As they say, exceptional situations call for exceptional measures: 1972 had once again been a bad year for Ferrari in Formula 1. The 312 B was not competitive and Enzo Ferrari chose to entrust the technical management to a new engineer, Sandro Colombo. At the same time, Ferrari created an experimental centre for innovative design proposals and entrusted it to his usual technical director, Mauro Forghieri.
The Ferrari 312 B2, the final evolution of the unsuccessful model that raced between 1971 and 1973, was the idea behind a clear change of design at Maranello
It was in this centre that the 312 B3 was conceived, which went on to be known by everyone as the Ferrari 312 B3 ‘Spazzaneve’ or ‘Snowplough’.
Why was this car that never raced so important? Well, in those years, the British manufacturers had been working a lot on optimising weight distribution and aerodynamics. With this in mind, Forghieri analysed the results obtained in the wind tunnel by the 312 PB - the World Champion Prototype-Sports Car with covered wheels – with those of the 312B single-seater. This comparison showed that the large surface area on the bottom of the Sports car created a lot more downforce than the Formula 1 car.
The experimental 312 B3, the result of the genius of Mauro Forghieri, in his first outing at Monza driven by Jacky Ickx. Note the width of the sides and the generous front that inspired the nickname ‘Spazzaneve’
Starting from these assumptions, he set up the new car by concentrating the weight in the centre (side-mounted radiators even if the air intakes were up front) and lowering the centre of gravity to the maximum, designing a car that would give the biggest possible bottom surface.
In this transparency of the ‘Spazzaneve’ the desire to carry as much weight as possible within the two axes is clear. A very large bottom surface made a huge impact on downforce
This anticipated the future design trend of single seat racing cars that introduced wide front nose sections and a pursuit for maximum downforce by a number of years. Tests carried out on the car with Ickx and Merzario behind the wheel gave very promising results.
This image highlights the design approach of the ‘Spazzaneve’: short wheelbase, compact and characterized by a pursuit for aerodynamic efficiency. It was a laboratory that never raced
While the 1973 season saw the 312 series single seaters bring in modest results, even with the new technical management, Enzo Ferrari urged Forghieri and his small team to build the car to be used in the 1974 season according to the principles of what journalists of the time now referred to as the ‘Spazzaneve’ or ‘Snowplough’ because of its generous and very particular sloping front section.
Clay Regazzoni behind the wheel of the 312 B3-74, which is the evolution of the ‘Spazzaneve’ that made it to the track. With this single-seater, Regazzoni came very close to the World Title, losing it in the final race
The 1974 season saw the appearance of the 312 B3-74, which proved to be so competitive it almost won the World Championship, only to lose it in the very last race to the Swiss driver, Clay Regazzoni. Ferrari hadn’t yet achieved perfection, however, and the idea of the ‘Spazzaneve’ was completed by the installation of the transverse gearbox on what became the 312 T in 1975 that immediately won the World Championship with Niki Lauda behind the wheel.
Kudos therefore to the ‘Spazzaneve’, to Enzo Ferrari and, of course, to Mauro Forghieri for having the courage to face a completely new road, which transformed the fortunes of the Manufacturer from Maranello from 1974 to 1979.
1975. The final evolution of the ‘Spazzaneve’ concept perfected with the adoption of a transverse gearbox: the Ferrari 312 T. This car went on to become World Champion in 1975 and 1977 with Niki Lauda behind the wheel, and in the T4 evolution in 1979 with Jodi Scheckter