The last hurrah of Formula 1's most successful engine

On this day in 1983, a winning era for Formula 1's most successful engine came to an end when Michele Alboreto triumphed for Tyrrell around the streets of Detroit.

The last hurrah of Formula 1's most successful engine

The Cosworth DFV is an engine that stood the test of time in grand prix racing, as over the course of its 17-year tenure it would power 12 drivers and 10 constructors to championships.

It finally bowed out of the sport in 1985 as F1 moved to a turbo era, but there was something quite fitting that the final of its 155 wins came in the Detroit city that was so instrumental to its birth.

The Cosworth DFV first arrived as part of a 'works'-style deal that Colin Chapman had struck for Team Lotus with Ford, as both looked to maximise the changes in regulation that would permit a larger capacity engine from 1966 onwards.

Read Also:

The engine would be built by Cosworth, a company to which Mike Costin and Keith Duckworth had lent their names and for which had already had success in developing Ford engines for junior categories.

After two years of development by Cosworth, the DFV, which had been designed alongside the Lotus 49, would make its debut without fanfare at the third round of the 1967 championship at Zandvoort.

Lotus and Ford enjoyed incredible and immediate success, coming straight out of the blocks with stunning form.

Graham Hill obliterated the track record to take pole position, with a lap time that was over six seconds quicker than anything run before.

The Dutch Grand Prix was the first time that his team mate, Jim Clark, had sat behind the wheel of the new Lotus-Cosworth, as Hill had done all of the testing.

However, fate conspired and Hill retired from the lead of the race early-on with an engine failure. Meanwhile, Clark, who started the race from 8th place, made his way through the field and took victory by a whopping 27 seconds.

Denny Hulme and Brabham would run out overall victors in '67 with their Repco V8, but the DFV had already proved its worth.

Ford therefore decided it would be better served to provide its engine to other teams too, rather than just give exclusivity to Team Lotus.

The Cosworth DFV, like the Coventry Climax that came before it, was not only robust, reliable and lightweight, it was also affordable, making F1 accessible to those that might otherwise have found it a costly barrier to leap.

This became a hallmark of the engine's success, as it enabled the lesser funded teams to fight the establishment.

Graham Hill, Lotus 49 Ford
Graham Hill, Lotus 49 Ford
1/17

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Graham Hill, Lotus 49B-Ford, leads Chris Amon, Ferrari 312
Graham Hill, Lotus 49B-Ford, leads Chris Amon, Ferrari 312
2/17

Photo by: Motorsport Images

John Miles, Lotus 63-Ford
John Miles, Lotus 63-Ford
3/17

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Lotus 72C 1970 detailed overview
Lotus 72C 1970 detailed overview
4/17

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Jackie Stewart, Tyrrell 001-Ford, in the pits
Jackie Stewart, Tyrrell 001-Ford, in the pits
5/17

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Carlos Pace, Frank Williams March 711, gives a lift to Ronnie Peterson, March Ford
Carlos Pace, Frank Williams March 711, gives a lift to Ronnie Peterson, March Ford
6/17

Photo by: David Phipps

Andrea de Adamich and John Surtees, Surtees TS9B and Rob Walker
Andrea de Adamich and John Surtees, Surtees TS9B and Rob Walker
7/17

Photo by: Sutton Images

Chris Amon, Tyrrell 005 Ford
Chris Amon, Tyrrell 005 Ford
8/17

Photo by: Sutton Images

Vittorio Brambilla, March 741 Ford, in the pits
Vittorio Brambilla, March 741 Ford, in the pits
9/17

Photo by: David Phipps

Ronnie Peterson, Lotus 72E
Ronnie Peterson, Lotus 72E
10/17

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Henri Pescarolo, Surtees TS19 Ford
Henri Pescarolo, Surtees TS19 Ford
11/17

Photo by: Rainer W. Schlegelmilch / Motorsport Images

Clay Regazzoni, Ensign N177 Ford
Clay Regazzoni, Ensign N177 Ford
12/17

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Vittorio Brambilla, Surtees TS20 Ford
Vittorio Brambilla, Surtees TS20 Ford
13/17

Photo by: Ercole Colombo

Patrick Tambay, McLaren M29 Ford
Patrick Tambay, McLaren M29 Ford
14/17

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Jean-Pierre Jarier, Tyrrell 010 Ford
Jean-Pierre Jarier, Tyrrell 010 Ford
15/17

Photo by: Rainer W. Schlegelmilch / Motorsport Images

Niki Lauda, McLaren MP4-1B Ford
Niki Lauda, McLaren MP4-1B Ford
16/17

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Nigel Mansell, Lotus 92
Nigel Mansell, Lotus 92
17/17

Photo by: Sutton Images

It would also power a legacy of championship winning cars through the ground effect era, made possible by its diminutive figure that enabled those using it to get much more from the Venturi tunnels than those teams using the flat-12 engines.

Ground effect was unceremoniously cut from the sport just as the turbocharger was starting to gain more attention. This would effectively kill off the power to weight advantage that it had offered over engines in the past.

Some of the lesser funded teams plugged away with the DFV for several years to come, unable to afford to jump on the turbocharged bandwagon.

Tyrrell was one of these teams, the last bastion really for the DFV, as the team stuck with it even though it was clear that the turbocharged engine was the way forward.

Tyrrell not only recorded the engine's last race victory with Michele Alboreto in Detroit, 1983, but it was the last team to use a variant of the engine, as Martin Brundle was powered by a DFY in his 012 at the Austrian GP in 1985, before the team finally relented and switched to a turbocharged Renault engine.

shares
comments

Related video

Norris: F1 stewards should have rethink after "unfair" penalty
Previous article

Norris: F1 stewards should have rethink after "unfair" penalty

Next article

Binotto leaves pit wall seat as Ferrari completes reshuffle

Binotto leaves pit wall seat as Ferrari completes reshuffle
Load comments
The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver the goods for McLaren Prime

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver the goods for McLaren

From being lapped by his own teammate in Monaco to winning at Monza, it’s been a tumultuous first season at McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo. But, as he tells STUART CODLING, there’s more to the story of his turnaround than having a lovely summer holiday during Formula 1's summer break...

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title Prime

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title

As the battle continues to rage over the F1 2021 drivers' championship, teams up and down the grid are turning their attentions to the prize money attributed to each position in the constructors' standings. But F1's sliding scale rules governing wind tunnel and CFD use will soften the blow for those who miss out on the top places

Formula 1
Nov 25, 2021
The invisible enemy that's made Hamilton's title charge tougher Prime

The invisible enemy that's made Hamilton's title charge tougher

After winning his past few Formula 1 titles as a canter, Lewis Hamilton currently trails Max Verstappen by eight points heading into the final double-header of 2021. Although Red Bull has been his biggest on-track challenge, Hamilton feels that he has just as much to grapple with away from the circuit

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2021
Why F1's inconvenient penalties have to stay Prime

Why F1's inconvenient penalties have to stay

OPINION: Quibbles over the length of time taken by Formula 1's stewards over decisions are entirely valid. But however inconvenient it is, there can be no questioning the importance of having clearly defined rules that everyone understands and can stick to. Recent events have shown that ambiguity could have big consequences

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021's title fight climax Prime

The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021's title fight climax

OPINION: Red Bull has had Formula 1’s fastest package for most of 2021, but in several of the title run-in events it has wasted the RB16B’s potential. It cannot afford to do so again with Lewis Hamilton motoring back towards Max Verstappen in the drivers’ standings with two rounds remaining

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
Qatar Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Qatar Grand Prix driver ratings

Qatar was a virtual unknown for most as Formula 1 made its inaugural visit to the Gulf state, and tyre management quickly emerged as an even more critical factor than normal. Perhaps then it should come as no surprise that two of the championship's elder statesmen produced standout drives

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2021
How Hamilton dominated in Qatar despite missing a key Mercedes advantage Prime

How Hamilton dominated in Qatar despite missing a key Mercedes advantage

There was simply no stopping Lewis Hamilton on Formula 1's first visit to Qatar. The Mercedes driver eased to pole position and led every lap to secure an utterly dominant victory - even without a key Mercedes weapon in his arsenal to increase the heat on Red Bull heading into the final two races of the gripping 2021 title race

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2021
Qatar's long-term plans for a "World Cup every single year" Prime

Qatar's long-term plans for a "World Cup every single year"

Qatar is preparing to host the football World Cup next year, but will be thrown into the sporting spotlight this weekend as Formula 1 prepares to race in the country. Ahead of a 10-year deal to hold a grand prix from 2023 onwards, it's a much-needed opportunity to highlight reforms in the country

Formula 1
Nov 20, 2021