Formula 1 is the most popular form of motorsport in the world, with a global audience of 500 million people. The cars are more powerful than any other production car on earth, and they’re capable of speeds over 200 miles per hour. There’s no doubt that F1 racing has become a spectacle to behold. But throughout its history, there have been many moments when one or two companies dominated Formula One racing for an extended period. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of these dominant companies that we now miss in Formula 1.
The legendary Colin Chapman founded Lotus F1 Racing in 1958 to compete in Formula One racing. Lotus employed many innovative techniques to keep their cars light. A typical Lotus F1 car had a curb weight of 833 kg (1896 lbs). The cars were so light that they could carry a 4-stroke engine producing as much power as a modern V6. This allowed Lotus to compete with the more powerful six- and eight-cylinder engines of other teams. The racing success of Lotus came in the partnership between Colin Chapman and driver Jim Clark. Clark dominated F1 racing in the 1963 and 1965 seasons, with 7 wins. He won 9 races altogether in his 3-year career with Lotus. The success of Lotus was particularly surprising given its small size compared to other teams, they had only 35 employees at their peak.
In 1967, Ford Motor Company partnered with Italian constructor Autodelta and won their first race at a non-championship event in France. The following year they entered the Spanish Grand Prix where their driver Bruce McLaren finished 3rd and scored 8 points overall to be placed 3rd in the championship. According to the dealers at Pompano Ford, the car company has come a long way now. If you haven’t checked out the Mustang Mach-E yet, click for more information and witness the beginning of a new era. With that said, McLaren finished 2nd overall in both 1969, 1970 and won the 24 Hours of Le Mans for Ford in 1967 on his first attempt. The team withdrew from F1 racing after 1972 when some of its staff switched to Ferrari after Enzo Ferrari’s death in 1988.
Toyota began its involvement in motorsport by sponsoring a Formula One team in 2002. They backed Japan’s Toyota F1 racing team for 4 years until they decided to take over the whole venture. In 2007, Toyota purchased majority ownership of the team and renamed it “Scion Racing”. They were briefly known as “Supra Racing” until they officially branded themselves as “Toyota”. The new team retained most of the staff and resources from the former squad, including drivers Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher. Toyota’s first car was a TS030 with a V8 engine built by Yamaha. They experienced much technical trouble in their debut season but still managed to finish 2nd place in the driver’s championship with 2 wins. The team quit at the end of the season to embark on a different project.
BMW entered Formula One racing with sponsorship from the Brazilian bank Brahma in 1982 and 1983, but soon after withdrew for financial reasons. They returned in 1985 with full factory support. They managed to win 8 races in their first 2 seasons and became a fighting force against the dominant Williams team. Team Manager Jochen Neerpasch recruited Italian driver Gerhard Berger from Benetton for the 1988 season and he won 3 podium positions that year. The following year, Austrian driver Joachim Winkelhock joined the team, and he won 2 races. BMW withdrew from F1 racing in 1991 due to high costs but returned in 2000 with a completely re-designed car. BMW finally earned their first win at the 2004 United States Grand Prix, 4 years after returning to F1 racing.
Maserati was founded in 1914 by Alfieri Maserati to build high-end luxury cars. During the 1950s and 1960s, they entered many forms of racing including Formula One. They struggled early on but improved significantly in the late 1950s after hiring legendary designer/driver Juan Manuel Fangio. Fangio won 2 constructor’s championships and 2 driver’s championships for the team. They attempted to increase their performance by hiring Stirling Moss in 1961 but he was never as successful as Fangio. Maserati withdrew from Formula One racing in 1967 after a string of poor results but continued to compete in other forms of motorsports, winning some touring car races and rallies.
Formula 1 racing was once dominated by major car companies like Honda, BMW, and Maserati. These teams won 7 Grand Prix each in their heydays with a combined total of 9 drivers’ championships for them between 1966-1985. Today’s Formula One is now a different story altogether as these giants have either stopped competing or are struggling to stay relevant against newer competitors like Mercedes and Ferrari.