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Country of origin:Italy
Produced in:1964
Numbers built:2
Designed by:Mauro Forghieri
Predecessor:Ferrari 156 F1 'Aero'
Successor:Ferrari 1512 F1
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:March 13, 2017
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Click here to download printer friendly versionDuring the first season of the 1.5 litre Formula 1 regulations the Ferrari 156 'Sharknose' was virtually unbeatable thanks to its very powerful V6 engine. Internal turmoil and rapid development of the competition left the reigning champion outclassed in the following season. Both the British engines and chassis were superior to the barely developed 156 and the reigning champions failed to score a single victory in 1962. A very young Mauro Forghieri was given the task to turn Ferrari's fortunes around after most of the senior engineers like 156 designer Carlo Chiti had left during the 1961/62 winter.

Forghieri looked closely at the very light British cars and produced a new chassis with much thinner steel tubing to form the spaceframe. This car was raced twice in the second half of the 1962 season and proved to be a real step forward. It was not a big enough step though to bridge the gap with Lotus, who had introduced a monocoque type chassis that was even lighter and more rigid. Forghieri combined the two to create the 'Aero' chassis, which had a basic spaceframe chassis, which was in turn covered in sheets of duralumin. This semi-monocoque configuration would form the basis for Ferrari F1 chassis design for years to come.

The 'Aero' chassis was part of a larger scheme, which also included the development of two new engines. The first of these was a V8 engine designed along the same lines as the successful Lotus and BRM engines. This was supposed to race for the first time in 1963 and then be replaced with a high revving flat 12 engine in 1965. There were continuous delays with the development of both the new chassis and the engine throughout the 1963 season. The introduction of the latter was postponed to 1964, while the 'Aero' chassis did race; powered by the 200 bhp version of the V6 engine.

Although the engine and the chassis were not designed together, Forghieri managed to use the V6 as a partly load bearing member. It was mated to an all new six speed gearbox. Although the 156 'Aero' weighed exactly the same as the spaceframe 156/63, it was considerably more rigid. At the car's debut at Monza, John Surtees immediately placed the 156 'Aero' on pole position, but an engine failure caused his early retirement. The best finish for the new car was a disappointing fifth in South Africa. Two cars were raced early in 1964 and Lorenzo Bandini scored a win in Austria.

Delayed by almost a year the V8 finally made its debut in the 'Aero' chassis in March of 1964. Forghieri had initially planned to use the engine as a fully stressed member, but it soon became clear that the crankcase could not cope with that. A similar subframe as was used for the V6 a year earlier was again used to help support the load of the rear suspension. The V8 was both lighter and more powerful and Ferrari was finally back on top. Against little opposition, John Surtees drove the new '158' to a debut victory during the Syracuse GP. Surtees recorded a string of podium finishes, including two Grand Prix victories, which was sufficient to clinch the driver's and constructor's title.

The flat 12 engine made its debut in the final two rounds of the 1964 season. It was even more powerful and rigid enough to serve as a fully stressed member. Forghieri intended to replace the 158 with the 1512 altogether, but Surtees preferred the broader powerband of the V8 over the more powerful, but more difficult to drive flat 12. Ferrari raced both cars side by side, but as in 1962, the World Champions did not manage to score a victory. For 1966 the rules were drastically modified leaving both the V8 and flat 12 engined cars obsolete. Forghieri's flat twelve design would bring great Grand Prix and sports car successes in the 1970s.

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