Ferrari F1 Design Concept 2016: Pininfarina Sigma Ferrari Safety Car 1969…

Posted: February 24, 2015 in F1, Icons & Iconoclasts
Tags: , , , , , ,

ferrari 2016 concept 1

Ferrari have developed this concept as part of their contribution to the debate about how the Grand Prix car of the future could look. I’m not so sure about it, but, like a wart, it may grow on me over time…

They are seeking feedback from fans so let ’em have it!;

ferrari 2016 concept

One of my favourite contemporary F1 writers is MotorSport’s Mark Hughes, his view on what changes are likely in the next couple of years is worth reading;

Pininfarina Sigma Ferrari Safety Concept Car 1969…

Funnily enough, when I first saw Ferrari’s concept it reminded me of the Sigma Safety Car which was equivalently way-out at the time. Mind you it was a running car not a computer image, and was very effective in showcasing technology which saved drivers lives, it wasn’t an effort to spice up the show which the car above is fundamentally all about.

sigma front

The Pininfarina Sigma used hardware from the contemporary 1967/8 Grand Prix Ferrari 312; 3-litre 48-valve 430bhp V12 and five speed gearbox, front and rear suspension, uprights, brakes wheels and tyres, 590kg (Pininfarina)

The idea for the car was inspired by Dr Michael Henderson’s 1967 book, Motor Racing in Safety. Henderson is a Brit who moved to Australia in 1968 and is still an active figure in the CAMS (Confederation of Australian Motor Sport). He Chairs CAMS’ Australian Institute of Motor Sport Safety and was recently appointed a Fellow of the FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety. He still races, campaigning an ex-Niki Lauda March 722 Ford F2 machine not so long ago.

He raced in the UK before moving to Oz to establish the Traffic Accident Research Unit in New South Wales. He continued to race but it was his professional involvement in accident analysis and the promotion of safety features in cars on the road and track which led to his book and the development of the original six-point GQ/Willans safety harness which was soon adopted globally.

Joan Williamson wrote in Retro Speed, “His contribution to motor racing safety continued with his involvement in the Pininfarina/Ferrari Sigma Grand Prix – a race safety concept vehicle that demonstrated features now carried by all current Formula One cars.”

sigma from above

Sigma from above. The far forward rear wing doubles as roll over protection, pontoons – the enveloped front wheels – is a practice adopted by Tyrrell in 1971. Mind you that was for performance enhancement rather than safety reasons. Ferrari front suspension is inboard by top rocker operating a coil spring/damper unit, and lower wishbone (unattributed)

The Sigma – the name was chosen to reference a 1963 Pininfarina sedan safety project – was built in 1969 by Pininfarina in cooperation with Swiss magazine Revue Automobile. The editor, Robert Braunschweig took the lead role in the projects gestation and completion with Ferrari supplying its contemporary V12 FI engine, gearbox and other suspension and brake componentry, as noted above.

Sigma was designed by Paolo Martin, with Henderson flown to Europe to consult on the project. Designed as a safety prototype, it was never intended to compete but rather to showcase driver protection features.

I wrote an article about another of Paolo Martin’s designs for Pininfarina a while back, the Ferrari Dino Competitzione 206S;

Mercedes and Fiat engineers were also involved, with ex-F1 driver/journalist Paul Frere recruited to test it. The Sigma was a great looking racer with the benefit of hindsight, but visually challenging in its day, as is Ferrari’s latest offering…

sigma tub


Technical Specifications…

The Sigma’s unique monocoque chassis, deformable structure regulations would come in F1, and fully enclosed wheels probably will too.

The chassis has two compartments, one for the driver and one for the engine. Each had collapsible impact zones to protect the driver. Sigma’s bodywork largely enclosed the cars suspension and wheels, having pontoons each side for protection and to prevent intersecting-wheel collisions.

The rear wing was moved forward (compared with contemporary practice) and reinforced to double as a roll bar/hoop. The car had foam filled, flexible fuel tanks, an automatic built-in fire extinguisher, six-point safety harness, and even a head and neck support system thirty years before F1 adopted the HANS device.

It was a car well ahead of its time which showed the way for many modern safety features which have become standard.

Two wooden 1:5 scale models were built to refine the concept, these are owned by Automobile Revue and Ferrari. The car, which made its debut at the 1969 Geneva Motor Show, is part of Pininfarina’s collection and occasionally travels the world as a motor show starlet.

Today’s F1 is relatively safe despite the ferocity of some of the accidents of the last 25 years. In 1968 Jim Clark (F2), Mike Spence (Indy), Ludovico Scarfiotti (hillclimb), and Jo Schlesser (F1) all died in racing cars.

Sigma played its part in the long process of changes to circuit design and licensing, competition car design, materials adoption and driver apparel improvements to get to where we are today. Ferrari’s design of the future addresses style rather than substance…

sigma rear

Butt shot shows the side and rear pontoons for driver protection and to prevent intersecting wheels. Ferrari conventional rear end for the period; outboard suspension, single top link, inverted lower wishbone, twin parallel radius rods and coil spring/shocker (

sigma front 1


sigma concepts

Conceptual drawings on the journey to Sigma’s creation


‘Retro Speed’ Joan Williamson, Scuderia Ferrari,, Theo Page


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s