(3.000cc, normally aspirated)
After Ayrton Senna’s and Roland Ratzenberger’s deaths, something had to be done. Not just in terms of cockpit safety, but also trying to decrease engine performance. The only limit was the displacement, Ferrari tried to stick to its V12 architecture, but it lasted only a year. They changed to a more common V10 in 1996, when a certain Michael Schumacher joined the team.
The French unit on the Williams cars propelled Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve to the top on 1996 and 1997. The work of Swiss engine guru Mario Illien started to reap rewards with Mercedes-Benz star on its side. Namely, the double 1998/1999 went to Mika Hakkinen and his McLaren.
As the Formula One engines became more similar by the rules – power was closing 900hp at that time. With Jean Todt, Ross Brawn, Rory Byrne and Schumacher, it was a period of utter domination to Maranello’s engines. Well… almost, as Renault, and Fernando Alonso, won in 2005 and 2006. Those were the times of the screaming power units, that reached peaks of almost 20000 rpms. BMW, Toyota and Honda were officially involved. The 90º angle between the cylinder rows was the habit. Renault, in 2002, tried to change things and developed a 120º unit. The aim was to reduce gravity center (the exhaust exits were put on the sides of the car). But it turned out to be a complete fiasco.