FORMULA 1: CAR BY CAR 1950-59 is now available in the U.S. In it, the 1950s are explored in this next installment of Evro Publishing’s decade-by-decade series covering all Formula 1 cars and teams. It’s a must read for enthusiasts of what is arguably the most technically demanding motor sport. You can buy all 304 pages of it from specialist and online booksellers.
When the World Championship was first held in 1950, red Italian cars predominated, from Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Maserati, and continued to do so for much of the period. But, by the time the decade closed, green British cars were in their ascendancy, first Vanwall and then rear-engined Cooper, BRM and Lotus were emerging.
As for drivers, one stood out – Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio becoming World Champion five times. Much of the gossipy stage of this era originates in its numerous privateers and also-rans, all of which receive their due coverage in this hardback book with more than 600 photos.
Year-by-year treatment covers each season in fascinating depth, running through the teams, and their various cars, in order of importance.
- Alfa Romeo: these supercharged 1½-litre cars dominated the first two years, with titles won by Farina (1950) and Fangio (1951).
- Ferrari: this new marque steamrollered the opposition in two seasons run to Formula 2 rules (1952–53), Ascari becoming champion both times, and took two more crowns with Fangio (1956) and Hawthorn (1958).
- Maserati: the fabulous 250F, the decade’s most significant racing car, propelled Fangio to two more of his five championships (1954 and 1957).
- Mercedes-Benz: the German manufacturer stepped briefly into Formula 1 (1954–55) and won almost everything with Fangio and up-and-coming Moss.
- Vanwall: green finally beat red when the Vanwalls, driven by Moss and Brooks, won the inaugural constructors’ title (1958).
- Cooper: the rear-engine pioneers signposted Formula 1’s future when Jack Brabham became World Champion (1959).
Author Peter Higham works in motor racing as a freelance writer and project manager. For nearly 30 years he worked for Haymarket Consumer Media, publisher of motor racing magazines and websites, and for half of that period he was director of LAT Photographic (now Motorsport Images), the world’s largest motor racing photo archive. A motor racing enthusiast since watching his first race in 1973, he has written six previous books, including the International Motor Racing Guide and World Encyclopedia of Racing Drivers. He has been a columnist for Autosport and Motor Sport. He lives in Twickenham, Middlesex.