The Brabham BT53 was a Formula One car designed by Gordon Murray for the Brabham team for the 1984 Formula One season and was a development of the BT52 which had carried the teams lead driver Nelson Piquet to the 1983 championship.
The car was almost identical to the final development version of the 1983 car, the BT52B, but featured larger sidepods for improved cooling, and the turbochargers and intercoolers were repositioned for better fuel efficiency as refuelling stops were now banned, leading to the car having to carry an enlarged fuel tank.
The BMW engine now produced around 900 bhp (671 kW; 912 PS) in qualifying trim, de-tuned to 800 bhp (597 kW; 811 PS) for the races, making it the most powerful car ever seen in F1 at the time. This power allowed Piquet to record the fastest speed trap of the 1984 season when he clocked 325 km/h (201.9 mph) on the long straight at the old Kyalami circuit during qualifying for the 1984 South African Grand Prix.
The car was driven by reigning world champion Piquet who was joined at Brabham by the Fabi brothers Teo and Corrado in a shared drive allowing older brother Teo to honor commitments in the North American based Champ Car World Series. Surprisingly the races that Teo missed were all in North America as he missed the Canadian, Detroit and Dallas races.
Although Piquet won twice (Canada and Detroit) and scored several podium places, the BMW engine was now unreliable. The team suffered turbo failures repeatedly in both qualifying and races despite efforts by Gordon Murray to improve the car, and Piquet did not score his first points of the season until his win in Canada.
The McLaren MP4/2 was dominant and Piquet could not retain his championship. Reliability was found in the second half of the season, which allowed Piquet to eventually finish fifth in the title hunt. The saddest aspect was that the BT53 was regularly faster than the MP4/2, as Piquet's nine pole positions and three fastest laps attest to. More reliability might have given Piquet a realistic chance of defending his championship.
The BT53 was replaced by the BT54 for 1985.
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