In 1983, Nelson Piquet became the first driver in the history of Formula One to win the world championship title in a racing car powered by a turbo engine: the Brabham BMW BT52.
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The engine that imbued the Brabham BMW BT52 with its legendary status was developed by BMW Motorsport GmbH under the guidance of its then Technical Director, Paul Rosche. His team furnished the British Brabham racing team with a 1.5-liter four-cylinder unit featuring 16 valves, a turbocharger and – in a first for Formula One – Digital Motor Electronics.
This mix made for an awesome power potential, with experts estimating its maximum output at up to 1,400 hp. Rosche’s response to such speculation was typically understated: “We don’t know for sure as the dyno didn’t go beyond 1,280 hp.”
The BMW M12/M13 turbo engine was first deployed in a Formula One race at the start of the 1982 season; 630 days later Nelson Piquet drove the Brabham BMW BT52 to world championship victory. His title win marked the close of an unusually exhilarating season in which Piquet started from pole just once but clocked the fastest race lap four times and won three out of 15 races. He made eight podium appearances, collecting 59 world championship points over the season to take the 1983 Drivers’ World Championship title.
Now a video surfaces on the interwebs showing how the special engine was built.