The 12 Cars of Christmas

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12 cars of christmas

Paul and I were chatting and like always, he had a great idea. He said “Hey, why don’t celebrate the Holiday’s with the 12 cars of Christmas?”. I said, “That’s a great idea! So we had the entire F1B staff offer our eleven (11) cars of Christmas. Yes, we have one spot open and we left that for you! The F1B loyal reader/listener. We all know that you are the biggest part of the team and we saved you the paramount position on our 12 Cars of Christmas list (you can hum the song while you type if that would help).

So which is it? Share it with us. Tell us, below, what your favorite F1 car is and why. We hope you have enjoyed the original content so far this off season and this is just fun story to help you get to know us a little better. In return, we want to know your favorites so please join us in picking the 12 Cars of Christmas. The list isn’t complete without your contribution because that’s how we operate around here. You are the co-creators of F1B and we rely on your help, patronage and continued support to make this site the best F1 blog in the world. So…let’s get started on our list shall we? Here is your faithful F1B staff and their picks for the eleven cars on the list, now it’s your turn…Go, go go!

Paul- The Tyrell P34 or six-wheel Tyrell is the poster boy for my campaign to vote the 70’s as the best era for F1 cars. Nowadays if you painted all the cars white it would be nearly impossible to discern what is what. Back then all the cars were unique, it was the beginning of the aero era and everybody had very different ideas, the designers were allowed to paint with a very broad stroke and the Tyrell P34 was the epitome of this.

Derek Gardner was the visionary behind the design and of course Ken Tyrell was at the helm. The whole car was made in complete secrecy, not an easy job, as there was a whole cottage industry powered by the numerous F1 teams in southern England, so everyone knew everyone, but it wasn’t just the car design that had to be hidden but the car needed tyres, very special tyres, and Goodyear were the main supplier to most teams back then.

The basic theory behind the car was not to reduce front drag (the big fat fun tyres at the rear made that redundant), but by taking the rotating tyres out of the airstream it increased front down force, and of course the extra rubber made for an increased contact patch further enabling the car to turn. This increase in grip shows up in the results as the car did very well on handling tracks such as Monaco etc.

The car debuted in Spain in 1976 and won on its 4th time out in Sweden with a 1-2 for Scheckter and Depailler. It was very competitive and Tyrell finished 3rd on the constructors that year.

In 1977 one of my favourite drivers of all time, Ronnie Peterson joined the team, a man who lived to go sideways, the P34 probably wasn’t the ideal car for him as alas the development of the cute little front tyres fell back and the car lost it’s edge. March, Williams and even Ferrari developed 6 wheel cars, but with the 4 wheels at the back. These were never raced as the six-wheel era was stunted by the banning of such silly ideas.

I couldn’t tell you of the excitement I felt when I first saw this car. That was the wonder of the era; you never knew what was coming next. My model collection is full of different versions of it, and it made me a fan of the team from then on.

Todd- For me, the Lotus 49 is the quintessential race car designed by the man who revolutionized the sport. It is the logical evolution of perfection and its lines, style and performance galvanized the mind and sport. Although I am partial to Gary Anderson’s “7-up” car, the Lotus 49 has always had a major impact on me. The 1967 Ferrari 312 is at the top of my list, I can’t lie.

The traditional ’67 paint with British racing green and yellow stripe will be forever seared in my brain as Jimmy Clark, my favorite, won his last race in ’68 in a Lotus 49. It was a revolutionary design in that the engine was a stress-bearing portion of the car. While the Lotus 43 and Brabham were also using this style, Chapman managed to get it all right. The car also was the first to use aerofoil wings in mid 1968. The Lotus 63 was a failure and the they continue with the 49 until the awesome Lotus 72 came and a new era began eventually giving away to the Lotus 79!

Grace- So this may come as a bit of surprise but my pick for the 12 Cars of Christmas is the Ferrari F2002. The F2002 was piloted by Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello and stands as a testament to one of the greatest Formula 1 dynasties in the modern era. The F2002 itself was a pure work of art. It was aerodynamically beautiful with its wide wheelbase and distinct sidepods design and ahead of most other cars in the field. It was such a strong car that Ferrari continued using the F2002 in the beginning of 2003 while it developed its sibling the F2003-GA. During its run of nineteen races it saw fifteen wins and both the 2002 drivers and constructors championships.

That car was amazing and represented everything that was great about the early ’00 in Formula 1. It was designed by the Ferrari dream team of Rory Byrne and Paolo Martinelli along with the oversight of the then team technical director Ross Brawn. The F2002, to date, remains one of the most successful cars in the history of Formula 1. The F2002 concept also represented a marked change at Ferrari as it worked to eliminate the weight of the earlier cars from the 1990’s and a much lower center of gravity. It also had some technical advances with its gearbox and traction control system, but really none of that mattered when you looked at it. It was an amazing car, even if it was built at the hands of the enemy.

Steve- Of the many grand draws of Formula 1, competing at the top of my own list is the sheer beauty of the cars. A Brabham BT20? Yes, please. The Lancia D50? I’ll take two. Even the Ferrari F1-2000. I’d like one in red and a companion in yellow.

Today, that beauty is more delicately combined with engineering, aerodynamics, high-tech gadgetry and – importantly – safety than ever before. The result are cars that, from my eye, wouldn’t win any beauty contest against the trio of contestants listed above. But they blow them away from an engineering and automotive standpoint, and though you can’t really compare cars with different engine specs operating under different regulations, I’d still be tempted to say they would blow them off the track – all things being equal.

It’s the world of Formula 1 today. And when I look at that world, when I look up and down the grid today, my thoughts always turn back to 1990 and Adrian Newey’s Leyton House CG901.

The most beautiful car ever? No, and not only because of that BP green and teal color scheme. But in this design we have the beginning of the aeronautic era of F1, if I can call it that, at the hand of its preeminent player, Newey.

And I can remind you of what almost was: an HRT-like podium finish that could have been a victory at the French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard. Ivan Capelli, at times driving half-blind without a side-view mirror, nearly held off Alain Prost and his Ferrari thanks to the Leyton House’s ability to go fast while being easy on the tires. This, in a car that hadn’t qualified for the previous grand prix, but for this race had a whole new floor, diffuser and sidepods.

That’s the miracle of an Adrian Newey-designed car. It was a miracle that caught Frank Williams’ eye. And at Williams, Newey would hone his design into championship-winning racecars. And this grand prix came right as Newey was making that change.

Amid what might be some usual suspects, that all adds up plenty of reasons the Leyton House CG901 deserves to be one of this year’s “12 Cars of Christmas.”

Laura- The Williams FW18 – simply because this is the first year I really remember becoming an F1 fan. I know that doesn’t explain why I like the car, but I’ll get to that. I no longer watched the sport as an excuse to stay up on a Sunday night, (back then I used to watch the highlights), I watched it because I had started to support a team and a driver, and ultimately a car. Of course, it won both the Constructors’ and Drivers’ championships with Damon Hill that year, and that is why for me, it is the best car.

Lois- My choice is Ayrton Senna’s 1988 McLaren MP4/4. I fell in love with the car 22 years (wow, 22 years!) before the rest of the world discovered or re-discovered it this year. Yes, this is the car featured in McLaren’s video with Jenson Button and Lewis Hamiton. Lewis then realized his dream and drove it during the tribute to Senna on BBC’s “Top Gear”. I shared Jenson’s and Lewis’s awe at how Ayrton managed to steer it one-handed through the streets of Monaco.

Mark- The Williams FW11. Forget the later Renault iterations, this turbocharged Honda monster not only won the constructor’s title, but should have won the driver’s with ease, too. Prost and Senna had no chance when the FW11’s drivers weren’t playing silly beggars.

Andy- The Ferrari 312 T4. Apart from being the last car to win a drivers title for Ferrari for 21 years, The car was iconic to me simply because of he guy who drove the 12 car. Watching old footage of Gilles throwing the car around with its fat rear tyres and odd front wing just makes me all nostalgic.

Vick- The 2009 Brawn, because it won the championship by being an “underdog” and from a team that didn’t exist just a month before the season began. Except, it wasn’t really either of those things, but the car Honda had spent at least half of the 2008 season developing for the new 2009 rules, with a Mercedes engine shoehorned in when Honda decided to abandon F1. Until Red Bull began to catch up in the latter third of the season, it was a dominant car using a tricky loophole in the regulations in a way no other team could match, despite others using the very same loophole.

Tony-The Brabham BT55. An absolutely rubbish car, but at 14 years old in early 1986, the first to really catch my imagination on just how unique a Grand Prix car could look.

Mini- The McLaren MP4-18 “The car that never raced”, it essentially shows the utter exorbitant waste of money that was Formula One during the early 2000’s. You know you have too much time and money on your hands when you can design and test up to three separate cars side by side during a single season.

Strange crashes in testing, unable to survive the FIA impact tests and over heating engines. Anything that could go wring with the design/development of a vehicle was superbly achieved with this car. But you have to love it. If Newey and Coughlan ever wanted to find where the line was for strength vs reliability they and they well and truly left that line behind on the distant horizon when designing this car.

Dave- On May 3, 1992, a sleepy-eyed, 27 year-old American idiot dragged himself out of bed before dawn, started brewing some disgustingly strong coffee and went to a local doughnut shop for an apple fritter. When he returned home, a baker’s dozen of sweet confections in tow, he poured himself a cup of something that would make espresso drinkers gag, and sat down to watch the Spanish Grand Prix run at the Circuit de Catalunya. The race itself was exciting, being run in a torrential downpour, as Nigel Mansell’s Williams out-dueled all comers. But what caught the eye and imagination of the viewer as he sat alone literally in the middle of America was the debut of the Benetton B192.

The B192 was the creation of combined genius of Rory Byrne and Ross Brawn. It featured the raised-nose design that, although not new, was not being used by any of the front-running teams at that time. Benetton hadn’t completed the car by the beginning of the ’92 season, so the previous year’s B191B was used for the first three races of the year. And as it was (under)powered by a Ford-badged Cosworth V8, the B192 relied almost on pure aerodynamics to keep it competitive. And competitive it was!

The B192 was driven by teammates Michael Schumacher and Martin Brundle. When they could keep it on the track, only once did either finish out of the points as Camel Benetton Ford took third in the Constructor’s championship, and Schumacher and Brundle finished third and sixth in the driver’s championship respectively. The teammates scored 11 podium finishes in the B192, highlighted by Schumacher’s first career win at a rain-soaked Spa.

Subsequent versions of the B192 were competitive (including Schumacher’s first driver’s championship in the B194), but the Constructor’s title eluded Benetton until 1995 when the B195 was matched with the Renault V10 engine. Of course, it should be noted that after five teammates in three years, Benetton finally found arguably the finest #2 driver in the history of F1 to team with Schumacher and push Benetton to their first and only Constructor’s championship: JOHNNY HERBERT!!! Although never proven, stories still persist that Schumacher was so intimidated by the affable Herbert’s talent, that he poisoned Herbert’s relationship with Benetton as he stole the brain-trust of Byrne and Brawn and brought them to Ferrari in an attempt to sabotage poor Johnny’s career. And for this, Schumacher will NEVER be forgiven by Johnny’s loyal fans. NEVER.

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