Racing has always been the core element of Ferrari’s identity. The Italian company, which has become one of the most important and famous brands in the entire world, celebrates its 70th anniversary, a major milestone for Enzo Ferrari’s creaton. The brand was involved in sport competitions well before it sold road cars, delivering customers thoroughbred examples only as a way to support and sustain its racing activities. From Formula 1 to Le Mans, or Bathurst and beyond, the history of the Prancing Horse has been defined by glorious moments, outstanding success, but also difficult periods which have always been overcome.
“The best Ferrari is the next one” – Enzo Ferrari famously said, and the 2017 Formula 1 Ferrari car may in fact be one that can bring the Prancing Horse back on top of the highest class of single-seat auto racing competition. To celebrate the biggest name in the business, here is our list of the five greatest Ferrari race cars. It’s a highly subjective opinion, of course, given the many special F1 cars which have made the Maranello team the most famous and loved team in the history of the sport.
1. 2004 Ferrari – F2004
Ferrari’s 50th Formula 1 car was a masterpiece and for many fans the F2004 represents the pinnacle of F1 grand prix racing. Part of the appeal relates to its spectacular V10 engine, which produced around 685kW at a screaming 19,000rpm, and part of it comes from the car’s amazing results. The F2004 managed to win 15 races out of 18 driven by Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello, securing the teams’ title as well as Michael Schumacher’s seventh (and last) Formula One world championship. Considered by many to be Scuderia Ferrari’s greatest ever Formula 1 car, the F2004 still rates a mention at circuits around the world ranging from Melbourne to Monza, where it currently holds lap records.
2. 2002 Ferrari – F2002
If the F2004 was the culmination of Ferrari’s greatest Formula 1 grand prix period, the F2002 laid the foundation for the future success. The 2002 model was a result of true innovation including a compact gearbox with clutchless shifting integrated within the same titanium block as the V10 engine and clever differential – one single structure that formed part of the car’s chassis. The car scored 15 wins from 19 grands prix across the 2002 and 2003 seasons, as the F2002 secured comfortable titles for Schumacher and Ferrari, setting some lap records which were surpassed only by the impressive F2004.
3. 1952 Ferrari – Tipo 500
Take a minute to think about the possibility of Formula 1 organisers simply removing all the current rules for the 2017 championship and deciding to adopt a much slower four-cylinder blueprint in order to give smaller teams a fighting chance? While of course this is highly unlike to happen in modern days, this situation did occur back in 1952 when grand prix rulers responded to Maserati’s harsh decision to leave the sport by running to cheaper Formula 2 rules.
The idea was to put on a better spectacle than what might have happened in a Ferrari-led F1 season, but the result was still one of the most dominant periods in the premier class. Driving the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder Ferrari Tipo 500, legendary Italian Alberto Ascari won every race for one exception in 1952, leading the Maranello side to a 1-2-3 finish in the F1 championship. His run continued in 1953, when he succeeded in winning another F1 world title by recording a run of nine consecutive race wins, which was only beaten by Sebastian Vettel in the 2013 season.
4. 1975 Ferrari – 312 T
After a few bad years, Scuderia Ferrari wanted to get back on top in Formula 1, a situation similar to the one from this year. Back then, the Maranello team hired Luca de Montezemolo as team manager – a man who went on to run Ferrari – as well as renowned designer Mauro Forghieri, who redesigned the team’s car in part by mounting its transmission transversely – across the car from left to right. With a much better balance, with strong performance and very good reliability, the reborn car gave Niki Lauda the possibility to fight for the F1 title and win the drivers’ championship in 1975 and 1977, also securing constructors’ titles alongside teammate Clay Regazzoni. South Africa’s Jody Sheckter followed with another world drivers’ championship in the 1979 season, narrowly beating teammate Gilles Villeneuve to another title. In all, the 312T family managed to win three world championships and 27 races between 1975 and 1980, a goal which the Italian team hopes to repeat today.
5. 1958 – 1960 Ferrari – Dino 246
The Ferrari Dino 246 was the first V6-powered car to win a Formula One Grand Prix and, in 1960, the last front-engined F1 car to win a Grand Prix. John Michael Hawthorn became United Kingdom’s first Formula One World Champion driver in 1958, behind the wheel of the Ferrari Dino 246 in the 1958 F1 season, despite the fact he won only one race, the French Grand Prix, but was very throughout the year.