The Ferrari 156 F1 Sharknose

Wolfgang Graf Berghe von Trips the young, good looking and very talented German racing driver was a hero in Germany. The first German who took a win at a Grand Prix race since the Formula One World Championship. The young count came to the Monza track for the 1961 Italian Grand Prix by leading the World Championship. He was on the way to become the 1961 World Champion but during the race every thing went wrong.

The Ferrari 156 F1 - The Formula One Car Of 1961- Sharknose

The count was killed at an accident by colliding with Jim Clark’s Lotus. Also five spectators were killed because his car came head over and crashed into a group of visitors. Wolfgang von Trips was thrown out of the car. It was the tragic end of the Count and his dream of becoming the first German World Champion of Formula One racing.

The Ferrari 156 F1 Sharknose – The Formula One Car Of 1961

This is the sad story of the Sharknose, but there are so many stories about this car which is one of the best known and most popular Ferrari F1 race cars ever. First of all, nine cars of this type were build by the Scuderia Ferrari, but not one of these nine cars has survived the time. A legend says that the cars was destroyed at the Ferrari factory and being „hiding“ in concrete walls. I am not quite sure if this is true, but it could be.

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Another story is about the British singer / songwriter Chris Rea. He always had a passion for old cars in special old Ferrari’s. Someday he got a picture of Wolfgang von Trips from his record company as a gift. By watching this portrait he remembered the year 1961 when he was a ten years old boy watching the Italian Grand Prix with his Italian uncle and decided to create the motion picture „La Passione“ about the young count and the Scuderia Ferrari. He was aware that no original car was existing, so he had the plan to rebuild a Sharknose Ferrari. This car took the leading role in the movie and was the first replica, created only with the help of temporary photographs.

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Today, I think four replicas are known, coming out sometimes at historic motor racing events like the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the Goodwood Revival, the Classic Day, the Spa Six Hours and at the Oldtimer Grand Prix this year.

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At his time, especially during the 1961 GP season, the Ferrari 156 F1 was very successful. Driven by Wolfgang von Trips, Phil Hill who finally won the 1961 World Title, Richie Ginther, Olivier Gendbien, Willy Mairesse, Pedro and Riccardo Rodriquez and Giancarlo Baghetti. Five Grand Prix were won in 1961, two by von Trips. The highlight was a 1-2-3 finish at the British Grand Prix. Also Wolfgang von Trips was the first driver under nine minutes on one lap of the 22,8 km Nürburgring.

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The Sharknose wasn’t the first mid-engined car of the Scuderia, but it was the first car with this design concept who was able to win a Grand Prix. Not only the driver’s World Title went to Ferrari, but also the World Constructor’s Championship was won by the Scuderia Ferrari in 1961. The car was from his debut on very competitive during his first season but in 1962 and 1963 the car wasn’t competitive anymore, the English cars like Vanvall or Cooper were stronger and lighter. It cost a while to come back to the victory lane – in 1964 with the 158 F1 and John Surtees behind the wheel. But this is another story.

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One of the books about this iconic car is called Sharknose /V6, written by Jörg-Thomas Födisch and Rainer Rossbach with pictures of Bernhard Cahier, published by McKlein. A heavy weight book with great pictures and a lot facts and history. Find out more about our photographer Ralph Lüker.


MODEL 156 F1
TYPE Grand Prix car
CONSTRUTORS Carlo Chiti (Chief Designer)
ENGINE rear-mounted longitudinally inclined V6 – 65º or 120 º
BORE AND STROKE 73 mm x 59,1 mm
CUBIC CAPACITY CYL. / TOTAL 249,4 cc / 1484 cc
VALVE TRAIN DOHC, 2 Valve per cylinder
ASPIRATION naturally aspirated
TRANSMISSION Ferrari Type 543/C 5-speed
HORSEPOWER 200 bhp at 10500 rpm
FUEL FEED 3 Weber 40 1F 3 C carburetors
CLUTCH multi disc
CHASSIS tubular steel
BRAKES discs all around
SUSPENSION FRONT independent, double wishbones, telescopic dampers
SUSPENSION REAR independent, deformable quadrilaterals, coil springs, telescopic dampers
LENGHT 4030 mm
WIDTH 1400 mm
FUEL CAPACITY 75 liters, two lateral
TYRES FRONT / REAR Dunlop 5.50 – 15 / 6.00 – 15