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Nick Wirth on the 1996 Benetton


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#1 karlth

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Posted 17 January 2005 - 16:31

I was watching the 1997 documentary about the Benetton F1 team and in it Nick Wirth said that "We made a massive error on the design of the 1996 car, it was a dog."

The 1996 was a Rory Byrne designed car, does anyone know what this massive error was?

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#2 wati

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Posted 17 January 2005 - 16:37

Yeah, they made a massive error. They let MS go to Ferrari (Berger and Alesi also said of the 1995 car it was a dog).

Wattie

#3 Monstrobolaxa

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Posted 17 January 2005 - 21:55

According to what I remember they had a terribly hard rear suspension...which suited Schummy way of driving....but didn't suit Alesis' or Bergers' way....so it was a very oversteering car...besides that the rear suspension also had some reliability problems. But probably he was talking performance wise.

#4 ivanalesi

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Posted 17 January 2005 - 22:53

Oversteering is what Jean is pretty much known about:)
It was the opposite, the 95 Benetton was short wheel base, very agile but not that stable, so they decided to solve the problem, made it longer wheelbase and the car was hugely understeering.

#5 Todd

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Posted 17 January 2005 - 23:40

Probably the biggest 'mistake' they made in 1996 was following the spirit of the rule changes rather than the letter. The new regulations called for thicker cockpit sides, and Benetton, like Ferrari and many others, built cockpits that looked like bulbous bathtubs. These cockpits created drag and disturbed air on it's way to the rear wing. Newey's Williams, on the other hand, met the letter of the regulations by putting some strategically placed bumps where they would be measured onto a conventionally lean and slippery cockpit. It was cheeky, when you consider that Senna's death in a Newey Williams led to the rule change, and it was also something that Benetton would no doubt have been pinched for had they tried it first.

#6 Todd

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Posted 17 January 2005 - 23:45

Originally posted by wati
Yeah, they made a massive error. They let MS go to Ferrari (Berger and Alesi also said of the 1995 car it was a dog).

Wattie


This was Ross Brawn's take too. He said in a 2000 Autosport interview that the 1996 Benetton was the best car that they'd built to date, and that the drivers failed to realize it's potential at most of the races. It should be remembered that the B195 was a hasty adaptation to V10 power that suffered from balance problems throughout the season. They were written off by most before the season started, and it was Schumacher's ability to keep that car on the limit that caused Frank Williams to state that MS would be a threat were he driving a pram.

#7 just me again

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Posted 18 January 2005 - 08:28

Originally posted by karlth
I was watching the 1997 documentary about the Benetton F1 team and in it Nick Wirth said that "We made a massive error on the design of the 1996 car, it was a dog."

The 1996 was a Rory Byrne designed car, does anyone know what this massive error was?

Maybe he was comparing the balance with he's 95 Simtik. Wich i think balancevice was a very good car. It just missed horsepower.

Bjørn

#8 e34fanatic

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Posted 18 January 2005 - 09:19

B196 had somewhat different rear-suspension configuration compared to b195. I think that in 96 they used torsion bars. It caused some reliability problems, Alesi(as usual) lost vicotory in Monaco due to that. B196 was very good car in race trim, but it lacked balance in qualifying trim. I think that caused most problems. When you start in third row and you are over a second slover in qualifying than the car using the same engine, you are psyched to lose the race. That was the difference between Schumacher and Berger/Alesi combo. Schumacher was in the same situation many times in 1995, yet he allways thought there was a way to win the race. In that respect Schumacher is unique driver.

There were lots of other problems too. The team made mistakes, like the hand-brake system in Nürburgring. If both drivers fails in starting procedure, the team has made a mistake. It must be said, that the b196 was very difficult car to attack. Alesi showed that he can handle f1 car in every circumstance and he could attack even with Ferrari FA92. Yet both Benettons were such cars that Alesi couldn´t adapt his style. berger had entirely different driving style, but he too was unable to maximaze his potential with the car.

#9 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 18 January 2005 - 10:27

Anyone watching the 97 docu on Benetton will realise the drivers were arguably the biggest problem.

#10 Mark Beckman

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Posted 18 January 2005 - 14:09

Originally posted by just me again

Maybe he was comparing the balance with he's 95 Simtik. Wich i think balancevice was a very good car. It just missed horsepower.

Bjørn


Rarely has there been an underpowered car that wasnt 'well balanced' - add another 50hp (whatever) and suddenly funny things start to happen.

I agree with that Ross.

#11 ivanalesi

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Posted 18 January 2005 - 14:29

Renault 2003 - 4 was a good example. But it was the opposite way in Benetton, Alesi just hates understeer more than anything else, may be the drivers have been a problem there, because they have very different styles but this team has been running 2 equal status drivers for the 1st time since may be 91 or 93(Nurburgring that year shows it) + in the early races the reliability wasnt that good. The 97 car was much much better, but then Renault were going out, Byrne/Brown went to Ferrari, Flavio was going out and one driver was retiring the other looking elsewhere, not a very stable envirement.

#12 Monstrobolaxa

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Posted 18 January 2005 - 18:02

Originally posted by Mark Beckman


Rarely has there been an underpowered car that wasnt 'well balanced' - add another 50hp (whatever) and suddenly funny things start to happen.

I agree with that Ross.

:rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl:

#13 eoin

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Posted 21 January 2005 - 01:26

Originally posted by just me again

Maybe he was comparing the balance with he's 95 Simtik. Wich i think balancevice was a very good car. It just missed horsepower.

Bjørn


IIRC Berger thought the B195 was a bit of a brick aswell.

#14 Fortymark

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Posted 21 January 2005 - 03:10

It was interesting to note that Irvine became as fast as Alesi and Berger all of a sudden.

#15 Ghostrider

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Posted 29 January 2005 - 18:14

If the 96 Benetton was a dog, I wonder what Wirth calls the 99 one?

#16 desmo

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Posted 29 January 2005 - 20:21

Wirth's B199 was probably too ambitious in its design but was technically quite innovative and interesting. The long wheelbase (3,285mm) necessitated by Wirth's FTT front diff system, which presaged BAR's analogous developments, probably took its toll on performance, as did development of the equally innovative twin clutch transmission. Additionally the car featured an at the time notable tapering of the SP plan area aft of the radiators, Wirth's turning vanes and "wing" at floor level ahead of the SP intakes, both features still seen in F1 albeit in modified form. It was also one of the first cars to move the oil reservoir from the spacer between the gearbox and engine to in front of the engine, again an idea later proven (credit to Stewert/Ford though for being the 1st here I think, ignoring March's earlier version that no one copied).

Overall probably a case of too much innovation too soon. I admire Wirth's daring to be different, but it also illustrates the maxim that well developed older technology will generally in racing beat less developed newer technologies, even if those newer designs are fundamentally going in the right directions.

#17 Jhope

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Posted 29 January 2005 - 23:26

Originally posted by desmo
Wirth's B199 was probably too ambitious in its design but was technically quite innovative and interesting. The long wheelbase (3,285mm) necessitated by Wirth's FTT front diff system, which presaged BAR's analogous developments, probably took its toll on performance, as did development of the equally innovative twin clutch transmission. Additionally the car featured an at the time notable tapering of the SP plan area aft of the radiators, Wirth's turning vanes and "wing" at floor level ahead of the SP intakes, both features still seen in F1 albeit in modified form. It was also one of the first cars to move the oil reservoir from the spacer between the gearbox and engine to in front of the engine, again an idea later proven (credit to Stewert/Ford though for being the 1st here I think, ignoring March's earlier version that no one copied).



I would tend to disagree with that underlined part. Cars of the past were known to have pretty flat plan views, and the minimization of the rear end in that respect was somewhat neglected. BUt in 1998, the Arrows A19 (and the 1999 A20) have a very sudden drop in plan view after the radiators. It was somewhat hidden by, what I call, turning vanes on the rop of the sidepods. At the time, Arrows were the first team to attempt a miniscule rear end to the car. Soon after that, many teams tested this in the wind tunnel, found benifits, and included them on their car. But once the new rear wing rules were added in 2001, this wind tunnel experimentation went into overtime. The first example of this, is the Ferrari F2002. When teams laid their eyes on the cars tight ass, I heard a collective, self-induced slap in the head. The biggest aero development of the 2002 season, was making the rear of the car tighter than Kylie Minogue's ass.

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#18 desmo

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Posted 30 January 2005 - 00:55

Plan view is overhead. The Barnard Arrows A19/20 was an interesting design and was also notable for the radiator vents in the outboard rear of the SPs presaging a lot of other future developments along similar lines. Also, I should have given Barnard/Arrows shared credit for the modern mounting of the oil reservoir in front of the engine and their early adoption of, again with Stewart/Ford, and unlike Stewart perseverence with- perhaps against better judgement- the CFRP gearbox case. The CFRP case being another instance of the early adopters of new technologies paying a tangible cost against better developed older ideas.

#19 Double Apex

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Posted 30 January 2005 - 01:14

Heh, Gerhard Berger has a few interesting things to say about his benetton days in his autobiograpy Zielgerade . It's written in German (not my native tongue), so what I write here may not be completely accurate, especially the more technical parts. When he first drove the B195 during winter testing at Estoril, he immediately spun and wrote it off completely. Testing was then iterrupted for three days as the car had to go back to England for investigation. On his second go, in the rain and again at Estoril, he spun on his third lap and wrote off another car. In the meantime Alesi had also spun off twice but fortunately he stranded in the gravel traps, so damage was minimal.

After that they went to Barcelona to test again. Initially Berger felt comfortably with the car but he was a second off the pace so he went looking for that extra second, and spun off again. Things obviously started to get a bit painfull then and Berger felt the team missed Michael already. :p

Berger accepted responsibility to some extent, but also pressed engineers to look into the situation as he felt sure there was a problem with the car. After investigation they discovered that at high speeds the floor/diffuser of the car would create an effect similar to stalling with airplaines which caused an abrupt lack of downforce. This then caused snap oversteer and that resulted in Berger and Alesi spinning off all the time. Berger explains that this characteristic of the car was already known within the team and tells how Herbert also suffered from it during the 1995 season. Berger also admits that at this point his respect for Michael Schumacher increased substantially as he couldn't understand how someone could drive this car on the limit all the time. The solution to this problem had something to do with the ride height but Berger doesn't explain this into detail.

Considering the B196 he explains how this car had a strong tendency for turn-in oversteer, he writes how this was aerodynamically designed into the car. He suffered from this greatly during qualifying and admits his frustration about this as he was continually beaten by Alesi. Alesi was just better at coping with this while driving on the limit.

Now, I am not sure about this, but could it be that these two things, the snap oversteer and the tendency for turn-in oversteer are closely related and that this is the major design flaw that Nick Wirth was referring to? It's not exactly a flaw as Schumacher obviously could perform with it, but you could maybe say that with him in the car this flaw remained somewhat hidden and didn't matter much, whereas in 1996, with Berger and Alesi driving, the flaw became obvious. :p

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#20 Jhope

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Posted 30 January 2005 - 01:28

Originally posted by desmo
Plan view is overhead.

:blush:

Than can you pls illustrate what you meant about the B199?

#21 desmo

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Posted 30 January 2005 - 02:03

What I was trying to say was that viewed from overhead, particularly near the floor, the B199's SPs tapered inward towards the car's back markedly compared to most other contemporary chassis.

#22 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 30 January 2005 - 17:14

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Nifty colors :stoned:

#23 Ghostrider

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Posted 30 January 2005 - 17:34

Originally posted by desmo
Wirth's B199 was probably too ambitious in its design but was technically quite innovative and interesting. The long wheelbase (3,285mm) necessitated by Wirth's FTT front diff system, which presaged BAR's analogous developments, probably took its toll on performance, as did development of the equally innovative twin clutch transmission. Additionally the car featured an at the time notable tapering of the SP plan area aft of the radiators, Wirth's turning vanes and "wing" at floor level ahead of the SP intakes, both features still seen in F1 albeit in modified form. It was also one of the first cars to move the oil reservoir from the spacer between the gearbox and engine to in front of the engine, again an idea later proven (credit to Stewert/Ford though for being the 1st here I think, ignoring March's earlier version that no one copied).

Overall probably a case of too much innovation too soon. I admire Wirth's daring to be different, but it also illustrates the maxim that well developed older technology will generally in racing beat less developed newer technologies, even if those newer designs are fundamentally going in the right directions.


Thanks for this very informative summary of the Bf199. :up:

#24 man

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Posted 30 January 2005 - 17:53

Berger was at a distinct disadvantage to Alesi in 1996 as his driving position would block the airflow into the airbox. Despite running similiar or identical wing settings, Berger was often significantly slower through the straight line speed traps.