The cars that changed the face of F1

cider_and_toast

Exulted Lord High Moderator of the Apex
Staff Member
Premium Contributor
Inspired by the recent discussion on "the best car grid" and by Brogans comments I thought I would post this thread.

Obviously there are many cars that will automatically write themselves into this discussion but what I hope we do here is think a bit more broadly into cars that really changed F1 on any level. That could be a car that caused a major change in safety or a car that added a different aspect to the sport. It shouldn't be just about major advances in design all though of course, these must be discussed as well.

I am going to start this thread by offering this car:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Spirit_201C_Honda_Collection_Hall.jpg

Now why a car that finished in a best placing of 7th? Well this car marked the return of Honda to F1 and without this car Honda wouldn't have won every championship between 1986 and 1991. Honda had already worked succesfully with Spirit in Formula 2 when the manufacturer approached the team to run a chassis in F1. Spirit were a test bed for Honda's new 1.5Ltr Turbo in an enviroment where there would be little pressure on Honda to get results. Once Honda were satisfied that they could make the engine work they switched to Williams from 1984 onwards and the rest as they say, is history.
 

Brogan

🦶 Leg end
Staff Member
Excellent idea for a thread c_a_t :D

I'm going to go all the way back with this one and nominate Harry Schell's Cooper T12 from the 1950 Monaco GP, a predecessor of the car that prompted the thread (the Cooper-Climax T54).

http://www.statsf1.com/constructeurs/photos/26/23.jpg
http://www.500race.org/Marques/Cooper Factory 040450.jpg
http://www.500race.org/Marques/Cooper advert Motorsport 0352.jpg

The race was actually a disaster for a lot of drivers.
A wave from the harbour flooded the track at Tabac Corner causing Nino Farina who was in 2nd to spin and crash.
Eight more drivers, from a field of 19, crashed and retired, including Harry Schell.
Fangio managed to avoid the chaos and went on to win, one of only 7 drivers to finish.

So on its first outing, the car didn't even complete 1 lap.

Why is it so special though?
It was the first rear-engined car to start in a Formula One World Championship race.

Surprisingly the company reverted back to a front-engined design in 1952 but by 1955 had realised the benefits of having the engine in the rear and focussed its efforts there.

I can't really put it any better than this extract from Wikipedia:

Jack Brabham raised some eyebrows when he took sixth place at the 1957 Monaco Grand Prix in a rear-engined Formula 2 Cooper.
But when Stirling Moss won the 1958 Argentine Grand Prix in Rob Walker's privately-entered Cooper and Maurice Trintignant duplicated the feat in the next race at Monaco, the racing world was stunned and a rear-engined revolution had begun.
The next year, 1959, Brabham and the factory Cooper team became the first to win the Formula One World Championship in a rear-engined car.
Both team and driver repeated the feat in 1960, and every World Champion since has been sitting in front of his engine.
Cooper Car Company
 

bogaTYR

Points Scorer
auto union.

driver in front of the engine, 27 years before lotus did. the auto union is from 1933. the first cars raced in the 1933/1934 seasons. nurburgring, monza. winner in germany, switserland and czechoslovakia. driven by hans stuck (father of)

breaking world records, participating in hill climbing races and from 1936 a full 6 litres engine. winning eifelrennen, german, swiss and italian Grands Prix and the Coppa Acerbo. and this went on right to 1939.

an incredible dynasty. years ahead of its time and sometimes overlooked.
 

cider_and_toast

Exulted Lord High Moderator of the Apex
Staff Member
Premium Contributor
driver in front of the engine, 27 years before lotus did. the auto union is from 1933. the first cars raced in the 1933/1934 seasons. nurburgring, monza. winner in germany, switserland and czechoslovakia. driven by hans stuck (father of)

Boga, I think you're getting confused between the rear engined car and the monocoque chassis. The Auto Union did indeed run a rear engined car and a monocoque chasis however it was Cooper who ran the first rear engined "F1" cars and Lotus who re-invented the monocoque chasis 27 years after the pioneering Auto-union cars.

McLaren MP4/1. I believe, unless any else know differently, the first F1 car with the monocoque constructed entirely of carbon fibre.
It absolutely was FB, It would have been joined by the Lotus 88 that same season however we already know about the troubled history of that car. The only difference between the Mclaren process and that of Lotus was that Lotus made their chassis in house using technology borrowed from the Lotus boat building company where as Mclaren contracted the work out. I bet Mclaren were relieved to have the stronger chassis because this was the season that Andrea De Cesaris earnt his "De Crasheris" nickname behind the wheel of one of these cars.
 

Galahad

Not a Moderator
Valued Member
I believe (and c_a_t will doubtless correct me if I'm wrong) that Lotus first tried out ground effects on their Type 78, which didn't work terribly well but gave them the confidence to try a more fully developed concept on the 79, which did!

My nomination is for another Lotus, unsurprisingly, this time the 72. All F1 cars built since the early 1970s owe their look and basic layout to this machine, which featured a number of innovations: torsion bar suspension and inboard front brakes among others.

The key change, though, was the decision to move the radiators from the nose into sidepods either side of the engine, allowing a classic "wedge" design and closing the gaping mouth that had defined the look of Grand Prix cars since the pre-war days. This instantly improved the aerodynamics of the car, allowing much higher top speeds to be attained. The front wings were integrated into this new nose layout, and this fundamental concept has remained the same to this day.

The 72 was highly successful, winning the 1970 and 1972 world championships for Jochen Rindt and Emerson Fittipaldi respectively, while derivations of the car were still competing in 1975 (attempts to improve on it having failed!)

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/12/Lotus_72_JPS.jpg
 

Brogan

🦶 Leg end
Staff Member
GordonMurray said:
The key change, though, was the decision to move the radiators from the nose into sidepods either side of the engine, allowing a classic "wedge" design and closing the gaping mouth that had defined the look of Grand Prix cars since the pre-war days.
I never knew that so thanks for enlightening me :thumbsup:
 

Speshal

World Champion
Valued Member
LOL I'm not very good at this but I am going to nominate Guiseppe Farina's Alfa from 1950 as it won the first official F1 Grand Prix paving the way for the next 59 years :?:
 

cider_and_toast

Exulted Lord High Moderator of the Apex
Staff Member
Premium Contributor
I believe (and c_a_t will doubtless correct me if I'm wrong) that Lotus first tried out ground effects on their Type 78, which didn't work terribly well but gave them the confidence to try a more fully developed concept on the 79, which did!
I'm begining to sound like a stuck record however Lotus F1 is really the only thing in F1 I now a lot about. For the rest you've got way more knowledge on the sport than I have GM. :goodday:

That said, Tony Rudd was the man who first "discovered" ground effect while working at BRM. When he left he took the idea with him to Lotus and as usual Chapman jumped at it and saw it as another of his "unfair advantages" that he was always after.

The actual beginings of ground effect management can be seen as early as the type 77 in 1976. The car that Mario Andretti used to win the 1976 Japanese GP at Mount Fuji was fitted with brush type side skirts and featured several parts that would find their way into the type 78 including the nose mounted oil cooler.

The type 78 was the first true, all up, ground effect design. It never fully acheived the results that were expected for the design and proven in the wind tunnel but it could have given Lotus a world title in 1977 but for poor reliability. Part of the problem was that the side pods were not stiff enough to cope with the increase levels of downforce generated by the new underwing tunnels. It's interesting to note that the design of the radiator inlets on the car were taken from a world war 2 Mosquito aircraft that had it's radiators in a similar position. Tony Rudd (in his book "it was fun") claims he went to an RAF base that had a Mosquito on a stand outside the main gate to take measurements for the car.

By the time of the type 79 Lotus had managed to iron out much of the teething troubles from the type78 including the design of the side skirts which were now the sliding "box in a box" type and Lotus would romp to the 78 title. Unfortunatly the pure ground effect type 80 was a design too far and by now Williams and several other teams had figured out what Lotus had done and learned to make it better and Lotus never recovered. The type 80 was seen as being so bad that its replacement, the type 81, was initally called the type 79X.

So there you go. A potted history of Lotus ground effect design. Any questions?

LOL
 

Brogan

🦶 Leg end
Staff Member
Another one from me - the Brabham BT46B or "fan car" as it was more commonly known.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:2001_Goodwood_Festival_of_Speed_Brabham_BT46B_Fan_car.jpg

Not because it was an innovative, unique and successful design, which it was, but because of the long lasting effects related to one Mr Bernie Ecclestone.

The only Formula One race entered and won by the Brabham "fan car" was the 1978 Swedish GP.
The rules stated that moving aerodynamic devices were not allowed but Brabham claimed that the primary function of the fan was to cool the engine and was therefore not an aerodynamic device. Its legality was protested by some of the teams but it was allowed to race and won with a lead of over 34 seconds to the 2nd place finisher.
This was achieved thanks to some oil dropped on the circuit by a back marker.

In Lauda's biography, To Hell And Back, he wrote that whilst other cars had to reduce speed to drive carefully over the oil, the Brabhams could simply accelerate (as the fan was activated by the gearbox to get around regulations, this meant that higher speed produced much higher grip) through the affected parts of the track.
After the race the stewards and the FIA investigated the car and corroborated Brabham''s claim that the primary effect of the fan was to cool the car. However, the car was voluntarily withdrawn by Brabham and never raced again. This was arguably done by team owner Bernie Ecclestone to avoid a conflict with the other privately owned teams whose support he needed as Chief Executive of FOCA.
 

FB

Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
This one should have changed the face of F1, the active suspension Lotus 99T, but active ride ended up being banned. I believe Lotus, if not inventing the technology were certainly major players in it's development and use in race cars before Williams "perfected" it with the FW14B.

http://www.club-lotus.fr/uploads/pics/Lotus_99T_b.jpg
 

FB

Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
We have all missed one of the most important cars that influenced F1 designs and, yet again, it's a bl*#dy Lotus.

I believe the 49B was the first F1 car to run with wings, please correct me if I'm wrong. The attached picture is probably one of the more extreme versions of this car. The wings attached do look rather fragile and as if they are just about to fall off!

http://grandprixinsider.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/1969-01-graham-hill-lotus-49b-kyalami.jpg
 

Muddytalker

Points Scorer
I'm guessing the wings were attached to the suspension to keep them at a fairly consistent attitude relative to the road surface, something current designers spend millions working on now. Colin and his team were ahead of the game even then.
 

Brogan

🦶 Leg end
Staff Member
It all changed in Monaco 1969 though.

Wings were banned following the failures at previous races. They were permitted at the next race but were restricted in size and height and had to be attached directly to the chassis in a fixed position.
 

Galahad

Not a Moderator
Valued Member
Muddytalker said:
I'm guessing the wings were attached to the suspension to keep them at a fairly consistent attitude relative to the road surface, something current designers spend millions working on now. Colin and his team were ahead of the game even then.
With the wings attached to the suspension they could be sure that 100% of the downforce generated was being transferred directly to the wheels; with the wings mounted on the sprung parts of the car as they are now, a lot of the downward force is lost through as it has to be transferred through the suspension. This is part of the reason that teams run the cars as stiffly as they can get away with (keeping a consistent ride height being another important aspect).

Suspension-mounted wings were banned for safety reasons, as Brogan says.
 

cider_and_toast

Exulted Lord High Moderator of the Apex
Staff Member
Premium Contributor
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/pic ... tjuic.html

The affects of a high speed rear wing failure 1969 style.

The wings were flexing so much as the car crested the rise before plunging down hill that eventually something had to give. Shortly after this picture was taken and with Hill up the road trying to warn his team/teammate, Jochen Rindt's type 49 suffered exactly the same failure at exactly the same spot and crashed into what was left of Hill's car.
 
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