The number 1000 makes you stop and take notice. Who would have thought back on that windy Saturday of May 1950 in Silverstone – the very first Formula 1 race valid for the world championship – that the 1000th one would eventually take place not far from the Great Wall of China? Back then (on 13 May 1950, to be precise) a young Elizabeth II, yet to become Queen of England, was there to see the beginnings of this high octane competition. Wrestling with their cars in front in her, in their flimsy overalls and slicked-back hair (helmets didn’t become compulsory until 1953) were the gladiators of the day: Juan Manuel Fangio – who would go on to win five titles – and Giuseppe Farina, who would claim the first F1 race and championship with Alfa Romeo.
It was the symbol of a Europe that was emerging from the Second World War, showcasing technology and hope for the future. Once more, there was a passion for racing and competition, casting aside the shadow that Hitler had spread over Europe. Everything was in place to write a new chapter in human history centred around speed and cars, technology that aimed at new horizons, heroes with almost superhuman courage. At the forefront were Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Mercedes: iconic entities that are still around today.