Atlas F1 The F1 FAQ

  by Mark Alan Jones, Australia

Have a question about Formula One statistics or history? Well you're not the only one, and it's about time someone came up with the answers to Formula One's most Frequently Asked Questions. Send us your questions, to - we may not know everything, but we will sure make the effort to find out

First thing: When I detailed in the previous F1 FAQ column the history of US citizens in Formula One, I got Mario Andretti's details wrong. His first win was not in the rain and slush of Mount Fuji in 1976, but at the vast dry sweeps of Kyalami in 1971. Andretti won the South African Grand Prix in a Ferrari 312B while temping for the Scuderia. After four races he returned to the US for several seasons in Indycars and Jacky Ickx drove out the season in Formula One. Now, to the new questions.

"Why have turbo engines been banned? Anastasiadis L"

The primary reason for the banning of turbo engines in Formula One was one of safety. By the mid 80's a turbo Formula One engine had reached the 1000 horsepower figure, and despite pop off valves and other restrictions was still awesomely powerful. The banning of turbo engines did have the effect of slowing the cars down.

There was also a perception that the new engine regulations for 3.5 litre naturally aspirated engines would encourage more manufacturers to join Formula One. This would seem to have been true as Renault and Lamborghini soon joined due to the new engine regulations, but at the cost of Porsche and BMW. The FIA also pushed this engine change in sports cars and it had the opposite effect. The new regulations would in time encourage a lot of organisations to look at Formula One. Tuners like John Judd and Brian Hart, small manufacturers like Subaru, Lamborghini and Yamaha, and the automotive giants like Ford and Mercedes-Benz.

"In 1974 or 5, I remember putting together a fabulous Tamiya plastic model of the 6-wheeled Tyrell F1 car. It seemed a very odd thing, not simply for its surplus of wheels but because of the bulbous front 'wing', which seemed more like a sort of bathtub stuck on the front. I wonder if you can say something about that car -- the reasoning behind it, how it fared in races (I didn't get to watch in those days), who drove it, what became of it? Do any current specs or regulations preclude a car with more than four wheels? And also, I wonder if you know whether Tamiya still makes those large-scale (c. 13" long) F1 model kits? Incipient middle-age makes me hanker for the elemental satisfaction of putting one of those things together, and a recent McLaren or Ferrari would be just the thing... Thanks, Julian H"

The Tyrrell P34 was profiled back in an earlier F1 FAQ, so you can read about it at

Multiple axled (more than 2) cars were banned after Williams created a twin rear axle based around the FW07 chassis, which also featured 4 wheel drive through both rear axles. In testing it was so quick, 6 wheel cars were quickly banned before it got out of hand.

I'm not immune to the allure of those glorious looking plastic kits myself. On my shelves sit various Tamiya models from an Alan Jones 1980 Williams FW07 to a Stefano Modena 1991 Tyrrell 020, with March, Benetton, Ferrari, Larrousse also represented sitting alongside along a trio of DTM Touring Cars, a couple of Australian decalled Ford Sierra Cosworths, a Volvo Estate Super Tourer, a Mazda Le Mans winner and a couple of World Rally Cars, while waiting to be built are more kits bearing the names, Brabham, Ferrari, Jordan, Lotus, Renault & Zakspeed wait to be built.

The most recent release in Tamiya's Formula One range, the 46th and perhaps last, was back in July, a 1998 McLaren MP4/13. I say last, as with the recent renegotiation of merchandise contracts it appears Formula One kits may now only appear from the Revell brand label. Which is a pity as speaking personally I don't believe Revell is up to the quality of Tamiya, or Hasegawa (another former Formula One kit maker), but I'm not 100% sure of this.

"Is the McLaren engine an Ilmor engine with continued development by Ilmor and Mercedes engineers, or is it a Mercedes engine with Ilmor assistance in development? Or has Ilmor stepped out of the picture these days? Ilmor seemed to have more prominence a couple of years ago. If its an Ilmor engine, did Mercedes acquire naming rights to the engine in the same way its proposed that Minardi's Ford engines be rebadged Minardis or something else?"

"Why's Jordan's Mugen-Honda engine named Mugen-Honda rather than either Mugen or Honda ? Why's McLaren's engine not called Ilmor-Mercedes ? Thanks in advance. Sunny"

Mercedes-Benz has purchased a controlling stake in Ilmor Engineering, so while still relatively independent because of the specialised nature of the work they do, Ilmor is a part of the Chrysler-Daimler empire. When Ilmor entered Formula One they were making engines for Chevrolet in CART but were receiving funding from Mercedes towards their old sports car partners, Sauber for the Sauber-Ilmor Formula One project. In time, Mercedes took over naming rights for the engine.

As for what an engine is called? That's more of a marketing exercise than anything else. Hence the Playlife engine. Playlife is a clothing label, and has nothing to do with the engine's Renault/Meccachrome/Supertec history. Similarly Fondmetal with the Cosworth, but less so with the Petronas Ferrari.

Mugen is a semi-independant perfomance based division of Honda, in a similar but different way that Acura is. Mugen is owned by Honda, and amongst other projects oversee the engine used by Jordan (but not BAR's).

"Hello, I have been looking for info on Martin Donnelly. I was a big fan of his during his short F1 career and have seen on line that he now has his own team and appears to be doing some rally racing. However, I have not been able to find any info on his team website, his recovery and starting of his own team. Thank you. Philip H. United States"

Martin Donnelly Racing is moving into new territory for the year 2000, contesting the British Formula Ford Championship for the first time with drivers Gary Turkington and Patrick Schok. MDR has a semi-factory deal with Van Diemen for its chassis. MDR has in the past contested Formula 3000, Formula 3, Formula Vauxhall and Formula Opel.

"A recent question concerning the 'national racing color' of Germany caused me to look at The Sporting Regulations (The Code) & The F1 Regulations at the FIA website. In the F1 Regulations, I found that the car's livery (colors) do not have to conform to the national colors I/A/W The Code. Looking in the Sporting Regulations, I could not find any reference to the national colors. At one time I know they existed. Where are they and what are the national racing colors of each country? Leroy H."

I asked our expert, Don Capps, about this one. He says that as far as national racing colours go, they had a similar story to car numbers - it was at the discretion of individual race organisers as to what they were and how strict they were to be adhered to.

Italy, for example, wanted to be blue, its national sporting colour (it should be noted that the colours of the Italian flag, green, white & red were not chosen by Italians, but by a Frenchman, Napolean Boneparte). France had taken blue already though and weren't giving it up. So they took red as a second choice, despite the fact the red had already been used by the United States. White was Germany's colour, although Japan would adopt it later. Germany was later to adopt the silver look but that was coincidence as the Mercedes and Auto Unions weren't painted to save weight.

British cars have always tended to be green. Rob Walker once had some fast explaining to do at a German Grand Prix why his dark blue Coopers weren't green. The explanation he barely got away with was the dark blue represented Scotland. Orange was used by Brunce McLaren for his cars because he liked the colour, not because it was New Zealand's (which would surely be all black?). The first Brabhams were a powder blue before later adopting Australia's national sporting colours of Green and Gold. Lotus were putting yellow stripes on their green cars further confusing the issue. Canada had an interesting scheme featuring red, white and black.

But there were never any real hard and fast rules about national colours, at least not consistent ones.

Editorial Remark:

  • Some of the questions we receive have already been replied to in previous F1 FAQ columns. Therefore, before sending in a question, we suggest you have a look at the back issues, by searching the FAQ database. Not that we mind getting so much mail, just that we feel bad for those who feel they are left unanswered...

  • We receive quite a few questions from you all, and it is absolutely impossible for us to research and respond to each of you, be it here or privately. Please, don't feel discouraged if your question was not replied to; it might come up in the next column. And don't forget - you can always look for answers at the Atlas F1 Bulletin Board.

Mark Alan Jones© 2000 Kaizar.Com, Incorporated.
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