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  BRM P160      

  Article Image gallery (35) Chassis (2) Specifications  
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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced from:1971 - 1973
Numbers built:11 (all versions)
Designed by:Tony Southgate for BRM
Predecessor:BRM P153
Successor:BRM P180
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:December 06, 2011
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Click here to download printer friendly versionOne of the leading teams during Formula 1's '1.5 litre era', BRM returned to the bad old ways when the displacement limit was doubled ahead of the 1966 season. The British squad fielded a needlessly complex and overweight machine powered by a 16-cylinder engine that basically consisted of two of the successful 1.5 litre V8s stacked on top of each other.

Nearly two seasons were lost and by the time BRM switched to a more conventional V12, the rivals of old were literally miles ahead. This engine had actually been developed for sports car racing but both McLaren and Cooper had already shown its potential in F1. Unfortunately it did need further development to get it up to speed with the leading Cosworth and Ferrari engines. While BRM was working on its engine, the rest of the field was busy with aerodynamics, and the gap only increased.

At the end of 1969, owner Sir Alfred Owen recognised drastic measures were required to get BRM back on track. This resulted in a complete management shuffle with long time designer Tony Rudd being replaced by Tony Southgate. The young engineer had already built up an impressive resume at Lola and All American Racers despite being just 29 years old at the time. Former racing driver Tim Parnell moved up the ranks to become the team's new manager.

Southgate started with a clean sheet and penned a straightforward 'bathtub' monocoque. Unlike the 'cigar' shaped cars previously used, the new BRM P153 featured a 'coke-bottle' shape with the flanks housing the rubber fuel tanks. Suspension was also very conventional with double wishbones at the front and reversed lower wishbones, top links and trailing arms at the rear. Ventilated disc brakes were fitted all around.

Used as a fully stressed member, alnog with BRM's proprietary five-speed gearbox, was the latest development of the V12. In its 1970 guise the 'P142' engine featured four-valve heads. Producing a claimed 440 bhp @ 10,000, it was on par with the rivals on paper. Cooling was provided by a front-mounted radiator. Its oval shaped intake was flanked by two aerofoils. Mounted on top of the BRM gearbox was an adjustable rear wing.

A further change was the arrival of Yardley as a title sponsor. Jackie Oliver and Pedro Rodriguez were signed to race the new P153. By the fourth race of the season, the Belgian Grand Prix at the ever challenging Spa-Francorchamps, fortune finally smiled in BRM's direction as Rodriguez took the team's first win since 1966. In the remainder of the year the struggles continued and eventually BRM had to settle for sixth in the standings.

Encouraged by the performance shown in 1970, Southgate used the P153 as the basis for the 'new' P160. It featured a lower monocoque, sharper lines and revised suspension geometry. Tweaked once again by engineer Aubrey Woods, the V12 could now safely rev to 10,800 rpm. For the 1971 season, Pedro Rodriguez was joined by Joseph Siffert in P160s, and Howden Ganley started the year with an updated P153, which would later be substituted for a new P160.

The P160 was clearly an improvement but the rest of the field had also been busy, and especially the revised Lotus 72 proved tough to beat. Siffert managed to do so at Austria, scoring his first GP win since 1968. Substituting for the tragically killed Rodriguez, new signing Peter Gethin scored a victory in only his second Grand Prix for BRM. This result came after an epic streamlining fight at Monza, in what for over three decades was the fastest (242.615 km/h) and still is the closest (0.01 s) ever GP. BRM ended the year 2nd in the championship.

For 1972, Southgate introduced the P180, which was still based on his original design but had twin radiators mounted alongside the gearbox. When it proved to be a failure, the team switched back to further updated P160s but again with a single victory at Monaco for Jean-Pierre Beltoise as the best result. Following the death of Alfred Owen, the funds to develop a brand new car quickly dried up. BRM soldiered on with the P160 well into the 1974 season with no success of note.

For a brief period of time, the Tony Southgate designed P153 and subsequent P160 brought BRM back to the front of the grid. Unfortunately the success was short lived as the team struggled to keep pace with the better funded rivals, most of which had the luxury of off the shelve engines and gearboxes. Beltoise's win at Monaco would prove to be the last one for British Racing Motors.

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  Article Image gallery (35) Chassis (2) Specifications