Ford hadn’t won an F1 championship for 12 years. So you’d have thought that the Blue Oval would have made great play of its part in Schumacher’s first title. Not so.
“They didn’t even want to be in F1,” explains Geoff Goddard. Cosworth’s chief designer at the time “But because it made its decision to withdraw so late. Benetton threatened to take them to court. The compromise was one more year with a new engine. “Ayrton Senna had proved that you could win GPs with a ‘sportscar’ version of my HB in 1993. But I wanted to make a big jump with the new engine. Cosworth was conservative on bore sizes: HB was 94mm in the bore. But via a series of experimental V-twins. I opened it out to 97 then 100, then 103, and each time bigger was better. The compromise was 100. But even that was too big for HB. We had to build a new head, a new block and a longer crank: Zetec-R (below)
“There were two main reasons for sticking with a V8. The first was that time was against us. The second was that we were confident we could design an eight that revved higher than any V10: Zetec-R was into the 15s: I think the 10s then were only in the mid-13s. So we had an air consumption advantage over them, as well as a fuel consumption advantage and a magnificent torque curve. The latter was proved when Schumacher finished the Spanish GP in second place with just fifth gear left.
“There was another reason for using a V8. Pat Symonds of Benetton was one of the first in the F1 pitlane to have an accurate race simulator. When we programmed in the power and torque curves I could provide with a V8, a V10 or a V12. the V8 came out on top on the majority of the circuits.
“I see no reason why we couldn’t have been as successful with the V8 in 1995. But again Ford couldn’t make a decision quickly enough and so Benetton was forced to go with Renault, basically.”