Ferrari 312T3

Ferrari 312T3

by Luca Dal Monte

Although the bodywork of the 312 T3 completely breaks away from the recent past, Ferrari continues the development of the solution with the transverse gearbox that began three years earlier with the 312 T. Since Ferrari decided not to adopt the ground effect introduced in Formula 1 the previous year by Lotus, Mauro Forghieri works extensively on the aerodynamics of the car, also considering the new radial Michelin tires, which are the real innovation of the new model.

The chassis is new, as is the design of the suspensions. Otherwise, the body of the car is wider, flatter, and lower than the immediately preceding models, with a longer nose and a higher-positioned rear wing. The engine is the classic 180° V12, appropriately updated with a maximum power approaching 520 HP. The dual red and white colour scheme, adopted for the first time eight years earlier on the B model, remains.

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Carlos Reutemann: Despite securing four victories (three with the T3, one with the T2 at the beginning of the season), the Argentine driver falls short of entering the fight for the world title. Despite the competitiveness of the T3, 1978 is indeed the year of the ground effect Lotus 79. Carlos wins in Brazil, Long Beach, Brands Hatch, and Watkins Glen. At the end of the season, he finishes third in the World Championship standings. His valuable work in mentoring his young teammate proves significant.

Gilles Villeneuve: For the young Canadian who entered Formula 1 towards the end of the previous season and was hired in place of Lauda, the 1978 season is a long apprenticeship. In the first part of the year, he makes many mistakes, suffers several crashes, and struggles to finish races. However, when he finally gets used to the world of Formula 1, he clinches his first career victory in the Canadian Grand Prix at the circuit now bearing his name.

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Like the other cars in the T series that preceded it, the 312 T3 is a winning car. It debuts, following Ferrari tradition of those years, at the South African Grand Prix in early March, and wins in four Grand Prix races. It finishes the season with a second place in the Constructors’ World Championship standings. Unbeatable when the new French radial tires cooperate, the T3 suffers from Ferrari’s lack of experience with Michelin. However, it accumulates that experience with the new French tires, which will be useful in the following year.

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