Seven for the 70th: The best Scuderia Ferrari F1 cars

Ferrari have built and raced many Formula 1 cars throughout their illustrious history, but which were the best? To mark the 70th anniversary of Ferrari, we came up with this list of the top seven Scuderia Ferrari F1 cars…

7. 1989 Ferrari 640

Nigel Mansell on his way to victory in Brazil in the 1989 Ferrari 640. Source: Twitter

Designed by John Barnard, the 640 only took three wins and no pole positions during the 1989 season. But what made this car masterful was its gearbox. Barnard had produced the first semi-automatic gearbox for an F1 car and the 640 was the car that would debut the new technology.

The narrow monocoque and bulging sidepods gave it unique aerodynamic features. Testing did not go well, the car constantly broke down and at the first race of the year in Brazil, if they led the race, Ferrari wanted to retire the car after a short glory run. Nigel Mansell, driving the car alongside Gerhard Berger, said he didn’t want to do that just incase it worked out. And incredibly, it did!

The car won its debut race, and despite more reliability issues throughout the year the car never finished lower than third when it did finish, underlining its competitiveness. Another win for Mansel in Hungary (with that legendary pass on Senna) and a win for Berger in Portugal meant that whilst the car didn’t achieve legendary status like the McLaren MP4/4, it would go down in F1 folklore as one of the most innovative and groundbreaking cars in the sport.

 

6. 1994 Ferrari 412 T1

Gerhard Berger driving the 1994 412 T1 at Monaco. Source: Twitter

 

1991-93 saw Ferrari take no victories, lose star driver Alain Prost and slump as Williams and McLaren took the spoils, joined occasionally by Benetton. The Barnard designed 412 was a sleek, simple and fast machine. Four consecutive podium finishes for Gerhard Berger, Jean Alesi and Nicola Larini (standing in for Alesi in San Marino) underlined the car’s credentials.

The win, of course, was what Ferrari was after, and in Germany it was Berger who took the first Ferrari win since Jerez in 1990, putting the prancing horse back onto the top step of the podium. A lot of blood, sweat and tears had gone into getting the team back to winning ways and it did that with a gorgeous and consistent machine. Ferrari would go on to win at least one race a year up until 2016.

 

5. 1975 – ’80 Ferrari 312T

Ferrari 312 at a Corse Clienti event. Source: Scuderia Ferrari

 

The 312T is perhaps most recognisable as the car that took Niki Lauda to the 1975 Drivers Championship and the car he suffered his life changing accident during the 1976 German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring. But what is easily forgotten is the sheer results this car produced. Over a five-year period, it won Ferrari four constructor titles and three drivers championships. 27 wins, 19 poles and 61 podiums were amassed over the years, and the car proved itself as a very versatile and consistent machine.

Its final victory came at the 1979 United States (East) Grand Prix in the hands of Gilles Villeneuve, the 1980 season seeing the car really show its age, Villeneuve and Jody Scheckter finishing no higher than fifth throughout the whole season. Its final ever race saw Scheckter finish eleventh, and Villeneuve retired from the race. It was a shame that such a brilliant machine bowed out of the sport with nothing more than a whimper.

4. Ferrari SF15-T

Sebastian Vettel driving the SF15-T during FP3 at Singapore, 2015. Source: Scuderia Ferrari

 

At the dawn of F1’s new hybrid era, Ferrari struggled. The 2014 season brought a mere three podium finishes and at the end of it, Fernando Alonso left the team to rejoin McLaren. Sebastian Vettel teamed up with Kimi Raikkonen for the 2015 season after a winless final year at Red Bull saw him seek a new challenge.

Pre-season testing showed the car was quick and would likely be in a close fight with Williams for second place in the standings…but Ferrari ended up being much quicker than Williams. At the second race of the year, Vettel and Ferrari outfoxed Mercedes to take a shock victory, and Raikkonen recovered from a puncture to finish in fourth place. Vettel was only three points behind Hamilton at that point in the standings, although the car ultimately was not quick enough for a title challenge. Two more victories in Hungary and Singapore followed for Vettel, the latter a dominant display having taken pole and lead almost all the way in an off weekend for Mercedes.

Ferrari had rebounded from a difficult 2014 season in style, although the following year would prove to be a bit of a disappointment. But the SF15-T was a fantastic car, and defied expectations of what Ferrari could achieve that season.

3. Ferrari F2007

Kimi Raikkonen driving the F2007 in qualifying for the 2007 Hungarian Grand Prix. Source: Scuderia Ferrari

 

The retirement of Michael Schumacher from the sport lead to the Scuderia hiring Kimi Raikkonen in 2007, driving the potent F2007. The previous year’s champions, Renault, were off the pace and Raikkonen had to fight Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton in rapid McLaren MP4-22’s.

That car took eight wins and eight poles, but the F2007 just edged it by seasons end and was probably the more consistent of the two cars. Nine wins and nine poles ultimately gave Raikkonen the championship in an incredible finale by just a solitary point.

The car also brought home the team’s first constructors title since 2004. There was nothing revolutionary about the car, it was a very tidy and neat machine which as it turned out was all the Scuderia needed to win both championships that year. As it stands, this was the last car to give Ferrari a drivers championship. This year’s SF70H could be set to change that…

2. Ferrari F2004

Michael Schumacher in the F2004 at a soaking wet Albert Park, Australia in 2005. Source: Twitter

 

The 2004 Ferrari F2004 is perhaps one the most evocative cars of the early 2000s, because it was the car in which Michael Schumacher took his final world title in to bring his tally up to an as yet unbeaten seven.

During the 18 rounds of the world championship, the car took 15 wins, 30 podiums and 12 pole positions to cement itself as one of the most dominant cars in the sport’s history. Its aerodynamics were a step ahead of the competition, with McLaren, Renault and Williams only taking a single win apiece in a year which saw them thrashed. Schumacher wrapped up the title with four rounds to spare at Spa with a second place behind Kimi Raikkonen, and the car went on to start the 2005 season for the team before the introduction of the F2005.

The F2004M took a podium finish at that years Australian Grand Prix before a rather forlorn final race at Malaysia saw Schumacher take 7th and Rubens Barrichello retiring from the race. It was a shame that such a great car, like the 312T, bowed out with such a whimper.

1. Ferrari F2002

Rubens Barrichello testing in the F2002 at Silverstone. Source: Scuderia Ferrari

 

It would be wrong to not include this car. Perhaps the most dominant car in the team’s history, and certainly one of the most dominant cars in Formula 1, the F2002 gave Michael Schumacher a fifth world title with six rounds of the championship still to go. 15 wins out of 17 races, 11 podiums and 28 podiums was something no other car could match that year.

Schumacher took 10 of those wins whilst Rubens Barrichello took the other five. The car was so good, that the team started the 2003 season with a B-spec version of the car, the F2002B. The cars final race was at the fourth round of that year’s championship in San Marino.

Some average results at the start of the year and a double DNF in Brazil saw the car bow out with a remarkable 1-3 finish, lead by Schumacher. The F2002 has been calculated by Motorsport magazine to be potentially the fastest Formula 1 car of all-time. And with results like that, it’s hard to argue against that notion.