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Top 10 Best F1 Designers Of All Time

This article explores the top 10 F1 car designers of all time, their innovations & the teams they revolutionized. From rear-engines to carbon fiber, discover their impact on the sport.

Utsav Chaudhary
Last updated: 18.04.2024
Top 10 Best F1 Designers Of All Time

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Formula 1 is one of the mega motorsport racing triumphs globally. It constantly pushes the boundaries of science and technology to move beyond. F1 is all about winning races, but you need the best cars and the best drivers to drive. The best team does not depend on the best drivers but also requires the best mechanics and designers to get overall performance.

Some of the best and greatest F1 car designers of all time helped their respective teams win the title with the car building from scratch. Moreover, some of the greatest designers are still related to their current top teams to date. Let us delve into the top 10 best F1 designers of all time and what makes them glorified in their design perspective with the teams they associated with.


10 Greatest F1 Designers Of All Time

The designers play an important role in Formula 1. Over the years the teams kept on changing but designers have always been vital members of the teams to build the best car for the season. Most of the time we as fans give more attention to the drivers but the most sophisticated recognition would be given to the F1 designer who with his consistent innovation and technological aspects built the championship-winning car. Here’s the top 10 list of best f1 designers of all time:

10. Gordon Murray

[Acclaimed For- Crafted one of the most beautiful cars BT44  and BT 49 championship winning car]

Gordon Murray is one of the best F1 designers of all time. He was critically acclaimed for the design and construction of the infamous Brabham Fancar which was known as the BT44. In the 1949-50 season, the BT49 won its first-ever grand prix in the history of Formula 1. He also created a dominant MP4/4 F1 car for the McLaren Racing F1 Team. During his career, he made 54 cars to win the races created by him, 3 constructor titles, and 5 drivers. championship titles. His legacy will be undeniable.

9. John Cooper

[Acclaimed For- Curated, Innovated the idea of Rear- engined chassis design F1 car]

John Cooper was a man who was more than a designer. He was also the technical head and the chairman of his design company, the Cooper Company. He first started building Formula 3 and Go-Karts with the engine positioned behind the driver. This design technology seems unclear at that time. But in the future, the same design was initiated by the top car manufacturer, and to date, we see a similar rear-engined chassis design for modern F1 cars.

Serving as a chief design head for Sir Stirling Moss, the Copper T-45 made Moss a race winner at the Argentina Grand Prix in 1958. After moving with Moss, Cooper partnered with Jack Braham with his Racing team known as Braham and together they won both the constructor and driver championship titles continuously for 2 years.

8. John Barnard

[Acclaimed For- Introduce the use of carbon fiber chassis in the realm of F1]

John Barnard is one of the most talented and among the greatest designers, Formula 1 has ever seen. Having graduated as an engineer Barnard was responsible for creating one of the best F1 drives in the history of Formula 1. The most prominent innovation by Barnard was the use of carbon fiber chassis to withstand the ongoing technical change in the car. However, carbon fiber chassis is still being used in the turbo-hybrid  V6 engine era.

With team principal Ron Dennis at McLaren, John decided to introduce the carbon fiber chassis and kept the ultimatum of the rear wing design for the 1980 seasons.  In 1981, his creations and technical ideology could be seen on the McLaren MP4/1. Later on, he also speculated the idea of a semi-automatic gearbox and introduced it in 1989 with Ferrari.

7. Harvey Postlethwaite

[Acclaimed For- Curative ideology for the introduction of the rubber suspension system]

Harvey Postlethewaite is one of the finest F1 designers of the late 1970s. Harvey was very interested in knowing how things work. This attribute and persona made him do a PhD in mechanical engineering. Later on, he moved to London to study and somehow he got himself enrolled in Formula 2 car-making companies. Later on with his expertise in technological aspects, Harvey introduces the idea of using a rubber suspension system. His ideology was improved with a Hesketh 308 F1 car driven by James Hunt which won him the title in the 1976 Japanese Grand Prix.

6. Rudolf Ulhenhaut

[Acclaimed For- Developed and designed the most successful Mercedes Car W196 that won titles in the 1950s]

Rudolf was not a designer but an outstanding engineer. Before joining Formula 1 he was working as an aircraft maintenance engineer with Daimler-Benz. Working on aircraft engines led him to be well-versed in the photonics of high-performance racing engines.  This was seen by Mercedes and they involved him in the Silver Arrows race program. In 1954, he became the head of the race car development program, and under his reign, he created a W196 F1 car that won the 1954 and 1955 World Championship titles with Juan Manuel Fangio getting behind the wheel.

5. Patrick Head

[Acclaimed For- Incorporated Williams F1 Racing team with Sir Frank Williams]

Patrick Head is one of the few who established themselves as the founding members of any Formula 1 racing team in history. With Frank Williams, he decided to lead his Williams Racing team for 27 years. Major in physics and aerodynamics, Patrick resonates with the designing of an underbody car frame that can harness the ground effect for optimum speed. This can be seen in the Williams FW07 car driven by Nigel Mansell in the year 1970.

This legendary innovative ground effect body design became the standard for F1 car designers and is followed by most teams to date in the F1 paddock. Head was just not a designer or aerodynamicist but also one of the best leaders and principals in the history of F1.

4. Rory Byrne

[Acclaimed For- Embraced the use of CFD design in Formula 1 cars]

Rory Byrne completed his master's in mechanical engineering and enrolled himself as a design intern with Ferrari in his early career days. Unlike other designers, he propelled with the latest trends and technology to design cars. He was one the first few designers who adopted the use of Computational Fluids Dynamics (CFD) which gave him an edge in designing Formula 1 cars. He teamed up with Ross Brawn and his creation made Michale Schumacher win his 5th consecutive driver’s titles and 99 Grand Prix wins at Ferrari.

3. Colin Chapman

[Acclaimed For-  Built one of the most successful teams in F1]

Colin Chapman, is a man, a myth, and a legend. This man deserves the top spot on the list for his contribution to the realm of Formula 1 racing. Being a designer he created and even built one of the most successful teams in Formula 1 history. Lotus was formed by Chapman as a result of his engineering, design, and entrepreneurial skills. This team won 7 world constructor titles and 5 driver titles in its long curative racing league. Died in 1982 at 54 years of age but his craftsmanship and legacy remain at heart.

2. Aldo Costa

[Acclaimed For- Designed championship-winning cars for both Ferrari And Mercedes]

Aldo Costa is one of the best competitors of Adrian Newey in the current F1 paddock. With 14 constructor titles and 12 driver’s titles across Ferrari and Mercedes, Costa holds the record for most title wins by any designer in F1 history. He played a crucial role in Schumacher and Ferrari's dominance as well as with Mercedes and Hamilton in the hybrid era.

1. Adrian Newey

[Acclaimed For- Most curated designer in F1 history with 14 winning titles car under his creations]

This man needs no introduction. It is impossible to think of this list without him. Adrian Newey is certainly the most successful f1 car designer. He is one of the few designers who not only stepped into the milestone in Formula 1 but also made outrageous appearances in the Indy Car 500 and the Le Mans. Adrian is the only designer in the current paddock his car won constructor titles with 3 different teams such as Williams, McLaren, and Red Bull Racing.

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