Old Formula One Cars Were Way More Complicated Than You Think

We always like to marvel at the wonder that is the Formula One steering wheel. They look like control panels out of an alien spaceship, especially compared to the steering wheels from the 1980s. But that's not because the cars were simpler, or were less fiddly. They were still just as nuts.


Sure, a lot more things are controlled by computer nowadays, but the relatively simplistic steering wheels of 30 years ago weren't because everything was analog. It was more just because instead of putting the controls on the wheel itself, they were fixed to the F1 equivalent of the dashboard.

And then there was the issue of the difference between the qualifying and racing setups. Nowadays the difference between qualifying and race trim is pretty much negligible. Back then, there weren't just different turbos and tires, but whole engines differed. The ones used in the race were stupidly powerful, but the qualifying engines were small nukes, pumping out 1200 horsepower and only designed to last a few laps.

They were incredibly difficult to drive, and it's why many people consider the turbo era to have some of the sport's best drivers.

And also, Jackie Stewart was in his weird cowboy hat phase.

So next time someone pines for the "simpler days" of the 1980s in F1, just remember, they have no idea what they're talking about.

Share This Story