1989

Already in the year 1979 the Scuderia had studied and tested in a 312 T3 lab car an electrohydraulic gear change. Now instead of a classic gearstick two buttons on the steering wheel were used to change gears. Those buttons activated electromagnetic valves to channel oil under pressure, activating the pistons responsible for the gear change. Due to the lack of advanced electronics back in the days this solution was quickly abandoned. But 10 years later Ferrari was back with this exciting idea, starting a new era in Formula One with the revolutionary F1-89, first called 640 based on the project number. The car was planned by John Barnard in Guildford in the southwest of London. With innovative aerodynamics, pushrod suspension with torsion bars instead of the classic coil springs, the F1-89 was fitted with a semi-automatic 7-speed gearbox, activated by the driver on the steering wheel. The clutch pedal was only used at the start. As it was the end of the turbo era the F1-89 was fitted with a naturally aspirated 65-degree V12cylinder with 600 bhp at 12,000 rpm. At the Brazilian GP the Scuderia, with Cesare Fiorio as its new Head, won with the F1-89 and the new-entry Nigel Mansell. The technology was still too new and the team had several problems regarding the gearbox’s reliability. How strong the car was could be seen that when the F1-89 crossed the line, it was always for a position on the podium: Nigel Mansell won again in Hungary as well as two second and two third places. Gerhard Berger had a terrible accident at the San Marino GP in the Tamburello corner, where the car went up in flames. He had light burns on his hands and couldn’t race in the next GP, while winning the race in Portugal and gaining second places at the Italian and the Spanish GP.

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