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Ferrari 642 F1, a car born outdated, replaced after only six Grands Prix

2021-03-18 23:00

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#Ferrari F1,

Ferrari 642 F1, a car born outdated, replaced after only six Grands Prix

The 642 was born in 1991 with the difficult task of replacing the 641 which, after years of technical crisis, had brought Scuderia Ferrari back to hig

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The 642 was born in 1991 with the difficult task of replacing the 641 which, after years of technical crisis, had brought Scuderia Ferrari back to high levels of competitiveness in the top engine category.

 

The project is therefore deeply influenced by that of the progenitor single-seater; in particular the second variant, introduced on the occasion of the 1990 San Marino Grand Prix.

 

The design differences are minimal and largely due to the changes in the regulation that have occurred in the meantime: the dimensions of the wings are reduced, the power of the 037 engine is increased thanks to the use of newly developed electronics supplied by Magneti Marelli, and moved the liquid tanks, i.e. fuel, lubricant, and cooling, from the side bellies to the rider's shoulders.

 

The new arrival of the French driver Jean Alesi, flanked by his compatriot Alain Prost, present the 642 F1 at Mugello on February 18, 1991 at the Mugello international circuit.

 

A limping start to the season...

 

The project, however, is to be considered born old, and no longer adequate to the times: while the other top teams, above all Williams, in fact present radically innovative cars both from a mechanical and aerodynamic point of view.

 

To this problematic basis are added harmful development choices: for example the displacement of liquids causes an increase in the center of gravity of the car, seriously unbalancing its set-up and weight distribution; this, combined with the suspension scheme adopted, which is also similar and unchanged compared to the previous year, exposes the single-seater to strong vibrations on the front axle.

 

Ultimately, the competitiveness of the car is seriously compromised.

 

Despite this, at the debut on the track, at the Phoenix circuit, the project still appears competitive: Alain Prost places second behind Ayrton Senna's McLaren MP4/6, while his teammate Jean Alesi, despite retiring, marks the fastest lap fast in the race.

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But already starting from the second round of the season, in Brazil, the limits of the single-seater become evident: in this race McLaren wins with Senna and takes third place with Berger, separated from Riccardo Patrese's Williams FW14, while Ferrari has to settle for fourth place for Prost and sixth for Alesi, at a considerable distance.

 

Realizing the need to intervene on the single-seater to make it more competitive, in view of the third race of the season, the Maranello technicians introduce elongated side bellies at the rear and an enlarged airscope, without however obtaining appreciable results: in Imola Prost and Alesi will never be competitive and they will not even be able to finish the race, as the first goes off the track in the reconnaissance lap, while the second retires while trying to overtake Stefano Modena's Tyrrell 020.

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After another impromptu podium of Alesi in Monaco, and two colourless performances in Canada and Mexico, where Ferrari does not collect any results, the car is set aside and replaced by a new model, deeply modified in the body and in the internal fluid dynamics, called 643, which, however, will not be able to revive the team's seasonal fortunes.

 

The 642 was used until the Mexican Grand Prix, before being replaced by the 643, ending its short career with just 16 points and two podiums.

 

Andrea Rasponi

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