Any overview of Maserati’s greatest racing successes could not but start with this car, the archetypal Formula 1 Maserati. The standard-bearer for the official team in the late Fifties, the 250F was also uniquely suited to become the racing car of choice for gentleman drivers.
|Start of production||1954|
|End of production||1958|
|Chassis||Tubular ladder frame|
|Engine||L6, front, longitudinally mounted|
|Power||270 kW at 8,000 rpm|
|Top speed||300 km/h|
|Transmission||manual 4 or 5 speed + R|
The design project was assigned to Gioacchino Colombo, assisted by Vittorio Bellentani. Their mission was to retire the A6 GCM, the predecessor car in operation from 1952 to 1953, and bring the car into line with the new Formula 1 Grand Prix technical rules.
During the winter of 1953, the Maserati team of engine designers were divided on the type of the new engine to be adopted: as an alternative to the naturally aspirated 2,500 cc type, the Federation had now also opened the way to supercharged 750 cc designs. The traditionalists, headed by Gioacchino Colombo, won the debate.
The number 250 in the car’s name refers to the 2.5 litre displacement required for naturally aspirated Grand Prix engines. The letter F stands for “Formula”. As well as the upgrade of the Maserati straight six engine, the 250F also included further innovations, such as the adoption of the De Dion rear suspensions with a solid tubular beam installed in front of the drive axle.
The gearbox was transversely mounted in unit with the differential. Initially, the car had a 4-speed gearbox: from 1955 this was changed, with a new 5-speed unit acting as interface between the wheels and the engine. The 1956 season saw a further development: the engine was turned to an angle of 6° to improve the aerodynamics and lower the centre of gravity.
A winner right from its debut race, the 250F seemed to be destined for the World Title as early as the 1954 season, when Fangio took part in the first two Grand Prix races in the Maserati colours. After two races, the Argentinian ace was leading the table with two victories. However, under an earlier agreement Fangio was contracted to move to Mercedes as soon as their car was ready, and so his partnership with the 250F was rudely interrupted, before it was to start again three years later.
In 1957, Fangio came back to Modena to complete his unfinished mission with Maserati. In the end, success came and he helped to establish the 250F’s reputation as an all-time great racing car, which it still retains today. However, it was in fact another driver, the Frenchman Jean Bhera, whose name was most closely linked to the mythical Formula 1 Maserati: 18 World Championship race victories in three seasons, plus wins at the Bari and Pau Grand Prix.
At the hands of Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss, in a seven-year career (1954-1960) the 250F won race after race and became the accepted benchmark in its class. It was with Fangio, who drove the 250F to its very first victory (1954, Argentinian Grand Prix), that the car brought Maserati its historic World Drivers’ Championship in 1957.
Maserati 250F, the finest front-engined Formula 1 car you could ever drive: these were the words of Sir Stirling Moss, stating his opinion many years after his retirement from racing. It was at the wheel of the 250F that Moss won two of the most prestigious 1955 World Championship races: the Grand Prix of both Italy and Monaco.
More than half a century has now gone by, but the lightweight, streamlined chassis of the 250F already expressed the elegance and technology intrinsic to all the Maserati models in today’s range.
250 stands for the 2.5 litre displacement of the six cylinder engine, with F for Formula: a car created only for racing, with sophisticated engineering and exceptionally high performance.
Many great names have raced Maserati 250F cars: from 1954 to 1956 it collected no less than 8 victories with some of the top drivers of all time at the wheel, including Juan Manuel Fangio and Sir Stirling Moss.
The Maserati 250F put its cards on the table at once, winning its debut at the 1954 Argentinian Grand Prix with Juan Manuel Fangio, who went on to win the next Grand Prix in Belgium. In its 3-year career, the 250 F collected 8 wins, 8 pole positions, 10 fastest laps, and won two drivers’ championships.