Hamilton Ferrari British History
Photo by The-Race

Hamilton Joins Ferrari: A Historic Twelfth British Move


Lewis Hamilton’s switch to Ferrari marks a historic moment, becoming the twelfth Brit in this illustrious lineup.

Hamilton’s sensational move makes him the twelfth Brit to join the legendary Scuderia, following eleven predecessors. F1Lead lists them.

Peter Whitehead was the first driver from the United Kingdom to race for Ferrari, buying a Grand Prix car from Enzo Ferrari and painting it British Green.

Unfortunately, Whitehead’s journey ended with just an entry for the 1950 Swiss Grand Prix, returning home after a failed qualification.

Hawthorn, Collins, & Brooks saw a different trajectory, with compatriot Mike Hawthorn dazzling in Ferrari red. Joining in 1953, Hawthorn made an immediate impact by winning the French Grand Prix, defeating one of the greatest, Juan Manuel Fangio.

After another win in 1954 and various successes, Hawthorn competed for the world championship in 1958, beating compatriot Stirling Moss in the final race for the title.

The British were evidently favored by Ferrari in the ’50s, with Peter Collins joining in 1956. Competing for the title, Collins sacrificed his own chances for Fangio, handing over his car in Monza, aiding Fangio in securing the championship.

In 1958, Collins again played a crucial role by defending against Moss, benefiting teammate Hawthorn, who would become the world champion. Weeks later, Collins tragically died at the Nürburgring chasing Tony Brooks.

Brooks also drove for Ferrari, joining a year later after Hawthorn’s death and the dissolution of his team Vanwall, leading to unintended opportunities with the Maranello team.

Victories at Reims and the Nürburgring put him in the championship race, but he chose to pit after a collision in the final race, later stating life was more valuable than the championship.

Cliff Allison, Brooks’s teammate in 1959, saw a promising career end tragically. After securing second place in Argentina, he was thrown from his car in Monaco and sidelined for a year. In 1961, he returned in a Lotus private car but broke both legs, ending his racing career.

John Surtees joined the team in 1963, the only person to become world champion in both the premier motorcycle class and Formula 1.

Despite some victories, his tenure at Ferrari was marred by disagreements with the team management, leading to his departure in 1966 with much frustration.

Mike Parkes stood out at Ferrari in 1967, with victories outside the championship at the Silverstone International Trophy and in Syracuse promising a bright future. However, like Allison, a crash ended his racing career abruptly.

Jonathan Williams, a lesser-known British Ferrari driver, participated in the 1967 Mexican Grand Prix, primarily racing in sports cars. He finished eighth, not scoring any points at the time.

Derek Bell signed for Ferrari’s Formula 2 branch in 1968, later called up for the non-championship F1 race, the Oulton Park Gold Cup, and made his championship debut in Monza. Bell raced three more times in 1969, but his F1 journey with Ferrari did not continue. He did race for the Italian team in sports cars in 1970.

Nigel Mansell joined Ferrari in 1989 after leaving Williams out of frustration. Despite reliability issues limiting his success, Mansell was adored by the tifosi.

In two seasons, he finished on the podium eleven times, winning three races and outperforming teammate Alain Prost in 1990, before returning to Williams in 1991 to win the world championship a year later.

Eddie Irvine was the last Brit to race for Ferrari before Hamilton. Contracted as the second driver next to Michael Schumacher in 1996, Irvine unexpectedly contended for the title in 1999 after Schumacher broke both legs in Silverstone and competitor Mika Häkkinen experienced errors and misfortune.

Häkkinen ultimately won the title, and Irvine finished as runner-up. In 2000, Irvine moved to Jaguar, replaced by Rubens Barrichello.

Lewis Hamilton thus becomes the twelfth Brit to serve the Scuderia. Whether it turns into a fairy-tale marriage remains to be seen.

Hamilton Ferrari British History the twelfth Brit in this illustrious lineup. Hamilton Ferrari British History the twelfth Brit in this illustrious lineup.

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