In Formula 1, speed is all that matters. As time goes on, teams continually look for new and pioneering ways of making their cars as fast as possible around the track. This has led to some incredibly bizarre designs, both on the interior and the exterior. What follows is a list of the strangest concepts ever to see competition.
10. Brabham BT46B
That’s not a jet engine under the rear wing, it’s a massive fan. This design was borrowed from a 1960’s American racing car that literally sucked the car onto the road. This design proved so incredibly fast that it was banned after its first race.
9. 1971 March 711
This was in fact the first car ever raced by Niki Lauda. The elevated front wing design eventually led it to be nicknamed the ‘tea tray.’ The car never won a race, but Ronnie Peterson managed to be the runner-up for the world championship behind the wheel of the 711.
8: 1979 ensign N179
This car bore an uncanny resemblance to an elephant when looking at it head-on. Those slats along the nose are radiators, as the car had no open engine cover behind the driver to suck in the air.
7. Every car from 2014
Jeremy Clarkson once likened the apparatus on the nose of these cars to ‘sex aids.’ Good luck un-seeing that.
6. 1981 Lotus 88
This contraption had two separate chassis; one for the suspension, and one for the bodywork. As a result, the car stuck to the ground like it was driving on superglue, and didn’t need front or rear aerodynamics to help with downforce.
5. Tyrrell 025
This car earned itself the nickname ‘X-wing’ for rather obvious reasons. The elevated contraptions beside the driver’s head are actually additional wings to help with downforce. Use of these additional aero tweaks were banned by the FIA shortly after being introduced.
4. ‘Ground Effects’ cars
Like the Brabham on this list, these cars also used suction to stay glued to the ground. The Lotus pictured here didn’t use a fan, but instead had skirts that dragged along the ground, forming a vacuum that pulled the car onto the tarmac. Like the Brabham fan car, it too was banned shortly after being introduced.
3: 1976 Ligier JS5
Another elephant car, which seems to have borrowed inspiration from the pachyderm’s ear. While it wasn’t a looker, it was strangely successful. It made a podium finish three times in ’76 and the driver went on to win the first Ligier team F1 victory a year later.
2: 1973 Ferrari ‘Spazzaneve’
This car was so catastrophically ugly, it’s designer was actually fired and the design was scrapped. A year later though, it was revised, and in the hands of Niki Lauda and Clay Regazzoni, scored a one-two victory in Buenos Aires. Is that enough for it to be forgiven?
1. Tyrrell P34
I wonder what kind of paint thinners the designers were huffing when they came up with this? The idea was that two smaller front wheels had more traction than a single front wheel twice as wide, which also shrunk the car’s drag coefficient. Surprisingly, the idea never caught on, and shortly after, the FIA decreed that competition cars could have no more than four wheels.
That concludes my list of the 10 weirdest Formula 1 cars. Did I miss any? Comment below with some more outlandish cars!
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