It was the work of Vittorio Jano and Luigi Bazzi, who were specially appointed by Nicola Romeo, the father of Alfa Romeo, to design the P2. At the time, Enzo Ferrari was a race and test driver for the Italian manufacturer and his work was instrumental in convincing the two engineers to join Alfa Romeo. Years later, they would join the famous Scuderia Ferrari alongside 'il Commendatore'.

Initially, like its French counterpart, the Bugatti Type 35, the Alfa Romeo was designed as a "showcase" to boost the company's popularity and sell as many cars as possible. A process that still applies today in the world of motorsport.

"Look, I don't expect you to make a car that beats all the others, but I would like one that makes us look good, so we can make an identity card for this factory, then later, when it has a name, we will make the car". - Nicola Romeo

Alfa Romeo P2

A more than perfect start

The P2 and Type 35 made their racing debuts in 1924. However, the Alfa Romeo made a much more successful debut than the Bugatti. After being assembled for the first time on 2 June 1924 and then tested at Portello, the P2 took its first steps on the Cremona circuit in Italy a few days later.

With an average speed of 98 mph, a top speed of 121 mph and a 6.2-mile record, Alfa Romeo's new car, driven by Antonio Ascari, won impressively on its first outing. But the Italian team didn't stop there. A few weeks later in Lyon, in front of more than 400,000 spectators, the P2 repeated the feat by winning again. This time it was Giuseppe Campari who crossed the finish line first. With the Italian Grand Prix later in the year, Antonio Ascari scored Alfa Romeo's third victory of 1924.

Alfa Romeo P2

A champion manufacturer, but in mourning

The end of 1924 marked the start of a period of dominance for Alfa Romeo P2. The following year, 1925, saw the organisation of the very first World Motor Championship, the forerunner of today's Formula 1 World Championship. It was held over four events: the Indy 500, the European Grand Prix in Belgium, the French Grand Prix, and the Italian Grand Prix.

Alfa Romeo's season began in earnest in Belgium, after an initial failure at the Indy 500, won by the American manufacturer Duesenberg. On the famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit, Antonio Ascari took the first of two victories for Alfa Romeo this season.

Unfortunately, the Italian manufacturer's season was marked by the death of its star driver, Antonio Ascari. During the third round of the French Grand Prix, the driver from the Verona province was involved in an accident while leading the race. As a sign of mourning, Nicola Romeo decided to withdraw the other two P2s.

Alfa Romeo P2

In the final race at Monza, Gastone Brilli-Peri dominated the rest of the grid to claim Alfa Romeo's second victory. Thanks to the successes of Antonio Ascari and Gastone Brilli-Peri in Belgium and Italy, Alfa Romeo won the first World Motor Championship.

Early international retirement before one last success

What Alfa Romeo didn't know was that this domination would soon come to an end. In fact, as early as 1926, the Italian manufacturer no longer took part in competition due to a change in regulations that limited engine capacity to 1.5 litres, making P2s obsolete. However, this did not stop Alfa Romeo from continuing to compete.

In the following years, P2s were limited to minor races, mainly in Italy, being sold to private drivers such as Giuseppe Campari, who won the Acerbo Cup in 1927 and 1928. The years 1929 and 1930 were particularly victorious for P2. After Prospero Gianferrari bought three cars and the Alfa race car was completely redesigned, no fewer than twelve victories were scored over the two years thanks to Achille Varzi, Gastone Brilli-Peri, and Tazio Nuvolari.

Alfa Romeo P2

The greatest success of the ageing P2 was the Targa Florio, the oldest endurance race, in 1930, won by Achille Varzi, despite the fact that the spare wheel support, attached to the petrol tank, caused a leak and started a fire which was extinguished by the co-driver during the race using the seat cushions.

The glorious P2 raced for the last time at Brno on 28 September 1930. It went down in history alongside the Bugatti Type 35. These two legendary cars raced at the same time but were never really rivals. Indeed, during Alfa Romeo's dominance in 1924 and 1925, the Bugatti was not yet up to the task of competing, before taking over in 1926 and remaining so for a decade.