Running a motorsport team alongside a street car program can pay off for many automakers. The high-speed antics of the Audi Sport Quattro S1 rally car brought an army of new buyers to their vehicles, while the original Ford GT made many buyers see the American company in a whole new sporting light.
But if there’s one automaker that’s risen to superstardom as a result of motorsport ventures, it’s it Ferrari. As a leading maker of fast road cars like the recently released fantastic 812 Competizione, it can pin that glory on the many Formula 1 victories etched on its belt.
However, not everything went smoothly for Ferrari. Like any other racing car manufacturer, they face certain hurdles. For every breakthrough innovation, there have been failures. To become truly great, you need those setbacks. Ferrari didn’t become the world’s best F1 racing team overnight. With that in mind, these are the five best Ferrari F1 cars ever made and the five worst.
10 Best: Ferrari 312 T
A radical departure for Ferrari, the 312 T was great in a word. It combined aluminum panels with a lightweight trellis frame. Common for F1 racers at the time. But its transversely mounted gearbox sets it apart from previous offerings.
Powered by a flat V12 engine with a displacement of 3.0 liters, it produced 510 hp. At full chat, the engine would scream up to 12,200 rpm. With Niki Lauda at the helm, the 312 T won three championships. Not only is it a great Ferrari, it’s also one of the best F1 cars of all time.
9 Worst: Ferrari 312 T5
The 312 T5 holds the record for worst F1 season ever. It failed to finish 10 times out of 14 races. It was woefully unreliable and uncompetitive. As a testament to its sombre nature, the best result the 312 T5 could ever achieve was a low fifth place.
On paper, the 312 T5 was a winner. As a further development of the 312 T, its engine now delivered 515 hp. It had upgraded brakes and suspension. What it didn’t expect was being beaten to a pulp as a new wave of turbocharged V6 F1 cars had ridiculed Ferrari.
8th Best: Ferrari 156
Also known as the Sharknose because of its distinctive snout, the 156 was developed to comply with the new racing regulations. The engine sizes had to be reduced from 2.5 liters to 1.5 liters. When fitted with an all-new V6 engine, the Sharknose became legendary.
Despite its size, the 1.5-liter V6 produced 190 hp. When the throttle is pinned, the unit revs up to 9,500 rpm. Its power delivery is said to be very smooth. A highly competitive machine, the 156 Sharknose secured five first-place wins in 1961. This resulted in Ferrari winning both F1 titles.
7 Worst: Ferrari F14 T
Regarded as one of the least competitive cars Ferrari has ever built, the F14 T failed to impress. During its run, the F14 T did not claim a single victory. The F14 T was the sixtieth F1 car built by Ferrari and marked the move from using a naturally aspirated to a turbocharged V6.
With a 1.6-liter turbocharged V6 engine, the F14 T produced 600 hp. The car also featured a hybrid KERS system to recover lost energy. Despite its advanced setup and impressive aerodynamic package, the F14 T just couldn’t cut it. It was quickly replaced by the SF-15T.
6 Best: Ferrari F2007
The F2007 was designed with a greater emphasis on aerodynamics. Innovative changes were introduced. The rear of the car was narrower, while the suspension was tuned to complement the new quick-shift gearbox. Every aspect has been engineered to make it a winner.
At its heart sang a 2.4-liter V8 with 800 hp. Wonderfully responsive, this engine would scream up to 19,000 rpm. The F2007 was sensational to behold at the track and came home with both F1 championship titles. It was also the last Ferrari F1 racing car to use traction control.
5 Worst: Ferrari 312 B2
The 312 B2 has been rated as one of the worst Ferrari race cars and is said to be very difficult to operate. Drivers complained about a huge list of problems, from annoying vibrations to sudden loss of grip. Even a series of improvements could not solve the problems.
Despite its 3.0-liter V12 engine with 470 hp, the 312 B2 had dynamic weaknesses. A lack of internal lubrication would result in drivers retiring early. Also hampered by the poor handling of the 312 B2, Ferrari was dominated by other teams. Even the big ones have bad days.
4 Best: Ferrari 500
The Ferrari 500 slipped under F1 regulations and was a bit of a cheat. With complications within the F1 organizer camp, races were run to F2 standards. This allowed the newly designed F2 compliant racing car to compete. Other teams weren’t ready for this, and it showed.
Piloted by racing legend Alberto Ascari, the Ferrari 500 more than dominated. It took a record-breaking seven consecutive World Championship victories. The 2.0 liter engine produced a modest 165 hp. It proved more than enough, wiping out its competition with ease.
3 Worst: Ferrari F93 A
If Ferrari does something wrong, then wrong. As a spec sheet, the F93 A had it all. A beautifully designed body, an enormously powerful engine and two world-class drivers in the form of Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger… but it just wasn’t enough.
Just the thought of a 745hp V12 powered F1 car failing is shocking. However, due to poor suspension and excessive fuel thirst, the F93 A experienced a dismal season. It scored zero wins. While it looked and sounded great, it was a terrible car to drive.
2 Best: Ferrari 246 F1
A motorsport legend, the 246 F1 was the first V6-powered car to win an F1 Grand Prix. Its 2.4-liter naturally aspirated engine cranks out 276 hp. The 246 F1, the definitive old-school racer, also became the last front-wheel drive car to win F1 races. A real Italian hero.
The 246 F1 beats the competition easily and sensationally fast. The 246 F1 cars have been constantly revised and improved throughout their lives. This resulted in more power and even better handling. It’s one of the best racing cars ever built.
1 Worst: Ferrari 126 CK
After experimenting with using a supercharger on his excursions in 1980, he opted for turbocharging instead. In a more compact arrangement, the 1.5-liter turbo engines delivered up to 680 hp. On Boost lightning fast, they swallowed straights.
Unfortunately, F1 circuits are notorious for having a lot of corners. This proved to be the downfall of the Ferrari 126 CK. His handling was terrible and was described as irrepressible. The engine also proved to be a nightmare. Extremely unreliable, it caused massive problems.