The first World Championship Formula 1 race of the modern era was staged May 13, 1950 at the Silverstone Circuit in Silverstone, England. Giuseppe “Nino” Farina won the Grand Prix of Europe with his Alfa Romeo Tipo 158 ‘Alfetta’ in convincing fashion.
Alfa Romeo fielded a team of four “Alfetta” to the Silverstone track for the debut World Championship Formula 1 race in 1950. They were entrusted to Giuseppe “Nino” Farina, who became the world champion at the end of the season, and to Luigi Fagioli, Juan Manuel Fangio, the rising Argentine star who won the world title in ’51 again with the Alfetta, and Reg Parnell, a British driver chosen in honour of the country hosting the first Championship.
Farina won the race and two other places on the podium were also Alfa Romeo entries. The cars of the Milan-based company dominated the race, a script that was repeated throughout the Championship. During the season the trio of Farina, Fagioli and Fangio were dubbed by the public as “the 3F” and together with their Alfa Romeo they held the name of Italy high in international motor racing, a historic moment for the country and Alfa Romeo.
After the chequered flag waved between the Abbey and Woodcote, King George VI personally congratulated all the drivers of the Alfa Romeo Team for the exceptional result: pole position (Farina), victory (Farina) and other two places on the podium, fastest lap (Farina) and the top of the league throughout the Grand Prix. “Nino” Farina thus also took home the first “hat trick” of F1.
The 158 was the result of a project of 1938, and the “Alfetta”, which were still competitive twelve years later, albeit with an interval imposed by world events, were still in the midst of their technical development. The regulation of the new Formula 1 allowed the cars to be equipped with a 1.5-litre supercharged engine, or 4.5 litres with atmospheric power. The 158 has an eight-cylinder in-line of 1479 cc with compressor which, starting from 195 HP in 1938, in its subsequent developments arrived at Silverstone in 1950 with almost 300 HP. In 1951, with the “159”, evolution of the “158”, the engine reached a maximum power of 425 hp (450 hp in test), thanks to a two-stage compressor and a host of other improvements. The regulations also did not state a weight limit for the cars, nor for the amount of fuel on board.
The supremacy of the 158 at Silverstone assumed a high symbolic value for Alfa Romeo. The sporting achievements of the Alfetta were a driving force for the rebirth of the Alfa, after the difficulties and damages of a world war that inevitably left its mark. The Alfetta 158 was the closing car of the pre-war era of the brand. In 1951, after the second world championship won by Fangio with the “159”, Alfa Romeo officially retired from racing to concentrate on series production.