Team Alfa Romeo
|Based in: Milan|
Founded: 1918 (active 1950-1985)
Principal: Carlo Chiti (1979-84), Giovanni Tonti (1984-85)
In the 1920s and 1930s Alfa Romeo was an evocative name in the world of motorsport and at the end of the Second Word War the team launched into a campaign that was to see them win a series of stunning victories before suddenly retiring a the end of the 1951 season.
The company was formed in 1909 as Societa Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili (ALFA), although the name changed in 1918 when Nicola Romeo took control of the factory. The team first entered Grand Prix racing in 1924 with the P2, a car that quickly became the class of the field. Alfa had managed to lure its designer away from Fiat. Vittorio Jano, perhaps the most brilliant designer of the age, was to play a major role in the company's future.
The car won on its first outing at Cremona driven by Antonio Ascari, the father of the future Ferrari champion, Alberto. By 1925 the car was virtually unbeatable and just to rub salt into the the other teams wounds at Spa Jano actually laid out a picnic for his drivers during the race. While his mechanics polished the cars the drivers enjoyed a quality lunch before resuming their utter domination of the race. Unfortunately Ascari was killed in a later race at Montlhery but Alfa won the championship and the right to bear a laurel wreath on their badge.
Jano then did it again with the Tipo B. First raced in 1932 in won every race until 1934 usually piloted by brilliant drivers such as Caracciola and Nuvolari. At this time the sporting team was run by one Enzo Ferrari and when the company was nationalised in 1933 and officially withdrew from motor sport Ferrari continued to field the cars on a semi-works basis. Although the late 30s are best remembered for the dominant forces of Auto Union and Mercedes Alfa did manage to occassionally break the German's stranglehold on the sport as witnessed by Nuvolari's stunning win at the 1935 German Grand Prix.
In 1938 the company regained control of its racing operation and in response to the German domination of the Grand Prix circuits they opted to concentrate on the smaller voiturette class. Gioacchino Columbo designed the Tipo 158 although war intervened and the cars were hidden in a cheese factory in northern Italy for the duration of the war. With the coming of peace the cars were rolled out enjoyed an unbroken string of 26 wins. By 1951 the car, now 13 years old, delivered Juan Manuel Fangio his first ever world title. It was the car's last outing and Alfa Romeo withdrew from the sport to concentrate on sports car racing.
During the 1970s Alfa were experiencing success with their flat-12 cylinder sports car engine and one or two F1 teams began to express an interest. A deal was done with Bernie Ecclestone's Brabham outfit and under the leadership of the former Ferrari engineer Carlo Chiti Alfa once more became interested in the idea of Grand Prix racing. The return came in 1977 when Bruno Giacomelli debuted the Tipo 177 at Zolder. For 1980 Giacomelli was joined by the talented Frenchman, Patrick Depailler and the new V12 powered Tipo 179 looked a potential race winner. Sadly Depailler was killed in testing accident at Hockenheim and Giacomelli never really had what it takes to return Alfa to its glory days. The management realised that and quietly withdrew once more at the end of the 1982 season.
|Car designation||Race years|
|Alfa Romeo 158||1950|
|Alfa Romeo 159||1950 - 1951|
|Alfa Romeo 177||1979|
|Alfa Romeo 179||1979 - 1980|
|Alfa Romeo 179B||1981|
|Alfa Romeo 179C||1981|
|Alfa Romeo 182||1982|
|Alfa Romeo 182B||1982|
|Alfa Romeo 183T||1983|
|Alfa Romeo 183TB||1983|
|Alfa Romeo 184T||1984|
|Alfa Romeo 185T||1985|
|Alfa Romeo 184TB||1985|