Monday, 8 October 2012

The Evolution of the Formula 1 Team

Use(ful/less) Formula 1 information.
I'm writing this information from memory so forgive me if it is not 100% correct. I was writing a bit of  this on my facebook page and decided to do a blog about the evolution of Formula 1 teams.
Towards the end of the 1960s Ken Tyrell ran privately entered Matra and March Formula 1 cars with Jackie Stewart in the cockpit. Jackie Stewart won the drivers world championship in 1969 in a Matra entered by Ken Tyrell. It was powered by a Cosworth DFV engine. Matra wanted to run their own engine program and so Ken Tyrrell, having a lot more faith in Ford Cosworth, decided to run his own team. Tyrrell won the double, Drivers and Constructors, in 1971. It turned out to be Tyrell's one and only Constructors championship win with Jackie Stewart taking his 2nd Drivers title. Stewart's final title came in 1973 for Tyrrell and he retired at the end of the season. Tyrrell stayed in Formula 1 and sold his team to British American Tobacco around 1997. It had one more season as Tyrrell in 1998 before changing it's name to British American Racing. From 1999 it had former world champion Jacques Villeneuve at the wheel. They never won a Championship with him. Eventually Honda and Jenson Button came on stream. As car manufacturers started to invest more in the sport of Formula 1 racing, Honda invested enough that they were able to take over and eventually rename the team. So BAR became BAR Honda and eventually just Honda. In 2008 economic conditions were in decline and Honda had "My Earth Dream" logo on it's cars, without any major sponsors. It decided to pull out of the sport altogether before the 2009 season as a result. The cars were essentially already built, such was the lateness of Honda's withdrawal. Former Ferrari man Ross Brawn took over the team and they bacame the Brawn Formula 1 team. They decided to modify the back of the cars so that Mercedes engines could be put in them. This wasn't the only thing about the back. They exploited a loophole in new diffuser regulations to give their car better downforce, and so better cornering speeds. This was already done while Honda were still involved. So with experienced campaigners Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello, they took their 1 and only Drivers (Button) and Constructors Championship. Brawn subsequently sold the team to Mercedes who dropped the Brawn name. With Button gone to McLaren, Michael Schumacher was coaxed out of retirement and Nico Rosberg replaced Barrichello. Mercedes eventually added its AMG brand to the team and that is how the current Mercedes evolved from Tyrrell.
In 1984 a certain Ayrton Senna made his Formula1 debut with the Toleman team. He almost won the rain-soaked Monaco Grand Prix that year but it was Red Flagged early due to the conditions and Alain Prost was awarded it. Senna went to Lotus the following year and eventually Benetton took over Toleman. They won races with the likes of Gerhard Berger and Nelson Piquet. But they did not taste World Championship success until Michael Schumacher took the drivers titles in 1994 and '95. They had Ford power in '94 and won the Constructors in '95 with Renault power. Renault pulled out of Formula 1 in 1998 but continued selling engines to Formula 1 teams. Eventually  they returned as an official engine supplier and invested back in the Benetton team. They invested enough to change the name to Renault after that and won titles in 2005 and 2006 with Fernando Alonso. Alonso left for Mclaren and returned after a year and left again to join Ferrari but apart from the odd race win, no more titles came and Renault again pulled out. The Renault name stayed with the team for a couple of more years. In the meantime a  team owned by Malaysian Tony Fernandes started a new Lotus team. The rights to the name and the road car company were under different ownership and Fernandes bought the Lotus name. The owners of the Lotus car manufacturers had invested in the current Renault formula 1 team and wanted to have Lotus as their team name as well. After lots of legal wrangling Lotus changed it's name to Caterham and the former Renault team now took over the Lotus name. Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean are the current drivers, both returning to Formula 1 after absence. That is how the modern Lotus team evolved from the original Toleman team, which Senna left to join the original Lotus team ironically...!.
I'll do something similar with Minardi and Jordan in the future.
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