After the excitement
of a new World Championship. Formula 1 was looking at a bleak season for 1952. Alfa Romeo
had withdrawn from Grand Prix racing and the spoils were left to Ferrari and the hopeless
BRM teams, supported by various relics from years gone by.
The real racing action was in Formula 2 and
trough the insistence of the track promoters the governing body decided to sanction Grands
Prix that were open only to F2 cars as championship scoring events. Since a new 2.5-litre
unblown/750cc supercharged Formula 1 would take effect in 1954 this would only serve as a
stop-gap and seemed a prudent thing to do. Building upon a theme that would be repeated in
the future Ferrari was well positioned to take advantage of the new rules. Aurelio
Lampredi, Ferrari's chief designer had built an uncomplicated but superbly prepared car
the Tipo 500.
The car was powered by a simple in-line
4-cylinder twin-cam engine with two spark plugs per cylinder. This was installed into a
welded-tube ladder-frame chassis with double-wishbone suspension at the front and a de
Dion axle at the rear. The four-speed gearbox was mounted with the differential and
connected to the engine via a short driveshaft running under the driver's seat.
The cars made there debut at the
Modena GP at the tail end of the 1951 season with Ascari winning by a lap over the older
V12 Tipo 166 of Froilan Gonzalez. The 1952 season was inaugurated at Syracuse in Sicily.
The cars had new bodywork and four Weber carburetors. Ascari led a Ferrari 123 finish and
went on to claim the World Championship for 1952 and 1953. This combination of proven design, the
weight savings of a smaller engine and of course the skill of Alberto Ascari proved
unbeatable. Ferrari and their Tipo 500 would win every race they entered except for two
non-championship events and the final Grand Prix of 1953.
With the new rules for the 1954
season Formula 1 was once again the premier series The new regulations allowed for 2.5 litre Naturally Aspirated and 750 cc supercharged engined racers. Ferrari modified their 1952 and 1953 world championship winning 500 F2 by increasing the bore and stroke of the four cylinder engine. The Tipo 500 was upgraded to 2.5 litres
capacity and redesignated the Tipo 625.