The last hurrah of Formula 1's most successful engine

On this day in 1983, a winning era for Formula 1's most successful engine came to an end when Michele Alboreto triumphed for Tyrrell around the streets of Detroit.

The last hurrah of Formula 1's most successful engine
Listen to this article

The Cosworth DFV is an engine that stood the test of time in grand prix racing, as over the course of its 17-year tenure it would power 12 drivers and 10 constructors to championships.

It finally bowed out of the sport in 1985 as F1 moved to a turbo era, but there was something quite fitting that the final of its 155 wins came in the Detroit city that was so instrumental to its birth.

The Cosworth DFV first arrived as part of a 'works'-style deal that Colin Chapman had struck for Team Lotus with Ford, as both looked to maximise the changes in regulation that would permit a larger capacity engine from 1966 onwards.

Read Also:

The engine would be built by Cosworth, a company to which Mike Costin and Keith Duckworth had lent their names and for which had already had success in developing Ford engines for junior categories.

After two years of development by Cosworth, the DFV, which had been designed alongside the Lotus 49, would make its debut without fanfare at the third round of the 1967 championship at Zandvoort.

Lotus and Ford enjoyed incredible and immediate success, coming straight out of the blocks with stunning form.

Graham Hill obliterated the track record to take pole position, with a lap time that was over six seconds quicker than anything run before.

The Dutch Grand Prix was the first time that his team mate, Jim Clark, had sat behind the wheel of the new Lotus-Cosworth, as Hill had done all of the testing.

However, fate conspired and Hill retired from the lead of the race early-on with an engine failure. Meanwhile, Clark, who started the race from 8th place, made his way through the field and took victory by a whopping 27 seconds.

Denny Hulme and Brabham would run out overall victors in '67 with their Repco V8, but the DFV had already proved its worth.

Ford therefore decided it would be better served to provide its engine to other teams too, rather than just give exclusivity to Team Lotus.

The Cosworth DFV, like the Coventry Climax that came before it, was not only robust, reliable and lightweight, it was also affordable, making F1 accessible to those that might otherwise have found it a costly barrier to leap.

This became a hallmark of the engine's success, as it enabled the lesser funded teams to fight the establishment.

Graham Hill, Lotus 49 Ford
Graham Hill, Lotus 49 Ford
1/17

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Graham Hill, Lotus 49B-Ford, leads Chris Amon, Ferrari 312
Graham Hill, Lotus 49B-Ford, leads Chris Amon, Ferrari 312
2/17

Photo by: Motorsport Images

John Miles, Lotus 63-Ford
John Miles, Lotus 63-Ford
3/17

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Lotus 72C 1970 detailed overview
Lotus 72C 1970 detailed overview
4/17

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Jackie Stewart, Tyrrell 001-Ford, in the pits
Jackie Stewart, Tyrrell 001-Ford, in the pits
5/17

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Carlos Pace, Frank Williams March 711, gives a lift to Ronnie Peterson, March Ford
Carlos Pace, Frank Williams March 711, gives a lift to Ronnie Peterson, March Ford
6/17

Photo by: David Phipps

Andrea de Adamich and John Surtees, Surtees TS9B and Rob Walker
Andrea de Adamich and John Surtees, Surtees TS9B and Rob Walker
7/17

Photo by: Sutton Images

Chris Amon, Tyrrell 005 Ford
Chris Amon, Tyrrell 005 Ford
8/17

Photo by: Sutton Images

Vittorio Brambilla, March 741 Ford, in the pits
Vittorio Brambilla, March 741 Ford, in the pits
9/17

Photo by: David Phipps

Ronnie Peterson, Lotus 72E
Ronnie Peterson, Lotus 72E
10/17

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Henri Pescarolo, Surtees TS19 Ford
Henri Pescarolo, Surtees TS19 Ford
11/17

Photo by: Rainer W. Schlegelmilch / Motorsport Images

Clay Regazzoni, Ensign N177 Ford
Clay Regazzoni, Ensign N177 Ford
12/17

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Vittorio Brambilla, Surtees TS20 Ford
Vittorio Brambilla, Surtees TS20 Ford
13/17

Photo by: Ercole Colombo

Patrick Tambay, McLaren M29 Ford
Patrick Tambay, McLaren M29 Ford
14/17

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Jean-Pierre Jarier, Tyrrell 010 Ford
Jean-Pierre Jarier, Tyrrell 010 Ford
15/17

Photo by: Rainer W. Schlegelmilch / Motorsport Images

Niki Lauda, McLaren MP4-1B Ford
Niki Lauda, McLaren MP4-1B Ford
16/17

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Nigel Mansell, Lotus 92
Nigel Mansell, Lotus 92
17/17

Photo by: Sutton Images

It would also power a legacy of championship winning cars through the ground effect era, made possible by its diminutive figure that enabled those using it to get much more from the Venturi tunnels than those teams using the flat-12 engines.

Ground effect was unceremoniously cut from the sport just as the turbocharger was starting to gain more attention. This would effectively kill off the power to weight advantage that it had offered over engines in the past.

Some of the lesser funded teams plugged away with the DFV for several years to come, unable to afford to jump on the turbocharged bandwagon.

Tyrrell was one of these teams, the last bastion really for the DFV, as the team stuck with it even though it was clear that the turbocharged engine was the way forward.

Tyrrell not only recorded the engine's last race victory with Michele Alboreto in Detroit, 1983, but it was the last team to use a variant of the engine, as Martin Brundle was powered by a DFY in his 012 at the Austrian GP in 1985, before the team finally relented and switched to a turbocharged Renault engine.

shares
comments

Related video

Norris: F1 stewards should have rethink after "unfair" penalty
Previous article

Norris: F1 stewards should have rethink after "unfair" penalty

Next article

Binotto leaves pit wall seat as Ferrari completes reshuffle

Binotto leaves pit wall seat as Ferrari completes reshuffle
Verstappen exclusive: Why F1's champion isn't fazed by Silverstone return Prime

Verstappen exclusive: Why F1's champion isn't fazed by Silverstone return

Max Verstappen is the world’s number one racing driver… and he’s determined to keep it that way. Speaking exclusively to GP Racing's OLEG KARPOV, the Red Bull driver explains why he’s relishing the 2022 championship battle with Charles Leclerc – and why he’s not worried about returning to Silverstone, the scene of the biggest accident of his career last year

Formula 1
Jun 30, 2022
Why Red Bull’s RB17 hypercar can help its F1 team Prime

Why Red Bull’s RB17 hypercar can help its F1 team

On Tuesday, Red Bull laid out its plans to develop and build a new hypercar - the RB17 - penned by Adrian Newey. As the project itself sates Newey as a creative outlet, it also offers Red Bull's Formula 1 team a number of new and exciting avenues to pursue.

Formula 1
Jun 29, 2022
What to expect from Mercedes as F1 returns to Silverstone Prime

What to expect from Mercedes as F1 returns to Silverstone

OPINION: The British Grand Prix is a home event for Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, with their Mercedes team based just a few miles away too. But there’s another reason why the Silver Arrows squad is eager to arrive at Silverstone this weekend, which may help it fix its remaining problems with its 2022 Formula 1 challenger .

Formula 1
Jun 29, 2022
Inside AlphaTauri’s Faenza F1 factory Prime

Inside AlphaTauri’s Faenza F1 factory

AlphaTauri’s mission in F1 is to sell clothes and train young drivers rather than win the championship – but you still need a cutting-edge factory to do that. Team boss Franz Tost takes GP Racing’s Oleg Karpov on a guided tour of a facility that’s continuing to grow.

Formula 1
Jun 26, 2022
Connecting two of Ferrari's favourite F1 sons: Villeneuve and Leclerc Prime

Connecting two of Ferrari's favourite F1 sons: Villeneuve and Leclerc

Gilles Villeneuve's exploits behind the wheel of a Ferrari made him a legend to the tifosi, even 40 years after his death. The team's current Formula 1 star Charles Leclerc enjoys a similar status, and recently got behind the wheel of a very special car from the French-Canadian’s career.

Formula 1
Jun 24, 2022
How a 30cm metal wire triggered open warfare in the F1 paddock Prime

How a 30cm metal wire triggered open warfare in the F1 paddock

Porpoising has become the key talking point during the 2022 Formula 1 season, as teams battle to come to terms with it. An FIA technical directive ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix and a second stay appearing on the Mercedes cars only served to create a bigger debate and raise tensions further

Formula 1
Jun 23, 2022
Does Max Verstappen have any weaknesses left? Prime

Does Max Verstappen have any weaknesses left?

Having extended his Formula 1 points lead with victory in Canada, Max Verstappen has raised his game further following his 2021 title triumph. Even on the days where Red Bull appears to be second best to Ferrari, Verstappen is getting the most out of the car in each race. So, does he have any weaknesses that his title rivals can exploit?

Formula 1
Jun 22, 2022
How F1's future fuels can shape the automotive sector Prime

How F1's future fuels can shape the automotive sector

In 2026, Formula 1 plans to make the switch to a fully sustainable fuel, as the greater automotive world considers its own alternative propulsion methods. Biogasoline and e-fuels both have merit as 'drop-in' fuels but, equally, both have their shortcomings...

Formula 1
Jun 21, 2022