Total Production: 4
Success comes through a combination of key elements working together toward one result. Ferrari's 312, while a good car, didn't have all of the necessary elements to make it an absolutely great car. Formula One is about the pursuit of perfection each and every year. Ferrari's latest evolution, the 312B, would have many of those key elements Ferrari had been missing over the previous years. The 312B would help Ferrari get back on a path toward greatness.
One of the most important elements to a truly great car is its engine. If the engine doesn't produce the power, or the reliability, there is little chance of success. An engine that improves handling is merely a plus.
This 'plus' Ferrari would have going into the design of the newest evolution of the 312 chassis. Ferrari had developed a 3.0-liter naturally aspirated engine. But what made the engine so helpful to the car was not so much the 460 bhp it produced as much as the fact it was a flat-12. The twelve-cylinder engine was arranged with its two banks of six cylinders totally horizontal. Called the 'boxer' engine, the design spread the engine out and laid it down inside the chassis design. This effectively lowered the car's center of gravity, which; thereby, would improve the handling characteristics of the car. Even the width of the engine would be helpful in improving the car's handling characteristics.
Ferrari's designer, Mauro Forghieri, knew he had the engine. He just needed to design and build a car around it. The width of the boxer engine would allow Forghieri to design a low-sitting, low-profile design that was aesthetically pleasing to the eye and more than capable out on the track as well.
Forghieri would start by designing a bathtub aluminum monocoque structure in which to house the driver and to form the basis of the car's design. In order to provide clean, flowing lines in which to cover the engine at the back, Mauro would design a body that was oval in shape, but flattened. Covered with contoured aluminum panels, the main crash structure of the car was sleek, and yet, rigid.
Though the width of the body would increase over that of its predecessor, the use of sidepods would not come into style just yet. Therefore, the need existed to be able to aerodynamically house the engine's radiator. As with most other designs of the day, Mauro would create and open-mouth design that would feed cool air to the radiator.
The nose consisted of a tubular frame attached directly to the front of the aluminum monocoque bathtub. The radiator was mounted within the tubular framing and covered with a beautifully streamlined fiberglass nose piece. This wide-mouthed nose sported a low-profile and sloped gently upwards over the radiator hidden within. This nose cowling attached to the framing above and below the front suspension members.
The nose cowling featured a small lip on its trailing edge. Paying attention to the smallest of details, Mauro introduced the lip in the fiberglass design to help extract the hot air from around the radiator hidden in the nose. Another piece of bodywork sloped downward, as if to disappear into the nose. This provided a channel for the air being extracted out of the nose because of the suction caused by the lip on the trailing edge.
To each side of the nose small front wings sprouted. These small wings were mounted to the side of the nose with an upward angle. It was this upward mounting angle that produced the majority of the rather small amounts of downforce the front wings generated. Instead of designing a front wing with a great contour and camber angle, the way the wings were mounted helped to produce the same effect.
To either side of the nose cowling, narrow leading edge fairings were designed into the shape. This was aerodynamically helpful as they served as aerodynamic shrouds for the front suspension members. In the name of aerodynamic efficiency, an aerodynamic shroud also ran from the backside of the front suspension and blended into the bodywork surrounding the aluminum monocoque bathtub.
The front suspension consisted of a double-wishbone arrangement and an anti-roll bar. The upper wishbone featured a larger, thicker suspension arm that had a large radius created in its and was hidden under the fiberglass nose cowling. Held firm by a tubular hinge, the radius portion of the upper wishbone served as the rocker-arm for the coil-spring. Small, narrow air ducts were positioned just to the inside of the front tire to provide cooling air to the Girling disc brakes. Both the front and the rear disc brakes were able to be adjusted via the cockpit by a hydraulic circuit on the front and rear axle.
Due to the fact the car design was wide and low; another piece of streamlined fiberglass wrapped around the cockpit and gently sloped upward and surrounded the driver. This sloped piece of the fiberglass helped to smooth the air travelling around the driver and the cockpit; an area of great turbulence, and not just talking about the attitudes of the drivers.
The driver rested in the cockpit in somewhat of a prone position. Enclosed; somewhat, by the fiberglass shroud and clear windscreen, the driver felt rather protected down inside the cockpit.
Compared to many other teams, Ferrari was always known for its rather opulent environment for its drivers. Instead of aluminum monocoque structure and rivets readily visible to the driver, the cockpit was usually adorned with a black padded material. As if the two prancing horse crests and the rather plush seating wasn't enough of a reminder, there; staring the driver in the face, sat the bright yellow prancing horse emblem in the center of the leather-wrapped steering wheel.
The bathtub aluminum monocoque structure housed the foot box for the pedals and for the installation of the instrument display. To the right-hand side of the steering wheel the gearshift ran back to the Borg & Beck 5-speed gearbox.
Sitting right behind the driver's back, underneath the rather scant roll-bar and supporting roll structure was the 3.0-liter 12-cylinder Ferrari engine. Right behind the driver's head was the fuel pump for the engine. The car only weighed a little over 1200 pounds. With the 460 hp 12-cylinder engine, the 312B was capable of covering a kilometer in less than ten seconds. The engine's 12,000 rpm limit helped to accelerate the car from a dead-stop to 60 mph in only just over three seconds. The weight to power ratio was only 2.6 pounds to one.
In spite of the advantages of the lower center of gravity offered by the boxer 12-cylinder engine there was a concern with the exhaust pipes. The exhaust pipes for each bank of cylinder exited down low, almost underneath the car. This caused ride-height and suspension stiffness issues.
While the exhaust pipes offered a challenge, the engine design helped with the air induction. Many teams utilized engines with a V-design. This placed the induction pipes vertical and right behind the driver's head and roll-hoop. This wasn't the most efficient place for airflow into the engine. The boxer arrangement on the 312B helped to increase air induction efficiency as the pipes could pull in the air travelling along the side of the car. The only issue with this arrangement was the fact the first couple of induction pipes, or 'trumpets', received better airflow than those arranged directly in-line behind. In order to rectify this situation, the lengths of the each of the induction pipes travelling aft gradually grew longer. This provided equal amounts of airflow from the front to the rear induction pipes.
To help keep that kind of power and performance under control the car utilized rack and pinion steering and 14.5 inch wide rear and 9 inch wide front tires. Complimenting the mechanical grip offered by the tires, some aerodynamic grip at the front, and, rear was utilized. The small wings on the nose helped the front of the car. A small wing mounted directly above the engine helped at the rear.
The rear wing was comprised of a single support structure. A triangular-shaped pillar attached to the upper-side of the center roll-hoop support. This was riveted to the top of the wing's main-plane. The wing was further reinforced by a support piece that attached the narrower secondary-plane and ran to the underside of the main-plane. A later evolution of the 312B featured a main-plane in which its angle of attack could be adjusted. Greater downforce would be possible with a greater angle of attack, or, with the trailing-edge of the wing tilted upwards dramatically. This adjustment of the main-plane was made possibly through its attachment through the center support pillar.
Downforce levels could further be adjusted through the adjustable secondary-plane. The secondary-plane were actually two individual flap-like elements that attached to the main-plane and triangular-shaped endplates. The secondary-plane could be made up of two flap-like elements as airflow to the center of the rear wing was prohibited by the center support structure that rigidly held the wing. High-downforce and low-drag arrangements were made easily possible.
Mounted directly underneath the car's rear wing were two low-profile, wide-mouthed air scoops. These air scoops widened and deepened and served to direct air to the car's oil coolers mounted standing vertically on the very rear of the car. The oil cooler housings mounted to either side of the transmission and were contoured to mount directly over the top of the rear suspension. The tops of the housings featured a 'ski-jump-like' ramp on its trailing-edge. This served a double purpose. The airflow passing over the top of the housing would create a lower pressure that would help to pull the hotter air from the oil coolers out. As a by-product of the ski-jump trailing-edge, a small amount of downforce was created.
The design of the engine came into play with the design of the rear suspension. The induction and exhaust pipes prohibited the use of a narrower double-wishbone arrangement at the rear. Therefore, both the upper and lower wishbones featured trailing link (radius rod) arms that attached farther forward along the side of the chassis. It is important to prohibit wheel travel forward and aft, but this was not easily done on the 312B without the use of the longer trailing links.
The exhaust pipes from each of the six-cylinders blended into two larger pipes. These two pipes, on either side of the car, exited out between the suspension members, just to the outside of the oil cooler housings, with an upwards angle.
In 1970, Chris Amon had left the team. As a result of Amon's departure, Clay Regazzoni would come and join Jacky Ickx. Armed with the 312B (the 'B' indicating the boxer engine) and Firestone and Goodyear tires, Ferrari was ready to reclaim its former Formula One glory.
Over the course of 52 races, the 312 had earned Ferrari only 3 wins and 7 poles. The team had not won either Drivers' or the Constructor's Championship title since 1964. And that was John Surtees driving the 156 and 158.
The first evolution of the 312 had been a let-down for Ferrari. The 312B would restore the team's hopes. Over the course of the 1970 season, the 312B would take Ferrari back to the top step of the podium four times; something the team hadn't done in over a year. Ickx would score victories at Austria, Canada and Mexico. Regazzoni would bring the 'Tifosi' to their feat scoring an emotional win at the Italian Grand Prix.
As a result of the three wins, Ickx would claim 2nd in the Drivers' Championship with 40 points. He would end up only 5 points behind Jochin Rindt at the end of the season. Regazzoni's lone Italian Grand Prix victory and three 2nd place finishes helped the Swiss driver to finish 3rd in the Drivers' Championship standings. The four victories and the podium finishes at the Dutch Grand Prix and the German Grand Prix helped Ferrari to claim 2nd in the Constructors' Championship standings as well.
The team knew it had its basis for future success. The 312B had brought Ferrari back to the very edge of its former glory. Soon, Ferrari would again be atop the Formula One world and much of its success had been laid in the technological advances and coming together of other key elements employed in the 312B.Sources:
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By Jeremy McMullen