Michael Schumacher’s First Formula 1 Ferrari Heads To Rétromobile
The very first Ferrari Formula 1 car driven by Michael Schumacher is coming to Paris this weekend, and will be for sale.
Set to headline Rétromobile, the classic car show hosted every February in Paris since 1976, this 412 T2 was the first Ferrari driven by then-double World Champion Schumacher after he signed for the Scuderia. On 16 November 1995, the 26-year-old German made his debut with the prancing horse, in a white race suit, aboard chassis 157, completing 17 laps at Fiorano. Five days later, Schumacher ran another 28 laps of the Circuito do Estoril in Portugal, also aboard chassis 157.
Famously, the future seven-time F1 World Champion lapped the 4.182km Portuguese circuit almost seven-tenths of a second faster than 1995 team leader Gerhard Berger managed in qualifying for that year’s Portuguese Grand Prix.
An evolution of the 412 T1 used by Ferrari during the 1994 F1 season, the carbon-fibre 412 T2 was one of the first F1 cars designed by John Barnard following his return to the Scuderia in 1993. One of the more significant elements is the ‘Tip 044’ three-liter V12 – “bring back the f***ing V12s” – which was reduced in capacity from the previous year’s 3.5-liter example, was mounted to a transverse six-speed semi-automatic gearbox, and was positioned much further forward thanks to a more compact 140-liter fuel cell.
Before you ask, no, chassis 157 isn’t the car that took Jean Alesi to his only win in Formula 1 at the 1995 Canadian Grand Prix, but it did secure the Sicilian 2nd place at that year’s San Marino Grand Prix and 5th at the season opener in Brazil. 412 T2 remains the last V12-powered F1 car to ever win a Grand Prix, and also helped Ferrari secure 3rd in the 1995 Constructors’ Championship.
On sale this weekend at Rétromobile, chassis 157 is accompanied with copies of the original testing sheets from both Fiorano and Estoril. Sold to a private collector at the end of the 1995 season by then-team boss Jean Todt, chassis 157 received a full engine overhaul in 2014, and has completed less than 100km since then. Returned to Maranello in 2018, chassis 157 received a full chassis and gearbox service, an overhaul of its braking system, and was repainted in period Rosso Scuderia red. As confirmed by Ferrari Classiche, the 412 T2 still has its original chassis, engine and gearbox.
Though never raced by Schumacher, who turned 50 last year, the Fiorano and Estoril tests aboard 412 T2 proved crucial stepping stones the German’s first win with Maranello at a sopping 1996 Spanish Grand Prix. In total, in their 11 seasons together before the German’s first retirement at the end of 2006, one of the most famous and successful pairings in motorsport history secured 72 wins together (of Schumacher’s record 91), five consecutive Drivers’ Championships for Schumacher from 2000 to 2004, and six Constructors’ Championships on the bounce for Ferrari from 1999 to 2004. Schumacher’s seven world titles remain an F1 benchmark.
Just, nobody mention the Mercedes run…
*Images courtesy of Girardo & Co.