The Incredible F1 Suspension So Good It Was Banned

Around 30 years ago, some F1 teams developed an automatic, self-adjusting suspension system to control the car’s ride height. The system was so good, it was banned from the sport soon after.

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Over 30 years ago, Formula One had some of the most incredible technology the sport has ever seen. The cars had automatic, self-adjusting suspension that would move up and down to increase grip and performance. It was extremely effective, until the technology was deemed too dangerous and banned from the sport.

But how can suspension trickery improve a car’s performance? How did a complex system like this even work with such old technology? And why doesn’t modern F1 cars use suspension like this?

Look at this onboard footage of the Williams FW14B at Spa, notice how the car is unbelievably stable with next to no body roll in the corners.

Compare this to Ayton Senna’s McLaren that year and notice the shake and roll of the car due to the conventional spring and damper suspension system, this is more similar to the system you would find on your road car.

This is due to an innovative system that allowed the car’s stiffness and ride-height to be automatically controlled and adjusted for every corner on the circuit.

The system was the brainchild of famous designer, Frank Dernie and called ‘active suspension’.

This, combined with the new Traction Control and semi-automatic gearboxes made the 1992 Williams unstoppable, in fact, it still holds the record for the most dominant car in Formula 1 history.

Nigel Mansell said “It was a terrific car, as a racer, to drive – you had to hang onto it. It was very hard to drive but very rewarding”.

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