Ferrari, Mugello, 2020

The 27 races Ferrari missed on their way to 1,000 starts

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Barring some unforeseen misfortune in the next few hours, Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel will have the honour of making Ferrari’s 1,000th start in a round of the world championship today.

Last year Formula 1 marked its 1,000th event at the Chinese Grand Prix. This is the 27th race to take place since then, so it begs an obvious question: Having started so many rounds of the world championship, which races did Ferrari miss, and why?

Their customer team Alfa Romeo can claim one over them on this count, as they were present for the first world championship race at Silverstone in 1950. Ferrari were absent, having decided there was not enough starting money on offer for the inaugural championship event.

They missed two other points-paying races that year. They sent a car to Reims for Alberto Ascari and Luigi Villoresi, but withdrew it. And they did not attend the Indianapolis 500, as did many of their rivals at the time, as it was not run to F1 rules.

Alberto Ascari, Ferrari, Monaco, 1950
Ferrari entered the world championship at round two in Monaco
Ferrari did attend one of the 11 Indianapolis 500s which counted towards the world championship between 1950 and 1960. They sent a single car for Ascari in 1952.

The only other race the team missed during the fifties was at Aintree in 1959, due to a metalworkers’ strike preventing completion of their cars.

With a major rules change coming for 1961, Ferrari skipped the November 1960 finale in California. It didn’t attend the United States Grand Prix the following year either, albeit in much sadder circumstances, the team’s driver Wolfgang von Trips having been killed in the previous race at Monza.

The following year was one of major upheaval for Ferrari. A group of its staff quit to form a rival team, and a strike caused them to miss the French Grand Prix. Later in the year the same reason was given for their absences from two further races, though this was greeted by scepticism by those who felt the champions’ slump in form had more to do with their decision not to travel to the two non-European rounds.

Chris Amon, Ferrari, Zandvoort, 1968
Ferrari skipped Monaco in 1968 – this is Amon at Zandvoort
Ferrari’s sporadic non-appearances at races in the second half of the sixties was often put down to similar strikes. Its absence from the 1968 Monaco Grand Prix attracted much speculation, as its driver Lorenzo Bandini had been killed in a fire at the chicane after crashing the year before.

By 1969 Ferrari had reduced its regular entry to a single car, and after suffering an engine failure in the British round, opted to skip the German Grand Prix to prepare for its home race.

Similarly, four years later, the team pulled its sole, uncompetitive entry, piloted by the increasingly dejected Jacky Ickx, at the Dutch Grand Prix. They skipped the German Grand Prix – where Ickx drove a McLaren to the podium – and returned at the Austrian Grand Prix.

The same race three years later was the scene of Ferrari’s final non-appearance at a race weekend. Two weeks on from Niki Lauda’s fiery crash at the Nurburgring, and infuriated by the governing body decision to reinstate James Hunt’s McLaren to first place in the Spanish Grand Prix, Ferrari flirted with quitting the championship entirely. Instead they returned at the next round, and Lauda followed soon too, almost keeping Hunt from the title.

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Villeneuve’s death at Zolder prompted Ferrari withdrawal
That was the 25th race Ferrari missed. Then in 1982 on two separate occasions they did not start races they had entered.

At Zolder, Gilles Villeneuve died in a crash during qualifying, and the team withdrew the sister car of Didier Pironi as a gesture of respect.

Later in the season, after Pironi suffered appalling injuries at Hockenheim, Patrick Tambay was their sole driver entered for the Swiss Grand Prix, held at Dijon in France. When Tambay was injured during practice, his car was withdrawn.

That race 38 years ago was the final time there was no Ferrari on the starting grid for a round of the world championship. Having recently signed the new Concorde Agreement, the sport’s most historic team looks set to remain for the foreseeable future.

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Ferrari’s 27 missed world championship races

1950FranceReimsBrought one car and two drivers but withdrew. One privately-entered Ferrari competed.
1950Indianapolis 500Indianapolis Motor Speedway
1951Indianapolis 500Indianapolis Motor Speedway
1953Indianapolis 500Indianapolis Motor Speedway
1954Indianapolis 500Indianapolis Motor Speedway
1955Indianapolis 500Indianapolis Motor Speedway
1956Indianapolis 500Indianapolis Motor Speedway
1957Indianapolis 500Indianapolis Motor Speedway
1958Indianapolis 500Indianapolis Motor Speedway
1959Indianapolis 500Indianapolis Motor Speedway
1960Indianapolis 500Indianapolis Motor Speedway
1960United StatesRiverside
1961United StatesWatkins Glen
1962United StatesWatkins GlenOne privately-entered Ferrari competed.
1962South AfricaEast London
1966BritainBrands HatchOne privately-entered Ferrari competed.
1969South AfricaKyalami
1982BelgiumZolderVilleneuve was killed in practice; Pironi’s car withdrawn.
1982SwitzerlandDijonSole driver Tambay injured in practice
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Mugello, 2020
Ferrari marked the milestone race on their livery this weekend

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 14 comments on “The 27 races Ferrari missed on their way to 1,000 starts”

    1. Notably, unlike most teams Ferrari did not miss the USA grand prix in 2005. Sitting that one out would not have been very Schumacher-esque, of course.

      1. What does that have to do with Ferrari and/or Schumacher?!?! It was simply a total tech failure from Michelin and all teams equipped by them didn’t/couldn’t want to start the race. Cancelling the race would have been worse and unfair towards Bridgestone and their teams. It’s the same thing as with Mercedes since 2014: Bridgestone did a better job. Never heard before to retire from a race OR cancel it just because the competition wasn’t able to enter it!

        1. I was thinking along the lines of cancel it because racing with one fast team and two backmarker teams was a bit of a farce.

          Don’t worry, I’m not anti-Ferrari/Schumacher. (I was supporting him in 2006 and felt very disappointed when his engine blew up in the penultimate race.) It just strikes me as one they “could have” missed if they were less of a results-oriented winning machine at the time.

        2. Not completely true this. There was a vote to put a chicane on the straight to make sure the Michelin’s would last. All team vote in favour, but only Ferrari didn’t. It was a matter of voting in favour of F1 and their fans or in favour of yourself. They choose themselfs.

          1. Why would Bridgestone help Michelin?
            Michelin failed to do due diligence. Then started threatening F1, demanding that the track be changed during the weekend.
            Michelin’s performance and behavior, that race, was an embarrassment to the sport.

            1. SadF1fan, the whole affair is such that few people really come out of the matter in anything but a negative light.

              You had self interests from too many parties making a compromise impossible, from those not wanting to give up the advantage they had to those, like Mosely, who refused to allow a compromise as a demonstration of their political power.

              As an aside, you criticise Michelin for “not doing due diligence”, but the modifications that the circuit made were done at a time during the winter when Michelin couldn’t access the circuit. If Firestone, which is a subsidiary of Bridgestone, hadn’t told them about the circuit modifications, it is very likely that Bridgestone would have made the same sort of mistake themselves.

            2. @anon: Ralf Schumacher broke his back the year before in the BMW Williams due to a Michelin tyre failure, in the same corner Michelin tyres failed in 2005.

      2. Technically I don’t think the other teams missed that GP either; one of them even made it to more position.

        1. According to my ‘swipe autocomplete spellcheck’ one spells ‘pole’ as ‘more’ :(

    2. Jose Lopes da Silva
      13th September 2020, 8:02

      Excellent article regarding the history of the sport. Thanks.

    3. Keith, are you sure about stating that there was a privately entered Ferrari that participated at the 1962 United States GP and the 1966 British GP? I know there was a privateer with a Ferrari engined Cooper in the 1966 British GP, but though that there wasn’t a Ferrari car present.

      Also, for the purpose of this article, I assume that you are considering the entries by NART in the 1964 United States and Mexican GPs as part of the works team?

      1. That Ferrari was painted Red,White And Blue. Sponsored by North America Ferrari dealerships.

        1. H67, it was more than just being sponsored by the North American Racing Team (aka NART).

          Enzo Ferrari had officially sent his competition licence back to the Italian motorsport body because of the FIA ruling against Ferrari over the classification of the 250 LM – which Enzo believed should be classified as a production derived sportscar, whilst the FIA classed it as a full prototype (pitting it against much faster and more powerful cars).

          Although they did have support from Ferrari, NART was an independent American team and the entry list for both of those races in 1964 lists the entrant as “North American Racing Team”, not “Scuderia Ferrari”. There might have been a Ferrari on the grid, and NART might have received support from Ferrari’s main team, but it was not Scuderia Ferrari that entered and raced those cars.

      2. You’re right, this list is not entirely correct…

    Comments are closed.