Although the F310 was initially a difficult machine, it would undoubtedly lay the groundwork for the success that was soon to come in the eleven seasons Ferrari would use a V10 engine in Formula 1.
The First V10
While Ferrari opted to use a V12 engine in its F1 car throughout the late eighties and early nineties, the switch to a V10 was decided in 1995. A prototype engine was developed by Ferrari and tested by test driver Nicola Larini in a 1995 Ferrari 412 T2 at Fiorano.
The testing of the prototype resulted in some promising feedback for the team. Not only did Larini lap the circuit faster than the original V12 could do, but he also was 6 kph (3.7 mph) faster as he passed through the speed trap at the end of the straight on the circuit.
With rivals Honda and Renault finding success throughout the early nineties with V10 engines and the advancements in material technology at the time, it showed the team the advantages of a smaller V10 layout with no losses in performance to the V12 as well as less cooling and space required for the smaller V10.
The name was representative of the car’s new engine, three representing the liters, and then representing the cylinders in the engine. The new 3.0-L V10 engine was coupled with a transversely mounted six-speed gearbox. This was later changed to a seven-speed gearbox on the recommendation of new Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher, who wanted higher revs on corner entries.
Not only was the car the first Ferrari Single Seater to use a V10, but it was also the first car to incorporate all the switches onto the steering wheel in order to make it easier for the driver. This was designed by engineer John Barnard, and a practice that became more common amongst teams as the seasons went on. It was one of many little innovations found on the car thanks to Barnard.
The car also had a low nose throughout the first half of the season, with Bernard incorporating a higher nose onto the car from that year’s Canadian Grand Prix onwards. Also, in compliance with the new regulations for 1996, the car featured extended cockpit surrounds, but this would hamper with the air box of the engine.
Thanks to the V10 engine requiring 10% less cooling than the conventional V12, the car featured tall and narrow side pods, a design from the mind of Ferrari Aerodynamicist Tony Tyler.
The 1996 Season
The car proved itself to be a front-runner throughout the course of the 1996 season, but unfortunately could not challenge the Williams FW18 of Damon Hill, who would go on to claim the Driver’s Championship that season.
However, the car took three wins and three pole positions at the hands of Schumacher. This included an epic drive in the wet at that year’s Spanish Grand Prix to claim the first of the 72 wins he would achieve during his time at Ferrari.
For 1997, the team continued with the design, using an updated rendition called the F310 B. Midway through the 1997 season, Barnard left the team after not wanting to move back to Italy at the request of Ferrari team Principal Jean Todt, and was replaced by Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne.
The F310 B
For the new season in 1997, Ferrari opted to continue with the design and used and updated version of the 1996 F310, the F310 B. This car was an obvious improvement over its predecessor, but suffered from stability issues at the front of the car, an issue soon helped by a new package designed by Brawn and Byrne.
The car allowed Schumacher to push for the title all the way to the final race of the 1997 Season at Jerez. He was denied the Championship after a collision with Williams rival Jacques Villeneuve handed the Canadian the title. Schumacher was disqualified from the Championship after he was found at fault for the collision.
Despite the sour ending to the 1997 Season, Ferrari had laid down the groundwork with the F310 and its first V10 powered Single Seater, such groundwork would be credited as the base of the success that was soon to come towards the new millennium for both Schumacher and Ferrari.
Written by Cóilín Higgins. Join our email list if you’re interested in receiving the latest on our online magazine and store.