1990 saw Ferrari with a dream driver line up. Nigel Mansell, who fans called “Il Leone” (The Lion), was in his second season with the Scuderia and “Le Professeur” (The Professor), Alain Prost, was making his debut with the Maranello team. Ferrari would have its best season in years.
Steve Nichols joined Ferrari from McLaren in November 1989 and thus inherited a John Barnard-designed car for the second time in his career. His 1987 McLaren MP4/3 had been a logical development of Barnard’s last car for that team and Nichols decided not to make any drastic changes to the Ferrari 640 concept. A larger and more robust fuel tank was utilised, the bodywork was revised and huge advances were made with both the sequential gear change and engine development. Ferrari’s V-12 engine was acknowledged to be one of the most powerful power plants by the middle of the season. The Ferrari 641 was a superb handling racing car which Alain Prost described as being “the best car on the grid.”
The 1990 season was to see the height of the bitter feud between Prost and Ayrton Senna. The 1989 championship had ended in acrimony with a clash between the two rivals at Suzuka. Prost retired, whilst Senna pitted for a new nose and duly won the race. He was later disqualified and fined. Prost was handed the title and the sport’s governing body refused to issue Senna with a license at the beginning of 1990 until he had paid his penalty and made a public apology. Both drivers blamed each other for the incident and the scene was set for more fireworks in 1990.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in May of 2009 at Ferrari S.p.A., Fiorano Modenese, Modena.
685 bhp at 13,000 rpm, 3,500 cc 65-degree Ferrari Tipo 036/037 V-12 engine, Magneti Marelli/Weber fuel injection, Ferrari seven-speed transmission, double wishbone, pushrod-actuated inboard torsion bar and damper front suspension, double wishbone, pushrod-actuated inboard coil-spring/damper rear suspension, four-wheel SEP/Brembo disc brakes. Wheelbase: 2,855 mm (113.4 in.)
Source: RM Auctions Photo Credit: Copyright Tom Wood