Ferrari 312T2

Ferrari 312T2

by Luca Dal Monte

“You don’t change a winning car,” goes an old saying from the racing world of the 1970s, when certain cars born winners remained at the top for several seasons – such as the Lotus 72 or the McLaren M23. With much less money available compared to modern Formula 1 and naturally lower sophistication, often just tweaking a single-seater here and there is enough to keep it at the forefront. And that’s exactly what happens with the Ferrari 312 T2, which takes part in both the 1976 and the following year’s World Championships.

Without overhauling the design, the changes made to the 312 T2 for the 1977 version are not insignificant. In addition to widening the track, the most noticeable changes are the two front air intakes, reduced in size and now in NACA aeronautical shape, but still white. The bodywork is also revised in various parts, such as the cockpit fairing behind the driver, covering the roll bar, which in the ’77 version is much more tapered than the previous year. Another important modification concerns the rear wing, now much smaller. Forghieri’s engineers also increase the power of the 180° V-shaped 12-cylinder engine, from 500 to 512 HP.

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Niki Lauda: Niki drives the 312 T2-77 to victory in its debut race, the South African Grand Prix on March 5th. For the Austrian, it marks a return to victory after the terrifying crash the previous summer at the Nürburgring. Niki will win again in Germany – this time at Hockenheim – and in the Netherlands. Clinching his second personal world title mathematically, he controversially leaves Ferrari before the end of the season.

Carlos Reutemann: The Argentine takes over from Regazzoni alongside Lauda. With the 1977 version of the 312 T2, he steps onto the podium three times in Monaco, Sweden, and Japan. However, in January, he leads the way to victory in the Brazilian Grand Prix with the intermediate version between the ’76 and ’77 versions of the 312 T2.

Gilles Villeneuve: When Lauda abruptly departs, Enzo Ferrari surprisingly hires the relatively unknown Canadian driver Gilles Villeneuve. With the 312 T2 previously driven by Lauda, Gilles competes in the last two races of the 1977 season, without significant results but amidst much controversy.

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The 312 T2-77 may not be the fastest single-seater on the track, but it is probably the most reliable. With three wins, seven second and two third places, it allows Niki Lauda to clinch his second World Championship title and Ferrari to win its third consecutive Constructors’ World Championship title.

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