Ferrari 312B

Ferrari 312B

by Luca Dal Monte

The 312 B is the progenitor of the single-seaters that Ferrari fielded in the Formula 1 World Championship from the 1970 season until the beginning of 1973. It is the first car from the Prancing Horse equipped with an engine that has entered the history of both the Maranello industrial and racing departments, namely the Tipo 001, a 180° V-shaped 12-cylinder engine with a displacement of three litres (2991 cm3), producing approximately 450 HP in its initial application.

The name of the car derives precisely from the engine: 3 for the litres of displacement, 12 for the cylinders. Regarding the ‘B’ completing the name, there are actually two schools of thought. The first suggests that ‘B’ stands for boxer, referring to the flat engine. However, years later, the chief designer of that car, namely engineer Mauro Forghieri, stated that originally, the ‘B’ implied the double overhead camshaft, i.e., the ‘bialbero’, represented by the ‘B’.

Ferrari 312B Image 1


Jacky Ickx: 1970 is the great season for the Belgian driver, who at the wheel of the 312 B wins the Austrian, Canadian, and Mexican Grand Prix and comes close to challenging the championship leadership of Jochen Rindt, who died during practice at Monza in early September. Thanks also to two podiums at Zandvoort and Hockenheim, Jacky will be the runner-up in the 1970 World Championship.

Clay Regazzoni: For the Swiss-Italian Clay Regazzoni – still known as Gian Claudio at the time – 1970 marks his debut season. His rise is phenomenal: at the wheel of the 312 B, Clay finishes fourth in the first race in the Netherlands, again fourth at Brands Hatch, second at Zeltweg, and first at Monza. Thanks to two more finishes in Canada and Mexico, he finishes third in the Championship.

Ignazio Giunti: The Roman driver makes his Formula 1 debut in the Belgian Grand Prix, where he finishes fourth. Throughout the season, he competes in three more races with little luck.

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The mechanics of the 312 B are rather conventional, although the two oil radiators are positioned behind the rear wheel axis. To create more downforce, the nose has two small side spoilers, while a generously proportioned wing is positioned directly above the 12 cylinders. White appears on the aerodynamic appendages for the first time, a choice made by Enzo Ferrari to distinguish his cars on the black and white televisions of the time.

After an anonymous debut in Belgium at the beginning of June 1970, the 312 B becomes the absolute protagonist of the latter part of the season, with four victories and five podium finishes.

Ferrari 312B Image 3