In the mid 1930s, Germany dominated motor racing.

Mercedes and Auto Union were funded by unlimited government money, their cars were the finest, the most modern, the most powerful ever built.

They were called ‘The Silver Arrows’.

Their crowning achievement was going to be the 1935 Grand Prix which was to be held in Nurburgring, Germany.

That they would win was seen as a formality.

Mercedes and Auto Union entered nine cars between them, just to make sure.

Against them were outdated cars from smaller private companies.

One of these was Alfa Romeo who had a great driver in Tazio Nuvolari, but by then he was 43 years old.

The German cars were bigger and more powerful than Nuvolari’s, but Nuvolari thought there was one thing the Germans hadn’t allowed for.

The Nurburgring circuit wasn’t all about power, it had 174 turns, it was a driver’s circuit.

From the start, as expected, the power of the German cars blew everyone else off the track.

Except Nuvolari.

The German cars were more powerful in a straight line: they had better top speed, and they had better acceleration.

But to Nuvolari, that was also their weakness.

Because of their power, they had to brake hard for every corner, wearing rubber off their tyres, then accelerate out of the corners, wearing even more rubber off their tyres.

Nuvolari’s smaller, lighter Alfa Romeo took the corners like a ballet dancer, maintaining a fast speed on every turn.

He didn’t have to brake hard going into the turns, so he didn’t have to accelerate hard coming out of the turns, he got maximum speed for minimum tyre wear.

By lap ten Nuvolari had done the impossible, he was in the lead.

His nearest rival was Manfred von Brauchitsch in a huge silver Mercedes.

Both cars needed to stop for fuel.

Von Brauchitsch’s crew filled his car in 47 seconds, but Nuvolari’s crew broke the filling pump, the fuel had to be poured in by hand from cans.

Nuvolari’s crew took 2 minutes 14 seconds to fill his car, giving Brauchitsch a minute and a half lead.

Nuvolari came out of the pits in sixth place against the fastest, most powerful cars in the world.

But lap after lap, one by one, he did the impossible again: he reeled them in.

Until there was only von Brauchitsch in front of him, five miles from the finish line but 35 seconds ahead.

It was impossible to make up 35 seconds in just five miles.

And when von Brauchitsch saw the little red Alfa Romeo in his rear-view mirror he put his foot down to blow off the Italian once and for all.

But all that cornering, braking, and accelerating had worn all the rubber away on his tyres.

As he floored it, von Brauchitsch blew a tyre.

His rear tyre was just flapping around in shreds, that was it, he was out of the race.

The red Alfa blew past ‘The Silver Arrow’ Mercedes and over the finish line.

It was two minutes before any of the other ‘Silver Arrows’ caught up.

It was impossible, but Nuvolari made it happen.

The best, most creative driver in the world had just beaten the finest, most powerful cars in the world.

Creativity beat superior technology.

As Maurice Saatchi said, “Sometimes in order to win, all you have to do is make the other fellow lose.”

Incidentally, that race made the most impact of all on the young man who was in charge of the Alfa Romeo racing team that day.

As he watched Nuvolari, he had a vision: maybe it doesn’t have to be a choice between the best, most creative drivers and the best cars.

What would happen if I could put the best, most creative, drivers together with the best, most technically advanced machinery?

We would be unbeatable.

The young man who saw the possibilities that day was Enzo Ferrari.