New Formula One Cars

New Formula One cars seem to be appearing about as fast as Cosworth Engineering are building 3-litre DFV engines and Hewland Engineering are making 5-speed gearbox/final-drive units, and if all the cars that are built or are being built come to anything then the Grand Prix starting grids should be well stocked, by quantity if not quality. With the new safety rule of only two cars to a row on the starting line, some of the less successful ones are going to be so far away that the drivers will probably be unable to see the starting flag.

Last year the Hesketh Racing team, financed by Lord Hesketh, fielded a March 731 and after Harvey Postlethwaite had designed numerous modifications to it, James Hunt drove it with great enthusiasm and confounded many people, not the least March Engineering and numerous rivals who were also running on Firestone tyres and blaming them loudly for their lack of road-holding compared to Goodyear tyres. Now the Hesketh team have built their own car, designed by Postlethwaite, using Cosworth power and Hewland transmission. It is by no means a revolutionary design, or even a trendietter, although their tall thin air-box for the Cosworth engine, which they designed last year, has caught the imagination of other constructors, if not other designers. The Hesketh follows fairly standard Formula One design practice, as exemplified by March with their original 701 model and their last year’s 731G model, and like the McLaren Formula One car it will probably show outstanding practicality and simplicity in use rather than outstanding ingenuity. Another car designed and built along the same concepts is the Trojan, which Ron Tauranac has designed for Trojan Cars for Tim Schenken to drive, this new Formula car also being powered by Cosworth and driven through Hewland. The Trojan firm at Croydon got involved in the racing game some years ago when they built the production versions of McLaren racing cars which were being put on sale to the racing public, principally the Can-Am cars, and when this deal came to an end they branched out with their own Formula 5000 car, having acquired a lot of knowledge about modern racing car design and construction. Their step into Formula One has been prompted by, or because of, their agreement with Ron Tauranac, who since leaving the Ecclestone-owned Brabham concern has been free-lance designing around the racing world.

Last year Chris Amon found himself in the middle of a terrible muddle involving the Pederzani brothers of Tecno, the Martini family of aperitif fame, and two chassis designers, one who lost interest in his project and the other who was 100% keen but got little encouragement from the rest of the people concerned. The two abortive attempts to get Amon into Grand Prix racing in 1973 were the McCall-Tecno and the Goral Tecno, both designs being powered by the Pederzani flat-12 cylinder 3-litre engine. The whole project collapsed in a pool of oil long before the season was over and Amon courageously set about gathering up the most useful ends and trying to achieve something from the wreckage. To his credit he has succeeded in

this seemingly impossible task and the result is the new Amon Formula One car with power by the ubiquitous Cosworth and transmission by the steadfast Hewland. Although Amon never got the chance to race the second of the Tecno projects he was sufficiently encouraged by the concept ‘to form a partnership with the designer Gordon Folwell, and get him to design the new car. While the engine for your standard Formula One racing car kit inevitably comes from Cosworth, and your transmission comes from Hewland, the aluminium monocoque usually stems from Maurice Gomm or John Thompson, and it is the latter that has joined Amon to produce the metal-work for his new car.

Designated AF-101, this new car embodies a number of unusual features in the design, the most notable being that the driver sits quite a long way forward, and while his legs are horizontal his body is surprisingly upright. The reason for this is that all the petrol is carried in fuel cells between the driver and the engine, like Dr. Porsche’s original P-Wagen Auto-Union in 1934. Until recently there was a trend for carrying the petrol in tanks on each side of the cockpit, the fuel cells being built into the sides of the monocoque, but now the tendency is to get the fuel behind the driver. This is in the interests of weight distribution and vulnerability in case of a side impact in an accident. The AF-101 utilises torsion bar springing front and rear and inboard front brakes, this latter feature being designed into the car from scratch rather than an adaptation from an “outboard” layout. Side-mounted water radiators are employed, and much attention has been given to the air-flow over the car. The nose cowling has an upturned leading edge and there is wide aerofoil creating down-thrust, mounted across the nose and well above it, rather than in the accepted layout of integral canard fins. The adjustable rear aerofoil has deep side plates and the air scoop for the engine is of the “short and fat” rather than “tall and thin” variety.

A more orthodox design among the new names to Formula One is the Lyncar, designed by Martin Slater who has recently gained a lot of design and construction knowledge from the successful hill-climb cars he built last year using Cosworth V8 power and Hewland transmission. This design has front-mounted water radiator, side mounted oil radiators, a conventional full-width nose cowling in the Tyrrell tradition and straightforward rear aerofoil. Supported by all the usual accessory and specialist firms the car is to provide Lockheec., with some experimental data by using a new layout of rear brake, mounted in the “old fashioned” way outboard at the wheel hubs, instead of inboard on each side of the final drive, where a lot of the braking energy in the form of heat absorption is transmitted to the gearbox. This newcomer will be driven by John Nicholson, who specialises in the rebuilding and overhaul of Cosworth V8 engines and who has shown good driving ability in the National Formula Atlantic. Sponsorship for the project has come from the Pinch Plant Hire company, who backed Nicholson’s racing last season.

There are other “kit-car” Formula One projects on the go, using Cosworth power and Hewland transmission but their success or failure to materialise would depend on someone else’s money other than that of the designer or driver. Those described have surmounted the first hurdle in the pursuit of Lotus, McLaren or Tyrrell, that of achieving completion and starting to be driven. For them the serious hard work now begins.

It is probably fair to compare BRM with Ferrari, for both have been in motor racing longer than anyone without a break, the first BRM. appearing on a Grand Prix starting grid in 1950 and the first Ferrari in 1948, and they both still design and make their cars in their entirety, chassis, engine and gearbox. At the moment they have in common the use of twelve cylinders, BRM in Vee formation, Ferrari in flat opposed formation. It would also be fair to say that BRM have lost as many Grand Prix races as Ferrari has won. For the coming season a new model of BRM has been produced, the P201, using the V12 engine layout, but utilising a new triangular section monocoque, not unlike the Gordon Murray designed Brabliams, and with inboard front brakes as well as inboard rear brakes. With Beltoise, Pescarolo and Migault driving for BRM and the French oil company Motul sponsoring them it will interest BRM supporters to see if the Bourne team fare any better than they did in 1973—D.S.J.