The Modern Era Supercar

Which is the greatest supercar of the modern F1 era?

  • Honda Marlboro Mclaren MP4/5

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Canon Williams Renault FW15C

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Rothmans Williams Renault FW19

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • West Mclaren Mercedes MP4-13

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro F2001

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Red Bull Racing Renault RB7

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
  • Poll closed .


No passing through my dirty air please
With all the new cars being shown off and ponder about currently it got me to thinking about the so 'supercars' of the recent F1 past and which can really be considered the best designed F1 car ever. I'm afraid although I have read of F1 history my actually 'I was there' knowledge starts in the late 80's so therefore consider this a poll of the supercars of the modern era - which is why we start with the Mclaren era:

Honda Marlboro Mclaren MP4/4 - 1988
Honda Marlboro Mclaren MP4/5 - 1989

Its appropriate that the first car on the list is possible the most dominant of all time. The MP4/4 won 15 of the 16 races that season and also scored 15 of 16 pole positions infact there was only 1 race in the 1988 season without a MP4/4 finishing either 1st or 2nd. However was the car truly that dominant? It was a period of change for a lot of the teams - Williams fell away after losing the Honda engines. Lotus were completely uncompetitive, Benneton were still only a raising small team and whilst the Ferrari was quicker than it had been its driver line-up had a lot to be desired. Which brings me to the main point on the MP4/4 was it truly a dominant supercar or was it just a veyr good car that just happened to have two of the greatest ever F1 drivers driving it?

The MP4/5 in 1989 looks almost a failure compared to its car that came before but with 10 Grand Prix victories and 15 poles under its belt it certainly wasn't. It had far more competition than the previous model with the Williams-Renault showing its early promise and the Benneton Ford being on the pace too - its main rival though was the Ferrari 640 which was exceptionally quick and in the hands of Nigel Mansell and Gerhard Berger almost a match for the MP4/5 - however Ferrari were developing their 'revolutioinary' semi automatic gearbox and whilst the car was quick it very rarely made the distance. Berger only finished 3 races all season winning 1 and coming second in the other 2 whilst Mansell took 6 podiums from 6 finishes. So once again the question you have to ask is was the MP4/5 really a dominant supercar or just a good car with great drivers who's opposition fell apart?

I've only included the 2 Mclarens from this era in the list as I feel when we got to 1990 the Ferrari was def on a par with them and in 1991 the Williams was actually a superior car but for its reliability issues. Which brings me to the next section of the list. The Williams Era:

Canon Williams Renault FW14B - 1992 season
Canon Williams Renault FW15C - 1993 season
Rothmans Williams Renault FW18 - 1996 season
Rothmans Williams Renault FW19 - 1997 season

It was the 1992 Williams that really shuck the F1 world. The Technology on it was completely new and revolutionary and from the very first time in turned a wheel it was obvious that the rest of the F1 world didn'y have a prayer keeping up with it, especially with an in-form Nigel Mansell at the wheel. 10 wins and 15 poles means it doesn't match the MP4/4's record but when you consider the FW14B had the disadvantage of having a lackluster Ricardo Patrese at the wheel that might have something to do with it - on top of which Mansell has secured the title by round 11 in Hungary and coasted for the rest of the season. When it comes to analysing this car for impact and results I find it very difficult to find any negatives.

Nigel Mansell described the FW15C as being such a supercar that they could stick a monkey in the cockpit and it would still win races - people replied that firstly that was a little pot calling the kettle black after the FW14B and also that it was a little bitter after he'd been pushed out the seat for Alain Prost. Yes the little Frenchmen returned and Renault fixed the F1 championship to get a French champion. Damon Hill was even brought in as a nursemaid to make sure he did it. This shouldn't take away from the brilliance of the FW15C though - despite initial teething problems which saw Senna lead the championship after 3 rounds(I blame Sonic the Hedgehog) the car came in to its own. It equalled the FW14B by scoring 10 wins and 15 poles but once again it had no rivals and races would follow a familiar pattern - Hill would lead off the line and build a nice healthy cushion over 2nd place Prost before gradually slowing down and letting Prost 'overtake' him at about the half way mark. After Prost's 7th win in round 10 the cautious Frenchmen obviously decided winning wasn't worth the risk anymore and let Damon go on a streak of wins instead. Although the FW15C was undoubtedly a supercar I always feel it was shame we never saw it pushed to what it could really do.

Now you may have noticed I've skipped over the Williams cars of 94 and 95 when they could well have been included despite the not bringing about a title winner. The 94 car probably doesn't deserve to be on the list although whether it would have been different if Senna had been at the wheel all season we'll never know. Its been argued though that the 1995 Williams the FW17 was actually the best Williams Renault ever produced but was beaten by one of F1's greats and let down by its drivers. A belief that seemed to be held within the Williams camp as DC was out on his ear and whilst sticking with Damon for 96 they'd already brought JV in and lined up Frentzen for 97.

Speaking of 96 that brings us to the FW18. 12 wins and 12 poles in the 1996 season and a Williams car finally has the benifit of 2 drivers going hell for leather for the title and whilst Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneurve will never be on the top of anyones greatest of all time list they were both in form drivers at the time. Villeneurve was the new kid on the block and whilst he was quick and look promising Damon had him under control from the start really - this is not to do Damon down as he drove brilliantly during the 1996 season and if he'd driven like that in 95 he may have won the title then too. Whilst the FW18 is the Williams car with the most wins in a season and finally the one that got pushed by 2 drivers it also lacked the competition of a certain Michael Schumacher who was in a rebuilding year at Ferrari so once again we don't really know how good the car was.

The FW19 is the car that carried Villeneurve to the title and the car that Heinz-Harold Fretzen completely flopped in. It has 8 wins and 11 poles to its name but most people argue it should be more and that the car was far better than the performances the drivers were puttting in. Undoubtedly some of its dominance was once again cut into by Schumacher out performing his machinary but the overall feeling was that the FW19 deserved better than it got. It did feel at the time like a wind down for Williams with everyone knowing Renault were leaving - almost like a victory lap for the team that had been at the front for 6 years. In fact when Frank sold his soul to Ron Dennis in the final race in Jerez and we had to wittness Jacques and DC move over to let Hakkenien take his first victory it almost felt like a changing of the guard.

West Mclaren Mercedes MP4-13 - 1998 season

The MP4-13 - the car so dominant the drivers driving it decided the result before the first Grand Prix began - illedgely. The first proper Adrian Newey Mclaren and at its first Grand Prix in Australia 1998 it really was nealry 2 and a half seconds a lap faster than its nearest rival. Why then I hear you ask did it pail in comparrison to its Honda forefathers and only score 9 wins and 12 pole positions? Well 1998 saw F1 in the middle of a tyre war and whilst the magnificant MP4-13 wore its Bridgestones proudly its closest rival the Ferrari F300 was still fitted in Goodyears - add to that of course the Schumacher factor and it meant on certain tracks at certain times the MP4-13 could be got at which of course Schumie made the most of - its actually a credit to the Mclaren that Hakkenien still managed to bring the title home after a mighty come back from Ferrari. The dominance of this car in the first 2 Grand Prixs of the year really did make everyone think the title race was already over and we were heading for Mclaren dominance for years to come - that didn't happen but you may want to look towards the rules and regs for the reason it didn't rather than the MP4-13 itself.

I've not included the 1999 Mclaren in this list as although it was a great car the 99 season was far more open than 98 and I believe that the Ferrari was actually the better car and had Schumacher not had his injury they would have clinched the title. As for the 2000 Ferrari - the first of the Ferrari era once again I don't think it was that much better than the Mclaren Merc and if Mclaren had had a dedicated number 1 that year then they would have beaten Schui - We are in the Ferrari era though so I have to include the follwing.

Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro F2001 - 2001 season
Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro F2002 - 2002 season
Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro F2004 - 2004 season

When I talk of the 'Ferrari era' of the early noughties most of you will think of it as the 'boring era' and you are correct in terms of competition there wasn't much(although I will point you towards the brilliant 2003 season) but in terms of brilliant machinary we had it in abundance. Although Ferrari have come in for some critiscm in actual fact during the 80's and 90's whilst they had produced some dog end cars they had also developed some pretty quick ones. The problem was their quick ones tended to fall apart and not get to the end of the race. However with a little bit of German logic, a dash of French passion, some British organisation and hey even some Brazilian samba style added to the developement Ferrari finally came up trumps and thier first machine of beauty was the F2001. Suddenly we had the best driver piloting the best machine and that could lead to only one thing; a massacre. 9 wins (all Schumie) and 11 pole positions and Schumacher has eased himself to the title by round 13 at Hungary. Its true the F2001 was helped by the fact that Williams BMW and Mclaren Merc were busy fighting with themselves and Mika Hakkinen showing very little interest in his final season but it was an unbeatable car it just happens to be one of many.

The F2002 pretty much picked up where the F2001 left off and much to its surprise its rivals in the shape of Williams and Mclaren seemed to be even further away than the season before. The F2002 won all but 2 Grand Prix's that season meaning it scored 15 wins - however its qualifying pace seemed lacking with only 9 poles although that was mainly due to the one lap speed of a certain Jaun Pablo Montoya. Schumacher had secured the title by round 11 at the French Grand Prix. Interestingly after the championship was won the last 6 races saw 3 wins go to Schumie and 3 to Rubens. The F2002 has to be up there as one of the greatest and most dominant supercars of all time - although it lacked a car to rival it - it is noticable that unlike a lot of other cars on this list after the title was secure the race wins kept coming even despite the drivers easing off slightly.

That brings us to the F2004 and I have to say this one probably gets my vote mainly because it was so unexpected. In 2003 the F1 world had finally thought they'd pegged Ferrari back with a combination of rule changers and improvements by its rivals. The F2003 was not the best car in the field in fact it could be argued that it wasn't even the second best car in the field. It was only through Ferrari politics over tyre moulds that they managed to secure keeping the title but the whole F1 world knew the power hold had been broken and that 2004 would be the start of a new era. Wrong! No one banked on the super dominant F2004 which total blitzed the field - the only car in my mind thats ever outclassed Michael Schumacher as he barely looked like he was trying as he drove the car to 13 wins - add the 2 from Rubens and the F2004 scored 15 wins in all with 12 poles - it won the constructors championship by over 150pts and whilst yes Mclaren and Williams had both produced turkey cars leaving BAR of all people as Ferrari's closest rival but there is no denying that the F2004 nearly drove itself to the title. of course it drove the rest of us to tears through bordom but you have to respect the machinary.

I now have a big gap as I don't think the Renaults of 05 or 06 were really supercars, nor do I think you can pick between the Mclarens and Ferrari's of 07 and 08 either which leaves me with my next choice which I nearly didn't put on

Brawn Mercedes BGP0001

I wasn't going to put the Brawn car on here because in my head it is a real 'supercar' - it was only dominant for less than half a season and rather than car developed with new technology its advantage came from exploiting a loop hole in the rules. I put it on in the end though as I know I'd be asked why it wasn't on. With only 8 wins and 5 poles though it really doesn't match up to the others on this list. Its true it came out of nowhere and shuck up the F1 world who really hadn't expected the new world order that arrived due to the rule shake up of 2009 but the real revolutionary car of that year was the Red Bull in my opinion and whilst Button maxamized his advantage when he had it and held on for the rest of the season I struggle to see the Brawn in the same class as the others which brings me to the last car I want to add on the list

Red Bull Racing Renault RB7

Lets face it without the double diffusors stuff the Red Bull would have been the best car in 09, without the reliability problems it would have walked away with the title in 10 so it was was no surprise when the utterly brilliant RB7 came on to the scene and combined with the skills of Sebastian Vettel to romp away with the title. Like all the cars on this list it was accused of having technology that bent the rules, they were accused of preffering one driver over another and the were even regulations changes to try and bring them back to the pack but Vettel and the RB7 withstood all of that. 12 victories and 18 pole positions slammed the rest of the field. Is the car the fastest in a straight line? No they're massively under powered compared to their rivals. Does always have the best pace over the weekend? No - Mclaren claim they had the fastest car some weekends. Does it always bring home the bacon? Oh yes. When the RB7 lacks Vettel pulls the stops out and where Vettel lacks he relies on the car. Brilliant combination. We're still not a hundred per cent sure exactly what technology that RB7 has on it due to the constiant secrecy around it but theres no doubting it makes the list of supercars.

So which one do you think is the greatest supercar? Just to be clear by supercar I mean dominance and impact. I do apologies to those of you who date back further who probably have a whole host of cars from the 50's to the 80's that you considered much better machinary on the list. If you do though I'd love to read about them so why not do an article or poll for that era?

So vote away for you favourite. I'm torn between the FW14B and the F2004 I have to say. Have I missed any you think should be in there and which one would you take for a test drive if you could?
Very good rundown and selections.

I'm torn on this one. I think in terms of dominance (sheer lap time) and impact it would probably be FW14B, since the gizmos gave it a huge performance advantage, and set the course for all the other teams to follow. McLaren and Benetton were catching up rapidly over the course of 1993, so although the FW15C was more refined, I don't think it was as much the class of the field.

MP4/4 was an exceptional car and one of my favourites, but FISA cocked up the engine equivalency, leaving only two really competitive teams in McLaren and Ferrari, with the former having by far the better engine and drivers. How Williams and Benetton would have gone with some proper grunt we can only speculate, but certainly circumstances favoured Woking considerably for that one year. Not that it wasn't an excellent design, of course!

Most impressive to me are those cars that don't have a particular 'trick', but are simply outstanding refinements of the same basic elements as the opposition. In this class I would put the FW18, F2002 and F2004 as really good examples of cars designed under consistent regulations that were nonetheless hugely dominant. In the case of FW18, everyone was even on the same tyres.

I'll have to think further before casting a vote though!
Almost all the track records from the current race tracks were set in 2004, and the car that dominated 2004 was the Ferrari. Bryne, Costa, Brawn and Schumacher were unstoppable.

It is the King of the cars because they've changed the rules so Ferrari couldn't do it again!
doesn't that amount to the same thing? As I said in the article I'm going from 88 onwards as thats the era I remember - if someone wants to do a twin article for cars before that I'd be really interested to read it.
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