Working with Speedhunters has been a life changing experience. I often wake up smiling, thinking how did I get so lucky to end up with my dream job straight out of college. It can however be an intimidating experience too. Sometimes the notion of writing a story that you’re not 100% confident in can be quite daunting. At the end of the day, we’re writing for hundreds of thousands of readers whom collectively share a knowledge base like no other. If we mess up, you can be sure someone will be there to point out our error quite quickly.
It’s certainly not easy moving between so many different and varying scenes and motorsports. In the last two weeks alone, I’ve covered a tube chassised S2000 powered MKII Escort, a vintage race meeting, a Volkswagen / Euro show, a Time Attack event and even some classic F1 cars which is the focus of this story. Still, I’m not complaining but it might give you an insight into how difficult a job this can be. Anyone who knows me will know I’m not particularly technically minded. I do however aim to learn just one new thing at every event that I didn’t know or quite fully understand before.
This is a story about three Formula One cars from the late eighties and early nineties. I knew nothing about them beforehand, but I’m hoping to change that this very instant …
The first of the three cars was this Lotus 101 from the 1989 season, piloted by Nelson Piquet and Satoru Nakajima with little success.
With the demise of the turbo era of F1 cars, Lotus resorted to the Judd CV engine. A 3.5 litre naturally aspirated V8 which produced somewhere around 585BHP at 9,750RPM.
It replaced a turbocharged Honda RA168 and was a much smaller package which allowed the car to be smaller and lighter than before.
The car was designed by Frank Dernie and Mike Coughlan, the latter of which is now with the Williams F1 team. The car was built within quite a short time frame which may have played a part in its demise.
It’s highest placing during the ’89 season was 4th at several events. It was thought that the 101 was over 100BHP down on the McLaren’s Honda V10 powered MP4/5.
The much simpler aerodynamics are quite a contrast with today’s cars although their operation is still quite complex.
Inside the small cockpit and it’s quite unnerving seeing how far forward the driver’s legs are.
A six speed manual Lotus gearbox from an era where drivers needed to take their hand off the wheel to shift gear.
Although it never enjoyed any major success so to speak, watching the Camel liveried car assault Snetterton was a visceral experience.
For 1990, Nelson Piquet moved from Lotus to Benetton Ford, behind the wheel of this Benetton B190-4.
As it turned out, it would be a wise move for Piquet who would finish third overall in the championship with two back-to-back race wins at the end of the season.
Benetton utilised a Ford HBA4 3.5 litre V8, the HBA being the successor to the legendary Ford DFV.
1990 was a tough year in Formula One and Benetton did themselves proud to stay with the pace of McLaren and Williams that year.
A look at the car’s more recent history.
Like the Lotus 101, the B190 was a manual affair with a six speed H-pattern dog-box. I’ll never look at wooden shift knobs the same way again.
The fabricated aerodynamic steel wishbones with rose joints and in-board suspension acted via rocker arms.
Like the 101, a low nose and simpler aerodynamics.
The HBA engine – which needs to be pre-heated to 40 degrees celsius before starting – produces around 600BHP at 10,500RPM with a 13,000RPM rev limit.
I’m sure the 370 wide rear tyres provide just the right amount of traction as the cars slingshots itself down Senna Straight.
Finally we come to a car which seated who would turn out to be the most successful Formula One driver of all time – Michael Schumacher.
The B193 however was far more sophisticated than the B190 above …
… featuring active suspension, a semi-automatic gearbox and traction control too. It’s also almost identical to its predecessor the B192, albeit slightly narrower to comply with regulations.
The B193 featured a revised Ford Cosworth HBA engine – still with 3.5 litres and eight cylinders.
It’s interesting to compare the aerodynamics from the B190 to the B193 – the rear wings actually look quite similar.
The carbon monocoqued B193 weighed in at around 640KGs according to some sources, with 730BHP at a maximum of 13,800RPM.
Inside the cockpit is much different compared to the above cars. More controls on the steering wheels along with a digital display and shift indicator.
There’s also controls for the driver to make small adjustments in-car.
In comparison to the B190, the front wing has become slightly more complex with the ‘raised’ nose and upper part of the wing shaping around the front tyres.
Although these cars are only four years apart, they’re certainly not as different as you would imagine.
I’ll leave you with this footage of Schumacher man-handling the B193 around Adelaide in 1993. If anyone has any further information or anecdotes about the cars above, I’d love to read them in the comments below.
i used to love F1 it used to be a mans racing series...then came the stupid rules....omg people are dying!!! GIMP THE CARS!!! stupid stupid FIA F1 Was/is supposed to be the pinnacle of motorsports and now its just bleh....stupid ugly cars trying to get around the equally dumb rulebook all while costing millions to watch vettel hamilton and who ever the FOTM driver it is take 0 risks and drive like girls bring back the REAL motors 1000HP plus stop capping top speeds and make drivers sign a waiver that states that they KNOW what they are doing might get them killed also please kill KERRS its a dumb system that doesnt make the races anymore exciting given it can only be used in certain spots...ok rant over...
In F1 they have always had to design cars around a rulebook. The cars are faster now than they were then. If you think that's a "GIMP", so be it. Also, cars like the B193 above had traction control and active suspension. I don't see how that makes it more of a "mans racing series", since current F1 has neither of those driver aids. I guess you consider your lack of caring about a human life to be more manly. Maybe there should be more lenience in the current rules, but the different manufacturers have been getting very creative this year with different subtle changes to their cars. As for drivers not taking risks, there has been loads of risk taking this season. Did you watch Singapore last weekend? How about Massa's pass on Senna? That was incredible. I also don't see how horsepower determines whether a motor is real or not. And I think you meant DRS instead of *KERS. KERS can be used on any part of the track, DRS cannot. But I'll agree that I'm getting tired of DRS.
OK, rant over...
LavarBowers Sorry, thats disgusting. If you don't like the new look or new rules that's fine. When you start with "omg people are dying!!! GIMP THE CARS!!!" though you have lost any credibility. If you think your sense of nostalgia is more important than the lives of people... well that's just sad. You're entertainment isn't worth any person's life. I hear this same argument for not going closed cockpit. I hope they do. There should be no priority over life. Period.
Are today's cars ugly? Yes.
Should we go back to when people died every year? I don't think so. As much as i respect and admire those drivers brave enough to race sitting in inadequate aluminium chassis, surrounded by 200 litres of fuel, with their feet almost sticking out of the car, this is simply not acceptable as of today.
Plus, don't forget that we can't have an all-out technology race - sadly!! , for only a handful of teams would have the adequate resources..
Nice article Paddy. Been enjoying 'em all since you came to SH :)
Speedhunters, this is where the great John Brooks shone. The stories he has, the places he's been, the photos he took...the man is quite the encyclopedia and his columns on SH are at the absolute top of the list of the best posts in your history. Please please bring him back, if only for the occasional article?
Something personal to the driver or random from family/friends, they do that sometimes. Next time f1 is on, if they show Heikki Kovalainen in the pits, take a look at the inside of the pod on the left side near the top edge, it says something like.. " The Japanese Super Star". Which is weird because im not sure what special connection Heikki would have to Japan.
actually I lied, after I typed that I started thinking and it might be Petrov's car with the funny sticker.
Spot was given to me by my daughter Genna when she was very young and he has been in every race car I have owned since
so he has done a few miles around different race tracks from the UK to South Africa to Azerbaijan !!!! Hope this sheds a bit of light on my lucky charm............:-)
PS if you would like to see more of 101/3 she has her own Facebook page at ......Griff's Lotus 101
Paddy, you are getting better by the post sir, awesome piece! Loved the driver POV shots!
The thing is with second tier teams (like the 1989 Lotus 101 you mentioned, or Minardi before their demise, or present-day HRT, or ...) is that even though they aren't competitive for manufacturer or driver's titles they are still badass F1 cars... What never fails to impress is that when you look at pole position to slowest lap times we are talking a second or two... sometimes a little less, sometimes a little more... but that's NOT A LOT.... and to think that the asking price on some of these used cars is honestly not that bad (considering) it makes it at least slightly possible to one day own an ex-F1 car...
Then again buying the car, and maintaining it in running order are two things completely different... lol... still though...
Great article Paddy!
@ericbauer 1-2 seconda may not be anything in our day to day life, but that is HUGE in most forms of racing.
@yotafan of course! ... but you're missing the point that i was after... as everyday joe's and would be collectors it's highly unlikely we have the actual skill to notice what makes a championship winning car vs an also ran... and if you compare the for sale prices of a top tier car vs an also ran the prices are staggeringly different when they come up for sale... that's what i was after! Sure an ex-Senna car would be mind bendingly awesome, but i bet you that for us common mortals we would be ecstatic to get behind the wheel of a Minardi, or an Arrows, or ... and financially that's much more realistic than a McLaren or a Ferrari or a RedBull
If only I had the chance to get some seat time in one of these...
Hey, speaking of F1, will Speedhunters be at the Circuit of the Americas for the US GP?