||Double wishbone, inboard spring/damper.
||Double wishbone suspension
||Ferrari 015 3000cc Flat-12, naturally aspirated, mid-engine, longitudinally mounted
||5-speed transverse gearbox manual
||3 (Niki Lauda, 1975,1977)|
(Jody Scheckter, 1979)
The Ferrari 312T was a Ferrari Formula One car design, based on the 312B3 from 1974. In various versions, it was used from 1975 until 1980. It was designed by Mauro Forghieri for the 1975 season and was an uncomplicated and clean design, that responded to mechanical upgrades.
The 312T series won 27 races, four constructors' and three drivers' championships, and was replaced for the 1981 season by the 126 C, Ferrari's first turbocharged F1 car.
The car was powered by the powerful and ultra reliable Flat-12 engine which gave around 510bhp, the T in the name stood for 'transverse', as the gearbox was mounted in this way, improving the car's handling characteristics, which had been the downfall of its predecessor.
Niki Lauda tested the car extensively during the off season, ready for a full on championship challenge. The hard work paid off, for after a slow start in which Brabham, Tyrrell and McLaren put up strong competition, Lauda won 4 out of 5 races mid season before snatching the title at Monza by finishing third, whilst Clay Regazzoni's win in that race secured Ferrari its first constructors' championship since 1964. Lauda went on to win the American Grand Prix at season's end, confirming Ferrari's superiority in 1975.
The same drivers, Lauda and Regazzoni, were retained for the 1976 season. The 312T was used for the first three races of the season (Lauda won the first two and Regazzoni the third), and was then replaced by a modified version, the 312T2. This was effectively the same car, with detail changes to conform to the newly introduced regulations which included the banning of the tall air boxes - instead "NACA shaped" air intakes were placed on the cockpit sides. The 312T2 was if anything, more successful than the 312T. Lauda was comfortably leading the world championship after another 3 wins, when at the 1976 German Grand Prix at Nürburgring he had a massive accident caused by a suspected rear suspension failure. In the aftermath he nearly burned to death, but was miraculously back racing just 6 weeks later. Lauda conceded the title by just a single point to James Hunt, but the 312T2's superiority helped Ferrari win its second consecutive constructor's title.
Lauda and Carlos Reutemann used the 312T2B to great effect in 1977, for although it was no longer the best car it was good enough to win the driver's championship for Lauda, who won more through the car's reliability than outright speed. He took 3 wins, while Reutemann won once. The constructors' championship was also secured for a third successive season before Lauda walked out on the team before season's end. He was replaced by the fiery Canadian Gilles Villeneuve but he couldn't get a handle on the T2B, as its neutral handling didn't suit his oversteering driving style. The Ferrari 312T2 had a lot of development work done to it, with several different noses tried, many rear wing profiles some especially tailored for specific circuits designed and numerous changes to the suspension and rear bodywork.
Ferrari also created a six-wheeled version dubbed the T6. The car followed in the footsteps of the Tyrrell P34, but instead of four smaller front wheels, the T6 used 4 normal sized rear wheels, with two wheels for each rim. The car was never raced.
The 312T3 was introduced for 1978 for Villeneuve and Reutemann. It was much cleaner aerodynamically, and the flat 12 engine was tuned to give around 515bhp. A switch to Michelin tyres meant a redesign of the suspension was necessary. All the hard work came to nothing though as the pioneering Lotus 79 ground effect "wing car" took on and beat all comers with ease that season, and Ferrari were left to pick up the pieces of any Lotus failures. Reutemann won 4 races, whilst Villeneuve won for the first time at the final race, his home race in Canada, but it was more a season of consolidation. Reutemann moved to Lotus for 1979, replaced by Jody Scheckter. Ferrari was only 3rd in the Constructors Championship.
In 1979, a significant amount of progress was made in aerodynamics and to challenge Lotus, Forghieri realised he had to follow their lead and design a ground effect car for 1979. The 312T4, introduced for 1979 was closely based on the 312T3. Its origins placed restrictions on the aerodynamic design since the 312T3 had not been designed with ground effect in mind, and the flat 12 engine was too wide to permit the correct underbody design to optimise the ground effect. It was good enough to win 6 races in 1979, three each for Villeneuve and Scheckter. Other solid placings helped Ferrari win its fourth constructors' championship in 5 seasons and Scheckter his only drivers' championship.
The 1980 season saw further aerodynamic progress by Cosworth DFV teams, and a heavily-updated version of the 312T4, the 312T5 was introduced. As with the previous season, Ferrari was totally outclassed as their wide 312 "Boxer" engine did not suit the aerodynamic needs. The car was unreliable, slow and wasn't very effective against the competition. For the first time since 1973, Ferrari did not win a race for an entire season, and the team finished 10th in the Constructors' championship. Scheckter even failed to qualify in Canada and, after only managing 2 points, retired from the sport at the end of the year.
- Tremayne, David & Hughes, Mark (1998). "The Concise Encyclopedia Of Formula One, Paragon.
- article about 312T