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What about Stefano Modena?


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#51 Seebar

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Posted 15 February 2017 - 11:45

Nigel Roebuck told the story in Fifth Column that Keke Rosberg dismissed Modena as a talent following his debut GP - "forget him, he'll never make it, he retired from his first GP because he was tired? If you're making your GP debut you carry the bloody thing home" or words to that effect.

There was the other superstitions about him as well - an inside-out glove (which he claimed was because the lining itched), and didn't he have different coloured boots?

By coinicidence, I just read Gerhard Berger's first autobiography Grenzbereich the other day, and his take on the second half of his 1986 season and how Benetton gave him a fast car but some small things always went wrong.

'I always felt well at BMW, but it was a pity they no longer pursued F1 with the required consistency.

[...]

For instance, I remember well that the sluggishness of the throttle linkage was a never-ending issue.  I had blisters on my right foot and wore through soles, because you had to push the pedal like an ox, otherwise nothing moved.  But that didn't change until the last race: I really had to laugh, when in 1987 I heard in Adelaide that Modena had to retire from his first Brabham outing with cramp in his right leg.'


I've always wondered what went wrong in 1991 - he looked like scoring good points in just about every race of the first half of the season (Imola and Monaco could have brought him top 3 finishes as well); and then he just faded away in the second half and pretty much the whole of 1992.



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#52 Nemo1965

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Posted 15 February 2017 - 11:57

I once asked Huub Rothengatter about Stefano Modena (Rothengatter was/is the manager of Jos Verstappen, but a F2 winner and F1 driver in his own right). Rothengatter said he was very talented but that 'Stefan always wanted to have the things exactly like he wanted. If he did not get that, he just couldn't get down to it. He was always living in his head, in his little phantasies how things should be...'

 

 

By coinicidence, I just read Gerhard Berger's first autobiography Grenzbereich the other day, and his take on the second half of his 1986 season and how Benetton gave him a fast car but some small things always went wrong.

'I always felt well at BMW, but it was a pity they no longer pursued F1 with the required consistency.

[...]

For instance, I remember well that the sluggishness of the throttle linkage was a never-ending issue.  I had blisters on my right foot and wore through soles, because you had to push the pedal like an ox, otherwise nothing moved.  But that didn't change until the last race: I really had to laugh, when in 1987 I heard in Adelaide that Modena had to retire from his first Brabham outing with cramp in his right leg.'

I've always wondered what went wrong in 1991 - he looked like scoring good points in just about every race of the first half of the season (Imola and Monaco could have brought him top 3 finishes as well); and then he just faded away in the second half and pretty much the whole of 1992.

 

I am quoting myself here (because I was Chezrome in an earlier 'form', hihi). I think Modena's touring-car career after F1 showed the accuracy of Rothengatter's assessment. Things had to be 'right' for Modena (or perceived right) or he would just fade in his gloom...



#53 BMWTeamBigazzi

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Posted 16 February 2017 - 00:23

I am quoting myself here (because I was Chezrome in an earlier 'form', hihi). I think Modena's touring-car career after F1 showed the accuracy of Rothengatter's assessment. Things had to be 'right' for Modena (or perceived right) or he would just fade in his gloom...

Am not sure on this, there is no way his touring car career would have lasted so long, 2 seasons in the DTM/ITC and three seasons in the ultra competitive STW Cup with scant reward would have destroyed him going on that evidence, maybe he chilled out during the latter years?? but know lol :D a proper true enigma of the racing world!! and the racing world could probably do with a few more characters like him.



#54 Hamish Robson

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Posted 17 February 2017 - 22:02

There was an ex-Modena F1 car at Retromobile last weekend. If I can work out how I may post a picture.

#55 RacingGreen

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 17:04

Saw him win the Birmingham Super Prix in 87, but Roberto Moreno was the star that day.

 

https://www.youtube....?v=eFYadXM1-4g 



#56 bigears

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 18:26

I know Modena is a tester for Bridgestone but is there any way I can contact him about his F3000 days?

 

RacingGreen, what do you remember about your time at the Birmingham Superprix?



#57 Bill Becketts

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 18:53

Modena would not let anyone touch him in the Car before a race...so he had to tighten his own Belts!!! Can Drivers do that effectively  :eek:



#58 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 04 February 2019 - 20:59

Stefano discusses a few of the things discussed in this thread in this interview uploaded tonight:

https://www.oldracin...Stefano-Modena/

 

This includes his take on Formula 3000, options for 1988, Brabham, his debut and so on. He clearly doesn't hold any grudges; very amiable man.

 

The supposed superstitions have been pooh-poohed in so many interviews at the time of racing that I didn't bother rehashing those questions, but everything else was brought up.

 

 

Bigears, if you still need Stefano's contact details, PM me.



#59 paulstevens56

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Posted 04 February 2019 - 22:18

A very interesting piece that.

 

And probably a very misunderstood guy

Would love to hear from a mechanics perspective form those teams if he was actually that interested and involved.

 

But, a genuine man with very specific needs.

Reminds me a bit of john Kocinski in bike racing who obsessed about his cleanliness, got changed on a towel etc.  but was blindingly quick.  

 

And maybe also Didier Auriol

 

But his comments about nursing a car home at Monaco and Montreal were fascinating, fully knowing it was the best way to get a finish, that shows maturity and mechanical sympathy that most of his peers would know little about



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#60 ellrosso

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Posted 05 February 2019 - 06:47

Yes, good article. We're all built differently aren't we...... I can imagine Alan Jones would say something very similar to Keke too!  There would be many who would give their right arm to have achieved what Stefano did in F1.

He seems very relaxed about it all actually, quite happy with his lot. Pretty sure there was a "Lunch with Mike Earle" in Motorsport a while back - could be a few insights there.

Sometimes its better not to be lauded as the next big thing - I well remember a time when both Keke and AJ were certainly not regarded as World Champion material, probably made them a lot more determined to make it.



#61 GMiranda

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Posted 05 February 2019 - 11:10

Yes, good article. We're all built differently aren't we...... I can imagine Alan Jones would say something very similar to Keke too!  There would be many who would give their right arm to have achieved what Stefano did in F1.

He seems very relaxed about it all actually, quite happy with his lot. Pretty sure there was a "Lunch with Mike Earle" in Motorsport a while back - could be a few insights there.

Sometimes its better not to be lauded as the next big thing - I well remember a time when both Keke and AJ were certainly not regarded as World Champion material, probably made them a lot more determined to make it.

And also a podcast with Mike Earle



#62 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 05 February 2019 - 14:59

Thanks to the few that have taken time to read and respond and for their feedback.

I believe Nigel Beresford is still on TNF but not sure if he worked with Stefano at the same time as to an insiders view of Stefano's team relationship.

#63 funformula

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Posted 05 February 2019 - 20:03

Nigel Beresford indeed had shared some thoughts about Stefano Modena in a thread somewhere here in this forum, Maybe someone more capable than me will find it.

From memory Stefano Modena lost faith and motivation when Harvey Postlethwaite left Tyrrell around mid saison.


Edited by funformula, 05 February 2019 - 20:04.


#64 funformula

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Posted 05 February 2019 - 21:42

Found it, thread title is "Tyrrell Honda 020 1991"

#65 Nigel Beresford

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Posted 05 February 2019 - 22:55

1991 is a long time ago, and I can't remember which or any of Stefano's reported quirks are true and which are myths. I guess I didn't bother to commit them to memory because, well, we all have our funny little ways and if Stefano wanted to wear his gloves inside out then that was up to him. I wasn't interested.

 

I was Stefano's race engineer in 1991. In truth the 1991 season was first blighted when we were in Hungary in 1990. That was where Harvey let me (Alesi's engineer) and Simon Barker (Nakajima's engineer) know that Jean-Claude Migeot was going back to Ferrari for 1991.  This was one of the first nails on the coffin because Migeot's contribution to our competitiveness in '89 and '90 couldn't be overstated.  Besides designing and developing the aerodynamics of the car and it's operating philosophies, JCM also conceived of and developed our aeromapping capability (the means by which the aerodynamic settings of the car were simulated and determined for each track, and a very significant part of Tyrrell's success in 1989 and 1990; we were far ahead of almost all other teams in that respect). Losing Migeot was crippling. Migeot did all of the aero surfaces of the 020 before leaving, but Harvey had left the mechanical design of the 020 car to George Ryton. This was a grave mistake. George was a very nice and enthusiastic fellow but he needed more direction and restraint from Harvey than he received. The 020 was complicated and fiddly to make, and had all sorts of silly "look at me" engineering features which made it the opposite of the elegant, simple, pure and functional racing machines that were the 018 and 019. The car's all-new transverse gearbox also had some silly fundamental errors in the lubrication system which, had Harvey been paying closer attention, would have been picked up at the design stage because he had the experience to have spotted them. Of course, we all rapidly acquired that experience as we debugged the 'box.

 

Then came the second nail in 1991's coffin: Alesi's move to Ferrari was confirmed. This ripped our hearts out because working with him was so exciting - you knew that there was simply nothing left to wring out of the car when Jean was driving it. I never again looked forward to a race weekend the way I had in 1990. 

 

Then.... the first Honda engine arrived. It was WAY heavier than they told us it would be. This, combined with the short gearbox and the long engine meant that the car was overweight and had a heavily rearward weight distribution compared to the 019. This was disastrous. The third nail in the coffin.

 

Then.... Benetton did a deal to use the Pirelli tyres in 1991. Ken and Harvey had done a deal for the use of Pirelli tyres from 1989 onwards because accurate data on the tyre stiffness was critical for the accurate functioning of the Aeromap program (remember that a ride height  adjustment of 1mm front or rear made a significant change to the car's aerobalance, so knowing the deflection of the tyre under load was very important). As a non Goodyear-favoured team there was no way Tyrrell was going to be provided with this information by them, so going with Pirelli was our only option if Aeromap was going to work. It helped that the whole team was very Italophile - we really enjoyed working with the Pirelli guys (not that there was anything wrong with Goodyear's people at all) - and in '89 and '90 the tyres were developed with us and in our favour. This was all going to change now that Benetton had signed on with Pirelli. Fourth nail in the coffin.

 

This is all background to show that although the prospect of a Honda V10 powered Tyrrell was pretty attractive on paper, the reality was not quite so good.  Obviously at the time Modena signed with Tyrrell many of these things had not yet come to pass. We consoled ourselves over the loss of Alesi with the prospect of having Stefano, who seemed to be very much in the ascendent during 1990. The first half of the '91 season was okay-ish. We had a really strong showing in Monaco with Stefano a strong second until the bottom end of the engine grenaded. Then, as I may have mentioned before, we went to Mexico and were sniggering at the Benetton guys because they had just lost John Barnard. Of course karma is a bitch because Harvey went back to England between Mexico and Canada but never came back out to Montreal. Harvey's contract was up for renewal and Ken had procrastinated for some reason about renewing it. Mercedes had been making overtures to HP about heading up their new F1 effort and so he up and left in the middle of the season and we weren't sniggering any more, even though ironically Montreal was our best result of the year (P2), thanks to Mr. Mansell's last lap stoppage. All of these things conspired to undermine Modena's already fragile personality, and the second half of the season was forgettable as Stefano's dream turned more and more sour and things spiralled downwards without HP to inspire and lead us.  Mrs. Modena was a constant presence in the garage and she just added to the misery and tension. When Simon and I got back to England after Canada Harvey took us out to dinner in Chinatown in London to tell his side of the falling out with Ken, and we talked about joining him at Mercedes, but in the end of course he wound up going back to Ferrari again before eventually returning to Tyrrell, having obviously made up with Ken. In November '91 I got an offer out of the blue to follow my own dream and become Rick Mears' engineer at Penske Racing. I loved Tyrrell like my family, but it wasn't the same after Harvey, Jean and Jean-Claude left so it was an easy decision for me to make to go to Indy.

 

Stefano was a lovely guy and very complicated but not in a million years anywhere like the talent of Alesi, I'm afraid, and certainly not an inspiration to the team like Jean was. Tyrrell failed him for all of the reasons I detailed above but he was never the charismatic, inspiring driver we needed to help lift ourselves out of the morass.

 

Thanks, Nigel


Edited by Nigel Beresford, 05 February 2019 - 23:07.


#66 Michael Ferner

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Posted 06 February 2019 - 08:32

Excellent insight - thanks, Nigel! :up:

#67 MonzaDriver

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Posted 06 February 2019 - 10:38

Dear Nigel Beresford

I respect the fact that you were Modena's race engeener,

and I am just a motor racing fan,,,,,,,, but it was the other way round,

you cannot compare Jean Alesi to Stefano Modena.

Look at the career of Sfefano Modena, from karting to F1, just as he was driving a decent engine and some decent tyres.... he won. Fair and square. Races and Championship.

Those start at Monaco beside Ayrton Senna, it was a miracle not a qualify.

The depart of those important people from Tyrrell to Ferrari, I wondered in those days if it was not Ecclestone's willing.

And sincerely Ken Tyrrell never do nothing agaisnt Ecclestone's will.

Stefano Modena never has a competitive car in F1, just like Tommy Byrne, a total shame.

A big problem also was that Stefano Modena come inside a new team. a new car, he test, he understood,

and he won the race, and the team mates just look at how their cars goes in Stefano's hands.

This was an unpleseant thing  for...let's say Ecclestone Dennis Williams Jordan......

I know that people who doesn't give a decent car to Stefano Modena or Tommy Byrne;

now they are modern art collector, or has a band like in their teen-age dreams,

and Stefano Modena is a testing driver for Bridgestone.

And in this forum we are looking all around the world for a decent race to look at. 

About Modena's personality or character, I never knew him, but also people like Senna Fangio Prost Lauda Schumacher, in reality never seems easy personalities.

Ciao and thank you so much for your post Nigel.

MonzaDriver


Edited by MonzaDriver, 06 February 2019 - 10:46.


#68 paulstevens56

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Posted 06 February 2019 - 12:22

Thanks Nigel, fabulous detail and also shows how intricate things were in terms of aero, tyres and other choices even back in 91 when it seemed cars were far more simple. And slo how imperative it was to ahve that clear vision of a Harvey, Barnard, Muray or the like to carry a car through a season. 

 

I don't think anyone realistically compares Stefano to Jean, that would be silly as both had very different styles and experience.

 

But it is certain that with the right nurturing I think Modena could have been say an Alboreto or Berger, a very good number two.

 

Bizarrely you could say Jean ended up being exactly that, all too often snatching defeat form the jaws of victory!



#69 Nigel Beresford

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Posted 06 February 2019 - 13:52

Hello MonzaDriver

 

thank you for taking the time to set out your thoughts on my post.

 

I try to limit my participation on TNF to writing objective messages which provide facts or historical context to things I know about first or second hand, i.e. my own personal experience or from what I was told by those with direct personal experience, such as my father or colleagues. I try to avoid making subjective comments but I am not always successful and I find them pretty tiresome, to be honest.  Anyway, please find my response below:

 

Dear Nigel Beresford

I respect the fact that you were Modena's race engeener,

and I am just a motor racing fan,,,,,,,, but it was the other way round,

you cannot compare Jean Alesi to Stefano Modena.

 

I am a massive fan too! I have been passionate about racing on four and two wheels for as long as I can remember. I am one of those truly fortunate people who has been able to get paid for years for doing something I love - I haven't done a proper day's work since January 1986! But come on, if we say we cannot compare Modena and Alesi then that's just illogical. Racing drivers put themselves out there to compare themselves with their peers by competing against them in the belief that they will prove to be superior in the comparison. Alesi and Modena are actually pretty good examples for a compare-and-contrast subjective exercise, given that in 1990 they were both driving Pirelli shod V8 cars fielded by historical teams with similar heritage that were past their prime. Both had strong F3000 showings behind them, both were Italian (I know Alesi is "French", but he is Sicilian Italian through and through). I think the comparison is valid, especially in the context of explaining and comparing their respective seasons at Tyrrell. The exercise at hand is to understand why Modena apparently failed where Alesi succeeded. As I have tried to show, much of this was due to things beyond Stefano's control, but other aspects were down to him. 

 

Look at the career of Sfefano Modena, from karting to F1, just as he was driving a decent engine and some decent tyres.... he won. Fair and square. Races and Championship.

Those start at Monaco beside Ayrton Senna, it was a miracle not a qualify.

No, it was a combination of a very good driver and car and tyre combination achieving a good qualifying result at Monaco. It boils down to talent, engineering and physics. Divine intervention didn't come in to it.

 

The depart of those important people from Tyrrell to Ferrari, I wondered in those days if it was not Ecclestone's willing.

No, this is rubbish. Who wouldn't go back to Italy for the lifestyle and the money on offer? Ecclestone had nothing to do with this.

And sincerely Ken Tyrrell never do nothing agaisnt Ecclestone's will.

Sure he did. Ken was his own man. Ken's sole focus was doing what was best for his team. It was before my time but Tyrrell participated in the 1982 San Marino GP - that's a pretty good example.

 

Stefano Modena never has a competitive car in F1, just like Tommy Byrne, a total shame.

 

A big problem also was that Stefano Modena come inside a new team. a new car, he test, he understood,

and he won the race, and the team mates just look at how their cars goes in Stefano's hands.

This was an unpleseant thing  for...let's say Ecclestone Dennis Williams Jordan......

I know that people who doesn't give a decent car to Stefano Modena or Tommy Byrne;

now they are modern art collector, or has a band like in their teen-age dreams,

and Stefano Modena is a testing driver for Bridgestone.

And in this forum we are looking all around the world for a decent race to look at.

Sorry, a lot got lost in translation here. I don't understand what you are saying. If it is easier, please resend in Italian. To be honest I don't think Ecclestone, Dennis or Williams took much notice of Stefano, though to be fair Eddie Jordan obviously thought he could make more of him than we were able to do at Tyrrell. 

 

 

About Modena's personality or character, I never knew him, but also people like Senna Fangio Prost Lauda Schumacher, in reality never seems easy personalities.

Don't get me wrong, Stefano was not a difficult character - I don't think I said that at all. He was a nice guy. He was fairy introverted, thoughtful and insular but not difficult. It is a mistake to think that you have to be a dick to be a successful driver. Two words disprove that theory...Rick Mears.

 

Ciao and thank you so much for your post Nigel.

MonzaDriver

 

Thanks again, Nigel


Edited by Nigel Beresford, 06 February 2019 - 15:27.


#70 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 06 February 2019 - 17:52

Monza Driver, if you read the interview which reignited the thread Ecclestone was a key figure to Stefano getting the Brabham 87 debut so he appreciated his talent.
I got Nigel involved so we could support Stefanos claim in the interview that he got on really well with the engineers.

Also dont forget Modena was offered the McLaren test drive by Ron Dennis in 1988 ahead of Pirro but turned it down so he could race.

So 3 of the 4 you mention there noticed him

Edited by Richard Jenkins, 06 February 2019 - 18:25.


#71 MonzaDriver

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Posted 06 February 2019 - 19:34

Dear Nigel,

thank you so much to your detailed reply to my post.

Yes sometimes I wrote in English using the expressions I would use in Italian.

Because we are all enthusiasts I took for granted, that the meaning is the same,

but sometimes it could be not so. Sorry.

 

I loved so much your saying that you provide facts or historical context to the thing you know

first or second hand. Thank you so much, and it's just great, a person with your experience write here.

 

My idea is that Modena was way better than Alesi, given the right chances.

You wrote that Modena's talent was anywhere like Alesi's….. too much o Alesi side.

Yes Alesi is a Italian with french accent.

 

I totally forgot that in Imola 82 Tyrrell was not with FOCA teams, Alboreto has a personal sponsor Imola Ceramic,

but maybe that was not enough to justify Tyrrell's position then. If I remember right also the other Tyrrel raced that day.

 

To refer to the point of Dennis Williams Jordan, I use always a Tyrrell example.

I recently discovered that one year among the ones Alboreto drove for Tyrrell, the revisions of the Cosworth for his car,

were paid by Count Vittorio Zanon of Valgiurata. And always this Count paid for the Peterson's seat in Lotus.

How many of this operations were done with the Ok of Bernie Ecclestone?

10% 50% 100%

A lot of people today say that working with Bernie was very close to monarchy.

How many drivers with Modena's or Byrne's talent has to leave their seat in order to make possible one of those operations.

How many times Dennis Williams Jordan ecc... ecc.… has to facilitate one of those agreements.

If they have to, they do it with regrets, or very happy with the idea of a great money advantage just behind the corner

Tyrrell is just an example, I always loved team Tyrrell even  in their last days.

 

How much of those gains, became modern art masterpiece purchases ?

 

My fully appreciation to your writing Nigel.

All the best.

MonzaDriver



#72 Nigel Beresford

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Posted 07 February 2019 - 16:45

Are you implying that some team owners of world championship winning teams were bribed by Bernie Ecclestone to pass over the likes of Byrne and Modena and select “lesser” drivers in order to enhance their personal bank balances? That’s an insupportable and scurrilous assertion which doesn’t withstand any logical scrutiny.

This is why I try to avoid entering in to subjective matters. I have gone to great lengths to try to explain objectively the reasons for Stefano's difficult season at Tyrrell and I have no first or second hand knowledge of the rest of his career before or after 1991.

Thanks, Nigel

Edited by Nigel Beresford, 07 February 2019 - 18:12.


#73 paulstevens56

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Posted 07 February 2019 - 18:19

And also you have to understand the role Marlboro played in Modena's career, they were like an early Red Bull in pushing all sorts of drivers through from that era like Foitek, Gachot, Alesi even Irvine and McNish and Mika later on.  They did not always work out, but that influence would also have an impact on driver choices a team made, it is not simply down to one man, all sorts of things are taken into account.

With fag money I know for a fact that in bike racing certain riders from certain countries had careers far longer than they should because of where they came from and the market that tapped into.



#74 king_crud

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Posted 08 February 2019 - 08:48

Nigel, in the interview posted earlier with Stefano he mentions he would spend a lot of time at the factory with the mechanics and engineers, moreso than other drivers generally by the sound of it. I wanted to ask if:

1. This was true with your time working with Stefano
2. How much difference does a driver spending time at the factory make?

I have this imagine in my mind of a driver wandering around in the jeans and a t-shirt annoying people by poking their nose into everyone's business at the factory. How much is needed from the driver besides race weekends?

#75 moreland

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Posted 08 February 2019 - 13:27

Thanks for that info Nigel, so rare to get that sort of insight into being inside an F1 team, either for events taking place currently or in the past.

 

Migeot's contribution to our competitiveness in '89 and '90 couldn't be overstated.  Besides designing and developing the aerodynamics of the car and it's operating philosophies, JCM also conceived of and developed our aeromapping capability (the means by which the aerodynamic settings of the car were simulated and determined for each track, and a very significant part of Tyrrell's success in 1989 and 1990; we were far ahead of almost all other teams in that respect).

 

I'd never heard of this. To a fan, the most noticeable thing about the 1990 Tyrrell was of course its raised nose, which looked completely unlike anything else at the time. Within a couple of years of course, every team had their own version of it. So I'd always assumed that it was the main reason why Tyrrell was so far ahead of the other 'smaller' teams in 1990 e.g. Arrows, Lotus, Brabham etc. But you mention the aeromapping as being very significant, so is it maybe the case that the front end of 1990 Tyrrell was more dramatic in terms of appearance and legacy than it was in terms of lap time?
 



#76 absinthedude

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Posted 08 February 2019 - 14:20

Nice interview with Modena.

 

Was't James Hunt involved with his management at one point too?

 

I remember Modena as talented. someone who could have gone on to have a long career but probably not enjoyed ultimate success in F1. His unusual quirks might have not endeared some to working alongside him too. He was pretty impressive at Brabham and I remember people expected him to win at Tyrrell. I'm not sure that it was fully understood how relatively unncompetitive the 1991 Tyrrell was. They were using the older V10 Honda from 1989/90 while McLaren had the V12 which was getting all the development. Sure, it was a step up from the Cosworth DFR Alesi had stunned people with in 1990 but perhaps the performance was not as great as people thought. Unfairly, Modena was expected to win grands prix in 1991. Even so, the fact that he just about did with a Honda what Alesi had done with a DFR underwhelmed people. The likelihood is that the whole Tyrrell-Honda package was less competitive than people understood. The Jordan debacle just buried him. 


Edited by absinthedude, 08 February 2019 - 14:23.


#77 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 08 February 2019 - 19:13

Thanks for the positive feedback for the interview.

#78 Nigel Beresford

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Posted 09 February 2019 - 14:58

Nigel, in the interview posted earlier with Stefano he mentions he would spend a lot of time at the factory with the mechanics and engineers, moreso than other drivers generally by the sound of it. I wanted to ask if:

1. This was true with your time working with Stefano
2. How much difference does a driver spending time at the factory make?

I have this imagine in my mind of a driver wandering around in the jeans and a t-shirt annoying people by poking their nose into everyone's business at the factory. How much is needed from the driver besides race weekends?

Hello king_crud

 

1. No, I don't recall Stefano spending much, if any, time at Tyrrell when he drove for us, but of course that is not to say he didn't do so when he drove for other teams. Obviously it was much easier for UK based drivers to stop in at Ockham. Jonathan Palmer was a frequent visitor and both Julian Bailey & Martin Brundle would drop in occasionally but not so much that it was anything like a regular occurrence. Things were just different then. 

 

2. It really depends on the driver and the era. I remember that back in the Seventies Denny Hulme was often at the McLaren factory (I was a kid but my dad was the factory manager so I used to spend my school holidays and weekends doing odd jobs there). That was easy for Denny because he lived in Weybridge and McLaren was at Colnbrook so it was relatively local. He would use the facilities to make or modify bits for whatever project he had on the go for his house or boat or whatever, and of course in those days the teams were like an extended family so he was almost one of the guys. Certainly if there was a party going on at one of the mechanics' houses or on a boat on the Thames then James Hunt would show up because the drivers and mechanics socialised a lot more in those days. None of that was a distraction, but it can certainly be the case that in the more recent era having the driver at the factory or race shop is a pain. It depends on the guy. A while after Paul Tracy started driving for Penske, Roger decided it would be a good idea to have him put to work at the race shop in Reading, Pennsylvania. That lasted about a day, and the idea got forgotten when the team manager found Tracy had the fabrication shop fully occupied on working on his mountain bike. In more recent times local residents Rick Mears and Ryan Briscoe would be frequent visitors to the Penske shop after it relocated to Mooresville, NC in 2005-6, but they were sensible enough to know how not to be too much of a distraction. Nowadays pre-race driver-in-the-loop simulation is a huge part of race preparation and so having the drivers at the factory regularly is commonplace for those teams which have in-house simulators. It's nice for the guys on the shop floor who don't attend races to have a chance to chat when the drivers walk around the facility, but to be brutally honest as an engineer it can occasionally be a distraction to have to entertain a hyperactive driver. So, to answer your question, in this day and age of very cheap & convenient communication methods the only times you need the driver at the factory or race shop is to do seat fits, attend sim sessions or participate in events on behalf of the team or sponsors. Otherwise (depending on the individual) it can be a significant distraction.

 

Thanks, Nigel



#79 Nigel Beresford

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Posted 09 February 2019 - 15:29

Thanks for that info Nigel, so rare to get that sort of insight into being inside an F1 team, either for events taking place currently or in the past.

 

 

I'd never heard of this. To a fan, the most noticeable thing about the 1990 Tyrrell was of course its raised nose, which looked completely unlike anything else at the time. Within a couple of years of course, every team had their own version of it. So I'd always assumed that it was the main reason why Tyrrell was so far ahead of the other 'smaller' teams in 1990 e.g. Arrows, Lotus, Brabham etc. But you mention the aeromapping as being very significant, so is it maybe the case that the front end of 1990 Tyrrell was more dramatic in terms of appearance and legacy than it was in terms of lap time?
 

Hello Moreland

 

if you thought the 019 looked completely unlike anything else at the time, you should have seen JCM's original concept ... That was really different.

 

It's impossible to apportion how much of the 019's performance advantage over the peer teams you quoted was due to its aerodynamics and how much was down to Aeromap, because they were inseparably intertwined. Several technical directions were taken with the car in order to support the Aeromap program. As I explained above, the decision to go with Pirelli was largely down to the need for accurate tyre stiffness information which Goodyear would not have provided to us. Similarly the move to a single front damper was made in order to separate the heave and roll stiffnesses of the front axle. The fundamental problem one was trying to fix was this: Drivers want the car to be comfortably neutral with perhaps a trace of understeer in high speed corners, but they want the car to be pointy for slow speed corners and chicanes. Aerodynamically these were pretty much mutually exclusive requirements, because the former required a nice rearward aerodynamic centre of pressure whereas the latter required a forward aero balance. Migeot's brilliance was that he created in Aeromap a tool to predict the aero balance of the car at various rakes and ride heights, and in the 018 & 019's mechanical packages Harvey created the implement to exploit this ability. This was done by adjusting the stiffness and travel of the front and rear axles, via springs, packers and ride heights. The car would be set up with a relatively high rake so that at low speeds it had the pointy turn in that the drivers needed to be able to attack chicanes and low speed corners. At speed the car would settle on to the front packers and lose rake as the rear continued to heave down, thus moving the centre of pressure rearwards and giving the driver the benign high speed aero balance he wanted. The monoshock front suspension meant we could independently adjust the front vertical stiffness without making the roll stiffness unpleasantly stiff for kerb strikes or riding chicanes or hurting the tyre performance. JCM designed the aerodynamics to be progressive and predictable (though ironically this rearwards aero balance shift with speed was referred to as "regressive").  

 

Hopefully this explains why you can't really credit the 019's performance purely to the high nose - as with many things it was much more subtle than that. Of course the cherry on the cake was having a driver like Jean Alesi doing the pedalling. 

 

Thanks, Nigel


Edited by Nigel Beresford, 09 February 2019 - 15:32.


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#80 Tim Murray

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Posted 09 February 2019 - 17:08

These are fascinating insights, Nigel. Thank you so much.

#81 funformula

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Posted 09 February 2019 - 20:25

Very interesting indeed, thank you very much Nigel,

 

I apologize for getting even further off topic now, but may I ask you if the Tyrrell 018 with this kind of aero and mechanical mapping required a different approach of driving compared to a more conventional car like for example it´s predecessor Tyrrell 017.

I ask this because I read somewhere that Michele Alboreto was not very impressed by the Tyrrell 018 at it´s debut in Imola 1989 and even did not qualify.

Before the race Jonathan Palmer suffered problems in his Tyrrell 017 in which he qualified for the race and switched into Alboretos Tyrrell 018. He immediately found the car a huge step forward compared to the 017 and even finished the race in 6th place from grid position 25

 

When Porsche interduced the 956 all the drivers testing it in Le Castellet (Ickx, Mass…) didn´t manage to achieve better lap times than in the old 935. It was only until Bellof took place in the new car...he was the first one who was able to benefit from the increased downforce and took the fast signes right hander at a speed, his fellow drivers didn´t think was possible.



#82 opplock

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Posted 09 February 2019 - 22:01

 

When Porsche interduced the 956 all the drivers testing it in Le Castellet (Ickx, Mass…) didn´t manage to achieve better lap times than in the old 935. It was only until Bellof took place in the new car...he was the first one who was able to benefit from the increased downforce and took the fast signes right hander at a speed, his fellow drivers didn´t think was possible.

 

I'm confused. Bellof didn't race a 956 until 1983. I attended the Group C races at Silverstone and Le Mans in 1982 and as the 956s outclassed the 935s, Ickx, Mass Bell etc did manage to extract some performance from the 956 before it raced. Did Bellof participate in the early testing? I'd be surprised as he competed in his 1st F2 race on 21st March 1982 - he did win it.     



#83 funformula

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Posted 09 February 2019 - 23:57

Just had a look in the book about the Porsche 956 where I read the story.
The Porsche engineers were a bit disappointed about the fact that the drivers were about 4 sec slower than the expected lap times of 1:44 min. Even the 917-30 (not the 935 I mentioned) had been slightly faster.
The drivers could realize the estimated lap times for the slower short circuit but not on the faster long circuit.
It took the drivers a year to reach the 1:44 min lap times. Reason for that was, that the drivers weren't mentally prepared for the amount of downforce and grip generated to take the fast S-curve flat. Ickx said "I can't take it flat now. Someone else should try it first, then I'll try it too"
Once this was proved, all the drivers improved their lap times.

#84 Nigel Beresford

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Posted 10 February 2019 - 09:43

Just had a look in the book about the Porsche 956 where I read the story.
The Porsche engineers were a bit disappointed about the fact that the drivers were about 4 sec slower than the expected lap times of 1:44 min. Even the 917-30 (not the 935 I mentioned) had been slightly faster.
The drivers could realize the estimated lap times for the slower short circuit but not on the faster long circuit.
It took the drivers a year to reach the 1:44 min lap times. Reason for that was, that the drivers weren't mentally prepared for the amount of downforce and grip generated to take the fast S-curve flat. Ickx said "I can't take it flat now. Someone else should try it first, then I'll try it too"
Once this was proved, all the drivers improved their lap times.

 

When we (Penske Racing) were commissioned by Porsche to run the RS Spyder in the ALMS we participated in the in the project from very early days, helping to build the prototype car in Weissach, supporting all of the tests etc. before racing the cars in the US. Our experience mirrored that to which you are referring. The early driving was done by Sascha Maassen, Lucas Luhr, Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard.  These were the top Porsche factory drivers who were regularly racing GT cars. They grew with the car, and adapted to its capabilities as the car itself developed and became faster and faster. No doubt about it, it took a lot of confidence to drive the RS Spyder at its limit because that was pretty stratospheric compared to what they had been driving in recent times, but they all worked up to that level in synch with the development of the car. Then after a season's racing the bodywork was completely revised and the 2007 version of the car was a quantum leap forward. Ryan Briscoe joined the team and the first time he drove the car was at Ricard, funnily enough. He was on the pace immediately, which I put down to his comfort and familiarity with driving high downforce, very high speed F1 and Indy cars. There was another factory Porsche driver in attendance who was very very fast in GT cars, but getting in to the Spyder blew his mind - he couldn't get anywhere near the edge of the performance envelope because it was now so far beyond that of a GT car. He just couldn't believe it would stick. Even now, within Porsche the RS Spyder is held up as a sort of supercar. I had a chat with Neel Jani in the last year or so about the car - he had had a chance to drive it - and he was raving about how good it was and how much nicer/better to drive it was than the LMP1 car.

 

There is a funny story about running the RS Spyder at Weissach. Porsche invited a group of journalists to drive the car on the Can Am track there. One by one they were bolted in to the car, did their laps, came back boggle eyed and raving about the performance of the car after their rather pedestrian runs. Then this old 70 something geezer was bolted in and given his run. The young hair-gelled engineers saw the first lap times and sat up and started to pay attention because this old guy was really wheeling some fast laps. They were all looking at each other. "Who the hell is 'Brian Redman'"?


Edited by Nigel Beresford, 10 February 2019 - 11:34.


#85 opplock

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Posted 10 February 2019 - 12:03

Just had a look in the book about the Porsche 956 where I read the story.
The Porsche engineers were a bit disappointed about the fact that the drivers were about 4 sec slower than the expected lap times of 1:44 min. Even the 917-30 (not the 935 I mentioned) had been slightly faster.
The drivers could realize the estimated lap times for the slower short circuit but not on the faster long circuit.
It took the drivers a year to reach the 1:44 min lap times. Reason for that was, that the drivers weren't mentally prepared for the amount of downforce and grip generated to take the fast S-curve flat. Ickx said "I can't take it flat now. Someone else should try it first, then I'll try it too"
Once this was proved, all the drivers improved their lap times.

 

The works 956s for 1983 were built to a more advanced spec (per Autocourse) including lighter chassis saving 30kg, revised steering geometry to make them easier to drive, high-downforce front nose section which eliminated understeer and higher compression engines.

 

I can well believe that they struggled to beat times set by the 917/30 on the Ricard long circuit with the 1982 car and that Bellof was the first driver brave enough to take Signes flat in the 1983 version. I'd suggest that the modifications accounted for a larger proportion of the reduction in lap times than Bellof's skill. He was quicker than his teammates but not by that much.

 

Sorry for the thread hijack.    



#86 barrykm

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Posted 10 February 2019 - 15:59

Thanks to all for a great thread  :up:



#87 Rob Ryder

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Posted 10 February 2019 - 19:08

It's like a time-warp to TNF 10 years ago :)  :)  :clap:



#88 Nigel Beresford

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Posted 10 February 2019 - 19:51

I apologize for getting even further off topic now, but may I ask you if the Tyrrell 018 with this kind of aero and mechanical mapping required a different approach of driving compared to a more conventional car like for example it´s predecessor Tyrrell 017.

I ask this because I read somewhere that Michele Alboreto was not very impressed by the Tyrrell 018 at it´s debut in Imola 1989 and even did not qualify.

Before the race Jonathan Palmer suffered problems in his Tyrrell 017 in which he qualified for the race and switched into Alboretos Tyrrell 018. He immediately found the car a huge step forward compared to the 017 and even finished the race in 6th place from grid position 25

 

 

Hello FunFormula

 

it's an excellent question but no, I don't believe the 018 required any different driving style from, say, the 017. Remember that the objective was to give the driver a car that required a less compromised setup for coping with both high and low speed corners, so to an extent it should have been an easier car to drive than the 017, but there was no funny trail braking or left foot braking or suchlike required because of the aero philosophy or monoshock front end.

 

The comment attributed to Michele on the situation at Imola in 1989 requires a lot of context and background information to be provided, because on the face of it it is very stark and ultimately it is unfair, and I will explain why.

 

Firstly the 018 never turned a wheel before we arrived in Imola - not even a shakedown in Silverstone - so it was almost completely unsorted. The 017Bs that we raced in Brazil had the 018's gearbox and rear suspension, so to some extent a major part of mechanical package of the  018 had been run, but the rest of it was all new. That includes the cooling system, fuel system, front suspension and aerodynamics. In fact, on reflection it is amazing that the car finished that San Marino race, and in the points at that. Remember that Harvey arrived at Tyrrell just before the Hungarian GP in 1988. After years at Ferrari it must have seemed that he had landed in some sort of alien environment. At the time we had a decent in-house composites capability thanks to Frank Coppuck's efforts, and we were one of the first F1 teams to be heavily in to using CAD, but pretty much everything else needed upgrading. By the time Migeot arrived a little later that year it was far too late to have the 018 ready for the start of the season, and it was a monumental effort on Harvey's part to bulldoze things through so that the new car was even ready in time for Imola.  We were a tiny engineering and manufacturing group, and people had to be hired to replace Brian Lisles, Frank and Graham Heard (the superb gearbox designer we had) when they moved on. Fabrication of the new car's rear suspension required some techniques that Tyrrell hadn't used before (nothing fancy, just novel for the TRO). The longitudinal gearbox with all of the ratios in front of the diff was completely new, and gearboxes are perhaps the longest lead time item in a car project. There was an all-new wind tunnel model to design, make and test. There was the Aeromap program to create. At this time we were still on Goodyears so the results predicted by Aeromap were going to be sub-optimal while we were not privy to first class tyre data. We discussed at length how we would design and make all of the carbon parts, because unlike, say, wishbones, there was no highly evolved and accepted way of making carbon parts. There were myriad approaches to making rear wing structures, for example, so we discussed what we thought was the best way to do it. None of the 017's wings carried over to 018, so there was a massive amount of work in simply designing and making the various wing assemblies (and the patterns, moulds and jigs and fixtures) we required. The setup process of the new car was completely new to the team. For all of these reasons, and a hundred more, the off season between 88 and 89 was very hard work in Ockham. In those days you spent the winter designing and building the car you were going to be racing in the summer. There wasn't an entirely separate group of designers and engineers. 

 

 

This is why we were still putting the finishing touches to the new car in the garage at three o'clock in the morning on the Thursday night in Imola. The new car was lovely and simple and made the 017 look like a truck but when Alboreto drove it it understeered like a pig. This is likely the root of the story of Michele being unimpressed with the new car. Of course, it was a bit of an embarrassing comedown for him having been booted out of Ferrari at the end of the previous season, and now having to race in Italy in a new car that wasn't handling well. I'm sure he wasn't loving all the questions from the Italian press. There had been no time (or car!) availalble to do any sort of rig tests, so we had to improvise. Harvey learned that one of our truckies weighed exactly 100kg, so he had him hanging off the side of the car in the garage, with the wheels on setup scales, to try to get some crude practical measurement of the real roll stiffness distribution. 

 

Absolutely everything was new and very different to the old car, so it took some time to get the best out of the 018. We also needed to learn how to set up this new monoshock front end. The original design of the front rocker as used in Imola had a single Belleville disc spring at each side to provide a little bit of lateral compliance for kerb strikes. The understeer was coming from overloading the front tyres so we rushed through a design for a narrower front rocker with a pack of Bellevilles which could be specified and sorted to obtain an optimised front roll stiffness. To be honest it took me a while to understand how we needed to set up and adjust the front springs and packers, and I made a mistake that screwed Palmer's qualifying effort in Monaco. 

 

Anyway, in Imola Michele didn't qualify because the practice and qualifying sessions were basically the first time the car had ever run, so it was operating way below it's ultimate potential. I am reminded by Autocourse that the 018's running was hindered by rain and time lost to fuel pump issues. Palmer dragged the 017B in to the race, and as you know we were able to choose to race the 018. Palmer's initial experience with the car mirrored that of Michele - the car had too much understeer. When Berger had his massive fiery crash and the race was red flagged we were able to connect the rear bar on the grid for the restart (don't ask me why it wasn't already connected - I don't know) and it lit up the car. Palmer was able to race to sixth.

 

As an addendum, the second 018 wasn't finished in time to leave on time for Monaco. It was Ken Tyrrell's 65th birthday and he still had his HGV (= CDL in America), so to free up the regular truckies for duty in Monaco he drove it down in the truck himself, kissing a French toll booth on the way with the trailer.  Michele hated driving the 017B - he wore through the elbows of his firesuit on the cockpit sides and then his own flesh in Brazil. He refused to drive the old car on the Thursday in Monaco while the second 018 was still on the road, but all was well on the Saturday. 

 

As I say, there is often a lot more to the story behind the stark headline.

 

Thanks, Nigel



#89 funformula

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Posted 10 February 2019 - 20:25

Hello Nigel,

 

thank you very much for these informations and brilliant inside storys.

This is much more information than I ever expected to get as an answer to my question...and I´m sure, I´m not the only one here in this forum who can´t get enough of it  :up:

 

Best regards

Harald



#90 opplock

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Posted 10 February 2019 - 20:58

 

 

As an addendum, the second 018 wasn't finished in time to leave on time for Monaco. It was Ken Tyrrell's 65th birthday and he still had his HGV (= CDL in America), so to free up the regular truckies for duty in Monaco he drove it down in the truck himself, kissing a French toll booth on the way with the trailer.  

 

A great story. People like Ken Tyrrell are sadly missed in modern motor racing. On another thread someone suggested that Nigel write a book. You've got at least two buyers.  



#91 Tim Murray

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Posted 10 February 2019 - 21:34

On another thread someone suggested that Nigel write a book. You've got at least two buyers.


Make that at least three ...

#92 GMiranda

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Posted 10 February 2019 - 21:55

Four :love:



#93 Gary C

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Posted 10 February 2019 - 21:57

...and four!

#94 pizzakrap

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Posted 10 February 2019 - 23:21

Quick question for Mr Beresford. It was fairly common place for teams to use the previous years car at the start of the season however drivers seemed to complain about how terrible the car was to drive (the 88 Benetton and march springs to mind) I can understand the cars being slower than newer models but why would the handling deteriorate? The only thing I can think of is different tire compounds or teams trying to jury rig parts of the new car on to the old. Being a huge fan of Tyrell and Arrows as a kid I'm really enjoying the insights you are giving.



#95 Nigel Beresford

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 13:00

Hello 'Pizzakrap'

I can't say I have any experience of drivers complaining about the 'old' car or going slower in one. It was never the case in my own career that a driver had to revert to using the 'old' car after having driven the new car. The closest thing to that was the decision by Ken and/or Harvey to put Palmer in 018/1 for Monaco and have Michele wait for 018/2 to arrive. You couldn't really blame Michele for refusing to drive an 017B, given how physically unpleasant it was for him. Besides, it was a heck of a comedown from the turbo Ferrari he had been driving the year before.

From an engineer's viewpoint, one of the really nice annual events at Penske Racing was receiving and seeing for the first time in the USA the "new" car from Penske Cars. Traditionally we would send a mechanic or two from the race team over from Reading, PA to Poole in the UK to assist Penske Cars' car build department with building the new car, but for the rest of us based in the US the first time we would see the new car would be when it was received - often delivered direct to the track at Phoenix or Firebird in mid December. There is nothing in the world as old fashioned as last year's car when you first see the new car. All the niggles and hassles of the old car were sorted out and everything was just neater, nicer and tidier. For me it took a long time for recently superseded race cars to gain some charm because they always looked so clunky in comparison with the new car.

Thanks, Nigel

Edited by Nigel Beresford, 11 February 2019 - 13:58.


#96 funformula

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 17:18

 

 

if you thought the 019 looked completely unlike anything else at the time, you should have seen JCM's original concept ... That was really different.

l

 

I thought twice to ask you this but as a huge admirer and fan of formula race cars in- and outside the cockpit (and a fan of Tyrrell in particular) I had to, so... how different was the original concept?  :)

 

I hope you don´t already regret your decision to open Pandoras box full of tales and storys we can´t get enough of it here on TNF.

 

BTW what was Alboretos special problem in fitting into Tyrrell 017? I can´t recall him being taller/bigger as Jonathan Palmer or Julian Bailey. Did any of them suffer similar problems regardig the cockpit space?

I can´t recall Tyrrell 017 being an overly tight car.

 

Thanks a lot



#97 Nigel Beresford

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 19:32

The original blue-sky concept for the 019 had a bulbous, almost egg  shaped back end to the bodywork, rather like a Maserati 250F. That didn't last very long in the wind tunnel. The original model had a full width front wing, but it wasn't until Mark Handford (who was doing the wind tunnel testing for JCM) cut out the middle part of the wing (thus creating the distinctive Corsair-style wing) that it really worked.

 

I don't really know why Michele was so uncomfortable in the 017B. As you mentioned,  JP and Julian Bailey had already raced that chassis for a year. There was a tendency at that time for the drivers to sit more and more upright, to give themselves more purchase on the steering wheel. At first I thought Michele sat a bit further forward than the other two, reducing the clearance to his elbows as the cockpit tapered inwards at the front, but looking at pictures that doesn't appear to be the case. Maybe he was a little bit broader in the beam. He certainly looks jammed in there in this pic:

 

1989-03-GP01-Brazil-4tra-Tyrrell-017-B-F

 

Thanks, Nigel


Edited by Nigel Beresford, 11 February 2019 - 19:37.


#98 funformula

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 20:51

Did the switch from front pull rod suspension to a slightly awkward looking push rod suspension (with outboard dampers because there was no space inside the chassis?) on the Tyrrell 017 at the beginning of 1989 has something to do with the already fitted 018 rear end?

I remember Williams going the other way round from switching from push rod to pull rod on their FW12 car in 1989.

 

https://www.flickr.c...in/photostream/

 

 

I fear I had to open a new topic because we even drift further away from the original subject of this thread ):


Edited by funformula, 11 February 2019 - 21:05.


#99 Nigel Beresford

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 21:10

No, that was done during 1988. The original 017 design had a ridiculous front pullrod arrangement that had the pullrods pulling practically co-axially on the rockers, so there was hardly any damper movement. The whole lot was mounted on the front of the tub. It was a disaster so during the 1988 season the pushrods were bodged on to the tub, with belleville springs providing the springing.  It was all a nightmare that I don't care to remember. Their presence on the 017B was just a carryover from the previous season.

 

I don't mind answering these questions but it is drifting away from the Stefano Modena topic. That doesn't bother me, personally speaking. I have nothing new to add about Stefano really, although one really good thing he did when he joined the team was to cook everyone a pasta meal in the garage at one of the early tests soon after he joined us. No other driver has ever done that. It was extremely good too!


Edited by Nigel Beresford, 11 February 2019 - 21:11.


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#100 pizzakrap

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Posted 12 February 2019 - 02:53

I thought twice to ask you this but as a huge admirer and fan of formula race cars in- and outside the cockpit (and a fan of Tyrrell in particular) I had to, so... how different was the original concept?  :)

 

I hope you don´t already regret your decision to open Pandoras box full of tales and storys we can´t get enough of it here on TNF.

 

BTW what was Alboretos special problem in fitting into Tyrrell 017? I can´t recall him being taller/bigger as Jonathan Palmer or Julian Bailey. Did any of them suffer similar problems regardig the cockpit space?

I can´t recall Tyrrell 017 being an overly tight car.

 

Thanks a lot

If I remember correctly an old copy of of motorsport said that the new transmission in 17b changed the driving position and alboreto couldn't change gear comfortably (hence the scraped elbows). Please bare in mind I was only 15 at the time so my noggin could well be playing tricks on me.

 

Cheers

Andy