Motor racing returned to Europe on September 9 1945 with three races held in the Bois de Boulogne in central Paris. With races entitled the Coupe Robert Benoist (who had been executed by the Gestapo), Coupe de la Libération and Coupe des Prisonniers, the prevailing spirit of the meeting was evident, and it was apt that Resistance hero Jean-Pierre Wimille should have been among the winners.
The re-emergence of the sport continued apace in continental Europe during 1946 and Eugène Chaboud’s Delahaye 135S won the Belgian Sports Car Grand Prix. Crucially, Alfa Romeo returned to racing at St Cloud although the 158 “Alfettas” of Wimille and Giuseppe Farina both retired that day. The marque would remain unbeaten for the next 26 races it entered.
The sport’s governing body was restructured at the end of 1946 as the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) and it announced rules for 1947 that limited engine capacity to 1500cc for supercharged units or 4500cc if normally aspirated. These regulations would be known as Formula 1 for the first time.
Wimille emerged as the star of the Alfa Romeo team in 1947 during which he led 1-2-3 finishes at both the Swiss and Belgian GPs. It was even more dominant in the Italian GP, held on a Milan street circuit while Monza was renovated following the ravages of war, with Count Trossi winning as Alfas filled the top four positions. Second on each occasion was the veteran Achille Varzi.
Alfa Romeo did not travel to Lyon for the first post-war French GP which was won by Louis Chiron’s 4.5-litre Lago-Talbot T26C. Another French challenger was introduced but the Albert Lory-designed CTA-Arsenal was an unreliable failure. This was also a time of change for in addition to the deaths of both Ettore Bugatti and Louis Delage, the Maserati brothers sold their company.