A change in the rules meant that the Scuderia had to come up with a practically new car for the 1976 season. Periscope air intakes were banned, limiting the overall height of the car. This meant that ducts had to be designed that ran from the front part of the cockpit channelling the air to the two rows of carburettors over the cylinder heads. Other lower ducts sent cooling air to the radiators. The previous year’s suspension was recycled, but the car was now lighter thanks to a new chassis structure.
The year began as the last one had ended with Ferrari dominating the scene (six victories in the first nine races). The 312 T2 proved a worthy successor to the old car and gave Lauda a huge lead in the rankings. However, a terrifying accident at the Nürburgring on August 1 seemed to put paid to the Austrian driver’s hopes of a double. The team pulled out of the Austrian Grand Prix and only Regazzoni lined up at the Dutch one. Lauda returned to the track at Monza, before he had fully recovered, in order to try to stymie Hunt’s race up the rankings. But the battle was settled once and for all in Japan when Lauda was forced to abandon the race in driving rain, leaving the way open to the English driver. However, the team still had the Constructors’ title to console themselves with.
In 1977 Lauda won the second World title that he had lost out on the year before by sheer bad luck, thanks to a much improved 312 T2. However, he quit Ferrari which was heading for a triple whammy in the Constructors’ Championship. The Scuderia had four wins that season: Argentinean driver Carlos Reutemann, who had debuted at the end of the 1976 season, won in Brazil, and Lauda triumphed in South Africa, Germany and Holland. Having become World Champion once again, Lauda handed over his car to a young Canadian driver, Gilles Villeneuve, for the last two races of the season.
|Type||rear, longitudinal flat-12|
|Bore/stroke||80 x 49.6 mm|
|Unitary displacement||249.31 cc|
|Total displacement||2991.80 cc|
|Compression ratio||11.5 : 1|
|Maximum power||368 kW (500 hp) at 12.200 rpm|
|Power per litre||167 hp/l|
|Valve actuation||twin overhead camshafts per bank, four valves per cylinder|
|Fuel feed||Lucas indirect injection|
|Frame||monocoque, tubular steel, aluminium panels|
|Front suspension||independent, unequal-length wishbones, inboard springs over telescopic shock absorbers, anti-roll bar|
|Rear suspension||independent, upper lever arm, lower wishbone, central radius arms, coil springs over telescopic shock, absorbers, anti-roll bar|
|Transmission||5-speed + reverse|
|Fuel tank||capacity 200 litres|