Showing posts with label Italian Racing Cars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Italian Racing Cars. Show all posts

Ferrari 312T

Ferrari 312T 1970s Italian F1 car

The 312T won the '75 F1 World Championship. Ferrari were cock-a-hoop. It had been eleven long years since the last one. Having the great Niki Lauda as driver helped, of course. But, Lauda would have been first to acknowledge the contribution of a fellow member of the Ferrari team. Namely, Mauro Forghieri - who designed the 312T's engine.

The Ferrari flat-12's motor had slimmer bores than those of the V-configured layouts of other teams. That allowed them to rev higher. Increased engine speeds meant more horsepower. It also meant more fuel consumption - so the 312T hit the grid heavier than its rivals. Thus, it fell to Ferrari's strategists to erase that handicap as the race wore on. They obviously made a good fist of it. Lauda won three consecutive races - 5, 6 and 7 - in Monaco, Belgium and Sweden. He had added two more by season's end. Deservedly, then, he took his first World Championship. Small wonder he described it as 'the unbelievable year'! To be fair to their competitors - not least, Brabham - Ferrari's car was head and shoulders above the rest.

Engine man Mauro Forghieri's masterstroke was his positioning of the 312T's gearbox. The horizontally-opposed flat-12 set-up meant the motor's mass sat lower. The result was better handling. Still a bit twitchy - but a big improvement on the Ferrari 312B3's understeer. Forghieri took weight distribution a step further. By placing the gearbox behind the engine, mass was not just lowered - but more centralised, too. The 312T now manoeuvred as well as it moved. At the start of the '76 season, the 312T was to win another three back-to-back GPs. But, '75 had been the car's finest hour. Niki Lauda - alongside team-mate Clay Regazzoni - had done the Tifosi proud. The Scuderia Ferrari fanatics had seen their team restored to the upper echelon of world motorsport. So, on top of being one of the most iconic race cars ever built, the 312T was a terrific all-round package. As such - in terms of technology - Ferrari pointed the way to the fully-integrated future of F1.

Maserati 250F

Maserati 250F 1950s F1 car

The 250F was from a strong stable. Maserati was a red-blooded équipe, if ever there was one. Founded in '26, it took the team just eight years to become the world's biggest builder of single-seater race cars. For the first twenty years, Maserati was devoted solely to racing. So, by the time it got round to building production cars, it had learned a thing or two!

The 250F hit the grid in '54. It was fully prepared for the challenges ahead. Its straight-six motor came with three twin-choke Weber carburettors. Like most other GP cars of the era, its engine was front-mounted - and powered the rear wheels. Top speed was 185mph. Engine capacity was 2,490cc. The chassis comprised a tubular steel frame, independent wishbone/coil spring front suspension, and a de Dion rear axle. In '57, Maserati unleashed an updated 250F. It was fitted with a 5-speed gearbox and fuel injection. Power had been upped to 270bhp. Bodywork had been revised. The new frontal area was stiletto-sharp. Braking, too, had been improved. The 250F was now at the peak of its development cycle.

Juan Manuel Fangio was Argentinian. He was also a driving ace. When he climbed into the 250F's cockpit he was already a motor racing legend. The beefed-up version of the car would bring him his fifth World Championship. En route to that, his win in the German GP - at the Nürburgring - has gone down in folklore. Peter Collins - in a Ferrari - was the hapless victim of a genius at work. The Ferrari had been way out in front. But that was before Fangio decided to turn up the wick. Four-wheel drifting his 'Maser' - with robotic precision - he caught up with Collins. As he duly went by him, it was as if man and machine melded. It was the greatest performance either of them ever gave. Motor racing as science. Sporting endeavour of the highest order. Fortunate, indeed, were those in attendance that August day, in Germany. The Maserati 250F - piloted by possibly the best driver of all time - had scaled rarefied racing heights!