1997 Ferrari F310B
Configuration: Longitudinal mid-engine, Rear wheel drive
Engine: 3.0 Liter V10
Horsepower: 720hp @ 16,050 RPM
Transmission: Semi-automatic sequential 7-speed
Weight: 1323 lbs.
Ferrari upped the ante in 1997 with the Ferrari F310B. The aerodynamics were revised, the V-10’s output increased to 750 horsepower, the transmission was upgraded, and a new differential was used in an attempt to solve reliability issues. Ferrari was again second to Williams-Renault in the constructor’s championship, but the points margin was slimmer than in ’96. In the driver’s chase, Schumacher went into the season’s final race, at Jerez in Spain, leading Williams-Renault’s Jacques Villeneuve by one point, 78-77.
With most of the development work focused on the engine, designer John Barnard created a new car with the intention to continuously develop the package throughout the year. Dubbed the F310 after the new engine, it featured a carbon-fibre monocoque chassis with double wishbones and push-rod actuated springs and dampers on all four corners. The aerodynamics package was also straightforward and it was the only car on the grid with a low nose.
This particular F310 B, chassis 179, is the eighth of just nine built, and it is the first of two lighter-spec examples that had been built with a slightly higher fuel capacity than the first models. It made its first appearance with Michael Schumacher in the driver’s seat at the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa. As Schumacher was accustomed to the heavier iteration of the car, he struggled to find a set-up that he liked, so he reverted to the older spec car and placed an excellent 3rd in qualifying. On race day, 179 was set up for dry conditions, but, sadly, the race began under the safety car in a torrential downpour, so Schumacher opted for the same car he qualified in.
Eddie Irvine found himself behind the wheel of 179 at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza on the 7th of September, where he qualified in 10th and would later finish in 8th place overall. Irvine would continue to drive the same car in the following round of the championship, at the Austrian Grand Prix, where he qualified 8th but failed to finish. Williams would emerge victorious with the Constructors’ Title by the end of the season, but Schumacher was in the running for the Drivers’ Championship until the final race of the season, which is a testament to the potential of the F310 B.