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Talking about the best F1 engines of all time is tricky. There are various categories that an engine can be best at. For this reason, you could spend hours doing research and still walk away somewhat confused. So I want to make this as easy as possible; what is the best F1 engine of all time?
Ferrari is the best engine in Formula One when looking at previous data. Not only do they have the most wins in F1, but they also have the most podium places. Not far behind is the Mercedes engine, followed by Cosworth. The most powerful engine ever made is the BMW M12.
I need to expand on all of that information regarding the best F1 engines. Not only are we going to look at the best F1 engines of all time, but I am going to discuss a few notable ones. So, after reading this article, you can consider yourself a little bit of a know-it-all. Let’s jump into it.
Deciding Which F1 Engine Is The Best: Things To Consider
The first ever Formula One race was held in 1950, which means that the sport is over 70 years old. In that time there have been a lot of different engines so choosing which one is best can be near impossible.
In terms of which is best, I decided to break the article down into specific categories, for example:
- The best overall F1 engine
- The best sounding F1 engine
- The most powerful F1 engine
If you are new to F1, you might not know that some F1 vehicles use engines from different manufacturers. For example, Red Bull racing used a Renault engine, even though Renault was also in F1 at the time. Currently, Red Bull uses a Honda engine.
So, I will be speaking about engines from manufacturers who have never had their own F1 team.
Also, the information in this article is going to change. For example, Ferrari has 239 Formula One wins at the time of writing. However, the 2022 season is about to begin, and Ferrari could rack up more wins, or Mercedes could overtake them between the 2022 and 2023 seasons.
The Best Overall F1 Engine Ever
Ferrari has the best engine in Formula One based on statistics. In this article, we will take a look at a few other categories, such as the best-sounding engine. Still, when you take the overall achievement that Ferrari has managed with their own proprietary engine, there is no denying that Ferrari is the best.
Now, because Ferrari’s result spans decades, we cannot say which specific iteration of the Ferrari engine is the best. However, the fastest Ferrari is the Ferrari SF70H. In fact, the Ferrari SF70H is the quickest car to go around the track.
Here is a list of reasons why Ferrari has the best engine in Formula One history:
- Ferrari has won the most championships with 15.
- They also have the most podium finishes with just over 800.
- As of writing this article, Ferrari has the most F1 wins with 239.
The Ferrari Ferrari SF70H
The SF70H was driven by Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikonen. Kimi Raikkonen holds the fastest recorded lap at the Monza circuit; he did it in the Ferrari.
The SF70H is considered the fastest Ferrari in F1 history. As mentioned, Ferrari used their proprietary engine. The iteration they used for the Ferrari SF70H is called the 61 EVO. When combined with its ERS system, the machine can push around 1000 horsepower.
It is essential to remember that the top speed is not the only factor you need to consider when thinking about a great engine.
Does Ferrari Have The Best Engine For F1 2022?
I have just watched the pre-season event for the 2022 season, and Ferrari is looking excellent. There are talks amongst prominent F1 individuals that Ferrari could perhaps have the best engine of the season.
Funny enough, former professional driver and current advisor to Red Bull Racing Howard Marco was one of the people to praise Ferrari’s engine. Now, I wouldn’t read too much into that because it is pre-season, after all. Mercedes and Honda Red Bull could be hiding a few secrets.
We know that the 2022 F1 season will be a banger, with the likes of Ferrari and McLaren hoping to compete for the very top spots once again. This will put pressure on Mercedes and Red Bull, which should add a new level of excitement to F1 that we haven’t seen in a long time.
Was The Cosworth DFV The Best Engine In Formula 1? 9 Facts
The Cosworth DVF is an engine made by Ford. It is one of the most iconic engines in Formula One and across the motorsport community. It is considered the most successful engine in Formula One history for some fans, but does that make it the best? For the best understanding, let me highlight a few facts.
- The DFV is a 3.0L V8.
- Its maximum output was 530 hp.
- A lot of F1 vehicles used the engine at the same time.
- It was the dominant engine in the 1970s.
- The DFV was last used in 1983 by martin Brundle.
- The Cosworth DFV won 12 drivers’ championships.
- The engine also won 10 constructors cups.
- The engine was used in Formula 3000
- It was also used at the le Mans.
With all of that in mind, the Cosworth DFV might sound like it was the best engine, but unfortunately, it falls short when you compare it to Ferrari’s proprietary engine. We can say that the Cosworth was the best engine between the 1970s and mid-1980s, but Ferrari has won more championships, podiums, and race wins.
The F1 Ford Cosworth Specs
|Displacement||3.0 L (183 cu in)|
|Cylinder bore||85.67 mm (3 in)|
|Piston stroke||64.9 mm (3 in)|
|Block material||Aluminum alloy|
|Head material||Aluminum alloy|
|Valvetrain||32-valve, DOHC, four-valves per cylinder|
What Teams Used The Ford Cosworth DFV?
Because the Ford Cosworth DFV is such an iconic engine, I want to expand a little more and talk about the teams you used the engine. Now I’m not going to list all of the teams; instead, I will list all of the notable themes:
- Lotus: The first car to use the engine was Lotus, and in 1968, Graham Hill won the championship with that car and engine. It also won the constructors championship. Was it a sign of things to come?
- McLaren: In 1974 and 1976, McLaren dominated F1 with the DFV. However, while they managed two driver championships, they only won one constructor.
- Williams: There was a time when Williams was a top team. They won 2 driver’s championships and two constructors’ championships with the DFV engine.
- Tyrell: New fans of the sport might not know of Tyrell. They were one of the top teams until eventually, they became Mercedes AMG, so it is safe to say that the legacy lives on, and this team used to use the Ford Cosworth. Does that mean Mercedes technically used to use that engine?
So yes, the Cosworth was a very successful engine. Some of the best drivers in the world got to use it, and some of the best racing teams opted to use it for many years.
Did The Cosworth DFV Ever Change?
The DFV was not the first engine that Cosworth made for motor racing; instead, it was an engine made from a combination of various other engines.
In its Formula One history, the DFV went through minor changes every year. It is important to remember when you hear about the stage one and stage 2 variants; stage one was not a Formula One engine to start with.
The stage one engine was for formula two, and it was a four-cylinder instead of a V8. However, the stage two engine did go through changes, but nothing significant enough to be noteworthy. At its core, the engine remained almost the same until it was phased out in the 80s.
What Is The Worst Engine In F1?
A lot of engines can be considered the worst. It all depends on how you look at it. Statistically, an engine like the Subaru 1235 is the worst. Subaru decided to change engines halfway through the season because the engine was so bad. Funny enough, they switched to the Cosworth DFV, which we will discuss later on.
Switching engines during an F1 season is an unusual thing to do, but Subaru was struggling, and it’s because their engine was not competitive or even reliable.
Was The McLaren MP4/9 The Worst F1 Car?
In my opinion, the McLaren MP4 /9 had the worst engine. When you support a team like McClaren, you expect results, especially when you are used to them. In 1994, McLaren decided to go with a Peugeot engine.
McLaren failed to win a single race for the first time in a decade and a half. When you think about the development that goes into every aspect of a Formula One car and the fact that McLaren had the money they did, failing to win because of an engine, it’s just inexcusable.
The Peugeot A4 engine was a 3.5 liter V10. It had a maximum output of 730 horsepower. That sounds similar to most machines of the time which leaves people wondering why it failed to deliver. Well, I put it down to inconsistency in the engine’s performance.
The Most Powerful F1 Engine Of All Time
Again, this article is going to get more confusing. The best engine in F1 history is not the most powerful engine. Remember, efficiency also matters and how the power is delivered to the drivetrain. These two things are about as important as the power itself.
The BMW M12 is the most powerful Formula One engine ever created. Even with the new ERS system implemented into hybrid engines, you will never generate that much power today.
The BMW M12 could output 1500 hp. That is significantly more than the vehicles of that time. 1500 hp is also more than the current hybrid engines produce, which is when combined with ERS, approximately 1000 hp.
Strangely, BMW is no longer in Formula One, but I’m sure many fans remember their heyday, and who knows, anything can happen. Perhaps one day, we will be lucky enough to see BMW on the track again.
The Best Sounding F1 Engine Ever
The Ferrari 412 T2 is considered the best-sounding Formula One car ever, and it’s no surprise. Here are a few things to note about the 412 and its engine.
- The Ferrari 412 T2 was powered by a 3.0L naturally aspirated v12.
- The Ferrari 412 T2 had a max output of 760 hp.
- The car did not win the title in 1995 despite its power.
- Renault dominated the season while the 412 engine, as good as it was and sounded, had reliability issues.
Overall the car is considered a classic. It is also available in multiple games, such as F1 2017 as a classic car.
Throughout the history of F1, it has been common to use a V6 or V8 engine. So it is no surprise that the best-sounding car used a V12 engine. Here is a great video showing the car going around a track to give you a small idea of what the car sounded like.
5 Of The Best Sounding cars In Formula 1
I would be doing a massive disservice if I was not to list five of the best-sounding cars in F1 history. We already know that the 412 T2 is considered the best but what other cars are noteworthy? Well, it is not so simple.
Except for the 412, the list becomes subjective. What sounds good to one person might not sound as good to the other. With that out of the way, here are my top 5 best-sounding F1 engines, in no particular order.
- The Siver w02 was dangerously loud at 127.8 decibels. The engine is a 3.0L V12.
- The Ferrari 412 T2.
- The Brabham BT52 had only a four-cylinder engine.
- Mercedes-Benz W154: A V6 will rarely be on the same list as a V12. However, the W154 sounded monstrous, especially coming out of corners.
- McLaren-Mercedes MP4/10: The only V10 on this list, this machine had a piercing sound on straights. Around corners, it roared. The 1990s was indeed a special time in F1 history.
There are other noteworthy mentions, mostly Mercedes cars. However, these vehicles predate Formula One as we know it. So, It would be disingenuous of me to include it in this article, but at onestopracing.com, I don’t only focus on Formula One. So, maybe that is an article for another day.
The Most Fuel-Efficient F1 Engine Of All Time
The most fuel-efficient engines are currently used in Formula One, which should be no surprise seeing as technology keeps advancing. A few of my friends were shocked when they found out that Formula One only uses a 1.6-liter engine. It might leave a few people shocked as to how they can achieve the power speed they do.
A combination of factors makes today’s engines some of the best we have seen in Formula One. While they have decreased the displacement, the race engineers managed to get top speeds out of these engines.
The current Formula One engines also have ERS, a little electronic motor that delivers a little bit of extra power to the vehicle. If a driver uses it correctly, he can increase his speed on straights.
The Energy Recovery System (ERS) saves wasted energy, which can be used when the driver needs it. The system contributes to fuel efficiency.
The ERS system charges up when the vehicle is coasting, but it gets its main charge when the driver applies his brakes. The F1 driver has a little button on his steering wheel that he can press to activate the electric motor. It is also known as the “overtake”; obviously, a driver will use it when he wants to overtake someone.
Noteworthy F1 Engines
A few more engines need to be discussed because they’re essential in the development of Formula One. Some of these engines have produced excellent results, while others are on their way to breaking records. Let’s take a look.
- Mercedes AMG: The current AMG F1 W10 EQ Power+ is a 1.6-liter turbocharged hybrid engine that has produced some extraordinary results. It looks like Mercedes has only made minor adjustments for the 2022 season, so we still need to see how those work out.
- Honda: The Honda RA106 holds the world record for the top speed in a Formula One car. The test was off track and was held in the Bonneville salt flats. The vehicle hit the maximum speed of (246.9mph) 397.36km/h. You can’t hit those speeds, break a record and not make it onto a list like this.
- The BMW M12: Again, we have another record-breaker. The BMW M12 is the most powerful engine used in a Formula One car, pushing out up to 1500 hp.
Do F1 Engines Get Better Every Year?
There are many factors that we need to consider here. Some F1 fans base their opinion on how an engine sounds, how much power it puts out, or even how reliable it is. A fan of a V12 engine will always say that the V12 was the best engine ever.
However, when it comes to overall performance, fuel efficiency, eco-friendliness, performance, and much more, it is safe to say that F1 engines get better with every iteration.
Every few years, there is a significant shakeup in the F1 world, so much so that you have specific eras. In 2022 we are seeing the birth of an entirely new era in F1 where cars had to change their engines and redesign according to new regulations. The engines are still hybrid 1.6L engines.
The FIA makes these regulations. A shakeup also allows F1 constructors to develop better components and thus better engines. I am looking forward to seeing the 1.6-liter hybrid perform this year.
What Engine Does Mercedes Use?
Since 2012, Mercedes has been dominating Formula One. Their closest rival is Red Bull, and even they took a long time to catch up to Mercedes.
Like Ferrari, Mercedes opts to use their in-house technology to create their engines. They are currently using the Mercedes AMG F1 W10 EQ Power+.
What Engine Does Red Bull Use?
After the 2018 season, Red Bull decided they no longer wanted to use the Renault engine. It was a strange ending to a relationship between Renault and Red Bull that left a bad taste in the mouth of the then Renault boss, Cyril Abiteboul.
Red Bull switched to the Honda engine, and so when you look at Formula One statistics and see a Honda, don’t worry, they didn’t secretly win a race. Instead, they are often listed as the constructor. It can get confusing because sometimes, they list Redbull as the constructor. I guess it all depends on the publication.
Hopefully, you can confidently discuss Formula One engines with your friends after reading this article. My main goal was not only to talk about the best Formula One engine in terms of results because I understand not everybody is looking for that answer. If you want to read up about Formula One, feel free to take a look at some of our other articles.