Ferrari 312T4

Ferrari 312T4

by Luca Dal Monte

When the 312 T4 was unveiled to the public in the winter of 1979, the press frowned. Compared to its predecessors, its shapes were somewhat unusual. The press joked that, in terms of aerodynamics, Mauro Forghieri might have been inspired by a hippopotamus or a sack of potatoes. Enzo Ferrari didn’t appreciate it, but he didn’t get upset either, simply saying, “Let’s hope the T4 looks better on the circuits.” And when it debuted on March 3rd at Kyalami, in the South African Grand Prix, with a one-two finish by Villeneuve and Scheckter, the T4 immediately became truly beautiful.

The 312 T4 is the fifth evolution of the T model (counting both the T2s from ’76 and ’77) with the transverse gearbox that, since its introduction, has revolutionized Ferrari’s history and palmares. Although it’s the first Ferrari car equipped with side skirts, it only partially adopts the ground effect then in vogue in Formula 1, with elongated sidepods to generate downforce under the car. The T4 may appear stubby – someone even compared it to a slipper – but Forghieri paid particular attention to the aerodynamics of the bodywork and the ensemble, which was studied in the wind tunnel at Pininfarina.

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Jody Scheckter: The South African was hired to aim for the world title and he didn’t disappoint. By the way, when he arrived in Maranello, Jody was the highest-paid Ferrari driver ever. He started quietly, but then gained confidence with his new team and his new car. He won the Belgian, Monaco, and Italian Grands Prix. And thanks to three second places in Kyalami, Long Beach, and Zandvoort, he ended the season as the world champion.

Gilles Villeneuve: The 1979 season marked the explosion of the little Canadian, who hadn’t fully convinced the year before. Gilles won two consecutive races at Kyalami and Long Beach in the first part of the season and took the lead in the championship. Then, when his teammate fully adapted to his new team, Gilles put himself at his service and assisted him in the pursuit of the title. He concluded a stellar year with his third personal victory at Watkins Glen.

Our model cars:

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The T4 is one of Ferrari’s most successful cars ever. Throughout the 1979 season, it triumphed in six races, but also collected seven second places. That year, the T4 clinched the Constructors’ World Championship title and brought its two drivers to the titles of World Champion and Runner-Up in the Drivers’ Championship.

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