TECH TUESDAY: Under the bodywork of Mauro Forghieri’s masterpiece – the Ferrari 312T

TECH TUESDAY: Under the bodywork of Mauro Forghieri’s masterpiece – the Ferrari 312T

Mauro Forghieri, legendary Ferrari designer of the 1960s and 70s, handed absent very last 7 days, aged 87. In this week’s Tech Tuesday, Mark Hughes takes a near search at the Italian’s very best get the job done, the 312 line of Grand Prix and championship-successful Ferraris.

Not like most of the British designer contemporaries who came to prominence in the kit vehicle period and established chassis about the Cosworth DFV motor, Forghieri was also an engine designer.

OBITUARY: Mauro Forghieri, technological genius behind some of Method 1’s best Ferraris, remembered

His flat-12, made in co-procedure with his Ferrari colleague Franco Rocchi, powered the crew as a result of the 1970s to four constructors’ championships.

When this engine was installed in Forghieri’s 312T chassis for 1975, so was developed maybe the crowning accomplishment of Forghieri’s extensive job. It was a auto which would go on to dominate the period in the fingers of Niki Lauda.


In this article we see the evolution of Ferrari from 1973-75, commencing with the first unsuccessful Colombo 312B3 of ’73, Forghieri’s modification of that car to aspect radiator spec at the Austrian GP of that yr and the steady refinement of Forghieri’s centralised mass theme represented by the ’74 edition of the 312B3 and the 1975 312T.

Ironically, it was from a moment of disaster in Ferrari historical past which despatched Forghieri on this route. In 1973, with Enzo Ferrari struggling ill-health, Forghieri experienced been assigned by mother or father enterprise Fiat to special initiatives and the initial F1 automobile of that yr was built by Sandro Colombo, albeit continue to employing the Forghieri flat-12 motor. Rather a radical departure in layout for Ferrari, with a short wheelbase and wedge-shaped monocoque, it was disastrously uncompetitive.

By the summer time, Enzo Ferrari’s wellbeing was bettering and upon retaking command, he introduced Forghieri back again from his exclusive projects where he experienced been doing work on a prototype regarded as the ‘snowplough’ for its distinctive nose, extensive system and incredibly short wheelbase.

Study Extra: Under the bodywork of the Ferrari 312B3 on the anniversary of Niki Lauda’s 1st F1 gain

Upon getting introduced again to the racing section Forghieri utilized the basis of his research with the snowplough to modify the Colombo motor vehicle, the 312B3. He introduced a unique-searching airbox superior driving the cockpit to much better feed the flat-12, allowing it to breathe far better.

He also relocated the radiators to the sides, guiding the shoulders of the driver (previously the drinking water radiator experienced been in the nose and the oil radiator beneath the rear wing). He was seeking to centralise the car’s masses to give it far better directional response, a topic he would go on to pursue and would in the long run direct to the transverse gearbox on the 312T, a initially for F1.


The key variations Forghieri built to the unsuccessful 1973 312B3 pointed the way to the dominant 312T of two several years afterwards. The radiators (formerly entrance and back again) have been moved to the sides, the oil tank relocated and the rear wing provided a significantly cleaner presentation for the airflow.

But prior to the 312T arrived a more modified edition of the 312B3, for 1974, nonetheless applying the ’73 car’s monocoque. This was the auto with which new recruit Niki Lauda would choose nine pole positions that calendar year and return Ferrari to the ranks of race winners.

It was a wonderful refinement of that prototype ’73 B3, taking fuller benefit of the aspect radiators to smooth the entire body sides and to raise the gap beneath the rear wing, to function it tougher. The area freed up at the entrance he used to incorporate a substantially greater delta-shaped wing.

He elevated the height of the airbox and – like his snowplough prototype – he built the bodywork very huge. He experienced found from his time planning Ferrari’s sporting activities racers (312P diagram, below) that the added bodywork, when operate near to the ground, enhanced downforce. Short and large, it appeared as very good as it went.

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A cross-section of the Forghieri-developed 312P sports automobile

With the following year’s 312T (3-litre, 12 cylinder, Transversale) he centralised the car’s masses even further with that sideways-sited gearbox.

In other respects it was a even further refined version of the ’74 B3, with the radiators now laid extra horizontally, allowing a wonderfully cleanse sidepod design which built-in improved with the higher bodywork. The front suspension, as an alternative of being mounted on a subframe was now hooked up straight to the front of the bulkhead from which long, classy rocker arms prolonged out to the wheels.

Go through Additional: Lauda’s barely plausible Monza comeback

With Forghieri’s flat-12 creating additional electricity than the rival Cosworth DFV, the 312T could typically carry a lot more wing than the most effective Cosworth vehicles and in Lauda’s hands it grew to become practically unbeatable. It ongoing profitable races into the early element of 1976 right after which it was replaced by the 312T2 – fundamentally the similar automobile but modified to meet new dimensional needs from the Spanish Grand Prix onwards and the banning of airboxes. This car or truck took Lauda to his 2nd world title in 1977.

Forghieri developed many excellent Ferrari F1 and sports racers, but the 312T probably stands as the epitome of his genius.


The 1975 312T (above) and the 312T2 (below) which was basically the same automobile but modified to meet the new dimensional polices from the 1976 Spanish Grand Prix onwards.