A further iteration of the hugely successful 312 T chassis that had already secured three Constructors’ titles and two Driver’s Championships in the last four years, the Ferrari 312 T4 was Ferrari’s entry for most of the 1979 Formula 1 season. The 312 T4 was Ferrari’s first ground effect Formula One car and was designed in response to the revolutionary Lotus cars which stole Ferrari’s crown in 1978. Based heavily on the previous 312 T3, the T4 was, in many respects, a compromise, given that the T series of cars had not been designed with ground effects in mind. Ferrari, with help from Fiat and Pininfarina, hastily adapted the successful 312 T monocoque to be as narrow as possible to maximise ground effects but this was limited by the width of the flat 12 engine. To overcome this problem, the Ferrari technicians, led by Technical Director Mauro Forghieri, broadened its flanks still further to house the air intakes that would channel air to the radiators and to the intake ducts. The suspension was redesigned too, to minimise drag, while the rear brakes were inboard to reduce the non-suspended mass and improve grip and traction control. Although not as fast on the straights as the turbocharged Renaults or as fast through the corners as the purpose built ground effects racers like the Lotus, the rock solid reliability and grunt of the T4, a recurring characteristic of the T series, brought Ferrari another Driver's and Constructor's World Championship double in the hands of works drivers Gilles Villeneuve and Jody Scheckter.
The 312 T4 replaced its predecessor after the first two races of the season, at the South African Grand Prix, by which Ferrari had secured just three points. The strength of the Ferrari chassis was clear immediately, as Villeneuve headed a 1-2 victory, before the duo repeated that feat in the US West Grand Prix a month later. Ferrari would win four more races that season, in Belgium, Monaco, another 1-2 in their home race in Italy, and the final race of the season in the US East Grand Prix.
The battle for the Drivers’ title turned into an all-Ferrari duel between Canadian Villeneuve and South African Scheckter, who shared the wins equally at three each, though Scheckter eventually triumphed by four points, due to a more consistent performance, to take his one and only Drivers’ title. This was to be the last Ferrari to take the World Championship until Michael Schumacher’s reign of supremacy began three decades later.
Overall the Ferrari 312 T4 claimed six race victories, a further seven podiums, five fastest laps and two pole positions, earning 110 points (3 points were earned by the 312 T3 chassis) and claiming the Drivers’ Championship and Constructors’ Championship.
This fine 1:8 scale model of the Ferrari 312 T4 is based on Gilles Villeneuve’s #12 car which won the United States Grand Prix (East) at Watkins Glen International Raceway on October 7th 1979. After an eventful rain-soaked race which saw only seven cars finish, Villeneuve finished 48 seconds ahead of his closest rival. Later, he revealed that he had been nursing the car with failing oil pressure for the final 25 laps of the race. This model has been handcrafted and finished in our workshops with the co-operation and assistance of Ferrari regarding original finishes, materials, archive imagery and drawings. The use of supremely accurate digital scanning of the original car has allowed us to perfectly recreate every detail at scale. Furthermore, it has undergone detailed scrutiny by both engineering and design teams to ensure complete accuracy of representation.