Ferrari 126 C2

Ferrari 126 C2

by Luca Dal Monte

At the end of the season, Frank Williams will say, “We are winning a world title that four different Ferrari drivers could have won.” Such is the quality of the Ferrari 126 C2 and the superiority it shows on the track. But fate decides otherwise. The 1982 season is tragic. One of Maranello’s drivers loses his life. A second sees his career end prematurely. The other two will experience days of glory without being able to lay hands on the world crown.

Having finally found the perfect balance regarding the turbocharged engine, the 126 C2 is the masterpiece chassis of an engineer as brilliant as few others – responsible for Hunt’s Hesketh in ’75 and Scheckter’s Wolf in ’77. The C2 is the first Ferrari that Harvey Postlethwaite designs after his arrival in Maranello. In all likelihood, the C2’s chassis is the best ever produced by Ferrari, making it the best wing car in circulation. The C2’s chassis is made of honeycomb panels, which, while not new to Formula 1, in 1982 are new for Ferrari. Until this moment, Ferrari historically worked on a tubular chassis stiffened by aluminum panels.

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Gilles Villeneuve: He was the anticipated protagonist of the season. He finishes second at Imola behind his teammate Pironi in a Grand Prix marked by huge controversy. San Marino ’82 is Gilles’ last race, as he tragically loses his life during qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder two weeks later.

Didier Pironi: He wins at Imola by interpreting team orders in his own way, perhaps intentionally ambiguous, sparking controversies that will never end. He wins again at Zandvoort. He finishes second in Monaco and at Brands Hatch, and third in Detroit and at Paul Ricard. In Hockenheim, he suffers a serious accident with a dynamic quite similar to the one that cost Gilles his life. It marks the end of his career and farewell to his world championship dreams.

Patrick Tambay: Called upon to replace Gilles in the Ferrari number 27, he responds in kind by winning at Hockenheim and standing on the podium at Brands Hatch and Monza. Physical pains from the aftermath of an old accident prevent him from participating in two races and shatters any world championship ambitions.

Mario Andretti: Enzo Ferrari asks him to race for his team at Monza. Gilles is no longer, Tambay is in pain, Pironi is convalescing. Mario answers the call. On Wednesday, he takes the first plane to Malpensa. On Thursday, he sits behind the wheel of the 126 C2 for the first time. On Saturday, at Monza, he secures pole position for the 1982 Italian Grand Prix. He finishes the race in third places in a celebration of Ferrari fans.

Our model cars:

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Regarding aerodynamics, Ferrari spends long sessions with the C2 in the wind tunnel at the Pininfarina HQ, on the outskirts of Turin. On its first outing, Villeneuve shatters the Fiorano track record, lowering it in one fell swoop by one second and 36/100. Despite the tragedies, the 126 C2 brings the Constructors’ World Championship back to Maranello.

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