'Mauro Forghieri was the one who got things done at Ferrari': Jody Scheckter


Ferrari's 1979 F1 world champion, Jody Scheckter, has paid tribute to the team's legendary chief engineer, Mauro Forghieri, who has died at the age of 87


Forghieri gives Scheckter the thumbs up. "He was always there for me," said the 1979 champion


The last driver to become world champion in a Mauro Forghieri-designed Ferrari has paid tribute to the legendary engineer who died today at the age of 87.

Jody Scheckter drove Forghieri’s 312 T4 to the 1979 title and described the chief engineer as a “huge part of the Ferrari story”. Under his watch, Ferrari won seven constructors’ championships and four drivers’ titles.

Forghieri had already been in post for 18 years when Scheckter joined Ferrari in 1979, and his reputation preceded him. Chief engineer since the age of 26, Modena-born Forghieri took up work on the 250 GTO and then his first major success came with the Ferrari 158 that carried John Surtees to the 1964 championship.

The P Series prototypes then followed, as did the design of which he is most proud: the Ferrari 312 T, a Forghieri design, powered by the Forghieri flat-12, driven through the Forghieri transverse gearbox.

It dominated the 1975 season in the hands of Niki Lauda, who was on course to defend the title in 1976 in the redesigned 312 T2 until his fiery crash at the Nürburgring. He came back in 1977 to secure the third drivers’ championship for a Forghieri car.

From the archive

Scheckter joined as Ferrari took the fight to the new ground-effect cars with the 312 T4, but says that he wasn’t overawed by its designer’s reputation. “Mauro Forghieri was the person who made everything happen at Ferrari in 1979 and 1980, and if I wanted anything done I went to Forghieri,” said Scheckter, following news of the engineer’s death.

“He spoke good English, he was always there for me. When I left Wolf and went to Ferrari everyone told me I wouldn’t get on with the management but I had a fantastic time at Ferrari, Gilles [Villeneuve] and I had a lot of fun in spite of all the pressure.

“I saw Forghieri as the person who got things done, not so much as the engineer who’d designed so many cars before I ever went to Ferrari. As a driver you didn’t always know what was going on behind the scenes but I know he oversaw everything on the cars and the engines. He was the technical person, very much so, a man with a lot of experience way before I was there. I had a good relationship with him, he was the man I went to.”


Scheckter in discussion with Forghieri in 1979

Hoch Zwei/Getty Images

Forghieri previously told Motor Sport how he saw the team as a family that was dedicated to racing, and which won and lost together. “We were truly a family,” he said in 2019. “Our life was our work, total commitment… for little pay. We were not just colleagues… we were brothers. There were a few days when our work succeeded and results made Ferrari very happy. There were days when he was not.”

After Scheckter’s championship win over team-mate Gilles Villeneuve, Forghieri went on to design Ferrari’s first turbocharged engine, which went on to win the 1982 and 1983 constructors’ championships.

“There’s no question,” said Scheckter. “If you look at what Forghieri achieved, some of his projects were brilliant and he was absolutely a huge part of the Ferrari story.”