Ferrari 156 - the famous sharknose of Formula 1

  • Ferrari 156 Phil Hill sharknose chassis

The Ferrari 156 was a race car made in 1961 to comply with the new Formula 1 regulations that had come into lace at that time reducing the engine displacement from 2.5 to 1.5 liters.

The engine was the striking force of Sharknose Ferrari

The Italian manufacturer joined the rear-engine revolution with this car designed by Carlo Chiti. Its tubular spaceframe chassis proved serviceable, but the star feature of this car was the 120-degree-V6 engine which was much lighter than the Coventry-Climax engine used by most of the teams.

Ferrari 156 chassis Engine cars grand prix 1961

Ferrari 156 model

Another striking feature of the Ferrari 156 was its ‘sharknose’ with the characteristic air intake ‘nostrils’. The Ferrari factory policy at the time unfortunately led to all the remaining sharknose 156s being scrapped by the end of the 1963 season. Nevertheless, one F 156 is exhibited in the “Galleria Ferrari“ at Maranello. More than 40 years later, a similar intake duct styling was applied to the Ferrari 360 .

Immediate success

The success of the new car was immediate with five victories in seven races, including the 1-2-3-4 finish at Spa. In 1961, Ferrari won both the Constructors’ and Drivers’ championship titles. Unfortunately, Phil Hill’s title was marred by the tragic death of his teammate and a title contender Wolfgang von Trips. After a collision with Jim Clark’s Lotus in Monza, von Trips’ Ferrari 156 became airborne, crashed into a side banner fatally throwing him out of the car and killing 15 spectators.

Ferrari Hill 156 Spa Phil Hill cars grand prix 1961 formula chassis italy world

Phil Hill and Ricardo Rodriguez driving a Ferrari 156 at Belgian Grand Prix at Spa

Ferrari updated 156 for the 1963 and 1964 seasons, without ‘sharknose’ intake, choosing a more conventional intake. In its last season in Formula 1, the Ferrari 156 was used in six races and scored just nine points.

In total, the Ferrari 156 was used in 29 Grands Prix scoring seven victories, seven pole positions, and seven fastest laps.

The original car was destroyed

Interestingly, the original Ferrari 156 in which Phil Hill won the title no longer exists as Enzo Ferrari himself ordered it to be destroyed. It was cut up and put into the cement being used to stabilize the large square of the factory, so anyone visiting Ferrari today can literally walk over the grave of the glorious 156F1s.

Ferrari 156 sharknose 1961 spa grand prix formula chassis italy world

Ferrari 156 sharknose

Ferrari 156 Sharknose was destroyed after too many F1 accidents

It is still unclear why one of the coolest models was destroyed. There is a story according to which the decision was made after Ferrari was attacked over racing deaths, especially the above mentioned incident in Monza. Another story says that the sporting director had a dispute with the engineer and shortly after the 1961 Championship was finished, they left Ferrari. Probably Enzo Ferrari decided to destroy the single-seater built by the people he felt betrayed his company.

Ferrari 156 Dino Grand Prix cars season 1961 formula chassis italy world

Ferrari 156

The whole truth will never be known, but what is known is that after that episode, Ferrari brought a brilliant new technical director Mauro Forghieri who built new winning cars that were very different from the stupendous 156.


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