16 November 1929: exactly 90 years ago, the public limited company "Scuderia Ferrari" was being founded in Modena. Its purpose was stated as being "purchasing race cars of the Alfa Romeo brand and participating with these cars in the races listed in the national racing calendar and in the calendar of the National Association of Automobile Clubs. Share capital 200 thousand Italian Lire, executive advisor and director, Cavalier Enzo Ferrari, holder of 50 of the 200 shares. The beginning of an extraordinary adventure
The purpose was to take part in races with expert drivers and Alfa Romeo cars, thus promoting racing, an expert consultant service for outside companies and also the sales sector. These activities were complemented by participation in motorcycle races with the makes Rudge and Norton (1932-1934) plus the sales and service of Ford cars and Fordson tractors. The team's racing debut - which concluded with a string of withdrawals - was the 1930 Mille Miglia, a race dominated by the official Alfa team.
The breakthrough for Scuderia Ferrari came in 1933: Alfa Romeo passed into state control through IRI, in the wake of a deep-rooted financial crisis that afflicted the entire automotive sector. Ugo Gobbato become General Manager and Portello embarked on a radical process of industrial reorganisation that led to the manufacture of aircraft engines, heavy vehicles and the subsequent militarisation of the company in 1935.
In this new scenario, races could distract the attention of the engineering department and staff and Alfa Romeo decided to appoint Scuderia Ferrari to manage the competitions: Ferrari was appointed consultant for racing and sales activities. The Scuderia enjoyed considerable independence due to its location in Modena and though it began by carrying out only service activities, it soon expanded into car research and development activities as well, especially with a view to the new 1934 formula.
The draft agreement between Alfa Romeo and Scuderia Ferrari dates back to 1934: Alfa undertook to build a certain number of racing cars and the Scuderia agreed to take part in all the races that were arranged. The agreement was renewed for 1936, with a further increase in independence for what could now be considered a true Alfa Romeo racing department.
Although the fascist regime was pushing to step up racing activities, recognising them to be a form of propaganda, the government did not support Alfa Romeo financially and this had an impact on the design of racing cars, with obvious consequences on race results. Having to take on the German makes, which were supported by the Nazi government, made Alfa the underdog in Grand Prix races.
In 1937, the agreement with Scuderia Ferrari was therefore amended to forge a closer bond between the organisation and its parent company, which now shared management of motor sports activity. Although Ferrari retained considerable decision-making autonomy, it had to report to and be directly answerable to the General Management. Even now, results were slow to arrive.
The independence of Scuderia Ferrari now represented a problem for the Alfa Romeo Management: there was no direct control of motor sport activities and the distance between Milan and Modena made race management and car development inefficient. During a Board of Directors' meeting of 30 December 1937, Ugo Gobbato therefore announced the purchase of an 80% share in the Scuderia.
The company was wound up and the equipment - and staff - were transferred to new premises in Portello, given the name of Alfa Corse. Ferrari was appointed management consultant to the Section, directly answerable to the General Management.
The loss of decision-making independence and his very bad relationship with Wifredo Ricart, the brilliant Spanish engineer who had recently been made head of design, led Ferrari to abandon Alfa Romeo in 1939. Shortly after, Alfa Corse was also disbanded and motor sport activities were transferred to the Experimental department.
With the income from winding up the Scuderia, Enzo Ferrari went back to Modena and set up a new company: Auto Avio Costruzioni. Enzo Ferrari's agreement with Alfa Romeo prevented him from re-establishing the Scuderia for at least four years: the "new" Ferrari was not set up until 1947.