Ferrari 125F1, 275F1, 340F1, 375F1
By: Jeremy McMullen
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By: Jeremy McMullen
| Ferrari is the most successful constructor in Formula One's history, but it all started rather humbly. Despite being an elite, high-profile automaker and racing team, Ferrari performed rather unobtrusively in Formula One's first season. Success rarely comes overnight, but the waiting period is dramatically shortened when you have already designed a dominant product in which to take and build off. Enzo Ferrari and Gioacchino Colombo both came into being after helping Alfa Romeo ascend to the top of the grand prix world. This knowledge and experience would help Ferrari be immediately competitive in grand prix racing, but still not enough to break the grip the Alfa 158's had in 1950. Though Ferrari performed well in Formula One's first season, the dominance and the records would have to wait. Ferrari used 1950 to tweak their designs to break Alfa Romeo's hold on the championship and to begin the Ferrari/Formula One legacy.
Ferrari would turn to its model 125 for Formula One's first season. Designed in 1949, the 125 was Ferrari's first single-seater designed specifically for grand prix racing. However, much of the internals of the car had been taken from the 125S sports racer which was designed and built in 1948. The 125F1, as it became known, closely resembled one of Colombo's chassis designs—the Alfa Romeo 158. Of course, the 158 had already proven itself and obviously would have made a good basis for any team looking to be competitive right away and with aspirations for more.
There were only two engine options the FIA allowed. Either a team chose a supercharged engine with a maximum displacement of 1.5 liters, or, the team would have to choose a normally aspirated engine that had a maximum of 4.5 liters. Ferrari decided to go the route of Alfa Romeo and used a twin-stage Roots-type supercharger to boost the power of their 1.5 liter V12 engine. Designed similar to an aircraft fuselage, the 125 consisted of a tube-frame chassis with longitudinal and cross members to help with strength while not gaining too much weight. The wide upside-down U-shaped nose was ever so slightly angled back and gently sloping. Of course, the nose was dominated by the radiator inlet to provide cooling for the 1.5 liter V12 that was hidden in the long, rounded nose. Just aft of the radiator inlet was a shapely scoop that protruded into the airstream through which air would pass and would be able to enter the supercharger. The addition of the supercharger would boost the engine's horsepower from what was around 118hp in the 125S to somewhere around 230hp. By 1949, another revision to the engine happened that boosted power up to around 280hp. This was still short from where the Alfa Romeo 158s were by close to 100hp. Still, this boost is what made Ferrari competitive straight-away. And though not alone, at the time, Ferrari used a five-speed gearbox to match their higher-revving V12. Most teams were utilizing only four-speed gearboxes.
On either side of the chassis low and behind the front tire there were two cut-outs where the six exhaust pipes exited and blended into single pipes that ran back the length of the car, underneath the rear suspension and out under the rear of the car. As with the Formula One cars of today, the Ferrari 125 sported many shark-like gills all over the engine cowling. These gills went to help expel the heat generated by the big V12 by the onward-rushing air creating a vacuum, pulling out the heat built up inside the cowling as the air rushed over the gills.