Ferrari had hit the ground running when the regulations changed and limited the maximum displacement of engines to 1.5-liters. While most of the British marques were busy delaying and fighting, Ferrari would be busy preparing a light, nimble chassis that could make the most of the reduced horsepower. The success would be immediate. Unfortunately, it wouldn't be long lasting. This would lead to a number of endeavors that would ultimately lead to a number of one-offs. The Ferrari 1512 F1 would be one of these.
The British manufacturers would lose no time in recovering from their disappointment with the smaller displacement regulations. The British teams had dominated Formula 2 for a while and the new Formula One regulations were practically a re-write of the current Formula 2 regulations of the period. Therefore, teams like BRM and Lotus would soon rise to the fore by utilizing such forward-thinking construction techniques as monocoque structures and much slimmer, aerodynamic designs.
Ferrari had an advantage with the new regulations with its 1.5-liter V6 engine. However, it would take just a year or two before it would be outclassed by the V8 powerplants produced by Coventry Climax and BRM. The teams would figure out ways to bolt these bigger engines into the back of incredibly slim-line designs in order to gain the best power while maintaining handling.
What Ferrari needed was an advantage similar to that garnered by the monocoque structure employed in the Lotus 25. However, with most teams beginning to adopt the monocoque structure and other like manufacturing techniques, it was highly unlikely the advantage, as of yet, could have been found in some new chassis structure design. The limits imposed by the 1.5-liter engine displacement regulations were also quite limiting when it came to just going the route of trying to add more horsepower to a car. Therefore, designers and engineers had to become a whole lot more creative in their approach.
The best approach to the issue at hand would be to design and build a machine that stretched the very limits of power and new technology. This would be the intention of Ferrari's 1512.
The 1962 season would start out well with Ferrari finishing 3rd and 4th in the first round of the season. This would be followed up by even better results on the streets of Monaco. However, throughout the second half of the season Ferrari began to slip back in the running order as the strength of the new Lotus 25 really began to show its promise in the hands of Jim Clark.
The following season would see Ferrari continue to struggle. Reliability woes would ruin many good performances and the lone victory for John Surtees at the German Grand Prix would be much more of a consolation than a confirmation that Ferrari was back to its winning ways.
All throughout the 1963 season Ferrari would use its 156 chassis. Mauro Forghieri would be a relative new-comer to Ferrari but would immediately set to work restoring the proud team to its rightful place in Formula One hierarchy.
He would take the step to use thinner steel tubing to form the spaceframe chassis of the 156 but would find he was a step behind with the introduction of Lotus' 25 chassis. Forghieri would need to close the gap if he intended to take Ferrari back to the front. Therefore, with his 'Aero' chassis update of the 156 he would use a compromise. He would not use a fully-monocoque structure but would employ sheets of aluminum with a lighter spaceframe design to create a semi-monocoque structure.
Employing the need to combine new technology with updated engines, the semi-monocoque chassis would be just one part of the equation. A new V8 engine, similar to that of the Lotus and BRM would be just another. However, there was another engine idea on the table. This would be shelved until later and would become the heart and soul of the 1512.
Surtees' victory in the German Grand Prix, while not earth-shattering, was also not insignificant. It seemed to signal Ferrari was headed in the right direction. The design team just needed to stretch the limits even more.
Forghieri would stretch the limits with an engine idea, an idea that had been shelved earlier. The 1.5-liter engine displacement certainly curtailed abilities of engineers to extract power from the small engines. The only option seemed to be adding cylinders, but that also meant adding weight and also meant affecting handling as a large mass sitting higher-up would adversely affect a car's handling. The Coventry and BRM V8s seemed to be the furthest extent anyone seemed willing to go, but not Forghieri.
Forghieri thought about a 12-cylinder engine, but one with the cylinders opposed to each other in a 180 degree arrangement. This meant the mass of the engine would actually be seated lower in the car than the Coventry and BRM V8s. It seemed like the perfect solution. The 12 cylinders seemed destined to increase power, while the cylinder arrangement would help the stability and handling of the car. In theory, it was perfect. In reality, it was quite a bit less than perfect.
Twin overhead cams, two valves per cylinder, two coils, a single spark plug and a Lucas indirect fuel injection meant the flat-V12 was quite the complicated engine. Amazingly, it also proved to lack horsepower. While other teams like Lotus and BRM were managing to extract more power from their engines, Forghieri and Ferrari needed the V12 to actually produce what everyone believed would be the case. This would be the major delay in the launch of what was to become the 1512.
Although there were some issues with the flat-12 engine, Forghieri would set about designing a car around the advantages the engine offered. Taking lessons from the 'Aero' chassis, Forghieri would keep the semi-monocoque structure and would set about designing a graceful, and yet, aggressive design that would be competitive straight-away.
This aim would lead to a car with a very shallow body with a mean look to it. The long nose would feature a relatively flat upper line and a contoured lower. The radiator would be positioned upright within the nose of the car but the radiator inlet opening in the nose would be a very shallow oval-shaped design that was very much aerodynamic in its design and nature.
Following the practice of the day, the front suspension would make use of a rocker-arm assembly that positioned the springs and dampers within the actual framing of the car and not out in the airflow between the chassis and the front wheels. Braking power for the front wheels would come courtesy of Dunlop disc brakes. In the case of the front brakes, they would be mounted out on the wheels of the car.
The upper line of the 1512's bodywork would remain parallel and low to the ground. This would lend to the driver being positioned in a laid-back position on top of the monocoque structure and within the space-framing. Like many other cockpit's of the period, the instrument panel would actually be used as a bracing element, but that was also the perfect spot in which the instruments and steering column could be mounted. Along the right side of the cockpit would be mounted the 5-speed manual Ferrari Type 12C gearbox. The whole cockpit would be completed with a steeply-raked, wraparound windscreen that provided protection and aerodynamic efficiency around the driver.
Sitting right behind the driver's head would be the massive flat-12 Ferrari engine. The flat layout of the engine would actually enable a box-like panel to be fitted over the top of the engine to help with the aesthetics and aerodynamics of the rear of the car. The only gap in the rear bodywork would come in the form of large slots on either side in which the inlet pipes would protrude out into the free air. This piece of bodywork would cover just the top half of the rear of the car for the bottom would be a mixture of tubular framing, trailing links and an extensive array of exhaust pipes.
The engine would be an important step forward for the 1512. The cylinders and other aspects would be reworked so that the engine was able to produce around 220hp. The engine's power would be increased, but it would also be rigid enough that it could serve as a stressed member of the chassis. Higher horsepower and a lower center of gravity seemed to provide Forghieri with the winning combination for which he had been looking.
To complete the car, handling at the rear would need to be as important a focus as the handling at the front and the overall performance. As with the front, the rear would make use of Dunlop disc brakes. However, at the rear of the car the rotors would actually be mounted inboard, just to either side of the gearbox protruding out the back of the car. The anti-roll bar would pass right over top of the brakes and the driveshaft while the angled spring/damper arrangement would be positioned just ahead of the driveshaft.
Completion of the 1512 would become a little complicated, however. Ferrari would lose its license as a result of homologation issues. Therefore, the 1512 would be finished on behalf of Luigi Chinetti's North American Racing Team (NART). Therefore, when the first car was completed in was finished in a white and blue livery recognized as NART's. The car would make its debut near the very end of the 1964 season at the United States Grand Prix held at Watkins Glen.
Weighing in at just about 1080 pounds, the Ferrari 1512 would quickly become a favorite of the young and talented Lorenzo Bandini. Unfortunately, the love affair with the 1512 would not produce a result at Watkins Glen. However, the car's true promise would come to the fore at the final round of the 1964 Formula One season, the Mexican Grand Prix. In that race, Bandini would start from 3rd place on the grid and would stay right there in that position throughout the whole of the race.
The following year, the Ferrari 1512 would be Bandini's weapon of choice for the majority of the season. This would lead to a 2nd place scored at the Monaco Grand Prix and a couple of other top five results at the Italian and United States grand prix.
By the halfway point of the season it was believed Forghieri had managed to squeeze out somewhere around 250hp from the flat-12 engine. However, unlike heading into the 1.5-Liter era, new regulations would actually send Ferrari scrambling.
New regulations would come into effect beginning in 1966. This would see the max engine displacements increased up to 3.0-liters. This would make engines, like the 1.5-liter flat-12 immediately obsolete. Therefore, Forghieri and the rest at Ferrari would abandon the 1512 and the flat-12 engine. As a result, the 1512 would play its little part in Formula One history, and then, would pass into distant memory.Sources:
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Wikipedia contributors, 'Ferrari 158', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 3 December 2012, 04:28 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ferrari_158&oldid=526122733 accessed 29 January 2013By Jeremy McMullen