Giuseppe Farina

Full Name:
Dr Giuseppe Emilio "Nino" Farina
Born:
30th October 1906
Turin, Piedmont
Died:
30th June 1966 (Aged 59)
Aiguebelle, Rhone-Alpes (F), road accident
Nationality:
Italian
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

The taciturn and intensely private Dr Giuseppe Farina will forever be best known as Formula 1’s original World Champion. However, this fiery Italian aristocrat was involved in several accidents during his long career, three of which involved the loss of life. The nephew of famed car designer Pinin Farina, “Nino” completed his national service in the Italian cavalry before graduating from Turin University with a degree in law.

He had already made his motor racing debut by that time – breaking his shoulder when he crashed his 1500cc Alfa Romeo during the 1932 Aosta-Grand St Bernard hillclimb. Farina drove private Maseratis and Alfa Romeos for the next two seasons before starting a Grand Prix for the first time when he retired Gino Rovere’s Maserati 6C-34 from the 1935 Monaco GP.

Farina had attracted the attention of Tazio Nuvolari no less and he joined his mentor at Scuderia Ferrari in 1936. Unfortunately, top flight success proved impossible as the team’s semi-works Alfa Romeos were no match for the dominant Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union teams. There was also evidence of Farina’s at times overly ruthless driving that year. Farina was overtaking Marcel Lehoux’s ERA for second-place in the Deauville GP when their cars touched. Both rolled but while Farina escaped with minor injuries, the French-Algerian was killed after his car caught fire.

With success at the time confined to national events, Farina won the 1937 Coppa Principessa di Piemonte on Naples’s Posillipo street circuit. Sixth in that year’s Monaco GP, Farina was named Italian Champion for the first of three successive seasons.

Alfa Romeo formerly re-entered the sport as a works team in 1938 (with Enzo Ferrari now a consultant) but the year began with Farina at the centre of another tragedy. He collided with Laszlo Hartmann’s Maserati 4CM as he drove through the field following a pitstop. Farina and two spectators were injured but Hartmann succumbed to his back injuries a day later. With Nuvolari defecting to Auto Union later that year, Farina was effectively Alfa Romeo’s team leader when he returned and he finished second at Livorno, Pescara and in the Italian GP.

Farina starred in the wet 1939 Swiss GP when his Alfa Romeo 158 voiturette ran among the Grand Prix cars before slipping to sixth at the finish when the road dried. Some racing continued in Italian territories into 1940 despite the onset of war in Europe. In what was his last appearance for six years, Farina led an Alfa Romeo 1-2-3 in that year’s Tripoli GP.

With his best years lost to the war and service as a tank officer, Farina returned to Alfa Romeo in 1946. His 158 Alfetta won the GP des Nations on his return at Geneva. He crashed a Ferrari 125 Corsa during practice for Piacenza’s sports car race in 1947 and was side-lined for the rest of the season.

Farina returned with a privately-entered Maserati during 1948 and began the year by winning at Mar del Plata during the Argentinean Temporada. Another successful appearance at Geneva was followed a fortnight later by his first victory in a Grande Epreuve – Farina dominating from pole position in Monaco. Poor reliability blighted Farina’s 1949 Grand Prix season with his 4CLT/48 retiring from the Belgian, Swiss, Italian and Czech GPs.

However, the deaths of Jean-Pierre Wimille and, perhaps to a lesser extent, Count Trossi prompted the returning Alfa Romeo team to sign Farina for the inaugural F1 World Championship in 1950. With compatriot Luigi Fagioli and relative newcomer Juan Manuel Fangio as regular team-mates, the 43 year old won the opening Grand Prix at Silverstone. Further success followed in Switzerland and Italy with Farina clinching the title at that Monza finale. Fangio also won three times but Farina’s fourth-place at Spa-Francorchamps proved decisive. However, he crashed at Tabac on the opening lap at Monaco to cause a nine-car pile-up.

Fangio had surpassed Farina as the quickest Alfa Romeo driver by the start of the 1951 F1 season although the reigning champion did win the Belgian GP after his team-mate had lost 14 minutes in the pits. Farina scored another three third-place finishes and was fourth overall in the final standings as Fangio secured the first of his five titles.

Alfa Romeo withdrew from the sport at the end of the season so Farina moved to Ferrari for 1952. Team-mate Alberto Ascari was the class of the field but Farina was still championship runner-up thanks to second-place finishes in Belgium, France, Germany and Holland.

He remained with the team for 1953 but was at the centre of another tragedy at the start of the season. He crashed into the crowd while trying to avoid a young spectator who had wandered onto the track during the Argentine GP. Nine onlookers lost their lives. His only GP victory that season illustrated his increasingly erratic performances. Running in an inconspicuous fourth position in the German GP, he was a man transformed as soon as the dominant Ascari was delayed in the pits. Farina then passed Fangio and Mike Hawthorn to score what proved to be his last win in a championship race. Third in the final 1953 standings, Farina also won that year’s Spa 24 Hours and Nurburgring 1000Kms for Ferrari.

Ascari moved to Lancia in 1954 so Farina was effectively Ferrari team leader once more. He began the year by finishing second in the Argentine GP before winning the Buenos Aires 1000Kms and non-championship Syracuse F1 race. However, he broke his right arm after crashing in the Mille Miglia trying to avoid spectators once more. Back behind the wheel six weeks later, he suffered severe burns to his legs when his sports car burst into flames during practice for the Supercortemaggiore at Monza.

Farina took pain killers to make a courageous return in the 1955 Argentine GP – one of the hottest races in history – and drove a stint in the cars that finished in second and third positions. Fourth at Monaco, he was third in Belgium in his final GP.

Having retired from F1 at the end of the season, Farina failed to qualify a Kurtis KK500D-Ferrari for the 1956 Indianapolis 500 and crashed a Maserati 200S while practising for the following month’s Supercortemaggiore. He recovered from the broken collarbone sustained in that accident to return to Indy in 1957. Farina asked Keith Andrews to try his new Kurtis KK500G-Offenhauser during practice but the American was killed when he crashed in Turn Four. Farina did not to race again.

Farina subsequently worked in the motor industry for Jaguar’s Italian distributor and with Alfa Romeo. He also spent time as the chairman of the Turin Automobile Club’s competition committee and made a failed attempt to launch a racing school in Rome. F1’s original World Champion was renowned for his relaxed, straight-arm driving style and fast getaways at a time before jumping the start was not policed as closely as now.

Ten years after racing for the final time, Farina was killed in a road accident near Chambery while driving his Lotus Cortina to the 1966 French GP.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
1956 F1 World Championship
Scuderia Ferrari
0 (1) 0 0 0 0
1955 F1 World Championship
Scuderia Ferrari
3 (1) 0 3 0
0% win rate
5th 10.33
1954 World Sportscar Championship
Scuderia Ferrari
1 0 1 1 8
1954 F1 World Championship
Scuderia Ferrari
2 1 1 0
0% win rate
8th 6
1953 World Sportscar Championship
Scuderia Ferrari
3 1 2 2 16
1953 F1 World Championship
Scuderia Ferrari
8 0 5 1
13% win rate
3rd 26 (32)
1952 F1 World Championship
Scuderia Ferrari
7 2 4 0
0% win rate
2nd 24 (27)
1951 F1 World Championship
Alfa Corse
7 0 4 1
15% win rate
4th 19 (22)
1950 F1 World Championship
Alfa Corse
6 2 3 3
50% win rate
1st 30
1939 European Championship
Giuseppe Farina
Alfa Corse
2 1 0 0
0% win rate
0
1938 European Championship
Alfa Corse
3 0 1 0
0% win rate
0
1937 AAA National Championship
Scuderia Ferrari
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
12th 256.5
1937 European Championship
Scuderia Ferrari
4 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1936 European Championship
Scuderia Ferrari
3 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1936 AAA National Championship
Scuderia Ferrari
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1935 European Championship
Scuderia Subalpina
Gino Rovere
1 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0