Car:Porsche 804 F1 / Engine: 8 Cylinder Boxer / Maker: Porsche / Bore X Stroke: 66 mm X 54.6 mm / Year: 1962 / Capacity: 1,494 cc / Class: Formula 1 / Power: 180 bhp at 9,200 rpm / Wheelbase: 2300 mm / Track: Front: 1295 mm Rear 1285 mm / Weights: 452 kilo / 997 lbs
Porsche began their road to Formula 1 in 1959 when they produced a flat 4-cylinder Formula 2 car that was derived from their RSK sports car. The car was driven to victory by Jo Bonnier and Stirling Moss. The latter winning at Aintree and Zeltweg. In 1962 Porsche developed an 8-cylinder engine for Formula 1. Following Porsche practice the engine was air-cooled and had twin overhead camshafts, four Webber carburetors, and two valves per cylinder. While workmanship was never an issue the cars were not technically advanced when compared to the Lotus 25. While the British constructors were adopting lightweight alloy wheels to reduce unsprung weight and fuel-injection, Prosche stayed with carburetors and steel rims.
Their best weapon was still Dan Gurney and for the Dutch Grand Prix of 1962, two cars were entered. Jo Bonnier’s car finished seventh while Dan Gurney retired due to gear lever failure. The Formula 1 effort was being hindered by Ferry Porsche’s skepticism of the entire project. After much pleading they entered a single car in Monaco for Gurney. Gurney was able to qualify third on the twisty circuit but was done in on the first corner by Richie Ginther.
The Porsche engine developed maximum power at 9200 rpm but suffered a sharp a severe drop-off at anything less. After the leaders had to retire Dan Gurney won the first and only race for Porsche at the French Grand Prix. At the non-championship Solitude GP, Porsche claimed a solid 1-2 with victory going to Gurney for the second race running. The next event was the German Grand Prix which was run in torrential rain. After qualifying on the pole the race was a magnificent duel between Hill, Surtees and Gurney. The raced proved to be one of Hill’s greatest victories and Gurney finished a more than respectable third. For the rest of the year the cars continued to be competitive but scored no more victories.
The Formula 1 results seamed a poor consolation for the budget that was spent especially in comparison to their sports car program. More experience and commitment would have done wonders for the program but sadly the bean counters carried the day and the company quit Formula One.
Twenty-one years later they would return as engine suppliers to McLaren as TAG-Porsche. Major funding was provided by TAG Group (Holdings) S.A., a private holding company based in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg.
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