Here we see a clear view of the Ferrari 312T5 as driven by Gilles Villeneuve at the Monaco Grand Prix on May 18, 1980. Note the low, wide and very flat bodywork, trying to get clean air to the rear wing. The T5 was the final development of the combination of Ferrari’s well-known flat 12 cylinder motor and the new trasversale gearbox design that had been introduced by Ferrari’s Mauro Forghieri at the end of 1974 to improve handing by reducing polar moment. It was quite a successful experiment and won the Drivers’ Championship three times and the constructor’s title four times through 1979.
In 1979 Jody Scheckter won the Championship with the T4, but the design’s age and attendant shortcomings were becoming more obvious. And not untypical for Ferrari at the time, when they won a championship they tended to rest on their laurels. In the case of the T5, Ferrari was running up against the design’s aerodynamic limitations to create ground effects underneath the chassis, caused by the width of their flat 12 motor. This left Ferrari at a real disadvantage to their Cosworth DFV-engined competitors.
Even the raw talent of Villeneuve could not exceed what was possible with the T5. At Monaco he could only qualify in the third row, just over a second behind Carlos Reutemann’s pole time in the Williams FW07. Possibly his Ferrari’s Michelin tires should take some blame as he had to change them in the race at about 1/3rd distance, falling to the back, as did Scheckter who finally gave up. Villeneuve was never one to do that and soldiered on to finish fifth, although a lap down.
Photo by Nigel Snowdon ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com
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