New regulations for 2012 have resulted in some ‘interesting’ solutions to the noses of Formula 1 cars. There’s been a lot of negative reaction, but what I hope this post shows is that things could be worse. Remember that when you’re watching this year!
10. Williams FW26
Ok I admit, I’ve grown to like the ‘Walrus Nose’, but when it was revealed to the world in 2004 it was a bit of a shocker. The concept never caught on and Williams replaced it for a more conventional nose mid season.
9. Ferrari 312B3 ‘Spazzaneve’
Often referred to as the ugliest Ferrari of all time, the Spazzaneve looked fine head on, but a look slightly to the side revealed the bizarre concave nature of the front end. The car was never raced in this configuration, but it was a vital platform in the years of success that followed for Ferrari.
8. Brabham BT45C
The BT45 was, with it’s Martini livery and flowing lines, a very pretty car. The ‘C’ version that was used for the first few races of 1978 however was not, and the nose is particular with it’s flat, wide design give it the look of a cheap vacuum cleaner.
7. Honda RA108
2008 was the nadir of aerodynamic appendages. Honda weren’t the only team to have these ‘dumbo ears’, nor were they the first to stick such monstrosities on the nose cone, but they did produce in my opinion the least aesthetically pleasing ones. Thank heaven we don’t have to look at these any more.
6. March 711
The early 1970′s was a period of aerodynamic discovery in Formula 1 and there were some weird and wonderful solutions. The oval tea try on the front of the March 711 was probably the weirdest, but it was good enough to give a young Ronnie Peterson second in the drivers championship in 1971.
5. Theodore TY01
The March is slightly rescued by its curves. The Theodore TY01 employed a similar concept (ten years later!) however its bog standard front wing looks a little less elegant.
4. Ferrari 312T5
People tend to overlook the T5 (and its predecessor, the T4) in terms of ugly Ferrari’s, possibly because they were driven by Gilles Villeneuve, whose driving style exuded beauty. The front wing however, positioned way ahead of the bodywork on a single, thin pylon, is pure vile.
3. McLaren MP4-26
You’re thinking it, so I’ll say it. The nose looks like a penis. Who wants to see a big shiny penis going around a track? Thankfully, the cars performance turned out to be flaccid and we didn’t have to see much of it. Only late in the season was the car able to get up and penetrate the front of the grid.
2. Cosworth F1
In 1969, Cosworth tried building a four wheel drive F1 car. No words need to be said.
1. Ensign N179
Lost a step ladder recently? The advent of ground effects meant teams started moving radiators back into the nose in order to free up more space for the venturi tunnels. None of the solutions were particularly elegant, but this effort from Ensign has to be by far the worst and in my eyes, has the ugliest nose ever seen on a Formula 1 car.
Have I missed out anything you feel had an ugly nose? Let me know in the comments or drop me a line on Twitter.
Malaysia was such an eventful Grand Prix it was difficult to pick just 5 individual moments, but I’ve given it a go. Here they are:
5. More points for Di Resta
Here’s an interesting stat: Di Resta is only the third person in the last 30 or so years to have scored points in his first two Grands Prix. The other two? None other than Alain Prost and Lewis Hamilton. Ok so things have changed a bit – points now go down to tenth, the cars are more reliable blah blah blah, but it’s still an impressive achievement. So far this year Di Resta has started to somewhat overshadow his team mate, Adrian Sutil, who is by no means slow.
While Di Resta may be a rookie in F1, he has lots of experience in a variety of other categories and his measured approach has served him well so far, but he is still aggressive on track when he needs to be. Watch out for this Scot, I’m sure there’s more to come from him throughout the season.
4. Heidfeld’s podium
Ok, so it wasn’t quite as impressive or as out of the blue as Petrovs podium in Melbourne, but it was a timely reminder of how valuable an asset Heidfeld is to a team. He looked after his tyres better than most whilst still keeping up a decent pace, and was ready to capitalise after Alonso’s error and Hamilton’s lack of speed towards the end. He also defended well from the much quicker Red Bull of Mark Webber at the end of the race and he calmly held on for his first podium in two years.
On an unrelated note; Heidfeld wearing his gold race suit on the podium totally made him look like a member of the Bee Gees, or ABBA, or any other generic late 1970′s disco group. Awesomeness guaranteed.
3. Schumacher gets double teamed
Of the many overtaking moves that occurred at the Sepang Circuit, perhaps my favourite came on lap 28 when Lewis Hamilton and Sebastien Buemi -on fresh tyres – came up against Michael Schumacher – on worn tyres. Coming on to the back straight, Lewis went to the right of Schumacher, Buemi went to the left. They entered the final corner three abreast, but Schumacher braked early and made a beeline for the pits while Hamilton managed to get past both of them.
Perhaps Michael now knows how Ricardo Zonta felt some 11 years ago…
2. Petrov flies
After his heroics of two weeks ago Petrov had a comparatively quiet weekend and was on course to score a small handful of points. On lap 53 however, he ran wide on the exit of turn 8. In his haste to lose as little time as possible in getting back on the track, Petrov chose to drive slightly onto the grass. Unfortunately, this area of grass was preceded by a rain gutter and Petrov was launched into the air.
The landing was so violent that the steering column freed itself from it’s mountings, leaving Petrov sitting in an uncontrollable toboggan heading for the wall. Luckily the wheels had more or less stayed on and he stopped the car beforehand, hitting only a brake marker board, but it was a spectacular exit.
Post race the photoshoppers went berserk, and soon all sorts of amusing images featuring the flying Russian were knocking around. This is my favourite, courtesy of Tom of WTF1.
1. The opening laps
A lot went on in the first couple of laps; it was one of the most exciting starts for years. Anyone who watched the 2004 season will remember Renault’s epic starts week in, week out, and Malaysia saw a return to them. Heidfeld and Petrov went from 6th and 8th respectively to be challenging Vettel for the lead into turn one. Heidfeld eventually slotted in second with Petrov a few places behind. No-one expected that, least of all McLaren, who’s race was somewhat compromised by Heidfeld getting between Hamilton and Vettel.
Further down the field, a KERS-less Webber got a bad start and found himself battling down the field with Kobayashi. They passed and repassed each other every lap – Webber even sent a great move down the inside at the tricky turn 14. Alonso, who had also made a tardy start, managed to put a nice move on the fast starting Schumacher around the outside of turn 5. Where to look?!
Malaysia was a great race…until the stewards ruined it with needless penalties for Hamilton and Alonso. Grrrrr!
Bring on China, and lets hope its a race where the order at the finish line is the same as the order on sunday night.
Image (c) Getty Images
For anyone who missed it yesterday or for some reason didn’t get it, yes, the Top 10 Greatest Drivers article was an April Fool. I don’t really think Sospiri is the 9th best driver ever or that Andrea de Cesaris is somehow immune to physics.
I will eventually do a genuine Top 10, when I can be bothered. Thank you to all who read it and gave me such positive feedback, it’s great that people enjoyed it.
I had almost twice as many views in a single day than I’ve ever had before and as a result I’ve had to replace all my hats with much larger ones.
Yep, it’s the big one. You wondered when this was coming didn’t you?
It’s taken me ages to figure out who I think are the 10 greatest talents ever to have graced this sport, after all, there have been so many and I hope I’ve done justice to their talent.
Sit back, relax and enjoy. You may not agree with all of my choices, but I think my reasoning is sound enough. Lets get started.
10. Vitaly Petrov
It was a late call to add him to the list, but after his stunning podium in sunday’s Australian Grand Prix I had to put him in the list, bumping out Fangio in the process. It isn’t just that podium though – it’s the five other memorable points finishes in his debut season, it’s his domination of Valencia in GP2, and it’s his awkward demeanour when giving interviews in English.
Petrov, pushing hard in a critically important practice session at Barcelona last year
9. Vincenzo Sospiri
Though he only attempted to compete in one solitary Grand Prix – at Melbourne in 1997 – it was clear that Vincenzo was one of motor racing’s all round talents, certainly on a par with the likes of Mario Andretti and Jim Clark, and probably superior to.
Sospiri’s talent in F3000 was there for all to see – it took him just five seasons to claim the F3000 crown, which he did by beating such legends as Tarso Marques, Naoki Hattori and the incomparable Jan Lammers.
His arrival in F1 was brief but astounding. Though the Lola T97/30 was a horrible car and both its drivers failed to qualify, Sospiri managed to outqualify his team mate – the legendary Riccardo Rosset - by over a second. Such a feat is proof enough that Sospiri was a great Grand Prix driver, even if he only had a single qualifying session to show for it.
After this appearance, Sospiri stunned the world by qualifying third for that years Indy 500 and showed remarkable consistancy in the following Champ Car season, when he finished 15th in BOTH of the races he finished.
An icon? You betcha.
8. Nick Heidfeld
Nick Heidfeld holds the most coveted record in Grand Prix racing. Between the 2007-2009 seasons, Heidfeld finished an astonishing 33 consecutive races, and was classified in an unbeliveable 41 consecutive races. To finish first, first you must finish – Nick Heidfeld understands this rule like no other driver has before or since, and that surely makes him a giant among men.
He’s already going after his own record, with a string of 5 consecutive finishes since the end of 2010. Watch this space, ‘Quick Nick’ could be big.
Extremely rare and valuable footage of Heidfeld not finishing a race
7. Andrea de Cesaris
It is an urban myth that de Cesaris earned his moniker of ‘Andrea de Crasheris’ because he put it in the wall so often in his early career. The truth is that de Cesaris drove so fast and so furious that the laws of physics simply couldn’t keep up, giving the illusion that all the crashes were his own fault.
After 15 years of being in Formula One, it looked as though physics had Andrea sussed, and everyone looked forward to a period of him dominating the sport. However, de Cesaris was fed up of F1, instead seeking a new challenge of windsurfing. At the time of writing, de Cesaris is still impervious to hydrodynamics.
6. Francois Hesnault
Anyone with a surname which is pronounced nothing like it’s written has to be something special. After a trying debut season with Ligier in 1984, Bernie Ecclestone hired him to race alongside Nelson Piquet at Brabham for 1985. Piquet realised Hesnaults potential and, not wanting to be beaten, repeatedly sabotaged the Frenchman’s car.
Hesnault was initially unaware, but by the 4th round of the season at Monaco he cottoned on. After setting laps which bystanders reported to be under a minute, an astounded Hesnault was told he’d failed to qualify. Later on that night he saw Piquet doing tequila slammers with the aid of some Brabham timing equipment. He immediately realised what was going on and left the team in disgust.
Prior to this drivers in other teams were beginning to complain that Hesnault was ‘too good’ for F1 and demanded onboard footage of his driving style be made available for them to study. At the German Grand Prix Renault sent him out in the race with an onboard camera on the car, a first for the sport. Francois knew what was going on however and deliberately drove slowly to preserve his secrets before walking away from the sport in disgust, forever.
5. Perry McCarthy
Perry McCarthy is these days probably best known for being the ‘original stig’ on BBC’s Top Gear. But back in 1992 Perry was a Formula One driver with the small, well respected, controversy free but short lived team Andrea Moda.
McCarthy was so full of promise and Ecclestone so keen to seem him on the grid that although he didn’t fulfill the criteria for a super licence, he was given one anyway.
It was a tough season, McCarthy never pre qualifying and only getting a handful of laps, mainly due to Andrea Moda not wishing to put their star driver at risk. One moment at Spa however sealed McCarthys name among the greats forever – he somehow drove through the daunting Eau Rouge corner with completely seized steering.
Doing something like that take cojones of immeasurable size, and with it Perry McCarthy deservedly earns his place at number 5 on the list.
4. Tora Takagi
Toranosuke Takagi drove two anonymous but solid seasons for Tyrrell and Arrows in the late 1990′s. Whilst he never managed to score any points, he did have the pleasure of driving one of the most beautiful Formula One cars of all time: the Arrows A20.
It’s a well known fact that Japanese F1 drivers who stuggle to communicate in English can cost them up to three seconds a lap, and this proved to be Takagi’s downfall. There was one race however that showed us a glimpse of what he could have done had he learned the language of Formula One.
On home ground at Suzuka, he qualified his Tyrrell – in the teams last ever race – in a staggering 17th place, ahead of both Minardi’s, Verstappen’s Stewart and Diniz’s Arrows. His team mate, the fabled Riccardo Rosset, simply couldn’t understand how his team mate was being so epic and failed to qualify.
Takagi was running in a lowly position but on a secret strategy which his team say would have guaranteed him victory. At just gone half distance however the kamikaze Argentine, the barely-out-of-pre-school Esteban Tuero wiped him out at the chicane, and Takagi’s certain victory was gone. The debris from the accident caused hapless journeyman Michael Schumacher to retire from the race, which for some reason got more press coverage.
Tuero ruins a certain win for Takagi
3. Alex Wurz
The king of the surprise podium, Alex Wurz has been finishing 3rd on unlikely occasions since 1997. His first came during the 1997 British Grand Prix, when he substituted at Benetton for Gerhard Berger. His second came during the 2005 San Marino Grand Prix, when he substituted at McLaren for Juan Pablo Montoya. Impressively, he managed to score this podium after the race had finished, something which takes an abundance of natural talent.
His third podium came during the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix whilst actually driving for Williams, not subbing for someone. This race would prove his lasting legacy, as on the podium he gave the sign of the horn, a symbol which has gone down in F1 folklore in the same way and Salazar and Piquet’s bust up or Tiago Montiero’s understated celebrations at the 2005 US Grand Prix.
Wurz’s symbol is so popular that many have attempted to replicate it, most notably Red Bull’s pay driver Sebastian Vettel; although he hasn’t quite grasped the concept of needing to raise his little finger at the same time.
2. Jos Verstappen
Where to start with Jos Verstappen? The man who taught Michael Schumacher everything he knows in 1994, the man who had the honour of driving the last car to be branded as a Footwork, the man who has the most intimadating nickname of them all: The Boss.
There are too many legendary Verstappen moments for me to cover before I have to pay council tax on the paragraph, so I’ll pick just two.
At the 2001 Brazilian Grand Prix, Jos Verstappen pulled off one of the great overtaking moves of all time. In an attempt to give the other drivers a chance, Verstappen had dropped back and allowed himself to be lapped by then leader Juan Pablo Montoya. Jos then decided that this was the time to unlap himself and win the race. He passed Montoya not on the inside, not on the outside, but by going over the top of him. It was a brilliant move, and it would have worked had Montoya not foolishly failed to accept 100% blame for the incident.
Over the next couple of years, other drivers attempted to replicate this overtake. Luciano Burti almost pulled it off against Michael Schumacher at Hockenheim later that year, but Ralf Schumacher did it most spectacularly against Rubens Barrichello at the start of the 2002 Australian Grand Prix.
Another classic Jos moment came during the 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix. In the pouring rain, he was on course to win the race while driving for the Minardi team. No-one else who drove for Minardi was brave enough to try and achieve such success for F1′s most hated, most reviled team through fear of public alienation. Jos was brave enough however, but towards the end of the race an innocuous spin which was in no way Jos’ fault put an end to such a feat of bravery.
Jos retired at the end of the 2003 season and has been hugely missed. He was rumoured to replace Lewis Hamilton at McLaren mid way through the 2007 season after the English rookie totally failed to live up to expectations, but it came to nothing.
1. Ralf Schumacher
It had to be didn’t it? Ralf Schumacher was so great that his brother Michael spent so long in his shadow, went delirious from lack of sun and thought he could still race competitively at the age of 42.
Ralf won a whopping 6 Grands Prix, and would have undoubtedly won more had the rules, circuits, cars and tyres suited his driving style more.
Words cannot do justice to his achievements, but this video certainly does. Check out the unique way he sets his car up to steer left.
5. Drag Reduction System
The DRS was the subject of much talk over the off season – is it too gimmicky? Will be be dangerous? Will it be unfair on the defending driver? Will it even work?
While it’s far too soon to declare it a success or a failure, signs during the race were good. The DRS certainly appeared to present more opportunities to pass without making them an absolute certainty, which in my opinion, is exactly the way it should work.
Now, the main straight at Albert Park is a good deal shorter than the straights at the following circuits of Sepang and Shanghai, so we may well see a very different outcome at the next races, but at Albert Park it worked in just the way I had hoped, and it also made qualifying a bit more exciting to watch. So far, so good.
Trying to activate the DRS too soon caused Adrian Sutil to have this wild spin during qualifying
4. Kobayashi qualifying lap
Kobayashi is usually exciting to watch and has gained himself quite a following. He appears to have lost none of his touch over the off season, and in qualifying in particular he was a delight to observe. Making the most of his DRS, he attacked every corner, opening the rear wing at the earliest possible moments and as a result we were treated to some glorious slides on the exit of corners, particularly in the final sector. It isn’t always the quickest way to lap a circuit, but in these days of high downforce and massive grip, it’s a welcome sight.
3. Perez’s debut.
Of the four rookies in 2011, Perez and Di Resta are probably the most promising. While Di Resta did a solid job all weekend, the young Mexican driver stole the limelight with an incredible drive to seventh place.
Pre season, many were expecting the high-wearing Pirelli tyres to require up to four pit stops to get through a race distance. Come Melbourne however and everyone was finding the tyres were lasting longer than expected – many got through on a three stop strategy, some on a two stop, but Perez unbelievably got through – fairly comfortably – with just one pit stop. At one point he was even the fastest car on circuit, and only in the last couple of laps did his tyres start to drop off.
Seventh place ahead of his team mate was the reward, but sadly it didn’t last long. Post-race scrutineering found that the Sauber’s rear wings didn’t meet the regulations and both cars were excluded from the result. Sauber are considering an appeal, and if they do, I hope they succeed. Perez put in one of the most memorable debut’s for some time, and it would be nice if he was rewarded for it.
2. Massa vs. Button
Massa struggled in qualifying but after a decent start, found himself running in 5th place ahead of Button. The McLaren was clearly quicker, but Jenson couldn’t find a way past for many laps. Massa defended carefully and fairly, and cleverly saved up all his KERS for the exit of the final turn in an attempt to negate the advantage of Button having access to the DRS. It meant that Massa had a lot of work to do around the rest of the track, but he calmly maintained position.
Button eventually got a decent run at Massa on the run down to the fast chicane at turns 11 and 12, but had to take to the escape road. Button gained the position but didn’t give it back, claiming he had been in front at the time. The matter was further complicated when Alonso managed to find a way past his wrong-footed team mate and the Ferrari pair pitted over the next two laps. Giving the place back was no longer an option for Button and he was given a driver through penalty.
It was an exciting battle though, and I hope this high standard of racing is something we see more of over the coming season.
1. Petrov on the podium
After Robert Kubica’s terrible pre season crash in a rally, all eyes were on his substitute, Nick Heidfeld, to lead the team forward.
Heidfeld had a nightmare weekend at Albert Park however, and it was left to his team mate, Vitaly Petrov, to provide Renault with a decent result. After qualifying a career best sixth on the grid, he got a great start and leapt up to fouth by the end of the first lap. A combination of consistant pace and careful tyre management meant that he was able to get away with stopping just twice, whilst Mark Webber ahead of him had to stop three times. That meant Petrov was up to third, and despite again coming under pressure from Fernando Alonso late in the race he held on to clinch his first podium finish.
It was a great result for the likeable Russian, whose debut season was filled with errors and inconsistancy, and hopefully it will quash the opinion that he’s just a pay driver.
“I will sleep with this trophy tonight!” he said after the race. Renault appear to have built a decent car again this year, and if Petrov can maintain this form and Heidfeld can get it together for Sepang, then maybe Kubica’s absence wont hit the team as hard as first thought.
A long overdue list, Williams have won more constructors championships than anyone except Ferrari. Many of their cars have been beauties so it was difficult to narrow it down to a top 10. You won’t be expecting the number one choice…
10. Williams FW21 (1999)
The red-liveried Williams’ of 1998-99 were much maligned in terms of aesthetics, though I always had a soft spot for them. The 1999 FW21 had cleaner lines and a less scattered livery than the previous years FW20, and it just makes it into my top 10.
9. Williams FW31 (2009)
The new aero regs for 2009 took some getting used to, but Williams pulled out a cracking looking machine with the FW31. One huge plus point is that it had one of their best looking liveries for many seasons, using a lighter shade of blue - and not skimping on it either!
8. Williams FW26 (2004)
Yes, it’s the ‘walrus nose’ and no, I haven’t gone mad. Though at the time it looked a little strange, over the years it’s become epically cool. It’s not just about the nose though – the rest of the car looks great too. It still looked good when the team ditched the nose for a more conventional design mid season.
1. Williams FW09 (1984)
This car is hideous, I admit that – so why is it number one in my list? The squared-off nosecone looks like it was modelled on a breeze block, as do the sidepods and the front wing; and the fuel tank gives the car an overweight, ungainly look. The Honda engine gave the car ferocious power but the near uncontrollable turbo lag made the car extremely difficult to drive. How Keke Rosberg managed to drive the car to victory at a boiling hot, disintegrating Dallas GP I don’t know.
Keke Rosberg muscling a pig of a car to a win at one of the most attritional Grands Prix ever. That’s a very different, very special kind of beauty – it screams drama, and that’s why the FW09 is number one.
With ever tightening technical restrictions in F1, truly radical innovations are sadly few and far between. This year we’ve been treated to sidepod exiting exhausts and U-shaped sidepods, but that’s nothing compared to the crazy stuff we used to see. In this long overdue article I thought it would be interesting to look back at some of my favourite technological innovations…
Bugatti Type 251
In the 1920′s, Bugatti dominated Grand Prix racing. Indeed, the Type 35 is one of the great racing cars of all time. It’s a shame then that the company’s final racer, built after the death of Ettore Bugatti, was such a flop.
Dubbed the Type 251, it certainly looked radical with it’s side mounted fuel tanks and mid engine, which was mounted transversely (some eight years before Honda did the same).
The car looked bulky and ungainly, and despite months of development it disappointed on its Grand Prix debut at the 1956 French Grand Prix at Reims. The driver, Maurice Trintignant, could only qualify the car in 18th place nearly 20 seconds slower than the pole position time, and he retired 18 laps in to the race with a throttle issue.
The problems? Well, with the engine situated so far back traction was good but the front end was very light, causing understeer; and although the engine had the power of its contemporaries, the car was too heavy to make the most of it.
It wasn’t all bad though. The slippery body shape was fairly advanced, and the rear suspension was also ahead of its time. The original designs had also allowed for independent front suspension.
Still, the car is nothing more than a curio of F1 history and an ignominious way to end Bugatti’s rich motor racing heritage.
Ok, so these days paddle shifts aren’t particularly interesting – in fact, have they ever been – but the other day I read something about them that was interesting.
Semi-automatic gearboxes were first seen during the 1989 season on the John Barnard designed Ferrari 640, right? Wrong. In the January 2011 issue of Racecar Engineering, Mauro Forghieri revealed that as far back as 1978, Ferrari had tested a similar system on a 312T with Gilles Villeneuve at the wheel. The system consisted of hydraulic actuators taken from a machine tool which were activated by buttons on the steering wheel.
Gilles didn’t like it, not feeling confident without a mechanical link to the gearbox. Enzo respected the opinion of his driver and the system was shelved.
Now, Gilles was of the school of thought that the driver should be able to make as much of a difference as possible, and obviously a semi-auto gearbox was going to detract from that. He was never going to like it and it could bring up some interesting ‘what ifs’.
What if someone else had tested the system and liked it? Would such a system have been enough to alter the balance of power between the top teams of the time? Would different drivers have acheived different amount of success?
Would Gilles Villeneuve still be with us today?
I’m not normally one for what if’s, but I thought this was interesting enough to pose the question. What amazes me most is why it took so long – nearly a decade – for Ferrari to take another look at the system!
What do you think?
Six wheeled F1 cars
The child in all of us loves a car with six wheels, and any self respecting F1 fan knows about the Tyrrell P34. Introduced for the 1976 season it had four small front wheels, and while the front end grip was incredible and the car managed to win a race, there were too many problems.
The suspension arrangement at the front was incredibly complex and heavy, and Goodyear couldn’t afford to develop the specialist tyres at the same rate as the normal sized F1 tyres. After another, less successful season in 1977, the project was scrapped.
Other teams clearly saw potential in the idea however. March developed the 2-4-0, which had four wheels at the rear for improved traction. Ferrari also put four wheels at the rear of their Ferrari 312T6, but the car was found too difficult to drive.
More interesting was Williams’ effort. After experimenting with four rear wheels on the FW07 in late 1981, they put together a more serious six wheeled effort with the FW08 in 1982. Mid season tests with the car showed that it was phenomenally quick, but when the FIA banned four wheel drive for 1983 and later on banned six wheeled cars, the project came to nothing.
The Brabham BT46b ‘fan car’
Lotus really proved the virtues of ground effect in 1978 as their Lotus 79 romped to both championships. Brabham designer Gordon Murray was one of the first to grasp how they were achieving such high levels of grip, but he knew the Alfa Romeo flat-12 engine wouldn’t allow him to create effective Venturi tunnels under the car.
To get around this problem, he placed a large fan at the back. He claimed this was for cooling purposes, but this was merely a way of sidestepping the regulations. In reality it sucked air from under the car, sticking the car to the road and allowing it to corner much quicker.
It first appeared at the Swedish Grand Prix at Anderstorp, and although teams and drivers protested the cars legality it was allowed to race. Lauda and Watson qualified second and third on the grid behind Andretti’s Lotus. Watson span out early on, but Lauda passed Andretti round the outside and went on to win by half a minute.
After further uproar from other teams Bernie Ecclestone, head of FOCA and owner of the Brabham team negotiated a deal to allow the car to race three more times, but the FIA intervened and banned the car from competing.
Four Wheel Drive
Ferguson had experimented with 4WD in the early 60s, with some success, and BRM later experimented with it (although their car never raced).
However with the advent of the Cosworth DFV in the late 60s, a powerful engine was available off the shelf to any F1 team. Teams found that the current chassis’ were struggling to handle the power and once again looked into 4WD as a way of managing it.
Indeed, during the 1969 season three teams – Lotus with the 63, Matra’s MS84 and McLaren’s M9A - built and raced four wheel drive cars, and Cosworth themselves also had a go. The cars were almost universally hated by drivers, and their performance left a lot to be desired, often finishing several laps behind the leaders.
At the time Lotus were also experimenting with gas turbine engines in the shape of the Lotus 56, which also had 4WD. The car was designed to compete in the Indianapolis 500, which it almost won in 1968, but after the US governing body banned both gas turbine engines and 4WD for 1970, the decision was taken to convert the car to run in Formula 1.
It ran in several races during the 1971 season, often retiring with suspension failure. A sodden race at Zandvoort meant that the 4WD system was a huge advantage, and with Dave Walker at the wheel the car went from 22nd on he grid to 10th in just 5 laps. A likely win for a 4WD car looked to be on the cards before Walker spun off, much to the dismay of Colin Chapman.
Four wheel drive was later banned after teams began experimenting with four driven rear wheels in a six wheeled format.
Eifelland Type 21
In 1972, German businessman Guenther Hennerici wanted a way to advertise his caravan business. With many of his family members being involved in motor racing, he decided that starting a Formula One team would be a great way to do it.
Hennerici bought a March 721 and hired the spherically minded Luigi Colani to design the bodywork. At launch the car looked truly bizarre with its swoopy one piece bodywork and periscope mirror.
It looked as though Colani had been aerodynamically innovative, indeed at the cars launch he dismissed all other designers as not knowing anything, but in truth he’d simply designed the car based on instinct. Amusingly the car was found to lack downforce in pre season tests and by the time of the teams first race the car had been given more conventional wings.
The car was average at best, with driver Rolf Stommelen picking up a couple of top 10 finishes but nothing more. The team went belly up before the end of the season, during which time the car had been altered so much it looked pretty much like a normal March 721…
…it still had that silly mirror, though.
This bizarre rear wing on the March 751 was designed to smooth out the airflow at the rear of the car and the low side platforms may well have acted similar to a diffuser. That’s all I know about this one I’m afraid, so if anyone has any more information on the reasoning behind it, please tell.
During the early 70′s, the Cosworth DFV was de rigueur and teams were beginning to look at ways of extracting more power from it in order to steal a march on the competition.
One such way of doing this was by placing airboxes above the drivers head in order to feed more air into the engine and increase the combustion rate and thus produce more power.
By 1975 however, the size of airboxes had become ridiculous. Designs like the Brabham BT44 and Hill GH1 were bad enough, but when Ligier turned up with the cartoon-like JS5 in 1976, the FIA cried enough and restrictions were imposed by the time of the Spanish Grand Prix in May.
Extreme aerodynamic appendages
After the tragic 1982 season, the FIA moved to ban ground effect for 1983 by introducing a rule which required each car to have a completely flat underside – no more sliding skirts, no more venturi tunnels.
The loss in downforce was dramatic, so designers immediately started looking at ways to reclaim some of it back using aerodynamic appendages on the bodywork. Cars sported front wings again and by the end of 1983, the rear wings started to become larger and more complex.
In 1984 things went mad. The rear wings of most cars had huge winglets on either side, whereas some teams went a step further and fitted another rear wing entirely!
Thankfully, new rules for the 1985 season included a limit on rear wing size, and these ghastly appendages were gone…for another 20 years or so, at least!
When former Ferrari engineer Franco Rocchi designed and built a W12 configuration engine, Italian businessman Ernesto Vita bought the rights to it and plonked it in a chassis purchased from the stillborn FIRST team ready for an attack on the 1990 Formula One season.
The season was a disaster. The W12 engine barely produced 60% of the power of other engines, the car was overweight, ill-handling and unreliable and would have struggled to keep up with a field of Formula 3000 cars.
Driver Gary Brabham walked out after two races, failing to pre-qualify both times, and was replaced by Bruno Giacomelli. Results were no better, the car never making it past pre-qualifying or stringing together any more than a handful of laps. The laps it did manage to complete were often 20 or 30 seconds off the pace of the fastest pre-qualifiers, and even a late season switch to a Judd V8 engine faired no better. Life withdrew from the final two races of the year and disappeared into F1 folklore.