The development of the
turbo engine in the 1980’s did not receive a round of applause from
most of the F1 teams.
It was widely known that Renault, Ferrari and Alfa Romeo were the only
teams that were producing their own engines supported by the financial
and technical abilities of their car factories. The rest of the teams
had to depend on others to provide the engine.
During the 1983 Geneva Motor Exhibition, the visitors were astonished
to find out that a new engine had been introduced into the world of
Formula One. The engine named “TAG” was the brainchild of a Saudi
Arabian company based in the French capital of Paris. One of the
owners of the company, Saudi national Mansour Ojjeh is a huge fan of
motor sports especially Formula One. Ojjeh also led a Saudi consortium
headed by Saudi Arabian Airlines to sponsor the Williams team in the
Ojjeh wanted to have a role within the Formula One community. He
requested from the German company – Porsche – to design a car engine
that would bear his company’s name. The engine was born and during the
Geneva Motor Exhibition, Ojjeh announced that the engine will be used
by the McLaren team in the near future. The TAG engine was leading the
path for a substitute for the Cosworth engines. The Cosworth engine
was a “life saver” for the smaller teams that had a miniscule budget.
The TAG engine was first used by McLaren in 1983. This led to the
increase of the number of teams that used turbo charged engines to 18
cars. The number increased to 22 in 1984 after Renault joined in along
with Arrows that persuaded BMW to supply engines. Brabham driver,
Nelson Piquet, during that year won the driver’s title for the second
time in his career.
The turbo engine had four victories, three of which were clinched by
Piquet and one by Italian driver Ricardo Patrese. The same number of
victories was recorded by the Renault team – the pioneers of the turbo
The Renault engine was in fact of disappointment for the French team
that had high hopes to win the driver’s title. However this dream
started to fade, after Prost faced a driving 'struggle' during the
Dutch Grand Prix, three rounds before the finals of the championship.
The fiasco led the way for Piquet clinching the title away from Prost
with a difference of two points.
Prost and Austrian Niki Lauda in the 1984 season fought for wins
grabbing 12 races out of 16 – seven wins for Prost and five for Lauda.
However Lauda won his third title during the 1984 season and grabbed
it away from Prost with a difference of 0.5 points (72 points versus
71.5 points). However Prost continued to fight harder and in 1985
clinched the title with McLaren using the TAG engine. He did the same
the following year.
The downfall of the TAG engine started off when the Japanese car
manufacturer Honda signaled the start of its powerful engine that was
used to power the Williams team. That led Piquet to win his third
title in 1987. During the end of 1987, Honda took the decision to move
from Williams to McLaren. In 1988, McLaren inked its “most remarkable”
accomplishment, taking the win in 15 out of 16 races and Brazilian
Ayrton Senna won the driver’s title.
In 1989, the FIA decided to ban the turbocharged engines closing a
chapter for one of the most strongest and wildest eras in the history
of Formula One.
Bahrain International Circuit
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