When did F1 cars look their best? (Poll)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

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Have you got used to the unusual 2009 F1 cars?
Have you got used to the unusual 2009 F1 cars?

At the start of the year there was a lot of discussion about whether we’d ever get used to the peculiar 2009-specification cars with their bizarre front and rear wings.

So, has time made us more fond of the new-look F1 cars? How do they compare to the designs of previous generations? Have a look at them and vote below.

Which era produced the best-looking F1 cars?

  • 1950s (3%)
  • 1960s (12%)
  • 1970s (7%)
  • 1980s (11%)
  • 1990s (27%)
  • 2000s (35%)
  • 2009 (5%)

Total Voters: 2,354

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1950s: Front-engined brutes

1954: Two Mercedes-Benz W196s and a Maserati 250F (click to enlarge)
1954: Two Mercedes-Benz W196s and a Maserati 250F (click to enlarge)

In the 1950s drivers sat behind thundering great engines to which wheels were attached. The pilots then tried to trick these brutal beasts into going around corners, mainly by approaching them sideways.

1960s: Rear-engined cigar tubes

1965: BRM P261, Lotus 33 and Honda RA 272 (click to enlarge)
1965: BRM P261, Lotus 33 and Honda RA 272 (click to enlarge)

Those who think the coming of wings in 1968 destroyed F1 often point to the early-to-mid sixties as the time when the cars looked their best. With beauties like the Lotus 49 (below), it’s hard to argue, although these look so unlike modern F1 cars it’s hard to find points of comparison.

1967: Lotus 49 (click to enlarge)
1967: Lotus 49 (click to enlarge)

1970s: All things weird and wonderful

1973: Lotus 72E (click to enlarge)
1973: Lotus 72E (click to enlarge)

The 1970s was the final decade of great freedom in the regulations, and the designers dreamt up all manner of radical things: six-wheeled cars, ground effects and more. Cars appeared on slicks for the first time and soon they were sporting monster rear wheels too. This was F1’s gawky, awkward, pubescent phase.

1977: Renault RS01 (click to enlarge)
1977: Renault RS01 (click to enlarge)

1980s: Turbo muscle

1984: Williams FW09B, McLaren MP4/2 (click to enlarge)
1984: Williams FW09B, McLaren MP4/2 (click to enlarge)

Awesome power, huge wings, and not too much in the way of sophistication. That defined the turbo monsters of the 1980s.

1985: Arrows A8 (click to enlarge)
1985: Arrows A8 (click to enlarge)

1990s: Lean and low

1990: McLaren MP4/5B (click to enlarge)
1990: McLaren MP4/5B (click to enlarge)

The decade that’s probably going to get my vote, as much because of rose-tinted specs as anything else. Low, wide cars with slick tyres, but without the ungainly bulk of their 1980s predecessors. Lots of good liveries too – this generation produced the fantastic Jordan 191.

1997: Ferrari F310B (click to enlarge)
1997: Ferrari F310B (click to enlarge)

2000s: The aerodynamic age

2002: Williams FW24, Ferrari F2002 (click to enlarge)
2002: Williams FW24, Ferrari F2002 (click to enlarge)

For those who love clean lines, the winglet-infested cars of this decade were hideous creations. I never warmed to the narrow-track, grooved-tyre look, but the 2007 Monza-spec McLaren MP4-22s (below) were among my favourites from this time.

2007: McLaren MP4-22 (click to enlarge)
2007: McLaren MP4-22 (click to enlarge)

2009: Snowploughs and smooth sides

2009: Red Bull RB5 (click to enlarge)
2009: Red Bull RB5 (click to enlarge)

When the first of the 2009 cars started to appear we all gasped in horror. Half a year later, some of us have grown used to them and some haven’t.

And I’m definitely in the latter group. I appreciate the winglet-free sidepods (although more and more of them are coming back as teams find ways around the rules) but the fundamental problem remains that the front and rear wings are massively out of proportion.

2009: Renault R29 (click to enlarge)
2009: Renault R29 (click to enlarge)

Which decade do you think had the best F1 cars? Post examples of your favourites – and least favourites – below…

Images (C) Mercedes, Ford, Ferrari spa, BMW ag, Renault/LAT, Sutton

Read more

123 comments on “When did F1 cars look their best? (Poll)”

  1. Late 90’s and early 2000’s. The cars looked nice and streamlined, but didn’t yet have all kind of extra aero. If only the MP4/13 had slicks…

    1. Casino Square
      29th June 2009, 13:10

      I agree, I’d say up till 2004 the cars looked great, before they began to sprout winglets everywhere between 2005 and 2008 (the 07/08 Renaults were worst for this). I like the look of the 1960’s Lotus as well though.

    2. Agree with you both, up till 2004 when all the ugly parts got on the cars

      1. I totally agree with you to. It’s not as straight forward as the poll makes it because I loved the look of the cars in the late 90’s and early 00’s. Simple, beautiful and always great racing.

        1. Me too and while it’s great too see nice smooth bodies after having had all those fiddly bits on for the past few years, whenever I see a 2009 car it always makes me think of a vacuum cleaner, especially when they show you the front view during the race.

  2. The Ferrari F-189. A work of art. The purity of Barnard’s then-revolutionary form was never equalled, in my opinion.

  3. shockingly there is not even a single mention of the Mclaren-Mercedes mp4-20,which according to be was the most beautiful, both in terms of looks & performance of all time.

    1. graham228221
      29th June 2009, 12:42

      i’ve gotta say that i think the BMW F1.08 is the best Formula 1 car ever. The fluid detail is amazing and it’s a physics-geek’s dream. It’s aerodynamic porno, seriously.

      F1.08, hubba hubba.

      The RA108 would come a close second. Great pic here:

      RA108 at the Canadian GP

      In full viking winged, dumbo eared, sidepod vaned glory; gorgeous!!!! :D

      1. I absolutely love the BMW F1.08. As you say, it’s aerodynamic porno.

    2. I think shockingly is perhaps one adjective too far!

      Come on, the mp4-22 got a mention didn’t it :)

      1. HounslowBusGarage
        29th June 2009, 22:11

        It’s about as exciting as your mother’s socks :)
        All those flip-flaps, chimneys and tuning vanes just show how bad the original design was. After all, if the basic shape worked in the wind tunnel, they wouldn’t have had to bother with all the bolt-on rubbish would they?
        Auto porno? Take a look at something like the Citoen SM. That’s auto porno!

  4. Cars from the 2004 season were my favourites. Pure power and quite clean, but in the same time, sophisticated look. Only the grooved tires looked bad on them.

    1. i agree in part, hence my preference is 1993

      the yellow and green bennettons and the camel williams cars looked perfect!

  5. It’s hard to compare really. Out of all the “aerodynamic” cars (70s onwards) I’d have to say I prefer the 2000s. Compared to some of those 80s cars, the 2009 cars look pretty good.

    I’ll always have a soft spot for the 6-wheeled Tyrell though.

  6. Late 80s, through mid 90s are the best-looking F1 cars to me. I loved the Leyton House CG911, Tyrrell 019, Ligier JS35, the early Jordan’s (191 through 195), the McLaren MP4-6 through 9, the Ferrari 640, 641 and 642, and especially the 412T2.

    1. Good point about the Jordans – the post-191 ones were spoiled by their liveries, I thought.

      1. Very true. The green-green-blue 191 is easily the best-looking Jordan ever.

        1. Can I suggest a post about the evolution of the Jordan car (or car liveries)? They were always among the best looking, if not the fastest cars. Have to say I disagree with your post 191 comments too! My fav was their ’99 car.

          1. The 199 was very pretty, indeed. And quick, too.

          2. The 7up Jordan was definetly a breath of fresh air. Cool & Clean!

          3. I liked the animals on the front nose

            Bitten & Hisses – Snake
            Buzzin & Hornets – Wasps

            What was the shark car I can’t remember?

          4. Bitten Heroes

  7. I probably like the Lotus 49 way too much, since that’s what I always conjured up in my head when I thought of a racecar as a kid.

    That said, for no good reason I really liked the BAR 005 and 006, and I actually was a fan of the BMW F1.08, by far the most wing-laden car of the lot last year.

    I really disliked the 09 cars at first but I definitely have begun to warm up to them, my favorites being the FW31 and RB5, as well as the launch version of the F1.09 (despite the fact that it is technically horrendously ugly).

    Anyone else want to see 2009 spec bodies and front wings with huge low rear wings? Maybe it won’t improve racing but it will sure look awesome!

  8. I voted for the 1990s, but I think the 1991 season in particular gave us the best-looking cars. That was the year of the 7UP Jordan, the clean-looking McLaren, Ferrari and Williams, and the wonderfully painted Leyton-House. Many of the other cars had simple but elegant curves on the engine cover and nose. Even Footwork had a cool one-piece solution to connect the nose and front wing.

    1. Completely agree with Steven & Lustigson. Late 80’s / Early 90’s was where it was at for me. Adrian Newey had just arrived and had an immediate impact, they had all the requirements to overtake, fat slick tyres and the right amount of aero and no devices everywhere.

      The 60’s have an attraction as well, again probably through the lack of aero and smooth nature of that cigar shaped body.

  9. My favorite car was without no doubt the spectacular Lotus 72 John Player Special.

    This car was the predecesor of modern F1 cars, with a great effort on aerodynamic work made in a wind tunnel, the radiators’ location admiships, ultralow body, rear wing, revolutionary suspension (front and rear)…

    The Lotus, won three WCC and two WDC and 20 GP, between 1970 and 1975. But the famous car livery (John Player Special) was from 1972.

    Previously the car was sponsored by Gold Leaf and was painted almost in red with the front part in gold, but nobody remember this livery. Jochen Rindt won the WDC in 1970 with that car’s livery.

    I was a kid at that time, and I don’t remember any colleague at school prefering Batman’s car than the Lotus 72 John Player Special!!!!

    1. Well, I would say I like 1990’s also. That minimalist design was great.

  10. O voted the 60’s mainly because of the beautiful Lotus 49, but i also think the 1992 and 1995 Ferrari’s were very nice looking too.
    But the 60’s win for me because the 90’s became the decade where aero became too important and started to ruin overtaking.
    I also like the 2007 Mclaren, but it just has way too many aerodynamic devices.

    1. i meant I voted not O lol

      1. The Lotus 25.
        Nothing more to say

  11. I like 70’s because there were many different looking cars. Brabham in 1978 was great, Lotuses too, not to mention six wheels Tyrrel, and Ferrari in 1975-77.
    Some great cars in the other eras: Jim Clark Lotus, 1989 Ferrari, 1988 McLaren (I think the very best car ever, not only for looking but also for performances), Leyton House, Brabham in 1983, Ferrari in 1982…the longest I think the most I can find :-D

  12. It was hard choice for me betwen 60’s and 90’s but in the end 60’s got the vote – I just love the way cars looked then.

  13. The turbo brutes from the early to mid 80’s, from the beautiful Brabham BT52 to the monsterous Williams FW09.
    Also most of the cars from 1991 were very pretty – Jordan 191, Ferrari 643, McLaren MP4/6, even the Lambo with its curved sidepods.

  14. @ mp4-19b

    What place on this thread to those 2 posts have??

    Keep Max posts to the Max threads thank you. Sometimes we would like just to think about other things for a while.

    1. guess you are fed up of max :)

      1. Less so than people going on about him everywhere if I’m honest.

        1. For the record, the 2 posts to which I refer have been moderated, and most definitely not because I requested it.

          My post at 09:19 was all I said on the subject.

          1. For the record, the 2 posts to which I refer have been moderated

            lol Dougie – No wonder I couldn`t work out what you meant by references to … (won`t say the name just to keep on the right side of you & the thread ;)

          2. LOL!! Cheers presempre :-D

  15. Scott Joslin
    29th June 2009, 9:19

    My favorite car is the Ferrari 641 – It’s smooth and simple lines is a classic in my opinion. While I voted for the 1990’s I started to dislike the raised noses that became the trend in the mid 1990’s. The only car to have really pulled that off is the Tyrrell from 1990 the T019 I think.

    Worst car is the Mclaren from 1995 – ugly ugly ugly – and with that mid wing too – it looked like a dog and performed like one too!

    1. i agree . that mclaren mp4-10 designed by neil oatly was the worse ever mclaren ever. worse that the current mclaren mp4-24. mansell couldn’t fit his fat bottom into its cockpit. but i heard it was the 1st ever f1 car to be designed with the help of a super computer.

    2. I couldn’t agree with you more Scott.

      I have always dislike the raised noses. As for the 1995 Mclaren OMG!!!!! and it made the car look so much longer than the others i thought.

      1. There’s a point Keith, how about a poll on the worst looking F1 cars ever?

  16. HounslowBusGarage
    29th June 2009, 9:30

    Great to read about other people’s choices of ‘best looking car’. Problem is though, that you’re all wrong. The best looking F1 car was the Brabham BT49D from 1982.
    This was the Parmalat blue and white beast that ran in several races without a front wing – such was the power of the ground effect. The car was designed with one long, continuous curve from the tip of the nose to the end of the engine cover. Simply superb.
    Actually, the Leyton House March was pretty sexy, too.

    1. HBG: I really agree, the BT49D was a stunning car. The other car I really loved was the 65?? Ferrari white exhausts coming out over the engine, gold star wheels – gorgeous.

  17. just for the simplicity it has to be the late 88/89 through to 91. But was there ever a better looking car than this???


    1. Yes there was and it’s an F1 car!

      Mercedes-Benz W196 Streamliner

  18. I’ve had to vote for the 90’s due to the talents of Gary Anderson and John Barnard.

  19. 1975-1979 ((((boootiful)))

  20. I voted 60’s. The cars are so beautiful without wings; pointy, sleek and narrow. The lotus 49 is indeed a lovely car but my favourite (from a purely aesthetic point of view) is the 1968 Honda RA301. The white with red stripes is so great, its a pity the honda of recent years didn’t copy it

    worst looking car ever? Earthdream

    1. my post went wrong, I was supposed to link to the 60’s honda car:


  21. I think the Jordan 191 was the best looking F1 car ever followed by the 1985 lotus. Here’s a curveball, i really liked the 1996 Arrows, not sure why just something about it, Any thoughts?

  22. i salute for those people who created the F1 car. can u imagine, they stat from nothing until we can see now.. i think we should follow them, do it until u win..

  23. 88-94 were the best looking. Although I love the the 60’s cars too.

    I Started watching F1 in 94, only watching regularily in ’96 so I should prefer the late 90’s cards, but the older ones are best!

  24. This is so cruel… I couldn’t decide! A JPS liveried Lotus…a Camel Liveried Lotus…a Lotus 49 and that’s just Lotus! Oh…There is that Canon Williams, an MP4…

    But I voted 70’s…Before wind tunnels and all that, and to be honest…I think they just look cool.

  25. I went with 1990s. I think I am biased as I started following F1 in 1991. If I had to pick others it would be between the 1960s and 2000s.

    It is probably due to what I am used to, but a modern F1 car painted all one colour just doesn’t look right to me, whereas when F1 cars were usually all one colour, before wings in the 1950s and 1960s, I think it works and it suits the cars.

    If it wasn’t for all the extra winglets I probably would have said 2000s, having said that on some cars I thought they looked quite good. For example I thought the Viking horns and chimney exhausts really worked on the MP4-20, one of my personal favourite cars, but when the Viking horns were used by BMW and Honda they didn’t look as good to me, probably due to the different liveries.

    Another thing that counts against cars from the last decade or so is grooved tyres, one thing the 2009 cars have going for them is the return to slicks. I remember at Monaco this year there was an onboard shot with a McLaren and I thought it looked great with the silver livery, the nose free of any winglets, the slick tyres and of course on board shots are usually better at Monaco because of the closeness of the walls.

    As for the 2009 cars if it wasn’t for the front and rear wings looking so out of proportion I would say the McLaren MP4-24 when it was launched, before it got those sidepod airflow conditioners, would have been up there as one of my all time favourite looking cars, shame it is so slow.

  26. A beautiful car is a car that wins ;)
    Superficially, I have always preferred the look of cars before sponsorship began.

    1. You should be a politician persempre lol what a very political answer

      I agree about sponsorship, but that i’m afraid is here to stay.

  27. I went for 90’s, most likely because it’s the era I grew up watching, more than anything. The mid-90’s more specifically. The early 90’s seasons still had essence of 80’s in them, and the late 90’s were subject to the narrow width and grooved tyres.

    The 2000’s were too busy, the 80’s cars just look strange, much like everything else in the 80’s. The 70’s cars just look plain wrong, and before that don’t even look like F1 cars, and I’m not a fan of retro automotive designs.

    Here’s to the twenty-tenty decade’s crop!

    1. “twenty-tenty”???????? you trying to add to the english language with a new saying there Ajokay? lol

  28. Lotus ’79… a Thing of Beauty and totally unbeatable!

    Anything penned by Colin Chapman, in fact.

  29. I voted for 2000’s, but I can be more specific. As a complete field I don’t think there was a year with as aethetically pleasing (to me at least) field as 2006.

    In particular, the Honda, McLaren and Williams’ that year I thought had the right balance between beauty and technical interest (through the various aerodynamic appendages). In 2007 they started to get a bit too many winglets, bridge wings etc and don’t even get me started on 2008’s cars. Way too many flip-ups etc on most of them..!!

  30. Vindication!

    Most people voted for 2000s and I’m one of them.

    Why? Well the cars were beautiful to my eyes. Comparing an early 1990s car to a 2008 car is like comparing a walkman to an iPod. The aerodynamic pieces added dynamics and intrigue to a design and gave more for techies like myself who would love to think and wonder what that little flick here does, or that little sharp edge there.

    The racing was naff as a result of all the aero, but the cars themselves were fantastic.

    1. HounslowBusGarage
      29th June 2009, 22:21

      I disagree Mouse Nightshirt!
      All the aerodynamic bits and bobs masked the overall design – a bit like adding a fluffy velour coating to your beloved iPod.
      After all, we are discussing when the cars looked their best here; not when they were fastest or most efficient.
      I like my women svelte and smooth and uncompromised by sticky-up bits here or sticky-out flaps there. They might not run as fast as other women, but they are easier on the eye.
      Please don’t forward this to my wife .

    2. Comparing an early 1990s car to a 2008 car is like comparing a walkman to an iPod

      I’d take the walkman over an Ipod :)

  31. And I should add, 1960s comes a very close second for me.

  32. I have a soft spot for the Minardi PS01 to be honest.

    There should be more black liveries in my opinion, they even made the RA106 look quite nice:


    1. You’ll be happy to hear, John, that March F1 (confirmed next year) run predominantly black liveries! I know! I can’t wait either! – But this was the best black F1 car hahaha lol


      1. LOL. Not sure the Overtaking Working Group would be to happy with that design!

  33. 1960s for me. The cars were beautiful in their (relative) simplicity, yet more refined and advanced than those of the 50s.

    The cars of the 1980s have a great appeal to me too – the MP4-4 is an obvious example. Lean and agressive. :)

    1. I agree. With their wide track and narrow, purposeful bodies the cars looked like fighter planes – and flew like them too!

      Stewart and Hill at the Flugplatz

  34. i love the 70’s!

  35. I think the best looking F1 car since they’ve gone aerodynamically sound is the 2009 F60, seen from the side. It’s clean, sleek and incredibly stylishly finished (for the record, I’m no Ferrari supporter). Of course the narrow and tall rear wing ruins the look from all angles too close to the front.

    Then again I haven’t been following F1 for that long and 2009 marked the first year for me there was a huge overhaul in visible regulations, so perhaps that’s why I kind of like them a bit extra. I have a feeling many people here vote very nostalgic as well. :)

    All in all I like that they change every now and then and while I do like the look of these 2009 spec cars I don’t want it to stick around forever.

  36. Salut Gilles
    29th June 2009, 14:57

    I voted 2000s, but I really only like the years without the plethora of aero bits (2000-2004 and 2009). Though, unlike many others, I do like the look of the anvil wings.

    The Jaguars were probably the best looking cars ever (though the livery certainly helps significantly).

  37. FW14B with a big red 5 on it and a bloke with a moustache at the wheel. What more could you want?!

    1. As a big ‘Nige fan i could agree, but the car was not the best looking car. Though not ugly by any means.

  38. Am I the only one who thought the winglets looked cool?

    But it really is hard to choose. Each car is special in its own way. Some are literally works of art even though they were designed for speed, not show.

    1. Max should resign now!!!
      29th June 2009, 15:45

      I liked some winglets as well, the problem is it got out of hand and cars began to look like starships or something.
      Anyway my vote goes for 90’s cars, and one more thing, I personally HATE 2009 cars they are awful they look like toy cars and what gets me sick is that horrible “shark fin”, arrrgh.

    2. What year was it when the tyrell had those huge side winglets that made it look like the karate kid?

      so ugly and at least fia banned it right away.

  39. Rick DeNatale
    29th June 2009, 16:10

    As usual, the results of this poll are heavily affected by the age demographics of the readers.

    I had to vote for the 1970s, which was when I first really started paying attention to F1, although I’d probably give second place to the 1960s.

    The Lotus 79 was IMHO, the best looking F1 car of all time. I also like the McLaren M23, and the Ferrari 312T series, and from the 60s the Lotus 49 (sans wings) and the “sharknose” Ferrari 156.

    I think that the thing which makes the 70’s stand out is that it saw the most diverse collection of designs, and while some might not appeal to everyone (personally I didn’t care too much for the “rolling pyramid” design of the Brabham BT44) on the whole it produced some very attractive cars.

    1. Rick DeNatale
      29th June 2009, 16:13

      Oh, and I forgot to mention the Lotus 72-D, particularly in JPS livery.

    2. Notice no-one has come up with the Brabham BT46B.
      That may be because the only place you could see it from was directly in front. From anywhere else you were showered with muck & rubbish ;)

  40. F1 Outsider
    29th June 2009, 16:39

    50’s = Mercedes-Benz W196

    60’s = Dan Gurney’s AAR Eagle Weslake V12.

    70’s = Lotus JPS 1972

    80’s = McLaren Mp4/4

    90’s = McLaren Mp4/14

    Current = McLaren MP4/23

    1. I agree with your choice for the 80’s, I think It looks great. As do a all the McLaren’s from that era.

  41. 1990s gets my vote. My favourite era for F1 cars was 1989-1993, after the banning of the turbos but before the (admittedly necessary) mass of safety measures. Although I don’t have much trouble with any of the cars from the decade. My all time favourite is the Williams FW14B. Great livery, great shape.

  42. 90s.

    I only have to think of the Leyton House Marches designed by Mr. Newey himself.

    Speed=beauty, and those 90s cars were and are beautiful because they represented the ultimate evolution of race car design before certain breakthroughs in design method and process, i.e. CFD advances, changed things for good. That era had modern materials, wind-tunnels and powerplants, but it was not as today. There was as real duet of the mind and the tools at that time—whereas before people were, often, merely guessing; and afterward, the software really came to the fore.

    This has nothing to do with the notorious appendages. The simple designs of yore were not simple because the designers valued simplicity or purity, but because the designers lacked the computers to show them a better way. Nor were they “clean.” They were hyper-articulated in their own ways. Looking at the sinews and creases etching the CG901 you can see Newey’s brilliant mind articulating the air just as you can with last-year’s Redbull. But you have to look closer.

  43. I had a plastic Lotus 49 look-alike race car when I was child that you could ride.I left it parked on a large heater grate in the hallway and melted the wheels off of it.It brings fond memories when I see pics that car.I have always related yellow and green to racing since.But,my favorite F1 cars are from 2006-2008,I don’t mind the winglets.The BMWs are beautiful..(well,not anymore)…and the new Renault is by far the ugliest race car ever made.

  44. Best looking F1 cars were from the early 1990’s.

    Bring out the track to 200cm and make the rear wing 100cm and the 2009 cars will look like a real F1 car. Oh and also put a screaming V12 in the back.

  45. Even tough I started following F1 in the early 90s, my favorite cars have been those from the 60’s. I would say the best looking car of all times is the eagle, followed by the Lotus 49. That could also be said about the “street” cars from the 60’s: Ferrari 250 GTO, Lamborghini Miura, Ford GT40 to name a few.

  46. chaostheory
    29th June 2009, 18:40

    This years cars have potential – just change that front wing and ban those wide tank noses of Renault and BMW and we’re good to go:)
    Right now I really like Ferrari and McLaren and RedBull cars, but cant stand the two I mentioned – Renault especially.

  47. Porsche 804 is my favorite F1 car. so 60s obviously got it for me.

  48. StrFerrari4Ever
    29th June 2009, 19:32

    I’m going to say 2009 seeing these new cleaner cars on slicks the odd front and rear wings have now become normal to me and are actually quite attractive.Seeing the Red Bull rear end is just awesome seeing the unpainted carbon fibre on some areas and just the interesting little areas like the rear wing endplates and even some of those rimshields look stunning I have to say im in love with this years cars whose with me?

  49. If it weren’t for the unproportional wings on the cars, I would’ve voted for 2009. 2000’s for me.

  50. After the death of Senna is where it all changed for me
    Smaller wings, higher cars, shorten wheel tracks

  51. Robert McKay
    29th June 2009, 20:27

    2000 specifically was the peak for me. After that the slide downhill began and just kept picking up speed.

    Though the 1997 Mclaren and the 1994 Williams are also worth a mention.

  52. KingHamilton&co
    29th June 2009, 20:50

    i love the 70s cars-they were so different, so mad, and some so beautiful and innovative that i just love them.

    i want the 30s as an option though, The mercs of that era were even better!

  53. I have to go with the lotus

  54. My fave is the ’95 Williams, it looks so gorgeous in that Rothmans livery. I like cars from the 90s and mid-to-late 70s the most.

  55. Umm, the McLaren MP4/5 pictured is from 1989, not 1990 (so technically a different decade).

    That’s a Senna helmet, and he had a McLaren #1 car in ’89, ’91 and ’92. If it is indeed 1989, it was the MP4/5 and not the /5B.

    Fantastic pictures.

  56. Interestingly so many went for 2000s, I wonder if we should see if this has to do withthe age group of the voters. Actually some early 2000s design like the miserable MP4-18 was quite clean and looked v fast, too bad it wasn’t! The 2008 cars probably look good if u like transformers!

  57. Every era has it’s lookers and munters. I voted for the 2000s as I reckon the standard is highest, the proportions are just consistently better than other eras. I find Pat Symonds’ “they’re ugly if they loose and pretty if they win” thinking kind of funny, maybe he’s just saying that because his car looks like it’s been punched in the face. I disagree with old “Tactical Master” Symonds some cars are just prettier than others no matter where they finish. I have become a bit more use to the ’09 cars but they still look strange.

  58. My top picks:

    Renault R26 & Honda RA106 (2006) – simple but elegant
    McLaren MP4-22 & BMW F1.07 (2007) – well-proportioned
    BMW F1.08 & McLaren MP4-23 (2008) – radical looks
    Red Bull RB5 (2009) – best so far w/ all the regulations


  59. theRoswellite
    30th June 2009, 1:19

    …with tongue only partially protruding from cheek…

    It has to be the 1950s because, that being a time before down-force, we had only “cars” contesting in F1…none of the present “air-craft”. A time when aero meant only…low drag!

    (I’ll bet that all the other votes for the 1950s were from the post 60s set).

    So, give me Moss in the Vanwall, at the 1957 Pescara Grand Prix.

  60. Love the cars from the 50’s and 60’s, the Silver Mercedes’ were beauties, the Lotus’ of the early 60’s were so slick. I voted for the 60’s.

    I also loved the cars used during the 90’s, loved all the William’s from 92 to 97, the livery and shaped was lovely.

    Come to think of, the Tobacco Liveries of the old days were great! It just looked good on the cars. My favourite liveries were of Prost Gaulloise of the late 90’s and Williams Rothmans, the gold themed Jordan B&H was also ace!

  61. Ferrari 641 with sir Nigel at the wheel mastering the flappy paddle gearbox .
    Ferrari 156 with the “the shark nose ” quite sexy aswell .
    Aesthetics is important to me as much as the speed .

  62. I think the pre-1983 ground effect cars looked awesome. The Ferrari 126 CK2 and Lotus-Cosworth 91 are the two most beautiful Formula 1 cars ever made.

  63. Though this may seem odd to some of you, I reckon the Renault R25 was the most beautiful F1 car of all time. The pointed tip of the nosecone, the smooth lines and the gorgeous livery make it an object of mechanical beauty.

  64. ’92-’97 i reckon

    1995 had some great looking motors, especially Williams, Benetton and Ferrari… maybe not Forti though…

  65. Well, this is like asking “What’s your fave colour?” but I am nonetheless surprised to see the 2000’s getting the votes.

    I always thought “pre aero’s” were universally accepted as the best looking – including for me – particularly the mid 60’s!

  66. I love the 50s cars, but it’s true that they are so different to modern formula 1 cars it is difficult to compare. I find 60’s most dull, a bit too simple and samey in my opinion. 70’s are awesome because they’re so wacky but aerodynamic enough to be recognised as an f1 car. Early 80- boring, late 80’s fairly cool, especially mp4-4. I find some of the 90’s cars a bit plain, although the width compared to modern cars is cool. I like the 2004 cars, less so the cars that followed. Although overall the 2008 cars weren’t pretty, I love the complexity, especially of the BMW, which looks so mean. I don’t mind the new cars so much, except the BMW and Renault. I don’t like how pointy the Ferrari’s nose is either. I kind of like the new wide front wings, yet they look out of proportion, both being tested with the old rear wings AND with the new ones. I do much prefer the shape of the current bodies to 90’s and early 00’s cars when you were able to see the shape easily.

  67. The cars looked the best between 1998 and 2005. After that the aerodynamics just got out of hand.

    MP4-20 is the sexiest f1 one car ever and it was fast.
    2005 season was great. X INDY X

  68. I bet there’s a fairly strong correlation between “when F1 cars looked best” and “when voter was a young teenager”…

  69. 1990s (Pre 1998) The cars looked simple, nice and effective

    The 2009 cars are anything but those things.

  70. 1960’s not even a shadow of a doubt.
    The last years before aero, with the 1967 Lotus probably the best looking F1-car ever (from outside AND inside).

  71. Praveen Titus
    13th August 2009, 15:29

    I can’t stand narrow track and these silly looking noses in modern F1 cars. I mean, they are so high they can touch the sky. Take the 2009 Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Force India for example. Why can’t F1 cars have low swooping noses with the front wings attached directly to them without the ladder-like stuff connecting these ugly noses to the wing? The Jordan 191 is a perfect example of how beautiful such a design can be. But a better example of a perfect aesthetic racing car is Juan Pablo Montoya’s 1999 Ganassi Lola CART.
    Now that’s a racer.

  72. I vote for the pre-wing sixties. After playing Grand Prix Legends, it’s my favorite GP era!

  73. Daniel Corder
    26th April 2010, 20:01

    In my opinion the best designed F1 car of all times was the John Barnard’s Ferrari 1991, beautifull with a sillouette just like a lady dressed in red.

  74. Best looking era? From an objective point of view, probably the simplicity of the 1960s…..but from an emotional point of view my vote goes for 1989 to 1997. Ferrari 640, Mclaren MP4/5, Williams FW14, 14B, 15c, & 16, Ferrari 412 T2, Williams FW18, Benetton B197……..and FYI, I started watching F1 in 1992 at which point I was in my early teens!!

  75. Best looking f1 cars are 2001-2008. Besides the much older styles. I’m sure most of the people would agree.

  76. mid-60’s, pre-wing. I’ve always felt that the ‘best looking’ cars are the ones that raced when you first got hooked on F1.

  77. Not true. I started watching F1 in 1998, when I was 9, but to me the most beautiful car by far is the Williams FW15, with it’s gorgeous, elegant lines:

    And the coolest car, I think, is the Lotus 76. It just screams power:

  78. The first half 2000’s Ferrari’s (F2000. F2001, F2002, F2003 GA, F2004) for me… simple, slick, innovative and terrible reliable :ddddd

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