Ferrari 312 is the name of several different Ferrari race cars which have 3 litre 12-cylinder engines, both in V12 and 180° flat boxer shape.
1966-1969 F1 312
For the 1966 F1 season, the rules were changed, now allowing 3000 cm³ engines. The F1 teams, even though asking for "the return to power", were more or less surprised and not well prepared.
Ferrari's first 1966 car consisted of a 3.3-liter V12 that was taken from the Ferrari 250LM sportscar prototypes, modified to 3000cc, and mounted in the back of an F1 chassis, designated 312 for 3 litre 12cyl.
The engine was rather heavy, and due to the reduced capacity, lower on power and especially torque. John Surtees drove this contraption unsuccessfully in Monaco while Lorenzo Bandini drove a Ferrari Dino 2.5-liter V6. Surtees won the second race, the 1966 Belgian Grand Prix, a track that favoured power with its long straights, but the '64 champion departed after a row with manager Eugenio Dragoni. The issue was about priorities in racing, as Ferrari was under pressure from Ford in sports car racing, and the F1 effort was somewhat neglected. Mike Parkes replaced Surtees, who went to Cooper which used Maserati engines, to finish second in the driver championship with a further win. For Ferrari, Ludovico Scarfiotti also won a race, the 1966 Italian Grand Prix at Monza which helped Ferrari finish second in the Constructors Championship.
In 1967, the team fired Dragoni and replaced him with Franco Lini. Chris Amon partnered Bandini to drive a somewhat improved version of the 1966 V12 car. At the 1967 Monaco Grand Prix, Bandini crashed and suffered heavy injuries when he was trapped under his burning car; several days later he succumbed to his injuries. Ferrari re-hired Mike Parkes, but Parkes suffered career-ending injuries weeks later at the 1967 Belgian Grand Prix. A fatal crash, another bad crash, no GP win and only 5th in the Constructors Championship marked a bad year for the Italians. In addition, the new Ford Cosworth engine that had its debut in the Lotus 49 would dominate F1 in the 15 years to come.
The 1968 season was little better. Young talent Jacky Ickx won the wet 1968 French Grand Prix with his driving skills, but had few other success. Things became more complicated during the season by the introduction of aerodynamic aids into F1, and their quick development. At the end of the season, the Scuderia was only 4th in the Constructors Championship, and there was also no success in sportscar racing as Ferrari did not take part at all in 1968. Manager Franco Lini quit, and Ickx also, moving to Brabham. To provide for the future, during the summer of 1968, Ferrari worked out a deal to sell his road car business to Fiat for $11 million; the transaction took place in early 1969, leaving 50% of the business still under the control of Ferrari himself.
During 1969 Enzo Ferrari set about wisely spending his newfound wealth to revive his struggling team; though Ferrari did compete in Formula One in 1969, it was something of a throwaway season while the team was restructured. Amon continued to drive an older model and Pedro Rodriguez took Ickx' place; at the end of the year Amon left the team that again had no GP win and was only ranked 5th in the Constructors Championship. In addition, in sportscar racing, the Porsche 917 forced Ferrari to spend some of the millions earned in the Fiat deal for the production of 25 new Ferrari 512, to compete in 1970.
1970-1974 F1 312B series
Main article Ferrari 312B
The early 1970s saw the return of success to the Scuderia, just as as the unlucky Amon had left, while Jacky Ickx returned and Clay Regazzoni joined. A new engine called the "Boxer", actually a flat 180° V12, was used in the new Ferrari 312B, giving a lower center of gravity. Ickx battled with Lotus' Jochen Rindt and won 3 GPs, while the emotional 1970 Italian Grand Prix was won by Clay Regazzoni after the death Rindt in practice. In the remaining races, Ickx could not pass Rindt's point score for the drivers title, but Ferrari won the Constructors Championship ahead of Lotus.
In 1972, Ferrari could not keep up with the progress of the competition, dropping to 4th. Ickx won the 1972 German Grand Prix due to his skills at his favorite track, the Nürburgring, but this was also his last GP win. The sports cars season was a success for Ferrari though, with the Ferrari 312PB based on the F1 car.
In 1973, the Ferrari 312B3 was no longer competitive, and Ickx only managed one 4th place during the opening GP of the season. In addition to the sports cars, which were beaten by the French Matra, the F1 program of the Italians was outclassed, and they even skipped some F1 races, notably the Nürburgring. This was not acceptable to Ickx, who left the team halfway through the season to race the German GP at the Ring in a McLaren, scoring 3rd place behind the Tyrells of Stewart and Cevert.
1975-1980 F1 312T series
The 1974 season had already seen success with a new model, the 312 B3, based on an prototype called "snow plow". For 1975, by Mauro Forghieri modified this into the new Ferrari 312T, with a transversally mounted gearbox, thus the T. Lauda won the drivers championship easily in 1975.
A few races into 1976, the high airboxes were banned, and Ferrari put the intakes to the side of the cockpit, calling the new car 312T2. Lauda was also on course to win the title for Ferrari until his fiery crash at the 1976 German Grand Prix on 1 August, which might have been caused by a broken rear suspension. After Ferrari skipped a race while Lauda was fighting for his life, Carlos Reutemann was signed as replacement. After only 6 weeks, Lauda returned unexpectedly soon at Monza, forcing the team to enter three cars. Lauda scored points, but retired from the last race in Japan due to the heavy rain, handing the championship to James Hunt.
Even though the confidence between driver and team was broken, Lauda took both titles again for Ferrari in 1977, before leaving for Brabham who offered a $1 Million salary.
In 1978, Carlos Reutemann won 4 GP and Gilles Villeneuve his home 1978 Canadian Grand Prix, but Ferrari was only 3rd in the Constructors Championship. Lotus had introduced the "wing car", a dominating concept for which the wide V12 Boxer engine of Ferrari was not suited, unlike the V8 of Ford-Cosworth.
In 1979, quick progress was made in aerodynamics, first by Ligier, then by Ferrari with the 312T4, then by Williams. At the end of the season, new pilot Jody Scheckter secured both titles for the Scuderia, with Gilles also taking 3 GPs and the vice championship. This was to be Ferraris best F1 season for 2 decades, though.
The 1980 season saw further aerodynamic progress by Ford-V8-Teams. Ferrari was totally outclassed as their wide 312 "Boxer" engine did not suit the aerodynamic needs. Scheckter took the pole early in the season in South Africa, but the World Champion failed to qualify later in the year in Canada. After only managing 2 points, Scheckter retired from the team and the sport.
1981 Turbo instead of 312 V12
For the 1981 season, a new, turbocharged 1500cc V6 was developed, named 126C. The 312 designation was never used again, as the normally aspirated engines introduced after 1987 had 3500cc. Ferraris V12 was thus called 412. When the capacity was reduced to 3000cc again for 1996, Ferrari also opted for the V10 concept with had proven to be superior, and called engine and car 310.
The 3.0 V12 Ferrari 312P Barchetta and Berlinetta were hardly more than a 3-litre F1 Ferrari 312 with open or closed top prototype bodies. At the 12 Hours of Sebring the spyder finished 2nd to a JWA Gulf Ford GT40. At the BOAC 500km in Brands Hatch the same spyder was 4th behind three Porsche 908-01. At 1000km Monza, Chris Amon took the pole with the 312P spyder, ahead of Jo Siffert's 908-01, but had to retire. At the 1000km Spa, a 312P was second behind the Siffert/Redman 908-01LH. Two 312P Berlinettas were entered at Le Mans. They were 5 and 6 on the grid, but didn't finish. At the end of the season the 312Ps were sold to N.A.R.T., the American Ferrari importer of Luigi Chinetti, as the new and bigger Ferrari 512 should challenge the Porsche 917.
1971-1973 312PB sports car
In 1970, another rule change was announced for 1972. The loophole for the big 5L sports cars was closed, and the minimum weight of the 3L prototypes was raised to 650kg.
Porsche considered this too heavy as their Porsche 908/03 were 100kg lighter, and this advantage would have been lost. On the other hand, their aircooled two-valve engine was low on power with 370hp, and the development of a new engine would have been necessary. Thus, Porsche did not enter world championship sports car races after 1971 and sold the 908s to customers, who would have to add weight to them. Matra and Alfa Romeo were willing and able to compete, but only in selected seasons or events. Also, Ford's successful Formula 1 Cosworth-V8 engine was available for independent chassis builders, but vibrations made it unreliable for endurance racing.
After having been beaten by the Porsche 917s in 1970, Ferrari abandoned further development of the Ferrari 512M, leaving the 512 to customer teams like Penske, which had some success with their improved 512M in 1971, though. Penske, probably not very happy about the lack of support from the factory, joined Porsche for their CanAm effort with the turbocharged Porsche 917/10.
Instead, in 1971, Ferrari focused on a new 3L prototype, the Ferrari 312PB, based on the flat 180° V12 boxer from the 312B F1 car. This design was similar to the traditional Porsche engine layout with its low center of gravity, but watercooling was used of course. The car was promising, but did not win, while the similar Alfa Romeo 33 scored two wins against Porsche's dominance.
In 1972, with only Alfa answering the challenge, the 312PB was very successful and won all races of the World Sportscar Championship in which it was entered. Ferrari skipped the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1972, though, as the F1-based engine would not last 24 hours and spoil their perfect record.
As Matra also challenged for the championship in 1973 while Alfa was absent now, Ferrari needed also to enter in 1973's Le Mans, with an improved yet still doubtful engine. One car survived the 24 hours, finishing second behind a Matra. The championship saw the same order, with only two Italian wins compared to five French.
At the end of the 1973 season, Ferrari abandoned sports car racing to focus on F1 again, as the F1 team had even skipped GP races in 1973 due to lack of competitiveness.
|Ferrari Formula One cars|
|312||312 B||312 T|
|312 T||126 C||156/85||F1/86||F1/87||640||641||642/643||F92A||F93A||412T||F310/B||F300||F399||F1-2000||F2001||F2001