Formula 1: The 10 best cars of all time

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D he identifies the best Formula 1 cars of all time not easy. There are a thousand answers or none. Because everyone has their own point of view and their own standard. Some judge emotionally, others with numbers. And still others say that drivers and cars from different eras cannot be compared with one another.

That is true and not true. It can be argued that in 1950, the year Formula 1 was born, Alfa Romeo did not encounter any equal opponents. They existed: Ferrari, Maserati, Talbot, Gordini. Just not fast enough. The 1988 McLaren MP4-4 faced 17 competitors. Including Ferrari, Williams, Lotus and Benetton. But they were as far removed from the class leader as the opponents of the Alfetta once were.

The last two Mercedes have each cleared 16 winners' cups. But there were also 19 Grand Prix in one season. In the 1950s there were rarely more than 10 races. If longevity counted, two cars would be ahead. The Lotus 72 debuted in 1970 and won 3 races in its fifth season in 1974. The McLaren M23 even became world champion in 1976 in the fourth year of its existence with James Hunt.

The best F1 cars of all time

Today, the life cycle of a Formula 1 car is one year limited. No matter how successful it was. Seen in this way, only the perspective of a season is a fair yardstick. The number of races only plays a role in the event of a tie. 7 wins in 7 starts is better than 6 in 6. The 1988 McLaren with 15 wins in 16 Grand Prix is ​​ahead of the Ferrari F2002 with 14 wins in 15 starts.

That's why the Ferrari 500 is out of the season 1952 the king of all Formula 1 cars. He won every race he competed in. His successor suffered a defeat against Maserati a year later. The Alfa Romeo Tipo 158 was also rolled into the museum unbeaten. The construction of Gioacchino Colombo did not take part in the 500 miles of Indianapolis, which were still part of the World Cup at that time. The same applies to the Ferrari 500.

The first world champion car in history was designed as early as 1937. And was still competitive 13 years later. Because after the war there were no funds to build new racing cars. The Alfetta lived from its engine. The 385 hp from the eight-cylinder in-line engine with 1,479 cm³ displacement and compressor were unrivaled.

The same applies to the Ferrari 500, which was actually a Formula 2 car. The FIAhad to announce the world championship in 1952 and 1953 for lack of Formula 1 vehicles for the second class. The engine output fell to 180 hp, the lap times increased by 7 to 12 seconds.

The Tipo 500 from Aurelio Lampredi was the measure of all things. Its four-cylinder in-line engine with two overhead camshafts and double ignition was characterized by its particular elasticity. The power was distributed over such a wide range of revs that Ferrari was able to drive the four-speed gearbox with one gear ratio all season. It took Maserati too long until a Ferrari opponent was born with the A6GCM.

Ferrari in the top ten three times

Like Ferrari, Mercedes put 3 cars in the top ten. The W196 from the 1950s ran down the competition with high-quality technology, an unbelievable amount of money, people and materials, and great planning. Direct injection, desmodromic, internal drum brakes to reduce the unsprung masses, independent wheel suspension with torsion bar suspension and a motor inclined to the side to reduce the frontal area were among the features of the Silver Arrows.

Nevertheless, the use of the system in the first year lacked absolute precision . Four defects prevented the total march through. Only the modified W196 with a shorter wheelbase and 80 kilograms less weight gave Mercedes the nimbus of invincibility in 1955.

Lancia's counterattack fizzled out. The D50 had the speed to scare Mercedes, but not the necessary stability. With Alberto Ascari's death, the racing team lost its figurehead. After three races, Gianni Lancia locked his racing team for lack of money.

Colin Chapman's first brilliant litter also took a year to get started. In 1962 the Lotus 25 found its way into B.R.M. nor his master. In its second season, the first monocoque car in history was practically unbeatable. Only technical problems could keep Jim Clark from winning. A gearbox defect in Monte Carlo, an empty battery in Watkins-Glen, a misfire at the Nürburgring.

The McLaren MP4-4-Honda was missing two laps on the way to immortality. If Williams' temporary driver Jean-Louis Schlesser hadn't steered Ayrton Senna off the track shortly before the checkered flag in Monza, the miracle car penned by Steve Nichols and Neil Oatley would have won all races in 1988.

McLaren-Honda drove Everything in the ground because the Anglo-Japanese team made the right engine choice, and because they were the only team to consistently build a new car and a new engine for the last turbo season. Simulations had shown that, despite the restrictions, the turbo still guaranteed the faster package.

In addition, Senna and Prost were the best drivers in the field. And an almost bulletproof car. While the McLaren bookkeeping recorded 74 damage and minor defects in all test drives and racing dates in 1987, it was 1988only 14.

No 70s car in the best list

Williams dominated Formula 1 over the years 1987, 1992, 1993, 1996 and 1997. The most unspectacular car from this series was the best. Adrian Newey and Patrick Head had perfected the predecessor with the FW18 from 1996. Flatter, more aerodynamically efficient, with now 750 hp from the Renault ten-cylinder. The car covered by far the most racing kilometers in the field and made it through the 16 races with only 3 defects. His opponents weakened. Benetton fell behind. Ferrari wasn't that far yet.

In return, Ferrari held itself harmless from 2000. The F2002 was the best of Michael Schumacher's world champion cars. It was the result of 8,000 wind tunnel hours and 90,000 test kilometers. Ferrari won with 221 points. As much as all the other teams put together. The F2004 started the season with a huge lead, but the competition caught up. In the last 5 races in 2004, Rory Byrne and Aldo Costa's construction was vulnerable.

The top ten in Formula 1 are also a reflection of the sport. 3 examples from among the best drove in the 50s, 4 after 2000. The remaining decades are represented by only one car.

The 70s are completely missing. It was the most experimented decade. It was then that the contours were given their first aerodynamic polish, the ground effect principle was invented, the vacuum cleaner was copied, 6 wheels were screwed to the cars, a turbo engine was launched or the gearbox was installed transversely. There were also superior designs such as the Lotus 72 and 79 models, the Ferrari 312T or the McLaren M23, but they lacked the consistency of being a real serial winner.

In the first decade of Formula 1, manufacturers were mainly represented . The hobbyists came from 1960. Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Mercedes built solid cars. They were quick and finished. For the same reason, the premier class was flooded with series of long dominance 50 years later. Ferrari won from 2000 to 2004, Red Bull from 2010 to 2013, and in the last two years no one has passed Mercedes.

An end is not in sight. For chief designer Aldo Costa, the sole rule comes as no surprise: 'The work processes, tools, test benches, simulations and quality assurance have made quantum leaps over the last decade. The result has been massive progress in reliability. Whoever has the fastest car automatically wins more races.'

Costa was involved in a total of 4 cars from the top ten. He worked under Rory Byrne on the Ferrari models F2002 and F2004, and joined Mercedes in 2011, where he is responsible for the current winning models. The 54-year-old Italian is particularly proud of the two Silver Arrows: 'Mercedes was a new adventure for me. For a long time, I couldn't imagine going abroadwork. It was refreshing to create a piece of technology with a new team that is so successful. '

Costa doesn't like to look back. He can be enthusiastic about old houses, but not about old racing cars.' A 5 year old old car looks old to me. I am fascinated by perfection in detail. The more modern the car, the bigger it is. '

Mercedes has a strong engine and aerodynamics

Mercedes has the best concept for the hybrid era, because the task was dealt with early and consistently sought the best compromise. And because the design team had found each other. 'The 3 years before that were decisive. Before you can build a good car, you need to have the team and the working method to do it. The new rules gave us the chance to implement that. '

In contrast to many of his colleagues, Costa sees the chassis and powertrain in the current generation of vehicles in balance.' The GPS data does not lie. They clearly show that we not only have the best engine. We are also one step ahead in terms of aerodynamics and mechanics. '

In the past, the rule was: winning once is easy. Twice a Herculean task. Today teams live longer on a good basic concept. Because many things no longer match so easy to get corrected. 'You can copy a few externals. But there are many things that are part of a concept. They can only be copied over the winter with a completely new car ', claims Costa and gives examples:' The position of the cooling elements, the spatial separation of the turbine and compressor. 'So Ferrari came closer this year, but not close enough.

Technical progress also limits the possibility of a flop. 'We are limited in the use of wind tunnels and computer simulations, but we are developing replacement tools to cope with this.' Then there is the size of the team about the new car. 'When I started at Minardi in 1987,' says Costa, 'we were 33 people and 6 of them were engineers. I also had to do the press work on the side. '


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