A few F1 cars stand out as simply unbeatable in their time, and although it felt like the AMG era would never end, Red Bull has shown that all good things do.
For a stroll down memory lane, here are nine cars that were in the same position in their respective times, in no particular order.
This article, first published in 2016, has been updated.
Nine of the most dominant F1 cars
- WILLIAMS FW14B
- LOTUS 79
- BRABHAM BT46B
- MCLAREN MP4/4
- MERCEDES F1 W06
- FERRARI F2002
- MERCEDES W196
- WILLIAMS FW18
- RED BULL RB18/19
Catch up with more F1
1. WILLIAMS FW14B
With ABS, traction control, 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. 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.
3. BRABHAM BT46B
The 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.
4. 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.
5. MERCEDES F1 W06... and every Mercedes until 2021
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.
Throughout the turbo hybrid era, Mercedes-AMG continued to dominate with the Hamilton/Bottas pairing right until a turbulent 2021, where Max Verstappen controversially pipped Lewis Hamilton on the last lap of the season's final race in Abu Dhabi to secure the championship by just eight points.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. RED BULL RB18/19
The Red Bull RB9 aced the last year of the V8 regulations at the hands of Sebastien Vettel; nearly a decade later it looks like the RB19 will ace the 'ground-effect' hybrid era.
With Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez behind the wheel, the RB18 won a staggering 17 races in 2022 – the first year of new regulations – and the ultra-efficient RB19 looks like it will cement Red Bull's dominance this year.