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Lauda, champion of 1975

Niki Lauda's irresistible rise takes him to victory in the 1975 World Championship

After three wins in 1974, two for Niki Lauda and one for Clay Regazzoni, Enzo Ferrari was very confident heading into the 1975 World Championship. The new 312 T was not ready for the start of the season, but the drivers were the same, and the 312-B3 was still competitive. Or at least that's what people thought.

However, in Argentina and Brazil, the Scuderia's rivals proved to have bridged the gap and Ferrari had to be content with placings in the points, with two fourths for Regazzoni and one fifth and one sixth for Lauda. The old B3 didn't suit Goodyear's new compounds. Ferrari then asked its technical staff to speed up the preparation of the new car so it would debut in South Africa.

Niki Lauda on a Ferrari 312 T at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, in 1975 <em>Photo: Getty Images</em>
Niki Lauda on a Ferrari 312 T at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, in 1975 Photo: Getty Images

The 312 T was a total redesign on its predecessor. It still had the Boxer engine but adopted the transversal gearbox, that is, mounted in front of the rear-wheel axle, hence the T in the name. The idea was to shift the weight centrally as much as possible. In this way, the single-seater was shorter and more manageable. The sides of the trapezoidal chassis sloped downwards. There were also new suspensions, which made the tyres work better, and a large cantilevered rear wing. The air intake was still there, but now it was white with green and red bands to trace out a horizontal Italian flag.

In South Africa, the cars were neither ready nor wholly reliable, even though Lauda finished in 5th. However, in the days of post-Grand Prix testing in Kyalami, Lauda lapped faster than the poleman. Then, at Silverstone in a race that didn't count for the World Championship, he recorded the 312 T's first victory. In Spain, Lauda was still the fastest in practice, but in the race, an accident put paid to the Scuderia drivers. However, everything was about to click into place. From the Monaco Grand Prix, it all went well.

Niki Lauda on the highest step of the 1975 French Grand Prix podium. James Hunt came in 2nd and Jochen Mass 3rd <em>Photo: Actualfoto</em>
Niki Lauda on the highest step of the 1975 French Grand Prix podium. James Hunt came in 2nd and Jochen Mass 3rd Photo: Actualfoto

The Austrian, very meticulous in his set-up and choice of tyres, enjoyed a fantastic series of victories that took him to the top of the world championship standings. He won three races in a row, in Monaco, Belgium, and Sweden, followed by a second place in Holland and another victory in France. He then took two third places in Germany and Italy, which consolidated his leadership in the standings and gave him the world title in advance.

The season closed in style in the United States, with another victory in a major market for the sale of production models. Regazzoni was first at Monza and bagged two podiums in Germany and France, finishing the season fifth in the standings, thus helping Scuderia Ferrari to win the World Constructors' Championship.

Eleven years had passed since the double World Drivers and Constructors victory with John Surtees in 1964. The year 1975 heralded a new era and augured well for the years to come.

 

Ferrari