Why did Ferrari become the champion in the strange blue and white livery? History of quarrel and scandal
Over the long history of Formula 1, red Ferrari cars have become one of the most recognizable symbols of the championship. It is almost impossible to imagine Scuderia racing cars in other colors today. However, back in 1964, due to the conflict between Enzo Ferrari and the Italian automobile club, the last two races of the season, taking place in the USA and Mexico, the Scuderia cars were held in blue and white colors unusual for them. On the days of the Mexico City Grand Prix, we remember the last race in which Ferrari allowed itself to abandon the traditional red livery.
Enzo Ferrari refused red flowers due to a quarrel with the Italian Automobile Club
In 1962, one of the most recognizable Ferrari models, the 250 GTO, rolled off the assembly line in Maranello. The new car of the Italian concern started right off the bat: in three years 250 GTO brought Scuderia three titles in the world championship of the GT class. And in 1964 Ferrari presented to the world a modified version of the successful GTO – 250 LM. And it was this model that was destined to become a stumbling block between the Komendatore and the Italian automobile club.
The fact is that the FIA refused to allow the new development of “Ferrari” to participate in the races. Indeed, in those years, concerns could put their car at the start only if 100 cars of the road version of the same model were produced from their factory. Well, Ferrari did not quite reach the required mark.
According to one beautiful bike, Enzo Ferrari tried to get out of this situation in a rather original way. After the Komendatore showed the FIA delegation some of the cars, he decided to take a break, and while the representatives of the federation were relaxing over a cup of coffee, Ferrari employees drove the same cars to another location in order to create the illusion that they had managed to produce 100 models of the road version.
Be that as it may, this story has nothing to do with reality, and the FIA, not counting the required number of cars, quite logically did not allow the 250 LM model to participate in competitions under its auspices. After the refusal by the world federation, Enzo Ferrari hoped that the Italian automobile club would stand up for his compatriots, but, to his great regret, this did not happen.
The indifference from the local car club angered Komendatore far more than the FIA ban. In a fit of rage, Enzo Ferrari vowed that his brainchild would never again wear the red colors traditional for Italian racing teams. Thus, the Commandant renounced national motorsport attributes.
The blue and white livery was chosen in honor of the American subsidiary team
It just so happened that the epoch-making quarrel between Enzo Ferrari and the Italian automobile club happened exactly two stages before the end of the 1964 season. In general, that championship was not easy for Scuderia. While Graham Hill and Jim Clark fought each other for the palm, Ferrari leader John Surtis experienced all sorts of reliability problems (three retirements in five races). By the equator of the championship, according to the points scored, John did not even get into the top five.
However, then “Scuderia” miraculously managed to recover: in the next three races, the team from Maranello invariably won victories, two of which brought Surtis. After winning at Monza, the Briton really wedged himself into the championship battle. It is quite symbolic that it was the domestic triumph that preceded the breakdown of relations between the Komendatore and the Italian automobile club.
On the eve of the final two stages of the season, the personal standings were headed by the representative of “BRM” Graham Hill. Surtis, in turn, was only 4 points behind the championship leader. Also between the two compatriots is the pilot “Lotus” Jim Clark. The fate of the title was to be decided in the final two races of the season in the USA and Mexico.
As mentioned earlier, just before the stage in America, Komendatore promised that his team would no longer go to the start in the colors of the Italian Automobile Club. The founder of Scuderia made this promise a reality, and on the Watkins Glen the whole world saw Ferrari cars painted in blue and white colors.
For the sake of fairness, it should be said that not quite Ferrari played at the stages in the USA and Mexico. Formally, the Italian team skipped the final races of the season, while Surtis and Bandini took part in the races as part of the NART (North American Racing Team), created to promote the Scuderia brand overseas. We can say that NART was the American division of Ferrari. It was in honor of the racing traditions of the United States that the Scuderia cars received their unusual blue-and-white livery. Thus, the Commandant not only gave up his national colors, but also tried on someone else’s, American livery.
The fate of the championship was decided by the clash between Hill and Bandini
The first race, carried out in the original color, was marked for Ferrari by not entirely unambiguous results. On the one hand, thanks to the finish in second place, Surtis managed to outstrip Clark, who had retired from the race. On the other hand, Graham Hill won the race at Watkins Glen, thus strengthening his leadership in the championship.
On the eve of the final race of the season in Mexico, Hill was considered the undisputed favorite of the championship battle. However, thanks to the then existing system of scoring (only 6 best results were taken into account), the Ferrari pilot also had good chances for the championship. To win the title, Surtis needed to win – and he could not look back at the results of his rivals. Well, Jim Clark had very ghostly hopes for the ultimate success.
However, at first, the racing weekend in Mexico took shape in favor of the dark horse from Lotus. Clarke took pole in the all-important qualification of the season, while Surtis and Hill were on the grid only in 4th and 6th positions.
Also, luck accompanied Clark and most of the race. His rivals in the fight for the title experienced all sorts of problems at the start, as a result of which they rolled back into the middle of the peloton. However, the BRM pilot managed to recover the lost positions relatively quickly and break into third place, and Surtis, in turn, broke through to the fifth position. In this situation, Hill became the champion.
However, closer to the equator of the race, Lorenzo Bandini, the co-pilot of Ferrari, quite unexpectedly intervened in the championship showdown. In a desperate attempt to attack Graham Hill, the Italian carried out his British opponent in the heat of the struggle. In this suspicious collision, an exhaust pipe was damaged on Hill’s car. Graham could no longer keep up with the pace of the leaders and by and large practically lost his chances for the title.
At the same time, Clark continued to lead confidently and was on the verge of winning the championship, but too much luck was on Ferrari’s side that day. The damaged oil line caused the Scotsman to stop two laps before the finish line! Of the contenders for the title in the race, only Surtis remained, who at that moment was in third position. But in order to secure the championship, John had to play at least one more position. Fortunately for Scuderia, Surtis was followed by Bandini, who, at the command of the team, kindly let his teammate go ahead.
So the Ferrari pilot became the champion in a very difficult decade for the team. The team from Maranello will have to wait for the next title for 11 years. The triumphant race in Mexico for “Ferrari” was the last, held in unusual colors. Starting with the next Grand Prix, Italians will return to traditional livery and will never change tradition again.