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Do you remember the Turbo era in F1?

  • 20-04-2006 7:25pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 7,635 ✭✭✭ BrianD3


    Only those over a certain age will remember it. It ran from 1977-1988, I was only a kid but but started to follow F1 in 1986 so I caught the tail end of the Turbo era.

    1986 was probably the peak year for the Turbos in terms of power, some very dramatic racing that year too.

    I always thought the Turbos were extremely unreliable and prone to spectacular explosions. This was entertaining in itself :) They also made a different sound to todays F1 cars more of a "Blat" than a "screech".

    There are many great anecdotes and stories surrounding the Turbo era. For instance BMW engineers used to piss on their engine blocks and leave them out in the rain to "age" the metal and make the blocks less brittle so they could cope better with the huge strains put on them.

    Anyone got any thoughts or memories on the Turbo era?


Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,265 aidan_dunne


    I, like you, only really got into F1 towards the end of the turbo era. The 1985 European GP at Brands, Nigel Mansell's first F1 win, was the race that got me hooked on motorsport. And, God help me (and my poor friends, who've often had to listen to me over the years prattle on and on about motor racing, sometimes for hours on end! :D ), I've been hooked on it ever since!

    The turbo cars were mighty and sometimes I often wish F1 could go back to those days. I know it'll never happen but, still, we can dream, can't we? ;)

    The teams would up the boost for qualifying and, by 1985 or '86, some of the engines were putting out close to 1500bhp in qualifying trim! :eek: For the races, the teams would have to turn down the boost otherwise the engines just wouldn't last the duration of a full Grand Prix but still, even then, the engines were still often pumping out between 1000 and 1200 horsepower. No wonder, as you said, some of the engine blow-ups were as spectacular as they were! :D Amazing to think of all that power and this in cars with no driver aids, no traction control or the like, with manual gearshifts and with aerodynamics that were much less advanced than they are today. How the drivers even managed to keep those beasts on the road half the time is a mystery to me. In my opinion, those drivers had some seriously big brass ones swinging between their legs! :D

    I remember reading an article somewhere at the time written about the qualifying session for the Monaco GP in 1986, I think it was. The journalist who worte the article made the comment that the drivers getting out of the cars looked like they were doped up the eyeballs on cocaine or something. They're eyes were out on stalks, their whole bodies seemed to be buzzing and their hearts must have been going at a million beats a minute. The reason they were so wired was because there was so much adrenaline and other hormones and chemicals being produced by their bodies and being pumped through their systems from having to control a 1500bhp machine around the tight confines of Monte Carlo. The drivers were wired to the moon, as a result, and were getting out of the cars almost in a hypnotic or trance-like state because they were having to concentrate and anticipate the upcoming corners so much. Whereas nowadays we're used to seeing drivers getting out of cars almost completely relaxed and hardly even sweating, the journalist wrote in this article that it would often take the drivers of that time several hours to calm down completely and let all the adrenaline subside. When they finally did calm down enough to give a coherent interview, the drivers all seemed to talk about this trance-like state they would have to go into in order to control these immensely powerful cars, particularly during qualifying sessions and especially around Monaco. They talked about a kind of "tunnel-effect" all this adrenaline and stuff flowing through their systems would cause, where they would almost hypnotically imagine and anticipate the track ahead of them, not just a couple of corners in advance, but several corners in advance. They had to do this because the cars were so powerful they had to think so far ahead, otherwise they would never have been able to keep the things on the road.

    I often remember reading and hearing Ayrton Senna, in particular, describe this "trance-like" state he would go into when driving, even years after the turbo era, but which all stemmed and harked back from the time he was driving the turbo cars of the '80's. If you've ever seen the Sylvester Stallone film 'Driven' (yes, that piece of crap! :D ), there's a couple of sequences which kind of represent this hypnotic, "tunnel-effect" of anticipating the upcoming corners which the drivers of the F1 turbo era all seem to say is very close to how it was for them driving those cars at the time (I've heard Nigel Mansell, Keke Rosberg and Martin Brundell all say how accurate those sequences in the film seem to be). If that really is the case, all I can say is that those drivers really must have been wired to the f**king moon because that looks scary! :eek: :D

    Yes, the Formula 1 turbo era.......... when men were men and racing really was like a drug! :D


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,635 ✭✭✭ BrianD3


    Very good post Aidan :) Yeah there were some real character drivers in the Turbo years too which definitely contributed to the appeal. Fitness levels were probably poor by todays standards. Can you imagine Nelson Piquet, Gerhard Berger or Michele Alboreto paying attention to keeping fit? LOL. No wonder they were wrecked after a race.

    One of my favourite ever F1 photos is from about 1986 and has Mansell, Senna, Prost and Piquet sitting beside each other on the pitwall.

    Oen thing I liked about the mid eighties cars is that even though the engines were prodicng crazy power safety was good as the cars were pretty strong. Carbon fibre monocoques were becoming the norm and the driver weren't sitting nearly as far forward in the cars as they had been in say 1982. Those ground effect cars really put the driver in an extremely vulnerable position.

    IMo the most exciting cars of the era were the Brabham BMWs. The BMW was probably the most powerful engine at the time and also quite prone to destroying itself in a massive explosion. I think the most relaible engines were the Honda and Porsche with the BMW and Renault producing more peak power but at the expense of reliablity and fuel consumption

    Always thought The Brabham of 1983 was a very beautiful car as was the 86 one. There was plenty of controversey too with Brabham using a "special brew" of fuels to win the 83 championship.

    All in all it was a memorable, interesting and exciting time in F1!


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,265 aidan_dunne


    BrianD3 wrote:
    Yeah there were some real character drivers in the Turbo years too which definitely contributed to the appeal. Fitness levels were probably poor by todays standards. Can you imagine Nelson Piquet, Gerhard Berger or Michele Alboreto paying attention to keeping fit? LOL. No wonder they were wrecked after a race.

    Yeah, the drivers nowadays pay a huge amount of attention to their fitness levels. Hence why you see them getting out of cars these days after a race and they're hardly sweating. Compare that to the likes of, say, Keke Rosberg in the '80's who would often be seen sitting in his car before the start of a race chain-smoking furiously! :D And, as you say, the most exercise the likes of Piquet or Berger probably got was shagging some bird behind a stack of tyres in the paddock before going to climb into their car for a race! :D
    BrianD3 wrote:
    One of my favourite ever F1 photos is from about 1986 and has Mansell, Senna, Prost and Piquet sitting beside each other on the pitwall.

    Yeah, I know this picture well, as I'm sure most F1 fans do. It's one of the iconic images of Formula 1 and has been reprinted in countless magazines and articles over the years. Probably the four fiercest rivals in the history of Formula 1, certainly of the 1980's anyway, and also probably four of the most determined, hardest-charging and greatest drivers of all time, sitting beside one another as if they were the best of friends........ yet, behind the smiles, they hated each other's guts! :D
    BrianD3 wrote:
    IMo the most exciting cars of the era were the Brabham BMWs. The BMW was probably the most powerful engine at the time and also quite prone to destroying itself in a massive explosion. I think the most relaible engines were the Honda and Porsche with the BMW and Renault producing more peak power but at the expense of reliablity and fuel consumption

    Always thought The Brabham of 1983 was a very beautiful car as was the 86 one. There was plenty of controversey too with Brabham using a "special brew" of fuels to win the 83 championship.

    Ah yes, the infamous, so-called "rocket fuel" which other teams also started using after Brabham's success with that concoction! :D How could I forget to mention that stuff. Another factor, which is often forgotten by many, in the huge increases in power we saw from F1 engines in the 1980's. Was probably also another factor in the massive engine blow-ups we used to see during that time as well! :D

    You're right, the Gordon Murray designed Brabhams really were quite special and quite beautiful to look at as well. Of course, Murray went on to join McLaren and created the most successful, and last of the turbo era, F1 cars of all time, the 1988 McLaren MP4/4 Honda, which won all but one race that year (if it wasn't for Jean-Louis Schlesser not keeping his eyes open during the Italian GP, it would have been a clean sweep that year for McLaren! :D ). Of course, looking closely at the '86 Brabham you mentioned and the '88 McLaren, you can see how in many ways the McLaren was just more or less an evolution of Murray's Brabham design. Many similarities between the two. Very low-slung, wide, very sleek. In the red and white Marlboro-McLaren colours, though, the car was unstoppable. An amazing machine.

    And, let's not forget, Gordon Murray also designed the McLaren F1 sportscar as well. Definitely one of the true geniuses of Formula 1 and automotive design.
    BrianD3 wrote:
    All in all it was a memorable, interesting and exciting time in F1!

    Damn straight! :D


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,265 aidan_dunne


    BrianD3 wrote:
    I think the most relaible engines were the Honda and Porsche with the BMW and Renault producing more peak power but at the expense of reliablity and fuel consumption

    Yeah, I think you're right in that summary of the engines. The Honda and TAG-badged Porsche engine were probably the most reliable but less powerful of the lot, as you say, whilst the Beemer and Renault motors were more powerful but also more likely to grenade themselves given half a chance! :D

    For example, I seem to recall Gerhard Berger in the Benetton BMW setting a blisteringly quick lap during qualifying (might even have been the pole lap, I can't quite remember) for the German GP at the (old, long-straights through the forest, flat-out, over 220mph) Hockenheimring in '86, I think it was. He crossed the line, set the time, turned through turn one and started heading out along the first of the long, forest straights on another lap when, all of a sudden..... BANG!!!! A massive explosion from the engine that nearly blew the whole of the rear-end of the car clean off! :eek: I remember reading somewhere afterwards that the telemetry from the engine showed that something had happened to cause the power to suddenly jump from about 1400 or 1500bhp to almost double that! That split-second, sudden massive jump in power, naturally enough resulted in the catastropic explosion we saw! Scary! :eek:

    I also remember reading an article around the same time that said that the engine dyno at Renault's factory had the capacity to measure engine power output up to something like 1800bhp. Towards the end of the '86 season, the Renault engineers decided to put one of their engines on the dyno and push it to the limit and see what they could get out of it (just for the laugh maybe, I don't know! :D ). Anyway, they cranked up everything, turbo boost, the lot, used the most-powerful "rocket fuel" they could lay their hands on, fired up the motor and pushed it as hard as they could.






    The result?







    The dyno went off the scale and was wrecked! :eek: :D




    I didn't hear what happened to the engine in question but I have a strange feeling it may not have survived either after being pushed to over 1800bhp! :D

    But let's just think about that for a second, folks, and put it into perspective. Over 1800, one thousand, eight hundred horsepower, from a 1.5 litre, six cylinder engine. One thousand, eight hundred horsepower! That's almost double what the last, end-of-the-line, 3-litre V10 F1 engines were producing last season. Almost twice the power from an engine half the size! :eek: Yes, it had twin turbos and was running on crazy "jungle-juice" but still, anyway you look at it, that is a phenomenal engineering achievement!*

    It sends shivers down my spine just thinking about it! :D











    *Christ, I'm starting to sound like Jeremy Clarkson or something here! Sorry about that folks! :D


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 107 ✭✭ molateen


    BrianD3 wrote:
    One of my favourite ever F1 photos is from about 1986 and has Mansell, Senna, Prost and Piquet sitting beside each other on the pitwall.


    !

    in_Ayrton_Senna_11.jpg


    This photo is great allright . Funny the way schumacher breaks the pole record at the track were senna set his last pole position .


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  • Registered Users Posts: 4,377 Curran


    But let's just think about that for a second, folks, and put it into perspective. Over 1800, one thousand, eight hundred horsepower, from a 1.5 litre, six cylinder engine. One thousand, eight hundred horsepower! That's almost double what the last, end-of-the-line, 3-litre V10 F1 engines were producing last season. Almost twice the power from an engine half the size! :eek: Yes, it had twin turbos and was running on crazy "jungle-juice" but still, anyway you look at it, that is a phenomenal engineering achievement!*

    Thats fookin crazy :eek:

    Heres a clip that was posted here before - had to google to find it again........its of the Minardi a few years back in the teams testing facility.

    If that engine was pumping out half of the capability of the 80's engines, imagine how the engine would have looked back then with the cover off!! :eek:

    Bet those boys watching are glad that the horsepower didnt double up mysteriously like it did on Berger........or they'd be picking lumps of metal out of their faces forever.

    Anyways..........heres the clip - and just imagine twice the power :p
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7015816275963840535&q=f1+engine&pl=true

    And a new Renault engine
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5441770198523797408&q=f1+engine&pl=true


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,208 ✭✭✭ The Doktor


    but do u remember somthin... THEY USED TO PASS EACH OTHER OUT!!!!
    I remember sitting at the edge of my seat shoutin at the telly...havent done that in a long time with f1.
    and the crashes were wa better:D but we shouldnt say that :)

    Thems were the days!


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