Gallery: The evolution of a Formula 1 car since 1950

Formula 1 cars have gone through significant changes since the first world championship in 1950, making them look vastly different to what they did 60 years ago. We look at the evolution of Formula 1 through pictures.

1950

1950
1/39

The front-engined Alfa Romeo 158 produced around 400 bhp and dominated the first two F1 championships in 1950 and '51.

Photo by: LAT Images

1952

1952
2/39

After Alfa Romeo withdrew from the sport, very few teams had cars that conformed to the F1 regs. This lea to the championship running F2-spec cars for two years.

1954

1954
3/39

The championship returned to F1-spec machinery in 1954 as part of new regulations that stipulated 2.5-litre non-turbocharged engines. Mercedes came out with the legendary W196 with closed-wheels.

Photo by: Daimler AG

1958

1958
4/39

Stirling Moss driving the rear-engined Cooper T43

Photo by: LAT Images

1962

1962
5/39

Lotus 25 was the first car with a monocoque chassis

Photo by: LAT Images

1964

1964
6/39

In 1960s F1 cars started resembling capsules - long and tightly packed.

Photo by: LAT Images

1968

1968
7/39

Lotus 49B popularised the now-ubiquitous front and rear wing

Photo by: LAT Images

1969

1969
8/39

At a time when there were no computer systems, designers tested various devices to increase downforce. Here's Graham Hill driving a car with additional high wings which were affixed to front and rear suspensions.

Photo by: Sutton Images

1970

1970
9/39

Regulations regarding front and rear wings were tightened following several accidents.

Photo by: LAT Images

1970

1970
10/39

The Lotus 72 was the first car to install cooling system on the sides of the car, leading to the origin of sidepods.

Photo by: Sutton Images

1971

1971
11/39

Slick tyres being used for the first time

1974

1974
12/39

In addition to sidepods and wings, F1 cars now featured engine cover and airbox.

1976

1976
13/39

The six-wheeled Tyrrell P36 won the Swedish GP in 1976.

Photo by: LAT Images

1976

1976
14/39

James Hunt's McLaren M23 with a double airbox design.

1977

1977
15/39

Renault introduced turbo engines into F1, but their initial years were marred by technical gremlins.

Photo by: Renault

1977

1977
16/39

Lotus is known to pioneer 'ground effects'. By turning the car effectively into an inverted airplane wing, Lotus was able to produce significantly more downforce than its rivals.

Photo by: LAT Images

1981

1981
17/39

McLaren became the first team to use a carbon fibre monocoque, which has since been adopted by the entire grid.

Photo by: LAT Images

1982

1982
18/39

Brabham under Bernie Ecclestone's leadership started with the practice of mid-race refuelling, allowing it to run a lighter car throughout the race.

Photo by: LAT Images

1982

1982
19/39

Because of the amount of downforce generated by the underbody, front wings were no longer needed at certain tracks.

Photo by: LAT Images

1985

1985
20/39

Turbo engines started crossing the 1000 bhp mark, giving them an edge over naturally-aspirated counterparts. During this time, cars often ran out of fuel before the end of the race,

Photo by: LAT Images

1988

1988
21/39

1988 was the last year turbo engines were allowed in F1 before being reintroduced in 2014. Seen in the photo is the McLaren MP4-4, which romped to 15 victories in 1988 - missing out on just one win at Monza.

Photo by: XPB Images

1989

1989
22/39

The shape of the cars became more sleep and aerodynamic.

Photo by: LAT Images

1990

1990
23/39

Tyrrell 019 marked an evolution by bringing an elevated nose.

Photo by: LAT Images

1993

1993
24/39

An early form of bargeboard, seen on the McLaren MP4-8 driven by Michael Andretti.

Photo by: LAT Images

1993

1993
25/39

Electronic devices like traction control, launch control and active suspension became prominent. Williams driver Alain Prost dominated the season to win his fourth title, while McLaren's Ayrton Senna claimed five wins, including a memorable one at Donington Park.

Photo by: LAT Images

1994

1994
26/39

Most of the driving and electronic aids were banned ahead of start of the 1994 season. Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger died during a tragic weekend at Imola.

Photo by: LAT Images

1996

1996
27/39

Safety became a priority in the aftermath of Imola 1994. The cockpit's opening was made larger and the sides raised to provide better head protection.

Photo by: LAT Images

1997

1997
28/39

High noses became common. 1997 was the last year of slick tyres until they were reintroduced in 2009.

Photo by: Sutton Images

1998

1998
29/39

For 1998, the car's track was reduced from 2m to 1.8m. The front tyres had three grooves, while rear had four after the ban on slick tyres. All these changes were made to reduce cornering speed and increase overtaking.

Photo by: Sutton Images

1999

1999
30/39

Front tyres now had four grooves.

Photo by: WRI2

2004

2004
31/39

The year in which majority of lap records were broken.

2006

2006
32/39

F1 switched to 2.4-litre V8 engines

Photo by: XPB Images

2008

2008
33/39

2008 cars used several aerodynamic wings and winglets.

Photo by: XPB Images

2009

2009
34/39

New era, new looks. Slick tyres were reintroduced, while KERS was a new addition to the series. Changes were also made to the wings.

Photo by: XPB Images

2012

2012
35/39

As part of a safety measure, FIA made changes to the nose cone, leading to the much-hated stepped noses. An year earlier, FIA introduced DRS to aid overtaking.

2014

2014
36/39

New 1.6-litre hybrid engines introduced that significantly changed the pecking order. Nose cones continued to look ugly, with the Caterham CT05 (pictured) making the worst-looking interpretation of the new rules.

Photo by: XPB Images

2014

2014
37/39

Teams came up with different nose designs, with the 'finger'-shaped nose being the most popular. However, Lotus came up with something extremely different.

Photo by: XPB Images

2016

2016
38/39

Some teams continued to use finger noses, although they were much shorter and far more visually appealing.

Photo by: Mercedes AMG

2017

2017
39/39

2017 revamp focused on making cars faster and harder to drive.

Photo by: XPB Images
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Series Formula 1
Article type Special feature