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Hesketh 308 - a World Championship winner?


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#1 MarkWill

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Posted 15 May 2006 - 22:54

Hi,

I just re-read the Biography that Gerald Donaldson wrote about James Hunt, and it occurred to me- was the Hesketh 308 ever a world-championship winner? Or was it just the team doing the right job, and having a good string of luck?

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#2 Barry Boor

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Posted 15 May 2006 - 22:59

One championship race, in Holland; but never a World Championship winner.

Or have I misunderstood your question?

#3 petefenelon

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 02:37

I'll turn this on its head and say that the Hesketh 308 was to some extent son-of Hesketh's Postlethwaite-developed March 721G/731. And had March built 721G at the start of the '72 season instead of faffing around with the dreadful 721X, maybe Ronnie and Niki could've done something good with it...

And the Wolf WR1 is son-of 308, and with a bit more luck that could have been a championship winning car.

So there's a lot of good DNA in that particular bloodline, but the cosmos wasn't quite aligned right for Master James to win a title in 308.

#4 philippe charuest

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 16:20

its just that in the seventies the aerodynamic was crude and aprroximative, the ratio downforce /drag was very poor. so the narrow track-bulk nose school cars were very competitive at least they had a good cx and there was still some fast track then

#5 Stephen W

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 18:19

Originally posted by MarkWill
Hi,

I just re-read the Biography that Gerald Donaldson wrote about James Hunt, and it occurred to me- was the Hesketh 308 ever a world-championship winner? Or was it just the team doing the right job, and having a good string of luck?


In answer to your questions:

1) NO

2) Not particularly

The Hesketh was part of the Cosworth/Hewland kit car generation and anyone with that combination in the back and a half decent design for the chassis always had a chance.

Hunt at that stage of his career was a bit hit or miss (just ask Dave Morgan!); the move to McLaren concentrated his talents and made him the deserved champion.

If the Hesketh team hadn't wasted so much money and directed their undoubted talents correbtly they might well have won the world championship; on the other hand they probably wouldn't have had as much fun!

:eek:

#6 hyperbolica

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 18:46

Originally posted by Stephen W
If the Hesketh team hadn't wasted so much money and directed their undoubted talents correbtly they might well have won the world championship;


I doubt it. After all, they were up against Lotus, McLaren, Tyrrell, Ferrari. It was a tall order for a kit car privateer to win the chamionship.

The races I went to where Hunt took part in the 308 you kept an eye on him, but not much more; the reason was that Hunt might one day do well -- as he eventually did. For the opposite reason, around the same time, you still also kept on eye on drivers like Graham Hill or Chris Amon -- they were racers who had actually done well in the past.

#7 MarkWill

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 22:10

I see that the 308E and the WR1 look quite similar, but the 308C was a really different fish, and thats the one that I was on about - driven by Mr. Hunt of course. As someone said - sometimes it was fast, and others it really wasn`t, so I wonder what the difference was down to?

#8 brooster51

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Posted 17 May 2006 - 02:27

Setting aside Lord Hesketh's unquenchable thirst for Dom Perignon, were Hesketh really that much different than Tyrrell? Small team, more than adequate chassis, and a good designer. I mean after all, Tyrrell's were built and run out of a lumber shed. One big obvious difference was JYS and 6-7 years.

Just a thought.

#9 MarkWill

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Posted 17 May 2006 - 03:12

Didn`t Tyrell differ in that it had Matra backing (or something similar) and a darned good sponsor (ELF)? I guess that the environment might have been similar in that one worked in a stable, and the other a lumber shed. Its an interesting thought actually - perhaps they were the authentic underdog/sportsmen of their time? That being said, I have no idea how Bubbles recognized the talent he had, and made it work (the Hesketh team looked like that most glorious - and sadly past - of things, namely a "jolly good wheeze" for its owner). Its all rather british, and I have to admit to a dose of "boys own" type pride from what I have read about Hesketh, Tyrrell and their lot. There seems to be a general feeling that the Hesketh team was fun, but I haven`t seen much corrobarative evidence, aside from the Dom P.

#10 brooster51

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Posted 17 May 2006 - 05:45

I think thhe Matra connection pretty well ended when Tyrrell was told that if they wanted Matra chassis, they'd have to use Matra engines. And you are right, they did continue to get a ton of support from ELF and I think they also got a ton of support from Goodyear (free tires, 'tire testing', etc. rather than large gobs of cash). They were also on the preferred list for Ford/Cosworths (equals among equals) and probably got some money there too.
My point is if you look at the operational environment that the Hesketh was built and developed in, it really wasn't that much different than Tyrrell. Obviously what was different was Tyrrell was very serious where the party atmosphere of Hesketh got in the way both financially and in terms of the operational program. Was Lord Hesketh's bank account enough to overcome auto racing network that Tyrrell and JYS had, we'll never really know. Or would the Lord finally gotten 'serious'.
But from what I've read/seen, Harvey Postlethwaite may well have been a better designer than Derek Gardner. Both cars were simple, reasonably robust, aero efficient for their time, and each had some innovation. Both were built by small teams: Tyrrell in a lumber barn and, if I remember the story right, a run-down garage on the Lord's property somewhere. So why would the Tyrrell be a world champion car in comparison to the Hesketh? Perhaps it was JYS (three years or so in rated F1 team BRM) vs. Hunt the Shunt (really little or no F1 experience when).

#11 brooster51

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Posted 17 May 2006 - 05:52

I apologize, I really didn't directly respond to your posting. I sort of got off on a rather controlled rant. I seem to always want to stand behind the small team/under dog. I truly miss the time when a Hesketh could show up at a race and compete. No 48 million Euro down payment, no 300 employees, no redundant full-time test teams, etc.

#12 petefenelon

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Posted 17 May 2006 - 08:14

Originally posted by MarkWill
I see that the 308E and the WR1 look quite similar, but the 308C was a really different fish, and thats the one that I was on about - driven by Mr. Hunt of course. As someone said - sometimes it was fast, and others it really wasn`t, so I wonder what the difference was down to?


308C was, I'm afraid, an utter dog in both Hesketh and Wolf-Williams (FW05) incarnations!

308/308B was a nice car.;)

#13 ian senior

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Posted 17 May 2006 - 08:22

Originally posted by Stephen W


If the Hesketh team hadn't wasted so much money and directed their undoubted talents correbtly they might well have won the world championship; on the other hand they probably wouldn't have had as much fun!

:eek:


I'm not sure that I believe this. Yes, the Hesketh team were always up for fun and conspicuous displays of wealth, but I still regarded them as serious contenders. Harvey Postlethwaite had all the right credentials - don't forget the Hesketh take on the March 731 went better than the works effort, and there was a very capable team manager in the ample shape of Bubbles Horsley pulling the whole thing together.

#14 Mallory Dan

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Posted 17 May 2006 - 14:12

Originally posted by petefenelon


308C was, I'm afraid, an utter dog in both Hesketh and Wolf-Williams (FW05) incarnations!

308/308B was a nice car.;)


Don't fully agree Pete. It scored some points towards the end of 75, so, although we know Hunt was pretty good at that time, it wasn't a complete dog. Only when SFW got his mits on it did it look awful, or maybe that was the drivers he employed...

#15 ian senior

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Posted 17 May 2006 - 14:27

Originally posted by Mallory Dan


Don't fully agree Pete. It scored some points towards the end of 75, so, although we know Hunt was pretty good at that time, it wasn't a complete dog. Only when SFW got his mits on it did it look awful, or maybe that was the drivers he employed...


James didn't like it much, though - he said it had a strange feel to it. And even to my non-engineer eyes, it just looked wrong. That very shallow monocoque can't have been very rigid, and it seemed strange to have the top pick up points for the front suspension mounted on separate and flimsy-looking fabricated pieces.

#16 Mallory Dan

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 10:39

Much too techy for me Ian, can we get back to Politics !!!!

#17 WHITE

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 10:46

I remember reading by then that the 308 would be fitted with a V12 engine that Hesketh wanted to build. I even remember that this engine had already been drawn by Aubrey Woods, the ex-BRM engineer, and that there were other teams interested in using the engine too.

#18 ian senior

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 10:59

Originally posted by Mallory Dan
Much too techy for me Ian, can we get back to Politics !!!!


Well, the extreme right wing of the car was more or less the same as the extreme left wing, which is what I've been saying for ages.

#19 David M. Kane

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 11:29

Whatever happen to the drawings of the proposed engine?

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#20 MarkWill

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 00:04

First I`ve heard of the V12 idea. When you consider the number of engines he would have gone through finding reliability, and surely sitting at the back of the field while things got sorted, it really looks like a route to financial disaster. How much did F1 cost around then?

Back to the 308C - it didn`t look any worse than other contenders of the time - was it really that "dodgy"? ( I suppose so, if Hunt said so, but if you compare it with the M23 brick, for sure it looks flimsier)

#21 Ruairidh

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 01:06

Originally posted by MarkWill


Back to the 308C - it didn`t look any worse than other contenders of the time - was it really that "dodgy"? ( I suppose so, if Hunt said so, but if you compare it with the M23 brick, for sure it looks flimsier)


It looked pretty flimsy to me, as did the original Lotus T77. Not sure any of the other contenders at that time struck me that way - the Ferraris, Tyrrells, brabhams, Marchs, Ligiers; Penskes; Fittis; Ensigns etc all seemed more substantial. Even the Shadows and the Surtees TS19 didn't seem quite as delicate as the 308C.

#22 racemechanic

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 23:13

As i restored a 308c last year i have to disagree with you Pete as well, the c might look a bit strange with the shallow tub, but they were made real nice no doggyier than other marques of that period
:clap:
my chassis just got 1st in class in the Barcelona TGP race last weekend so can't be that much of a hound

#23 hyperbolica

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Posted 20 May 2006 - 15:24

:up: Any chance of having some pics?

#24 RTH

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Posted 20 May 2006 - 15:33

This was a fascinating period for motor racing, loads of technical interest , personalities on and off the track , circuits with individuality, year long full of interest . With hindsight it's a pity we didn't realise how lucky we were at the time compared to the last couple of decades

#25 hyperbolica

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Posted 20 May 2006 - 15:50

Originally posted by RTH
This was a fascinating period for motor racing, loads of technical interest , personalities on and off the track , circuits with individuality, year long full of interest . With hindsight it's a pity we didn't realise how lucky we were at the time compared to the last couple of decades


Well, because I often look back to the races I went to in the 70s, I do think that I realized back then that I was lucky to be there, seeing Stewart, Fittipaldi, Peterson, Cevert, Hunt, Lauda, Hulme, Andretti, Scheckter etc at the wheel. :up:

In retrospect, there were loads of world champions on the track, but you didn't know it at the time...

#26 MarkWill

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Posted 20 May 2006 - 17:11

Racemechanic - any pics of the restoration? Were you able to use OEM parts, and drawings?

#27 f1steveuk

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Posted 20 May 2006 - 19:12

Originally posted by ian senior


James didn't like it much, though - he said it had a strange feel to it. And even to my non-engineer eyes, it just looked wrong. That very shallow monocoque can't have been very rigid, and it seemed strange to have the top pick up points for the front suspension mounted on separate and flimsy-looking fabricated pieces.


Funny, nearly every car built with a shallow tub semed to have torsional problems, maybe it just isn't the way forward??

#28 petefenelon

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Posted 20 May 2006 - 19:37

Originally posted by f1steveuk


Funny, nearly every car built with a shallow tub semed to have torsional problems, maybe it just isn't the way forward??


Were there similar problems with Tyrrell 008? -- if anything, that seemed to have a shallower tub than the 308C...

#29 f1steveuk

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Posted 20 May 2006 - 19:43

Originally posted by petefenelon


Were there similar problems with Tyrrell 008? -- if anything, that seemed to have a shallower tub than the 308C...


I believe the 008 wasn't brilliant torsionally, which was again a problem with the Hill GH2. I think it was a problem that lead Gordon Murray to his "pyramid" solution for Brabham

#30 MarkWill

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Posted 22 May 2006 - 00:42

Didn`t the Tyrell 008 have the front wings swept forward? Does anyone know what the idea was behind this (or refer me to the appropriate thread)?

#31 Mohican

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Posted 22 May 2006 - 08:54

Originally posted by f1steveuk


I believe the 008 wasn't brilliant torsionally, which was again a problem with the Hill GH2. I think it was a problem that lead Gordon Murray to his "pyramid" solution for Brabham


Was just thinking about the Hill GH2; which of course never raced as intended.

That these shallow (pre-carbon fibre) monocoques should have torsional problems does not surprise me, though. Just looking at them, combined with the "hole" for the driver, tells you that this must be a consideration.

As for Murray's Brabhams, the BT42 was designed in 1972 - long before the 308C, the GH2 and the 008. Was Murray that far ahead of his time ?

Not that he could not go wrong as well - just look at the surface radiators on the first BT46.

#32 f1steveuk

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Posted 22 May 2006 - 16:37

I suspect the idea behind the 008 front wings was to increase the cord line, more wing in the leagally allowed space.

Gordon showed me some sketches he did in 70/71, of a shallow tub, to increase air flow to the rear wing. He said that he thought it may twist , so to get a mixture of low and torsional stability, he did the pyramid section. The idea of a shallow tub was inspired to him by an Indy car I believe.

#33 WHITE

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Posted 22 May 2006 - 17:21

Originally posted by f1steveuk
I suspect the idea behind the 008 front wings was to increase the cord line, more wing in the leagally allowed space.

Gordon showed me some sketches he did in 70/71, of a shallow tub, to increase air flow to the rear wing. He said that he thought it may twist , so to get a mixture of low and torsional stability, he did the pyramid section. The idea of a shallow tub was inspired to him by an Indy car I believe.


That Indy pyramid car was drawn by Maurice Phillippe for the Parnelli team. Joe Leonard would win the 1972 championship with it.

#34 paulhooft

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Posted 22 May 2006 - 17:30

Somewhere I still have this white T-shirt with a bear on it!

#35 racemechanic

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Posted 22 May 2006 - 22:13

markwill
i will post a few pics as soon as i work out how to
we were very lucky with our car, it had remained unmolested since it was laid up and went into private collections, very few new parts were needed for the restoration and everything was pretty much there.
If only i could get drawings of the cars i work on it would make life very easy, i guess they are all out there some where!

#36 MarkWill

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Posted 24 May 2006 - 22:10

I would have thought that the calcs and design notes were equally important as the drawings. Do you normally buy those as well?