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Ferrari 126C2 and 'true' monocoque


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#51 Charlieman

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Posted 27 September 2019 - 09:46

I am not. It seems this is a thing captured only by part of the English-speaking press.

 

Besides it doesn't make sense technically they had one chassis of a different construction from all the others.

 

I agree that "pure monocoque" appears to be an English-speaking press observation. It may be the case that Henry/Lyons/Windsor compared notes about Ferrari cars for their magazine reports, but the "pure monocoque" description is repeated for several races. Detail and terminology (U piece versus rectangular section) varies but the basic story is the same. Perhaps somebody at Ferrari was spinning a yarn?

 

I'm reading the Sal Incandela book to see what he says about the 312T family and I'll add a summary shortly.

 

I'd have thought that building the prototype chassis one way with variations for later versions was normal. 

 

Incidentally, Regazzoni, my interest in Ferrari chassis relates to the old story that Ferrari were more interested in engines than chassis. That seems rather simplistic to me, indeed ridiculous given that the 312B flat 12 engine was designed to reduce centre of gravity.



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#52 Regazzoni

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Posted 27 September 2019 - 10:10

“Monocoque” and “semi-monocoque” terms are used for the same cars (the T-series) also on various Italian books, journalist are not engineers and the concept of monocoque (or not) is not easily grasped; it doesn’t change the fact those chassis were in panels reinforced with an inner frame, which we can conventionally call as we want as long as we know what we are referring to.

Variations and updates are the norm, I agree, but changing the load-bearing and load-transfer nature of the structural chassis – with all the rest pretty much unchanged – is not, or they would have called it and made it as a new model altogether, and it was exactly the same – the “T2” - with the same identical chassis outline.

 

The flat engine was initially born, as related in several and non-conflicting recollections over the years by Forghieri, as an aircraft engine commission from the US, flat in order to be accommodated within the thickness of a wing. He then started to think in terms of car dynamics - not just low centre of gravity - but particularly low polar inertia, which led to the Spazzaneve (which was purely an experimental effort, not for racing, and which Forghieri in typical fashion then tried to claim as an attempt to ground effect car - which of course it was not), which led to the 1974 B3 and finally to the T with transversal gearbox as apex of the technological parabola.



#53 Charlieman

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Posted 27 September 2019 - 10:46

Variations and updates are the norm, I agree, but changing the load-bearing and load-transfer nature of the structural chassis – with all the rest pretty much unchanged – is not, or they would have called it and made it as a new model altogether, and it was exactly the same – the “T2” - with the same identical chassis outline.

However Ferrari had done precisely that with the 312B3 -- three "pure monocoques" built in England with subsequent models made in Italy with an internal frame.

 

Thanks for the background story about the flat 12 engine.



#54 Regazzoni

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Posted 27 September 2019 - 10:54

The "English" B3 has a completely different background. It wasn't development, it was desperation and upheaval.

 

[The Old Man was sick too that year, when he then took over again he re-installed Forghieri and hired Libera e Bella (Montezemolo)]


Edited by Regazzoni, 27 September 2019 - 11:06.


#55 Regazzoni

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Posted 27 September 2019 - 11:31

Looking at those Autosprint, it is apparent in that summer 1976 the main Ferrari development push was the De Dion rear suspension, week after week. Forghieri also missed one race to attend tests at the Nardo' test track in Puglia. It came to nothing eventually.

 

In the week of the Swedish GP report, there is the scoop "Ferrari su Michelin?" (Ferrari on Michelin?), two years before it actually happened.


Edited by Regazzoni, 27 September 2019 - 11:37.


#56 Charlieman

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Posted 27 September 2019 - 12:11

The "English" B3 has a completely different background. It wasn't development, it was desperation and upheaval.

But the English B3 has the same marque number as the Italian B3. 10 or 12 years previously, the designation Ferrari 156 was used to label very different Ferrari chassis.

 

And with regard to the 312T2, Peter Windsor noted industrial strikes as a reason for the delay in building new cars -- "pure monocoques". 

 

Looking at those Autosprint, it is apparent in that summer 1976 the main Ferrari development push was the De Dion rear suspension, week after week. Forghieri also missed one race to attend tests at the Nardo' test track in Puglia. It came to nothing eventually.

 

In the week of the Swedish GP report, there is the scoop "Ferrari su Michelin?" (Ferrari on Michelin?), two years before it actually happened.

 

Ferrari's de Dion suspension was reported with less belief in the UK press. As Goodyear developed tyres in the 1976 season, they worked better for McLaren than for Ferrari. Other teams were caught out too -- March could have had a better year; Lotus had already determined how important it was to make the car work for the tyres, rather than the other way around. Logically, Ferrari would have been making their car work on the latest Goodyear tyres to hang on to a world championship, rather than experiment (cf McLaren ceasing development of the M26). Maybe Ferrari made a big noise for the Italian press about de Dion suspension and told the English-speaking press a different tale about monocoque chassis.



#57 Regazzoni

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Posted 27 September 2019 - 12:32

The B3 mark number is always a source of confusion, which-is-which.

 

The English B3 came out from Forghieri being dismissed, replaced by Sandro Colombo, and moved to an ad hoc research office in Modena (rather than Maranello), set up for him by the Old Man, who knew he would have called him again in due course. Forghieri was totally against going to England to make the chassis.

 

I am re-reading and seeing again about the development of the De Dion exactly as I recalled it, it came down to issues with GoodYear and the advance news about Michelin had all to do with the issue.

 

Then again, you seem to know a lot NOW, in hindsight, while Ferrari weren't testing - as photos showed almost every week, well into 1977 - the De Dion just to fool this or that, I don't think they had that much spare change, time and humour. It was the middle of the Seventies - no internet, long wait for international phone calls and colour photos on Autosprint only the week after the GP report. No forums with lot of nonsense in them, either.

 

I don't really care what British-based or otherwise journalists claimed - just show me the 027 chassis and/or the 028 before it got destroyed. And also tell me who then, 1976, built the "pure monocoques" in Italy? I look at facts and as yet I can't see one that confirms Ferrari built "pure monocoques" in the middle of 1976.


Edited by Regazzoni, 27 September 2019 - 12:33.


#58 Charlieman

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Posted 27 September 2019 - 13:35

The Ferrari de Dion suspension experiments were always reported in the UK press with swivel eyes  :drunk: -- perhaps arrogantly and dismissively. At the time, there were a few people developing Clubmans cars for UK national racing using de Dion and beam axle setups. The concept had not been completely abandoned over here, but people considered that it was not a design for all circuits. That is what Ferrari thought too.

 

Hindsight knowledge about Goodyear tyres in 1976? My understanding comes from race reports of the period. March struggled mid-year with tyre wear and overheating. The team sorted it out sufficiently for their first "proper win" -- full distance victory for a factory car. At Lotus, the adjustable model 77 was about re-learning tyre and suspension behaviour.

 

If Ferrari pursued de Dion suspension development in 1976 rather than testing the racing variant, it is unsurprising that the car performed less well (regarding tyres) than earlier in the season. I don't KNOW what Ferrari said the the press, in Italy or elsewhere, only what was reported. Autosport magazine in the UK had a colour photo of GP races on the cover -- but it always arrived three days late. (Where is Simon Taylor when you want to make a 40 year old consumer complaint?)

 

I read about Ferrari chassis design -- from Alfa Romeos through to the carbon fibre era -- because I want to understand the decisions, different design philosophies and change.



#59 Charlieman

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Posted 27 September 2019 - 14:03

De Dion suspension experiments and a switch to radial tyres are a strange combination.

 

De Dion suspension has a constant camber angle under body roll. 

 

Radial tyres of the 1970s have more side wall distortion than cross plies. It would be pointless to test a de Dion suspension on Goodyears if a future car was to start on Michelins. 



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#60 Regazzoni

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Posted 27 September 2019 - 14:09

De Dion was meant for the crossplies, not the radials, they abandoned it when they signed Michelin.

 

I don't recall the radials having more side distortion than the crossplies - the opposite.



#61 Charlieman

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Posted 27 September 2019 - 14:59

I don't recall the radials having more side distortion than the crossplies - the opposite.

A 1970s radial tyre has more side wall distortion than a cross ply. A car set up for a radial has more static negative camber. Once the car is moving a bit, the suspension presents the tyre flat to the road, but the wheel will be at a different angle than for a cross ply.

 

Pirelli briefly made asymmetric shouldered F1 tyres in the 1980s.



#62 Regazzoni

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Posted 27 September 2019 - 15:15

I know that, the radials required, also those we used in F3, quite big negative camber, but my recollection was that the Michelin were quite squared in curve while the Good Years looked more compliant laterally, especially those big rear tyres at certain point.



#63 Charlieman

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Posted 27 September 2019 - 17:14

To my eye, photos of the damaged Nürburgring chassis #028 seem to indicate thin steel framing members under the aluminium sheeting. Off-hand, the damage looks different than what one would expect of an equivalent all-sheet aluminium tub.  In a post on aluminium chassis structures many moons ago I also speculated, like Regazzoni posted here, that Lauda's injuries could have been worse or fatal had he not been protected by those two wide and voluminous structural boxes for the fuel tanks, which, alas failed to protect the fuel bags.

 

On the subject of lateral protection structures, I've noticed that on a lot of different mid-1970s chassis they appear to have been detachable, being bolted on at a few discrete locations. It appears that these add-on deformable structures were torn off in Lauda's accident, whereas on, say a McLaren M23 or a Shadow DN5, they formed an integral part of the tub structure.

 

I have not seen a photo of Lauda's car, post crash, which informs how the car was constructed.

 

In photos, post accident, most of the upper and frontal bodywork is intact.

 

Photos, post accident, show that the front bulkhead and the front suspension pivot points are pushed back, crumpling the area around driver legs. A little bit.

 

Lauda's Ferrari, post crash was a mostly intact car. Nothing substantial fell off. The fuel tanks or lines ruptured to create a fire.

---

If you have a photo of the Lauda car, post crash, with tubes poking from aluminium sheets, I'll take a look to confirm your story.



#64 chr1s

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Posted 27 September 2019 - 19:23

I am not. It seems this is a thing captured only by part of the English-speaking press.

 

Besides it doesn't make sense technically they had one chassis of a different construction from all the others.

 

 

I'm beginning to wonder if this was just a miss understanding.  We know that the original 312T chassis used aluminium panels riveted to a tubular steel frame,  and Doug's picture of a later 312T4/5 chassis clearly shows the same method of construction, albeit now with a tubular aluminium frame.        

   Could it be that the revised chassis that Alan Henry wrote about at Brands Hatch were the first ones to have an aluminium sub structure instead of steel? 

    Is it possible that in conversation with the team, someone said that there are no steel tubes in these revised chassis, they're all aluminium now,  which Henry interpreted as there being no tubular structure at all, where as what Ferrari meant was the tubular structure is still there, its just made from aluminium now?  Simple as that.

 

This would also fit with Dennis Jenkinson's Motorsport report that said that the chassis construction is the same, just lighter.



#65 Charlieman

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Posted 27 September 2019 - 19:42

Could it be that the revised chassis that Alan Henry wrote about at Brands Hatch were the first ones to have an aluminium sub structure instead of steel?

 

Is it possible that in conversation with the team, someone said that there are no steel tubes in these revised chassis, they're all aluminium now,  which Henry interpreted as there being no tubular structure at all, where as what Ferrari meant was the tubular structure is still there, its just made from aluminium now?  Simple as that.

Not really -- three journalists were writing stories over three or four months that Ferrari chassis were made differently. Nobody challenged the journalists that they were writing bollocks.

 

If more people were telling a story, journalists would have written it differently,

 

One or two people from Ferrari were telling a tale true or false.



#66 Regazzoni

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Posted 27 September 2019 - 19:49

I'm beginning to wonder if this was just a miss understanding.  We know that the original 312T chassis used aluminium panels riveted to a tubular steel frame,  and Doug's picture of a later 312T4/5 chassis clearly shows the same method of construction, albeit now with a tubular aluminium frame.        

   Could it be that the revised chassis that Alan Henry wrote about at Brands Hatch were the first ones to have an aluminium sub structure instead of steel? 

    Is it possible that in conversation with the team, someone said that there are no steel tubes in these revised chassis, they're all aluminium now,  which Henry interpreted as there being no tubular structure at all, where as what Ferrari meant was the tubular structure is still there, its just made from aluminium now?  Simple as that.

 

This would also fit with Dennis Jenkinson's Motorsport report that said that the chassis construction is the same, just lighter.

Very good post.

 

That is my hunch, my bet is that it was a misunderstanding, perhaps due to language, or rush during a racing weekend and so on. No issues, it happens.

 

Have to say that the prudence of DSJ's in his Notes on Cars has made me realize that he perhaps had an inner knowledge of how a race car chassis works that other did not have as he doesn't seem he jumped the gun as perhaps others did. Only a feeling, not a judgement.

 

But you are making questions I am making myself too, like whether they changed the frame's material. Because I have no recollection among all the things I have read about the actual material of the inner frame - steel, aluminium alloy? I asked myself these days exactly what you say: what if they changed from steel to aluminium? As an engineer I am still running in my mind what are the structural implications of such a change, if indeed it happened. Would like to know, and I cannot yet find confirmation one way or the other.



#67 ibsenop

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Posted 28 September 2019 - 01:00

AutoSprint - Anno 1976

Auto-Sprint-Anno-1976.jpg
 
Quattroruote 249 - September 1976
Quattroruote-249-September-1976.jpg
 
Quattroruote 263 - November 1977
Quattroruote-263-November-1977.jpg
 
nothing about the true-monocoque


#68 Regazzoni

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Posted 28 September 2019 - 06:54

 

AutoSprint - Anno 1976

Auto-Sprint-Anno-1976.jpg

Thank you Ibsen for the post, I looked at this picture last week at home (there are also the BT44 and the Lotus 77 dissected in the same issue), but completely missed the caption (as I was busy preparing a conference presentation, multi-tasking gets harder with age).



#69 Regazzoni

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Posted 29 September 2019 - 11:07

From Autosprint issue the week before Monza 1976. Detail:

Dettaglio.jpg

The full two page spread:

as-76-36038-039.jpg

From Autosprint n. 49 1976, end of season. Summary of the chassis numbers used. Note 27 was Clay's usual chassis until the end of the season, the 28 was used as spare chassis (muletto) the last four races, presumably it was repaired, while Lauda reverted to his successful 26.

Ferrari-chassis-1976.png

Chassis 022 (312T):

ferrari-312t-022.jpg

The T2 chassis, pretty much the same as the T above:

as-76-49-46-47.jpg

Don't ever say I am a bad guy! :)



#70 Charlieman

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Posted 29 September 2019 - 14:07

Have to say that the prudence of DSJ's in his Notes on Cars has made me realize that he perhaps had an inner knowledge of how a race car chassis works that other did not have as he doesn't seem he jumped the gun as perhaps others did. Only a feeling, not a judgement.

DSJ had studied engineering although his studies were interrupted by WWII. He had practical experience building and maintaining competition cars and bikes. By the mid-1970s he had been touring Italy as a journalist for more than 20 years so we can assume that his spoken Italian was better than most of his English-speaking colleagues.

 

Sal Incandela (Anatomy & Development of the Formula One Racing Car, first edition) repeats the story that the 312T2 had a steel inner frame. Not very helpful, I'm afraid, although his description of the 312T4 matches the photo provided by DCN.

 

I believe that chassis #025 had an aluminium tube. Italian writers reported that the tubes were continued in later chassis. At least three English-speaking journalists reported the "pure monocoque" story. I believe that all of the writers were sincere and honest, and that some at Ferrari were quite happy about the confusion!



#71 chr1s

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Posted 30 September 2019 - 20:40

 

 

Because I have no recollection among all the things I have read about the actual material of the inner frame - steel, aluminium alloy? I asked myself these days exactly what you say: what if they changed from steel to aluminium?

Niki Lauda wrote in "The art and techniques of Grand Prix driving" that the original 312T chassis were made with a steel tubular structure. I can't say for sure what material the tubes were in the later chassis but in Doug's picture, that looks like aluminium to me.


Edited by chr1s, 30 September 2019 - 20:41.


#72 Regazzoni

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Posted 30 September 2019 - 21:09

Just looked up Lauda's book, it's at page 49, William Kimber edition.

 

They built four chassis of the T2: 25, 26, 27 and 28. I am quite convinced they were pretty much the same, outline and construction, until someone shows otherwise, also because bodywork and all systems supported by the chassis remained basically unchanged during the season. No way one or two of them were built without the stiffening frame.



#73 chr1s

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Posted 30 September 2019 - 21:43

And in "For the record" Lauda wrote of 028, the car he crashed at the Nurburgring, that "the steel frame which reinforces the aluminium chassis saved the day".


Edited by chr1s, 30 September 2019 - 21:43.


#74 Regazzoni

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Posted 30 September 2019 - 22:29

There you go. The three Lauda's books are aligned up there on the shelf, I'll leave them to rest for another few years.

 

I have little doubt the Ferrari chassis saved Lauda's bacon and I wrote it in this thread. I wrote also he hit the embankment at a relatively favourable angle, but I was wrong. The hit was utterly vicious, high speed, he was against the embankment in a fraction of time, and the angle (front-left side corner, if I recall well, not 'youtubing' it now) was such that it caused the fire, hitting the front left corner of the side tank. He could have hit it at various different angles, for example with the rear (like Watson at Monza in 1981, in front of me spectating at Lesmo), even straight with the front, and incur probably in less personal damage.

 

The reason he lost the car that way is because the left kink before the Bergwerk is not level, but slight depressed in the curve. As he lost the support on the rear left end, the car pulled immediately towards the right (Lauda's right, not the film's) as per physics, the front end further lightened by the transient bump-rebound, no grip for a key instant on the front wheels and - baaang.



#75 cpbell

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 14:03

Seems fairly conclusive, without wanting to upset DCN, that the idea of a full monocoque was a misunderstanding related to a change from steel to aluminium tubing.  Surely Lauda would have known what sort of chassis his car had, being as intelligent and detail-minded as he was?