Ferrari is and will always be, the most famous team in Formula One and until the 1990's when McLaren caught up with the prancing horse, it was the most successful in terms of victories. Ferrari reclaimed that status after a very lucrative 1999 season that saw the Constructors cup back in their possession.
Ferrari was racing in the pre-war days of Formula One, and after the World Championship began in 1950, Enzo Ferrari emerged as a strong force. The first
year in of the Championship proved fruitless, but Alberto Ascari and Jose Froilan fought Alfa Romeo in 1951 with Ascari only losing marginally to Juan Manuel Fangio in the final race of the season. Ferrari was ready when the sports governing body ran the races to 2 litre regulations. Ascari dominated in 52 and 53, but then fell behind Maserati and Lancia when 2.5 litre regulations were introduced. At the end of 1955, they took over the Lancias with Fangio using the D50 to score three wins and secure his fourth title. Fangio switched to Maserati in 1957, and unfortunately, Ferrari failed to win a race without the Argentinean ace.
In 1958, the new car, the Tipo146, christened 'Dino' after Enzo's son, put Ferrari back on the Formula One map. Many fans believe that Stirling Moss was the rightful champion that year, but the title fell to Mike Hawthorn and Ferrari in the finale of the season. The next two years saw the Cooper team dominate but Ferrari returned with vengeance in 1961 with the new 1.5 litre Tipo 156 'shark nose'. Tragedy struck as their driver, the great Wolfgang von Trips was killed in the Italian Grand Prix. The teams other driver, Phil Hill, went on to clinch victory for the team.
John Surtees was the next driver to win the cup for the Italian marquee, in 1964, making him famous for being the only man to win the championship on both two wheels and four. 1966 saw the introduction of the three litre and Ferrari were once again struggling, this time trying to match Cosworths superb DFV which was introduced in 1967. For the following 8 years, Ferrari were mid field at best, apart from limited success by Jacky Ickx and a win by his team mate Clay Regazzoni at the Italian Grand Prix in 1970.
A quick, but inexperienced Niki Lauda joined the team in 1974 and although he lost out to Emerson Fittipaldi and McLaren that year, he made amends by winning the title for the team in 1975 and he would have won again if not for his near fatal accident at the Nurburgring, losing to his team mate, James Hunt by a solitary point. He won for Ferrari again in 77. Jody Scheckter won the title for them in 1979 and in doing so is still the last man to win the drivers title for the team. He beat his teammate, Gilles Villeneuve that year, despite only winning two races to the Canadians three.
In the latter part of that season their 312T4's were outshone by the Williams of Alan Jones and the following season, their T5 was a disaster. The 1.5 litre turbo charged engines were beginning to appear at this stage, and Ferrari produced the agricultural 126C. Villeneuve did have some remarkable wins with it though, in both Monaco and Jarama. The team employed a British designer by the name of Harvey Postlewaite and their 1982 design, the 126C2 was the class of the field. Once again tragedy struck the Italian outfit as Giles Villeneuve was killed in practice at Zolder and Didier Pironi was injured at Hockenheim while leading the championship. Although Ferrari won the Constructors cup that year and the next, the drivers title was awarded to another team.
There have been mixed fortunes at Ferrari since then, with Michele Alboreto being competitive in 1985, but 1988 saw the death of the beloved Enzo at the ripe age of 90, and fortunately, he wasn't present to witness the undignified barging between Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna in 1990 as Prost won 5 races in the season, yet lost to the Brazilian in controversial circumstances in Japan. When Michael Schumacher joined the team in 1996, the Tifosi didn't initially greet him with delight. However, many believe that he has galvanized the team and with the support of Jean Todt, team manager, turned the failing team around and put them back on the pace by the end of the year. This earned him the respect of the Tifosi, and he has become an icon to the entire team. Five wins in 1997 saw Schumacher in contention for the title, but he lost it when he ran into Jacques Villeneuve in the year's finale.
1998 saw the Tifosi's hopes for a driver's title in 19 years revamped, but once again, at the finale of the season, Schumacher saw his chance of victory fall away as he stalled the F300 on the grid. Twenty years have now passed since a Ferrari driver has become champion and this year was going to be the one that would see Michael do it. The McLaren was still dominant as it had been in 1998, but the Ferrari engineers had produced a car to challenge it. The F399. Michael Schumacher was fighting hard until an accident at the British Grand Prix saw the German sidelined for all bar the final two races of the season. Teammate Eddie Irvine carried the team flag and finally, the team had a driver in serious contention to return the team to its former glory.
Schumacher's absence had more effect on the team than just not having the German winning races, the F399 was suffering without his technical input. The team could only watch as poor pitstops and a car that wasn't up to the challenge any more, drove around the track well behind their main rival, McLaren. Schumacher returned with force for the last two races of the season, and although Ferrari's hopes of a driver title were not realized, they did win the 1999 Constructors Cup.
The 2000 season saw their dreams finally realized when after a very dominating start to the season in Australia, Michael Schumacher went on to take the drivers crown for the team in the second last race of the year. This was followed by the constructor's title in the following race, making it a double victory for the Italian team. 2001 produced a dominating championship victory with Michael Schumacher taking his fourth drivers crown, his second successive with the team and the first since 1953, in the 13th round of the season. This victory also saw the teams' third consecutive constructors' trophy.
2002 was a dominating season by Michael and the Italian marque by anyone's standards. The German driver clinched his fifth driver's title by the eleventh round of the season and together with Barrichello's efforts, the team wrapped up their fourth consecutive constructors crown soon afterwards. Record after record fell during the season as they took 15 of the possible 17 victories.
The 2003 season, though, was not another record-breaking season as a host of new regulations were introduced by the FIA aimed at slowing down Ferrari and Schumacher. Although the battle was taken down to the wire at the season-ending Japanese Grand Prix both the team and the German succeeded in retaining their titles.
There are probably not enough superlatives left to praise Ferrari enough following the 2004 season. 15 wins from the 18 races, 29 podium positions, 32 points paying finishes and just two failures to finish. The Ferrari F2004 was a stunning chassis, so much so that it kept on winning long after development shifted away from the car to the 2005 design.
The season got off to a perfect start with Michael Schumacher taking a relatively easy win from Rubens Barrichello. Schumacher went on to win the next four Grand Prix before a coming together with Juan Pablo Montoya in the Monaco tunnel ended his run of wins. In fairness to race winner Jarno Trulli and his Renault team, Ferrari has actually made a tactical error at Monaco and a race win was not likely in any case.
The nest seven races all fell to Michael Schumacher and heading to Spa Francorchamps, another solid result would secure him his seventh World Championship. Second position behind Kimi Raikkonen did the job for the German star and he was Champion again.