RAC Cars News


The Best Road Cars Inspired by F1

By raccars Published

The Formula One world championship reaches Silverstone this weekend and many British F1 fans will be following the dramas from the Northamptonshire racetrack closely.

Motorsport is a favourite sport of millions in the UK (worldwide, it’s actually the biggest sport on the planet), with many thus dreaming of being an F1 driver. But while few will actually get the chance to drive an F1 Ferrari, Mercedes, McLaren, Williams or Lotus, many can drive a road car inspired by those F1 racers.

Road cars have been linked to Formula One for years, of course. Many modern road car technologies first originated in the world of motorsport – the latest is the KERS energy boost system, which some new car buyers can look forward to in the next few years.

But there are some cars out there where the links are a bit more obvious. Here, we look at eight used cars that wear their F1 links on their sleeve. Some are more convincing than others but all are arguably ‘F1 cars for the road’ in their own unique way…

1. Ferrari Scuderia Spider 16M

Fast facts: 4.3-litre V8, 510hp, 0-60mph 3.7 seconds
The link to F1: Called 16M to celebrate Ferrari winning 16 F1 constructor’s championships

The amazing Ferrari 430 Scuderia was so fantastic, many considered it hard to beat. Ferrari did follow it up though, with the open-top Scuderia Spider 16M. A limited-to-499 edition, it marked Ferrari’s F1 success in a brilliant way: this car was, and remains, exceptional to drive – from its F1-SuperFast2 gearbox that changes gear in just 60 milliseconds to the sheer way its honed chassis goes round corners. One of the best Ferraris ever.

2. Renault Clio Williams

Fast facts: 2.0-litre four-cylinder, 147hp, 0-60mph 7.8 seconds
The link to F1: Built to mark Renault’s success in powering Williams F1 cars to championship success

The Renault Clio Williams is a legendary hot hatch, one of the best ever made. Although it wore Williams badges, Renault did all the hard work, including fitting bespoke suspension and a unique 2.0-litre engine (the standard Clio 16V was a 1.8). A highly collectable and wholly superb car.

3. Jaguar XKR 100 Silverstone

Fast facts: 4.2-litre V8, 400hp, 0-60mph 5.1 seconds
The link to F1: Built to celebrate Jaguar’s F1 return in 2001

Jaguar in Formula One wasn’t the most successful chapter in the firm’s recent history – but the car released to mark this was a lot more appealing. Based on a standard XKR, the Silverstone model had a platinum paint finish, 20-inch alloys, red-stitched black leather interior and a full performance suspension and brake overhaul. Subtle, rare (less than 600 were built) and surely a collectable for the future.

4. Renaultsport Megane F1 Team R26

Fast facts: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo, 230hp, 0-60mph 6.5 seconds
The link to F1: Runout special to help promote the Renault F1 team

This 2006 special edition was built in the final days of the original Megane 225. It was a rather special edition too: it had a further-evolved Cup chassis, a limited-slip differential and a power boost to 230hp. Throw in a set of F1-inspired graphics for one of the finest hot hatches ever. It later evolved into the sublime R26R.

5. MINI John Cooper Works F1

Fast facts: 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo, 211hp, 0-60mph 6.5 seconds
The link to F1: Special edition to mark 50 years since John Cooper’s first F1 constructor’s title

John Cooper won his first F1 title in 1959 – the same year the Mini was born. The firm marked this with a limited edition Mini JCW Championship 50. Just 250 were built, each costing an eye-watering £33,000. It was finished in a period Connaught Green paintjob, with a white roof, and almost every conceivable optional extra was fitted inside. There were no mechanical changes over the standard MINI JCW though – much to the disappointment of hot hatch fans.

6. Lotus Evora GTE F1 Special Edition

Fast facts: 3.5-litre V6 supercharged, 444hp, 0-60mph 3.8 seconds (est)
The link to F1: Road-going F1 lookalike

Lotus is now back in F1 and to reinforce the links between road and track, the firm released a special Evora GTE F1 Special Edition at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show. There were no mechanical changes over the standard supercharged model, but it did get a very bold black and gold paint job that mimicked the F1 racers, with a special interior to match. Lotus also spoke of a 90kg weight saving thanks to the use of carbonfibre.

7. Mercedes CL 55 AMG F1 Limited Edition

Fast facts: 5.4-litre supercharged V8, 354hp, 0-60mph 5.7 seconds
The link to F1: Groundbreaking brakes for F1 pace car supplier’s limited edition CL

Mercedes rolled out the CL 55 AMG F1 Limited Edition partly to mark the brand’s now-longstanding deal to supply F1 pace cars – but the many ‘F1 Limited Edition’ logos and silver paint job weren’t the story here. The fact it was the world’s first road car to come with carbon ceramic disc brakes as standard was – making this an F1 special more significant than many.

8. Fiat Seicento Schumacher

Fast facts: 1.1-litre four-cylinder engine, 55hp, 0-60mph 12.8 seconds
The link to F1: Named after seven-time F1 world champion Michael Schumacher

This choice is a little tongue in cheek, but it does show that even the smallest and cheapest cars can have an F1 link. You’re unlikely to find the dated Seicento on a car dealer’s forecourt today, but you might find one hiding round the back as a trade-in. Pity the car is not as good as the man it’s named after…

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