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generic F1/pre-F1 ladder questions, 1970s/1980s/1990s


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#1 noikeee

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 11:33

I'd like to spark some debate about my favourite era of F1, so I've come up with a lot of random questions that I'm curious about that period of the 1970s to 1990s, particularly the '80s. Being born in 1986 can't say I've experienced much of it live, but having spent my childhood obsessed with F1 reading tons of old magazines think I know a fair bit about it. However there are a lot of people here that have experienced it more closely, some with even insider access, and I'd love to know their opinion on many events and what-ifs:

Williams '89 '90

1. Williams having poached Renault as engine manufacturers, still got a few wins in 1989 and 1990 despite a driver lineup of Patrese-Boutsen (not poor of course, but not top drawer neither). Completely hypothetical, but could a Senna or a Prost have challenged for the world championship in that car those seasons already?

Renault '84 '85

2. Renault's results went completely downhill in 1984 and continued in 1985 then they decided to call it a day, without having won a world title despite much promise and genuine title challenges the previous few years. What was the reason for this sudden decline? Alain Prost's exit can't have helped, but was that the sole reason?

Pedro Lamy

3. What is the board's opinion on Pedro Lamy's talents? He was very promising in the feeder series having won Formula Open Lotus, German F3 and nearly the F3000 on his rookie year, but he didn't confirm that potential in F1. Common given reasons here in Portugal for this are a rushed early move to F1, and his 1994 testing accident. However most of what I find about him in international forums/websites is people poking fun at him for his double-spin at Adelaide. Wasted talent or never good enough to begin with?

Diogo Castro Santos

4. Another Portuguese driver that climbed the ladder together with Pedro Lamy was Diogo Castro Santos, who often shaded Pedro closely. Does anyone remember him, and why didn't he make it to F1?

Mike Thackwell

5. Mike is another driver that was given a very early F1 debut (I believe he had the record for youngest ever driver before Alguersuari?), yet after that isolated race never came back properly. Why? Another case of moved up too soon?

Pierluigi Martini

6. I believe he had a reputation for being a bit of a wild crasher in his first F1 stint in 84/85, but somehow made it back to F1 a few years later and became quite a good driver, famous for putting the Minardi on the front row in a weekend the Pirellis were particularly strong. Why did he never make the jump from Minardi to a better team? Was it the 84/85 reputation that haunted him, or was he never really that good enough?

Mika Hakkinen

7. Mika certainly made a name for himself when he was thrown in mid-season in McLaren in '93 outqualifying Senna, but what was the perception of Mika before that? He had a promising showing at Lotus but did people imagine they were looking at a future double world champion?

Minardi/Dallara/Scuderia Italia/Lola BMS '88 - '93

8. Apparently the "Scuderia Italia" guise wandered around Minardi, Dallara and the short-lived Lola of 1993. This is hugely confusing to me who I can't quite get my head around of who was operating what and who was building the chassis these years, because several of these teams raced simultaneously. Can anyone explain in a clear manner?

Lambo/Venturi/Lamborghini/Larrousse/Lola

9. Likewise the situation of Lamborghini confuses me. They flirted with a team briefly, but that wasn't a full works effort wasn't it? (it was awful). Didn't they move to Larrousse as engine suppliers only then? I believe Larrousse ran Lolas at a time and was branded Venturi at a point too, it's all a bit muddy in my brain.

Bernd Schneider

10. Bernd went to become a DTM legend but his F1 career was rather low-key and short-lived, in the chaos of 1989. Wrong place at the wrong time or never promising enough in open wheelers?

Tom Kristensen

11. Kristensen is a similar driver because he was in the F1 ladder and went on to become a Le Mans legend, the difference is he wasn't given a chance despite being a front-runner at F3000 I believe. Why didn't he make it, and was he linked to any teams?

Brabham '84-'89

12. Brabham taking a year off in 1988 to come back again in 1989 must be a very rare event. Many teams disappeared and came back again in different guises, but a year off is rather strange. Are there any other examples of this happening in the history of F1?

13. Brabham were in quick sharp decline in the previous years, from 1984's awful reliability defending Piquet's title onward. What were the reasons that contributed to this? Wrong tyre manufacturer choice in the Pirellis in 1985? The overly radical car design of 86? The psychological side-effects of Elio's death? Bernie's diminished interest as he focused more and more into leading the teams? A combination of all of this?

Nigel Mansell '85

14. Nigel has a very odd career in that you can look at a specific point where he completely turned it around from being a not-very-respected average driver, into a superstar. That was mid-season in 1985 with Williams when suddenly the car came good and he started hassling Keke Rosberg too. From that point he stayed at the top for nearly a decade. That is very strange. Any ideas on what made him click so suddenly and so long-lasting?

Motori Moderni

15. Minardi's early days were with engines branded "Motori Moderni", a company I haven't heard of since. Who were they and why were they involved in F1?

16. The first 2 Minardi races were with a Cosworth, were the Motori Moderni not ready yet?

McLaren '84

17. McLaren's dominance in 1984 was very sudden and Prost is known to have been very lucky to move at that point, that wasn't really out of choice with his relationship with Renault strained. Was there however any indication that the TAG Porsche engines would be so good, and what set them apart from the competition?

Ligier '79 - '82

18. Ligier's early success in 1979 is known to have surprised them, who found a ton of downforce and weren't certain why. Did they ever find out what made that car so good?

19. On the contrary the 1982 car was a massive flop and Ligier never recovered from that. Again, what was the reason for such a sudden decline, how did they manage to botch up the car so badly after 3 seasons at the front?

Suzuka

20. The now classic, universally lauded Suzuka circuit was introduced in F1 in 1987. The media focus must've been in the Piquet/Mansell title showdown that weekend instead, but what was the perception of the track at the time? Was it received well? What did the drivers think of it? Also F1 hadn't been in Asia for a decade, must've been quite a big deal for the teams?

Feel free to post even more questions too!

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#2 kayemod

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 11:38

Where do we start? All the rest of us manage to limit ourselves to one question at a time.

#3 noikeee

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 11:42

Well sorry, this is a bit over the top perhaps. I just kept thinking of more and more stuff and went over-enthusiastic. :)

#4 Michael Ferner

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 12:36

A lot of interesting questions! Perhaps it would've been wise to split them up into several threads?

I'll give the Portuguese drivers a first shot, as I remember them well from the time they raced in Germany. I always thought EXTREMELY highly of Pedro Lamy, and although Diogo ran him fairly close (and sometimes even clearly outran him), he didn't seem to be that focused. Anyhow, I believe Castro Santos finally called it a day because of family pressure (he was supposed to run the family business, iirc), while Lamy seemed to be on his way. I never really understood why he failed to make much of an impression in F1, though the accident can't have helped much. Sure enough, Lotus was not a road to instant stardom at the time, but even so he looked a bit out of his depth. Puzzled me at the time, and I'm sure I wasn't the only one thinking that way.

#5 Michael Ferner

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 12:45

1) I'd like to think yes, in that some drivers can make the difference, not only in driving ability but also in terms of motivation and direction they can give to a team. Prost and Senna certainly belonged into that category, and also Niki Lauda. Boutsen and Patrese were more than competent as drivers, but not enough of a leading force to make things happen outside of the ordinary. That Renault RS engine was pretty special from the start.

2) See above. With a driver like Lauda, who they tried really hard to get, I think Renault could've made it. But with Tambay and Warwick, good as they were, there was not enough "drive" to lead the team to success.

5) About Thackwell, there's already a lot available on this board. Try the search.

#6 Steve99

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 12:45

A lot of questions about a great era, and one very dear to me! I haven't the time to answer all, but will comment on Thackwell. Mike was a natural talent and could have been very, very good indeed, but it would appear that his heart wasn't into the sort of dedication required to succeed in F1. I believe he still runs a surf shop in Cornwall.



#7 jeffbee

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 12:46

[quote name='noikeee' date='Oct 23 2012, 11:33' post='5985906']
I'd like to spark some debate about my favourite era of F1, so I've come up with a lot of random questions that I'm curious about that period of the 1970s to 1990s, particularly the '80s. Being born in 1986 can't say I've experienced much of it live, but having spent my childhood obsessed with F1 reading tons of old magazines think I know a fair bit about it. However there are a lot of people here that have experienced it more closely, some with even insider access, and I'd love to know their opinion on many events and what-ifs:


Williams '89 '90

1. Williams having poached Renault as engine manufacturers, still got a few wins in 1989 and 1990 despite a driver lineup of Patrese-Boutsen (not poor of course, but not top drawer neither). Completely hypothetical, but could a Senna or a Prost have challenged for the world championship in that car those seasons already?



Renault '84 '85

2. Renault's results went completely downhill in 1984 and continued in 1985 then they decided to call it a day, without having won a world title despite much promise and genuine title challenges the previous few years. What was the reason for this sudden decline? Alain Prost's exit can't have helped, but was that the sole reason?

Pedro Lamy

3. What is the board's opinion on Pedro Lamy's talents? He was very promising in the feeder series having won Formula Open Lotus, German F3 and nearly the F3000 on his rookie year, but he didn't confirm that potential in F1. Common given reasons here in Portugal for this are a rushed early move to F1, and his 1994 testing accident. However most of what I find about him in international forums/websites is people poking fun at him for his double-spin at Adelaide. Wasted talent or never good enough to begin with?

Diogo Castro Santos

4. Another Portuguese driver that climbed the ladder together with Pedro Lamy was Diogo Castro Santos, who often shaded Pedro closely. Does anyone remember him, and why didn't he make it to F1?

Mike Thackwell

5. Mike is another driver that was given a very early F1 debut (I believe he had the record for youngest ever driver before Alguersuari?), yet after that isolated race never came back properly. Why? Another case of moved up too soon?

Pierluigi Martini

6. I believe he had a reputation for being a bit of a wild crasher in his first F1 stint in 84/85, but somehow made it back to F1 a few years later and became quite a good driver, famous for putting the Minardi on the front row in a weekend the Pirellis were particularly strong. Why did he never make the jump from Minardi to a better team? Was it the 84/85 reputation that haunted him, or was he never really that good enough?

Mika Hakkinen

7. Mika certainly made a name for himself when he was thrown in mid-season in McLaren in '93 outqualifying Senna, but what was the perception of Mika before that? He had a promising showing at Lotus but did people imagine they were looking at a future double world champion?

Minardi/Dallara/Scuderia Italia/Lola BMS '88 - '93

8. Apparently the "Scuderia Italia" guise wandered around Minardi, Dallara and the short-lived Lola of 1993. This is hugely confusing to me who I can't quite get my head around of who was operating what and who was building the chassis these years, because several of these teams raced simultaneously. Can anyone explain in a clear manner?

Lambo/Venturi/Lamborghini/Larrousse/Lola

9. Likewise the situation of Lamborghini confuses me. They flirted with a team briefly, but that wasn't a full works effort wasn't it? (it was awful). Didn't they move to Larrousse as engine suppliers only then? I believe Larrousse ran Lolas at a time and was branded Venturi at a point too, it's all a bit muddy in my brain.

Bernd Schneider

10. Bernd went to become a DTM legend but his F1 career was rather low-key and short-lived, in the chaos of 1989. Wrong place at the wrong time or never promising enough in open wheelers?

Tom Kristensen

11. Kristensen is a similar driver because he was in the F1 ladder and went on to become a Le Mans legend, the difference is he wasn't given a chance despite being a front-runner at F3000 I believe. Why didn't he make it, and was he linked to any teams?

Brabham '84-'89

12. Brabham taking a year off in 1988 to come back again in 1989 must be a very rare event. Many teams disappeared and came back again in different guises, but a year off is rather strange. Are there any other examples of this happening in the history of F1?

13. Brabham were in quick sharp decline in the previous years, from 1984's awful reliability defending Piquet's title onward. What were the reasons that contributed to this? Wrong tyre manufacturer choice in the Pirellis in 1985? The overly radical car design of 86? The psychological side-effects of Elio's death? Bernie's diminished interest as he focused more and more into leading the teams? A combination of all of this?

Nigel Mansell '85

14. Nigel has a very odd career in that you can look at a specific point where he completely turned it around from being a not-very-respected average driver, into a superstar. That was mid-season in 1985 with Williams when suddenly the car came good and he started hassling Keke Rosberg too. From that point he stayed at the top for nearly a decade. That is very strange. Any ideas on what made him click so suddenly and so long-lasting?

Motori Moderni

15. Minardi's early days were with engines branded "Motori Moderni", a company I haven't heard of since. Who were they and why were they involved in F1?

16. The first 2 Minardi races were with a Cosworth, were the Motori Moderni not ready yet?

McLaren '84

17. McLaren's dominance in 1984 was very sudden and Prost is known to have been very lucky to move at that point, that wasn't really out of choice with his relationship with Renault strained. Was there however any indication that the TAG Porsche engines would be so good, and what set them apart from the competition?

Ligier '79 - '82

18. Ligier's early success in 1979 is known to have surprised them, who found a ton of downforce and weren't certain why. Did they ever find out what made that car so good?

19. On the contrary the 1982 car was a massive flop and Ligier never recovered from that. Again, what was the reason for such a sudden decline, how did they manage to botch up the car so badly after 3 seasons at the front?

Suzuka

20. The now classic, universally lauded Suzuka circuit was introduced in F1 in 1987. The media focus must've been in the Piquet/Mansell title showdown that weekend instead, but what was the perception of the track at the time? Was it received well? What did the drivers think of it? Also F1 hadn't been in Asia for a decade, must've been quite a big deal for the teams?

Feel free to post even more questions too!

Well, let's have a go. However, this will be nothing more than a personal take on the points you've raised.

Williams Renault: The car was good and, to be honest, so were the drivers. Maybe Prost or Senna could have done a little better but to what extent is anyone's guess.

Renault: They failed for the same reason that Toyota were never going to be successful. The infrastructure was too big and cumbersome to enable the team to react quickly to what needed to be done. When board approval is needed before important steps are taken it's the already too late.

Pedro Lamy: He never struck me as being good enough to warrant a top class drive. I think he peaked on his way to F1. If he had been an exceptional talent someone would have noticed and he would have got another chance.

Diogo Castro Santos: I don't remember him.

Mike Thackwell: There is a thread on MK, which is well worth reading. He was an exceptional talent that ultimately decided there are more things to life than driving racing cars. This is, of course, an over simplification of what happened and I suggest you read the thread.

Pierluigi Martini: A journeyman driver that was lucky to get into F1. During his first spell, with Minardi, I remember the comment that he didn't appear to be fully commited. He went back to F3000 with some success and then came back to F1. That pole position was down to the tyres and nothing more. After leaving F1 I believe he won at Le Mans, and was probably more suited to that discipline.

Mika Hakkinen: Was Johnny Herbert's team mate at Lotus before moving to McLaren. They were pretty evenly matched at Lotus but Hakkinen was the younger man and a more serious individual. Everyone knew he was good but, speaking personally, I didn't realise how good he really was.

Minardi/Dallara/Scuderia Italia/Lola BMS '88 - '93: It was around this time that some people hinted that there were teams being funded by organisations that were interested in giving their money a good wash. Some teams struggled on but a distinct lack of money was the problem. I remember a comment in Autosport at the time that a feature of that period was the presence of loan sharks in the paddock!

Lambo/Venturi/Lamborghini/Larrousse/Lola: As above. To an outsider these teams seemed to be going through the motions with no real expectation of success. I'm sure that some of them were serious, at the start, but financial realities soon closed in.

Bernd Schneider: Wrong place & wrong time, but always unlikely to ever make it to the top. I think he reasoned that it's better to be a big fish in a small pool than the other way around.

Tom Kristensen: Ditto.

Brabham '84-'89: Bernie had other things on his mind and off loaded the team name to another company. It was Brabham in name only.


Nigel Mansell '85: Noige's rise to stardom was unexpected. On his way up he had looked distinctly average and I believe that Colin Chapman must have seen something that others missed. I think what made him click was self belief and finding himself in a car that suited his style and approach. Didn't stop him whinging though!

Motori Moderni: Carlo Chiti, former designer for Alfa and Ferrari, was Mr Motori Moderni. The idea was a commercial enterprise to sell a turbo unit to the private teams. It wasn't terribly successful or powerful and Alan Jones once teased chiti by asking if it was really a diesel.

McLaren '84: John Barnard, McLaren designer at the time, claimed that he was instrumental in the layout of the engine and that this enabled him to design a car that complimented it perfectly. It was, in effect, one of the first times that car and engine had been designed with each other in mind, rather than being two entities that meet up at the construction process.

Ligier '79 - '82: Early Ligiers were pretty successful but their designer left. J P Jabouille designed one of their cars but it was a disaster.

Suzuka: My take was that everyone like the place.























#8 Michael Ferner

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 13:03

17) Following on from above, having Prost and Lauda as drivers was probably the main reason for McLaren's reversal of fortune. Yes, the TAG engine turned out to be special, too, but Renault, Honda and sometimes Ferrari were on par most of the time. In the end, it was a combination of many things, as every so often, but having individuals like Ron Dennis, John Barnard, Hans Metzger, Prost and Lauda all pulling the same rope was pretty much a guarantee for success.

10) Schneider did well in F3, although at the time it was a bit difficult to put into perspective. The German F3 Championship had been running for several years without producing too much in terms of driving talent, and things were only just about to change. Schneider was also good in the lesser formulae, iirc, without being outstanding. I think he was unlucky in that he was pressured into a drive for Zakspeed, a German team that was going through a very difficult period at the time. He was certainly good enough for a Pierluigi Martini type of career, perhaps even a win or two. Not a world champion, though.

12) Only the Brabham name came back; it was a completely different team (although they used the former premises, iirc).

13) A combination of these things, yes. And, even though I was a huge fan of him, I don't think Elio's death had much to do with it. He was never at ease with the team, who took him on more in desperation than for his abilities. An unlucky marriage of convenience, at best.

#9 Michael Ferner

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 13:18

6) Martini was an example of someone getting pushed into F1 much, much too early. He showed a lot of talent in F3, but should have been given a year in F2 first - trouble was, at the time F2 was virtually dead, and soon to replaced by F3000. Had he come along a year or so later, the timing would've been better. Anyway, he redeemed himself in F3000, and deservedly got a second chance. Like many drivers, he could've become a decent frontrunner in a competitive car, but not a world champion, I guess.

7) Häkkinen was exceptionell in F3, but my first impression of him in F1 was disappointing - he was hardly keeping up with Herbert, who was good, yes, but I expected Mika to put him firmly in place, yet Johnny lapped Mika in one of the first races they ran as team mates. Häkkinen turned things around, however, and soon showed that he was going places. It was no surprise for me to see him winning the championship in '98, the only surprising thing was that it took him so long. And yes, there was a bit of concern that the long wait for his first GP win might have blunted his edge, but he was clearly better than Coulthard, and I won a lot of money by betting on him for the title! :grin:

#10 Steve99

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 13:30

Pierluigi Martini: A journeyman driver that was lucky to get into F1. During his first spell, with Minardi, I remember the comment that he didn't appear to be fully commited. He went back to F3000 with some success and then came back to F1. That pole position was down to the tyres and nothing more. After leaving F1 I believe he won at Le Mans, and was probably more suited to that discipline.



What pole position?

I think the above an entirely unfair depiction of Martini. I followed his career with great interest - as I did many drivers those days - and always considered him worthy of a better drive than any he ever attained. Far from a 'journeyman', he was very decent in F3 and F3000 and in endurance racing, and drove some fine races in F1. In an era where there were more cars than even qualifying positions (the 1990GP the above poster is thinking of, where Martini qualified a fine second in what was a very neat car, featured no fewer than 39 entries) it is easy to forget that comparing today's midfield runners and those in the mid-80'sis decidedly unfair.In the right car, Martini would have won races.

#11 Michael Ferner

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 13:39

8) I hope my recall is good enough for that, but from memory, Scuderia Italia was the name of the team run by Beppe Lucchini, and BMS-Dallara the name of the car. At the time, there were some strict rules about how a car could be designed and named, as it was no longer allowed to buy "customer cars". Since Dallara was a volume producer of customer cars in lower formulae, there had to be some sort of distinction in the design process, and hence the BMS-Dallara name to account for that. Similarly, the later car was named BMS-Lola, I think. Then Minardi and Scuderia Italia amalgamated for a short time, but by then I'd begun losing interest in these minutiae. Soon after followed by a complete loss of interest in Eff Won...

9) See above. The team was LC (for Gérard Larrousse and Didier Calmels), and the cars were LC-Lolas in the beginning. At one point, they fell foul of the design/name clause, and lost a lot of money as a result. I do not clearly remember the exact sequence, but Calmels was soon indicted for murdering his wife, and Larrousse soldiered on alone for a time. There was also a time of Japanese control over the team, and a cooperation with the French manufacturer Venturi. Details are hazy. This was not an altogether happy enterprise, although there were several talented people involved at times. Lack of direction, perhaps?

Lamborghini's "own" team was supposed to be GLAS, with Mexican money, but it never came to pass. Team Modena picked up the pieces, but not the tab it seems. Hopeless from the word go.

#12 D-Type

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 13:40

Too many questions for one thread.

#13 Michael Ferner

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 14:02

11) Kristensen, I think, had a huge accident at some point which spoiled his chances. I believe he did some testing, but was otherwise simply overlooked by the F1 teams at the time. Didn't help that he apparently didn't have financial backing, and as a Dane wasn't considered to be important for multinational concerns. Certainly a talented bloke, but whether he could've been successful in F1 is a totally hypothetical question, imho.

14) Ah, yes, Noige! Always a bit of a special character, wasn't he? I think most people saw that he had the talent, but few were prepared to tolerate his, shall we say, "moods". His special combination of self belief and determination had already been evident in F3 in the late seventies, but so had been his preponderance for whingeing. He and Colin Chapman had a special relationship from the beginning, but he was doomed at Lotus as soon as CC was gone. Personally, at the time I felt he'd deserved his place in F1, though I didn't see him as a future champion - not consistent enough, I always thought. I expected him to be a good number two at Williams, winning a race or two along the way (continuing the betting theme, he was the first driver I ever bet on, and the first I won money with :)), but I never expected him to blossom like he did in '86. But it wasn't a no-hoper suddenly becoming a superstar, more like a rough diamond finding the right environment.

#14 Michael Ferner

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 14:23

15) Motori Moderni was the company of Carlo Chiti, who had been head of Autodelta for many, many years (and before that at Ferrari's engine department). If memory serves me, Autodelta was either an independent company with exclusive contracts for Alfa Romeo, or partly owned by AR who were by then already (partly?) owned by the Italian government. Anyway, I think Autodelta was closed (or, at the very least, substantially downsized) due to an economical crisis in Italy, and Chiti decided to branch out on his own. Don't know what became of them, but Chiti was already pretty old by then.

16) Yes, I believe the MM engine wasn't ready yet.

18/19) I think you hit the nail on its head: nobody at Ligier seemed to understand what they'd done right with the JS11, the same way that nobody seemed to understand what they'd done wrong with the... JS19, was it? The JS11 and its subsequent developments were the only really successful cars the company ever built. Once that design was too old for further development, the whole effort went down the drain. It probably didn't help that Guy Ligier was, apparently, a little bit "temperamental", too. A nice little team that had its moments, but some thought it "too Gallic" at the time...

20) If I recall correctly, the circuit was praised by all and sundry, even though some found it to be a bit "too seventies" in regards to infrastructure and safety. A bit of Fuji revisited, only that Fuji had been "too sixties"... All in all, I think that adding Adelaide and Suzuka in the mid eighties did a lot of good for F1, and so did probably everybody else. And don't forget, it was the time of Honda's big effort, so it was only natural to have F1 in Japan. And the Japanese were VERY eager to have F1!

#15 BoschKurve

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 14:44

Peter Warr said in his autobiography that he was not high on Nigel, as he was prone to making too many idiot mistakes on the track.

The team in general preferred Elio de Angelis to Mansell, and it showed when they got the first of the turbo Renault engines. They only had one motor, and they opted to give it to Elio first instead of Mansell. The truth is, had it not been for the John Player sponsorship, Warr actually would have signed Senna to Lotus for 1984 as he thought very highly of Ayrton then. JPS wanted a British driver in one of the seats, which is the only reason Mansell even was at Lotus in 1984.

Mansell is a weird one. He had a bit of talent obviously, I just think he lucked out with better seats than he deserved. Had he been dumped by Lotus after the 1983 season, I think his career would have turned out a bit different.

#16 arttidesco

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 15:53

Williams did not poach Renault from anyone for the 1989 season, Renault had not been active in F1 since the 1986 season.

As for Nigel getting better seats than he deserved, once he was out of Warr's Lotus outfit I think he did extremely well up until he made the mistake of going to McLaren.

For my money I suspect Colin Chapman and Frank Williams saw the same thing in Nigel, some one who was prepared to work hard to make up for a few deficiencies in natural talent in the cockpit, and lets face it for all his faults including a dislike of testing, Nigel was never accused of driving anybody off the track to secure a championship in the same way as Peter Warrs talented if over rated favorite son.

Edited by arttidesco, 23 October 2012 - 20:56.


#17 BoschKurve

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 17:47

Williams did not paoch Renault from anyone for the 1989 season, Renault had not been active in F1 since the 1986 season.

As for Nigel getting better seats than he deserved, once he was out of Warr's Lotus outfit I think he did extremely well up until he made the mistake of going to McLaren.

For my money I suspect Colin Chapman and Frank Williams saw the same thing in Nigel, some one who was prepared to work hard to make up for a few deficiencies in natural talent in the cockpit, and lets face it for all his faults including a dislike of testing, Nigel was never accused of driving anybody off the track to secure a championship in the same way as Peter Warrs talented if over rated favorite son.


Don't forget to be consistent as Prost did the same thing to secure his 1989 championship.

He certainly enjoyed the benefits of a close relationship with Balestre.

But anyhow it is what it is.

#18 Michael Ferner

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 18:00

Don't forget to be consistent as Prost did the same thing to secure his 1989 championship.


Are you trying to rewrite history? I suggest you look again at what happened. Closing the door on someone who's trying to overtake is certainly not gentlemanlike, but I for one understood Prost's action in 1989 for a number of reasons which I don't feel like repeating here, and I haven't been given any reason in over twenty years to change my opinion. But to suggest that ramming someone off the road from behind at high speed is the "same thing" is stark nonsense!

Edited by Michael Ferner, 23 October 2012 - 18:01.


#19 D-Type

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 18:05

Don't forget to be consistent as Prost did the same thing to secure his 1989 championship.

He certainly enjoyed the benefits of a close relationship with Balestre.

But anyhow it is what it is.

Most definitely not the same thing. The main difference being that 1990 was a premeditated action.

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#20 BoschKurve

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 20:40

Are you trying to rewrite history? I suggest you look again at what happened. Closing the door on someone who's trying to overtake is certainly not gentlemanlike, but I for one understood Prost's action in 1989 for a number of reasons which I don't feel like repeating here, and I haven't been given any reason in over twenty years to change my opinion. But to suggest that ramming someone off the road from behind at high speed is the "same thing" is stark nonsense!


Too many people try to view 1990 as some sort of isolated incident. Prost and Balestre had a hand in what happened in 1990 due to 1989's DQ. Then there was the changing of pole position in 1990 to the opposite side of the track. If you got screwed out of one world championship, and the same person responsible for that had stacked the deck against you the following year, do tell me, how would you react? Actually, better yet, what would you do? Is there even any recourse against the FIA President? Sure you can appeal, but that's another stacked deck too. I'm actually serious, I would love to hear what the alternative would be for a driver in general in such a circumstance.

#21 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 20:45

Some good questions here, and although I'm probably covering the same ground as others, here's what I can add.

1. Williams; Probably, yes, but bear in mind a couple of things about the 1989/1990 season for Williams - Frank Dernie and Neil Oatley, part of the four who along with Head and Williams had been so instrumental in their success post 1979 were no longer there, so there was a state of both internal change, plus the reliability of the car overall was still an issue. I don't think it would've happened as, at that particular stage, Williams was not right for Senna or Prost, and Senna certainly, and probably Prost, were not right for Williams. Certainly not in 1989, anyway.

2. Renault; Lack of real backing from the main parent company, who were focused on other challenges, including engine supply, meant less and less development and funding for the team. Lack of success never helps attract the drivers who would turn that around, so it's a downward spiral.

3. Lamy; Here was a talent I was excited about, who did very well in F3000. Too early for F1? Possibly, but a lack of seats in 1995 (had that been his first year) wouldn't have helped his cause long-term. Why didn't he succeed? Well, don't forget that before his testing crash, he was involved in the crash with JJ Lehto that killed a spectator at Imola. Lamy was hurt in the incident and although not too serious, this wasn't helped by a MONUMENTAL crash at Silverstone. It really was horrific - trying to imagine how that car could've ended in the passenger tunnel there is very difficult. Some drivers come back from a near-life-ending crash.. others don't, and Lamy didn't, sadly.

6. Martini; should've bided his time and stayed in F3000 for longer and long-term it always put doubts in people's minds. What he achieved in the Minardi was phenomal, but bar 1989-1990, he didn't truly deliver consistently, and if in 1991, you are looking at a talent to put in a good car - do you go for a young hotshoe from F3000, a guy who's done well in a short space of time, or someone who's been in F1 on/off for 7 years? Plus - and this is a minor, but crucial, thing - Martini's English is quite poor - not attractive to a then increasingly more aware media and sponsor-driven sport. The same did for Takagi 8 years later.

7. Hakkinen; a race winner, yes. World Champion material? I would say by around 1991 the likes of Wendlinger, Lehto, Schumacher etc. were flying high with good reputations and Hakkinen did a very tidy job in a decent Lotus. But the doubts remained over a couple of things - Hakkinen's somewhat impatient and petulant temperment, which was particuarly evident in F3 and race-craft. The speed was there, so was the drive - but the awareness, the race thinking and clear head to progress? Not quite. Don't forget, he took an age to score his first win and even in 1995/1996 were there doubts about World Champion material.

10. Schneider; Bit unlucky that F1 wasn't longer and fairer, but never a World Champion in the making. His lower formulae results didn't really mark him out to be a truly outstanding talent and really DTM was always ever going to be his niche. Deserved better than the career he did have though.

11. I like Kristensen immensely and I'll always argue that he was one of the best drivers never to make it to F1. But at the same token, the reason he didn't was down to a few things - one, his lower formulae results were good, but not really "oh my goodness, this is amazing", but also because at the time he would have made the elevation up, there were a increased lack of opportunities - and to be honest, there were either more talented, or richer newcomers to fit the few seats spare. I think the latter, as Tom never had much of a budget, was more telling.

14. Mansell; sometimes driver confidence can change everything - look at Hakkinen - finally got a win in 1997 and never looked back, Button too took an age to get going, but his first win changed him. Mansell will always be a polarising figure but he had two things going for him - raw speed and immense bravery. All it ever needed was a good quality car and a team manager who believed in him. Peter Warr famously didn't, and with Mansell perhaps feeling that he had the support to go further at Williams, strove to better himself and all of the above is why it clicked. I think average driver is a bit harsh - he was always slightly better than average due to the bravery and speed... it was just channelling it correctly.

Edited by Richard Jenkins, 23 October 2012 - 20:47.


#22 arttidesco

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 20:50

Don't forget to be consistent as Prost did the same thing to secure his 1989 championship.

He certainly enjoyed the benefits of a close relationship with Balestre.

But anyhow it is what it is.



To be fair and consistent let's not forget Prost's team mate had form repeatedly running into the back of his closest title challenger before he joined the big boys at the top table of the sport, and what ever the Prost / Balestre relationship was, there is simply no excuse for repeatedly hitting competitors from behind, except maybe in NASCAR where there is or was a have at 'em policy, moaning Noige didn't do it, nor prankster Piquet or any other competitor until Damon Hill became a target in Australia.

But as you suggest it was what it was :smoking:

#23 Tim Murray

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 20:51

Then there was the changing of pole position in 1990 to the opposite side of the track.

The position of the pole wasn't changed - it stayed where it had been at every previous Suzuka GP. Senna asked for it to be moved, but his request was turned down. It was moved the following year.

#24 E.B.

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 20:51

Then there was the changing of pole position in 1990 to the opposite side of the track.


You sure? I thought Senna's complaint was that they DIDN'T change it to the other side of the track.





#25 KWSN - DSM

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 21:01

About Tom Kristensen he did have an offer for half a season with Minardi, which would be free of charge. He said thanked no, as he wanted a guarantee for a full season. He was as far as I recall the test driver for Tyrrel in their last season, not sure if that ever got him any tracktime.

And he spend a season in a Williams doing tire testing for Michelin before they returned.

:cool:

#26 Slurp1955

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 21:04

Mansell is a weird one. He had a bit of talent obviously, I just think he lucked out with better seats than he deserved. Had he been dumped by Lotus after the 1983 season, I think his career would have turned out a bit different.


You need more than "a bit of talent" to win 31 Grand Prix :cool:

#27 arttidesco

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 21:11

You sure? I thought Senna's complaint was that they DIDN'T change it to the other side of the track.


Prost did indeed start from second in both the 1989 and 1990 Japanese GPs he was on the outside in 1989 and on the outside for 1990.

Edited by arttidesco, 23 October 2012 - 21:12.


#28 noikeee

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 22:28

Thanks all. I do realize this was a bit too much but was more looking to spark debate into my fav era of F1 and satisfy my curiosity, rather than research on any particular subject.

We could do without revisiting Suzuka 89/90 though.

1. Williams; Probably, yes, but bear in mind a couple of things about the 1989/1990 season for Williams - Frank Dernie and Neil Oatley, part of the four who along with Head and Williams had been so instrumental in their success post 1979 were no longer there, so there was a state of both internal change, plus the reliability of the car overall was still an issue. I don't think it would've happened as, at that particular stage, Williams was not right for Senna or Prost, and Senna certainly, and probably Prost, were not right for Williams. Certainly not in 1989, anyway.


I know they didn't have the momentum at the time to hire a Prost or a Senna after a rather poor 88 season, was just wondering about whether the car itself was that far back compared to McLaren. Possibly there wasn't that much there separating them.

2. Renault; Lack of real backing from the main parent company, who were focused on other challenges, including engine supply, meant less and less development and funding for the team. Lack of success never helps attract the drivers who would turn that around, so it's a downward spiral.


Bit strange they had a lack of backing though after winning so many races and obviously generating good PR through the developing of turbo engines etc. Maybe had Prost won 83 that would've changed the picture completely.

3. Lamy; Here was a talent I was excited about, who did very well in F3000. Too early for F1? Possibly, but a lack of seats in 1995 (had that been his first year) wouldn't have helped his cause long-term. Why didn't he succeed? Well, don't forget that before his testing crash, he was involved in the crash with JJ Lehto that killed a spectator at Imola. Lamy was hurt in the incident and although not too serious, this wasn't helped by a MONUMENTAL crash at Silverstone. It really was horrific - trying to imagine how that car could've ended in the passenger tunnel there is very difficult. Some drivers come back from a near-life-ending crash.. others don't, and Lamy didn't, sadly.


Yeah but he seemed underwhelming in the small time before the huge testing shunt, wasn't he several full seconds behind Herbert in his debut qualy session at Monza? This is what I don't get, I know he was thrown at the deep end but after so much promise being that slow was bizarre. Then the shunts can't have helped the momentum. Maybe had he the benefit of a stable environment, after all as you say Hakkinen was lapped by Herbert at the beginning of his career...

6. Martini; should've bided his time and stayed in F3000 for longer and long-term it always put doubts in people's minds. What he achieved in the Minardi was phenomal, but bar 1989-1990, he didn't truly deliver consistently, and if in 1991, you are looking at a talent to put in a good car - do you go for a young hotshoe from F3000, a guy who's done well in a short space of time, or someone who's been in F1 on/off for 7 years? Plus - and this is a minor, but crucial, thing - Martini's English is quite poor - not attractive to a then increasingly more aware media and sponsor-driven sport. The same did for Takagi 8 years later.


I didn't know about his lack of English skills, that is interesting, thanks.

Edited by noikeee, 23 October 2012 - 22:28.


#29 noikeee

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 22:38

Renault: They failed for the same reason that Toyota were never going to be successful. The infrastructure was too big and cumbersome to enable the team to react quickly to what needed to be done. When board approval is needed before important steps are taken it's the already too late.


This seems like a more plausible explanation for it going wrong, thanks.

Pedro Lamy: He never struck me as being good enough to warrant a top class drive. I think he peaked on his way to F1. If he had been an exceptional talent someone would have noticed and he would have got another chance.


Peaked before F1, I don't think so. I think he was 21 at the time of his first GP? In that era most drivers got their chance several years older in the mid-20s.

Mike Thackwell: There is a thread on MK, which is well worth reading. He was an exceptional talent that ultimately decided there are more things to life than driving racing cars. This is, of course, an over simplification of what happened and I suggest you read the thread.


Thanks, will search for it.

Pierluigi Martini: A journeyman driver that was lucky to get into F1. During his first spell, with Minardi, I remember the comment that he didn't appear to be fully commited. He went back to F3000 with some success and then came back to F1. That pole position was down to the tyres and nothing more. After leaving F1 I believe he won at Le Mans, and was probably more suited to that discipline.


Bit harsh, surely someone with some success at F3000 level deserved a F1 go.

Brabham '84-'89: Bernie had other things on his mind and off loaded the team name to another company. It was Brabham in name only.


Well I'm a bit surprised as I had no idea it was a completely different operation. Nevertheless still an odd situation.

Nigel Mansell '85: Noige's rise to stardom was unexpected. On his way up he had looked distinctly average and I believe that Colin Chapman must have seen something that others missed. I think what made him click was self belief and finding himself in a car that suited his style and approach. Didn't stop him whinging though!


It was strange because he hadn't been anything particularly special for years already at F1 level yet suddenly, bang, always at the front.

Motori Moderni: Carlo Chiti, former designer for Alfa and Ferrari, was Mr Motori Moderni. The idea was a commercial enterprise to sell a turbo unit to the private teams. It wasn't terribly successful or powerful and Alan Jones once teased chiti by asking if it was really a diesel.


:lol:

It seems like these private engine builders never really had much success apart from Cosworth. I also remember Hart and Ilmor but they never were at the top end of the grid.

McLaren '84: John Barnard, McLaren designer at the time, claimed that he was instrumental in the layout of the engine and that this enabled him to design a car that complimented it perfectly. It was, in effect, one of the first times that car and engine had been designed with each other in mind, rather than being two entities that meet up at the construction process.


That's very interesting, thanks.

Ligier '79 - '82: Early Ligiers were pretty successful but their designer left. J P Jabouille designed one of their cars but it was a disaster.


Wait, what, Jabouille the driver? :eek:

Drivers designing cars must be an extremely rare thing in the modern era, surely?


#30 D-Type

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 22:40

Thanks all. I do realize this was a bit too much but was more looking to spark debate into my fav era of F1 and satisfy my curiosity, rather than research on any particular subject.

~


I don't understand what you mean by "spark debate". If you ask 20 questions at once it is impossible to discuss any of them at depth or debate any one of them, if there is anything to debate. At best you'll get brief "sound bites" of opinion and because they are brief you won't get the full picture. If you really want to know about something it's far better to raise it as a single topic or as one of a few related ones.

#31 D-Type

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 22:43

It seems like these private engine builders never really had much success apart from Cosworth. I also remember Hart and Ilmor but they never were at the top end of the grid.


Wasn't the "Mercedes Benz" F1 engine designed and developed by Ilmor?

#32 noikeee

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 22:43

8) I hope my recall is good enough for that, but from memory, Scuderia Italia was the name of the team run by Beppe Lucchini, and BMS-Dallara the name of the car. At the time, there were some strict rules about how a car could be designed and named, as it was no longer allowed to buy "customer cars". Since Dallara was a volume producer of customer cars in lower formulae, there had to be some sort of distinction in the design process, and hence the BMS-Dallara name to account for that. Similarly, the later car was named BMS-Lola, I think. Then Minardi and Scuderia Italia amalgamated for a short time, but by then I'd begun losing interest in these minutiae. Soon after followed by a complete loss of interest in Eff Won...

9) See above. The team was LC (for Gérard Larrousse and Didier Calmels), and the cars were LC-Lolas in the beginning. At one point, they fell foul of the design/name clause, and lost a lot of money as a result. I do not clearly remember the exact sequence, but Calmels was soon indicted for murdering his wife, and Larrousse soldiered on alone for a time. There was also a time of Japanese control over the team, and a cooperation with the French manufacturer Venturi. Details are hazy. This was not an altogether happy enterprise, although there were several talented people involved at times. Lack of direction, perhaps?

Lamborghini's "own" team was supposed to be GLAS, with Mexican money, but it never came to pass. Team Modena picked up the pieces, but not the tab it seems. Hopeless from the word go.


I'm no less confused. :drunk: :lol: But thanks.

#33 noikeee

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 22:49

I don't understand what you mean by "spark debate". If you ask 20 questions at once it is impossible to discuss any of them at depth or debate any one of them, if there is anything to debate. At best you'll get brief "sound bites" of opinion and because they are brief you won't get the full picture. If you really want to know about something it's far better to raise it as a single topic or as one of a few related ones.


Fair enough.

Wasn't the "Mercedes Benz" F1 engine designed and developed by Ilmor?


I think they were yes, but surely far better funded now they were given the Mercedes tag, I assume?

#34 Zippel

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 22:58

1. Williams having poached Renault as engine manufacturers, still got a few wins in 1989 and 1990 despite a driver lineup of Patrese-Boutsen (not poor of course, but not top drawer neither). Completely hypothetical, but could a Senna or a Prost have challenged for the world championship in that car those seasons already?


There's a story that Boutsen felt the only way to drive the 90 Williams was the suspension set-up being as rigid as possible, when Mansell first tested the car at Paul Ricard he tried out this set-up and couldn't believe anyone could drive a car that way. So he set the car up the way he wanted soften the suspension, etc and end up almost 4 seconds faster than Bousten's best qualifying time that year. Not sure how much is true but from memory this all comes from Peter Windsor in F1racing mag, the Mansell bio and the Frank Williams book.

Edited by Zippel, 23 October 2012 - 22:59.


#35 ebeneezer2

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 23:45

Williams 89:

If you look at the qualifying lap times from the 1989, the gap from Mclaren to Williams does vary a bit, at Hungary Patrese took pole, at Suzuka it was almost 3 seconds, generally it seems to be about 2 seconds. In 1990, it's about 1.5 seconds. Senna and Prost were better than Boutsen and Patrese but I'm sure they weren't that much better, so I'd say no, the Williams was a significantly worse car than the Mclaren.

Lamy:

Quite a few factors here. The accident, yes, also Lotus was a shambles at that point and might have been more focussed on Herbert. But there are a few drivers that looked good in F1 or on the ladder before the '95 season, then looked rather ordinary afterwards. For example, Herbert, Katayama (a star of the 94 season), Salo, Badoer, Moreno (excellent in F3000, but roughly even alongside Diniz at Forti in 95), and Lamy. Notice these are all small drivers...at the start of the 95 season lighter drivers had to carry ballast to neutralise their weight advantage. It's late, I'm tired, haven't got time to check how much of advantage that might have been in lap time before that, might be a factor though!

Castro Santos:

I remember seeing something in Autosport saying he was abandoning his racing career and going to try and take up golf instead, don't know how he got on with that!

Hakkinen:

He and Herbert were pretty evenly matched in 91 and 92, at the time I think both were seen as stars of the future. It's one of those odd matchups that doesn't really make sense in the context of the rest of their careers. I've already mentioned my drivers' weight theory....

Schneider:

We never really got to find out if he was particularly good or bad at F1, he had such weak opportunities. There was no reason for teams to think he was worth taking on over a decent midfielder or pay driver, which is probably why he went for touring cars and dropped off the F1 radar. I think it's only since seeing how well he did in those that you could suggest he might have been a lost talent.

Kristensen:

Not sure I'd agree with Richard Jenkins on him. In F3000 he was always right at the front, against people like Zonta and Montoya, despite driving for appalling teams compared to them. I'd say that was seriously impressive. He did do quite a lot of testing for Williams between about 1998 and 2001 I think, in that period they hired Ralf Schumacher, Zanardi, Button, Montoya and almost Junquiera. Not bad drivers, but Williams must have had a very good idea how good TK was compared to them and decided not to take him.

Mansell:

I agree, it's strange! There was an interesting argument published in Autosport a few months ago between two of their journos about that question. One point I remember was that Mansell's qualifying record at Lotus versus De Angelis was actually better after Peter Warr took over than before! I guess team mate comparisons aren't the be all and end all of rating drivers (e.g. Hakkinen and Herbert)


#36 ebeneezer2

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 23:51

There's a story that Boutsen felt the only way to drive the 90 Williams was the suspension set-up being as rigid as possible, when Mansell first tested the car at Paul Ricard he tried out this set-up and couldn't believe anyone could drive a car that way. So he set the car up the way he wanted soften the suspension, etc and end up almost 4 seconds faster than Bousten's best qualifying time that year. Not sure how much is true but from memory this all comes from Peter Windsor in F1racing mag, the Mansell bio and the Frank Williams book.


I vaguely remember hearing something about Mansell being quicker in the test than the regular drivers, but 4 seconds....bearing in mind how close Mansell and Patrese were in 1991, and how close Boutsen and Patrese were in 1990, and that you've partly attributed that story to Peter Windsor, I'd say that's bollocks!

#37 BoschKurve

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 00:01

Wasn't the "Mercedes Benz" F1 engine designed and developed by Ilmor?


Yes...it was a rebadged Illmor engine that had Merc valve covers on it.

#38 arttidesco

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 02:45

"When Thierry came to us he had a complete bug in his head about running an incredibly stiff car, he'd come from Benetton where he had a very stiff car and perhaps we'd have done better with him if he hadn't insisted on such a stiff set-up. The problem was that he didn't like to have any roll in the car. To be fair, most drivers think they know the best way to go on set-up.

But he won three good races in the wet at Montreal and Adelade, and an impressive win in Hungary. Ayrton Senna was all over him for most of that race and Thierry never made a single mistake, which was remarkable and showed just what a very tidy driver he was. That was a clever drive"

Patrick Head, Motor Sport, Volume 88, Number 6, Page 100

#39 seldo

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 03:48

Yes...it was a rebadged Illmor engine that had Merc valve covers on it.

And lots of Merc money in it....

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#40 MrAerodynamicist

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 10:20

And lots of Merc money in it....

To the point they eventually bought the company. There was a period of minorty ownership along with Illien, Morgan & Penske. In 2002 they took a 55% stake and renamed it Mercedes-Ilmor. In 2005 they took sole ownership and it became Mercedes High Performance Engines (now Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains). In 2006 the non-F1 part was bought back by Illien and Penske to revive the Ilmor name.

When you consider the pace of development in the late 90s and 00s, I doubt much of the Ilmor branded engine survived long in to the Mercedes funded engines.

Edited by MrAerodynamicist, 24 October 2012 - 10:20.


#41 Phil Rainford

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 18:02

Nigel Mansell '85

14. Nigel has a very odd career in that you can look at a specific point where he completely turned it around from being a not-very-respected average driver, into a superstar. That was mid-season in 1985 with Williams when suddenly the car came good and he started hassling Keke Rosberg too. From that point he stayed at the top for nearly a decade. That is very strange. Any ideas on what made him click so suddenly and so long-lasting?


I don't think you can ever go from being an average driver to a superstar ....Mansell's ability/skill must have always been there but as you say the 85 season was when it came bubbling to the surface.

For me the true measure of his ability was when he went from F1 World Champion to Indy Car Champion.........that is no average driver

Thanks for the questions :up:

PAR



#42 noikeee

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 20:38

I didn't mean average in a terribly derogatory way but by 84 most people probably wouldn't name Mansell in their top 10 (or only just in their top 10), and he'd had a few seasons in midfield cars to show his worth, more than many other drivers with better pre-F1 results.

Obviously he still had a lot of potential talent untapped however as the next decade would show.

#43 E.B.

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 21:48

Taking off the glasses of hindsight, at the start of 1984 the British driver that seemed poised on the threshold of great success was Derek Warwick, possibly to be succeeded in later years by Brundle.

Mansell was clearly quick on his day, but somehow unconvincing - my view at the time of Mansell's prospects weren't too far removed from Peter Warr's. My excuse is that I was 11 years old. I wonder what Peter's was?




#44 Paolo

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 12:05

Many fine points of debate, but following so many of them at once is confusing, I gave up at post 4.