Formula 1 is easily the most glamorous form of motorsport, no matter what period you examine. It has the richest history, has raced on the greatest tracks, has fielded the most talented drivers, and of course, features the most incredible driving machines ever to see the chequered flag. In anticipation of the upcoming German Grand Prix at the Hockenheimring, I felt I would honour the top 6 racing cars from the pages of Formula 1 history.
6. Ferrari 312T/McLaren M23
I decided to include these two together because they were from the same time period and were arguably the most competitive cars when they shared the track. Driven by the likes of James Hunt, Niki Lauda, Gilles Villeneuve and Emerson Fittipaldi, these cars have won 5 constructor’s championships between them (4 for the Ferrari, 1 for the McLaren). They also helped birth one of the greatest F1 rivalries, in the form of Hunt Vs Lauda in the mid 70’s.
5. Ferrari F2002
Another Ferrari! This one was raced by Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barichello, and was considered one of the most successful cars in Formula 1 history. Of the 19 races it entered between 2002 and 2003, it won 15 of them. Whether that was due to the skill of the driver or the dominance of the car itself is up for debate. I say it was both. It had a 3.0 litre V10 which, at 19,000 RPM, produced 900 horsepower and a cry that could wake the dead.
This monster was raced from 1970-1975 and performed so well that in that five year lifespan it saw little to no change at the hands of the engineers. In its lifetime it won three constructors championships; one of which went to Emerson Fittipaldi. It had a Ford-Cosworth V8 that made 440 horsepower; about 60 less than the Ferraris it competed against.
3. Renault R25
This iconic blue and yellow car made the list for two reasons: one, it was piloted by Fernando Alonso, one of the biggest names in modern F1. And two, it was one of the last naturally aspirated V10 racers. This particular car could accelerate off the line faster than any of its competitors, and is also the only car in history to lap the infamous TopGear test track in less than one minute at the hands of The Stig.
2. McLaren MP4/4
You knew this would be on the list. This car was driven by the legendary Ayrton Senna, who raced it to victory to win his first ever world championship. Formula 1 was perhaps the most exciting in the 80s because of how wild and uncontrollable the cars were. The McLaren in particular had very little downforce, almost nothing in the way of driver safety, a manual gearbox, a cockpit so thin it could’ve been made of cardboard, and over 1,000 horsepower. Often when someone thinks of Formula 1, the iconic orange and white Marlboro livery of the McLaren MP4/4 is what comes to mind.
1. Maserati 250F
This is my favourite formula 1 car of all time, for a number of reasons. First off is the badge. Maserati hasn’t raced in F1 for some time, but when they did, they were unstoppable, and the 250F is the last remaining relic of their dominance. Second is the brutal simplicity of the car. This car was from a time before wind tunnels and aerodynamics or even advanced mechanical grip. It had an engine, a seatbelt, a prop shaft that spun tantalisingly close to the driver’s family jewels, and that was about it. Thirdly, this car is famous because of who drove it. Easily the most recognisable names in F1 history, Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss are all but legendary in the sport. At a race the Nürburgring, Moss ended up a full minute behind the leaders. As he pursued them, he would go on to break the lap record 10 times in that one race as he overtook Mike Hawthorn on the very last lap to win.
That concludes my list of the greatest F1 cars ever! Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments!
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Title image: autosport.com
Image 1: formula1.com
Image 2: Maxf1.net
Image 3: Wikipedia
Image 4: ABC.ES
Image 5: road and track
Image 6: supercars.com