1969 Ferrari 312 F1

1969 Ferrari 312 F1 vehicle information

Monoposto

Chassis Num: 017
Engine Num: 017

This is a 1969 Ferrari F1 with chassis number 312-0017. It is powered by a V12 engine producing 4330 horsepower and mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. The fuel tank can hold 40 gallons and the dry-weight of the vehicle is 1150 pounds. The car is 1....[continue reading]

Monoposto
Chassis #: 017 

History

As spectators, fans and constructors contemplate the steady NASCAR-ization of Formula One - spec tires, spec electronic engine-control units, long-life engines and transmissions, restricted in-season aerodynamic development, engine rev limits, contrived wing specifications and other regulations, including 'cost-reduction' limitation on design and testing - there was unbridled creativity and diversity in Formula One in the '70s. The brilliant - and sometimes erratic - talents who created and drove these cars further recalls a dynamic era that seems to have been lost forever.

The F1 cars from this period had six wheels, shrouded tires, sliding skirts, proliferating wings, and even vacuum fans. Engines had six, eight and twelve cylinders. Most were naturally aspirated, but the sorcerer, Amedee Gordini, brought the first 1.5-liter turbo as an alternative. Entrants didn't need to post $48 million to pass through the FIA's portal to a Formula One gravy train, they just needed audacity. Which many be why there were characters on the pit wall like Lord Hesketh, Parnelli Jones, Mo Nunn, Teddy Yip, Roger Pensky, Walter Wolf, Guy Ligier and even, lest his origins be overlooked, one Bernie Ecclestone.

Then there were the drivers. They had arms and elbows, all fully employed in glorious abundance to slide, steer and even pass. Remarkably, at least by present-day standards, they were old enough to drink legally. And many of them did. They also partied, caroused and spoke their minds. Few of them had managers; almost all of them had talent and style. In fact, they had personalities, without being 'personalities.' They loved life, particularly in fast cars.

The end of the era came in 1980 when Alan Jones, Rene Arnoux, Didier Pironi, Carlos Reutemann, Jacques Laffite, Jean-Pierre Jabouille and Nelson Piquet were winners. That's eight separate drivers in 14 points-scoring races, driving for four different teams. Ferrari wasn't among the 1980 winners, but during the '70s the dominant team was Ferrari, winning four Constructors' Championships and three Drivers' titles with the 312 T series.

The 312
The 312 was Mauro Forghieri's creation. Turned loose by Enzo Ferrari with a 'clean sheet of paper,' Forghieri created the flat-12 3-liter engine to implement his goal of lowering Ferrari's GP cars' center of gravity and concentrating its masses within the wheelbase for the quickest possible directional response. Forghieri noted later that the 312 was a flat-12, not a 'boxer.' The distinction was important to Forghieri because he'd considered a boxer layout in conceiving the 312 engine.

The first 312 took to the track in 1970, designated the 312 B. Forghieri's flat-12 was easily the most powerful engine, and subsequent developments focused on building chassis and developing aerodynamics that would harness the 312's nearly 500 horsepower. In 1974, the 312 B3 brought Clay Regazzoni second in drivers' points - only three behind Emerson Fittipaldi - and Ferrari just eight points behind McLaren in the Constructors' Championship.

Forghieri made another dramatic change in 1975 with the 312 T, or transversal. The 312 T employed a transversally mounted gearbox between the engine and the rear wheels' centerline, along with center-mounted coolant and oil radiators to further consolidate the important masses within the 312's wheelbase. Tapered sidepods effectively acted as downforce-generation airfoils which the flat-12 engine's low profile complemented perfectly. With it, Niki Lauda captured the Drivers' title and Ferrari once again won the Constructors' Championship with Lauda and Regazzoni taking six wins in 14 races. The next-generation 312 T2 narrowly missed the 1976 Drivers' Championship after Lauda's fiery accident at the Nurburgring, but Ferrari captured the Constructors' title. Both Ferrari and Lauda recovered to take both the Drivers' and Constructors' Championships in 1977.

The handwriting appeared on the wall in 1978, however, when Lotus introduced the ground-effects Lotus 79 and put it in the hands of Mario Andretti and Ronnie Petersen. Not even the addition of a young, French-Canadian talent named Gilles Villeneuve to Ferrari's driver team could overcome the advantages of Colin Chapman's innovative employment of under-car airflow to suck his cars to the track.

Ground effects posed another challenge to drivers. When, through mechanical failure of the side skirts or disruption of the seal over curbs, the side seal to the racing surface was disrupted and the inflow of air into the under-car low-pressure area robbed downforce and destroyed the tires' lateral traction. It took immense talent and blindingly quick reaction compensate. Gilles Villeneuve had them.

Ferrari responded with the 312 T4 in 1979. The 312 flat-twelve was still the most powerful engine on the Formula One Grid, but the advantages which had contributed to its success early in the decade - a low, wide section that reduced aerodynamics - impinged upon the developing science of ground-effects aerodynamics. Only the 312 engine's power advantage, flexibility and a concerted effort by Ferrari to test and develop new aerodynamic packages - with help from Fiat and the Pininfarina wind tunnel - allowed Forghieri's team to create another champion.

And, to be sure, that bright talent from Canada, Gilles Villeneuve, who displayed brilliance during the season. At the Frend GP at Dijon-Prenois, he challenged Rene Arnoux's Renautl - clearly the dominant car of the race - in a wheel-to-wheel duel during the closing laps. Their contest let Jabouille, in the other Renault, escape to the win, but the battle between Villeneuve and Arnoux was pass and re-pass for laps where, as Adriano Cimarosti describes it, 'they Polished the sides of each other's car with their wheels in the middle of corners.' At the flag it was Villeneuve in front by 14-hundreths of a second. At the end of the season Jody Scheckter earned the Drivers' Championship for Ferrari with Villeneuve only four points behind and Ferrari again earned the Constructors' title.

Source - Gooding & Company

In 1973 Ferrari did not win a single F1 race. The flat-12 312 B engine introduced in 1970 had done well during the early parts of its career, racking up numerous victories, but as time progressed, the competition became fierce. Ferrari was being outpaced by other firms such as Cosworth and McLaren and was quickly relinquishing its strong-hold on Formula One racing. Something needed to be done. A new engine, new car, new driver, and new personnel were all considered. Enzo Ferrari began by giving the chief engineering job to Mauro Forghieri. Forghieri immediately began redesigning the engine. Niki Lauda and Clay Regazzoni were signed as drivers. During the 1974 season, Regazzoni was runner-up behind McLaren's James Hunt in the championship.

The 1974 season proved to be a vast improvement over the prior year but still far away from where Enzo wanted it to be. The 312 B3 captured nine pole positions, with only two turning into overall victories. In total, Ferrari was able to score three victories during the 1974. The problem with the 312 B3 was its reliability. By the close of the 1974 season, production had begun on a new car.

More power, less weight and better performance were the goals of the new racer. The flat-12 engine was modified to 485 horsepower, far out-powering its competition. A new transverse gearbox was directly bolted onto the engine in an effort to amplify weight distribution. The name 312 T was derived from the use of new the transverse gearbox. The 312 T was completed, tested, and ready to be raced part-way through the 1975 season. At its first race it easily secured a pole position but failed to finish after it crashed in the first lap. Of the next five races, the 312 T finished first in four of them, securing the constructors and drivers title for Ferrari. Lauda had proven his driving skills and the worth of the 312 T.

During 1957 and 1976, seven 312 T's were created. Variants of the 312 T followed, due to regulation changes and ever improving competition.

In 1976 a new car, the 312 T2, was introduced. The Spanish Grand Prix had made the prior version obsolete. Ferrari and Lauda were positioned for another successful season. A terrible accident left Lauda on the side lines. Luckily he had not been killed. The crash had occurred in one of the left-bend turns when the rear wishbone broke after coming in contact with a curb. The car was thrown off the track, breaking through a couple of fences and coming to a rest next to a rock. The vehicle was on fire. Two other race-cars crashed into the Ferrari. Lunger had lost his helmet on one of the fences and sat trapped in the cockpit of the blazing Ferrari. It was nearly a minute before he was rescued and pulled from the vehicle. He had inhaled a dangerous amount of smoke and gases seriously injuring his lungs. He suffered burns on his face and hands. It took nearly a week in the hospital before he was able to travel back to his home in Austria. He underwent rehabilitation and began working with fitness experts. After 42 days absent from Grand Prix racing, he returned with a fourth-place finish at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. The win kept him in the lead for the world championship. His wounds were not completely heald and were causing problems with his vision. His eye-lids had been badly burned and were not 100%. So during the Japanese Grand Prix, under very heavy rain, Lauda resigned from the race after completing only a couple of laps and forfeiting the world championship.

Lauda came back strong in 1977 with the Ferrari 312 T2, seeking redemption to the 1976 season that had cost him the world championship by just one point. With three overall victories and six second place finish, he easily won the driver's and constructor's championship.

For the 1978 season, Lauda switched teams and join Alfa Romeo. Gilles Villeneuve from Canada became the new driver for Ferrari.

A new chassis was created retaining its old drivetrain and dubbed the 312 T3. In total, five examples were created using the Type 015 12-cylinder engine and producing over 500 horsepower. The 580 kg car was poised for victory. However, strong competition from Lotus with their ground effects cars and piloted by Mario Andretti and Ronnie Peterson meant that Ferrari's Reutemann would finish third in points.

Formula one was changing dramatically. The competition was fierce and the technology was advancing. Renault entered the scene with V6 engines that were turbocharged. These racers were very fast on the straight-stretches. The Lotus cars were fast through the corners. Ferrari found help from Pininfarina and Fiat who attached ground effect technology to the 312 T chassis. The result was the 312 T4. The 312 T4 proved to be very reliable and fast, scoring Ferrari another Driver and Constructor's world championship.

In 1980, the 312 T5 was created after minor modifications to the 312 T4 were made. The Ferrari domination of Formula 1 again slipped away. Only a few points were scored and the team ended the season eighth in the constructor's championship.

During 1980, six examples of the 515 horsepower 312 T5 were created.


By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2010

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