Is it simply those bizarre nostrils that make the Ferrari 156 such a memorable machine? Or the striking name which so easily pins down one model among the huge variety of Ferrari development types? (Not that I’ve ever seen a shark whose nose looks anything like that.) After all, one F1 design wins the constructors’ championship every year, and sometimes the drivers’ title as well; this design took both but only in one single year. Yet that unforgettable shape and its domination that season has made it one of the mechanical legends of the Formula 1 circuit, and this book aims to give you its entire story.
Being frank, the 156 was a middling car sporting the finest engine on the grid – as so often with Ferraris. Its chassis was torsionally weak and Innes Ireland described the handling as “modest at best”. Yet especially once the initial F2 power plant was replaced by the wide-angle V6 nothing could stay with it, mechanical maladies and Stirling Moss apart. Such a shame that we never saw the dark blue Sharknose with a white Rob Walker stripe across its nose that was promised to Stirling Moss for 1962. It would surely have looked stunning in that livery. But as the book carefully describes, the Scuderia failed to develop the car during its winning season, while a too variable driver line-up and the famous ‘palace revolution’ effectively scuppered any chance of carrying that one season of success on to the following year.
Lavishly illustrated with some stunning and unpublished photos, both black-and- white and colour from Bernard Cahier’s archive, this hefty tome, printed in both English and German, launches in with a short rundown of the 156 story followed by detailed race by race tales, from the F2 car which developed the new-to-Ferrari mid-engined principle in 1960, through that gloriously dominant year of ’61 and on to the ignominious end a year on, which Födisch describes as “a botched season”.