Ferrari 312B3

Ferrari 312B3

by Luca Dal Monte

The 312 B3, which raced in the 1974 season, is a car that anticipates so many solutions that its designer, engineer Mauro Forghieri, would have preferred to call it the B4 to break with the past and dispel any doubts about its lineage from the model on which it was developed, namely the 1973 312 B, itself a direct descendant of the 1970 312 B.

Like the cars that will follow it, the 312 B3 of ’74 is a car that Forghieri designs flat and wide to exploit aerodynamics to the fullest and allow, through increased downforce, the 180┬░ V-shaped 12-cylinder boxer engine to express all its power, which at that stage of its evolution reaches almost 500 HP.

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Clay Regazzoni: In 1974, Clay returns to Maranello after a year’s absence. Enzo Ferrari wants to break with the past and, to restart chooses a driver he has always appreciated for his generosity on the track. Clay fights for the world title until the last race of the season, when repeated problems with his B3 cause him to lose a title he would have fully deserved. In August, he wins the German Grand Prix at the legendary N├╝rburgring circuit.

Niki Lauda: When he arrives in Maranello, the name of the Austrian Lauda elicits little excitement. Up to that point, his career had been far from memorable. But Clay Regazzoni, who had him as a teammate at BRM, recommends him to Enzo Ferrari. Niki does not disappoint. In his first season with the Prancing Horse, he achieves two victories in the Spanish and Dutch Grand Prix and sets nine pole positions, remaining in contention for the world title until just a few races before the end of the championship.

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A characteristic of the B3 in its 1974 configuration is the large air intake located behind the driver, an advanced cockpit compared to previous models, wide visible radiators, and two huge front and rear spoilers. On the tall red air intake, resembling a periscope and characteristic of Formula 1 single-seaters in the mid-1970s, a white stripe appears, within which the rectangular Ferrari logo is inserted. In the 1975 version, which participates in the first two races of the season, the white stripe is replaced by the Italian tricolour.

The 312 B3-74 deserves credit for bringing Ferrari back to the levels of competitiveness that had been missing for three years. During the year, it achieves three victories, six second places, and two third places. It secures second place in the Constructors’ Championship and almost clinches the Drivers’ title for Regazzoni.

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