Five of the best F1 innovations found through loopholes
Brawn GP
Posted By: Editor   |  01 Feb 2017   |  1:55 pm GMT  |  134 comments

Has any F1 team made a breakthrough with the new 2017 rules, using a clever loophole? Will it change the competitive landscape?

Success in Formula 1 more-often-than-not comes through having a faster car than the competition and there have been numerous examples of teams interpreting the rules in clever ways to gain an advantage throughout the championship’s history. But Williams’ Rob Smedley has warned that the way F1’s rules are formed has made it more difficult for teams to find these advantages.

In 2017, F1 will introduce its biggest aerodynamic rules shake-up since the 2009 season and the cars will look visually more aggressive. Wider tyres return and the cars will feature wider bodywork and front wings, and wider and lower rear wings.

The teams that started working earliest on their 2017 challenges will be in a stronger position, as they will be the first to test what does and doesn’t work in simulations and wind tunnel work.

But some squads may find a loophole in the rules to gain a significant advantage over their rivals. Brawn GP – along with Williams and Toyota – famously ran an innovative double diffuser in 2009 and got such a large benefit the Brackley-based team was able to rack up enough points to claim both world titles despite eventually being caught in performance terms by the other outfits who were forced to develop their own system later in the season.

Brawn GP

Smedley, Williams’ head of performance engineering, does not rule out that there are loopholes to be found in the 2017 regulations but he explained that such opportunities were becoming harder to find in modern F1 as the teams themselves have a say in shaping the rules.

Speaking to Autosport, he said: “Every time there has been a new set of regulations, at least through my time in F1, those openings have become smaller and smaller. The reason for that is that the technical regulations are pretty much written by senior technical people within the teams. The senior technical people in the teams are of the mind that we’re all looking for a loophole, we are all trying to get the start on our competitors.

“But as these rules get written and because it’s a collaborative process and it’s written by people who are looking for loopholes, then the loopholes are pretty much closed off in the regulations.

Rob Smedley

“This set of regulations has been very much at the forefront of that. We’ve tried to close down the loopholes as and when. Do loopholes or areas of high exploitation still exist? Of course. Have we or other people found them? It remains to be seen.”

Five of the best F1 loopholes

F1 designers have produced some amazing innovations and radical cars over the years. Some historical examples were the ground effect cars of the 1960s and 1970s, the six-wheeled Tyrrell in 1976, and the Brabham fan car in 1978.

But here are five examples from recent memory of cars that featured novel devices to take the most benefit from the regulations at the time.

Mass damper

Fernando Alonso 2006 Renault

Renault developed its mass damper system – a weight suspended between two springs – to help with the vibration and tyre bouncing of its double championship-winning R25 car in 2005.

But the device, which Renault also used on its R26 and was copied by other teams, was controversially banned by the FIA after the French Grand Prix in 2006.

Outboard mirrors

Michael Schumacher 2006

Ferrari was the first team to move mirrors onto the sidepods of its 248 F1 back in 2006 and several other teams – including Renault and Red Bull – made a similar move to find an aerodynamic gain in the years that followed.

But after complaints about poor visibility from drivers, the FIA ruled that mirrors had to be fitted on the cockpit sides on safety grounds following the 2010 Chinese Grand Prix.

Double diffuser

Williams 2009

As outlined above, Brawn GP, Williams and Toyota, started the 2009 season with a double diffuser fitted to the rear of their cars after spotting a loophole in the regulations. The devices generated massive amounts of downforce in the season when F1 had moved to greatly reduce the number of aerodynamic parts teams could run on their cars.

Several squads lodged an official complaint but the FIA ruled the double diffuser was legal and the teans without the device had to quickly implement their own versions.


McLaren 2010

McLaren arrived at the start of the 2010 season with its F-duct fitted to its MP4-25. The system provided an aerodynamic speed advantage, as its drivers were able to alter the air flowing from the front of the car and down the shark fin engine cover to help stall the rear wing.

The device was quickly copied by rival teams but after some variations forced drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel to activate the F-duct it was banned for 2011.

Hidden cameras

Red Bull 2014

In 2014, Red Bull attempted to incorporate F1’s mandatory onboard cameras inside the nose of the RB10 to minimise their impact on the air moving over the front of the car.

Whilst such an approach was technically allowed by the regulations, the team was forced to fit the cameras more prominently after the FIA stepped in ahead of that season’s Monaco Grand Prix.

What would you pick as the best F1 loophole device? Are there any other systems you think deserve praise for their innovation? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JA on F1 Facebook page for more discussion.

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The best one has to be the Brabham BT46B!

Rob in Victoria BC

Worst (legal) one: quiet engines.


I always wondered how it would (was thought to) cope in the wet. A pity it was banned so swiftly =)


Agree! 👍


The fan car? That wasn't strictly legal, but there you go.................

Also the 1981 Brabham BT49B with it's hydraulic suspension which provided 6cm of clearance at rest [1981 FISA regulations] and yet squashed down at speed which effectively worked as a sliding skirt even though SS's were supposed to be banned for 1981, but there you go...........

Or even the 2006 Renault R26 with it's "tuned" mass damper which wasn't strictly legal, but there you go..........


I remain skeptical that Renault's mass damper was ever illegal, it certainly wasn't a 'movable aerodynamic device' since it wasn't in the air flow, and didn't affect any aerodynamic surfaces. Having the FIA make it illegal midseason certainly did tighten up the championship race though.....


Indeed, the simple truth is that the Renaults were too fast, which was deemed detrimental to the show. You sort of accepted that was the way of things at the time, because to be brutally honest closing up the field, even in a slightly dubious way does improve the show. With this in mind it makes you wonder why so little has changed with these woeful engine regulations after three years and counting.


If you consider that the other three teams running exactly the same engine as the dominant team, and still not being able to match the other engines. That makes me think that their superiority was not only due to power.


I think the problem wasn't so much that it was a movable aerodynamic device, more that it wasn't a Ferrari aerodynamic device.


Oddly, the FIA seems to define Ferrari aerodynamic devices somewhat differently. At the same time they banned the mass damper as moveable aero, they also decided that the trim rings on the Ferrari wheels, which moved around in the air flow and were designed to redirect air through the wheel hub to lower air pressure inboard of the wheels was not an aerodynamic device at all, and completely's a funny old world 🙂


Which is why there are some who for years have said that FIA is short for Ferrari International Assistance 🙂


There you go - It's the new for sure 😀


These are all small bore innovations. Nothing involving the cameras or the rear view mirrors really amounts to much. As Rob Smedley said, the current rules-making process makes real out of the box innovation difficult. It would also likely be very expensive. No more real innovations like rear engines (Cooper), monocoque chassis (Lotus), ground effects (Lotus), turbo engines (Renault) and carbon fiber chassis (McLaren). And those are the ones that worked!


There are lots of innovations of that style still being introduced, specifically around 3D printing of body parts and creativity in packaging of the KERS components.


Disk brakes?


Disc brakes were invented a long time prior to F1. By an english chap named lancaster IIRC.


The first formula racing car to use disc brakes was the BRM15 and a year later,1952, jaguar type C raced with disc brakes at le mans.


The biggest one lately is the MB Personas lubricants and fuel combo that means less cooling needed and a second one might be the data link but none of this has been banned yet and probably never will because of sponsors.


But when were disk brakes first used in an F1 car? Maybe I'm thinking of another category?


How about: paddle shifting Ferrari 1989, or Williams active suspension 1992-93, or Renault pneumatic valve spring cca 1984-85, or Michelin radial tires debuted with Renault in F1 in name few on top of my head.


We know how to build a race car that exceeds human capabilities. We can do it. Every driver could have equal tools so we could see who really is the best.

If this was done why would you need the innovation?

Why isn't this done, actually? #FormulaX1 🙂


I don't think fx1 is anything other than a supposed magic bullet of which we would immediately start complaining if ever it were to be implemented. But like the human beings we are we will scream kick and demand change until we get it and then start the cycle all over. The current crop of regs followed this pattern as will the new ones to be implemented. By the way if you're all for this marvelous fx1thing and have already given up on the concept of F1 altogrther... what are you doing on JA on F1? Is there no blogging for the miraculous fx1?


Sebee, I don't think the average F1 fan is mentally ready for F X1. For the last 7 years they've been stripping the downforce away, remember?

Let everyone acclimatise to proper F1 this year's and let's go from there.


I agree with Sebee, however it is still about the Car, not the driver. It's about development and ingenuity. It's the strangest Team Sport on the planet, where the driver's biggest rival is actually his Teammate. The ones spending the money though are the Car Makers and they are about developing the best through whatever means they can and it's what Formula One is about. The lower categories are all aimed towards the driver and his ability.


Actually, what kind of development and ingenuity are we talking about? These engineers all know what is possible. That's why Adrian Newey designed the X1 in the first place.

It must be really exciting for these engineers to be told design best you can for this Pentium platform. Sure, it is admirable, but must be so frustrating when they know technology exists to make a car 20s a lap around Spa faster than even this 2017 car. No limits are being pushed where it matters, in human driving ability. Limits are not being explored there, barely in fact.


Hidden traction control/launch control in the Benetton
paddle shift gearbox Ferrari
'water cooled' brakes
exotic gas filled tyres (was it argon?)
hinged chassis
Hinged bib
flexible or 'lie flat' wings/cascades
exhaust blown diffuser
vortex sealed diffuser

Or for operational genius, when Ross Brawn got Michael Schumacher to serve a penalty in the pits AFTER he'd crossed the finish line


Ferrari also ran a flexing floor in Oz 2007. I suspect if that hadn't been banned Ferrari would have walked both titles.


𝗛𝗶𝗱𝗱𝗲𝗻 𝘁𝗿𝗮𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝘁𝗿𝗼𝗹/𝗹𝗮𝘂𝗻𝗰𝗵 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝘁𝗿𝗼𝗹 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗕𝗲𝗻𝗲𝘁𝘁𝗼𝗻

Those allegations about the B194 were never substantiated, either by rivals or even by Max Mosley. There was never any empirical evidence that Benetton were running a illegal closed loop TC system.

The reality was rather more prosaic. The B194 was the first front runner to have the "raised nose". A high nose, with it's twin pylon mounting points allows a cleaner and faster flow of air to the diffuser, creating more rear downforce, which in turn creates better traction...............not to mention the torquey Ford HB V8 engine and the rearward weight distribution of the B194 which helps with acceleration out of slow corners.

In other words, Benetton had stumbled upon an aerodynamic advantage and all their rivals had been caught with their trousers down because they had not been bright enough to think of the high nose concept in the first place. Very much a case of the other constructors being a bunch of moaning minnies!


Once Senna was punted by Hakkinen at turn 1 at the 94 Pacific GP after which he stayed there and watched/listened to Schumacher lap after lap...turn 1 I think. His feed back to the Williams garage after the race was something along the lines of "that car sounds different to the others, and I am not sure if its legal!!"

Mclaren's extra brake pedal I thought was special, a heal/toe approach to corners I thought was creative and extra special.


how about the double spoiler ferrari used in the 80's


2nd brake pedal McLaren


Brake-steer, that one certainly did work well, it made the McLaren unbeatable for the first few races that year.


That was used in just one practice session at Long Beach.


It was used for the Grand Prix. Villeneuve finished 3rd and was disqualified


For me the best was when Ferrari used the gearshift as a traction control. If I remember the rule was that you were allowed to have the car under the control for 0.8 secs during a gear change and they could do it in 0.6. So they used the other 0.2 secs to manage traction on the rear wheels.



Was it not the pit limiter they were using? If not then it must have been someone else, I'm sure I remember something about that! Think most of them were "at it" with traction control 99/00 ish, that's why they reinstated it, everyone was cheating and it was too difficult to police.


It wasn't banned. I can't remember the milliseconds involved but that was at the start of 2001.
Seeing as traction control was fully legalised from that years Spanish GP - there was no ban.
Even Ron Dennis applauded the expense and ingenuity for what proved just 4 races before legalised TC returned.
As an aside, Ron made dark comments before the Spanish race about how with the whole field having TC it would be obvious who'd been cheating - implying Ferrari.
Wasn't it a wake up call to see Mclaren fall further down the field...


Just an example after example on how to make the competition invalid and unfair. A lot like when Chong Li throws chalk at Frank Dux to blind Bloodsport.


Or the bear claw attachment in Enter the Dragon.


My favourite loophole was the Bishop Rotary Valve engine which McLaren and Mercedes Ilmor developed. It would have made all other F1 engines obsolete overnight but was banned shortly before its debut


I think the F-duct has to be the cleverest and most original exploitation of the rules in recent years. And Red Bull's "well it doesn't actually say the camera has to be on the _outside_ of the car" is the cheekiest.

The double diffuser was also a clever idea, but neither Williams nor Toyota really did any better than they had in preceding or subsequent seasons, so I can't help wondering if it was over-hyped.


Yeah the F duct lead to drs.


Didn't the Toyota that McNish drive have an extra foot pedal for some extra stopping power? It was like having a double break .


Yes, there was a lot more to the Brawn car than just the diffuser, even though that was a big gain in of itself.


Yeah I remember I think it was Brawn himself saying the biggest thing on the car was the "outwash" front wing that took advantage of the new wider front wing rules to divert the air clear of the front wheels, the double diffuser was a welcome distraction as everyone assumed it was all about it.


Was it Mclaren or Williams that had an extra pedal for cornering speeds or traction control or something?


McLaren in 1998 I think.


Yes, the '97 and '98 cars both had an extra brake pedal - on the '97 car they had to decide in advance which wheels it would act on, the '98 car had a switchable system that was ultimately banned not long into the season. If you watch onboards from 98 you can see Mika and DC repeatedly pressing the button to switch it. Gotta give them props for it, but it wasn't quite subtle enough for my liking - they lapped the entire field at the opening race!


One could argue that Renault's first turbo car, back in the 70s, was an interpretation of a loop hole in the regulations. It was a loop hole in plain sight perhaps, but definitely something that no one else had considered using.


The valve lifters Renault devolved allowing higher rpm.


Mercedes hybrid engine for 2014 must be up there for technical innovations even more so given its dominance for the last 3 seasons.


F Duct and the Double Diffuser were the 21st Century big innovations.
Neweys back exhaust gases and Renaults engine formatting and damper were up there too.
Mercedes engine and turbo setup also.
The freakiest looking thing was the two prongs on the lotus front .


Really it's getting harder and harder to come up with things. NASCAR used to have good ones like an extra long fuel line and a flat plate under the car and truck tires back when they were supposed to be stock.

The problem with F1 now is that they are doing nothing for road cars that are not being done in other series. That is why Ford has something going on everywhere but F1. The costs are out of hand.


I dunno the Red Bull blown diffuser was good too.


I found the engine mapping to create hot blown blown exhaust to be absolutely mind-blowing... without it, EBD were only half as effective... I can only admire the brains that come up with this sort of thinking.


"The freakiest looking thing was the two prongs on the lotus front"

Or the Williams FW 26 Walrus nose monstrosity!



The Williams was a little unusual, but that Lotus was a supermodel compared to the Caterham CT05.

I'd post a picture, but I don't want to traumatise anyone any more than is necessary.

Google at your own risk...


😄😄🍆 that's the closest I could find but a green cucumber would do it better justice Random 79


The closest you could find? I'm looking right at it and I still have no idea what it is and I'm too scared to guess 🙂


Ps Lowe buying shares in Williams so a stake holder too. Think he is trying to do a Toto and a Brawn.


5 honorable mentions to uncle Ken.

Tyrrell 6-wheeler
Tyrrell and his balls of lead.
Tyrrell Hydrolink (aka FRIC)
Tyrrell High nose
Tyrrell 025 X-Wings (made of Carbon junk).
Tyrrell Hockenheim 1996 qualification on four front tyres.


My favourite is Patrick Head's active suspension


I believe Tyrrell also invented the air box, still on every car today


We remember Colin Chapman, and some of his brilliant design innovations (including the twin-chassis) but dear old Ken often gets overlooked. The Tyrrell team came up with many good ideas.


There is true innovation, like a monocoque chassis, active suspension, carbon fiber use, etc. and there is exploiting loopholes, which to me means figuring out a way to do what the intent of the regulations try to ban. For example the coanda exhaust ramps after the exhaust placement was altered to ban EBDs.


Ayton Senna never run an illegal car.
The guy was always focused on his driving.
Truth must be told... every once in a while.
Once again the standard is repeated.
The Master Cheater is chosen to watchdog above all other chicken thieves.

When Bernie took over F1 he sold his F1 team {Brabham} - which was know for being super... "creative" in several aspects - and promoted the senior staff to key positions at FOCA,
Charlie Whiting is the FIA Formula One Race Director, Safety Delegate, Permanent Starter and head of the F1 Technical Department
"Herbie" Blash is a FIA Deputy Race Director
Brabham invented the modern pit-stop scheme and some cheating like the water catch tank, that allowed the car to run underweight for the in-between pit-stops.
Now it's time for the Ferrari "dream team" era leader to take over.
Ross Brawn promoted several cheats in his Benetton, Ferrari and BrawnGP and now is the one to make the watch over F1 justice... eh!
The most revolting cheat is the fuel catch tank one.
Just like the Brabham invention, Ferrari run a fuel catch tank conected to the main tank for several seasons.
Since the performance restriction were the {Goodyear} tires at that time, it wasn't necessary to fill up the tank w/ gasoline, therefore the team was running a lighter - below the FiA limit - and gaining a lot of time over the competition.
Then when the competition found out about it and their competitive advantage was over {2004}, Ferrari snitched BAR Honda to FiA and it was suspended in 2005.
And there were several other like Ferrari running illegal barge boards before the Japan GP and Schumacher drinking 5 liters of water before FiA's 1st official weight in that allowed his Ferrari to run some Kgs underweight {car + driver} for the rest of the season.
No wonder the sport is called The Pirana Club. xP


"Ayton Senna never run an illegal car."
If this is so, what was the real reason for his disqualification from the 1987 Australian Grand Prix?


"Niki Lauda recently confessed to me that Mercedes was working on it since 2007," Montezemolo, 69, told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

"That is why they were so adamant during the (rules) negotiations," he claimed.


What are you referring to?


PUs and the 2014 reg changes.


"Enzo Ferrari said that winning depends half on the machine and half on the driver. Now, this equation is 80-20," Montezemolo added.

Someone should forward Luca this...

"We didn't look at the data before 1979, for various reasons, but mainly that it becomes harder to define teams the further you go back. The driver effect has declined over time since at least 1980, going from about 30 percent driver in the early 1980s to about 10 percent driver today."


Hmmm. But tha analysis assumes that the laps were run flat-out. Given that the leader will likely be backed-off in clean air, and everyone will be doing tyre management, and these days fuel management, and even engine management, all data is highly suspect!


And where does the strategy or instructions on all this management come from? The helmet or a room full of geeks engineering the race and telling the operator what to do, how and when to do it? All this management absolutely takes away from driver % share, hence 10% today.


Wow - super interesting article!!

That will ruffle a few feathers in the LHFC 😉


If it truly is the car that provides 99 per cent and the driver only up to 1 per cent then for a driver to take a car that doesn't win the WCC to a WDC is truly an incredible feat - somehow making up so much more over his rivals than statistics deem possible. Who was the last to do that I wonder?




And here was I thinking Merc won the WCC this year?

My point is that to claim it is all down to the car is nonsense - it still takes someone to drive it and it is more than 10 per cent. The driver would make it to the finish line (eventually!) without the car, but the car would not start the race without a driver.
That said, I do wish the balance was shifted so that the driver would have greater control and ability (or otherwise) to affect the outcome of a race.


It was a joke.

Just think how ridiculous the whole engine mode thing was, and how hard team lobbied FIA to get the right to tell drivers what to do and how to do it and when to do it. Their key argument was that it's such a big investment, and so much is at stake, we can't possibly leave it all up to the drivers. And after a few episodes of engine modes what did we end up with? Room full of engineers telling drivers what to do, when to do it turning them from autonomous drivers to organic robots told to execute commands.


The subtleties of your sense of humor eluded me.

Simple solution - 2 engine modes: go and stop. None of this 'YellowG6' nonsense. Press the go pedal harder to go faster. That puts it in the driver's hands (or actually takes it away from the driver's hands and puts it in his feet!). I'd allow a pit limiter, but other than that, let the right foot do the talking!


@ Redline...the LHFC will just ignore it ahahaha


The Brabham "fan car" was a genius stroke! An extra cooling system which sucked air from under the car. Brilliant!!
And who can forget that fantastic 6 wheeled Tyrell? Not the prettiest car in the world but great to look at.


How about the black flagged yet legal Lotus 88, first carbon monocoque F1, what a stunning car!


That's my personal fave, too. Don't agree that it was legal, but it was a great argument for amending the "no unsuspended aero components" ban.


well, many ingenious things mentioned, but no one really knows what Lotus 88 would have been. or Williams FW08B. As they were not raced 🙁


Flexible wings are worth a mention I think, especially Red Bulls efforts with the load-test dodging flex wings. Also ran a soft nose for a while too...
Oh, and the Red Bull underfloor deflector that contracted when hot, bringing the front ride height down.
Benettons altered fuel pumps were a good dodge until the big fireball.
Automatic gearboxes in 93.
Refrigerated fuel was popular for a while too.


Any more info on the altered fuel pump please?


During the 1994 season, Benetton ran illegal valves that allowed the fuel to be pumped more quickly. This resulted in hot fuel leaking onto the bodywork of Jos Verstappen's car during a pit stop. The car subesquently burst into flames.


re your last item...when williams were caught cheating!


It has to be the turbine car. I can't remember who had it but imagine what cars might look like today had that not been banned? I'm still waiting for a flying car.


"I'm still waiting for a flying car."

Have you not seen Webber drive? 🙂


Valencia or le mans?



Hi Random

Which one the reverse somersault with a half twist, or the reverse with a sutble pike to finish. Both of which he landed on his feet?


I'm partial to the one where he had a short run-up and then gracefully springboarded off the back of a Finn 🙂


And of course the judges were unanimous with a score of multi 21 out of 10.


Lol, nice one 🙂


Brawn's double diffuser was a trick that only they, Toyota and Williams caught in the 2009 regs. It must be said that Brawn also gained the crucial early advantage through not implementing KERS (which in it's early guises could be described as a boat anchor), and finding a way to shoe-horn the Merc into the chassis in place of the late Honda. The new snow-plow front wing also stole a march on the competition. Rubens finished second (admittedly inherited from the Vettel/Kubica crash) with a broken diffuser following the T1 shunt.


My vote goes to the Tyrrell Project 34 6-wheeler.


Williams active suspension.
Williams CVT gearbox.
Blown diffusers.

This kind of stuff make F1 technically interesting.


The F-duct is my favourite. Such a simple and effective solution that it makes you wonder why no one had thought of it before 2010. I remember Jenson blasting down the main straight at Monza at pretty respectable speeds given he had a "barn door" for a rear wing, as Martin Brundle put it.


No mention of FRIC? Mercedes perfected it, but Red Bull were the ones qualifying at one ride height then starting race day at another! The stability of a FRIC car through corners was immense to see, even if once taken off there was barely a tenth lost.

I wonder if we'll ever discover how RBR have managed running at such a huge rake for years?


And promptly flew before making a rough landing!


As far as FRIC goes they are still doing the same things without it. Just look at the slow motion of 2016 MB cars.


Can someone explains what constitutes as a loophole versus an innovation? The way I see it, anything that isn't written in the rules is a loophole i.e. blown diffuser by Red Bull. But I'm happy to be corrected.


An innovation is the introduction of new things or methods.

A loophole is something that allows one to use said new things or methods.

An FIA is something that closes said loopholes so that new things and methods are rarely introduced.


After the FIA banned EBDs, the teams still managed to claw a lot of the effect back with coanda effect exhausts..


the line between the loopholes and innovation gets blurred. But the EBD has to be at the top of the list. After 2010 the FIA kept trying to limit the effect w/o much luck. The bulls won everything for 4 years running.


Mono Carbon Fibre chassis on the McLaren in early 1980's


I think the dual-chassis Lotus 88 could have been the best "loophole" innovation of all time, had they allowed it to race and develop. The concept was deceptively simple and would have solved the biggest problem with the ground effects cars- the need to have them run as low and as stiffly as possible to keep the tunnels sealed to the road, which beat the hell out of the drivers.

Apparently the people race the 88 in historic evens now say that it's a lovely car to drive.


The honda-brawn front axle with left-right lock. Cheap and simple yet the FIA killed it.


The torque transfer system? That was well before Brawn's time at Honda, wasn't it?


I was thinking that but not sure that's why I hyphenated the two team names. The system was smart effective and arguably cheap (in F1 terms) there was no point in banning it except to preserve the status quo of winning teams. FIA lost status in my eyes that day.


the 1998 mclaren mp4/13 brake steer


Reading through everyone's immense engineering moments it makes me wonder why engineers would try to create rules to inhibit their talents! Surely they want to take each other on and prove themselves. I'm beginning to see why Newey has other projects.


The Mercedes PU engine, recovery systems and software...

One innovation so advanced and ring-fenced that cannot be copied, matched, tweaked or banned due to complexities and massive cost...

...great innovations that leap a team ahead of everyone seem to be better if either it's a smaller team that came up with it or the advantage lasts for a shorter time.


From the list above the best reading of technical regs has got to be the double diffuser, in terms of pure innovation I have to say the F duct was outrageous in its creativity.


I think Red Bull's front wing flex (~2010/11?) was a very clever design. I'm not sure whether they used the KERS electrical energy to "activate" it? Also, the Mercedes "S" duct which used a passive system to stall both the front and rear wings when DRS was in use (2011) was very clever.


A single central rear mirror on a pole in front of the driver
a design without wings, the whole car being one
The Colani designed Eiffelland was surely one of the most innovative looking cars. Was it a success? No, because a race has curves and the produced downforce shouldn't only work when driving straight.

A gas turbine, the very flat BMW 4 piston turbo, ...


It has to be active suspension and ground-effect skirts - bring the skirts back I say, might help sorting the men out from the boys. Really F1 cars should be on the edge and brutes to drive. 17 year old kids shouldn't be ready for F1, buts that's a different avenue to go down another day I suppose.


No mention of the Williams Active Suspension on FW14B/FW15C that dominated in '92/'93, then banned for '94. Combined with ABS and TC made for a ruthless package, but it was the AS in my mind that stands out.


Hmm, looking at the header picture again... I'd forgot all about the front wheel covers Ferrari introduced in 2008, and BrawnGP made infamous by painting theirs neon yellow!


I think the greatest innovation was when RBR cut a tiny, unslotted, tyre squirt hole in the floor of their car at Monaco. From all the hoo-hah at the time you would have thought it netted them 2 secs a lap.
Then there is the rule that was aimed at slowing down Seb. The banning of the use of different helmets every weekend. Seb really had them scratching their heads for a while.


Through all these revolutionary things one thing never changed....there was never much overtaking, it is not what F1 is about, F1 is about these innovations and the brains behind them, the good drivers were only competing to offered the best ride as their route to the championship. Now that the FIA has, effectively, stifled innovation and put all it's eggs, erroneously, into the overtaking basket, F1 has become boring and the more similar the cars get the more boring it will become. Lets face it Formula Ford cars are identical and, unless you are friends/family of a driver, there isn't much of interest is there?


Who was the team that had a sensor in the nose of the car that detected when the wire buried in the track at each car's start box went active (when the lights went green) and automatically triggered a computer-controlled auto-start?


I dont recall it but it sounds Bennetonesqe.


I would go for a cas not mentioned here, if you allow me.
It's the Brabham BT46B, AKA The Fan Car! Creativity at its best, or worst?


Its mentioned twice in the comments section and once in the article🤔


I agree the 1992-93 Williams active suspension. 2 reasons convince me.

1. If the measure of superiority is the level of dominance it held to consistently win easily and by the largest margins and

2. probably more important Is that any car that allows Nigel Mansell to beat both Senna and Schumacher with ease is an amazing machine


A bunch of worthless aero.
Which is what much of the $$$ in F1 is blown on.


I think that the diffusers blown (cold and hot) and the subsequent effect coanda, despite very restrictive regulations in the aerodynamic use of the exhaust systems, were a good example of the technical gaps in the interpretation of the spirit of the norms


That sums up why F1 is on a downward spiral for decades.

The more motorsport's rulemakers tighten the technical straitjacket on top level categories, the more fans leave in disgust at what have become virtually one-make series.

Untie the straitjacket! Set motorsport free!


A major inovation that was from the early 1980s was brabham's trick suspension that lowered the car to the track after the FIA mandated a 6 cm ground clearance to try to limit ground effects


I like f duct. It was an awesome idea. Perhaps in future you could explore the engineers behind this. Where all this came from?


Benetton traction control 😉


Ground effect! Less need for wings and delicate aero devices as seen today. Chapmans double chassis was a clever idea, so clever, they banned it like Gordon Murrays fan!

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