For many auto companies, running a motorsport team alongside a road car program can be rewarding. The high-speed antics of the Audi Sport Quattro S1 rally car brought an army of new buyers into their vehicles, while the original Ford GT made many buyers look at the American company in an entirely new sporty light.
But if there’s one automaker that’s been elevated to superstardom by motorsport companies, it’s this: Ferrari. A premier maker of fast road cars such as the recent fantastic 812 Competizione, it can pin this glory to the many Formula 1 wins to its credit.
That said, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing for Ferrari. Like any other race car maker, they have had to overcome certain hurdles. For every breakthrough innovation, there have been failures. To become really big, these setbacks are necessary. Ferrari did not become the best F1 racing team in the world overnight. So with this 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, in one word, amazing. It combined aluminum panels with a lightweight spaceframe. Common for F1 racers at the time. But with its transversely mounted gearbox, it stands out from previous offerings.
Powered by a 3.0 liter flat-top V12 engine, it pumped out 510 horsepower. At full chat, the engine screamed up to 12,200 rpm. With Niki Lauda at the helm, the 312 T won three championships. It is not only a great Ferrari, but also one of the best F1 cars ever.
9 Worst: Ferrari 312 T5
The 312 T5 holds the record for delivering the worst F1 season ever. It failed to finish 10 times out of 14 races. It was hopelessly unreliable and uncompetitive. As proof of its terrible nature, the best result the 312 T5 could ever achieve was a humble fifth place.
On paper, the 312 T5 was a winner. An evolution of the 312 T, the engine now delivered 515 hp. It had upgraded brakes and better suspension. What it hadn’t counted on was being beaten to a pulp, as a new wave of V6 turbocharged F1 cars had ridiculed Ferrari.
8 Best: Ferrari 156
Also known as the Sharknose because of its distinct muzzle, the 156 was developed to comply with the new racing rules. Engine dimensions had to be reduced from 2.5 liters to 1.5 liters. When it was fitted with an all-new V6 engine, the Sharknose became legendary.
Despite its size, the 1.5-liter V6 delivered 190 hp. With the throttle pressed, the unit would spin up to 9,500 rpm. The power delivery is said to be very smooth. The 156 Sharknose, a fiercely competitive machine, took five first-place wins in 1961. This led to Ferrari taking both F1 titles.
7 Worst: Ferrari F14 T
The F14 T, known as one of the least competitive cars Ferrari has ever made, failed to inspire. During its run, the F14 T did not achieve a single victory. The F14 T was the sixtieth F1 car built by Ferrari and marked a switch from using a naturally aspirated to a turbocharged V6.
With a 1.6-liter V6 turbo engine, the F14 T delivered 600 hp. The car was also equipped with a hybrid KERS system to recover lost energy. Despite its advanced setup and impressive aerodynamic package, the F14 T just couldn’t make it. It was quickly replaced by the SF-15T.
6 Best: Ferrari F2007
The F2007 was created with a greater emphasis on aerodynamics. Innovative changes were made. The rear of the car was narrower, while the suspension was tuned to complement the new quickshift gearbox. Every aspect is designed to make it a winner.
At the heart sang a 2.4-liter 800 horsepower V8. Wonderfully responsive, this engine would scream through to 19,000 rpm. The 2007 F1 was sensational to watch on the track and came home with both F1 championship titles. It was also the last Ferrari F1 racer to use traction control.
5 Worst: Ferrari 312 B2
Ranked as one of the worst Ferrari race cars to compete, the 312 B2 is said to be very difficult to drive. Drivers complained about a huge list of problems, from unnerving vibrations to sudden loss of grip. Even a series of improvements failed to solve the problems.
Despite its 3.0-liter V12 engine delivering 470 horsepower, the 312 B2 was dynamically flawed. Lack of internal lubrication would cause drivers to retire early. Also hampered by the poor handling of the 312 B2, Ferrari was dominated by other teams. Even the great have bad days.
4 Best: Ferrari 500
The Ferrari 500 fell under F1 rules and was a bit of a cheater. With complications in the F1 organizer camp, races were run to F2 standards. This allowed the newly built F2 compliant racer to participate. Other teams weren’t ready for this, and it showed.
Driven by racing legend Alberto Ascari, the Ferrari 500 more than dominated. It took record-breaking seven consecutive World Championships. The 2.0-litre engine generated a modest 165 horsepower. It turned out to be more than enough and wipe out the competition with ease.
3 Worst: Ferrari F93 A
If Ferrari does something wrong, they are terribly wrong. As a spec sheet, the F93 A had it all. Beautifully designed bodywork, a hugely powerful engine and two world-class drivers in the form of Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger… but it just wasn’t enough.
The mere thought that a 745-horsepower V12-powered F1 car would be a failure is shocking. But due to poor suspension and an excessive thirst for fuel, the F93 A had a bad season. It scored zero wins. Despite looking and sounding great, it was a terrible car to drive.
2 Best: Ferrari 246 F1
An automotive legend, the 246 F1 was the first V6 powered car to win an F1 Grand Prix. Its 2.4 liter naturally aspirated engine barks 276 horsepower. The ultimate old-school racer, the 246 F1 also became the last front-wheel drive car to win in F1 races. A true Italian hero.
Light and sensationally fast, the 246 F1 pushed its way through its competition. The 246 F1 cars were constantly revised and improved throughout their lives. This led to better performance and even better handling. It is one of the best racing cars ever made.
1 Worst: Ferrari 126 CK
After experimenting with using a supercharger for his forays in 1980, he opted for turbocharging instead. In a more compact arrangement, the 1.5-liter turbo engines delivered up to 680 hp. Blistering fast on boost, they swallowed straights.
Unfortunately, F1 race tracks are known for having a lot of corners. This turned out to be the downfall of the Ferrari 126 CK. The treatment was appalling and was described as indomitable. The engine also turned out to be a nightmare. Hugely unreliable, it caused huge problems.