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The Best F1 Cars of All Time

The world of Formula 1 has been packed with some of the greatest racing machines the world has ever seen. The speed, handling, and look of these cars are unmatched in every other racing event.

There have been some stand-out cars over the years, and this list will cover the best ones of all time. If betting on real horsepower and finesse is your thing, these are the cars you would have loved.

McLaren MP4/2

The McLaren MP4/2 is one of the best cars ever conceived by legendary designer John Barnard, who would go on to create some of the best Ferrari’s we’ve ever seen too. The MP4/2 became the best car to bet on from the minute it hit the track.

It won on its debut in 1984 and would go on to win another 11 races that season. The following season it would take 11 victories, and then two the year after that. During its journey, it won two Constructors Championships and even a Driver’s Championship for the legendary Niki Lauda.

Lotus 72

The Lotus 72 was one of the most revolutionary cars of its time. It changed the design that everyone had been using by adding inboard brakes, side-mounted radiators, and an overhead air intake. It also deviated from the usual cigar shape and chose a wedge shape instead.

The Lotus 72 was on track for 75 races in its lifetime and would win 20 races: the Constructors Championships three times and two Drivers Championships in its six seasons on the track. The longevity of the 72 has been hard to match ever since.

Williams FW14/B

Another revolutionary car was the Williams FW14/B. It didn’t have the same immediate success as some other cars on this list, but it did leave its mark by winning seven races and finishing second behind eventual champion Ayrton Senna.

Initial design issues were fixed, with the semi-automatic gearbox refurbished, the traction-control overhauled, and the suspension tweaked. These turned this car into a racing giant. This is easily one of the best Williams cars F1 has ever seen.

Red Bull RB9

The Red Bull RB9 was easily one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful, cars on the track during its lifetime. Sebastian Vettel would win nine consecutive Grand Prix’s with the car, dubbed Hungry Heidi, in 2013.

Vettel would win 13 races that season with the RB9, racking up an incredible 596 points and winning the Constructors Championship for the team. The RB9 will go down in history as one of the most powerful and dominant cars in the modern F1 era.

Benetton B195

Before Michael Schumacher was the Ferrari Winder Boy, he was the Benetton Wonder Boy. He won his first Drivers’ Championships in 1994, dominating the track and making it a race for second, all with the help of the B195.

The B195 had a smaller engine and smaller wings, but that ended up making it nippy around the corners and quick on the straights. The B195 era didn’t last as long as some other cars, but it was unforgettable at the time.

Brabham BT46

The Brabham BT46 looked like something out of the future when it hit the track in the 70s. The massive fighter jet-looking engine out the back powered a car that stuck to the track like it was on rails.

Niki Lauda and John Watson drove the car to a Grand Prix victory and a Constructors’ Championship. The flat-12 Alfa Romeo engine was a thing of beauty, and while it wasn’t that sustainable, it was unbelievable to watch at the time.

Ferrari F2002

Powered by an incredible 3-liter V10 engine, the Ferrari 2002 was the car that helped Ferrari dominate in the early 2000s. Even though it wasn’t the most powerful car on the track at the time—that was the BMW-powered Williams— the Ferrari had the handling that other cars just couldn’t match.

Both the Ferrari 2002 and 2004 were considered the best cars, but the 2002 model probably won the “best car” race simply due to winning 15 races in one less race than in 2004. This was the car that Michael Schumacher drove to become the legend he ended up being.

Ferrari 500

The Ferrari 500 isn’t a car that many remember or one that stands out for any significant reason. Still, it is a car that ended up getting an incredible record simply due to specification changes.

In 1952, the FIA changed specifications to match Formula 2; this meant that Alfa Romeo pulled out of the competition. The Ferrari 500 matched the new rules perfectly, and Alberto Ascari would go on to win seven races in a row, a record that stood until 2013 when Seb Vettel broke it on his way to a Championship.

Alfa Romeo 158/9

Strangely, the Alfa Romeo 158/9 wasn’t a Formula 1 car but was designed for a separate class of racing. However, the 1.5-liter engine, which was half the size of its F1 competition, took the car to 37 wins out of 41 races.

After World War 2, the 158 was brought back out of the shed, equipped with a turbocharger. The car would dominate the championship. This car is on this list simply because it is a true underdog story in every single way.

McLaren-Honda MP4/4

The McLaren-Honda MP4/4 is widely regarded as the best Formula 1 car ever created. The 1988 season saw it in the hands of two of the best drivers ever, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost. If you were lucky enough to watch the season, you know what damage they did in this sublime machine.

Senna and Prost would win 15 out of the 16 races, only missing out on the perfect season when Prost’s engine blew up in Italy and Senna was removed from the race. The car finished with a 93% success rate, easily the most successful season ever.

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