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Thank You For Everything

FEATURE BY MIKE LAWRENCE
30/11/2013

The Brazilian GP may have been the last we will see of Cosworth in Formula One. It went out not with a bang, but a whimper, powering two rookies driving for Marussia. One of them, Max Chilton, became the first rookie ever to finish every race of a season.

Thus ends a 45 year spell in Formula One. So long, Cosworth, and thank you for everything.

The Cosworth DFV (double four-valve) raced between 1967 and 1985 ad took 155 World Championship wins. (To be correct, the DFV won 154 races, the short-stroke DFY took the 155th victory.) This was in addition to countless other wins, including two at Le Mans. When the DFV retired from Formula One it was used to launch F3000 which, in 1985, replaced Formula Two.

DFVs had 'Ford' on their camcovers except when Frank Williams had Saudi sponsorship, when he fitted 'Cosworth' camcovers. Ford was on an Arab blacklist for its dealings with Israel.

A DFV was adapted as an outboard motor for speed boats and won so comprehensively on its debut that it was promptly banned. Taking that lesson to heart, when Cosworth built the turbocharged DFX for Indycar racing in 1977, it began conservatively, on a par with the then-favoured Offenhauser engine. Once Cosworth had its feet under the table, it turned up the wick and won virtually every race until the end of 1986.

The Ford V6 turbo F1 engine in the Beatrice FORCE Lolas of 1986/7 was a Cosworth design and when normally aspirated engine reappeared in 1988, Cosworth was there again. Michael Schumacher's first World Championship in 1994 was secured with a Benetton powered by a Cosworth HB engine.

Various people bought Cosworth, including Ford and VW. There are two separate Cosworth companies, Cosworth Racing speaks for itself and its work includes advanced electronics. Cosworth Technology, the larger of the two, works with the mainstream motor industry. Both are based in St James Mill Road, Northampton.

In the late 1960s, St James Mill Road was the target of F1 truckers who raced to get their engines there for rebuilds since Cosworth operated a 'First come, first served' policy. Then Cosworth licensed selected engine builders to undertake rebuilds.

It has seemed to many that Cosworth had recently lost the plot, but the current edition of Race Engine Technology tells a different story. The journal has an extensive examination of the Cosworth CA engine (used by Marussia.) In 2006, this remarkable unit achieved 20,000 rpm, a record for an F1 engine. Cosworth's advantage was nullified by engines being restricted to 18,000 rpm.

It would not be for me to suggest that the rev restriction was in any way political or that it might have been to the advantage of the big manufacturers.

It cannot be a matter of cost since Cosworth is a relatively small outfit making engines commercially without a major manufacturer subsidising it. It cannot be a reliability issue, the Cosworth CA had to be reliable because it was for sale and operated in the same market as everyone else.

The Cosworth CA holds the record for crankshaft speed and it was hobbled.

Is placing such a restriction in the spirit of Grand Prix racing? How can one define such a nebulous thing? Fortunately, help is at hand on the official F1 website. 'Formula 1 racing is the ultimate test of man and machine - pushing car and driver to their absolute limits in pursuit of one simple goal. Speed.'

Note the use of 'ultimate' and 'absolute'. I am sorry, but you cannot use these words while artificially restricting progress in design.

BMW, Honda and Toyota had F1 engine programmes, but when they withdrew their teams, they did not think it worthwhile to maintain an engine department. There was no point since specifications had been frozen.

Honda continued to develop the 2.4-litre V8 engine, but Honda has always used competition to hone young engineers. Developing the engine was a useful in-house training exercise.

Time was when a team might have been able to do a deal with an engine supplier and actually be paid for using their products. By freezing engine specifications, the FIA drove out three major manufacturers. The economic downturn of 2008 made it politically inexpedient for some manufacturers to continue to support a Formula One team, but there are excellent reasons for continuing engine development.

By freezing specifications, the FIA took away those reasons and then has the gall to wring its hands at escalating costs and the fact that some teams are forced to take pay drivers. The fact is that the tighter the regulations, the more expensive it is to gain the odd tenth.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by GoodPublicity, 05/12/2013 12:40

"That a 'crate engine' so often beat the Grandes demonstrated how F1 once lived up the official website's now laughable description of the category.

The sooner the F1 rules limit engines only by their maximum dynamic (ie. running) energy consumption, the better."

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2. Posted by oldbiker100, 01/12/2013 10:37

"Good article Mike, remembering a classic engine that became so ubiquitous within F1 everyone took it for granted. Such is the measure of success.

Both Frank Costin and Keith Duckworth have passed away, but they would surely have been astonished and probably disgusted at the obscene amounts of money being poured into the so called "green engines". Calling anything to do with F1 green is akin to calling politicians honest.

As an afterthought I find it highly hypocritical from Red Bull's Horner to say that the current cost increase are the team's own fault. This from a man who's team seemingly spends more than any other to win races.

F1 with about six teams and three cars each by 2016? Could happen as at least four teams seem to have either run out of cash or are financed in some very dubious ways."

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3. Posted by GrahamG, 30/11/2013 18:22

"Many very valid points and thanks for an article which deserves thought. Just wish I could believe someone was listening in FIA
Can't agree more that more regulation increases cost and what's more stifles innovation - look at the dynamic LMP series with different technical approaches and much lower costs than F1 (loved the Audi comment that their Le Mans victory was the equivalent of a whole year of F1 at one go).
DFV was so much a first in so many ways, just a shame it ruled in an otherwise dark era of driver losses
"

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4. Posted by yagijd, 30/11/2013 16:59

"I still have some Cosworth Vega motors that we built up at Specialized Motor Service in Riverside California. These motors ran at up to 15000 rpm and made 352 bhp. We had a lot of help from the Cosworth blokes in Torrance Ca Unfortunately USAC changed the rules of the midget races and these became boat anchors. I put one in a modified Vega street car and ran it at Bonneville with some success. Later on we did some flow bench work on a head that Ford sent over with Aston Martin stampings, but was obviously a very radical head design. We had numerous visits from English and New Zealand people one of which I know was a senior engineer with Cosworth. Cosworth's core business is not F1 so if they can't make money at it they probably won't do it. One of their legacies is the current piston construction that has been adopted by most manufacturers. I am sure they will be back. Thank you Mike for the insight."

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5. Posted by kiwi2wheels, 30/11/2013 15:56

"Once again, the good Dr Lawrence has succinctly summed up the clusterf**k that F1 has descended into.

I hope the tracks next season will be littered with " grenaded " cars as a result of the the "green, cost cutting" engine specification instituted by the ******* morons who are in control ?! of F1 and the whole farce implodes.

How ironic that Monty Python are reforming.................."

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6. Posted by YankF1fan, 30/11/2013 15:11

"I owned one of those Cosworth-badged cars for a while. Sadly, not one of the more successful ones. From 1978 to 1981 I owned a Chevrolet Cosworth Vega, with a set of Cosworth heads atop the Chevrolet 4-cylinder engine. The car sounded good, and had excellent acceleration, but the brakes and handling were poor, as was the reliability of the Bendix fuel injection and the rest of the electrical system. Still, it's the only car I've yet owned which I sold for more than I paid for it. Bought in '78 for $2800, sold in '81 for $3000. "

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