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  Article Image gallery (25) BT49D/18 Specifications  
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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1982
Numbers built:3
Designed by:Gordon Murray for Brabham
Predecessor:Brabham BT49C Cosworth
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:October 28, 2012
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Click here to download printer friendly versionHastily put together during the second half of the 1979 season by combining the existing BT48 chassis with Cosworth's venerable DFV V8, the BT49 would end up being one of Brabham's most successful Formula 1 cars. There were two primary reasons for the mid-season engine change; Alfa Romeo's new V12 performed very inconsistently and the arrival of the Italian manufacturer's own works team had left team supremo Bernie Ecclestone with a nagging suspicion that Brabham was no longer a top priority.

Ironically, the discarded Alfa Romeo V12 had been hastily created after a specific request from Brabham designer Gordon Murray. It had replaced the Italian company's flat 12 engine, which while very low was also wide and as such interfered with Murray's plan to create a full 'ground effect' car in order to keep track of pioneer Lotus. Relying on downforce generated by tunnels underneath the side pods, ground effect called for the narrowest possible engine and drivetrain. The big advantage was that with ground effect, the downforce was generated without the drag created by conventional wings.

Shared between the BT48 and BT49 was the extremely compact monocoque chassis. The bottom half was constructed from the conventional sheet aluminium, while the top featured carbon fibre composite panels. This was a first for a racing car and added much needed strength to the chassis, which thanks to the ground effect aerodynamics was subjected to much higher loads. Inboard springs and dampers, actuated by pull-rods, were used on both ends to ensure the air could flow as uninterrupted as possible through the ground effect tunnels.

So complete was Murray's confidence in the ground effect aerodynamics that the BT48 was originally fitted with neither a front or rear wing. This proved far from ideal and wings were soon fitted, although they served mainly to trim the car's balance. When possible the car did run without a front wing to keep drag to a minimum. Another advantage of replacing the rueful Alfa Romeo V12 with the Cosworth V8 was the smaller fuel tank required. This, in addition to the lower weight of the engine itself, made the new BT49 the lightest of all the top teams' cars.

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  Article Image gallery (25) BT49D/18 Specifications