The F1 gearbox is one of the most important F1 technological transfers, and was first tested and developed by Ferrari in 1988 on the Type 639 which was a never-raced Formula 1 prototype. It was then used in the Grand Prix Ferrari F1-89 that won the first race of the 1989 season in Brazil with Nigel Mansell at the wheel. This new technology allowed the driver to change gears using steering wheel-mounted controls, and without having to use a clutch pedal.
Ferrari engineers explored the potential of the F1 gearbox and automatic clutch in their GT cars, and in 1992 the clutch was producted for the last six months of the Mondial T. Fitted to just over 100 cars, it demonstrated the potential of automatic control, with greater 0 to 60 mph acceleration times than the manual gear-change.
In 1993 the final Mondial T prototype with automatic clutch was also fitted with actuation for the gearbox and steering wheel paddle controls, and Ferrari decided to work on a fully fledged F1-type transmission control.
Modified and test-driven by Ferrari engineers, the F1 gearbox was an immediate hit and readied for launch on the F355, going to market in 1997 and receiving an extremely warm welcome from Test Drivers and Ferrari Clients.
The F1 gearbox has seen subsequent improvements, including changes to the shape and positioning of its shift paddles, which are now larger and located in a fixed position on Ferrari's latest GT models, and faster gear-changing. Changing gear on the 430 Scuderia, for instance, takes just 60 milliseconds, as measured by the 'hole' in acceleration during the change (intended as the overall time from declutching and changing gear to releasing the clutch).