Formula One Chassis Designations

Formula One Chassis Designations

Following on from the McLaren post yesterday, which outlined why the Woking cars are named MP4-xx, I thought I’d quickly go through the grid and highlight the other letters and numbers used by the teams when talking about specific cars. Finding information on this is tricky and requires a fair amount of Googling, but fear not most are verified by more than one source, the remainder are quite obvious. So here are is the 2008 grid with explanations behind the acronyms they use. Also detailed afterwards are a few from the past.

Team Chassis 2008 Chassis Meaning
Ferrari Fxxxx F2008 Ferrari
McLaren MP4-xx MP4-23 Marlboro Project 4*
BMW F1.xx F1.08 Formula 1
Renault Rxx R28 Renault
Williams FWxx FW30 Frank Williams
Red Bull Racing RBx RB4 Red Bull
Toyota TF1xx TF108 Toyota Formula 1**
Honda RAxxx RA108 Racing Automobile
Scuderia Toro Rosso STRx STR2 Scuderia Toro Rosso
Super Aguri SAxx SA08 Super Aguri
Force India VJMxx VJM01 Vijay Mallya***

*As noted in yesterdays post, the Marlboro was changed to mean McLaren when the team dropped their sponsorship with Philip Morris in the late ’90s.

**Toyota are the only team I couldn’t find concrete evidence for. I started out thinking the 108 was separate from the TF, but then realised they call their Formula One team Toyota Formula 1, leading me to believe it is actually TF1-08.

***See comment #3 for a correction to this pointed out by Arun. VJM stands for Vijay, Jan and Michiel, the three team owners. Which makes much more sense than Vijay Mallya using the middle letter in his forename.

Other designations that have occurred in the past:

Spyker F8-VII – Spyker’s naming tradition follows the alphabet. The company had already sidelined the next letter, E, to be used, so the F1 car was given the F designation. The 8 refers to the V8 engine mounted in the car. The VII is the Roman numeral designation of the cars model, in other words, 7, meaning the 2007 car. Spyker used to be an aircraft manufacturer and therefore used Roman numerals on their aircraft projects.

Jordan EJ10 – Team founder Eddie Jordan started to put his own initials on his cars from 2000 onwards. Previously, they were known from the year in which they raced. For example, the 1991 car was known as the 191. Jordan changed the naming procedure to celebrate the teams tenth season in the sport. It remained until the sale of the team in 2005. The EJ15 was the last car to be raced by Jordan. Also of note, Jordan once marketed an energy drink called EJ-10.

Stewart SF01 – When Jackie Stewart launched his own Formula One team in 1997, he named his first chassis after the collaboration he enjoyed with Ford. Thus, the first Stewart car was named SF01, the Stewart Ford 01. In the teams final season of competition under the Stewart name, the car’s designation was changed slightly, dropping the leading zero to become SF3. Presumably this cleared up any ambiguity – 03 could mean 2003 rather than the third car to be designed by the team.

Ferrari F310- The Scuderia regularly use the make-up of the engine formula to designate their cars. The 1996 car, known as the F310 is made up from:

F – Ferrari

3 – 3 litre engine, as permitted by the rules.

10 – 10 cylinders in the engine (V10 in other words), as permitted by the rules.

Sometimes the team have added a letter to the name, such as the 412T, where the T stands for Transverse due to the gearbox being mounted this way. The F310B was introduced part way through 1996, the B simply indicated it was a notable update to the F310 and deserved a different designation. In recent times the squad has also used the year the car will run to designate it, like the F2008 for example.

Image courtesy of Ferrari.


  • Just a quick question. Why did Honda choose the phrase ‘Racing Automobile’ to form part of the car’s designation? It doesn’t have anything to do with its ancestors BAR and Tyrrell, so is this connected to Honda’s history, whether in F1 (back in the 1960s) or not?

    Just to add, Ferrari have used the engine formula for their car for most of its history. It stopped doing so in 1999 (for the F399, then the F1-2000, then the F2001 and so forth), but it reverted back to the engine formula (albeit briefly) in 2006:

    24 – 2.4 litre engine, as permitted by the rules

    8 – 8-cylinder engine (or V8), as permitted by the rules

    F1 – Formula 1

    = 248 F1

  • To be honest, I have no idea why Honda put RA in front of their chassis number. I believe it has been in use for a long time and has nothing to do with BAR or Tyrrell.

  • says

    ‘The VJM01, named in tribute to the team’s owners, Dr Vijay Mallya and Jan and Michiel Mol, is an evolution of the B-spec F8-VII that Force India’s predecessor, Spyker, launched at the 2007 Italian Grand Prix.’

    Please do the needful to change the error in this post..

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