FERRARI 312B [2017]

Directed by: Andrea Marini

Starring: Paolo Barilla, Gerhard Berger, Bob ConstandurosNiki LaudaDamon Hill

Undoubtedly a film for Formula 1 fans– not, I repeat, not for casual fans of Ferrari–  this surprisingly emotional and tense film provides not only much insight into one of the greatest F1 one cars to grace a circuit, it also delivers some fantastic scenes and for those unaware of the story; the build up to the climax of the centrepiece is quite an achievement.

Simply put: Paolo Barilla-– a former driver who never quite was fast enough for F1– though he did nab the victory at Le Mans in 1985– grew up dreaming of driving this incredible racing car. His dreams were amazingly realised as an army of mechanics, many who worked on the original car of early 70’s, spend hour upon hour rebuilding an old car that would be near in-drivable today.

Interestingly, as Jackie Stewart points out, the Italian approach to building their cars was very different and certainly must be part of what makes Ferrari the icon that it is. Rather than building a chassis and then ordering an engine to fit, Ferrari would painstakingly build every part of the car as if it were one. This though meant that rebuilding the car in question was going to be a monumental test.

Planing to enter a 2015 race involving other cars of the period, at every driver’s dream circuit– Monaco– the mechanics had two years to complete the job. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there were innumerable issues to overcome, and due to the style of Ferrari car-building, they were far from quick fixes.

Once they got that engine running though, Good God, what a noise. Current F1 cars with their high-pitched sound simply do not sound close to this.

Problems further plagued the team as the race drew closer, culminating in a massive amount of work needed to be done in only a few days. Again, without knowing the story, with an interest in F1, this is quite a tense story! Will they make the start of the race?? And if so, how will they do??

The film rather cleverly diverts attention away from legends like Jackie Stewart– who does have a small talking head role– though Niki Lauda is by far the most prominent ex-driver to give words, probably because of the horrific crash he was involved in featuring a following model of this Ferrari. He is also a man who does not mince words. Ever.

This tactic allows us to hear from the Italian mechanics, both young and old, describing the technical details of the car– both as they were rebuilding it, as well as conventional talking head type interviews. Many also exhibited how, despite a rough start (it was a revolutionary piece of engineering), how incredible the car was.

We are also privy to the beauty of Italian culture. The passion/obsession is infectious, especially when trying to fix numerous problems with the rebuilt car at the dead hours of the morning, knowing their deadline is near-impossible to reach. Their dedication is incredible, and they offer many laughs along the way. It also provides a fresh perspective on this era of F1 for a westerner.

The film though is lacking in some areas. In/near-car video is rare, which is unfortunate as when we do see it, it is a treat to watch Paulo fly around the racetrack. The (rare) views from the driver himself, as he is speeding around a circuit with firm suspension that makes the bumpy ride seem near impossible to cope with, even compared to cars of the late 80’s, are mind-boggling.

The film is also very clumsy in how it handles the parallel stories of Paulo’s dream to rebuild the car and the story of the car itself in the early 70’s. It certainly feels a bit… off-beat. The timing simply isn’t there. Rather than combining and playing off each other, one part ends and the other takes over the rest of the film – effectively lessening the impact of each story.

Despite these complaints, this is a fine film about an incredible, ground-breaking car that was slowly enhanced as Ferrari made their presence felt again in the 70’s. Simply a must-watch for any fan of Formula 1. This might be about a 40+ year old car and a man’s dream to drive it at Monaco, but the fact that this is not fiction makes it that much more powerful. Needless to say, not knowing the outcome of these events will play in your favour. An eye-opening film, not to mention an entertaining one.

One short of a sixer.