The season – where it was all about political haggling between FISA President Marie Balestre, from the governing body of motorsport,, and Bernie Ecclestone, Head of FOCA, the F1 constructors’ association – was a negative one for Ferrari: the 312 T5 is incomprehensibly uncompetitive although built on the World Champion car from the previous year. The Scuderia only came home eighth in the Championship. Not even Gilles Villeneuve could tame this difficult single-seater and help Ferrari to gain places on the podium in a difficult season. At the end of the year Jody Scheckter retired from Formula One.
For Ferrari it was the start of the turbo era: the 3,000 cc naturally aspirated engine had been abandoned and now it was time for the 1.5 litre turbo powertrain, but with the problem to deal with the higher temperatures generated by this new solution. The two turbo versions planned by the Scuderia for the V6 with 120°, perfect for the needs of the wing cars compared to the massive aspirated 12 cylinders: one with two turbos (for the single-seater named 126 CK) and a Comprex compressor (the 126 CX). In the end the first solution was picked, although tests in the first GP of the year showed less problems with the Comprex. In the end the season turned out to be extremely difficult and with loads of problems related to reliability (like for all the other teams, which went for the turbo solution). With Villeneuve-Pironi the Scuderia concluded the Championship in fifth position in the Constructors’ standings with two victories and a third place with the Canadian driver. On the other side FISA and FOCA made peace thanks to Enzo Ferrari’s intervention: this is how the first Concorde Agreement was born.
A dramatic year for the Scuderia: Gilles Villeneuve died in the qualifying for the Belgian GP, while in Germany a terrible accident, similar to the one of his teammate, put an end to the career of Didier Pironi. The Frenchman, participated in ten races out of 16 this season and at the end he came in just five points behind Keke Rosberg in the Drivers’ standings. The 126 C2, used this season, had a lighter and more rigid chassis thanks to the composite material introduced in Maranello by the British engineer Harvey Postlethwaite. The car was then raced by Patrick Tambay and, for the last two races of the season, by Mario Andretti. In the end the single-seater enabled the Scuderia to conquer the Constructors’ title with a total of 11 places on the podium and 3 victories.
Breathtaking improvement in terms of performance let FISA intervene in the technical regulations, putting an end to the ground effect cars. The Scuderia started the Championship with the 126 C2B, an evolution of the 126 C2 set up for the new rules and fitted with Goodyear tyres. The car was driven by the Frenchmen Patrick Tambay and René Arnoux. The car gained two victories before the debut of the 126 C3 at the British GP (9th race out of 15). The 126 C3 was an important technical progress also thanks to the monocoque made out of the most advanced material available with honeycomb aluminium panels replaced by lighter and stronger carbon fibre panels. The victories with Arnoux at the German and the Dutch GPs confirmed the strength of the new single-seater and the Scuderia won the Constructors’ Title again this year.
To limit the engine capacity the Federation decided that the tank could only have a volume of 220 litres and the cars could not come in for a pit stop refill during the race. This led to an incredible research in the area of petrol and lubricants and thus consequently to higher costs. In Maranello, 11 years after Arturio Merzario, an Italian was back: Michele Alboreto, discovered by Ken Tyrrell. Alboreto came to race next to René Arnoux. It was a difficult season for the team, but also for the fans. The Scuderia concluded the 1984 Championship with a not very satisfying – considering the potential of the 126 C4 – second place in the Constructors’ standings behind McLaren, who used TAG turbos to win 12 out of 16 races with Niki Lauda and Alain Prost, who won the Drivers’ Title and the second place in the Drivers standings with half a point between them.
In the 1985 Championship Ferrari raced the 156-85: the first two numbers indicated the capacity of 1.5 litres, the third was the number of cylinders: V6. The single-seater had 780 bhp at 11,000 rpm with a supercharging pressure between 3.5 and 3.6 bar. In the qualifying set up the car offered more than 1,000 bhp. The car won six places on the podium and gained two victories in the first 11 races of the year. Alboreto – with his Swedish teammate Stefan Johansson, who took over from Arnoux as of the second race of the season – arrived at the Italian GP fighting for the Drivers’ Title with Alain Prost. Due to technical problems with the car at the end of the season Alboreto couldn’t even gain one single point in the last 5 races, “handing over” to his French rival his first World Title of his career.
The F1-86 was slightly different to the 1985 single-seater. The position of the driver was more outstretched, which guaranteed a reduced front section of the car. Despite all this effort the F1-86 was the protagonist of a season to forget: it wasn’t strong enough to fight against the competition from Williams, McLaren and Lotus. Due to continuous problems with the car’s reliability the Scuderia, with Alboreto and Johansson, concluded the season without a win and with a fourth place in the Constructors’ standings, over 100 points behind the winning Williams team, which used a single-seater with a Honda engine. At the end of the season Enzo Ferrari announced that John Barnard would come to Maranello. Barnard had been the first to introduce a carbon fibre chassis in F1 in 1981 (with the McLaren MP4/1). He had won 5 Drivers’ and Constructors’ Titles between 1984 and 1986 as the father of the MP4/2 project.
The rules now permitted naturally aspirated engines with a displacement of 3,500 cc and no tank limit. Turbo engines were now limited regarding the pressure. The Scuderia started the season with the F1-87. The project was led by Gustav Brunner, before the new technical director John Barnard arrived in Maranello. The single-seater was fitted with a new 90-degree V6 turbo engine. After a disappointing first part of the Championship with two third places by Michele Alboreto as the best result, the Scuderia improved towards the end of the season. After a second place in Portugal Gerhard Berger gained the pole position and won in Japan and in Australia, with Ferrari gaining a one-two win.
On 14 August 1988 at the age of 90 Enzo Ferrari died. The F1 season was dominated by McLaren with Senna-Prost, winning 5 out of 16 races. The Drivers’ Title went to the Brazilian driver. Ferrari interrupted the triumphal march of the English team with an unexpected one-two win in Monza at the Italian GP about one month after the death of its founder. In the end the Scuderia gained second place in the Constructors’ Championship.
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