John Barnard, Ferrari S.p.A., Maranello, Italy Formula 1 Racing Car (641/2) 1990

  • Not on view

The Formula 1 Racing Car is designed for a single purpose: to win the Grand Prix, a series of sixteen races held each season in different parts of the world. Incorporating state-of-the-art technology and engineering, the car’s body and engine are designed using a size/weight/materials formula within which the designer may exploit any mechanical or aerodynamic advantage to improve the car's prospect for victory. The car's shape is largely determined by exhaustive wind-tunnel studies; the silhouette allows air to pass over the body with minimal drag and maximal down-force, ensuring precision handling even at speeds over two hundred miles per hour. This Formula 1 car, the Ferrari 641,can withstand lateral forces of up to 4 G on turns. It has a carbon fiber composite chassis, a 3.5-liter V-12 engine, a curb weight of 1,105 pounds, and a top speed of 215 miles per hour. It made its debut in 1990 and, in the hands of legendary drivers Alain Prost of France and Nigel Mansell of England, won six races and nearly triumphed at the World Championship.

Gallery label from 2005.
Additional text

This Formula 1 Racing Car—with an exterior body designed by Barnard and interior chassis engineered and designed by the Ferrari company—clearly illustrates the modernist dictum "form follows function." The shape of its exterior has been determined by the laws of physics and aerodynamics, and falls within the rules and guidelines set up by the governing body of the sport of automobile racing. The sleek and sculptural silhouette of this Ferrari allows air to pass over the body with minimal drag and maximal down–force, which ensures precision handling even at speeds in excess of two hundred miles per hour.

High–performance racing cars represent the ultimate achievement of one of the world's largest industries. Painstakingly engineered to go faster, handle better, and stop more quickly than any other kind of automobile, they are the most technologically rational and complex type of motorcar produced. Experimentation and innovation in design, stimulated by the desire to win, are constants in the ongoing quest for the optimal racing machine.

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art , MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999, p. 319.
Ferrari S.p.A., Maranello, Italy
Honeycomb composite with carbon fibers, Kevlar and other materials
40 1/2" x 7' x 14' 6 1/2" (102.9 x 213.4 x 448.3 cm)
Gift of the manufacturer
Object number
Architecture and Design

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