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  Maserati 250F
 

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Country of origin:Italy
Produced from:1954 - 1956
Numbers built:26
Successor:Maserati 250F T2 'Lightweight'
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:Before December 1st, 2004
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Click here to download printer friendly versionJuan Manuel Fangio
Legendary drivers are usually most vividly remembered by their finest races; Nuvolari's 1935 Nürburgring victory, Moss' 1960 Monaco win, Villeneuve's epic 1979 Dijon battle and Senna's rain-mastery at Donnington in 1993. Many of these performances are over-shadowed by the incredible feat pulled by Juan Manuel Fangio in the 1957 Nürburgring Grand Prix. His ride for that momentous occasion was the Maserati 250F, considered by many as the definitive front engined Grand Prix racer.

Designed for the 2.5 litre Formula 1 regulations new for the 1954 season, the 250F followed the lines of Maserati's Formula 2 racers of 1952 and 1953. A simple tubular frame carried the suspension, aluminium body panels and engine. The front suspension was independent by wishbones and coil springs. The rear used a DeDion type axle, made popular by the front engined Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix racers of the 1930s. It offered similar rigidity as a beam axle, but drastically lowered the unsprung weight, greatly benefitting the cars handling and performance. All in all, this setup was far from revolutionary, but chassis design was not the engineers' top priority in the 1950's. Rather, their focus was primarily on the design of the engine.

Back to natural aspiration
From the 1920s, Grand Prix engine design focussed almost solely on blown engines. Development reached a peak in 1951, with Alfa Romeo's 1.5 litre 159 F1 racer, powered by an engine which was good for a whopping 260 bhp / litre. The cost of developing and maintaining these high performance engines had spiraled, forcing many teams to pull out. Due to a complete lack of competitors, the 1952 and 1953 Driver's World Championship was run under Formula 2 rules, rather than the F1 rules. These Formula 2 racers were powered by 2 litre, unblown engines. These regulations were taken as a base for the new Formula 1 engine rules, putting normally aspirated engines in the limelight again for the first time in almost 3 decades. Fuel Injection was also tried during 1956 but rarely raced.

In its design the six cylinder 250F engine followed the lines of the A6 Formula 2 engine. Both bore and stroke were increased, however, to decrease piston speed the bore was increased slightly more than the stroke. Development work had proven that proper breathing was essential to get the best performance out of the engine. In the past this wasn't much of a concern, the blowers pretty much took car of that. The three twin-choke Weber Carburetors were fitted with small intake trumpets; even the length of these influenced the performance of the twin spark engine. Early in 1954 it produced a little under 100 bhp / litre at 240bhp, but by 1957 the 100 bhp / litre mark was passed with peak power at 270 bhp.

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  Article Image gallery (55) Specifications User Comments (2)