After losing the 1990 constructors championship to McLaren-Honda by just 11 points, Ferrari fell into disarray, and the team went three full seasons without a victory. The car that broke the spell was 1994’s 412 T1.
The 412 T1 marked two returns. First, Ferrari revived a conventional pushrod suspension system; 1993’s F93A had used an electronically controlled active suspension system that was plagued with reliability issues. Second, it welcomed back engineer John Barnard, who had been briefly lured away by Benetton.
With more-efficient airflow management and improved balance, the 412 T1 demonstrated Barnard’s talent for original thinking. He substantially redesigned the nose, making it higher than the F93A’s. And he moved the air ducts on the side pods, and thus the radiators, further forward.
The car proved relatively reliable, and Ferrari secured podium finishes in the season’s first five races. But the engine was starving for air, so the modified 412 T1B made its debut at the French Grand Prix in July, the year’s seventh race.
Gerhard Berger finished third with the car, and two races later broke Ferrari’s three-plus season drought two races later, with a victory in Germany. Meanwhile, teammate Jean Alesi was also scoring a number of podium finishes, and Ferrari placed third overall in the constructors championship. The Scuderia looked to be regaining its form.
In 1995, a rules change reduced maximum engine capacity to 3.0-liters. Ferrari responded with a new, more-compact V-12 that produced over 600 horsepower at 17,000 rpm. It went into a new car called the Ferrari 412 T2.
Compared to the T1, the Ferrari 412 T2 was slightly shorter in wheelbase and in overall length -- enough to allow the engine to be moved about 3.5 inches (10cm) closer to the platform’s center. The 37-gallon (140-liter) fuel tank was similarly relocated, and the Ferrari 412 T2 proved more balanced and easier to drive than its T-series predecessors.
Against the dominating Renault-powered Benetton and Williams cars, however, it was competitive but not top-tier. The Ferrari team had a number of podium finishes, the most memorable Jean Alesi’s victory at the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal. Once the Frenchman took over the lead, he was overcome with joy.
“I started to cry in the car,” he recalled in Ferrari 1947-1997. “I couldn’t see the road because when I braked the tears were getting in my visor. It was not the way I expected to react. I told myself to get back to driving and see what happened.”
That emotional victory would be the last for a Ferrari V-12 in Formula 1. The following season a new engine and a new driver would come on the scene, laying the foundation for a period of domination unlike any the sport had seen.