Atlas F1 The Road to Victory

  by Ewan Tytler, U.S.A.

In the 2000 Formula One Season, the engine manufacturers BMW and Honda will return to the Formula One fold. BMW engines won nine Grands Prix in the 1980's and Honda engines won the manufacturers' title six times in a row from 1986 to 1991. How long can these manufacturers expect to wait before they score their next Grand Prix victory?

Let's take a look at how long it has taken Formula One teams and engine manufacturers to score their first points and first victory. Formula One Team Principals would like to repeat the success of Walter Wolf's team. In 1977, the remarkable Wolf WR1-Ford won its first Grand Prix and then won two more Grands Prix before the 1977 season ended. How realistic is this dream in today's Formula One?


The Arrows team scored their first points in their third race, the 1978 US Grand Prix West at Long Beach. Arrows' highest finish was second in the 1997 Hungarian Grand Prix. After 21 years in Formula One and 337 Grand Prix, they have yet to score a Grand Prix victory.


Toleman made their Formula One debut in 1981. They scored their first points at the 1983 Dutch Grand Prix. Benetton took over Toleman in 1986 and then finished sixth in the manufacturers' championship. Benetton scored a point in their first race, the 1986 Brazilian Grand Prix at Rio, and their first victory came later that year in Mexico, their 15th Grand Prix. Benetton's only constructors' championship came in 1995.


Ferrari has been in Formula One for the entire duration of the modern era. Enzo Ferrari's team scored their first points in their second championship race, the 1950 Monaco Grand Prix. Their first Formula One victory came in their 10th Grand Prix, the 1951 British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Ferrari won the first of their nine manufacturers' titles in 1961, the fourth year of this competition. Jean Todt, the current Team Principal, was appointed in 1993 and he had to wait until the 1994 German Grand Prix for the first Ferrari victory since 1990.


Eddie Jordan's team made their first entry into Formula One in 1991. They scored their first Formula One points in their fifth race, the Canadian Grand Prix at Montreal, and finished fifth in the constructors championship. Jordan had to wait for their 127th Grand Prix for their first Formula One victory, the 1998 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps.


Bruce McLaren's team made its Formula One debut in 1966. Bruce McLaren scored his first points in his own car at Silverstone, its third race. His first victory in a McLaren came at Spa-Francorchamps in 1968, and his team finished second in the manufacturers' championship in that year. McLaren's first constructors' championship came in 1974. Ron Dennis took over McLaren in 1980 and the McLaren MP4/1 was introduced at the 1981 San Marino Grand Prix. The John Barnard-designed MP4/1, with its carbon-composite monocoque, was the first new car of the Ron Dennis era. The MP4/1 scored its first points in its fourth race, the 1981 Spanish Grand Prix. The first victory of the MP4/1 was the 1981 British Grand Prix, its sixth race. McLaren then won the constructors' championship for the second time in 1984.


Giancarlo Minardi's team joined the Formula One ranks in 1985. Minardi scored their first points in their fourth Formula One season at the 1988 US Grand Prix at Detroit. Their highest finish was fourth in the 1991 San Marino, 1991 Portuguese and 1993 South African Grand Prix. After 237 Grand Prix, Minardi have yet to score a Grand Prix victory.


Guy Ligier's Team entered Formula One in 1976 as a single driver team. Ligier scored their first points in their third race, the US Grand Prix West. Ligier-Matra scored their first victory in their 24th race, the 1977 Swedish Grand Prix. This was the first Grand Prix victory for a Frenchman in an all-French car. Ligier was taken over by Alain Prost in 1997. The Prost team scored points at their first Formula One race, the 1997 Australian Grand Prix. Their highest finish was second at the 1997 Spanish and 1999 European Grand Prix. After 49 Grand Prix, Prost has yet to win a Formula One race.


Stewart-Ford has been active in Formula One since 1997. Stewart scored their first points at Monaco in their 5th Grand Prix and scored their first Formula One victory in their third season at the 1999 European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, their 47th Grand Prix.


Peter Sauber's team scored points in their first Formula One race, the 1993 South African Grand Prix. Sauber was the first new team since Wolf to score points in their first Grand Prix. Sauber then finished sixth equal in the 1993 manufacturer's title. Their first podium finish was third at the 1995 Italian Grand Prix. After 113 Grand Prix, Sauber have yet to win a Formula One race.


Sir Frank Williams has entered cars in Formula One since 1969. The first Williams chassis was introduced in 1974 but Patrick Head, the current Technical Director, did not join Williams until 1977. Williams scored their first point in their third race, the 1974 South African Grand Prix, but they had to wait until the 1979 British Grand Prix for their first victory. Williams then won its first drivers and manufacturer's title in 1980.

British American Racing (BAR)

BAR is the newest Formula One team and have yet to score a point in 16 Grand Prix. Given the track records of the other Formula One teams, perhaps this is not as bad as it first appears. The record shows that early success is not always an indicator of long-term success in Formula One.

Current Engine Manufacturers


Ferrari made its first Formula One V10 engine for the 1996 season. This engine scored a podium finish in its first race and scored its first victory in its seventh Grand Prix in Spain, the first of three victories for the 1996 season. Ferrari's V10 engine powered Ferrari to the manufacturer's title in 1999.


Mike Costin and Keith Duckworth founded Cosworth in 1959. The Ford-Cosworth DFV V8 engine won its first Grand Prix at Zandvoort, Holland in 1967 and won another 154 Grand Prix between 1967 and 1983. Ownership of Cosworth has changed hands several times over the years. In 1998, Audi purchased Cosworth as part of Vickers and then sold it to Ford. Ford-Cosworth first made a V10 Formula One engine for the 1997 season for Stewart. The Zetec-V10 engine scored its first points win at Monaco in 1997 and its first victory in 1999 at the Nurburgring.


Mario Illien and Paul Morgan of Ilmor made their Formula One debut in 1991 with Leyton House March. Their first point came in their 9th Grand Prix at Germany. From 1991 to 1993 Ilmor-powered cars (March, Tyrrell, Sauber) scored points but had no podium finishes. Ilmor joined forces with Mercedes-Benz in 1994 and the Ilmor-Mercedes engine was used to power Sauber. Since 1994, Mercedes has been teamed with McLaren. McLaren-Mercedes had 2 podium finishes in 1995, 6 podium finishes in 1996 with their highest finish being second. Mercedes first Grand Prix in the 1990s came at Australia in 1997, the first of three Grand Prix victories in 1997. McLaren-Mercedes then won the driver's and manufacturer's championship in 1998.


Mugen-Honda was formed after the works Honda engine program was suspended in 1992. Teamed with Footwork in 1992 and 1993, Mugen scored their first point in their third Grand Prix at Brazil and scored points throughout their first two seasons. Lotus-Mugen-Honda would score no points in 1994. Mugen-Honda teamed up with Ligier in 1995 and 1996 and then Prost for the 1997 season. Ligier-Mugen-Honda scored its first podium finish at the 1995 Belgian Grand Prix and its first victory at the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix. Since 1998, Jordan-Mugen Honda has had three Grand Prix victories.


Peugeot made their Formula One debut in 1994 with McLaren. Their first points and podium finish came in their third race, the San Marino Grand Prix. McLaren-Peugeot ended 1994 with eight podium finishes. Peugeot teamed with Jordan from 1995 to 1997. Jordan-Peugeot had 2 podium finishes in the 1995 Canadian Grand Prix. In 1996, Jordan-Peugeot scored points but no podium finishes and in 1997 they had three podium finishes. Peugeot then teamed up with Prost in 1998, scoring a solitary point for the entire season. 1999 saw one podium finish for Prost-Peugeot. After six seasons and 98 Grand Prix, Peugeot-powered cars have finished second five times but have yet to win a Grand Prix.


The normally-aspirated Renault V10 was launched in 1989 in partnership with Williams. The Williams FW12C-Renault scored points in its second race, the San Marino Grand Prix and scored its first win in its 6th race, the Canadian Grand Prix. Renault-powered cars then proceeded to win the manufacturer's titles from 1992 to 1997. At the end of 1997, the works Renault engine project was suspended. Renault-designed engines have since been manufactured by Mecachrome and marketed by Flavio Briatore's Supertec company.

Works Honda and BMW engines will be supplied to BAR and Williams respectively for the 2000 season. Based on the track records of current engine manufacturers, points finishes are possible but Grand Prix victories are not likely in their first season. This is consistent with a cautious statement made by Sir Frank Williams in September, "We will not win the first 2000 race in Melbourne, and also not six months later. Maybe it will take nine months, possibly 19, or even two and a half years until the first victory."

Ewan Tytler© 1999 Kaizar.Com, Incorporated.
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