The new Grand Prix Ferrari

Where engines and gearboxes are concerned the Ferrari factory have invariably led the field in Grand Prix racing, but they have lagged in respect of chassis design, especially compared with people like Chapman and Broadley. However, last year there were signs that the Maranello engineers were beginning to see the light, and they threw away their “iron” chassis frames and designed comparatively light ones, at the same time taking a look at the Lotus 25 rear suspension.

Unfortunately the look was not good enough and the new design did not handle too well, so it did not appear at Monza in 1962 as had been intended. This particular 1962 car was intended as a stepping-stone for better things, in particular the design of 8-cylinder and 12-cylinder engines and new transmissions, to form the basis of entirely new cars for 1963. The autumn delay, added to a severe winter which curtailed testing of Prototype G.T. cars, built up, and the 1963 season began with Ferrari being a long way behind in his racing programme. As his racing team contest all the Prototype G.T. races as well as the Grand Prix races, the first part of 1963 was spent on building and testing for the long-distance races which were all crowded into the early part of the season, between March and July. His drivers did not help things, for they contrived to have an incredible number of crashes, and as fast as new 3-litre Prototype G.T. cars were built they were crashed, and in consequence the Grand Prix programme was delayed.

With John Surtees joining the team for 1963 it was natural that he took with him much of the know-how acquired from Lotus and Lola, and straight away the 1962 cars began to take on the shape of British Grand Prix cars in such matters as driving positions, weight-saving, frontal area and suspension, while numerous detail design features were tried out on these “interim” cars that were intended for the brand new design which was to have been the 1963 car. Time kept slipping by and a target date for the new car was Nurburgring at the beginning of August, but that went by, and then it was hoped to take it to Enna at the end of August, but that date went by, and it was not until the week before the Italian Grand Prix that the 1963 car first went out on test. There was insufficient time to test it thoroughly for the Monza race, so another “interim” model was hastily contrived and the all-new car was considered the 1964 model, but again only an “interim 1964” model, for it was the 8-cylinder version, the ultimate new model being a 12-cylinder car. If all goes well the 1964 season should see the Ferrari team starting with their brand new design complete and ready.

The car that appeared on test in early September was an entirely new approach to racing-car design, being a combination of ideas used by the 1963 B.R.M. and the 1962 Lotus 25. As in the Lotus 25 the new Ferrari chassis is formed from two pontoons which are the fuel tanks, and these run from the front suspension to the rear of the cockpit. At each end they are riveted to bulkheads, there being another one halfway along this length which forms the instrument panel and steering-column support. At the front of the bulkhead is in effect a double one, a few inches apart, and between these two are concealed the inboard coil-spring/damper units, for the front suspension is almost identical to the Lotus 25, having “rocker arm” top wishbones, the inner ends of which press down on the coil-spring units. Whereas the Lotus “rocker arm” is fabricated from sheet steel, the Ferrari uses a forging; the lower wishbone is tubular and on a wide base, to take braking torque. Ahead of the suspension is a rack-and-pinion steering mechanism, the brake and clutch operating fluid reservoirs, and the radiator.

Whereas the Lotus 25 relies solely on the strength of the riveted pontoons the Ferrari has four tubes inside the pontoons, to give added strength. From the bulkhead behind the driving seat rearwards, the design leaves Lotus and becomes pure Ferrari, with a principle used by B.R.M. on their 1963 car, but an improvement on it. The Lotus 25 stressed-skin chassis runs right to the rear of the car, the pontoons being of smaller section behind the driving seat, and on them sits the V8 engine. B.R.M. and Ferrari envisaged a different conception, whereby the stressed-skin chassis finishes at the rear of the cockpit and to this bulkhead the whole mechanism of engine, gearbox and rear suspension are hung, in the manner of aircraft engines. B.R.M. mounted their mechanical components in a complicated tubular sub-frame and bolted this to the bulkhead, but Ferrari went one better and bolted the engine itself directly to the bulkhead, using the inherent strength of the crankcase to form the rear part of the chassis, the gearbox and final drive being bolted to the engine, a sub-frame on the bell-housing between engine and gearbox carrying suspension points and coil-spring anchorages. A very similar principle was used on the D50 Lancia when it first appeared in 1954; that car, of course, being a front-engined V8, but the crankcase was used as frame members.

The engine in the new Ferrari is a 90-degree V8, with twin overhead camshafts to each bank of cylinders, twin ignition, and Bosch fuel-injection, while the gearbox is a new 5-speed and reverse unit, with the clutch mounted on the end of the engine crankshaft instead of on the rear of the gearbox, as on the 120-degree 6-cylinder Grand Prix engines. The gearbox is behind the differential/crown-wheel housing, the drive from the clutch running under this assembly, thus giving a low c.g. to the engine unit. The rear suspension follows the layout used on the 1962/3 cars, being very Lotus-like, except that the rear disc brakes are mounted inboard, on each side of the differential unit. A very simple “lid” covers the engine and gearbox, with a gauze-covered opening over the air intakes, and a nose cowling and wrap-round Perspex screen covers the front half of the chassis.

This entirely new car proved satisfactorily fast when on test, but there was insufficient time to justify using it for the Italian Grand Prix, so a redesigned 120-degree 6-cylinder engine was installed in this new chassis design. It was not just a simple job of “dropping the old engine in” for the crankcase design had to be modified to provide pick-up points for bolting to the bulkhead, and the rear had to be modified to attach to the new gearbox and the suspension carrying sub-frame. In addition the crankshaft had to be redesigned to take the flywheel and clutch assembly, and provision had to be made for the mounting of the starter motor under the bell-housing. Although the original casting patterns were used for the modifying, one can say that it was a new 6-cylinder engine. As the bulk-mass of the 6-cylinder was not as strong as the 8-cylinder, a tubular sub-frame was provided under the engine to give added strength to the rear end. This “late 1963” car proved more than a match for all its rivals during practice for the Italian Grand Prix, and in the race it was in the lead when the engine blew-up. With the coming months in which to develop the 8-cylinder engine, and complete the 12-cylinder, the Ferrari team would appear to be in a strong position for the 1964 season.—D. S. J.