Ferrari's first rear-engined Formula 1 success dominated in 1961

The Ferrari 156 'sharknose' was the first Ferrari Formula 1 car to win the constructors' championship

Ferrari's first rear-engined Formula 1 success dominated in 1961

The Ferrari 156 'sharknose' was the first Ferrari Formula 1 car to win the constructors' championship - and its first rear-engined success story.

It also carried Phil Hill to the 1961 title after the death of team-mate Wolfgang von Trips in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

Grudgingly and without great joy, Enzo Ferrari, who believed the horse should pull the cart, not push it, embraced the notion of rear drive after a season of being given the runaround by the nimble little British chassis he had dismissed as the products of garagistes.

Over the winter of 1959, Ferrari's engineers, led by Carlo Chiti, laboured in secret. They used a second-hand Cooper chassis bought as a reference to hack about a front-engined 246 Dino chassis so the V6 engine could be placed behind the driver.

None of the drivers cared for the 246P's rear-heavy balance, so it raced just once in this form, driven to a fifth-place finish by Richie Ginther at Monaco.

Its second coming was at Monza, this time with a 1.5-litre version of the V6 providing the shove. Since F2 cars were present on the grid only because the British teams had boycotted the race, it earned little attention. More fool them.

Over the winter F1 downsized to 1.5-litres, catching out British teams who had arrogantly believed the change wouldn't go ahead.

And just as had happened in 1952, Enzo had a car and engine ready to go. Chiti's 156 was a wishbone-suspended tube-frame chassis, evolved from the 246P but slimmer in profile.

This made it better able to minimise air-resistance with less power pushing the car. To maximise that advantage and reduce the centre of gravity, Chiti flattened the 'vee' from 65° to 120°. The radiators were fed by distinctive nostril air intakes.

With up to 40bhp more than their competitors - essentially a third as much again - Ferrari was almost all-conquering in 1961, save for Stirling Moss's genius at Monaco and the Nurburgring.

Hill wrapped up the title at Monza, but the triumph was soured by the death of von Trips, so the team chose to skip the final round in the USA.

The 156 was unable to maintain its superiority over a second season, though. Over the winter Chiti organised a walkout of senior engineering staff, development was halted, and Ferrari's rivals duly cashed in.

A Ferrari feature showcasing some of the famous Italian marque's cars, including the Ferrari 488 GTE and the Ferrari FXX-K Evo, will be the main feature at Autosport International in 2018, held on January 11-14. For ticket information, click here

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