Ferrari 512S

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DARIO’S VERDICT ON THE FERRARI 512S

Dario Franchitti on the Ferrari 512S

The Ferrari is dominated by its 5.0-litre V12, which isn’t really a surprise, but the intake is right next to your head. I took my earplugs out initially, because I’d been advised not to wear any, but  it was so painful that I had to come back in to get them. And even then, at full song, it was… [Franchitti’s wince says more than mere words could convey]. It was the most beautiful noise, but that intake is right there… [points to left ear].

“You are really aware of the car’s short wheelbase, especially through some of the quicker sweeps at Donington. It feels as though it’s up on its toes a little bit. You have to be very careful with some of the inputs, whether it’s lifting off the throttle, getting on the brakes or controlling the car’s pitch through those fast corners. But yeah, it’s just a beautiful little thing to drive.

“The 512 has such a small wheel compared with the Lola or the 917, it’s tiny – and the steering feels quite heavy, especially as you carry your braking into the corner and feel the front loading up.

“The steering might be heavy, but the gearbox was lovely once we’d done a little fine-tuning. Just getting on the throttle, pushing that pedal, the noise getting louder and louder… It’s a Ferrari 512S, what’s not to love? It’s kind of odd, with the mirror up above the centre of the screen. There are no side mirrors, so you have to look up to see what’s going on. It’s a bit disconcerting turning in and not being able to look in your mirrors to see whether or not there’s anybody steaming down your inside.

“Being here at Donington and playing for 10 laps or so is a lot of fun, when you’re at perhaps six tenths or something, but to think about driving it on the limit at  Le Mans, the Nürburgring – or even the Targa Florio, God forbid – this thing would have been a beast! One thing all three have in common is that they’ll let you know when you’ve exceeded the limit, when you’ve taken some liberties. You can really feel that big lump behind trying to overtake the car, so you’ve got to be quite careful with it, but when it slides it is quite controllable, especially under power. The guys that drove these in the wet, at night, during a 12- or 24-hour race… They were proper. The courage required to keep this thing nailed through the Mulsanne Kink, or over some of those jumps at the Nürburgring, would have been something quite special.

“You’re sitting here, looking at the little rev counter and the bubble it sits in, the view around the screen, the open cockpit top… and then you look at the tanks around the front and realise that in period the drivers were surrounded by fuel. Crikey…

“But overall it’s stunning. These three were all bucket-list cars and the 512S didn’t disappoint.”

Ferrari 512S


Essential stats

The Porsche 917’s elegant rival, forerunner to the 512M

Engine: 5.0-litre V12
Introduced: 1970

Notable victories

1970 Sebring 12 Hours   Mario Andretti/Nino Vaccarella/Ignazio Giunti
1970 Zolder 500Kms   Georg Loos/Helmut Kelleners
1970 Fuji 200Kms   Giampiero Moretti

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