The Ferrari ‘Tipo’ 500 was a Formula Two specification car designed by Aurelio Lampredi which competed in the 1952 and 1953 Formula One seasons.
This was with the expection of the Indianapolis 500, which used AAA National Championship regulations and counted towards the Formula One World Championship at the time.
During these two seasons, the championship used Formula Two regulations due to the departure of Alfa Romeo and the FIA wanting as many competitors as possible to take the challenge to Ferrari.
Alberto Ascari driving the Ferrari 500. During the 1952 and 1953 seasons, he’d dominate the championship, winning 11 Grand Prix and two World Championships; the first for Ferrari.
This would also make Ascari the first multiple world champion in Formula One history.
Image Source: Grand Prix History
Being the only team to have an car built to these regualtions, Ferrari were initally considered to be the only serious competitor on the grid.
The 500 used an inline 4 cylinder twin cam engine, with two spark plug per cylinder, produced 185bhp @ 7,500 rpm.
On its debut at the 1952 Swiss Grand Prix at the Bremgarten Circuit in Bern, Italian driver Piero Taruffi took the checkered flag – his only race win in 19 Grand Prix – with teamate Rudi Fischer more than two and a half minutes behind in second. Jean Behra, in the Gordini placed third, one lap behind.
Piero Taruffi, who won the first of 14 victories for the Tipo 500
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The Tipo 500 would go on to dominate most of the races that year in a similar fashion, with Alberto Ascari winning six races and cruised to his – and the Scuderia’s – first world title.
The only race to elude them that year was the Indianapolis 500, which caused Ascari to skip the Swiss Grand Prix in order to participate.
They were the only non-American entrant there and struggled to make an impression, qualifying 25th.
Ascari would eventually retire after 40 laps due to an issue with his wheel resulted in him spinning out and being classified 31st.
Alberto Ascari taking the chequered flag to win the 1952 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps.
His six wins that year were enough for him to achieve maximum points and his first of two world titles for the famous Scuderia.
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The 1953 season proved to be more of the same as Ferrari continued to be top of the class as Ascari won his second world title.
In addition to this, Alberto Ascari set a record during the year for the most consecutive Grand Prix won with nine. This exculded that year’s Indy 500 race as Ascari and Ferrari didn’t participate.
This sequence was broken when his teammate Mike Hawthorn won the French Grand Prix in Reims.
Mike Hawthorn (left) in he Ferrari battles with Juan Manuel Fangio’s Maserati for the lead at the 1953 French Grand Prix in Reims.
The two would trade the lead back and forth before Hawthorn eventually drove to victory, beating Fangio by a mere second, with José Froilán González (Maserati) and Alberto Ascari (Ferrari) closely behind in third and fourth respectively.
Image Source: Grand Prix History
Giuseppe Farnia, the inaurgral Formula One World Champion, also won the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring for Ferrari in the latter stages of the season.
However, the likes Juan Manuel Fangio were able to put up a challenge, as the Argentine won the season finale at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza for Maserati.
In 1954, Fangio claimed six wins for Maserati and Mercedes-Benz respectively to end Ferrari’s dominance and win his second of five world titles.
The Scuderia could only manage two victories that year, with José Froilán González winning the British Grand Prix at Silverstone and Mike Hawthorn winning the Spanish Grand Prix at Pedralbes.