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Fantastic Documentary on F1’s Turbo Era

January 8, 2013 by Matt

Dovetailing nicely with the previous post, if you have an hour or so to spare, enjoy this clip. It’s part 1 of a 2-part documentary detailing what qualifies for some as the most technically fascinating period of Formula 1: the Turbo Era of the 1980s. It comprises a span of time, ending roughly with the banning of most electronic “driver aids” in 1994, when F1 technology was truly at the vanguard of automotive innovation. In some ways, the F1 Turbo Era is akin to the Apollo Era of spaceflight in that it stirred a sense of wonder with respect to its engineering achievements that really hasn’t been felt since. Sure, modern F1 tech is sophisticated in the sense that the execution is unparalleled and the engineers sweat the details, but in many ways an average sports car’s engine trumps its F1 racer’s counterpart, what with its variable valve timing, direct injection and advanced materials. At least for a little while, up until the early ’90s, engineers were given much more leeway, and in the process created absolute monsters of race cars that thrilled us and made us stand in awe of the men who could tame them around a circuit.

Filed under: Formula 1, Media, Racing


  1. John D says:

    Fascinating. I was just going to watch 10-15 minutes of it before going to bed, but when they started getting into engine design and the build…I couldn’t stop.

    Where, pray tell, is part two? I was totally left hanging.

    Oh, and that Renault in the beginning…incredibly ugly. Wow. No wonder everyone liked the Ferrari. I didn’t think it looked so amazing until I had something else to compare it to…

    • Matt says:

      Yeah it’s a great movie. Here’s Part 2:

      Turbo F1 cars weren’t really attractive until the mid-’80s, when they finally got a “formula” down of when to put everything and how to manage the aero around that. Once they did that, the cars were some of the most brutally beautiful F1 cars ever made: the McLaren MP4/4 and Williams FW11, among others.

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