A few F1 cars stand out as simply unbeatable in their time, and though it feels like the AMG era may never end, these cars were in the same positions in their respective times.
This article was first published in 2016 but has since been updated.
1. WILLIAMS FW14B
With ABS, TC, computer-controlled active suspension and a semi-automatic gearbox, even today the 3.5-litre V10 FW14B is one of the most advanced F1 cars ever, taking Nigel Mansell to his one and only F1 title.
The FW14B won 10 of 16 races in 1992.
2. RED BULL RB9
If F1 didn’t overhaul its engine rules for the 2014 season, Sebastian Vettel might still be dominating.
The RB9 took Vettel to his fourth straight title, sending off the 2.4-litre screaming nat-atmo V8 era by winning 13 of 19 races in 2013.
3. LOTUS 79
Powered by the legendary Ford DFV 3.0-litre V8, the Colin Chapman-designed Lotus 79 improved upon the pioneering “ground effects” of the Lotus 78 by perfecting them.
Mario Andretti won six of 11 races on his way to the 1978 world title.
4. BRABHAM BT46B
Totally dominated its one race in 1978 with Niki Lauda behind the wheel. Gordon Murray’s 3.0-litre flat-12 “fan car” literally sucked itself to the track.
Never illegal, team boss Bernie Ecclestone withdrew the car in a crafty political move.
5. MCLAREN MP4/4
One of the most recognisable grand prix cars ever, the 1.5-litre turbo V6 MP4/4 was also the closest an F1 car has come to a perfect score, winning 15 of 16 races in 1988.
In MP4/4, Ayrton Senna edged out teammate Alain Prost to win his first title. Also
6. MERCEDES F1 W06... and every Mercedes since
Winning 16 of 19 races in 2016, the 1.6-litre turbo V6 ‘F1 W06’ – between Hamilton and Rosberg – raked in 703 of all 817 available 2015 season points. A new record at the time.
But since, and especially in 2020, Mercedes with Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas at the wheel has been so far ahead of the competition that some of the fastest non-Mercedes cars on the grid in 2020 are Racing Point's cars, using essentially the same setup as Mercedes' 2019 cars.
7. FERRARI F2002
Of the Schumi era ’04 was dominant, but ’02 even more so, with the F2002 winning 15 of 19 races in ’02-’03.
In testing, the seminal, 3.0-litre V10-powered F2002 broke the Fiorano lap record by 1.0sec and in race trim was just as unbeatable.
8. MERCEDES W196
The Germans lost the war, but Mercedes used the same engine tech developed for the Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter plane to storm the ’54 and ’55 F1 world championships, winning nine of 12 races and helping the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio to two titles.
9. WILLIAMS FW18
Powered by the proven Renault 3.0-litre V10, the FW18 was also another aerodynamic masterpiece by a bloke called Adrian Newey.
Winning 12 of 16 races in 1996, Williams had more constructors’ points than the next two teams combined.