1977 Ferrari 312 T2B Pilot: Niki Lauda Team: Scuderia Ferrari Race: 1st German GP in 1977 Hot Wheels - N5581 (diecast)
LUWerner on W-143:
Though it spawned from the 312 B3/74 of 1974, the Ferrari 312 T had some very distinctive characteristics. In particular, out of the norm for a Ferrari, it had a transversely-mounted gearbox (312 Transversale). But in terms of chassis it was basically the same, an aluminum monocoque with a composite body. And the engine was the old naturally aspirated, mid-engine and longitudinally mounted flat-12 with 2992 cm³. With DOHC, 48 valves and Lucas fuel injection it produced around 500 hp.
For 1976 Mauro Forghieri continued to develop the 312T, and the 312 T2 debuted in March of 1976. The big difference of the T2 was that the car no longer featured an air box behind the cockpit. New rules for aerodynamics in the new season obligated Forghieri to use “NACA shaped” air intakes on the sides of the cockpit. The 312 T2 was a good car, and things were going well until the German GP at Nürburgring. While piloting chassis #312T2-028, Niki Lauda suffered a rear suspension failure. His car hit the wall and burst into flames (1m09s video). Fortunately, with the fast aid from the ONS-Sicherheitsstaffel emergency unit and fellow pilots, he survived, though suffered terrible burns. But to the awe of the whole racing world, just six weeks later he has back to racing!
For the next season the 312 T2 was upgraded to 312 T2B, but in the first few races it was basically the same T2 of 1976. However, after a couple of races Lauda wasn’t happy with the car. That led to an extensive upgrade program, resulting in a new rear wing and revised bodywork and suspension. Ferrari also built three new chassis, #312T2B-029, 030 and 031. These new cars also received modifications, sometimes just to suit a specific circuit.
The new cars were definitively winners, but Lauda’s relationship with Ferrari was deteriorating. After his accident, fearing that he would not get back to form, Ferrari called Carlos Reutemann. The two pilots did not get along, and the team’s good atmosphere of the previous years was gone. The final straw was when Lauda abandoned the Japan GP of 1976. The race took place under a fearsome deluge, and other pilots also quit deeming the race impossibly unsafe. But, old man Ferrari was furious with Lauda, accusing him of throwing away a championship title.
The 1977 Dutch GP occurred at the Zandvoort circuit, on August 28th, 1977. Scuderia Ferrari had two 312 T2B on the race. Niki Lauda drove car #11 (chassis #312T2-030) while Carlos Reutemann piloted #12 (chassis #312T2-029). Lauda didn’t start very well, but then the lead cars started to have problems. He drove consistently, and by the 15th lap was in pole position, and stayed there to the checkered flag.
After Zandvoort Lauda came in second in the Italian GP and fourth in the US GP. Those results were enough to give him the 1977 Driver’s Championship. And Ferrari won the (now called) International Cup for Formula 1 Constructors. But that was it, he was out. He broke off with Ferrari and in 1978 was driving for Brabham.
Well, another Ferrari F1 car… But once again, and much more important, a Niki Lauda ride. I don’t think there’s much to comment on the model, since the 312 T2B is just as gorgeous as my previous 312 B3/74 or 312 T. That being so, I would also say that it’s a very nice tribute to the great man and pilot that was Lauda. Who else ever had the balls to say straight to Enzo Ferrari’s face (!) that his car was shit? Lauda did, in 1973 (7m28s video), when he first drove the 312 B3. Talented driver and with cojones of brass – I really like the guy 🙂