The Ferrari 412 T1 and its subsequent evolution, the 412 T1B, represent the forty-first single-seater sports car built and used by Scuderia Ferrari to take part in the 1994 Formula 1 world championship.
After three seasons marked by poor results and not very competitive and unreliable cars, in 1993 Scuderia Ferrari began a slow re-foundation of its structure. Among the various measures, the president Luca Cordero di Montezemolo hires John Barnard with a long-term contract, putting him at the head of Ferrari Design and Development (FDD), an ad hoc structure based in Shalford, England.
After a first phase in which the FDD department limited itself to providing consultancy for the design of the single-seater for 1993, in 1994 the new design structure came into operation at full capacity, directly taking over the conception of the new car.
The English project was subsequently entrusted to Gustav Brunner, who developed it with his team in Maranello: thus, the Ferrari 412 T1 was born, whose name evokes the number of valves per cylinder, the number of cylinders itself, and the presence of the transverse gearbox, furthermore bringing the hearts of all fans to the time when the 312 T raced victorious on the world championship circuits.
The phase between the end of the 1993 season and the beginning of that of 1994 is however shrouded by uncertainty regarding the regulations to be followed, so that, in the absence of certain technical criteria, the designers take care to maintain a certain constructive flexibility, to make it possible to make changes and changes quickly.
The Formula 1 regulation is in fact revolutionized: compared to 1993, active suspension, traction control, ABS, assisted brakes, electronic differential and bidirectional telemetry are banned. In addition, a further tactical element is introduced, authorizing refuelling during the race, which leads to a reduction in the size of the tanks.
The basic idea of the project, which starts from a blank sheet, is covered by the search for greater chassis rigidity, so that the technicians carry out a complex study work in order to best adapt the engine to the new needs of the car body.
The most important innovations consist in the adoption of the transverse gearbox, with an unprecedented box casing, a feature on which the entire project rotates, and the introduction of attachments to the frame of the front flexible plate suspensions, replacing the previous ball system.
From the aerodynamic point of view, the car has an even higher nose than the predecessor F93 A, while the side bellies are completely redesigned, which now take on a trapezoidal shape, i.e. narrow at the front, a progressive widening at the center, and a subsequent narrowing in the tail area, with the usual Coca-Cola profile.
The suspensions are torsion bar at the front, similar to the version used in 1989 aboard the Ferrari 640. The air intakes of the radiators take on an ogive shape, but the latter prove to be a harbinger of problems, as they are undersized for the cooling needs of the V12, especially on not very fast circuits.
At first you run for cover by widening them manually, sawing off the lower edge of the opening, then you opt for a more stable and suitable solution.
Some substantial changes have been made to the car since the 1994 French Grand Prix: the new version, identified with the name of 412 T1B, sees the introduction of new side bellies, shorter, narrower and rearward, with generous and equipped air intakes of innovative flow deviators in front of their mouths.
In this way the flow of air towards the engine is made more substantial, solving the problems of overheating revealed by the first version of the car.
Return to victory
At the beginning of the season, Ferrari scares all its rivals: the car looks beautiful and its creator, John Barnard, had plenty of time to take care of the project.
Active suspension, a concept in which the Maranello team has never been an excellence, are banned and consequently teams like Williams, McLaren and Benetton indicate the Maranello car as an opponent to beat.
The car brings back to Ferrari a competitiveness that it has long lacked, highlighting itself above all for the high power of the twelve-cylinder engine.
In fact, the Ferraris monopolize the entire front row in the two fastest circuits, namely Hockenheim and Monza, hitting the victory in Germany and breaking a fast of almost four years, also obtaining second place in Monza and in the tragic Grand Prix of San Marino, in Imola. On the other hand, the car does not offer performance up to the level of the other first-class cars in the other circuits, and in the slower tracks it is particularly difficult to obtain sufficient aerodynamic load.
Despite these flaws, the car proves to be very competitive overall, and in the first part of the season the drivers Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger won five podiums, two third places for the French driver in Brazil and Canada, while the Austrian took second place in the Pacific Grand Prix, and two third places in Monaco and France.
Note also the excellent second place of Nicola Larini, third driver of the Maranello team, on the occasion of the third seasonal Grand Prix in Imola. In fact, the Italian driver took over from Jean Alesi for the San Marino and Pacific Grand Prix, thus conquering his first career podium.
In the second part of the season, despite the lack of reliability of the 412 T1, the Austrian driver took his first victory of the season in Germany, as well as two second places in Italy and Australia.
The teammate, however, after a second place in Great Britain, is the protagonist of a streak of five consecutive retirements. A record interrupted only at the European Grand Prix, in which he finished tenth, then making his way back to Japan, winning his last podium of the season thanks to a third-place finish.
The 412 T1 obtained a total of one victory, three pole positions, ten podiums, and 71 points in the constructors' championship, 41 conquered by Gerhard Berger, 24 conquered by Jean Alesi and 6 by Nicola Larini, ending the season in third place in the classification reserved for builders.