The Ferrari F92A, designed under the guidance of the aeronautical engineer Jean Claude Migeot, was built by the Maranello team to compete in the 1992 Formula 1 World Championship.
Unlike all Ferrari single-seaters designed between 1989 and 1991, the F92A does not share any component with the Ferrari 640 F1, a feature that had formed the starting point for the new single-seaters built up until the previous year.
Considering the poor performance of the cars used in the 1991 season, which proved to be technically obsolete and unable to keep up with the performance of McLaren and Williams, Ferrari decided to create a single-seater with an extremely innovative concept.
Thus, the body, engine and gearbox are redesigned, attempting to maximize the efficiency of the chassis and aerodynamic conformation, the development of which attempts to align with the latest technological innovations introduced in Formula 1 in recent years.
In the field of aerodynamics, the car incorporates various solutions used in aeronautics on military aircraft, essentially due to the contribution of the aeronautical engineer Jean Claude Migeot, who creates many innovative solutions on various single-seaters of the world championship circus.
Specifically, taking up a solution introduced by Migeot himself at the time when he worked at Tyrrell, namely the gull-wing nose, the F92 A is the first Ferrari single-seater to feature a raised nose, connected to the front wing with two parallel pillars, in place of the sloping profile used until previous seasons.
Another peculiar feature are the air intakes on the sides, ovoid in shape and separated from the car body, imitating the design trends of military jets, in which the engine air intakes are always detached from the fuselage to avoid the ingestion of the layer limit. The aesthetics of the single-seater therefore earned it the nickname of fighter (airplane).
The major innovation, however, concerns the so-called double bottom, with which an attempt is made to reproduce a Venturi effect comparable to that of the single-seaters of the early 1980s, when they were then equipped with side skirts: above the normal flat bottom, imposed by the technical regulations, there is a further bottom, parallel to the first, and forming with it a series of channels that should have generated a high ground effect.
Finally, at the rear the area commonly referred to as Coca-Cola is modified, that is the terminal part of the bodywork that converges towards the gearbox and the rear axle, which takes a much more square shape.
From an engine point of view, the F92A does not differ much from the previous creations of the house.
The engine, always in a longitudinal central rear position, is developed under the guidance of the technician Paolo Massai, and adopts the classic 12-cylinder V-shaped architecture, with the bank angle corresponding to the canonical 65° while, as per regulation, the displacement is of 3500 cm³.
The five valves per cylinder are also retained, always controlled with two overhead camshafts per bank, and the traditional spring return instead of the pneumatic system used by the rival top teams.
This prevents improving the performance in terms of maximum power by increasing the rotation speed: the spring return in fact, beyond a certain speed, becomes ineffective and being no longer able to guarantee contact with the cam causes a delayed closing of the valve, or worse a strong resonance. The engine thus loses 35 horsepower compared to that of the previous car.
Furthermore, the engine suffers from a lack of power due to the strong presence of the blow-by, that is the oil leakage between the piston rings, between the combustion chamber and the sump, which requires the presence of a fuel tank extra oil to avoid not finishing the Grand Prix without lubricant.
This happens because the piston has one less oil scraper band than the previous version, suffering from problems of gas leakage, and therefore oil, at high pressure.
In addition, the car has a big problem with the single-shock front suspension and strong instability, while presenting excellent vertical load levels. The introduction of the transverse gearbox proposed by Postlethwaite will only make the situation worse, given that the lateral flows are limited with greater bulk.
The engine is combined with the classic semi-automatic gearbox, however, equipped with only six ratios plus reverse, when since 1990 it has been common practice in Formula 1 to have seven.
A season to forget
Tested in competition, the car turns out to be below expectations: the car proves to be slow, not very reactive, and at times unmanageable. Capelli drops it immediately, while Alesi still proves himself enthusiastic.
At the second Grand Prix of the season, to overcome the problem of mechanical reliability, the Maranello team chose to replace the current unit, returning to the engine used in the 1991 season, waiting to find a new solution.
After the first two Grands Prix of the season, in which both Jean Alesi and Ivan Capelli are forced to retire, in the third round of the season in Brazil they manage to finish the race respectively in fourth and fifth position, while in the following Grand Prix in Spain, an uprising Jean Alesi surprisingly conquers the first podium of the season for Ferrari, finishing third.
Despite the replacement of the engine temporarily restores reliability to the team from Maranello, from the subsequent San Marino Grand Prix, in Imola, continuous technical problems return to appear, which not only does not allow Ferrari to see the checkered flag on the home circuit, but the fate is the same at the next Monaco Grand Prix.
Mechanical and structural problems due in particular to the front suspension, formed by a single shock absorber, continue to be frequent and cause many withdrawals throughout the season, while from the aerodynamic point of view, the cause of the lack of competitiveness is to be attributed to the construction of the famous double bottom.
In fact, this solution studied in the wind tunnel, cannot find the same correlation with the data on the circuit, simply because the so-called double bottom tends to deform excessively during its use, generating gaps and consequently the car's instability.
In the following Canadian Grand Prix, the French Ferrari driver always wins another third place, while the Italian teammate finishes outside the points zone, in tenth position.
The lack of reliability returns to be the protagonist in France and Great Britain, while in Germany Alesi returns to the points with a fifth place, while Capelli conquers the first points with Ferrari in Hungary thanks to the sixth place.
Subsequently Ferrari brings an evolution of the F92A, called F92AT, with the T indicating the insertion of the transverse transmission, used as it is lighter and more compact than the longitudinal one used up to now.
In addition, a new front suspension inherited from the old 643 is mounted, and simply adapted to the new model.
To increase the torsional rigidity of the car body, the connections of the engine to the body are also revised, while the double bottom is sealed towards the end of the season, to allow greater driveability of the car.
Despite the inclusion of a more powerful engine, in the next three Grands Prix in Belgium, Italy, and Portugal, neither Ferrari sees the checkered flag.
In the remaining two Grand Prix in Japan and Australia, Jean Alesi wins respectively a fifth and a fourth final place, while Nicola Larini, who replaces Ivan Capelli by virtue of the poor results obtained, concludes in twelfth and eleventh position.
The Ferrari F92A therefore proves to be a futuristic car, too advanced in terms of technology and not suitable for the materials used in 1992, closing its history with two podiums and a total of 21 championship points, which give Ferrari fourth place in the standings reserved for constructors’ teams.