Alfa Romeo Racing will return to the F1 grid in 2019 following the rebrand of the Sauber team. It’s the first time the famous Italian marque has appeared as a constructor since 1985 and follows the company’s return to the sport in 2018, when Alfa was named as title sponsor. The Sauber name will disappear, having been a permanent fixture in F1 since 1993.
To celebrate Alfa’s return to F1, the company has launched ‘Alfa Romeo Racing’ versions of the Giulia Quadrifoglio and Stelvio Quadrifoglio. The Trofeo White and Competizione Red two-tone paintwork mimics the livery of the cars that will be driven by Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi. Join us, as we take a look at the most impressive cars to have featured innovations from the F1 world.
Aston Martin Valkyrie AMR Pro
Announced at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show, the Valkyrie AMR Pro takes an already extreme hypercar and adds even more. Created as joint venture between Aston Martin and Red Bull Racing, the Valkyrie makes use of the extensive knowledge and experience of F1 designer Adrian Newey.
The 6.5-litre naturally aspirated V12 engine will produce over 1,100hp in track-only AMR Pro form, and also features an F1-inspired KERS battery energy system for an additional boost. Just like a Formula 1 car, the Valkyrie AMR Pro can generate more downforce than it weighs, meaning it could, hypothetically, be driven upside down at speed.
Mercedes-AMG Project One
We may be peaking too soon here, but this is perhaps the closest we can actually get to a road-going F1 car. Powering the Project One is the exact same turbocharged 1.6-litre V6 engine as fitted to Lewis Hamilton’s company car, albeit mildly detuned. With four electric motors giving hybrid power, there is still more than 1,000hp on offer.
With carbon fibre used extensively, the Project One also has an eight-speed paddleshift gearbox and carbon ceramic brakes – just like an F1 car. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact it can manage 15 miles on full electric power alone, and even features a rear-facing camera. Not even Lewis gets those luxuries.
With a name taken from the sport itself, the McLaren F1 channeled everything the Woking firm had gathered from its run of success in the 1980s and early 1990s. Created by legendary Formula 1 designer Gordon Murray, the McLaren F1 came from his personal pursuit of wanting to create the ultimate road car.
As the first production car to use a carbon fibre monocoque chassis, the motorsport influence was clear, whilst the central driving position also invoked the idea of a single-seater race car. That the F1 held the title of the world’s fastest production car, with a top speed of 240.1mph, may grab the headlines. But the fastidious attention to detail was the real story of the car.
McLaren Senna GTR
Arguably one of the greatest drivers to ever compete in Formula 1, McLaren is so intrinsically linked with the late Ayrton Senna that they chose to bestow his name upon their latest hypercar. A fitting tribute, given that he took all three of his F1 World Championships with the McLaren team.
Aimed at providing an extreme driving experience, the track-only GTR version of the Senna takes things even further. With 825hp from the turbocharged V8 engine, the Senna GTR is also capable of generating a faintly ridiculous 1,000kg of downforce.
McLaren may have a car named after Ayrton Senna, but Honda can lay claim to one which the man himself had a hand in helping develop. With Honda engines used in the McLaren cars driven by Senna at the time, he was drafted in to help with the final development of the NSX sports car.
Ahead of its launch in 1990, Senna tested the NSX at a number of circuits and reportedly ensured changes to increase the rigidity of the chassis, and made tweaks to the suspension. It’s perhaps no coincidence that the NSX gained an impressive reputation for handling during its production run.
Much like the Mercedes Project One, but nearly two decades earlier, the Ferrari F50 used an engine derived from one seen in an actual F1 car. The 513hp 4.7-litre V12 powering the F50 was developed from the 3.5-litre unit, used in the F1 racers driven by Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell in 1990.
With the V12 engine bolted directly to the carbon fibre chassis – just like an F1 car – the F50 was an extreme proposition. Only 349 examples were produced between 1995 and 1997, making it notably rarer than the F40 that preceded it.
Ferrari 355 F1
Proving that Ferrari uses F1 for more than just selling T-shirts and caps, it successfully translated the clutchless semi-automatic gearbox seen in its F1 cars to the 355 F1 supercar in 1997.
Although the six-speed gearbox was essentially the same, the novelty came in the form of steering column-mounted paddles used to change gear, letting 355 drivers pretend they were Michael Schumacher. It also marked the beginning of the end for supercars with manual gearboxes…
BMW E60 M5
Ferrari may have taken the most F1 championship titles during the early 2000s, but the BMW V10 engines used by Williams, and later Sauber, were regarded as the most powerful. Keen to build on this reputation, BMW endowed the 2005 M5 with a 5.0-litre V10 engine and mated it to a seven-speed sequential gearbox with paddleshift.
The high-revving V10 produced 500hp with 380lb ft of torque, and was capable of propelling the M5 to 204mph if all the electronic limiters were removed. Launch control software also mimicked the technology previously seen in Formula 1.
Forget the overwrought name, and focus on the F1-derived technical details to truly understand the LaFerrari. The chassis itself featured input from Rory Byrne, the man who designed Ferrari’s successful F1 cars between 1996 and 2006, resulting in the direct application of his racing knowhow.
The V12 engine might not be F1-related, but the hybrid KERS power boost and carbon fibre construction of the chassis and body certainly are. Ferrari also pointed out that the driver’s seat was fixed in place – just like an F1 car.
McLaren P1 Alain Prost Edition
Although he too may have won three F1 World Championships, Alain Prost seemingly doesn’t rank quite so high with McLaren as to have an actual model of car titled after him. Instead his name and helmet design were applied to a special edition of the P1 hypercar unveiled at the 2015 Goodwood Festival of Speed.
The P1 already included a host of F1-related tech, featuring a carbon fibre monocoque chassis and a turbocharged petrol engine mated to an electric motor. The adjustable rear wing also uses an F1-inspired ‘Drag Reduction System’ to increase top speed in a straight line.
Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren
Although the name owed more to the 1955 300 SLR sports car, the looks of the 2003 SLR McLaren were clearly inspired by the McLaren Mercedes F1 racers which had enjoyed victory at the hands of Mika Häkkinen in 1998 and 1999.
That it was also built alongside the McLaren Formula 1 cars in Woking further cemented the relationship. A 5.4-litre supercharged V8 engine and five-speed automatic gearbox owed somewhat less to the sport, but the 206mph top speed was not to be sniffed at.
Renault Espace F1
Renault was the prime Formula One engine builder during the early 1990s, and had enjoyed considerable success in the sport. As a 1994 collaboration with Matra, the Espace F1 was built to celebrate 10 years of the Espace, and also a decade of Renault’s F1 involvement.
With a bespoke carbon fibre chassis, and the actual mid-mounted 800hp V10 engine from the Formula One racer, this was anything but a normal MPV. The gigantic rear wing was not just for show, but needed to keep the Espace planted as it approached the 194mph top speed. Obviously never offered for sale, the one-off Espace F1 now lives as a museum piece.
Renault Clio Williams
Slightly tamer than the Espace F1, and also actually available to buy, the Clio Williams still offered the same motorsport prowess enjoyed by the French manufacturer. The Clio was also riding a wave of success, having received the 1991 European Car of the Year prize.
Adding a 150hp 2.0-litre engine to the supermini produced an iconic hot hatch, whilst blue paint matched with gold Speedline wheels became instantly recognisable. The original run of cars from 1993 are hugely desirable, and command auction prices accordingly.
Renault Megane Renaultsport 230 F1 Team R26
Proving just how frequently Renault has produced F1 special editions, this was the second special Megane to be built in two years alone. With 5hp more than the previous year’s Megane, the 230 F1 Team R26 commemorated Fernando Alonso’ 2006 World Drivers’ title.
Alonso was still clearly in his ‘serious’ F1 phase judging by the photo, whilst Jarno Trulli just looked happy to be there. Fancy graphics, a limited-slip differential, and a wider choice of colours gave Internet forum-dwellers more to argue over which is the best Renaultsport Megane.
Ferrari 430 Scuderia Spider 16M
The Ferrari 430 Scuderia Spider 16M was built to celebrate Ferrari’s 2008 F1 Constructors’ World Title. Essentially an open-top version of the fearsome 430 Scuderia, the 16M featured bespoke carbon fibre bumpers to keep weight down.
Only 499 cars were built, each one powered by a V8 engine producing 510hp. The obligatory limited edition plaque was also thrown in, along with a customised Ferrari iPod Touch.
Lotus Elise Type 49
Never a stranger to special editions of the Lotus Elise, the Series 1 car featured an entire ‘Heritage Range’ which took inspiration from the great liveries of past Lotus F1 cars.
The ‘Type 49’ edition recalled the Lotus 49 Formula One car, which took a win on its 1967 debut in the hands of Jim Clark. Wearing the red, gold, and white colours of the Gold Leaf-sponsored racer, the Elise Type 49 also featured red leather seats and gold six-spoke alloy wheels. Just 100 examples were produced for the UK market.
Infiniti FX50 Vettel Edition
Between 2010 and 2013, Sebastian Vettel dominated the Formula One field with his Red Bull Racing machine.
For 2013, Red Bull’s title sponsor was Infiniti – somewhat confusing when Renault was the actual engine supplier to the team. Matt white paintwork, an F1-inspired bodykit, plus a 420hp 5.0-litre V8 made for a tenuous motorsport link when applied to the FX SUV. A retail price of over £100,000 in the UK meant you really had to be a Vettel fan to want one.
Renault Megane Renaultsport Red Bull Racing RB8
Just like Sebastian Vettel, Renault must look back at 2013 rather fondly. The French brand’s V8 engines had just powered Red Bull Racing to a fourth successive F1 World Championship, putting them firmly on top of the Formula One pile.
Naturally this called for a special edition Megane, with the RB8 wearing Twilight Blue paintwork and copious Red Bull Racing logos applied to it. Perhaps best not to mention what happened when the engine regulations changed in 2014 though…
Mercedes-AMG A45 Petronas 2015 World Champion Edition
Managing to beat even Renault for the longest name, this special edition came in 2015 with Mercedes celebrating their second season of F1 domination. Notching up both Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships meant a special livery being applied to the A45 hot hatch.
With ‘petrol green’ graphics applied to the bodywork, and even the wheel rims, it certainly stood out. The green theme continued inside, with the air vents and seat belts getting the same treatment. A standard ‘Dynamic Plus’ pack did at least mean a limited-slip differential to help control the rabid 381hp on offer.
Caterham Seven Kamui Edition
He might not have been the most successful F1 driver, but Kamui Kobayashi certainly made an impression on track and with fans around the world. None more so than in his native Japan, which also happened to be a key market for the Caterham Seven.
Enter a limited run of ten ‘Kamui Edition’ cars only for the Japanese market, with the single-seater setup an obvious nod to the F1 team. The lucky buyers also got a dashboard with Kobayashi’s name engraved into it, and a special anodised key. Less special was the 1.6-litre Ford engine with just 123hp.
Jaguar XKR Silverstone
Having purchased the Stewart Grand Prix team in 1999, Jaguar competed in Formula One between 2000 and 2004, throwing the weight of Ford’s money behind it.
To celebrate the entry of Jaguar into F1, a special edition XKR appeared in 2000. The Silverstone featured unique paintwork, 20-inch alloy wheels, upgraded brakes, and an interior finished in black leather with red stitching. Jaguar could only manage a handful of podiums in Formula One, with the team later sold to Red Bull where it became far more successful.
Toyota Yaris T Sport
As another major manufacturer entering the sport in the early 2000s, Toyota introduced a number of T Sport models which were intended to channel the brand’s “motorsport heritage and ambitions for the future” in F1.
As the most powerful Yaris offered at the time, the 2001 T-Sport used a 1.5-litre engine with 105hp and 114lbft of torque. Not exactly F1 performance figures, but the Yaris was capable of 0-62mph in 9.0 seconds with a top speed of 118mph. Lowered suspension and a subtle bodykit boosted the appeal.
Fiat Seicento Sporting Schumacher Edition
As F1’s most successful driver, ever, Michael Schumacher’s name has appeared on a number of road cars. The first, built to celebrate Ferrari’s first World Drivers’ Championship in over two decades, was the rather humble Fiat Seicento Sporting Schumacher Edition of 2001.
With a 1.1-litre engine producing an epic 54hp, this was perhaps the slowest car to ever wear the famous Schumacher signature. The 93mph top speed almost feels like an insult to the great man.
Fiat Stilo Schumacher GP Version
By 2005, with Schumacher having clocked up his fifth World Championship title in a row, Fiat decided to push the boat out with a special edition Stilo.
Produced for the UK market, the ‘GP Version’ was modified by motorsport experts Prodrive. Adding 18-inch alloy wheels, uprated suspension and a stainless steel exhaust made the Stilo into a commendable warm hatch. Performance from the 2.4-litre five-cylinder engine was unchanged, but with 170hp it did at least outperform the Seicento.
Ferrari 488 GTB ‘The Schumacher’
As part of Ferrari’s 70th anniversary, in 2017 the Maranello company produced a range of 70 special editions celebrating key liveries and historic events from the previous seven decades.
Inspired by the F2003-GA Formula One car which Schumacher drove to title success in 2003, the red exterior with white detailing was the most obvious change. More subtle were the Ferrari logos painted onto the front wings, rather than being badges, while the paddle shifters for the F1 gearbox were painted yellow.