Calling all the heroes - 1950s flashback

The F1 World Championship begins, the Brits take Le Mans and Moss wins the Mille Miglia

Formula 1 championship at Silverstone 1950

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The Formula 1 World Championship takes its bow at Silverstone on May 13, as Giuseppe ‘Nino’ Farina becomes the first (post-war) world championship grand prix winner. Pre-war ace Luigi Fagioli and Britain’s Reg Parnell make it an Alfa Romeo 1-2-3 in a race run over 70 laps and lasting 2hr 13min 23sec. Later, at Monza, Farina is crowned the first F1 world champion too.

Jaguar at Le Mans 1951


Jaguar lands the first of its five Le Mans 24 Hours victories scored in the decade, as a works C-type driven by Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead finishes a full nine laps clear of a privately entered Talbot-Lago T26 and 10 ahead of a works Aston. The victory puts Jaguar on the international map and breathes new life into Le Mans as the race that counts for car manufacturers.

Juan Manuel Fangio 1951


Juan Manuel Fangio scoops the first of his five world championships – at 40. But the Argentinian’s success, secured at the season-ending Spanish GP at Pedralbes, marks a watershed for Alfa Romeo and its ageing 159 ‘Alfetta’. Ferrari’s V12 power is a growing force, most notably in the hands of Alberto Ascari. Facing financial and sporting pressure, Alfa withdraws from F1.

1954 French GP Mercedes-Benz


Nine years after the end of the war, Mercedes-Benz returns to grand prix racing with a bang. A new breed of Silver Arrows pitches up at Reims for the French GP. Fangio takes pole position in the fabulous streamlined W196 and he and Karl Kling lead every lap between them, the pair finishing in formation a lap ahead of the stunned opposition.

Stirling Moss win the Mille Miglia 1955


Stirling Moss delivers one of the greatest race drives to win the Mille Miglia. He’s aided in his Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR by friend and navigator Denis Jenkinson. Motor Sport’s continental correspondent then pens the most famous race report ever committed to print. Moss and Jenks complete 1000 miles around Italy in 10hr 7min 48sec at a shade below 100mph. Team-mate Fangio is second – 32min in arrears.

Tony Brooks headshot 1955


Dental student Tony Brooks scores the first grand prix victory for a British car since 1924 – in his first Formula 1 race. Young Brooks is driving for cash-strapped Connaught in the non-championship Syracuse GP, his B-type seeing off the Maseratis of illustrious Luigis Musso and Villoresi. Connaught quickly fades, but its greatest moment foreshadows Britain’s future F1 domination.

Stirling Moss in F1 1958


Moss scores the first win for a rear-engined F1 car, his Cooper running non-stop in sweltering Buenos Aires while his front-engined Ferrari and Maserati rivals must pit for fresh tyres. Canvas is showing through the rubber as Moss finishes less than 3sec ahead of Musso’s Ferrari. A year later Jack Brabham takes a Cooper to the world title and F1 has been turned back to front.

Stirling Moss with Mike Hawthorn


Vanwall is crowned as the first F1 constructors’ champion, but Moss loses out by one point to Ferrari’s Mike Hawthorn in the race to become the first British F1 champion at the season-ending Moroccan GP. The achievements are overshadowed by an accident that leaves Vanwall’s Stuart Lewis-Evans with severe burns. He succumbs to his injuries the following week.

Aston Martin Roy Salvadori and Carroll Shelby Lem Mans 1959


Aston Martin lands what is still its greatest motor sport achievement when Roy Salvadori and Carroll Shelby nurse their DBR1 to victory at the Le Mans 24 Hours after the faster Ferraris wilt. Later in the year, Moss leads the team to World Sportscar Championship glory at Goodwood’s RAC Tourist Trophy, despite a frightening pit fire that sidelines his original race car.