xpensive wrote:I heard a legend about Enzo Ferrari on the ropes in the mid 50s, but saved himself by weasling into the Lancia team?
Anyone got a background on this?
Yup, a little for now. I'm at work right now so this is off the top of the head.
In 1954 The Scuderia was not a pretty sight. Their F1 car, the 533 Squalo (shark), epitomised the Old Man's unwavering belief that engine power was the thing to have and the chassis, the handling, was very secondary. These cars were not good, not good at all. They weren't even particularly powerful if I recall correctly. The misery drifted on into 1955, exacerbated by the continuing dominance of the W196 Mercedes, now with Moss as well as Fangio steering it. The 250F Maserati was better than Ferrari's 555 Supersqualo (albeit with not quite top drawer drivers, Moss having gone to Mercedes) but now there was another huge threat from just down the road, the Lancia D50, with Alberto Ascari its lead driver. This was a ground breaking car in many ways, cited by some observers as potentially faster than the W196 Merc.
But, tragically for Lancia, their hopes were destroyed with poor Ascari's death testing a sports car at Monza weeks after his infamous excursion into the harbour at Monte Carlo. Aside from the human tragedy, this was an economic disaster for Lancia. They already had major financial problems, and soon became quite unviable as a force.
Never backward in coming forward, Enzo Ferrari approached Gianni Agnelli, the FIAT chairman and pleaded for his assistance in getting the Lancia operation transplanted into Modena. Agnelli bought the proposition and duly bought Scuderia Lancia, gifting the whole thing, cars, parts, machine tools, engineers, designers to Ferrari.
Ferrari won the 1956 World Championship with Fangio driving. The car was a Lancia D50 with Ferrari badges. Fangio left Ferrari at the end of a single season.