BRM P15 V16
The BRM P15 (alternative Type 15) was the first Formula 1 race car which was founded in 1947 manufacturer British Racing Motors (BRM) from Bourne in Lincolnshire .
The car is a joint project with the support of many British companies and should be considered British National Project and hopefull World Beater of that from the Italian and French competition in Grand Prix racing.The development of the car was accompanied by the press intensively. The car, which in the literature is simply called BRM V16 because of its sophisticated sixteen-cylinder engine, did not meet the expectations of its designers and the public. Repeatedly, the car had to be withdrawn before the start of a race, and some racing missions failed under spectacular, sometimes humiliating circumstances. That's why the BRM P15 is considered one of the big flops in Formula One history.
British Racing Motors was founded in 1947 by British racing driver Raymond Mays and engineer Peter Berthon . Behind this was the idea of uniting various British companies into a national motorsport project. Mays had led the private British racing car manufacturer English Racing Automobiles (ERA) in the pre-war era and also raced for his factory team. At that time the English constructions had been inferior to those of the French, Italian and German manufacturers, who had acted as representatives of their nations and in some cases had received state support. During the war, Mays developed the idea of building a British national team. After the war, he propagated his ideas nationwide and received support from the British government. From 1947, numerous British companies participated in the project. They included Rolls-Royce , English Steel and Lucas Industries . Some companies developed or produced parts of the racing car for free, others provided benefits in kind. The contribution of the Austin Motor Company , for example, was the provision of a race transporter. How many suppliers were there in total is unclear. Most sources assume about 150 to 160 companies, Raymond Mays said, ten years after the end of the project of 350. In order to finance and oversee the project was British Racing Motor Research Trust established the monetary and material donations collected by the population. Altogether, crowdfunding is said to have brought together a budget of GBP 25,000 annually, which is considered minimal given that BRM was equally responsible for construction and racing missions. Mays later claimed that the Trust had raised approximately GBP £160,000 by the end of 1952. At times, the enthusiasm of the British people for the project went so far that uninvolved private individuals submitted design proposals and offered to assist in the search for errors.
The development and assembly of the car dragged on for several years. It took two and a half years until the P15 was ready to go. From 1950, the team participated in racing events. The P15 was unsuccessful in contests in the class for which it was intended. In 1950 and 1951 this was only reported to individual Formula 1 races. Only one of them had world championship status, all other events were world championship-free races.
The lack of success of the BRM P15 was one of the reasons that the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) the Automobile World Cup, which was previously tendered for Formula 1, carried out in Formula 2 from 1952 . After Alfa Romeo retired from motor racing at the end of 1951, only Ferrari and BRM remained as Formula 1 designers for the 1952 season . When BRM did not compete for the first Formula 1 race of 1952, the FIA assumed that this year only Ferrari would be factory-represented in Formula 1, and feared an unattractive World Cup.To prevent this, they wrote the automobile world championship in 1952 and 1953 for the Formula 2, in which there was a wider substructure of designers. For BRM, this meant that the P15, which had been designed for Formula 1, now played no role in the World Cup. On the other hand, the company had no race car that was eligible to participate in the now relevant Formula 2 at the World Cup. BRM then withdrew for two years from the World Cup and denied with the P15 only side races in the UK, Continental Europe and New Zealand.
End of 1952, the British Racing Motors Research Trust was dissolved. Entrepreneur Alfred Owen , who had been a supporter of the project from the start with his group Rubery Owen , took over the team. Under Owens lead BRM developed 1953 the P15 to the P30 , which was used starting from 1954 with some world championship-free races. With their own constructions took the BRM team, which now operated as Owen Racing Organization, only in 1956 again in the Formula 1 World Championship part , using the newly constructed P25 , which is considered to be a simple construction in all respects and thus the opposite of what the P15 represented.
In the first years all P15 were painted in a bright green. In August 1952, the team changed the color to the darker tone British Racing Green .
The chassis design was considered simple and conceptually borrowed from the 1930s; critics thought was the chassis of the P15 "more of a look into the past than in the future."The P15 had a simple tubular frame with two longitudinal rails 2.5 inch (about 64 millimeters) in diameter and several crossbars. Laterally, pipe racks were attached, which carried the body panels. The frame was made by Rubery Owen.
The front wheels were hung on a crank arm axle and provided with a spindle steering , behind there was a De Dion axle . The novel gas springs supplied Lockheed . There is evidence in the British motorsport literature that Peter Berthon used the design of the suspension to refer to features of pre-war Mercedes and Auto Union racing cars. By 1951 the P15 on all four wheels was with drum brakes equipped, from 1952 onwards disc brakes now used.
The body of the P15 was designed by Standard , a Coventry mass-produced car manufacturer . This had unusually straight lines for her time. It was repeatedly revised, in particular, due to persistent overheating problems soon additional ventilation holes were cut into the engine cover, and from the summer of 1952, the initially oval front radiator opening significantly larger dimensions.
There were two separate fuel tanks. The larger, 25- gallon (113-liter) tank was located between the cockpit and the engine above the driver's legs, the smaller, with a capacity of 15 gallons (68 liters) behind the driver's seat.
In contrast to the chassis, the drive of the P15 designed by Peter Berthon and Harry Mundy was very complex. The engine was a sixteen-cylinder - V-type engine with a bank angle of 135 degrees and dry sump lubrication . Block and cylinder heads were made of light metal. Conceptually, there were two eight-cylinder V-engines connected to each other at their respective rear sides. The ten-bearing crankshaft was in two parts. Four cylinders with wet liners made of cast iron were combined under a cylinder head. The power was taken off center, there was also the gear drive for the four overhead camshafts. The capacity totaled 1496 cc (bore 49.53 mm, stroke 47.8 mm). Initially, a gasoline injection was planned, but it was not realized. Instead, two large SU carburetors prepared the mixture. For each cylinder there was an inlet and an outlet valve. The engine was charged with a two-stage centrifugal compressor supplied by Rolls-Royce. Its construction was derived from the charging fan of the aircraft engine Rolls-Royce Merlin . It rotated at four times the crankshaft speed and was driven by the output shaft via a gear ratio. The ignition system came from Lucas Industries. There were four ignition distributors for every four cylinders. The supply of the motor with mixture was occasionally problematic; The reason for this was incorrectly calculated valves.The five-speed gearbox was installed transversely and sat behind the driver on the rear axle.
The information on engine performance varies greatly. The target was 600 bhp (447 kW) at 15,000 revolutions per minute; but this value was undoubtedly never reached. The factory claimed BRM, the engine in racing trim about 550 bhp (410 kW). This information was taken from many publications. The motorsport historian Mike Lawrence, however, based on internal factory documents based on much lower performance data. After that, the engine had actually made only 330 bhp (246 kW) at its first race. In its last stage of development in 1953, the maximum power finally amounted to 440 bhp (328 kW); this was about as much as the performance of an uncharged Ferrari engine. 1950s Rolls-Royce engineers showed that the ancillaries consumed a lot of power; the power loss was more than 50 percent. Another problem was that the maximum engine power in any case was incurred in the first years only in a very narrow speed range.
Production and race history
Completion of the first P15 dragged on for more than two years. A total of four vehicles were built, one prototype and the three production models "No. 1 "," No. 2 "and" No. 3 ".The prototype was completed in late November 1949, half a year after the completion of the first engine. The prototype was only used during two test drives at the Folkingham military airfield near the BRM plant on 29 November and 15 December 1949, as well as in a demonstration round at the 1950 Great Britain Grand Prix . The car still exists.
The Production Model No. 1 was ready for use in August 1950. The car was regularly brought to racing until September 1953 at the start. With him, the team scored in Woodcote Cup 1950, the first victory. His last race was the Hastings Trophy in 1953 . This vehicle still exists.The production model No. 2 appeared in September 1950 and remained until April 1954 in use. Ken Wharton severely damaged in an accident in the 1954 Glover Trophy . The car was scrapped afterwards.The production model No. 3 was completed in August 1952. It debuted in the National Trophy with Reg Parnell and drove there a victory. Ken Wharton destroyed the car in May 1953 at the Grand Prix of Albi . After the race, the car was disassembled. He formed the basis for the first copy of the P30.
A competitor of the BRM: The British "Thin Wall Special" by Vandervell Ferrari-based, last with 4.5-liter naturally aspirated engine
The races of the BRM P15 were disappointing. The aim of the P15 to be able to withstand Ferrari and other competitors in Formula 1, failed BRM The racing history of the P15 was characterized in particular in the first years of withdrawn messages and defects that seemed bizarre by then standards and the entire project in the field of dilettantism. The car, which was intended as a World Beater , was reported only for a single World Championship Formula 1 race and took virtually no influence on the title. Although there were repeated race participations and victories from 1952 - Raymond Mays spoke in this respect of a meanwhile completed maturation process -;the importance of these competitions was actually low. These were races that all took place outside the World Championships, only went over short distances and were often pure amateur events. At that time, BRM no longer oriented to Ferrari or Gordini, but considered primarily the British Thin Wall Special as a competitor to beat it. This orientation also had a personal dimension: Tony Vandervell , the initiator of the Thin Wall Special, had initially been a supporter of BRMs, but after a lack of progress in 1949 had withdrawn from the project and was now committed to a gradually modified construction based on Ferrari in the Grand Prix racing.
Initial planning was based on a debut of the BRM P15 at the Great Britain Grand Prix in 1950 , the first Formula 1 history World Championship race held at Silverstone in May 1950 . The car was not competitive yet at that time - three years after the development started - so it was not reported for the race. Raymond Mays drove in the presence of members of the British royal family only a few demonstration laps before the start of the race, the Alfa Romeo and Talbot was dominated.
The first message was then in August 1950 to the BRDC International Trophy , a Formula 1 race that had no World Cup status. The BRM works team reported two cars for Raymond Sommer and Raymond Mays. In the run-up to the race, both cars suffered engine damage during test drives, whereupon Raymond Mays campaigned for a retreat of the team. Under pressure from the British Motor Racing Research Trust , whose members became increasingly impatient, the mechanics repaired one of the vehicles overnight, so that at least Raymond Sommer could go to the start. in order to qualify, Sommer covered three laps in the run-up to the race, but at very slow speed to save on the material. For the second run of the race his last station was assigned. Immediately after the start of summer's drive shaft broke, so that the BRM moved only a few inches on its own The crowd threw then to ridicule and alluding to business conducted by BRM crowdfunding coins in summer cockpit. The debut of the BRM P15 was felt by team members as a humiliation. It reminded some observers of the failure of the cumbersome French racing car CTA-Arsenal in its first race at the French Grand Prix in Lyon in 1947 .
Successful was the use of the factory team a month later at the Goodwood Circuit , on which the same day first the Woodcote Cup and then the Goodwood Trophy were held. Both events had nothing to do with the Formula 1 World Championship. The Woodcote Cup was a Formula Libre race, the Goodwood Trophy a Formula 1 race without world championship status. In both races Reg Parnell started with the BRM P15. Parnell won the five-lap Woodcote Cup in pouring rain, earning the first success for the BRM project. The 12-lap Goodwood Trophy also went to Parnell, who won two races in a single day. but observers argue into perspective that he is only against "weak competition" had to prevail and the P15 have only proved the racing prowess of the car for a period of 30 minutes while the competitiveness of a whole Grand Prix -Distance, which was at least four times as long, was open. In addition, strong wind and rain had come to meet the still prone to overheating P15 at Goodwood.
The last race of the year was the world championship-free 1950s edition of the Gran Premio de Penya Rhin at the Circuit de Pedralbes in Barcelona Spain . BRM reported two cars for Reg Parnell and Peter Walker . In qualifying Parnell reached a best time, which was seven seconds over the Ferrari of Alberto Ascari .Both drivers failed after technical defects: At Parnell's car broke down in the third round of the compressor in Walker resigned after 33 laps an oil leak in the gearbox on.
1951 became a problematic year for BRM in the winter months 1950/51 work was P15 because of lack of funding come to a standstill - the new inclusion in the team engineer Tony Rudd described this phase retrospectively as "BRMs hibernation" so that the team was basically not prepared for the new World Cup. Ultimately, BRM played only one race with the P15 in the 1951 season. The team had the P15 before the start of the 1951 season for Prince Bira for the Grand Prix of Switzerland and the Grand Prix of Francereported, but did not compete in any of these races. The missions failed because of missing engines. At the beginning of the year, BRM did some test drives in Folkingham. Several engines had been damaged. As a result, the team initially lacked the necessary spare parts for the repair or rebuilding of engines
The only competition in which BRM participated in 1951 was the Great Britain Prize . It was the only World Championship round of the P15. The use of this race was followed by a lot of pressure from the public, which was increasingly critical of the BRM project and was eagerly awaited, fueled by the press.BRM posted two P15s for Reg Parnell and Peter Walker for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Due to technical problems, none of the drivers could participate in the qualifying; they therefore had to start from the last row in the grid. The now 40-year-old Parnell came with five laps behind the winner in fifth place, the last points finish to the finish, Walker was with six laps down seventh. During the race both drivers suffered burns on his feet, because no sufficient insulation of the exhaust was provided. During the race both riders avoided full throttle because the feet produced when the accelerator pedal came too close to the hot exhaust. Parnell's average speed at 90.5 mph was about 6 mph below that of winner José Froilán González ( Ferrari ).
The subsequent Grand Prix of Germany left out the team. The British public expected a performance by the BRM team for the Italian Grand Prix , where the World Beater would compete with its Italian rivals on their home track. BRM announced two cars for Reg Parnell and BRM test driver Ken Richardson to replace Peter Walker, whose burnings from the Silverstone race had not healed yet. Parnell and Richardson took in Monza on qualifying part and qualified for the grid positions eight (Parnell) and ten. Richardson received by the competent Royal Automobile Club (RAC), however, does not have the necessary starting permission. Although he had covered many test kilometers for BRM, he had no experience in an automobile race. Then BRM gave his cockpit to the bystanders in Monza Hans Stuck , who a few test laps turned before the gearbox broke. After unsuccessful attempts to rebuild the transmission, BRM withdrew both vehicles before the start of the race. team boss Mays feared in a repeat of the defect could injure spectators flying parts.
Despite the previous announcement, the team did not compete for the last World Championship race in Spain .In addition, there was 1951 only a message for a Formula 1 race without world championship status. BRM announced its appearance at the Goodwood Trophy in September 1951, but did not appear there.
In 1952 BRM did not take part in the Automobile World Championship because the P15 did not comply with the regulations of the now relevant Formula 2. In addition to the World Cup races, there were 35 Formula 1 or Formula 2 races worldwide, which had no World Cup status. In 1952 BRM limited himself to reporting one or two P15s to four of these sub-races. There were also individual launches at Formula Libre races.At the beginning of the year, three copies of the P15 were announced for the Gran Premio Valentino in Turin , which should drive Stirling Moss , Ken Wharton and the reigning Formula 1 World Champion Juan Manuel Fangio . In fact, the team did not appear at all, because in England testing with Fangio should be used instead. Team principal Mays conceded retrospectively that the retreat from this race was a momentous mistake.
At the Albi Grand Prix in southern France on 1 June 1952 Fangio started for BRM for the first time. The second car was driven by José Froilán González . Fangio and González were among the best starting points in the midst of a competition consisting mainly of private Ferraris and older Talbot Lagos; In qualifying Fangio also set a new lap record, which undercut the previous record by 11 seconds. In the race, Fangio initially took the lead, and Gonzalez, who had a poor start, was after three rounds in second place. None of them, however, could finish the race. Both retired after overheating-related engine defects. Just a week later, BRM started with Fangio and Stirling Moss at the Ulster Trophy . This engagement in Northern Ireland, which was closely tied to the race in the South of France, was the result of political decisions: A member of the British Motor Racing Research Trust had assured the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland of the appearance of the BRM team. The damaged in Albi engines were before the race in a garage in Belfast exchanged. The work took so long that both Fangio and Moss missed the qualifying session, it so that on the dundrod circuit finally from the last row of started. Moss dropped out after four laps due to an overheated engine, and Fangio had problems with fuel supply, which he also had to give up before the end of the race.
The Daily Mail International Trophy , which took place at the Boreham Circuit in Essex in southern England at the beginning of August 1952 , saw another "humiliation" the team: in the race where Formula 1 and Formula 2 Cars competed against each other, Froilán González dropped out right after a driving mistake, and Ken Wharton, who drove the second P15, suffered gearbox damage after 58 laps.
The disappointing run in Boreham was followed by a number of engagements by the BRM team in Formula Libre races, which were mostly successful. These were in contrast to the Formula 1 races in each case only short-distance races, where the reliability problems of the P15 did not come to sustainable use. Although both cars of the team initially failed the BRDC Formula Libre Trophy in Silverstone on technical defects. At the airport in Turnberry but won Reg Parnell then the Scottish Daily Express National Trophy against weak competition, and later won one month Froilán González in the five rounds (12 miles) continuous Woodcote Cupin Goodwood. On the same day, three BRM drivers took the first three places in the Daily Graphic Formula Libre race . In October 1952, Ken Wharton was two times in the leading position in the Glasgow Daily Herald Formula Libre 1952, but then dropped out after a driving mistake.
In the 1953 season , the BRM factory team outside of Britain only entered the non-World Cup Grand Prix of Albi , for which Formula 1 and Formula 2 cars were equally allowed. The factory riders were Fangio, Froilán González and Wharton. The Grand Prix d'Albi was held in two separate races and a final final. Fangio won the second race, Wharton finished second in race two. All three BRM drivers reached the final. Froilán González came in second in the final, but his two teammates failed. Fangio's car failed in the 10th lap of the final, and Ken Wharton crashed hard in the 12th lap when he got off the track at 140 mph and overturned several times. His car was badly damaged and never rebuilt later in the year.Apart from that, BRM started the P15 in some British Formula Libre races. In April 1953, Ken Wharton won a Glover Trophy sidecar race , and in June Fangio and Wharton finished second and third at the Grand Prix of Britain , with the competition consisting primarily of pre-war and Formula 2 cars. Other wins were for Wharton at the AMOC Trophy in Snetterton and the USA Invitation Race held two hours later at the same venue, the Newcastle Journal Trophy in Charterhall, Scotland, and the Hastings Trophy at Castle Combe in October 1953 .In his memoirs Raymond Mays emphasized that the P15 ran smoothly and reliably at that time. However, the Formula Libre race of the year were weak in 1953 attended competitions that went just over short distances.
In the early months of 1954, the P15 had its last appearances before being replaced by the P30. BRM announced the car for Ken Wharton in January 1954 for the first Grand Prix of New Zealand , where he was primarily against local drivers and older or weaker motorized cars, which were often homemade. Wharton occasionally drove a car that was not fully functional because he could only use the rear brakes after a front brake failure in the second half of the race. After initial disagreement over the winner, Wharton was ranked second. One month later, he finished third in the Lady Wigram Trophy ; He was five minutes behind the winner Peter Whitehead in the Ferrari. The last time appeared the P15 in two short Formula Libre race at Goodwood, as support races for the on the current Formula 1 rules advertised Lavant Cup were conducted. The five- and 25-lap races were called the Glover Trophy and Chichester Cup . Both races won Wharton in the P15.
From 1954, the 1954 World Cup was again advertised for Formula 1, but followed a modified compared to the previous years regulations. BRM wanted under the direction of the new owner Alfred Owen in the medium term again to participate in the Formula 1, but had at the beginning of the season 1954 no new regulations corresponding car. Initially, the team worked with the BRM P30 at this time, which was an evolved version of the P15 and is sometimes referred to as the P15 Mark II . The car was considered an interim model, which should bridge the time until the presentation of a completely new Formula 1 car. With the P30 BRM wanted to gain first experiences with lighter, shorter racing cars outside of the world championship races. Driven by technology, there were no changes, especially the P30 took over the sixteen-cylinder V-engine of the P15. However, the wheelbase was shorter (2311 mm), and the car was about 90 kg lighter than the P15. In addition, the P30 had smaller tanks. There were finally changes to the suspension and the brakes.
The BRM P30 started in 1954 at twelve and 1955 in seven Formula Libre races. The drivers were Ken Wharton, Ron Flockhart and Peter Collins . In 1954 there were four victories, in the following year another two. The BRM P15 is mostly regarded as a disappointing car. Although Juan Manuel Fangio is quoted as saying the BRM P15 is "the most fantastic car I've ever driven". That remained an isolated praise. Stirling Moss, however, described the P15 as the worst race car he had ever driven.
The BRM P15 is therefore often cited as an example that "many cooks spoil the porridge".Another reason for the failure is called the complexity of the sixteen-cylinder engine with which the small BRM team was overwhelmed.
BRM P15 Technical data
Sixteen-cylinder gasoline engine V-arrangement
bench angle 135 degrees
(bore 49.53 mm, stroke 47.8 mm)
330 hp (246 kW) - 550 hp (410 kW) [Note. 6]
2 SU carburetors
One intake and one exhaust valve per cylinder
Five-speed gearbox (manual transmission)
Crankshaft front axle
De-Dion axle rear
front and rear drum brakes
from 1952: front and rear disc brakes
Steel tubular frame
(length × width × height):
4013 × 1422 × 889 mm
1321 mm (front)
1295 mm (rear)