Ferrari 312T5

Ferrari 312T5

by Luca Dal Monte

The successor to the 1979 world champion 312 T4 surrenders to the evidence of wing cars power. The power of the Ferrari engine is no longer sufficient again ground effect. Maranello’s 12-cylinder boxer is too bulky to guarantee airflow in the banks as needed in the era of wing cars. With improved ground effect compared to the previous model but still far behind the English cars, the 312 T5 proves to be among the least competitive cars in Ferrari’s history. And if, in retrospect, 1980 will be classified as a season of transition, at the time it was experienced as a debacle of enormous proportions.

For world champion Ferrari the start of the 1980 season is disastrous. The T5 immediately seems only a distant relative of the world champion T4. Problems with Michelin tires, which characterized the 1978 season, resurface, and a huge problem arises with the engines, which cannot hold up. After three grand prix races, there are fourteen broken engines, an impressive number that, in the past, when Ferrari did not have the financial support of Fiat, could have repercussions not only on the sporting side.

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Jody Scheckter: While Gilles Villeneuve fights tooth and nail, Jody struggles at the back of the pack, content with his world title and unwilling to risk his neck behind the wheel of a car that has little to offer. Midway through the season, he announces his retirement. He fails to qualify for the Canadian Grand Prix. But he had already started from the back row of the grid in England.

Gilles Villeneuve: The Canadian does what he can. The 1979 season marks his full maturity. On paper, 1980 should have been his season. But the 312 T5 certainly doesn’t help him. He achieves his best results in the first part of the year when he even manages to lead the Brazilian Grand Prix. It won’t happen again. Of the meagre eight points that the T5 collects in an entire season, Gilles earns 6 with two fifth places at Monte Carlo and Montreal, and two sixth places at Zolder and Hockenheim.

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As the season progresses, things only get worse, with a car that, instead of closing the gap with its opponents’ performances, sees the gap widening further. The 312 T5 is one of the very few Ferraris to have collected 0 wins, 0 pole positions, and 0 fastest laps in a race. Out of a total of 14 races, it will retire ten times and will never do better than fifth place.

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