The BRM V8 powered P57, originally referred to as the P578, was a Formula One racing car built for the 1962 Formula One season. The P57 gave BRM consortium their only world championship, and was subsequently used for the 1963 season. The P57 was also raced by privateer teams through 1965, the end of the 1.5 liter era.
The P578's design can be traced back to the Climax powered P57 (also called P48/P57) raced in 1961. The car's chassis, a tubular spaceframe, and suspension remained unchanged. The underpowed Coventry Climax engine was replaced with BRM's own V8, producing 190 horsepower. Also new for BRM was a Lucasfuel injection system. Although it produced about the same power as the Climax, BRM's unit revved up to 11,000 rpm, some 3,500 revolutions faster. Mounted to the back of the engine was Colotti's new 6 speed gearbox. However, reliability problems forced BRM to revert to their own, older specification 5 speed unit. The original eight exhausts were mounted vertically, but they were prone to working loose and were replaced by a more conventional horizontal layout.
Rising star Graham Hill was retained from previous seasons, while veteran Tony Brooks retired from Formula One. In his replacement was Richie Ginther, a young American coming off of a promising year with Ferrari. The season began with Hill taking a well deserved first victory at Zandvoort. The championship would prove to be a season long battle between Hill and Jim Clark, driving the revolutionary monocoqueLotus 25. Clark's Lotus was the faster, but Hill's BRM was the more reliable. Clark took 6 poles and 3 victories, but only finished in the points 4 times. Hill's BRM remarkably finished every race and won 3 of the last 4 races of the season in Germany, Italy, and South Africa on the way to his first championship. Ginther's year proved disappointing, taking just two podiums and retiring 4 times. Despite Ginther's underwhelming season, BRM outscored Lotus to take their only constructor's title.
In typical BRM fashion, a new model was not prepared in time for the 1963 season. To keep the P57 competitive, a 6 speed gearbox was mounted to the engine which also featured a new injection system. The first race of 1963 looked to be repeat of the previous year. Clark led from pole before the fragile Lotus broke, handing Hill his first of five Monaco Grand Prix victories. However, problems with the new gearbox forced Hill to retire from the next two Grands Prix while Clark trotted to 4 consecutive wins. Clark would also win 3 of the last 5 races and storm to the championship. Hill took another victory in the United States, but it was little consolation. In Germany and Italy, Hill drove BRM's new monocoque P61, but a plethora of issues forced BRM to revert to the P57. Hill and Ginther scored a combined 10 podiums, good for 2nd and 3rd in the driver's championship, while BRM's 29 points placed them behind only Lotus.
The P261 would permanently replace the P57 in 1964, but privateers such as Scuderia Centro Sud ran P57s until the end of 1965.