Formula 1 has long been the pinnacle of top-tier motorsports. Innovation lives there, blossoming into broader applications that we now enjoy in supercars and consumer cars alike. When it started in 1950, manufacturers promptly pieced together their fastest cars to win the series, resulting in some of the most treasured collector items today. Teams like Ferrari, Renault, and Mercedes-Benz have established a truly global presence global in part thanks to F1; as you can see here, the series itself has grown from humble beginnings to advanced warfighters that wow crowds across the world.
Obvious differences from then and now include aerodynamic technology: the shape of these cars today is drastically different than 60 years ago, adding a host of wings and canards that channel downforce and suck the cars to the road. Crazy aero inventions gained popularity back in the ’70s, when teams like Brabham went to great lengths to win, even being banned for being, in a sense, “too quick.” Thanks to these crazy experiments, cars are now able to pull nearly 8 G on track, coming close to what fighter pilots experience.
Engines, of course, are far from what they used to be. Original F1 cars like the Alfa Romeo 158 sported funky powertrain layouts like a supercharged 1.5L that whined around track making huge amounts of power for the era. Today’s cars all sport turbocharged V-6 engines supplied by various builders, including Honda and Ferrari, making upwards of 1,000 horsepower and winding to 15,000 RPM.
Watch as this GIF quickly transitions from year to year, displaying the radical changes throughout multiple eras of F1.
Which is your favorite car in Formula 1 history? With choices like the Senna-piloted Lotus 98 T and Schumacher-led Ferrari F2004, it’s a hard call to make.