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F1's biggest technical blunders


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#51 BRG

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Posted 02 July 2016 - 18:17

Thank you. So what we're saying is Cosworth did a better job on their V8, or had an advantage within the rule structure (or both...or neither)?

Keith Duckworth (designer of the DFV) considered that the optimum size of a four stroke cylinder was 375cc.  Which for a 3 litre engine means 8 cylinders.  He was proved right over many years and many victories.



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#52 midgrid

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Posted 02 July 2016 - 18:43

Perhaps the Jaguar R3? I assume someone will know how exactly but they didn't calibrate their wind tunnel correctly. Presumably they were using a different/new tunnel. Only once the car hit the track did they realise they had a dog on their hands that would spend most of the season racing Minardis.

 

I believe that the R3 was woefully uncompetitive because the chassis was simply not stiff enough and flexing when undergoing load.  This would also look good in the windtunnel but hopeless on track.



#53 Canuck

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Posted 03 July 2016 - 01:59

Keith Duckworth (designer of the DFV) considered that the optimum size of a four stroke cylinder was 375cc. Which for a 3 litre engine means 8 cylinders. He was proved right over many years and many victories.

I'm in no position to argue with Duckworth, 155 DFV F1 victories over 16 years. Interesting however that their turbo attempts and immediately post turbo ('88) never repeated their domination.

#54 bigleagueslider

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Posted 03 July 2016 - 05:25

How about Ferrari's Comprex supercharged engine?

 

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#55 gruntguru

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Posted 04 July 2016 - 03:28

Results show the Cosworth was a better all-round package but the V12 engines generally had more power, which aligns with Canuck's original statement. Duckworth's definition of "optimum" was certainly not solely about power. Later formulae have moved towards smaller cylinders as optimum. Better materials, construction techniques, pneumatic springs all contribute to this.

 

Examples include 1.5 turbo. V6 was the most successful (and popular) package.

3.0 V10

2.4 V8 (although mandated)


Edited by gruntguru, 04 July 2016 - 03:36.


#56 BRG

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Posted 05 July 2016 - 20:20

Duckworth's definition of "optimum" was certainly not solely about power.

Examples include 1.5 turbo. V6 was the most successful (and popular) package.

 

Optimum presumably meant the best balance of efficiency, fuel economy, mechanical losses and weight.

 

As for the turbos, wasn't the four cylinder BMW reckoned to be the best of the bunch?  375cc rules.....



#57 MatsNorway

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Posted 05 July 2016 - 20:46

Performance is more than hp.. response was a big deal back then. I wish they opened up the engine regs today tho. No lower cubic limit. 1L 3 cyl if you want to. More realistic: they should drop the engine size down a few years from now.. 1L engine. I think that would actually make the engines louder.



#58 gruntguru

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Posted 06 July 2016 - 04:11

 

As for the turbos, wasn't the four cylinder BMW reckoned to be the best of the bunch?  375cc rules.....

Certainly not the most successful. Probably the highest qualy power. I guess turbo is not a great example, since ultimate power becomes more about containing the pressure, heat and detonation than it is about optimum cylinder size.



#59 Canuck

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Posted 06 July 2016 - 04:50

Didn't the BMW also use some horrific chemical soup as a fuel to obtain that output?

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#60 MatsNorway

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Posted 06 July 2016 - 08:48

They all did. Toulene in the fuel etc. I see what you talk about tho. Google has more talk about BMW doing it than other teams.



#61 E1pix

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Posted 06 July 2016 - 09:53

Performance is more than hp.. response was a big deal back then. I wish they opened up the engine regs today tho. No lower cubic limit. 1L 3 cyl if you want to. More realistic: they should drop the engine size down a few years from now.. 1L engine. I think that would actually make the engines louder.

Loud is good.

#62 bigleagueslider

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Posted 09 July 2016 - 04:24

They all did. Toulene in the fuel etc. I see what you talk about tho. Google has more talk about BMW doing it than other teams.

It wasn't just some toluene in the fuel, the fuel was over 85% toluene. Toluene is fairly toxic, but not nearly as bad as the benzene added to race fuel many years ago.



#63 MatsNorway

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Posted 09 July 2016 - 11:34

I would like a source on that if you have it.


Edited by MatsNorway, 09 July 2016 - 11:34.


#64 chunder27

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Posted 09 July 2016 - 12:39

The BMW might have been very powerful but it drank fuel and was very difficult to drive.

 

It was also rather tall until BMW tried to lay it down, with all the inherent issues at Brabham that gave it.

 

I am sure the Ford basicalty BDA turbo would have been OK, but if yu watch that +Equinox show it was clear they would have had to completely build something new, so they might aswell ahve done what they did with the V6.

 

Which actually in the Benetton in 87 was a very good engine, not Honda level and clearly the chassis was not quite there but it was very good in fuel.

 

You have to realise they were using the Lola Haas which was a dog, and was driven by a rather well paid and overweight Aussie at the time!

 

As for tech blunders of this era, the Alfa 4 cylinder, the Porsche V12 F1 engine.  The Life and Subaru engines.  March, Tyrrell and Williams with twin rear and front wheels?  The Cosworth 4wd car and teh Lotus one?



#65 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 09 July 2016 - 13:16

Is every "hey why don't we try.." a blunder? 



#66 chunder27

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Posted 09 July 2016 - 13:41

When you thin of the amount of money involved, then yes probably?

 

As they all entail a mass of investment, development and get to the grid before it is realised they area waste of time!



#67 werks prototype

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Posted 09 July 2016 - 13:46

The magnesium skin.



#68 Greg Locock

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Posted 09 July 2016 - 13:52

One of the hardest things to decide is when to kill an innovation that is stumbling. As an example the carbon revolution wheels have been in development for ten years- how would you fancy bank rolling that? On the other hand I have worked on twenty car programs that have been canned,some as little as two years from j1.

#69 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 09 July 2016 - 14:02

When you thin of the amount of money involved, then yes probably?

 

As they all entail a mass of investment, development and get to the grid before it is realised they area waste of time!

 

How else are you supposed to do it? 

 

Something like the 6 wheeled F1 cars weren't blunders. They were ideas that didn't work out for various reasons, sometimes because of simply rule changes.

 

Hell logically most people would have said turbocharging an F1 car was a blunder. Until they figured it out. Now you'd give up your first born for permission to run it. 



#70 chunder27

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Posted 09 July 2016 - 14:35

Every single leap of technical faith has the potential to be a blunder. That is the inherent risk in them.

 

Turbo's clearly were not one but Renault were the first to take that leap, everyone else followed after watching from over the fence for a couple of years If they showed winnign form instantly everyone would have done it instantly as they did with big bang engines in 2 stroke GP bikes in 1992, withitn a few months of Honda doing it Cagiva, Yamaha and Suzuki hastily built theirs such was the instant advantage, not visible with Renaults turbo engine in 77.

 

Neither was Audi using a loophole to bring 4wd into rallying a blunder yet they were laughed at in 1980/1 when they asked the FIA about 4wd rally cars.

 

In my mind, anything that most teams did not take on board is a blunder. So blown diffusers are not one, the blown wing system was not one. anhedral front wings not one. Wingless cars, yes, (though they were used at times at fast tracks) big bang concept in race car engines was a blunder by Honda.

 

The 6 wheeled idea was, as the other teams used wheels on the other end!  And no-one else really tried it. Twin chassis was banned, vacuum skirt system was banned.

Skirts were not, as they became de rigeur and every team used them.

 

Pit stops also.

 

Whereas some of the engine projects simply wasted development time and money for Porsche, Alfa, Ford, Subaru Lambo etc.  Not necessarily blunders, more badly calculated moves.



#71 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 09 July 2016 - 16:16

 

The 6 wheeled idea was, as the other teams used wheels on the other end!  And no-one else really tried it. 

 

Four powered wheels was banned, and eventually 6 wheels in general.



#72 Kelpiecross

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Posted 10 July 2016 - 05:13


The Tyrrell 6-wheeler actually won an F1 race - so it wasn't all that bad.

#73 chunder27

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Posted 10 July 2016 - 08:53

It certainly did Kelpie and it has won plenty of histrionic F1 races aswell in the hands of Sir Stretton against much newer opposition.

 

Sadly though it never caught on, the tyres up fornt were alwyas a problem. So for me though a minor a success it escapes being a blunder perhaps, but not by much!!



#74 bigleagueslider

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 01:30

I would like a source on that if you have it.

Sorry, the toluene content of the race fuel supplied by Elf to Honda was only 84%. Table 3 on page 8 of this paper is the source: http://www.k20a.org/...A168EEngine.pdf



#75 MatsNorway

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 16:20

That link fails for me. But i trust you. So they basically ran toulene engines with a dash of petrol in there. Thats funny.


Edited by MatsNorway, 11 July 2016 - 16:20.


#76 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 20:21

It certainly did Kelpie and it has won plenty of histrionic F1 races aswell in the hands of Sir Stretton against much newer opposition.

 

Sadly though it never caught on, the tyres up fornt were alwyas a problem. So for me though a minor a success it escapes being a blunder perhaps, but not by much!!

 

By my rough count, 13 podiums in 30 races. This is the cusp of a blunder? 3rd an 4th in the points behind Hunt and Lauda? 



#77 gruntguru

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Posted 12 July 2016 - 06:52

Sorry, the toluene content of the race fuel supplied by Elf to Honda was only 84%. Table 3 on page 8 of this paper is the source: http://www.k20a.org/...A168EEngine.pdf

That fuel was developed (by Honda) for the last set of turbo regulations. High restricted on fuel quantity and boost level. No doubt there were more exotic brews getting around in the days of 1000+ hp qualifying engines.



#78 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 12 July 2016 - 07:48

Sorry, the toluene content of the race fuel supplied by Elf to Honda was only 84%. Table 3 on page 8 of this paper is the source: http://www.k20a.org/...A168EEngine.pdf

Back in the dim dark ages 35+ years ago when the world was running out of oil !!! The Confederation Against Motor Sport banned Avgas use. Why?? PC I think.

Anyway I was recomended to use normal super 97 octane petrol with 20% tolulene. The engine [11-1 Holden 6] did not ping though was not quite as responsive. 

I dont think you can even buy Tolulene anymore ??  I do know [now] it is quite dangerous and it disolved fuel tank foam too. Though the engine was never actually retuned for the fuel which may have made a difference. 

I am still told these tolulene based fuels are great for turbos but not so good for normally aspirated engines.

Looking at a Beneton F1 recently I was surprised to see the ignition seemed very basic, a BMW distributor and plain copper cored leads. For an engine with 600-1500!! hp.



#79 munks

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Posted 14 July 2016 - 14:20

If I recall correctly, Michelin once brought a tire to a race that couldn't be safely used.



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#80 bigleagueslider

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Posted 15 July 2016 - 05:41

If I recall correctly, Michelin once brought a tire to a race that couldn't be safely used.

You might be thinking of the 2005 US GP at Indianapolis. There was a big problem with the Michelin tires failing due to the forces experienced on the high-speed banked turns.



#81 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 17 July 2016 - 08:06

If I recall correctly, Michelin once brought a tire to a race that couldn't be safely used.

They did that a few times. 

Interestingly the aggro over tyre pressures in recent times may have been the problem there. Stupidly low starting pressures coupled with hi corner loads may have been the culprit. Who knows?

Many categories have had the same problem, here in Oz V8 Stupid cars did, especially at Bathurst where 120 litres of fuel and running over the kerbs created problems,, as did HRT with stupid camber settings, real fast for a few laps then the tyre failed. And ofcourse it is all the manufacturers fault!

Anyone that thinks can understand the running low tyre pressures will destroy the tyre and build up a LOT more heat. Especially in a steel belted tyre that have been throwing the treads or exploding on vehicles for 50 years when underinflated. Bad enough with the constant pacecars that the tyres cool and lose pressure. In all forms of motorsport.

I have seen evidence of that as the old [unexploded] tyres come off with handfulls of rubber inside them. As the case has flexed. I see it regularly on passenger tyres too.

When they are like that they probably should be binned.



#82 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 17 July 2016 - 11:42

They only had that one screw-up in F1, but they've had at least one in MotoGP so far. 



#83 BRG

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Posted 17 July 2016 - 18:02

There is a tyre issue every year in the BTCC when they race at Thruxton.  The flat out back part of the circuit is one long right hand bend and every year there are NSF tyre failures when teams run too much camber.  



#84 Henri Greuter

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Posted 27 July 2016 - 11:04

 

 

 

Technical failure par excellence: the 1955 GP formula allowed 750cc supercharged engines.  The idea being you could supercharge a Formula 3 engine and have yourself a Grand Prix car.  DB tried that at Pau.

 

10833_360444140178_330843070178_10087867

 

Their sole finisher was Paul Armagnac. 16 laps down by the finish.

 

The problem was that the supercharged engine pushed out 87 bhp.  Eighty-seven.

 

 

Well....

 

Being underpowered but having a superior chassis to make up for a power deficit magnificently has been done before and after the DB's.

 

But their failure also might have had something to do with the fact that they had front wheel drive too......

 

 

 

Henri


Edited by Henri Greuter, 27 July 2016 - 11:05.


#85 Henri Greuter

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Posted 27 July 2016 - 11:20

That fuel was developed (by Honda) for the last set of turbo regulations. High restricted on fuel quantity and boost level. No doubt there were more exotic brews getting around in the days of 1000+ hp qualifying engines.

 

 

If I remember right, somewhere in 1995 there was a race in which Benetton lost their constructors points because of an illegal fuel blend used. Or more correct, the used fuel not matching the specs as it was told to be. In the years after the first turbo era there were some very wild fuel mixtures used with contents you would never find in straight pump fuel. A single liter from those blends was more expensive than filling up a Hypersupercar of that era to the brim.

 

 

Most laughable/funny thing I ever hear/read.  The already mentioned fuel blend used by Honda in 1988 had to comply to a certain octane rating ( a number of 102 if I recall correct) The used blend consisted of 84% Toluene and 16% n-Heptane. In other words: it did not contain a droplet octane to comply to the prescribed octane rating...

 

And I'll bet you that the juices currently used in F1  are not available at your local fuel station either.....

 

 

 

henri



#86 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 27 July 2016 - 11:41

Not available no, but would pretty much work in your car if used, I think. Maybe it'd run a little rough because of the engine the fuel is designed for, but it's as close to 'pump fuel' as they're going to get? 



#87 J. Edlund

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 10:44

Yes, my recollection is that Ferrari did and published a study that concluded a V-12 might likely be advantageous over existing V-10s and the sport stepped in to set the cylinder count at ten to prevent potentially obsoleting all the existing powertrains. I've still got a copy of the study somewhere.

 

At the time, Cosworth built a V12 mule by reducing the displacement of one of their V10 engines to 2.5 liters, and their conclusion was that a V12 was not an advantage. But as the bore/stroke ratio got a bit more extreme for every year, had the V12 not been banned, the larger engine manufacturers probably had to have a V12 design ready as a back-up plan, which would have been expensive.
 

Optimum presumably meant the best balance of efficiency, fuel economy, mechanical losses and weight.

 

As for the turbos, wasn't the four cylinder BMW reckoned to be the best of the bunch?  375cc rules.....

 

The BMW engine was only successful in the early years, being the first turbocharged engine to win a drivers championship in 82 (Ferrari won the constructors the year before with a turbocharged engine). Later the non-production based V6 engines took over and won every single championship until the turbocharged engine was banned. TAG in 1984-1985, and Honda in 1986-1988. BMW had a powerful quali-engine (but so had Renault) but were generally down on race-power and had a very poor reliability.

 

That fuel was developed (by Honda) for the last set of turbo regulations. High restricted on fuel quantity and boost level. No doubt there were more exotic brews getting around in the days of 1000+ hp qualifying engines.

 

Avgas was used in the early eighties, then the toluene based fuels were developed, which accounted for large gains in power. BMW was sponsored by Wintershall, whose parent company BASF (which had a large experience of synthetic fuels) made the fuel. It included other components too, significantly more toxic than toluene (toluene is still today a common paint thinner and a component of pump petrol).

 

If I remember right, somewhere in 1995 there was a race in which Benetton lost their constructors points because of an illegal fuel blend used. Or more correct, the used fuel not matching the specs as it was told to be. In the years after the first turbo era there were some very wild fuel mixtures used with contents you would never find in straight pump fuel. A single liter from those blends was more expensive than filling up a Hypersupercar of that era to the brim.

 

 

Most laughable/funny thing I ever hear/read.  The already mentioned fuel blend used by Honda in 1988 had to comply to a certain octane rating ( a number of 102 if I recall correct) The used blend consisted of 84% Toluene and 16% n-Heptane. In other words: it did not contain a droplet octane to comply to the prescribed octane rating...

 

And I'll bet you that the juices currently used in F1  are not available at your local fuel station either.....

 

 

 

henri

 

A fuel doesn't have to contain iso-octane (2,2,4-Trimethylpentane) to have an octane rating. The octane numbers refer to the amount of octane used in the reference fuel, not in the tested fuel. A fuel having an octane number of RON 90 offers the same knock resistance in the Research test as a reference fuel with 90% iso-octane and 10% n-heptane. With octane ratings above 100, iso-octane with added TEL is used as the reference.

 

Most of the compounds found in the current F1 fuel is what you find in ordinary gasoline. The major difference is that in the F1 fuel you will find more of some of the compounds while others aren't included at all.



#88 Charlieman

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 15:25

Keith Duckworth (designer of the DFV) considered that the optimum size of a four stroke cylinder was 375cc.  Which for a 3 litre engine means 8 cylinders.  He was proved right over many years and many victories.

My understanding of this rule of thumb is that it is about the ratio of area (piston top, exposed cylinder, valve and cylinder head) to volume of the stroke. Combustion heat loss is closely related to area, power is linked to piston area, and the first of those areas changes as the piston descends.

 

For a four stroke car engine with racing bore/stroke ratios, compression ratio etc, the rule of thumb suggests an optimum cylinder size of about 350cc. And it worked for three and four cylinder road cars up to the 1990s -- 1000cc/3 cyl and 1300cc/4 cyl were successful combinations. For a four stroke marine diesel, the optimum cylinder size is much bigger, and for a two stroke bike engine, it is much smaller.

 

I thought Harry Ricardo came up with the idea?

---

Benzole and Benzene: my vague understanding.

 

Benzene is a hydrocarbon compound, readily distilled from crude oil. It was part of the rocket fuel or dope mix used by the 1930s Silver Arrows, speed record cars etc. Almost everything in the rocket fuel mix is injurious to health and use of Benzene is now restricted.

 

Benzole is a fuel made by distillation of coal and it contains Benzene as a component. Benzole was added to conventional petrol and marketed by the company National Benzole (later National). National Benzole were involved in motor sport and neat Benzole was offered as an anti-knock additive -- essential for enthusiasts running a tuned car on low octane pool petrol in the 1940s and early 1950s.

---

Avgas.

 

In the 1950s, GP and other racing cars typically raced on a dope mix. This was awkward for the fuel suppliers who paid for a lot of racing but could not claim that races were won on their pump petrol. Consequently there was a move for GP cars to race on pump petrol -- until somebody pointed out that pump petrol was different everywhere, assuming that you could find any. So for a brief period, GP cars raced on Avgas, switching over to pump petrol when it became more standardised and more available. Which worked fine until people determined how to make fuel that looked like pump petrol...



#89 Charlieman

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 15:43

Four wheel drive? Ferguson proved that it could work in extraordinary circumstances and Tony Rudd at BRM determined that it works very well occasionally. All the same, McLaren, Lotus, Cosworth, Matra -- who did I miss? -- wasted time and effort. 



#90 werks prototype

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 17:21

Four wheel drive? Ferguson proved that it could work in extraordinary circumstances and Tony Rudd at BRM determined that it works very well occasionally. All the same, McLaren, Lotus, Cosworth, Matra -- who did I miss? -- wasted time and effort. 

 

The Alfa design study?



#91 Charlieman

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 18:28

De Dion back end on Niki Lauda's Ferrari?



#92 Kelpiecross

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Posted 29 July 2016 - 05:48


From memory - with the alcohol-based F1 fuels of the 1950s - sometimes a small percentage of nitromethane was used. Likewise at Indianapolis nitro was sometimes used.
The Ferguson 4 -wheel drive F1 car was a good car - again from memory the last front-engined F1 win - Graham Hill in the rain at Aintree. Also said to be S. Moss's favourite F1 car.

#93 Henri Greuter

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Posted 29 July 2016 - 07:36

The Alfa design study?

 

 

I recall having read that the Merc W196 of the mid sisxties was also designed with in mind the option to employ 4WD if possible/necessary.

 

 

Henri



#94 Charlieman

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Posted 29 July 2016 - 12:01

Looking at a Beneton F1 recently I was surprised to see the ignition seemed very basic, a BMW distributor and plain copper cored leads. For an engine with 600-1500!! hp.

If it ain't broke, don't try to fix it... During the F1 turbo era, engine designers may have assumed that there were greater benefits by concentrating their efforts on other aspects. If we look at what they achieved in a few years -- power up from 520 bhp to ??? in race state -- they probably made a wise choice.

 

Was coil ignition itself a blunder? Magnetos run without a battery (i.e. potential point of failure) and reliability was enough to score points and prize money in F1 until recently.



#95 Tenmantaylor

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Posted 09 August 2016 - 18:41

Pretty much any "design concept" that McLaren decided to announce was going to be a winning feature of their new cars of the last four years.

 

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#96 rl1856

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Posted 08 October 2016 - 02:16

Yes.

In 1970-71  V12 engines won as many races as the DFV.   In fact the Ferrari and BRM V12 motors developed more power and the cars holding them were faster than most DFV powered cars.  For many reasons, both Ferrari and BRM lost there way in the mid 70's and the DFV remained as a constant.   Focused steady development, and a broad support base ensured that the DFV would continue to be viable for a long time.  

 

As to the original thread-

 

I don't know that the BRM H16 was a complete failure.  It did win a race (albeit in a Lotus chassis), and was competitive for much of 1967.  

 

I would nominate:

 

Air cooled Honda (1968)

Tecno Flat 12

Reincarnated BRM



#97 Charlieman

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Posted 08 October 2016 - 11:01

I don't know that the BRM H16 was a complete failure.  It did win a race (albeit in a Lotus chassis), and was competitive for much of 1967.  

The mass of the BRM H16 limited the scope of designers to play with weight distribution. Any car using the engine would be more tail heavy than the designer wished. It was briefly competitive (on the days when it was reliable) because it was more powerful than most. Tyre manufacturer competition probably played a part too.

 

BRM dropped the H16 at the end of 1967 -- so we never saw it running in a high wing F1 car which might have mitigated some of the weight problems.



#98 MatsNorway

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Posted 08 October 2016 - 20:46

Surely the CoG was shite on the H16? And as the downforce/grip goes up, so does the importance of Low CoG

 

brmh16rq1.jpg


Edited by MatsNorway, 08 October 2016 - 20:47.


#99 Greg Locock

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Posted 08 October 2016 - 23:26

I'd have thought high downforce directly reduced the effect of a high cg.



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#100 desmo

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Posted 09 October 2016 - 19:28

I was thinking the same when I read that.