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

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
Load comments
Why Mercedes' Spanish GP gains aren't as grand as they seemed Prime

Why Mercedes' Spanish GP gains aren't as grand as they seemed

Mercedes' strong showing in last weekend's Spanish Grand Prix prompted team boss Toto Wolff to say it had halved its deficit to the leaders and its Formula 1 title chances were back on after a rocky start to the 2022 campaign. But a closer inspection of the team's performance suggests its gains aren't as grand as they first appeared

What's next for the Green Red Bull controversy? Prime

What's next for the Green Red Bull controversy?

From the 'pink Mercedes' to the 'Green Red Bull', the Silverstone-based team has received suspicious glares from up and down the Formula 1 paddock over its car design exploits. But after being cleared by the FIA over its Spanish Grand Prix updates amid a backdrop of cries of foul play, what's next in this saga?

Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings 2022 Prime

Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings 2022

In an unusually hectic Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix, Charles Leclerc was denied a dominant performance by his Ferrari engine letting go which allowed Max Verstappen to pick up the pieces. But numerous flashpoints kept the race twisting and turning throughout, with one perfect score from an emerging contender

Formula 1
May 23, 2022
How Verstappen overcame his and Red Bull’s errors to win in Spain Prime

How Verstappen overcame his and Red Bull’s errors to win in Spain

Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari engine disaster offered an open goal for Max Verstappen and Red Bull to strike, but the reigning Formula 1 world champion still had to solve multiple errors and profit from a begrudged assist from team-mate Sergio Perez, which created an unexpectedly eventful Spanish Grand Prix

Formula 1
May 23, 2022
Why Red Bull can win a Spanish GP that looked perfect for Ferrari Prime

Why Red Bull can win a Spanish GP that looked perfect for Ferrari

Formula 1's return to Spain on Friday ended with Ferrari leading the way from Mercedes, while Red Bull could only manage third fastest overall courtesy of Max Verstappen. But its chances of victory are far from remote with a deeper dig into the times despite Ferrari's strong start...

Formula 1
May 20, 2022
The key aspects of Porsche and Audi's planned F1 entries Prime

The key aspects of Porsche and Audi's planned F1 entries

The VW Group’s German superpowers of sportscar racing have all but confirmed they are coming to F1 when the next set of engine rules come into force in 2026. Here's why both manufacturers are all set to take the plunge, and crucially how it might work

Formula 1
May 19, 2022
How Vegas went from byword for F1 indifference to grand Liberty coup Prime

How Vegas went from byword for F1 indifference to grand Liberty coup

Holding a race in Las Vegas – party central, a city of dreams and decadence and, yes, more than a smattering of tackiness – has been on Liberty Media’s most-wanted list since it acquired Formula 1’s commercial rights. But, as LUKE SMITH explains, F1 has been here before and the relationship didn’t work out

Formula 1
May 18, 2022
Why de Vries' FP1 outing could add a new path to his current crossroads Prime

Why de Vries' FP1 outing could add a new path to his current crossroads

A Formula 2 and Formula E champion, Nyck de Vries is currently considering where his future in motorsport lies. Continuing in WEC and Formula E is possible and he's also courted glances Stateside after impressing in an IndyCar test. But ahead of his Formula 1 FP1 debut with Williams, he could have another option if he impresses...

Formula 1
May 18, 2022