Alfa Romeo GP Type 159 Alfetta at the F1 GP in Great Britain
On the occasion of the F1 GP in Great Britain, scheduled this weekend, the usual “drivers parade” will take place which just precedes the competition. The legendary Alfa Romeo GP Tipo 159 “Alfetta” was the forerunner of the event, an evolution of the 158 that Nino Farina drove to win the first race in the history of Formula 1 (Silverstone, 13 May 1950). And on Sunday the Kimi Räikkönen of the Alfa Romeo Racing Team will lead her on the English circuit. The story of this single-seater that belongs to the FCA Heritage collection – the department in charge of protecting and enhancing the historical heritage of the FCA Group’s Italian brands – is fascinating and is usually exhibited at the Alfa Romeo Historical Museum in Arese – La Macchina del Tempo .
After the Second World War, races were struggling to start again and numerous brands were already competing for the Grand Prix: Alfa Romeo, with the Type 158 “Alfetta”, was one of them. The cars had been built in 1938 and had literally survived the conflict, hidden on a farm, under a fake woodpile.
The engine was an innovative eight-cylinder light alloy, with dual chamber valve and Roots supercharger. The gearbox was integrated into the differential unit and mounted on the rear axle. The power of the first version was 195 hp.
The Alfa reached the true primacy in 1947 and 1948, with a constant development of the cars. In 1949, Alfa Romeo had withdrawn from the GP races and was preparing for the 1950 season, when the start of the first Formula 1 World Championship was planned. The power went up to 350 hp at 8500 rpm. for a speed of 290 km / h. The first race took place at Silverstone: next to Farina, Fangio and Fagioli (affectionately known as the team of the three “F”), the fourth car was entrusted to Reg Parnell, who finished third, behind Fagioli and the winner Farina. 11 victories in 11 races and Nino Farina won the 1st F1 World Championship in front of teammates Fangio and Fagioli.
In the 1951 season, Alfa Romeo decided to race with a development of the 158. The car underwent a radical makeover that was given the new name of GP Type 159. The engine was pushed to 425 hp at 9300 rpm, with peaks of 450 hp and maximum speeds exceeding 300 km / h. The transmission and brakes had been suitably improved. Before the last race Farina had won two races and Fangio three. Winning the Spanish GP, the Argentine was crowned World Champion.
For the 1952 season, Alfa Romeo decided to retire from the GP races.
1951 GP Type 159 “Alfetta” – Specifications
Motor: eight cylinders in line, double block and fixed light alloy heads, two valves per cylinder, DOHC (distribution with double overhead camshaft) geared. A triple-body carburetor, two two-stage compressors. 1479 cc (58×70 mm). 425 hp at 9300 rpm
Suspension: front, independent, swinging arms, transverse leaf spring, hydraulic and friction dampers. Rear, independent, De Dion axle, swinging arms, transverse leaf spring, hydraulic and friction dampers.
Weight: 710 Kg
Maximum speed: 305 km / h
Cars produced: 4 (Type 158 modified)