Page 1 of 1 In 1950 the first F1 World Championship was ran. Two of the most serious competitors were more related than they looked. Alfa Romeo's dominating 158 'Alfetta' was commissioned by Enzo Ferrari when he was in charge of Alfa Romeo's racing department before the war. The second was Ferrari's own 375.
The governing body's rules allowed for two different engine types, a supercharged 1.5 litre engine or a 4.5 Naturally Aspirated engine. The Alfetta complied to the former as it was originally designed for the voiturette races of the late thirties which had a 1.5 litre maximum. Ferrari's first F1 racer, 125 F1 also incorporated a supercharged engine, but it was not competitive so work started on the normally aspirated 375 soon. Ferrari reasoned that the gas-guzzling supercharged Alfas could be beaten because of the better mileage of the less powerful 4.5 litre V12 engine. This assumption turned out to be correct.
Froilan Gonzales scored Ferrari's first F1 victory at Silverstone in 1951, breaking Alfa Romeo's stronghold. Alberto Ascari won two more Grand Prix and he was still contention for the championship before the final Grand Prix in Barcelona. The Ferraris were outpaced there by the Alfettas because of a wrong tire choice and Ascari finished fourth and second in the championship behind Alfa Romeo's Juan Manuel Fangio. In the final standings four of the top six finishers drove Ferraris, with Gonzales in second.
After clinching F1's first two championship Alfa Romeo withdrew from Grand Prix racing. This left Ferrari as the only serious competitor for the 1952 championship. The governing body decided to run the 1952 and 1953 world championship under F2 regulations to attract more manufacturers, leaving the 375 obsolete. The 375s were not retired, but instead modified with a slightly smaller engine and a longer wheelbase for the 1952 Indy 500. It proved to be quite disastrous with two of the three cars not managing to qualify and the other one not making it to the finish. Page 1 of 1