F60: another name change for Ferrari

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Ferrari's F60 - not the F2009 - broke cover yesterday
Ferrari's F60 - not the F2009 - broke cover yesterday

Ferrari’s new 2009 F1 car launched yesterday may mark another change in the team’s somewhat esoteric approach to naming its cars.

Here’s a brief guide to how Ferrari have named their F1 cars from 1950 to 2009.

The early Ferraris: 1950-1965

125, 166, 275, 375, 166T, 212, 500, 166C, 375S, 553, 625, 555, D50, 801, 246, 156, 246P, 156/63, 156 Aero, 158, 1512

There were no Ferraris on the grid for the first round of the new world championship at Silverstone in 1950. But four 125s, with V12 engines, were entered for the second round at Monaco eight days later. The following year Jose Froilan Gonzalez gave the team its first world championship victory at Silverstone in a 4.5-litre V12 375.

Ferrari’s first drivers’ titles came in the next two seasons as the championship switched to Formula Two regulations, Alberto Ascari dominating in his Ferrari 500. In 1955 Ferrari bought six D50 models from Lancia, which had fallen into severe financial problems, and entered the ‘Lancia-Ferraris’ in the 1956 and 1957 championships.

Another change of regulations arrived in 1961 with the introduction of 1.5-litre engined cars. Once again Ferrari was far better prepared than its rivals for the new era. Phil Hill won the championship in a ‘sharknose’ 156, but it came in tragic circumstances as team mate Wolfgang von Trips was killed at Monza. John Surtees was champion in another 1.5-litre car in 1964.

Three litres, 12 cylinders: 1966-1980

312, 312/69, 312B, 312B2, 312B2-72, 312B3, 312T, 312T2, 312T3, 312T4, 312T4B, 312T5

After Surtees’ title win Ferrari entered one of its barren spells. From the end of 1964 until the beginning of 1970 the team only won three races. The pace of improvement was slow in the early 1970s as well, until Luca di Montezemolo arrived in charge of the race team. Mauro Forghieri took over as designer, and Niki Lauda was recruited to race the cars. The team had hit on a winning formula. Without Lauda’s notorious crash at the Nurburgring, and the row with Enzo Ferrari it led to, the 312T and its successors might have won more than two championships.

The 312T (for transversale, referring to the tranverse-mounted gearbox) generation of Ferraris continued until 1980. Jody Scheckter won the drivers’ championship with the 312T4 in 1979 but it successor, the T5, was an utter disaster – Scheckter failing even to qualify at Montreal.

The turbo Ferraris: 1980-1988

126CK, 126C2, 126C2B, 126C3, 126C4, 156/85, F1/86, F1-87, F1/87-88C

The designation 126 was used to refer to Ferrari’s first 1.5-litre turbocharged cars. The first of these, 126C, was driven by Gilles Villeneuve in practice for the 1980 Italian Grand Prix (the only one to be held at Imola) but not raced. The 126CK was powerful but unwieldy, yet Villeneuve somehow dragged it to two wins in 1981. Villeneuve perished in a 126C2 the following year at Zolder – the last F1 driver to be killed in a Ferrari – and team mate Didier Pironi suffered terrible injuries in a similar crash in the same model at Hockenheim. Despite this the team won the constructors’ champinship, and followed it up again in 1983 with the 126C2B and 126C3, its last title for 16 years. Ferrari’s later turbo models picked up year-based designations. That ended in 1988, which was also the year Enzo Ferrari died.

Post-Enzo: 1989-1993

640, 641, 642, 643, F92A, F92AT, F93A

The 640, introduced in 1989, was revolutionary: the first F1 car to feature a semi-automatic gearbox controlled by paddles on the steering wheel. Nigel Mansell won the car’s debut race at Jacarepagua in Brazil, but unreliability meant the car only won two other races. Alain Prost took its 1990 successor (641) to the brink of the championship, but failed, and was so critical about the 642 he was thrown out of the team. He had a point though – it failed to win a race, as did its two successors…

From V12s to V10s: 1994-1999

412T1, 412T1B, 412T2, F310, F310B, F300, F399

The 1994 412T1 ended Ferrari’s three-year winless drought as Jean Todt swept away the political chaos and instilled a badly-needed discipline in the team. The 1995 412T2 was the last 12-cylinder Ferrari, robbing F1 of one of its most distinctive and romantic engine notes. Its successor, the F310 of 1996, heralded change not just because it marked the team’s switch to V10 engines: it also saw the arrival of Michael Schumacher. He had to wait until the ‘F3′ designations were done with before claiming his first title for the team, but they won the constructors’ championship with the F399 in 1999.

The 2000s: 2000-2008

F1-2000, F2001, F2002, F2003-GA, F2004, F2004M, F2005, 248 F1, F2007, F2008

In the new millennium Ferrari began the practice of using the year in its cars’ titles. The exception was 2006, when the designation 248 F1 was chosen – referring to the 2.4-litre V8 engines that became mandatory that year. In 2003 the letters ‘GA’ were appended onto the model name in memory of the late Fiat boss Gianni Agnelli. The F2004M was a modified version of the F2004 used in the first two races of 2005. The first five all won both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships. The F2007 did the double as well, and last year’s F2008 added a 16th constructors’ title.

A new beginning, or another one-off?


Ferrari’s 2009 F1 car is called the F60 to mark 60 years of Grand Prix participation. Whether next year’s car will be the F61, F2010, or something completely different, who knows?

NB. the lists do not include cars which did not race.

Read more: Ferrari F1 team information

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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21 comments on “F60: another name change for Ferrari”

  1. re: The 2000s: 2000-2008

    The first five all won both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships. The F2007 did the double as well, and last year’s F2008

    I may be picking this up wrong, but that reads like last years F2008 won the double, which of course it didn’t unfortunately.

    Great post Keith, really interesting to see how the names changed with the times.

    1. Good point, I’ll rewrite that bit.

  2. schumi the greatest
    13th January 2009, 11:41

    Some teams do find intresting ways to name their cars.

    Mclaren for example name all of thier cars MP- followed by the number, i think the 09 will be the MP-24??

    The MP originally stood for “MARLBRO PROJECT” due to the sponsorship from marlbro, this started i believe in 1984 and the “MP” still stays in the name of each mclaren car, although i believe it now stands for “Mclaren Project” after marlbro stopoped sponsoring mclaren at the end of 1996

    1. re: McLaren’s MP4 prefix, from Wikipedia:

      The current McLaren F1 team resulted from a merger of the McLaren team and Ron Dennis’ personal Formula 2 team, called Project Four Racing, in 1980. Project Four was also backed by Marlboro (…)

      The nomenclature for McLaren’s F1 cars since the merger has caused some confusion among fans of the sport, as all McLaren cars since 1981 have carried designations of the form “MP4/x”, or since 2001 “MP4-x”[7], where x is the generation of the chassis (e.g. MP4/1, MP4-22). In fact, “MP4” stood initially for “Marlboro Project 4″[8], so that the full title of the cars (McLaren MP4/x) reflected not only the historical name of the team, but also the names of the team’s major sponsor and its new component part. The team’s cars still use the same nomenclature, but since the change of title sponsor for the 1997 season, MP4 is now, rather conveniently, said to stand for McLaren-Project 4.[9] At no time has the “MP4” prefix reflected the particular generation of the chassis.

  3. Regarding Ferrari type designations, there are a number of quite clear systems to it.

    1. Capacity per cylinder
    Most early type designations stem from the engine capacity per cylinder in cubic centimetres. So the 125, 375 and 500 had 125, 375 and 500 cc for a 1.5L V12 compressor, 4.5L V12 and 2.0L 4-cylinder respectively.

    2. Total capacity plus number of cylinders
    Mid-1950s designations changed with the Dino 246, which had a 2.4L V6 engine. Other examples are the 156 with a 1.5L V6, the 312 with a 3.0L V12 and the 312B with a 3.0L 12-cylinder boxer engine. The 1996 and ’97 F310 and F310B are easy, too: the first cars with a 3.0L V10, while Ferrari returned to this type of designation for 2006, with the first 2.4L V8 in the 248 F1 model.

    3. Internal project numbers
    The 640 through 643 cars simply had the internal Ferrari project numbers; the new F60 has project number 656, IIRC. The 641 and 642 are sometimes referred to as the F1-90, F1-90-2 and F1-91, though.

    4. Years
    F1/86 and F1-87 speak for themselves, as does F92A: it’s the Ferrari for 1992, A-version, while the F92AT was the same car with a transversal gearbox, hence the T. The same goes for the F93A for ’93. The whole F1-2000 through F2008 series is as clear as a bell (and boring, too), while F399 is the 3.0L car for the 1999 season.

    5. Turbo cars
    I’m not too sure about the 126 cars: they had a 1.5L V6 turbo, so should have been designated something like 156T. Ferrari only did it properly with the 1985 car, the 156/85, though.

    Other designations
    The 166T and D50 are exceptions in that the former probably was a 166 chassis fitted with a 3.4L 6-cylinder Jaguar engine, while the latter was the old Lancia car. Another funny one is the F1/87-88C, which probably was a modified ’87 car for the ’88 season. But I never quite got the 412 cars, because they didn’t have a 4.0L V12 nor had they 412 cc per cylinder. They ran a 3.5L V12, where the T was presumably again for the transversal box. The 1998 F300 is somewhat darker, too.

    Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

    1. Very cool, thanks Lustigson!

    2. I was really wishing you were a girl when I clicked on your name :~)
      Don’t think I’ll ever be that lucky though…

      Top Quality post !

      The rear wing will take some getting used to but other than that I think it’s a pretty car, almost as nice as the F310B.

      I think Nat is right, I heard a while ago they were going to call this years car the F60 to mark Ferrari’s 60th anniversary then go back to F2010.

  4. Mclaren proyect four, marlboro, Ron dennis, john barnard and hercules(built first carbon fiber chassis). Was 1981, and de cesaris crashed 18 times in the season, with i think 17 races. John watson won the british gp at silverstone. Lauda test drove the car at donnington, and came back the next year.
    I was 13 at the time, and all was very exciting.

  5. schumi the greatest
    13th January 2009, 14:52

    I dont think the new ferrari looks that bad though, looks alot more basic than the cars of recent years, not far off the cars from the late 80’s early 90’s

  6. I think it’s a one off just for the 60’th Anniversary of Ferrari.

    1. That was last year though.

    2. Keith –

      That was last year though.

      Is this another Millenium-type issue?

      NML –

      I think it’s a one off just for the 60th Anniversary of Ferrari.

      I think it’s actually a tip-of-the-hat to Ferrari’s 60th season in F1.

  7. Sorry if this is a bit off topic keith, but i thought you might want to have a look at this? :)


  8. I thing if the F60 will be succesfull they can stick with that naming scheme for next years. Besides it sounds more Ferrari-like than F2009, F2010 and so on.

    1. The days of car numbers based on the different engine configurations don’t work so well when everyone’s fixed on a 2.4-litre V8…

  9. This car is named for Ferrari’s 60 years in GP racing and they are planning to release the new F60 production car this year as well.I read a small bit about it at fantasycars.net…..0 -60 in 3 seconds.

  10. The F60 doesn’t look as bad as I expected to be. I was going by what the Hondas and BMWs looked like, and those are bad. The Ferrari on the other hand, seems to be a little more easy on the eye, don’t know why, maybe because its a Ferrari.

    What are you’re favourite Ferrari’s of all time? Mine goes to Gilles Villenueve’s No.27 of 1982, class.

    1. It’s a good shape but the history associated with it is grim. I like the 156 ‘Sharknose’ and the sleek 640 with black front and rear wings.

  11. The numbering may perhaps be some kind of code for an Italian enigma machine… kinda like the team really lol…

  12. Keith, Good article – ever done an article on the different colours that ferrari have used over the years on their cars?

    I notice that they seem to have returned to the more scarlet colours of the early 90’s which I prefer to the oranges of 2000.

    1. Good ides Dasman – the difficulty though is getting pictures of the cars that are (a) in colour and (b) legal to use.

      This year’s Ferrari is a slightly different shade to last years, but still more of a proper red than those earlier 2000s ones you mention.

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