During the 2nd test at Barcelona, our editor Craig and I were discussing the Caterham and Williams exhaust situation, and joking about how many times different teams were nearly in the dock last season with the FIA over pushing the limits of the technical rules.
We then stumbled on the phrase INSTA-BANNED.
Thinking this perfectly summed up some of those close-call situations, we decided we should definitely do a series of articles on technical innovations gone by that were almost immediately banned as quickly as they were devised.
There is just one rule to INSTA-BANNED; the gizmo in question cannot have done more than one official race weekend.
So, over the next few days, as part of our build-up to the first Grand Prix of the season, we’ll be giving you 5 great examples of INSTA-BANNED.
We’re starting with a Williams gearbox with no, erm, gears?
Williams CVT gearbox
In the early to mid 90’s, with Williams-Renault dominating the sport , the team were ever experimenting with new ideas. First came the successful active-ride suspension, then traction control, followed by ABS braking. One idea though that isn’t very much talked about is the Williams CVT gearbox.
The year was 1993 and David Coulthard was Williams official test driver. When not testing race weekend preparations, the team had been in partnership with their fellow Renault engineers to produce a revolutionary automatic gearbox design for F1, dubbed continuously variable transmission, or CVT for short.
One FW15C test car was fitted with the new gearbox, and what followed was the weirdest sounding F1 car ever. The gearbox and engine would essentially be linked via control software to keep the rev range within the engines peak performance window, continuously. There were no gear changes, or gears for that matter in the traditional sense, as belts and pulleys were used to continuously adjust the power from the Renault engine.
This led to a very strange sight and sound of an F1 car heading into a corner and the noise of the revs being nearly the same from approach to entry to exit!
The idea was subsequently banned prior to 1994, and the car and gearbox never even saw a race weekend. The test car is now on display at the DAF museum in Eidenhoven in the Netherlands.