The Incredible Evolution of Formula 1 Engines | Track Evolution

Welcome to a new series, Track Evolution, where we show the incredible innovation from F1 over the years. Showing how F1 engineering, cars and tracks have evolved.

We’re going to walk you through the engines from each decade of F1, as well as pick out the key innovations that have got us to today - where F1 has some of the most efficient engines on the planet.

So, how have F1 engines changed over the years? Which of them was the most powerful? And what breakthroughs have made it into today’s engines?

➤Sources
- Brilliant McLaren article - https://www.mclaren.com/racing/car/history-of-the-f1-engine/
- Grand Prix History - http://www.grandprixhistory.org/f1_engines.htm

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The 1950s F1 cars used all sorts of engines, from custom-built inline 4s, to pre-war v8s. The only regulations were a limit on engine displacement, 4.5L if it were Naturally Aspirated and 1.5L if you fitted a supercharger.

They produced around 425 horsepower, meaning they produced 94 horsepower per litre. Oh, and keep an eye on that number throughout this video.

In 1954, they tightened restrictions and only allowed 2.5 litres, naturally aspirated engines - cutting power to 290 horsepower. However, the teams got creative with engine layouts - keeping efficiency comparatively high. [116HP/L]

These were some of the best years for variety in F1, if you looked through the grid, they were running inline 4s and 8s, V12s and 16s and even a huge V-twin!

However, all of them were incredibly heavy, meaning the cars produced huge understeer - forcing the drivers to neutralise this by mostly drifting around corners.

This was also the decade when F1 first used mid-mounted engines with the Cooper T43. This got rid of the massive understeer the front-mounted engines produced, as they placed the centre of gravity further back in the car - naturally creating a more oversteery balance.


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