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The 1950 British Grand Prix was the inaugural round of the first Formula One World Championship. It was held on 13th May 1950 at the Silverstone Circuit.

The race was won by polesitter Giuseppe Farina, who also set the fastest lap. Alfa Romeo dominated the event, locking out the four-car front row and taking all three podium positions.


Following the Second World War, the Formula One category was established in 1947 for grand prix racing. After a couple of transitional years, the Formula One World Championship was established for the 1950 grand prix season.

The season marked the return of the Alfa Romeo marque, the Italian outfit had dominated grand prix racing up until its withdrawal in 1948. The team returned with its aged but nonetheless highly competitive Alfetta 158. Doctor Giuseppe Farina, was selected to lead the team, the former racing apprentice of the great Tazio Nuvolari and a member of the original Scuderia Ferrari squad had returned to the great Alfetta to lead the squad in 1950. The team's second driver was Luigi Fagioli; an Italian Grand Prix racing veteran who was one of the last remaining drivers who raced in the dominant German Silver Arrows cars of the 1930's. At 52, Fagioli was one of the oldest drivers on the grid, however he remained a reliable pair of hands for the powerful Alfa's. Alfa Romeo's third signing was late and somewhat unexpected. After he dominated a non-championship event at San Remo at the beginning of 1950, Alfa Romeo signed Argentina's best racer Juan Manuel Fangio to the team. After dominating in Argentina, the Automobil Club of Argentina sent Fangio to represent them in Europe where he quickly made his mark. As a one-off invitational drive, the fourth Alfa Romeo was piloted by one of Britain's best up and coming talents following the conclusion of the war, Reg Parnell, for his home grand prix.

Alfa Romeo's main rivals, Ferrari were notably absent from the entry list of the British Grand Prix. Enzo Ferrari withdrew his cars from the event, unhappy with the starters money the British were willing to pay the teams. The Ferrari squad instead competed in a Formula Two event at Mons.

The Maseratis made up the majority of entrants into the British Grand Prix. Only Louis Chiron, the grid's most experienced driver who had been on the grand prix scene since the 1920's, was representing the works squad. Scuderia Ambrosiana had hired local drivers, David Hampshire and David Murray, to race their 4CLT/48 chassis. The Enrico Platé team entered the semi-professional royals, Baron Emmanuel de Graffenried of Switzerland and Prince B Bira of Thailand. Felice Bonetto entered a self-modified Maserati, entered as the Maserati 4CL/50 for his Scuderia Milano team. Meanwhile, local driver Joe Fry, a successful hillclimb racer, entered an outdated 4CL chassis.

Talbot-Lago made their return as a works team, with Anthony Lago hiring many of the manufacturer's customer clients to race for the reformed works team. Yves-Giraud Cabantous and Eugene Martin entered updated chassis of their T26C whilst Louis Rosier and Philippe Étancelin raced in the standard chassis. Belgian racer Johnny Claes was the sole driver to enter a Talbot-Lago as a privateer.

The final entries on the grid were made up of the British machinery. Cuth Harrison and Bob Gerard entered old pre-war Type B ERA chassis, while entering the more modern E-Type chassis was Peter Walker and Leslie Johnson who was hired by another British racer, Taso Mathieson to race in his own E-Type car. ERA founder, Raymond Mays, had also entered the event, however he opted to cancel his entry, prior to arrival. Racing the nimble little Alta's were Joe Kelly and Geoffrey Crossley.

A number of cars were denied entry into the British event. Brian Shawe-Taylor had planned to enter a very old B-Type ERA and Tony Rolt planned to enter a Delage. Both cars were deemed unfit for race due to their significant age while George Abecassis attempted to enter his newly created HWM car, however was rejected on account of his car being too new. HWM was another new post-war British manufacturer trying to climb to the top of the sport. The newly designed HWM's had been largely untested against the modern grand prix machinery and much to the disappointment of team owners George Abecassis and John Heath were forced to withdraw their entries.

Entry List[]

The full entry list for the 1950 British Grand Prix is shown below:

No. Driver Entrant Constructor Chassis Engine Model Tyre
1 Argentina Juan Manuel Fangio Italy Alfa Romeo SpA Alfa Romeo 158 Alfetta Alfa Romeo 159 LBC 1.5 L8s P
2 Italy Giuseppe Farina Italy Alfa Romeo SpA Alfa Romeo 158 Alfetta Alfa Romeo 159 LBC 1.5 L8s P
3 Italy Luigi Fagioli Italy Alfa Romeo SpA Alfa Romeo 158 Alfetta Alfa Romeo 159 LBC 1.5 L8s P
4 United Kingdom Reg Parnell Italy Alfa Romeo SpA Alfa Romeo 158 Alfetta Alfa Romeo 159 LBC 1.5 L8s P
5 United Kingdom David Murray Italy Scuderia Ambrosiana Maserati 4CLT-48 Maserati 4 CL 1.5 L4s P
6 United Kingdom David Hampshire Italy Scuderia Ambrosiana Maserati 4CLT-48 Maserati 4 CL 1.5 L4s P
8 United Kingdom Leslie Johnson United Kingdom Taso Mathieson ERA E ERA ERA 1.5 L6s D
9 United Kingdom Peter Walker United Kingdom Peter Walker ERA E ERA ERA 1.5 L6s D
10 United Kingdom Joe Fry United Kingdom Joe Fry Maserati 4CL Maserati 4 CL 1.5 L4s D
11 United Kingdom Cuth Harrison United Kingdom Cuth Harrison ERA B ERA ERA 1.5 L6s D
12 United Kingdom Bob Gerard United Kingdom Bob Gerard ERA B ERA ERA 1.5 L6s D
14 France Yves Giraud-Cabantous France Automobiles
Talbot-Lago T26C-DA Talbot 23CV 4.5 L6 D
15 France Louis Rosier France Automobiles
Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot 23CV 4.5 L6 D
16 France Philippe Étancelin France Automobiles
Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot 23CV 4.5 L6 D
17 France Eugène Martin France Automobiles
Talbot-Lago T26C-DA Talbot 23CV 4.5 L6 D
18 Belgium Johnny Claes Belgium Ecurie Belge Talbot-Lago T26C Talbot 23CV 4.5 L6 D
19 Monaco Louis Chiron Italy Officine Alfieri
Maserati 4CLT-48 Maserati 4 CL 1.5 L4s P
20 Switzerland Emmanuel de Graffenried Italy Enrico Platé Maserati 4CLT-48 Maserati 4 CL 1.5 L4s P
21 Thailand B Bira Italy Enrico Platé Maserati 4CLT-48 Maserati 4 CL 1.5 L4s P
22 Italy Felice Bonetto Italy Scuderia Milano Maserati 4CLT-50 Maserati 4 CL 1.5 L4s P
23 Ireland Joe Kelly Ireland Joe Kelly Alta GP Alta Alta 1.5 L4s D
24 United Kingdom Geoffrey Crossley United Kingdom Geoffrey Crossley Alta GP Alta Alta 1.5 L4s D


With the Ferrari's absent, the Alfa's were unchallenged during Thursday practice. Giuseppe Farina took the first ever World Championship pole position, two tenths ahead of teammates Luigi Fagioli and Juan Manuel Fangio, who set nearly identical lap times. The local favourite, Reg Parnell, could only manage fourth, a little off the pace of the Alfa regulars.

Prince Bira was the highest of the Maserati's, beating Cabantous and Martin in the newer Talbot-Lago's. De Graffenried led Rosier and then came Peter Walker in the ERA. Walker, who had previously impressed in his E-Type, was the highest qualifier of the British cars. Louis Chiron was a disappointing eleventh, as his works Maserati was well off the pace. Johnson and Gerard were next in their ERA machinery, whilst Philippe Etancelin was well off in his works Talbot. Cuth Harrison was fifteenth with the Ambrosiana Maserati's of Hampshire and Murray a disappointing sixteenth and eighteenth, who sandwiched Geoffrey Crossley's Alta.

The back of the grid was made up of Kelly's Alta, Fry's Maserati, and the Talbot-Lago of Johnny Claes. Felice Bonetto and his Maserati failed to turn up to the event and so his entry was withdrawn from the weekend.

Qualification Results[]

Pos No. Driver Constructor Time Gap % Avg Speed
1 2 Italy Giuseppe Farina Italy Alfa Romeo 1:50.8 100% 151.051
2 3 Italy Luigi Fagioli Italy Alfa Romeo 1:51.0 +0.2 100.2% 150.778
3 1 Argentina Juan Manuel Fangio Italy Alfa Romeo 1:51.0 +0.2 100.2% 150.778
4 4 United Kingdom Reg Parnell Italy Alfa Romeo 1:52.2 +1.4 101.3% 149.166
5 21 Thailand Prince Bira Italy Maserati 1:52.6 +1.8 101.6% 148.636
6 14 France Yves Giraud-Cabantous France Talbot-Lago-Talbot 1:53.4 +2.6 102.3% 147.587
7 17 France Eugène Martin France Talbot-Lago-Talbot 1:55.4 +4.6 104.2% 145.029
8 20 Switzerland Emmanuel de Graffenried Italy Maserati 1:55.8 +5.0 104.5% 144.528
9 15 France Louis Rosier France Talbot-Lago-Talbot 1:56.0 +5.2 104.7% 144.279
10 9 United Kingdom Peter Walker United Kingdom ERA 1:56.6 +5.8 105.2% 143.537
11 19 Monaco Louis Chiron Italy Maserati 1:56.6 +5.8 105.2% 143.537
12 8 United Kingdom Leslie Johnson United Kingdom ERA 1:57.4 +6.6 106% 142.559
13 12 United Kingdom Bob Gerard United Kingdom ERA 1:57.4 +6.6 106% 142.559
14 16 France Philippe Étançelin France Talbot-Lago-Talbot 1:57.8 +7.0 106.3% 142.075
15 11 United Kingdom Cuth Harrison United Kingdom ERA 1:58.4 +7.6 106.9% 141.355
16 6 United Kingdom David Hampshire Italy Maserati 2:01.0 +10.2 109.2% 138.317
17 24 United Kingdom Geoff Crossley United Kingdom Alta 2:02.6 +11.8 110.6% 136.512
18 5 United Kingdom David Murray Italy Maserati 2:05.6 +14.8 113.4% 133.252
19 23 Ireland Joe Kelly United Kingdom Alta 2:06.2 +15.4 113.9% 132.618
20 10 United Kingdom Joe Fry Italy Maserati 2:07.0 +16.2 114.6% 131.783
21 18 France Johnny Claes France Talbot-Lago-Talbot 2:08.8 +18.0 116.2% 129.941

Note: all timing during the meeting was to 15 of a second, instead of the more commonplace timing to 110. This implies that equipment designed for horse racing was used.


Pos Pos Pos Pos
Driver Driver Driver Driver
______________ 1
______________ 2 Giuseppe Farina
______________ 3 Luigi Fagioli
4 Juan Manuel Fangio
Reg Parnell
______________ 5
______________ 6 Prince Bira
7 Yves Giraud-Cabantous
Eugène Martin
______________ 8
______________ 9 Emmanuel de Graffenried
______________ 10 Louis Rosier
11 Peter Walker
Louis Chiron
______________ 12
______________ 13 Leslie Johnson
14 Bob Gerard
Philippe Étancelin
______________ 15
______________ 16 Cuth Harrison
______________ 17 David Hampshire
18 Geoff Crossley
David Murray
______________ 19
______________ 20 Joe Kelly
21 Joe Fry
Johnny Claes



Farina leads Fagioli at the British GP

The first world championship grand prix was welcomed by a crowd of 200,000 British spectators. The Royal Family was also in attendance to mark this prestigious occasion. King George VI, Queen Elizabeth, and the Earl & Countess of Mountbatten were introduced to the drivers and were given a tour of the circuit by Earl Howe, a successful British pre-war driver who had been instrumental in the design of the Silverstone circuit.

Fangio retired from third with 8 laps to go

Before the race commenced, Raymond Mays publically unveiled the BRM V16 to the British public. The inaugral BRM car, funded by the British government and based on the design plans of the all-dominant pre-war German Mercedes cars, was the first serious attempt for a British manufacturer to challenge the dominance of the Italians in grand prix racing. Mays announced the V16 would make its racing debut in August at the BRDC International Trophy, before challenging in the world championship for 1951. 


The start saw the Alfa Romeo's predictably pull away, their grid order remaining the same. Farina led Fangio, Fagioli and Parnell. Immediately distanced from the leaders, Bira led the midfield with De Graffenried, Martin, Giraud-Cabantous, Rosier and Etancelin following behind.

Behind the Maserati's and Talbot-Lago's, the small British manufacturers trailed behind. The new E-Type ERA's were not fairing well, and as if to prove this fact, Leslie Johnson became the first retirement when his supercharger spectacularly blew up on the second lap. Shortly thereafter, the second ERA of Walker pulled into the pits with gearbox issues. He swapped cars with Tony Rolt to see if he could make an improvement. However, after a few laps the shared car of Walker and Rolt was out of the race. Five laps in, and the fastest British manufacturers were out.

Eugene Martin's Talbot-Lago had been struggling with failing oil pressure since the beginning of the race, and he became the next retirement on lap 10. At the front, the Alfa's continued to dominate the field. The battle for the lead remained tight however, with Farina only being able to hold a very narrow lead over Fangio and Fagioli. Parnell had begun to drop back from the regular Alfa driversm although he maintained a significant gap over Bira in fifth.

Chiron's uncompetitive race for Maserati came to an end on lap 26 when he retired with clutch failure whilst battling the two B-Type ERA's of Bob Gerard and Cuth Harrison for tenth. De Graffenried, another Maserati driver, pulled out of the race on lap 36 with engine failure. Geoffrey Crossley in the little Alta retired on lap 43 with transmission problems; he and fellow Alta racer Joe Kelly had been trundling along at the back of the pack in their underpowered cars.

At the midpoint of the race, most of the cars came into the pits for fuel. The order was left largely unchanged; the Alfa Romeo pit crew impressively getting the cars refuelled in a sub-30 second pit stop. Etancelin lost ninth to the ERA's of Gerard and Harrison when he had to change a spark plug during his stop. Other changes in the pit-stop phase saw Joe Fry swap out of his ERA to allow Brian Shawe-Taylor to finish the race. At the end of the pit-stop phase, Farina continued to lead Fangio and Fagioli whilst a distanced Parnell remained in fourth.

Bira, who had been the only competitive Maserati in the race, lost his fifth position to the Talbot-Lago's of Giraud-Cabantous and Rosier when he encountered engine problems. On lap 49, his car ground to a halt whilst going down the Hangar Straight.

After trailing Farina the whole race, Fangio made his challenge for the lead on lap 60. Exiting the Hangar Straight, Fangio attacked on the entry to Stowe, however his car ran wide and collided with one of the straw bales at the exit of the corner. The move had cost him second place to Fagioli, and then worse still, an oil pipe had been cracked and he was forced to pull into the pits to retire on lap 62.

For the remainder of the race, Fagioli continued to hound the tail of Farina, however he would not find a way past and Farina took the first world championship grand prix victory. Fagioli followed him 2.6 seconds adrift whilst Parnell was on the final step of the podium a further 50 seconds back. It was a perfect start to the season for Alfa Romeo with a 1-2-3 finish. The nearest non-Alfa cars of Giraud-Cabantous and Rosier were fourth and fifth, two laps adrift in their Talbot-Lago's.

Gerard and Harrison finished the race in sixth and seventh, their B-Type ERA's having battled throughout the whole race. Etancelin was disappointed to be eighth following his reliability problems. Rounding out the finishers at the back of the field was David Murray in his outdated Maserati, the shared car of Fry and Shawe-Taylor and Claes's Talbot-Lago. Joe Kelly had also managed to get his Alta to the finish, however clutch problems had seen him 13 laps adrift of the leaders and he was denied classification amongst the finishers.

It had been a dominant start to the season for Alfa Romeo. Farina left Silverstone a happy man with the full array of points, taking victory and the extra point for fastest lap, not to mention the £500 he received in prize money for his race win.


Pos No. Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Avg Speed Grid Pts
1 2 Italy Giuseppe Farina Italy Alfa Romeo 70 2:13:23.6 146.378 1 9
2 3 Italy Luigi Fagioli Italy Alfa Romeo 70 + 2.6s 146.330 2 6
3 4 United Kingdom Reg Parnell Italy Alfa Romeo 70 + 52.0s 145.433 4 4
4 14 France Yves Giraud-Cabantous France Talbot-Lago 68 + 2 laps 142.171 6 3
5 15 France Louis Rosier France Talbot-Lago 68 + 2 laps 141.053 9 2
6 12 United Kingdom Bob Gerard United Kingdom ERA 67 + 3 laps 140.055 13
7 11 United Kingdom Cuth Harrison United Kingdom ERA 67 + 3 laps 140.048 15
8 16 France Philippe Étancelin France Talbot-Lago 65 + 5 laps 134.794 14
9 6 United Kingdom David Hampshire Italy Maserati 64 + 6 laps 133.165 16
10 10 United Kingdom Joe Fry Italy Maserati 64 + 6 laps 132.232 20
United Kingdom Brian Shawe-Taylor
11 18 Belgium Johnny Claes France Talbot-Lago 64 + 6 laps 131.773 21
Ret 1 Argentina Juan Manuel Fangio Italy Alfa Romeo 62 Oil Leak 3
NC 23 Ireland Joe Kelly United Kingdom Alta 57 + 13 laps 19
Ret 21 Thailand B Bira Italy Maserati 49 Out of Fuel 5
Ret 5 United Kingdom David Murray Italy Maserati 44 Engine 18
Ret 24 United Kingdom Geoffrey Crossley United Kingdom Alta 43 Transmission 17
Ret 20 Switzerland Emmanuel de Graffenried Italy Maserati 36 Engine 8
Ret 19 Monaco Louis Chiron Italy Maserati 26 Clutch 11
Ret 17 France Eugène Martin France Talbot-Lago 8 Oil Pressure 7
Ret 9 United Kingdom Peter Walker United Kingdom ERA 5 Gearbox 10
United Kingdom Tony Rolt
Ret 8 United Kingdom Leslie Johnson United Kingdom ERA 2 Compressor 12
  • Shared drive contributions:
    • Car number 10: Joe Fry: 45 out of 64, Brian Shawe-Taylor: 19 out of 64 (10th)
    • Car number 9: Peter Walker: 2 out of 5, Tony Rolt: 3 out of 5 (Ret)

Fastest Laps[]

Pos No. Driver Constructor Lap Time Gap Avg Speed Race
1 2 Italy Giuseppe Farina Alfa Romeo 2 1:50.6 151.324 1
2 14 France Yves Giraud-Cabantous Talbot-Lago 41 1:53.4 2.8 147.587 4
3 15 France Louis Rosier Talbot-Lago 10 1:55.4 4.8 145.029 5
4 16 France Philippe Étancelin Talbot-Lago 31 1:57.4 6.8 142.559 8
5 18 Belgium Johnny Claes Talbot-Lago 29 2:08.8 18.2 129.941 11

Lap Leaders[]


Stint Driver Laps Total Distance
1 Italy Giuseppe Farina 01 – 09 09 41.841 km
2 Italy Luigi Fagioli 10 – 14 05 23.245 km
3 Argentina Juan Manuel Fangio 15 – 15 01 4.649 km
4 Italy Giuseppe Farina 16 – 37 22 102.278 km
5 Italy Luigi Fagioli 38 – 38 01 4.649 km
6 Italy Giuseppe Farina 39 – 70 32 148.768 km


Pos. Driver Laps Distance
1 Italy Giuseppe Farina 63 292.887 km
2 Italy Luigi Fagioli 06 27.894 km
3 Argentina Juan Manuel Fangio 01 6.419 km


Drivers' World Championship
Pos. Driver Pts +/-
1 Italy Giuseppe Farina 9
2 Italy Luigi Fagioli 6
3 United Kingdom Reg Parnell 4
4 France Yves Giraud-Cabantous 3
5 France Louis Rosier 2


External links[]

V T E 1950 Formula One Season
Teams Alfa Romeo • Alta • Cooper • ERA • Ferrari • Maserati • Milano • Simca-Gordini • SVA • Talbot-Lago
Engines Alfa Romeo • Alta • ERA • Ferrari • Gordini • Maserati • Jaguar • JAP • Milano • Talbot
Non-works Entrants Scuderia Ambrosiana • T.A.S.O. Mathieson • Peter Walker • Joe Fry • Bob Gerard • Ecurie Belge • Enrico Platé • Joe Kelly • Geoffrey Crossley • Scuderia Achille Varzi • Horshell Racing Corporation • Philippe Étancelin • Ecurie Rosier • Cuth Harrison • Peter Whitehead • Ecurie Bleue • Raymond Sommer • Ecurie Lutetia • Antonio Branca • Charles Pozzi • Clemente Biodetti • Paul Pietsch • Guy Mairesse • Pierre Levegh
Drivers Biondetti • B. Bira • Branca • Chaboud • Chiron • Claes • Crossley • Étancelin • Fagioli • Fangio • Farina • Fry • Gerard • Giraud-Cabantous • González • De Graffenried • Hampshire • Harrison • Johnson • Levegh • Mairesse • Manzon • Martin • Murray • Pagani • Parnell • Pián • Pietsch • Pozzi • Rol • Rolt • Rosier • Sanesi • Schell • Shawe-Taylor • Sommer • Taruffi • Trintignant • Walker •
Cars Alfa Romeo 158 • Alfa Romeo 159 • Alta GP • Cooper T12 • ERA A • ERA B • ERA E • Ferrari 125 • Ferrari 166T • Ferrari 166-F2 • Ferrari 275 • Ferrari 375 • Maserati 4CL • Maserati 4CLT-48 • Maserati 4CLT-50 • Milano 1 • Simca-Gordini T15 • SVA 1500 • Talbot-Lago T26C • Talbot-Lago T26C-DA • Talbot-Lago T26C-GS
Tyres Dunlop • Englebert • Pirelli
Races Britain • Monaco • Indianapolis 500 • Switzerland • Belgium • France • Italy
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See also 1949 Grand Prix Season • 1951 Formula One Season • Category
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V T E United Kingdom British Grand Prix
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