Fascinating F1 Fact:10

The games that are played in Formula 1 are sometimes much more complicated than they appear to be. Every available weapon is used, be it finance, technology, staff numbers, espionage and even deception and misinformation. If rival teams can be convinced that you have a good idea, then they will waste energy trying to work out how to make the latest “gaffer-dazzler” work. If you have a bigger budget than others and they waste some of their money doing things that do not work, then you gain an advantage…

Some think that this was the explanation for a car that was called the Ferrari 312T6, which appeared in testing early in 1977.

The Ferrari 312T family of F1 cars was very successful from 1975 to 1980. The different versions of the same basic design won 27 Grand Prix victories (13 for Niki Lauda, five for Carlos Reutemann, four for Gilles Villeneuve, three for Jody Scheckter and two for Clay Regazzoni). It won three Drivers’ titles (1975, 1977 and 1979) and Constructors’ Championships (1975, 1976, 1977 and 1979). By any standards it was a great F1 design. The chassis was the work of Mauro Forghieri while the 3-litre flat-12 engine designed by Forghieri in league with Franco Rocchi, was codenamed the B12 and dated back to 1970. It was mounted longitudinally in the car, with the gearbox being mounted transversally (hence the T designation). In the course of 1976 Forghieri analysed the Tyrrell P34, the six-wheeler which had four small front wheels, in an effort to get more rubber on the road and to cut down aerodynamic disturbance from the tyres at the front of the car. He concluded that the idea might work on the back of the back if there were smaller rear tyres, but four of them on the same axle. The car in that form was too wide for the regulations, but Forghieri wanted to see the effects of his idea, in part perhaps because it meant that the smaller rears were more rigid than the bigger tyres and so did not deform as much under cornering. The car used for the testing was a 1976 312 T2, and it was dubbed the 312 T6, for obvious reasons. This was tested by Lauda and Reutemann at Fiorano and, naturally, the Italian press spotted the car and write reams and reams about it. The drivers were not keen. Reutemann suffered a rear upright failure and later crashed the car as well. The project was then forgotten about but Ferrari leaked out pictures of a car that they called the 312T8, which had four wheels at the front, as well as four at the rear, on two axles, like the March 2-4-0 which was being tested at the time. This was never a serious project, but it kept everyone guessing and kept the focus on Ferrari’s activities, which served the team’s purpose.

26 thoughts on “Fascinating F1 Fact:10

  1. Never even heard rumour of that at the time so fascinating. Is there a book to be made of all of the many false starts that have been attempted to gain advantage in the competition world ?

  2. Showing my age here but … anyone else remember that Hamlet advert in the 70’s featuring a Ford Anglia with ‘Carlos Fandango Super Wide Wheels’? Worth checking out on Youtube for those who don’t have grey hair!

    1. For us more senior in years it would be a Ford Anglia 105e – for the current generation I suppose it would be a ‘Harry Potter car’!

      1. I remember the advert, and the 105E. To be honest I think the ad was more fun than the Anglia. At the time I had a Hillman Imp and a good friend had an Anglia, he could never keep up whether on the straights or round bends!
        Um, of course I’m so old now I don’t drive at more then 45mph these days. 🙂

        1. Isn’t it fun holding up all the boy racers now ! Us that were once hooligans, amateur and professional, now have the abilities to really frustrate their progress.

    2. For some of us the phrase “Carlos Fandango wheels” became part of the lexicon. Especially when describing the sheds driven by barryboys (qv).

    3. Isn’t it fun holding up all the boy racers now ! Us that were once hooligans, amateur and professional, now have the abilities to really frustrate their progress.

  3. I remember the Tyrell 6-wheeler and have even got a photo of it that I took in Monaco in 1976. I remember the Williams and March 6-wheelers too but I’d never heard of the Ferrari versions until now. Fascinating stuff!

  4. Very interesting stuff. I’d seen images of the T6 but never heard of the T8.
    Thing is back then without the mentally restrictive regulations we have today such a thing ‘could’ have been a reality.

    I found this period ‘mock-up’ image siad to have been released by Ferrari. Would have been great to see something like this for real.

    I hope the link works and/or is permitted.

    [No links allowed]

  5. Great info once again, Joe.

    Basic magic; distract with the left hand so they can’t see what you’re doing with the right.

    A practice Bernie elevated to an art form. Surely you all remember Bernie, right? Right???

  6. Hi Joe, the new FFF series is great, many thanks for taking the time to write them all.

    A little off-topic, but when Senna & Prost clashed at Suzuka ’89 were you the one that came up with the “Malice in Hondaland” headline in Autosport?

    1. I honestly don’t remember. I think I might have been responsible but I also think it might have been Bruce Jones. In any case we came up with many great headlines in that era, one of the other or both!

      1. I seem to recall in one of your BSCC reports referring to a Weaver-Sytner-Pond-Lovett dust up at Thruxton as ‘the lunatic fringe’

        Priceless!!

  7. Prior to the Brabham fan car’s sole race and quick disqualification, were any other teams on to the idea and working on their own versions? Or did Brabham manage to keep that secret until they showed up at a race with it?

    1. The ‘Fan Car’ wasn’t disqualified. Bernie chose to withdraw it as everyone else (Colin Chapman in particular) complained about it. Bernie was building his empire at the time so yielded as he needed everyone onside.
      I was lucky enough to speak to Gordon Murray about this recently and he said no one has any idea of what he was doing so he was pretty much 3 months ahead of everyone else.
      He suggested that others might have been mocking ideas up but had the car continued to race it would have anialated the rest of the grid that year.
      GM had a twin fan car lined up for the following year but of course that never happened.

      1. Slightly off this topic but the mention of Gordon Murray reminded me of that excellent video on the Red Bull website about his introducing the idea of refuelling as a race strategy – if you haven’t seen it definitely worth a watch!

      1. I took it that the question was about other F1 teams. As you suggest the Chaparral 2js predate the Brabham by 8 or so years but the loophole here was that any ‘fans’ had to have a primary cooling effect so the ‘ground effect’ was deemed legal under the existing regulations as a ‘byproduct’. The 2Js just ran those fans for downforce.

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