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1989 Ferrari F189

Also known as the Ferrari 640 the F189 was Ferrari's entry into the 1989 F1 season, driven by Nigel Mansell and Austria's Gerhard Berger.

Designed by John Barnard it was to be his first Ferrari F1 design. It sported a sharp nose, with a narrow monocoque and bulging side-pods designed to house the radiators with maximum aerodynamic efficiency. It originally had two small air intakes either side of the driver, but from the fourth race of the season in Mexico a more conventional large air intake above and behind the driver was specified.

The 640 was powered by Ferrari's own 3.5 litre V12 engine which produced up to 660bhp, a fine effort considering that it was the team's first normally aspirated engine for almost a decade. The transmission however, attracted more attention, as it contained the very first 7-speed semi-automatic gearbox seen in F1. Sadly, it proved to be the cars downfall and hampered Ferrari's efforts throughout the season. Such gearboxes would however become the norm by the mid-1990s.

All withstanding the car proved to be fast, especially in the hands of Mansell who took it to victory in its début race in Brazil, despite the fears of unreliability. This was the only race where the F189 would record a finish until the the French Grand Prix much later into the season, and astonishingly there were to be no races in which both drivers finished througout the season. When the car did finish however, it did so in a position no lower than third, with Mansell taking second in both France and his home race at Silverstone, third in Germany, a second win in Hungary and finally third at Spa, before Berger finished second at Monza, won in Portugal - a race where the Ferraris were clearly more competitive than the championship winning McLarens - and finished second again in Spain.

The strength of the carbon-fibre chassis was shown when an accident at Imola involving Gerhard Berger resulted in no more than minor burns and a broken ribs, it was a fiery high-speed crash that left all who witnessed it staggered that no serious injury was sustained.

At the end of the season, Mansell was fourth in the Drivers' Championship with 38 points, while Berger was seventh with 21. Ferrari battled with Williams for second in the Constructors' Championship for much of the year but ultimately settled for third, with 59 points.

After a break of almost three years for a number of reasons, I have decided to start building again. Having quickly finished my curbside resin kit of the Renault R202 which was strictly curbside with no details added, this will be a full detail build along the same lines as my Ferrari 310B. I will be building the No.27 Nigel Mansell car, it will include detail sets by Acu-stion and Studio 27 along with a vast amount of scratchbuilding I'm sure.

A notable point is that despite Tamiya being regarded as a leader in plastic models there is a shocking error in the kit in that the engine has been moulded underscale - possibly in 1/24th scale rather than 1/20, this does detract from what is otherwise an excellent kit.

Details added:

  • Replaced plastic parts/decals with photo-etch
    as follows;

    Rear Wing
    Front Wing endplates
    Radiator fronts
    Replaced kit windshield with aftemarket item
  • Added photo-etch & decals as follows;
    Engine bay has a multitude of etched parts
    Fasteners and rivet heads added onto body work/wings
    Seat belts and all associated hardware
    After market Marlboro sponsorship logos added
    Wheel tyre valves and balancing pieces
    Fasteners to windshield
  • Scratch built add ons;
    Numerous Engine bay details including:
    Shock Absorbers
    Further switches to dashboard and steering wheel
    Rear jacking point
    Cooling Pipes into Radiators
    Electrical cabling on top of side pods, by roll bar and in engine bay
    Connections to driver's helmet
    Hoses to transmission cooling radiator
Scale 1/20
Kit Manufacturer
Grade-up Parts Acu-stion
Studio 27
Bodywork Paint Zero Paints Rosso Red - Pre 2004
Year 1989
Driver Nigel Mansell (GB)
Event Portugese GP
Date Completed June 2012
Reference Material:
F1 Modeling Iss.17
F1 Modeling Iss.37
Perfect Manual 641/2
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