For 1957, Ferrari continued modifying the Lancia D50, now calling it the 801. But the car had changed so much it was unrecognizable from its original guise.
The coachwork was completely different, the front and rear suspension changed, the V-8’s bore and stroke modified. Alas, its best individual race results were three second-place finishes, and Ferrari came in a distant runner-up to Maserati in the Grand Prix season.
But there were benefits to what appeared to be a bleak campaign. Ferrari was having great success in Formula 2 with its superb Dino 156 (1.5-liters, 6-cylinders). Named for Ferrari’s first son, the 156 served as the basis for 1958’s Ferrari Dino 246 F1.
In Formula 1 guise, the six-cylinder engine was enlarged to 2417cc, good for 280 horsepower. The model was first tried at the final F1 race of 1957, then returned for 1958 with a number of modifications. These included telescopic shocks in front, and disc brakes in place of large drums in the rear.
Identified by the clear cover over its sextet of carburetor stacks, the Ferrari Dino 246 F1 propelled team driver Mike Hawthorn to the F1 world championship, the third for a Ferrari driver. The title was won through consistency.
Over the 10 races, Hawthorn had only one victory, at Reims in France, but his five seconds and one third were enough to snare the championship by one point over fellow Brit Stirling Moss, who had four victories driving the Cooper-Climax and Vanwall cars. (This was the first year in which the FIA established an F1 Constructors Championship to go along with the driver’s crown. Vanwall beat out Ferrari for the ’58 title.)
The Dino returned in 1959 as the Ferrari Dino 246 F1. It was a prettier car, with more aerodynamic bodywork, and was fitted with Dunlop disc brakes at each corner, a new suspension, and a 2474cc V-6.
Ferrari ran both the Ferrari Dino 246 F1 and 256 F1 during 1959, but was still at a disadvantage in a season that marked a watershed change in motorsport.
Brit Tony Brooks was a Ferrari team driver that year, and piloted the Ferrari Dino 246 F1 to victories in the French and German Grands Prix. But he finished second in the points hunt to Australian Jack Brabham, 31 to 27. Brabham’s championship was the first in F1 to be won in a rear-engine car.
As Brooks explained in Ferrari 1947-1997: “Our Dino-engined V6 cars were strong and reliable, but on slow and medium-speed circuits they were no match for the lightweight rear-engine British cars. Even at the fast Reims circuit Jack Brabham was quick enough to split Phil Hill and me on the front row of the grid. It was only thanks to our superior power that I was able to pull away from Brabham at the start and lead all the way to the finish.”
In 1960, it wasn’t even close. The lone Dino victory was Phil Hill’s at Monza, as Brabham and the rear-engine Cooper-Climax ran away from the field to take both the driver and constructors titles. Lotus-Climax was second, Ferrari third.