For many automakers, running a motorsport team alongside a road car program can pay dividends. The high-speed antics of the Audi Sport Quattro S1 rally car lured an army of new buyers into their vehicles, while the original Ford GT prompted many buyers to look at the American company in a whole new sporty light.
But if there’s one automaker that’s been elevated to superstar status thanks to motorsport companies, it’s Ferrari. The premier maker of fast road cars like the fantastic recent 812 Competizione, it can attribute those glories to the many Formula 1 victories under its belt.
That said, it hasn’t been easy for Ferrari. Like any other race car creator, they encountered some obstacles. For every breakthrough innovation, there have been failures. To become truly great, these setbacks are necessary. Ferrari didn’t become the best F1 team in the world overnight. So with that in mind, these are the five best Ferrari F1 cars ever made and the five worst.
ten Best: Ferrari 312 T
A radical change for Ferrari, the 312 T was, in a word, brilliant. It combined aluminum panels with a lightweight space frame. 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 V12 engine, it developed 510 hp. At full talk, the engine howled up to 12,200 rpm. With Niki Lauda at the helm, the 312 T won three championships. It’s not only a great Ferrari, but also one of the best F1 cars of all time.
9 Worst: Ferrari 312 T5
The 312 T5 holds the record for the worst F1 season ever. He failed to finish 10 times out of 14 races. It was terribly unreliable and uncompetitive. A testament to its dire nature, the best result the 312 T5 could ever achieve was a modest fifth place.
On paper, the 312 T5 was a winner. Evolution of the 312 T, its engine now develops 515 hp. It had upgraded brakes and better suspension. What he hadn’t counted on was being smashed to a pulp, as a new wave of turbocharged F1 V6s had made Ferrari look ridiculous.
8 Best: Ferrari 156
Also known as the Sharknose due to its distinct muzzle, the 156 was developed to comply with new racing regulations. Engine sizes were 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 develops 190 hp. With the throttle pinned, the unit would rev up to 9,500 rpm. Its power delivery is said to be very smooth. A highly competitive machine, the 156 Sharknose claimed five first places in 1961. This led to Ferrari winning both F1 titles.
seven Worst: Ferrari F14 T
Considered one of the least competitive cars Ferrari has ever made, the F14 T failed to inspire. During its run, the F14 T did not score any victories. The F14 T was the sixtieth F1 car built by Ferrari and marked the shift from using a naturally aspirated V6 to a turbocharged V6.
Equipped with a 1.6-liter turbocharged V6 engine, the F14 T develops 600 hp. The car also featured a KERS hybrid system to recover lost energy. Despite its advanced configuration and impressive aerodynamic package, the F14 T simply couldn’t do it. It was quickly replaced by the SF-15T.
6 Best: Ferrari F2007
The F2007 was created with more emphasis on aerodynamics. Innovative changes have been introduced. The rear of the car was narrower, while the suspension was tuned to complement the new quick-change gearbox. Every aspect has been designed to make it a winner.
At its heart, an 800-hp 2.4-liter V8 sang. Wonderfully responsive, this motor howled up to 19,000 rpm. The F2007 was sensational to watch on the track and came home with both F1 championship titles. He was also the last Ferrari F1 driver to use traction control.
5 Worst: Ferrari 312 B2
Listed as one of the worst Ferrari racing cars to compete, the 312 B2 was said to be very difficult to drive. Drivers complained of a long list of issues ranging from annoying vibrations to sudden loss of grip. Even a series of improvements failed to solve the problems.
Despite its 3.0-liter V12 engine developing 470 hp, the 312 B2 had dynamic flaws. Lack of internal lubrication would cause drivers to retire prematurely. Also hampered by the poor handling of the 312 B2, Ferrari is dominated by other teams. Even grown-ups have bad days.
4 Best: Ferrari 500
Slipping under F1 regulations, the Ferrari 500 was a bit of a cheat. With complications inside the F1 organizers’ camp, the races were held to F2 standards. This allowed the new F2 compliant racer to compete. The other teams weren’t ready for that, and it showed.
Driven by racing legend Alberto Ascari, the Ferrari 500 more than dominated. It took seven consecutive world championship victories, a record. The 2.0-liter engine produced a modest 165 hp. This proved to be more than enough, easily obliterating its competition.
3 Worst: Ferrari F93 A
When Ferrari gets it wrong, they get it fantastically wrong. As a spec sheet, the F93 A had it all. A wonderfully designed body, an extremely powerful engine and two world-class drivers in the form of Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger… but that just wasn’t enough.
The very idea of a 745hp V12 F1 car being a failure is shocking. But due to poor suspension and too much thirst for fuel, the F93 A had a disastrous season. He did not score any 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 naturally aspirated 2.4-litre engine develops 276 hp. A quintessential old-school racer, the 246 F1 also became the latest front-wheel-drive car to win F1 racing. A true Italian hero.
Light and incredibly fast, the 246 F1 has carved its way among its competitors. The 246 F1 cars have been constantly overhauled and improved throughout their life. This led to better performance and 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 releases in 1980, he opted for supercharging instead. In a more compact configuration, 1.5-liter turbocharged engines developed up to 680 hp. With blazing speed on boost, they gobbled up straights.
Unfortunately, F1 racing circuits are notorious for having a lot of corners. This turned out to be the downfall of the Ferrari 126 CK. Its handling was appalling and was described as indomitable. The engine also turned out to be a nightmare. Extremely unreliable, it caused huge problems.