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

"Before Johnny Herbert's win for Stewart at the Nurburgring, what was the last time a car without tobacco sponsorship had won a Formula One race? Thanks, Paul S. Cambridge, UK"

You would have to go back to 1986 to find a tobacco-free car, and most of the races that year were won by tobacco-free cars. Williams-Honda, the most impressive team that year, was running tobacco free and won 9 of the 16 races in the hands of Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet, but it was not them who were the last non-tobacco winner. It was the surprise win of Gerhard Berger, both his and Benetton's first wins (and BMW's last) at the Mexican Grand Prix of 1986 that takes the prize. And next year Berger (admittedly in a managing role) & BMW will be back with a probably tobacco-free car, only with Williams rather than Benetton.

"Hey Mark! I've been reading your section on Atlas F1 for a while now and I must say that you do a great job! Anyway, I just wanted to ask you something. What was the Brabham fan-assisted car and why was it so controversial? Thanks very much and more power to you! Peter de G., Philippines"

Thanks for the compliments, Peter. Much appreciated. As for the Brabham fan-car: it was introduced in 1978 at the Swedish Grand Prix at Anderstorp. The Brabham BT46B differed from the standard BT46 in so far that at the back of the car was a large turbine wheel which was called a 'fan' by most who saw it. The principal was that the turbine would spin under pressure from the air passing through the car as it moved, creating an area of negative pressure under the car, effectively it sucked the car to the road, providing more aerodynamic grip.

With the reigning world champion, Austrian Niki Lauda, at the wheel the car won first time out, after he and teammate John Watson qualified 3rd and 2nd on the grid. There was concern that this new innovation would allow Brabham to open a gap on the rest of the F1 field while everyone else frantically developed fans. But also the concern was for safety. What happens when a fan stopped working at speed? Particularly on a car where the aerodynamic downforce has been compromised by a dependence on the new form of downforce. Would the car lift off and fly like a Mercedes CLR? Rather than find out what would happen if either Brabham dominated or if somebody died in a fan-less car, it was banned after one race.

"How many World Championships did Jackie Stewart win?"


Jackie Stewart first appeared in Formula One with BRM in 1965, and made an immediate impression, scoring a world championship point on debut at Kyalami. Before the year was out he'd claimed his debut win at Monza. After three years with the Owen Racing Organisation, he left to join the Matra International team. He won only his 4th race for Matra in 1968, and in 1969 would take Matra to a world championship victory. In 1970 he left Matra to join Ken Tyrrell's fledgling Tyrrell Racing Organisation running March 701 chassis with Cosworth engines.

Stewart was on pole for his first race in a March and won his second. By the Canadian Grand Prix in September, the team had debuted the first Tyrrell - the 001. Early in 1971 it was replaced with the 003 and it carried Jackie Stewart to a second world championship crown. He again failed to retain his crown, again to Lotus, this time to Emmerson Fittipaldi, rather than the late Jochen Rindt, but in 1973 Stewart and Tyrrell struck back and won a third title for the wee Scot. At Watkins Glen, the last race of the year, Stewart's teammate and protege, Frenchman Francois Cevert, died after a crash in practice. Stewart, third driver Chris Amon, and the rest of the Tyrrell team packed up and Stewart never raced again.

"I have some technical questions about F1 cars:
  1. Who was the first designer of high nose wing in F1, when, and which team used it first
  2. When was the first real success of high nose design and with what team
  3. Compared to low nose wing, what is a high nose wing superiority
  4. What was the highest ever F1 engine output (bhp) in qualification and race situation, and the highest recorded speed in F1
  5. What is the advantage of the exhaust that is currently used by Ferrari (the one that comes out through the bodywork), and if has some design advantage, why didn't the other teams (except Prost team) uses it?
  6. Does current F1 drivers' helmet design has some aerodynamical concerns too?
  7. I can't help notice that some F1 drivers are not too tall (for example Prost). And I've read that tallness disturbs air turbulence into the air pod above the driver's head (the one that is feeding air into the engine). Does this mean anything?
I hope these questions are not too much for you. Anyway, thanks a lot! Bimo, Indonesia."

Wow, you don't ask for much do you? Sure you don't have any more???

Question 1 - The late Doctor Harvey Postlethwaite invented the 'high nose' design, which first appeared on the 1990 Tyrrell 019. The Tyrrell-Cosworth of that year proved surprisingly competitive, a young Jean Alesi proving very quick in the severely underpowered car.

Question 2 - Tyrrell were competitive in the upper midfield with the 'high nose' in 1990, as were Jordan in 1991 but if you mean as far as winning races goes? The first win was Nelson Piquet in the Benetton B191 Ford at the 1991 Canadian Grand Prix. By 1992 it was becoming wide-spread in its use. Its first world championship was with Michael Schumacher's Benetton in 1994.

Question 3 - Since last years McLaren with a much lower nose seems to be a better car aerodynamically, it's an arguable point.

Question 4 - Figures of over 1100 horsepower have been mentioned in connection with the BMW turbo engine of the early 80's but there are no hard figures. Similarly top speed has not been accurately recorded as the longer straights that allowed Formula One cars to reach their maximum potential speeds are no longer used, although recent speeds at Hockenheim have been in the region of 330 km/h. This compares to speeds in excess of 400 km/h achieved by some world sports cars at Le Mans prior to the chicaning of the Mulsanne Straight. Acceleration has always been a higher priority in Formula One than straight line speed.

Question 5 - It is thought that the hotter exhaust gases may be more effective under the rear wing, than at the base of the car. I'm not sure about the exact theory, but it is not universally held, and there have also been concerns over the hot exhaust effecting the structural integrity of the rear wing mount.

Question 6 - In a trend picked up from CART, Formula One drivers now use more aerodynamically effective helmets. The squarer look to helmets is supposed to channel air around the base of the air box where a more spherical helmet was less effective.

Question 7 - There are a number of reasons to prefer smaller Formula One drivers, the first being it's easier to fit them in the car. And they're also lighter. However, Damon Hill, Gerhard Berger and Alexander Wurz have proven in recent times you don't have to be a jockey to drive a Formula One car well. But yes, taller drivers' heads can stick out into the airflow into the airbox, robbing the engine of power from the mild supercharging effect the airbox creates, if the car is designed badly enough that the size of the driver has not been correctly taken into account.

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© 1999 Kaizar.Com, Incorporated.
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