigi Fagioli had 24 points, but was still an outsider. Only the best four out of seven results counted. Fagioli had to drop one of his four second places in the event of a win. He was only able to overtake Fangio with one win and one fastest race lap, provided that the Argentine remained without points and Farina was no better than third place.
Alfa Romeo played Farina on the world title . The then 43-year-old got the newest model 158/159 with the most powerful engine. The finale started with a battle likeshe had not yet seen the still young Formula 1. Fangio, Farina and Troublemaker Ascari in the Ferrari fought for the top with every trick in the book for 22 laps. Farina prevailed because Ascari had to lay down his arms with an engine breakdown and Fangio with gear damage. Both of them switched to teammates' cars, but Farina could no longer take the world championship.
There was no herb against the 1.5-liter in-line eight-cylinder with Roots compressor. With 385 hp, the Alfa engines set the standard. Ferrari only became a defensive opponent towards the end of the season. And a serious competitor in 1951. Although Alfa Romeo had increased the output of the Tipo 159 to 420 hp. However, at the expense of even higher fuel consumption. Refueling was a must. Ferrari's twelve-cylinder naturally aspirated engines were less voracious.
Defending champion Farina was only number two in the team in 1951. Alfa Romeo racing director Giovanbattista Guidotti put his cards on Fangio. Nevertheless, the old man still managed to win a GP in Spa. The following year Farina moved to Ferrari, only to have Alberto Ascari put in front of his nose. The first world champion in history finished second in 1952 and third in 1953 in the World Cup standings. In 1953 Farina won his fifth and final Grand Prix at the Nürburgring.
Debut with a broken shoulder
Farina made his debut in motorsport in 1933 in a hill climb. Like many of his missions, it ended in the trench. And with a broken shoulder. The old fighter handed out a lot as a racing driver, but was also tough. The list of his accidents and injuries is as long as that of his successes. In 1936 he had an accident at the Grand Prix of Deauville. His opponent in the accident died. Two years later in Tripoli it crashed again. Farina was injured. His opponent died the next day in the hospital from his injuries. At the Czechoslovakian GP in Brno in 1949, two spectators were killed when the Italian with the inverted balaclava slipped.
The worst accident occurred at the 1953 GP Argentina, which took place under chaotic circumstances. The audience satunprotected at the edge of the track. On the 32nd lap, Farina had to avoid a boy who wanted to cross the track. The Italian lost control of his Ferrari and flew into a tightly packed crowd. 15 died, many were seriously injured. After the accident, the organizer completely lost control of what was happening because more and more spectators were now running across the track.
Death in the road car
Farina's ordeal was not over yet. In 1954 he broke his arm in the Mille Miglia. Later that year he suffered severe burns to both legs in a sports car race in Monza and was hospitalized for 20 days. His season was over after two Grand Prix. Farina had to take morphine on his comeback in 1955 to endure the pain. He drove three more Grand Prix. The Belgian GP was his last Grand Prix. He finished him third on the podium with decency. At the Italian GP in 1955 Farina was supposed to drive the Lancia D50, but after tire damage in the banked turns, the team decided not to race. Still, it wasn't quite over. An accident while training for the Indianapolis 500 in 1956 prevented him from taking part in the race. In the same year he had another serious crash in Monza. The collarbone was broken again.
In 1957 the dottore made a second attempt in Indianapolis. During the training days he loaned his car to his teammate Keith Andrews. The American crashed into the wall and died. It was Heaven's last hint to follow his wife's wish and hang up his helmet. Farina was a devout man. It is said that after each of his accidents he prayed to the Virgin Mary to thank God for the divine assistance.
Farina was feared because of his reckless treatment of colleagues on the racetrack. 'You better not get too close to him,' Fangio was once quoted as saying. The 'Gentleman of Turin' was described as arrogant, withdrawn, but then again as generous and well-educated. Despite his many injuries, he did not expect any pity from his colleagues. When Fangio visited him once in the hospital, Farina asked astonished: 'What are you doing here?' He feels for him and wants to wish him a speedy recovery, said Fangio. The answer was probably Farina typical: “You should be happy. Another one less opponent to beat in the next race. ”
The man who survived so many accidents in a racing car died on the road ten years after the end of his career. Farina was on the way from Turin to Reims with his Lotus Cortina, where he wanted to watch the 1966 French GP and take part in John Frankenheimer's film 'Grand Prix'. Farina was planned as a double for main actor Yves Montand. Near Chambéry, the 59-year-old ex-world champion came off the road on a plate of ice, hit a telegraph pole andwas dead on the spot.
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