When did F1 cars look their best? (Poll)

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

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

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  1. 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.

  2. necrodethmortem (@necrodethmortem) said on 26th January 2012, 15:08

    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:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/antsphoto/2171199591/lightbox/

    And the coolest car, I think, is the Lotus 76. It just screams power:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/cesare_vicentini/5813199342/lightbox/
    http://b.f1-facts.com/ul/a/1560

  3. Lucien_Todutz (@lucien_todutz) said on 27th January 2012, 6:04

    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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