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Why did Williams lose Honda after 1987?


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#1 aportinga

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Posted 27 June 2023 - 13:33

Just watching Life of a Lion with Mansell and he mentiones that Frank Williams "sold" the Honda engines to McLaren after the 1987 season?

 

I've never heard of such a thing - typically the manufacture makes a move when the contract is at term or if there is a significant issue with their partnering team.

 

 



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#2 ensign14

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Posted 27 June 2023 - 14:42

Probably Nige being metaphorical.  Honda wanted to supply two teams, and for 1988 that would be whichever team Senna was on, and whichever team would take Nakajima.

 

Senna was not at Williams and Frank was not going to be blackmailed.  So Nakajima stayed at Lotus and the team spiralled into nothingness.



#3 john aston

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Posted 27 June 2023 - 15:20

Honda decided to walk when Frank had his accident , or so the generally accepted story had it. 



#4 D-Type

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Posted 27 June 2023 - 15:22

As I understand it, there were a few factors:

(a)  The Japanese were uncomfortable dealing with a man in a wheelchair.  I'm not quite sure why - possibly they underestimated Frank and felt that he would not be able to run his team from a wheelchair.
(b)  Williams were not prepared to have a Japanese driver (Nakajima) imposed on them

©  When Piquet moved to Lotus, Honda followed him

 

There is no way that Williams could have "sold" the Honda engines contract to Lotus, even if they had wanted to.  It would be more accurate to say they "lost" the contract to Lotus for the aforementioned reasons plus others


Edited by D-Type, 29 June 2023 - 13:27.


#5 aportinga

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Posted 27 June 2023 - 16:50

 

 

There is no way that Williams could have "sold" the Honda engines contract to Lotus, even if they had wanted to.  It would be more accurate to say they"lost" the contract to Lotus for the aforementioned reasons plus others

 

Yes this ^

 

Mansell being Mansell I guess. I noticed some other liberties he took - stating he was the first rookie to win a race in Indycar for example.

 

For what it's worth this is the vid - 

 

Quite honestly even with the embelishments, I would like to hear more. The Prost/Senna stories are well known but he seemed to have a back seat on many moments of that era which are quite interesting.



#6 Charlieman

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Posted 27 June 2023 - 17:03

As I understand it, there were a few factors:

 

D-Type's list corresponds with the Patrick Head interview, MS magazine August 2020. 



#7 Emery0323

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Posted 28 June 2023 - 03:27

As I understand it, there were a few factors:

(a)  The Japanese were uncomfortable dealing with a man in a wheelchair.  I'm not quite sure why - possibly they underestimated Frank and felt that he would not be able to run his team from a wheelchair.
(b)  Williams were not prepared to have a Japanese driver (Nakajima) imposed on them

©  When Piquet moved to Lotus, Honda followed him

 

There is no way that Williams could have "sold" the Honda engines contract to Lotus, even if they had wanted to.  It would be more accurate to say they"lost" the contract to Lotus for the aforementioned reasons plus others

That's the way I recall it being reported at the time.    The Honda engines were not Williams' to "sell", Honda had sole discretion over who got them and dropped Williams as a client.

 

I don't think the problem with Nakajima was that he was Japanese, necessarily.  It was that Frank Williams did not consider him a serious contender who deserved a seat in one of his cars.  One version of events I heard reported at the time was that Honda proposed Mansell and Nakajima, but Frank Williams did not want Nakajima - he did not want his driver choices dictated to him.  Edit - See below.

 

Another story I recall hearing was that Honda's displeasure had started at the end of the 1986 season.  Honda management felt that the Williams team had been too cautious in calling in Nelson Piquet for a tire change at Adelaide in 1986, after Mansell's infamous tire failure.   If Piquet had been left out, he was circulating ahead of Prost and would have won the race and the title, assuming he would have avoided Mansell's and Rosberg's tire problems. Honda management felt that Williams was too risk-averse in that situation and threw away the driver's title.

 

EDIT: After listening to the Patrick Head interview on the Motorsport Magazine podcast (also cited by airbox below),  it was Nakajima and Piquet that Honda demanded for the 1988 Williams drivers, not Nakajima and Mansell.   Patrick Head said this created problems because they already had a deal with Mansell for 1988, and the Piquet / Nakajima driver line up would be doomed to finish behind McLaren (Prost / Senna) in the Constructors Championship anyway.  Frank Williams always cared more about the Constructor's Championship than the Driver's Championship.


Edited by Emery0323, 28 June 2023 - 15:47.


#8 airbox

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Posted 28 June 2023 - 08:39

According to a podcast with Patrick Head with Motor Sport magazine, Williams were told in mid 1987 by Honda that they were going to supply McLaren as their lead team with Senna and Prost driving. They were given the option of keeping Honda engines in 1988 but would have had to run Piquet and Nakajima.



#9 Gene

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Posted 28 June 2023 - 11:55

There is an interesting prologue to the Williams/Honda story.

Honda knew Frank would never do business with them again, they committed the sin of breaking a contract. So as penance and admitting "We screwed up" every time Williams GP and Frank Williams went to Japan waiting for his plane was Honda's company helicopter with people to take care of all Frank's needs.



#10 F1matt

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Posted 29 June 2023 - 12:49

I always presumed that McLaren getting the Honda deal for 1988 depended on them signing Ayrton Senna and dropping Stefan Johansen but Senna came on the recommendation of Alain Prost. I wonder how history would have played out if Williams had gone with Nelson Piquet and Satoru Nakajima? 



#11 AJCee

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Posted 29 June 2023 - 15:22

An interesting thought F1Matt.

Maybe it wouldn’t have been that much different? McLaren still the 1988 class of the field, Piquet closer to them than in a Lotus, but not a threat, Mansell to Ferrari a year earlier.
But after that, does Nakajima stay on at Williams or go to Tyrrell?

#12 F1matt

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Posted 29 June 2023 - 17:45

Was the FW12 such a bad car? It lacked power and if Williams had stayed with Honda they might not have been so keen to run the active suspension, when they dumped the active suspension mid season they were more competitive. Who knows they might have give McLaren a run for their money, as for 1989 they might have been able to capitalise on McLarens inter team fighting to steal another title which would have been ironic after 1986....



#13 airbox

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Posted 29 June 2023 - 18:12

Interesting timescales as it appears to indicate that Senna had come to the conclusion that Lotus were never going to give him a car to win the championship even if there was a Honda in the back and even through he had pretty recently won a couple of races with the Lotus 99.

 

One question - my assumption has always been the Piquet and Senna were Honda's preferred drivers and effectively Honda would want to supply whichever team they drove for. Did Senna go to McLaren effectively bringing Honda with him? 



#14 Dick Dastardly

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Posted 29 June 2023 - 20:38

I always thought that whilst Senna and Prost were at Mclaren, Senna was a Honda preferred driver whilst Prost was a Mclaren one.....



#15 D-Type

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Posted 29 June 2023 - 21:13

I always thought that whilst Senna and Prost were at Mclaren, Senna was a Honda preferred driver whilst Prost was a Mclaren one.....

Certainly Prost is on record as saying he believed that Senna was getting preferred treatment by Honda in respect of engine supply.



#16 Emery0323

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Posted 29 June 2023 - 21:55

That video of Mansell being interviewed is interesting, I had no idea how badly his spine was injured after the Suzuka practice crash in 1987.   The woman interviewing him is so fawning and sycophantic!  And I thought American interviewers were bad.  Maybe that's the only way to get an interview with him.

 

He says Frank Williams “sold the Honda contract” to McLaren for $24M.  I think what probably happened was that Frank Williams extracted a cancellation penalty of $24M from Honda for breaking a contract that was supposed to extend into 1988.

 

 In addition to Senna’s appeal as a rising star and Piquet’s appeal as a 3-time WDC, another consideration was the increasingly prosperous Latin American market, for which Senna and Piquet would have more promotional value than Prost, for example.



#17 Emery0323

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Posted 29 June 2023 - 21:59

Interesting timescales as it appears to indicate that Senna had come to the conclusion that Lotus were never going to give him a car to win the championship even if there was a Honda in the back and even through he had pretty recently won a couple of races with the Lotus 99.

Senna's time at Lotus during 1985-87 was  the one bright spot that (temporarily) reversed what was an otherwise inexorable decline that started after Andretti's championship and Colin Chapman's death.
 


Edited by Emery0323, 29 June 2023 - 22:05.


#18 Emery0323

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Posted 29 June 2023 - 22:10

Was the FW12 such a bad car? It lacked power and if Williams had stayed with Honda they might not have been so keen to run the active suspension, when they dumped the active suspension mid season they were more competitive. Who knows they might have give McLaren a run for their money, as for 1989 they might have been able to capitalise on McLarens inter team fighting to steal another title which would have been ironic after 1986....

During 1988 the FW12 had 22 DNFs out of 32 starts. Granted, some of them accidents, etc., that were not the fault of the car, but not what you would call "good" reliability, even by 1980's standards.



#19 AJCee

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Posted 30 June 2023 - 05:55

Would it not be fair to say that Gerard Ducarouge also played a part in arresting the Lotus decline for a while?

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#20 Emery0323

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Posted 30 June 2023 - 07:03

Would it not be fair to say that Gerard Ducarouge also played a part in arresting the Lotus decline for a while?

Ducarouge certainly played a key part on the technical design side. My only point was that Senna scored all the Lotus victories from 1979-1994 (the end) with the exception of the two by DeAngelis, one of which he got when Prost got disqualified at Imola in 1985. Even with the then-dominant Honda engines and 3-time WDC Nelson Piquet, they scored no victories in 1988.



#21 70JesperOH

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Posted 30 June 2023 - 07:22

During 1988 the FW12 had 22 DNFs out of 32 starts. Granted, some of them accidents, etc., that were not the fault of the car, but not what you would call "good" reliability, even by 1980's standards.

 

I think it's safe to say that 1988 was a year of transition for Williams, that just to be completed. They used normally aspirated 3.5 liter engines during the last year of the turbos. Don't even know if this deal was on a customer basis? Of course they were waiting for the Renault deal to be fulfilled by the following year. At the time nobody could know how much of a difference it would make.

 

Jesper



#22 Henri Greuter

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Posted 30 June 2023 - 07:39

Ducarouge certainly played a key part on the technical design side. My only point was that Senna scored all the Lotus victories from 1979-1994 (the end) with the exception of the two by DeAngelis, one of which he got when Prost got disqualified at Imola in 1985. Even with the then-dominant Honda engines and 3-time WDC Nelson Piquet, they scored no victories in 1988.

 

 

One of the key components with the 1988 Honda V6 was that it had a smaller clutch and thus enabled the engine to become lower, at the expense of needing some kind of a step-up because of the lower crankshaft in relation to the heigt of the rear axle. Mclaren compensated for that with a bespoke gearbox, Lotus had the engine slightly tilted witnin the chassis, the rear part being raised. 

As a result the 1988 Lotus never benefitted fully of the possibility to put the entire engine lower within the chassis, thus a lower GC while the tilted engine also resulted into the engine cover still being raised and thus the aerodynamic advantage of the lower engine being wasted.

 

For whatever reasons (being informed too late, budget, abilities, whatever)  the 1988 Lotus never maximised the full potential of benefits that the 1988 Honda V6 offered in integration of the engine within the entire design of the cars it was to power in the manner McLaren did.

 

And; at that time it wasn't fully known and/or understood but in later years Piquet revealed that the Imola crash he had the year before had affected him physically much more serious and for a much longer time, also still to some extend in 1988?



#23 airbox

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Posted 30 June 2023 - 10:09

No doubt that Ducarouge played a huge part in arresting Lotus' decline at least temporarily. Without him I doubt that the team would have been in a position to attract Senna at the end of 1984 and I expect they would have potentially lost their Renault engine as well. They were in pretty dire straits when he joined. 

 

As for Piquet - I think he now concedes that he was never the same driver for the remainder of his career after his accident at Tamburello. 



#24 Risil

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Posted 30 June 2023 - 11:58

I'm sure we're getting into old ground but what would Mansell have done if Williams had taken the Honda engines and signed up Piquet and Nakajima for 1988? Could Ferrari have found a place for him that year? Surely not back to Lotus, entertaining as it would've been for everybody else.



#25 F1matt

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Posted 30 June 2023 - 13:37

I'm sure we're getting into old ground but what would Mansell have done if Williams had taken the Honda engines and signed up Piquet and Nakajima for 1988? Could Ferrari have found a place for him that year? Surely not back to Lotus, entertaining as it would've been for everybody else.

 

 

I am not sure Peter Warr would have welcomed him back.....Benetton instead of Nannini? 



#26 Michael Ferner

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Posted 30 June 2023 - 18:49

Senna's time at Lotus during 1985-87 was  the one bright spot that (temporarily) reversed what was an otherwise inexorable decline that started after Andretti's championship and Colin Chapman's death.

 
 

No doubt that Ducarouge played a huge part in arresting Lotus' decline at least temporarily. Without him I doubt that the team would have been in a position to attract Senna at the end of 1984 and I expect they would have potentially lost their Renault engine as well. They were in pretty dire straits when he joined.


Really? The record book says Lotus was third in the Constructors the last year before Senna joined, the highest since '78, and higher than in the first year with Senna (4th).



#27 airbox

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Posted 30 June 2023 - 21:10

 
 


Really? The record book says Lotus was third in the Constructors the last year before Senna joined, the highest since '78, and higher than in the first year with Senna (4th).

 

But that was largely down to Ducarouge - there was pretty much an immediate upswing with the 94T which was his first design for the team midway through 1983 and this continued into 1984 with the 95T. In fact it ended up probably being the best car in 1984 apart from the McLaren MP4/2

 

In comparison the 92 and 93T were pretty disastrous in the first half of the 1983 season, one point in total, little pace and dreadful reliability. 



#28 Michael Ferner

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Posted 30 June 2023 - 21:24

Ah, okay, I misunderstood. You meant when Duca joined, not Senna. Pretty much agree with that.



#29 bsc

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Posted 01 July 2023 - 08:42

I wonder how history would have played out if Williams had gone with Nelson Piquet and Satoru Nakajima?


Without wishing to take things too far out on a tangent, I do always find it interesting as a signal regarding the fall of Williams, that 20 or so years later, they were willing to take on Satoru Nakajima's son, Kazuki, in exchange for cheap Toyota engines

#30 petere

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Posted 01 July 2023 - 10:45

But that was largely down to Ducarouge - there was pretty much an immediate upswing with the 94T which was his first design for the team midway through 1983 and this continued into 1984 with the 95T. In fact it ended up probably being the best car in 1984 apart from the McLaren MP4/2

 

In comparison the 92 and 93T were pretty disastrous in the first half of the 1983 season, one point in total, little pace and dreadful reliability. 

as i understand it, a lot of technical direction, (accompanied by much arm waving) but no designing... That was done by the existing group. The 94T was based on the 87-91 series cars.



#31 guiporsche

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Posted 01 July 2023 - 13:10

Of course, that's what a technical director does! That same group had previously done the awful 92 and 93....

The 94T was obviously Ducarouge's creature, just as the Alfas 182 and 183 were (without drawing a single line of them). What he did with Lotus in 1983, in less than 2 months, salvaging the 91 into the 94T, was nothing short of a miracle. The credit of the 'existing group', Bob Dance and all the intrepid mechanics, was that they held steady and followed his direction, as well told by DCN in that gem of a book that is Theme Lotus. That Chapman had tried to hire Duca while still alive helped as well.

 

"[Chapman] m’a fait visiter l’atelier où étaient entreposées toutes ses F1. C’était grand mais il y avait tellement de poteaux que je me demandais comment ils pouvaient déplacer les voitures. À un de ces piliers, accroché au bout d’une ficelle, je vois un genre de cahier avec plein de trucs écrits. C’était ce que l’on pourrait appeler le cahier de doléances où chacun, de manière anonyme, pouvait écrire soit une idée, soit une réclamation, soit un jugement, bref s’exprimer librement, typiquement british comme concept. Je feuillette le cahier et je vois des trucs comme « Mansell ferait mieux d’aller à la pêche », ou encore « Nigel lève pas son gros cul », bref, beaucoup de monde en prenait plein la tête, personne ne semblait être épargné, même à la direction du Team, sauf Chapman semblait-il. D’un seul coup je tombe sur truc inimaginable me concernant : « Ecrire à Mitterrand pour qu’il libère G. Ducarouge ». De lire ça dans ce cahier, ça m’a fait un coup, je me suis dit, dans ce coin paumé de l’Angleterre très British, les français devraient être détestés. 

 

From the best Ducarouge interview available: https://www.classicc...rard-ducarouge/


Edited by guiporsche, 01 July 2023 - 13:13.


#32 petere

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Posted 01 July 2023 - 14:48

I'm very familiar with the distinction between Technical Director and Designer and thats exactly why i pointed out that there was no 'designing', only direction, because the previous post by 'airbox' suggested that it was his 'first design for the team' . I don't believe Duca was hired as Technical director, although thats the role he eased himself into.  Interesting for me that when you reference my comment  about the 'existing group'- which was about car design - you focus on 'Bob Dance and the intrepid mechanics' . Why ? What about a nod for Martin Ogilvie and the design office, who were the ones that actually designed the car and put in ridiculous hours for several months to make it happen. 

Of course, that's what a technical director does! That same group had previously done the awful 92 and 93....

The 94T was obviously Ducarouge's creature, just as the Alfas 182 and 183 were (without drawing a single line of them). What he did with Lotus in 1983, in less than 2 months, salvaging the 91 into the 94T, was nothing short of a miracle. The credit of the 'existing group', Bob Dance and all the intrepid mechanics, was that they held steady and followed his direction, as well told by DCN in that gem of a book that is Theme Lotus. That Chapman had tried to hire Duca while still alive helped as well.

 

"[Chapman] m’a fait visiter l’atelier où étaient entreposées toutes ses F1. C’était grand mais il y avait tellement de poteaux que je me demandais comment ils pouvaient déplacer les voitures. À un de ces piliers, accroché au bout d’une ficelle, je vois un genre de cahier avec plein de trucs écrits. C’était ce que l’on pourrait appeler le cahier de doléances où chacun, de manière anonyme, pouvait écrire soit une idée, soit une réclamation, soit un jugement, bref s’exprimer librement, typiquement british comme concept. Je feuillette le cahier et je vois des trucs comme « Mansell ferait mieux d’aller à la pêche », ou encore « Nigel lève pas son gros cul », bref, beaucoup de monde en prenait plein la tête, personne ne semblait être épargné, même à la direction du Team, sauf Chapman semblait-il. D’un seul coup je tombe sur truc inimaginable me concernant : « Ecrire à Mitterrand pour qu’il libère G. Ducarouge ». De lire ça dans ce cahier, ça m’a fait un coup, je me suis dit, dans ce coin paumé de l’Angleterre très British, les français devraient être détestés. 

 

From the best Ducarouge interview available: https://www.classicc...rard-ducarouge/



#33 guiporsche

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Posted 01 July 2023 - 15:10

Sure thing, and Ogilvie's role is mentioned in Theme Lotus. And it was not several months: 5 weeks, I believe.

But at the end of the day the question is: would have they done it without Ducarouge? The answer, in my opinion and looking at what happened, is a resounding no. 

As for the Bob Dance reference, see the link to the interview that I posted  :wave:


Edited by guiporsche, 01 July 2023 - 15:11.


#34 petere

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Posted 01 July 2023 - 16:44

I worked for Martin for several years, learnt a lot from him, and worked with most of the other guys who were in the drawing office at Lotus at that time. all good people who knew what they were doing. I've also worked with Bob for several years , knew him quite well in those days, used to talk about this period quite a bit, He has/had crystal clear recall. Also worked for Ducarouge some years later, and saw first hand how he massaged a project into being. He certainly knew how racing cars went together and , for a period, what made them quick, although that didn't last. He had a list of requirements that he needed for the car, if he had those then he thought he could make it quick. Things like ' X% camber change at the front', 'weight distribution between x% and Y%', and so on. All gained from experience, all useful stuff, all empirical. I had a copy of it for years, Martin gave me one. A lot of those requirements were aligned with existing thinking at Lotus. Some weren't. Did those make a difference ? Possibly, it''s difficult to know. I do know that quite a few of them were a bit wide of the mark when i came to have responsibilty for car concept myself some years later. 

 

Would i have credited him as the designer on those projects ? No. He was more of a manager, Technical Director if you like and also chief race engineer, an all rounder from a different generation.  So I don't really have to look in 'Theme Lotus ' - although I have read it cover to cover - or at Ducarouge's excellent interview - which I have also already read and downloaded some years ago - to have a good insight into what happened and why, and who did what.

 

Would Lotus have  done it without Ducarouge ? Probably not, but not for the reasons you say. I believe that the key factor was that he had the full support and backing of Peter Warr. The existing technical staff may not have been so lucky. That makes a big difference. As i understand it there was already a  faction within Team Lotus that wanted to pursue the route that they took under Ducarouge's guidance. What was needed was somebody from outside to say that this was the right way to go. To restore confidence if you like, their own and also PEW's... It's worth remembering that the 93 was signed off by Chapman. He made some strange decisions in his last few months.

 

Thanks for your cheery little avatar btw, here's one from me:  :kiss:

Sure thing, and Ogilvie's role is mentioned in Theme Lotus. And it was not several months: 5 weeks, I believe.

But at the end of the day the question is: would have they done it without Ducarouge? The answer, in my opinion and looking at what happened, is a resounding no. 

As for the Bob Dance reference, see the link to the interview that I posted  :wave:



#35 guiporsche

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Posted 01 July 2023 - 18:24

Wonderful insight (would it not have been more interesting if you had just laid your cards on the table? I particularly like the corroboration of Duca using template rules for suspension, weight distribution, etc, which was also noted in other accounts and admitted by him as well, coming from Matra times). Yet I'm afraid I don't buy it all. I'm also bemused at the above-made suggestion that Duca was not hired as a technical director: what was he hired then for, if not to change course radically by assuming the technical direction of Team Lotus?

More to the point, in the end, it was not Lotus' alleged inner faction (in your words) that took the responsibility of making the decision to do the 94 but Ducarouge. And all written records apart from your version (which might well be completely true but  I want to see more evidence) point to Ducarouge as being the one that had the idea.

 

Here's Ogilvie himself:

 

'The British team was struggling with its first Renault-engined contender, the slab-sided 93T demanded by Chapman before his death, and Ducarouge instigated the rapid-fire development of a new car. "Gérard looked at the 93T and decided that it was way too big and was never going to win races,” recalls Ogilvie. “So he looked at the old 87/88 [actually the 91 in Duca's words at the time] and decided that we could do something with those tubs. He drew some basic bodylines over the first weekend and gave us the guidelines to redesign it.” '

 

https://www.motorspo...manded-loyalty/

 

And here's another of my cheery little avatars, well appropriate because it's dinner time  :clap:


Edited by guiporsche, 01 July 2023 - 18:57.


#36 petere

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Posted 01 July 2023 - 19:49

Yep, thats the exact same story i heard directly from Martin. One set of bodylines. Period. I think i may even have seen a copy of them..

 

You seem very unhappy when i said that  Duca was not being hired as Technical Director.. well I didn't say they hired him as the tea boy...  It  is simply  that the title was not in general use at that time, not for a few more years as I recall. I began in F1 in 1984 and the first time I heard it was a couple of years after that. He was hired as an all round fountain of knowledge, a complete 'racer' who had  very recent experience of a quick car, of what we now call 'race engineering' (back then the title was only just coming into use and Lotus had just hired two dedicated 'race engineers'), some design experience of his own (in the dim and distant past), more importantly recent experience of 'directing' or 'managing' a team of designers, bit of practical aerodynamics, knowledge of structures, quite a bit of suspension knowledge and perhaps crucially, a good understanding of racing tyres. He also knew everyone and how it all worked..

 

So a pretty useful bloke to have around in the circumstances. Also a nice friendly chap (most of the time). If the title Technical Director had been in use thats what he would have been hired as, thats why i said he eased himself into the role, maybe he helped to invent it by giving technical direction to the design team and laying out a list of requirements. But designer of the car ? No. In contrast Martin was and is a superb Designer and for many years Chief Designer, but more of a specialist. Innovative, quick thinking, very much a Lotus man. I think they made a good team and i also believe they got on very well. It should be quite telling that inspite of taking the 'credit' for the unloved 93 Martin remained in position as Chief Designer through the next few pretty successful years.

 

I can't see any contradiction in what Martin was quoted in saying with what I have been saying here, in what was , afterall, a tribute article written after Gerard had just passed away  . By the middle of 1983 just about every team could see that a smaller 'pit stop special' was potentially the way to go. What is a bit strange is  Gerard's story about digging through the museum to find an 87 or 91, in part because he would have been very familiar with it anyway, and also because the same car was still being raced as a type 92 at the time he visited Hethel. Maybe that was whilst the team cars were still in North America and  away from base.

 

Anyway, Ducarouge confirmed something that many were already thinking and gave a team that was certainly scratching its head the confidence to go ahead. Not a decision to be taken lightly, either financially, technically, or logistically. One  bit that hasn't appeared in print is that they may have been holding back because the 93 chassis was actually stiffer than those earlier tubs, and had a better front geometry. One puzzle is why the 94 didn't adopt the pull rod suspension from the 92 rather than reverting to another iteration of the rockers used on the 87-91. I've never got to the bottom of that one.

 

So, there we are. That's the story that i have heard from those that were there at the time. There is always a backstory to what you read in print and as far as you wanting more 'evidence', well, we aren't sitting in a court of law and you ain't no judge... Believe what you want to, i'm happy with what i was able to learn from the people who were involved at the time. 

 

Regading avatars, i prefered your first one actually, and i've been looking through the selection, but i haven't found one that quite fits the bill, so i'll have to disappoint....

 

Cheers,

 

Peter



#37 guiporsche

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Posted 02 July 2023 - 11:51

Unhappy? Just puzzled. You first hint that Ducarouge was not really hired as a technical director but then indeed confirm, by your description of what he actually did and know (and which again confirms other testimonies of him, so thank you for that) that that's the actual job he did bar the title. A team in 1983 would certainly not hire Duca under the supposition that he would settle into a secondary role without great input of what the cars should be like? Why did Ferrari try to hire him then? Just to be a 'pretty useful bloke to have in all circumstances'?

 

In any case, my original point was one and one only: Ducarouge was the one that took the decision to recover the old monocoque(s) and convert them into the 94 and ditch the 93 altogether.

Then Ogilvie as head of the design office and his colleagues did the actual job of drawing the car under Duca's supervision/direction and that much has been known. That was the version given by Ducarouge in 1983 already to outlets like Grand Prix International, reproduced in Theme Lotus, accepted by Ogilvie as shown by the quote above, never contested in all these years. Now I'm to believe (and again you might be completely right), that everybody just knew it all along, that the quick fix was indeed to recover those old chassis: and yet they were 'scratching their heads'. All this reminds me just a tiny bit of the ongoing, never-ending 'who did the MP4/4' narrative wars, which just fuels my healthy scepticism (sorry about that). 

 

And no, I'm not a judge and we are not sitting in a court of law. And I'm certainly not here to defend Ducarouge. Last time I checked, however, this is a forum about the history of motorsport and that's what you bring to the table when you write or at least try to understand history: sources, names, proof written or oral. Were you there at the time? The answer is no (and neither were I or everbody else here, which is why the written records still matter). So I'll make my own conclusions based on that. Thank you for the exchange, from my part I really have no more to add.


Edited by guiporsche, 02 July 2023 - 11:54.


#38 petere

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Posted 02 July 2023 - 12:20

And neither have I.  I don't think you have much insight into the way race teams operate other than what you read in books.



#39 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 02 July 2023 - 13:33

How close did we get to Senna-Williams-Honda? Mid 80s Williams was at least as attractive a prospect as McLaren?

 

I think WIlliams 88 Honda would have been decent. I've always felt a big part of the mythology of the 1988 McLaren was they had a lock on the drivers and engines. Williams had Judd, Megatron was hardly going to trouble you, Ferrari were Ferrari, etc. What competition did McLaren have? Lotus and Piquet/Nakajima?

 

As soon as Williams got Renault they started catching up. As soon as Ferrari got some good drivers they started catching up. Etc.



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#40 petere

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Posted 02 July 2023 - 13:52

I think the FW12 was originally planned as another v6 Honda turbo car ? Wasn't that why it had the transverse box, a different way of using the low sump Honda engine without compromising the driveshaft angularity instead of the drop gear box used by McLaren. Probably would have made a better package. The only obvious negative would be the active ride that the car started the season with. It didn't really start to go well until that was removed at Silverstone. So that may have handed the advantage to McLaren, and left Williams playing catch up, otherwise yes.

 

How close did we get to Senna-Williams-Honda? Mid 80s Williams was at least as attractive a prospect as McLaren?

 

I think WIlliams 88 Honda would have been decent. I've always felt a big part of the mythology of the 1988 McLaren was they had a lock on the drivers and engines. Williams had Judd, Megatron was hardly going to trouble you, Ferrari were Ferrari, etc. What competition did McLaren have? Lotus and Piquet/Nakajima?

 

As soon as Williams got Renault they started catching up. As soon as Ferrari got some good drivers they started catching up. Etc.



#41 F1matt

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Posted 02 July 2023 - 17:11

So was the 100T a complete lost cause? Wasn't it just an evolution of the 99T minus active suspension to save weight? Nelson was usually in the points when he finished so was it a combination of Ayrton Senna was quicker than Nelson Piquet at the respective times of their careers and was able to drive the team forward as opposed to a less than motivated Nelson Piquet who was basically driving for the money then after his Imola accident? That was a dangerous game to play back then and managed to convince Benetton he was worth another couple of years after Lotus!



#42 petere

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Posted 02 July 2023 - 17:21

So was the 100T a complete lost cause? Wasn't it just an evolution of the 99T minus active suspension to save weight? Nelson was usually in the points when he finished so was it a combination of Ayrton Senna was quicker than Nelson Piquet at the respective times of their careers and was able to drive the team forward as opposed to a less than motivated Nelson Piquet who was basically driving for the money then after his Imola accident? That was a dangerous game to play back then and managed to convince Benetton he was worth another couple of years after Lotus!

 Bit more than an evolution, mostly an all new car. I'm not going to defend this one !!



#43 ensign14

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Posted 02 July 2023 - 17:24

How close did we get to Senna-Williams-Honda? Mid 80s Williams was at least as attractive a prospect as McLaren?

From memory at the time, it wasn't even close to being within ICBM distance of the radar. 



#44 airbox

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Posted 02 July 2023 - 18:24

How close did we get to Senna-Williams-Honda? Mid 80s Williams was at least as attractive a prospect as McLaren?

Always unlikely  - Williams would never have agreed to having a clear No1 / No2 set up as Senna had at Lotus.

 

Others may disagree, but from my recollection at the time, McLaren was also generally seen as the No 1 team to be in even if they weren't right at the front in terms of results. 



#45 funformula

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Posted 02 July 2023 - 19:01

...Martin was and is a superb Designer and for many years Chief Designer, but more of a specialist. Innovative, quick thinking, very much a Lotus man. I think they made a good team and i also believe they got on very well. It should be quite telling that inspite of taking the 'credit' for the unloved 93 Martin remained in position as Chief Designer through the next few pretty successful years...

 

Completely OT but proof of the innovative thinking of Ogilvie might also be the Pilette F3 of 1994.

OK, it failed to deliver in a year totally dominated by Dallara but it was radically different (probably far to advanced and radical) in aerodynamics and suspension but what a looker it was.

I still regret I didn´t buy it when it was on offer about a decde ago.

 

pilette1.jpg?w=994



#46 petere

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Posted 02 July 2023 - 20:12

Completely OT but proof of the innovative thinking of Ogilvie might also be the Pilette F3 of 1994.

OK, it failed to deliver in a year totally dominated by Dallara but it was radically different (probably far to advanced and radical) in aerodynamics and suspension but what a looker it was.

I still regret I didn´t buy it when it was on offer about a decde ago.

 

pilette1.jpg?w=994

I have to admit that i was waiting for this one to come up !  When i first joined Tom's in 1991 my first project was the outboard pnematic spring- dampers that eventually appeared on the Pilette ! It was an idea that Martin had which he obviously wanted to explore. It initially died at Tom's when Barnard and his group appeared and shuffled the rest of us to one side. I think the Pilette system was similar, there were some ex-tom's people involved with it alongside Martin, although I wasn't part of that. The aero on the Pilette was a bit wacky - look at the rear wing - and i don't recall the car ever running properly. Perhaps a case of too many very new ideas on one car in one go - the basic car was a Ralt tub - and also a lack of resource and budget to sort it out, if indeed it was sortable... I am not sure. He may also have been under pressure to innovate fo innovations sake. Anyway, it was a low point. The next time we worked together was on Tom's LeMans prototype, the infamous Lumpy, powered by a Gurney IMSA turbo engine. Martin did the composites and I did the mechanicals, with Mark Bailey doing the bellhousing area. Andy Thorby was in charge of that. Happy times actually, always enjoyed working with Martin.



#47 Emery0323

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Posted 02 July 2023 - 20:20

Always unlikely  - Williams would never have agreed to having a clear No1 / No2 set up as Senna had at Lotus.

 

Others may disagree, but from my recollection at the time, McLaren was also generally seen as the No 1 team to be in even if they weren't right at the front in terms of results. 

Yes, McLaren was coming off three WDCs in four years (1984-'85-'86, missing '87 to Williams and Piquet).  It's true that Williams had been rising up with many victories with Mansell/Piquet/Rosberg and  Honda engines, but  they then lost  the Honda engines to McLaren for 1988, which appeared to be a major setback. 

 

I recall Innes Ireland was doing F1 commentary with JYS at Monza '87, and he said that the combination of Senna+Prost+McLaren+Honda for 1988 was shaping up to be the greatest F1 "superteam" since Fangio and Moss at Mercedes-Benz in the 1950's.   That forecast was not hyperbolic or controversial, and turned out to be accurate.


Edited by Emery0323, 02 July 2023 - 20:22.


#48 funformula

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Posted 02 July 2023 - 20:40

I have to admit that i was waiting for this one to come up !  When i first joined Tom's in 1991 my first project was the outboard pnematic spring- dampers that eventually appeared on the Pilette ! It was an idea that Martin had which he obviously wanted to explore. It initially died at Tom's when Barnard and his group appeared and shuffled the rest of us to one side. I think the Pilette system was similar, there were some ex-tom's people involved with it alongside Martin, although I wasn't part of that. The aero on the Pilette was a bit wacky - look at the rear wing - and i don't recall the car ever running properly. Perhaps a case of too many very new ideas on one car in one go - the basic car was a Ralt tub - and also a lack of resource and budget to sort it out, if indeed it was sortable... I am not sure. He may also have been under pressure to innovate fo innovations sake. Anyway, it was a low point. The next time we worked together was on Tom's LeMans prototype, the infamous Lumpy, powered by a Gurney IMSA turbo engine. Martin did the composites and I did the mechanicals, with Mark Bailey doing the bellhousing area. Andy Thorby was in charge of that. Happy times actually, always enjoyed working with Martin.

 

Thanks Peter,

I enjoy these inside stories a lot and I´m sure many others here on TNF will agree.

I remember your thoughts about "K9" from your Arrows days but now I´m really drifting too far OT



#49 LittleChris

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Posted 02 July 2023 - 20:50

I have to admit that i was waiting for this one to come up !  When i first joined Tom's in 1991 my first project was the outboard pnematic spring- dampers that eventually appeared on the Pilette ! It was an idea that Martin had which he obviously wanted to explore. It initially died at Tom's when Barnard and his group appeared and shuffled the rest of us to one side. I think the Pilette system was similar, there were some ex-tom's people involved with it alongside Martin, although I wasn't part of that. The aero on the Pilette was a bit wacky - look at the rear wing - and i don't recall the car ever running properly. Perhaps a case of too many very new ideas on one car in one go - the basic car was a Ralt tub - and also a lack of resource and budget to sort it out, if indeed it was sortable... I am not sure. He may also have been under pressure to innovate fo innovations sake. Anyway, it was a low point. The next time we worked together was on Tom's LeMans prototype, the infamous Lumpy, powered by a Gurney IMSA turbo engine. Martin did the composites and I did the mechanicals, with Mark Bailey doing the bellhousing area. Andy Thorby was in charge of that. Happy times actually, always enjoyed working with Martin.

 

Apparently it was 8 seconds off the pace with Dufour at Hockenheim when by the looks of it the low drag configuration should've been beneficial. Perhaps the Fiat engine ( possibly out of a cinquecento !) didn't do it any favours.  :well:  



#50 petere

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Posted 02 July 2023 - 21:00

Thanks Peter,

I enjoy these inside stories a lot and I´m sure many others here on TNF will agree.

I remember your thoughts about "K9" from your Arrows days but now I´m really drifting too far OT

Thanks, well its nice to give a bit of a backstory without upsetting anyone for a change !

 

I wish Martin would write his bio, it's a great story and would make a nice counterpoint to the other 'inside' stories from Team Lotus, not that there is anything wrong with them, but very few are  written from the engineering perspective. Martin probably had as much interaction with Chapman, and for as long a period as anyone except perhaps Fred Bushell and Peter Warr, maybe Tony Rudd too. We've had PEW's take on it, we were unlikely to ever get Fred's (! given the circumstances), we've had Tony Rudd's but he was management by then, we've had Peter Wright's too, but he was more the Thinker of Lofty Thoughts. Martin was 'on the board' right through from the 72 to 100, and Chief Designer from the 79 forwards. Not trying to reopen recent 'discussions' here but unlike some latter day Chief Designers he actually did design stuff, with a pencil, and a ruler, and a calculator ! And latterly with a computer, he was a great AutoCad man for many years when that was state of the art. So respect where it's due and it's  unique stuff.