Formula One, as the pinnacle of motorsport technology, has been responsible for some of the greatest advances in automotive precision engineering we have ever seen.
These days, a Formula One car is rigidly defined according to the year’s Technical Regulations, and even then there is often enough interpretation room to make some brilliant and incredibly fast cars.
However, throughout Formula One’s celebrated past, there have been some huge technological advances that have not only changed F1’s landscape but motoring in general. Here are some of the biggest.
Airflow is one of the biggest parts of motorsport, especially in open-wheel series like Formula One where there is a lot more room to interpret the rules. This lead to the development of aerodynamic wings which are now standard on every F1 car.
However, an even faster technology was developed in the late 1970s which turned the entire car into a wing by having skits reach out to the bottom of the track and large tunnels on the underside of the car to essentially suck the car to the ground.
It changed F1 at a fundamental level. It was safer to take corners quickly because of the way the system worked and the cars were deeply uncomfortable to drive.
However, if the ground effect was in any way disrupted, such as by a bumpy track or a broken skirt, the car would fly dangerously quickly off the track so it was banned in 1982.
The 1993 F1 season brought with it the most advanced cars to date, with fly by wire controls, traction control, semi-automatic gearboxes, anti-lock brakes and so many technical advances that were banned before they even existed, such as CVT transmission and four-wheel steering.
The crown jewel of these cars, however, was active suspension, which would adjust to the road ahead and raise/lower the car to get around corners effectively.
It was so good that after Nigel Mansell dominated the 1992 season and nearly every car in 1993 had it, the FIA banned the system, eventually reaching a compromise that it could remain until the 1994 season.