But as of this year engines were cut in size from 3.0-litre V10s to 2.4-litre V8s. And with that drop in size came a corresponding drop in power to around the 750hp mark.
Although still an enormous amount of power to generate with a 240cc, normally-aspirated engine, it does mean that F1 engines now lag significantly behind the most powerful engines used in production cars such as the renowned 1,000hp Bugatti Veyron.
Here are some of the production specification cars that put out more horsepower than F1 racers. Don your best Jeremy Clarkson jeans and read on…
Bugatti Veyron 16.4
The mack daddy in the supercar super-power stakes. Built by the Volkswagen Group to carry the evocative and historic name of Bugatti, the Veyron is a triumph of brute force engineering. Or, at least, the engine is, for the rest of the car effectively had to be built around the demands of its enormous W16 quad-turbo powerplant and the ten radiators needed to keep it cool.
Volkswagen sells the car at an enormous loss and it basically exists to prove that the company is capable of engineering a car that can exceed 400kph (250mph) with over 1,000hp. Which is enough a reason to do anything. (Image courtesy of Alex Eckford.)
Yes, it has 20% less horsepower than the Veyron. But at 1,180kg it weighs 700kg less and will get within a few kph of the Veyron’s top speed. All this from a comparatively small Swedish car builder substantially smaller than the might of Volkswagen. Hugely impressive.
The 2005 model S7 has roughly as much power as a modern F1 car – but it weighs twice as much. That said, Saleen do a performance package that can up power to a dizzying 1,035hp – comparable to what F1 cars were putting out in the famous turbo era.
Some have charitably described the Sirius’ looks as ‘unique’. We think “battered with the ugly stick” would be closer to the mark. But there’s no arguing with the power output of its engine. This is the same six-litre Mercedes-Benz V12 that appears in the Pagani Zonda, but given the turbo treatment with twin chargers that push it to 850hp.
Happily, then, it’ll be long gone before you get a good look at it.
Bristol Fighter T
Crikey! Publicity-shy British manufacturer of “nicely understated” motors have come up with this nicely up-rated version of their Fighter sports car. They have drawn upon over a century of experience building turbo cars to fettle a beast of a machine.
Over 1,000 horsepower will put the Fighter T, due out in September 2007, in Veyron performance territory. They reckon it could do 270 mph were it not electronically limited to a still-insane 225.
The 9FF styling kit applied to the Porsche 996 at the heart of this car is pretty awful. And the name – 9F-400 – completely incomprehensible. But the 840hp power output and track-tested top speed of 390kph is something everyone can enjoy. Only 20 examples were made in 2004.
Spotted any other production cars with more than 750hp? We want to hear about them in the comments…