Ferrari 126 C

Ferrari 126 C

by Luca Dal Monte

In the face of the lack of competitiveness of the 312 T5, in the early months of 1980, Enzo Ferrari decides not to delay any further the development of Ferrari’s first turbocharged car. Renault reintroduced Turbocharging in Formula 1 in 1977, and it’s known that, despite the Great Old Man’s mistrust of the English, he always had great admiration for the French. It’s a matter of experience and, to a large extent, age.

The new car is identified with the unprecedented designation 126, which ends, after six years, the long and victorious streak of the T models. Naturally, the project is still the work of Mauro Forghieri.

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Gilles Villeneuve: It’s the Canadian driver Gilles Villeneuve who first puts the Ferrari 126 C on the track, the first Ferrari of the modern era equipped with a turbocharged engine. The decision to entrust the development of the turbocharged Ferrari to Villeneuve is due to the fact that Gilles renewed his contract with the Cavallino in May while Jody Scheckter was contemplating retirement, as will indeed be the case. The feedback from the initial tests is positive. Some in Ferrari would like to debut the new car even before the end of the season. The Austrian Grand Prix is mentioned. However, Enzo Ferrari decides to wait, allowing only Villeneuve to take it to the track at Imola in September, during the practice sessions for the Italian Grand Prix, exceptionally held on the circuit dedicated to the memory of Dino, Ferrari’s son. During the race, Gilles will drive the 312 T5 and will be involved in a famous and spectacular crash.

Our model cars:

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With the 126, we are looking at Ferrari’s first true wing car, with larger side skirts than those seen on both the T4 and the T5. To create space in the side pods to optimally channel the airflow under the car, the forced induction system is positioned between the two banks of the engine – resulting in a slight increase in the center of gravity and reduced aerodynamic drag. The engine is a 1.5-litre V6 with a maximum power output of 570 HP.

The Ferrari 126 C hits the track for the first time on July 10, 1980, at Fiorano. Gilles Villeneuve is at the wheel. Aware of the importance of the step his team is taking by choosing the turbocharging path, Enzo Ferrari carefully observes every move of the new car through closed-circuit television images on the monitors installed at the Cavallino’s private track.

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