Michael Schumacher made his Formula 1 debut 30 years ago and triggered an unbelievable boom: full kart tracks, hundreds of thousands of fans along the track, eleven other German drivers who followed him into Formula 1. The twelfth will be his son Mick Schumacher.
But how have Formula 1 cars changed over the past 30 years? How much in common do Schumacher’s first Formula 1 racing car, the Jordan-Ford 191, and Mick Schumacher’s first premier class runabout, the Haas-Ferrari VF-21? Today Haas only presented the new paintwork on the previous year’s model. But among other things, because the vehicles in 2021 will hardly differ from 2020, a comparison is already possible now.
PS is the parameter that is most interesting for many fans. And here is the first surprise. The Jordan-Ford 191 from the 1991 season, with which Michael Schumacher made his debut at the 1991 Belgian GP, had just over 650 hp. Just for comparison: Even the Formula 2 engine from Mick Schumacher 2020 was only marginally weaker with 620 hp.
Engines today are almost 400 hp more powerful
Back then, Jordan installed a 3.5-liter V8 engine in the rear of the team’s first Formula 1 racing car, which is still at the start as the Aston Martin today. Jordan only had access to the variant of the Cosworth engine, which came from the 1990 season. The Benetton team has already benefited from the new expansion stage, which has achieved 670 hp. This is of interest because Michael Schumacher contested the last races of the season for Benetton.
This can also be seen in consumption. The Jordan-Ford 191 had a tank with a capacity of 200 liters on board. Refueling was allowed, although many teams did not. The current 2021 Formula 1 cars have to make ends meet with half the fuel.
Michael Schumacher’s car is more than 200 kilos lighter
In 30 years, of course, the safety of Formula 1 racing cars has also improved enormously. The most visible is the Halo head protection, a bracket around the open driver’s cockpit. However, the efficiency of the cars and the safety features mean that Formula 1 cars are much heavier today. In 2021 they put on another six kilograms to 752 kilograms – that is 247 kilograms more than in 1991. Yes, the Jordan-Ford 191 weighed in at just 505 kilograms.
The aerodynamics of the Haas-Ferrari VF-21 will only be presented to the public in Bahrain. In general, however, it is more sophisticated than it was in 1991. The Jordan-Ford 191 penned by Gary Anderson captivated with its no-frills beauty, a curved front wing and clean lines. Today the cars are criss-crossed with various air deflectors, slots and edges.
All of this ensures that the racing cars will be much faster in 2021. At least on one lap, they were the fastest models in Formula 1 history in 2020. In 2021, according to theory, they should be a little slower due to pruning, for example on the subfloor. However, it is expected that the teams will compensate for the loss of downforce with further developments. Mick Schumacher is making his debut in one of the fastest F1 cars of all time.
Ten seconds faster than 1991?
How much the cars have grown compared to 1991 is difficult to assess. Most of the routes are either no longer in the calendar or have been changed. Schumacher made his debut in Spa – a race that will still be part of the world championship in 2021. But the route has since been rebuilt: in 1991 it was 6.940 kilometers long, in 2021 it was 7.004 kilometers – a little longer. Harassment has also been relocated.
One thing is already certain: Mick Schumacher’s fans should be extremely excited about his qualifying round in Spa …