The origins of each F1 car's name and its background

The origins of each F1 car's name and its background

It is interesting to explore the origin story behind each F1 car's unique name, and what it represents.

The naming convention for all F1 cars has been distinct and unique for each and every team and participant in the race series. This has seen some other teams call their cars after their founders. Some have titled their cars after the number of seasons they have competed in, while others have named their cars after the year they will race.

Mercedes - W14

The W in W14 stands for Wagen meaning car in German and 14 refers to the project number (i.e. the 14th Mercedes car that was born in their factory in Brackley). The predecessor to this 2023 F1 World Championship was W13 and was driven by Lewis Hamilton as well as George Russell. Mercedes came into being in the year 1955 with its first car being called W196, which was named as such due to the engine it used, the M196. Upon the team’s comeback in 2010, they opted for W01, symbolizing the first car built in Brackley.

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Aston Martin - AMR23

The team made its debut in the 2021 Formula One season with the Aston Martin AMR21. This marked the first car to be driven by the Aston Martin team and was driven by Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll. AMR23 is an abbreviation for Aston Martin Racing 2023.

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Red Bull - RB19

A clear-cut naming convention is embodied by the Red Bull team, in which RB is an abbreviation for Red Bull whilst 19 refers to the number representing the seasons the team has been competing. 2023 will be their 19th year and as such, the 2023 challenger will be called RB19. F1 teams will use the same frames in 2021 as they did in 2020, making the latter version of the frame the RB16B. In naming the 2022 car, the team decided to skip RB17 and to continue the trend of naming the cars in accordance with the racing season.

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Alpine - A523

The Alpine A521, the first to be fielded under the team’s Alpine name, was designed by the Alpine F1 Team. The team debuted in the year 2021, naming its car A521, where A500 is the name of the F1 project and 21 is the year. 2021 also marked the rebranding of Renault as Alpine F1 Team. As a result of the budget cap, there will be an end to the expense race. The sports value of the signatory teams can be assessed this way. F1 gives the Alpines the chance to compete for victory.

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Alfa Romeo - C42

During the 2019 F1 World Championship, Alfa Romeo returned to F1 when they joined forces with Sauber. Its naming style followed that of the C38, in which the C represents Christine, the wife of founder Peter Sauber. Since their first entry in 1993, Sauber has been using the C prefix. This continued until 2006 when BMW bought a stake in the team. BMW decided the car would have the prefix F1 followed by the last two digits of the year. However, BMW sold their stake back to Sauber in 2010 when the team returned to the C prefix.

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Alpha Tauri - AT04

The brand is named after the Alpha Tauri star and pays tribute to the founding company Red Bull. The Alpha Tauri team has been named using their initials in addition to the number of years they have been competing as a team after having made their debut. Therefore, the 2023 car will be called AT04.

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McLaren - MCL37

The racing team was founded by Bruce McLaren. 2023 marks 60 years since the team was founded, and the 2023 McLaren car will be called the MCL60. Prior to the MCL format, the MP4 format was used, which was followed by a slash and the model of the car and its variant. So in 1981, it was called MP4/1 and its successor was MP4/2.  

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Williams - FW45

Williams came into being in 1978 where they designed their own car which was called FW06. The initials of its owner Frank William (FW) were used. The team has periodically added letters at the end to signal variants of the same model. Even after the Williams team was sold to Dorilton Capital in August 2020, the cars continued to follow this pattern with 2023`s edition expected to be called FW45.

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Haas - VF23

In the year 1988, Gene Haas owner of the Haas VF team, developed their first car which they named VF-1, with the V standing for vertical which is the industry standard designation for a vertical mill and the F-1 added by Haas to indicate that it was the very first one. The naming convention followed suit for all the following seasons, with the 2016 car being called VF-16, the year it was launched. The 2023 car is expected to be called VF-23.

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Ferrari - SF23

Trari Team debuted right at the beginning of the F1 racing series. It is the oldest team on the grid. In their first appearance, the cars were named after the engines that powered them. In the early 70s, they would place a letter that would indicate where the engine was built, i.e. the 312B of 1970. This implied a 3-liter, 12-cylinder boxer engine. 

Cars were named based on the degree of engine installation followed by the number of cylinders. For example, 126C signified that the car had 12 cylinders that were mounted at 120 degrees with 6 cylinders. In the early 90s, they decided to name the cars according to the number of valves followed by the number of cylinders and what type of gearbox was used. In 2015, the team added Scuderia Ferrari and the team has added SF to the names of their cars, hence their car will be called SF23.

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