Lap time of a lifetime
Just two drivers have set a fastest lap in a GP but failed to register a point in their careers. The first was Masahiro Hasemi, who (despite Jacques Laffite’s claim) achieved the feat at Fuji in 1976. Less well remembered is Brian Henton’s performance for Tyrrell at Brands Hatch in 1982.
The irrepressible Henton endured a stop-start F1 career that included a fruitless spell at Lotus, an ill-fated attempt to run his own team, and the disaster of Toleman’s first year, 1981.
He briefly found a home at Arrows at the start of ’82, before stepping in at Tyrrell when a partner for rising star Michele Alboreto was required.
He had some respectable outings, including eighth at Monaco. (“Murray Walker screamed `Henton’s in the lead!’ when I was a lap down.”) But Brands was to be Brian’s big day.
He qualified 17th that weekend, and on race day, his midfield run went largely unnoticed, not least because former team-mate Derek Warwick had hustled Toleman’s ‘half-tanks special’ up to second place.
Then, on lap 40, Henton made a pitstop for attention to some bodywork. As a matter of course, new tyres were fitted and, on the 63rd of the 76 laps, Henton set a time that was to earn him a little place in history.
“I was always about a second slower than Alboreto, but at that particular race, my usual car blew up. So I used Alboreto’s spare, which was immediately quicker than anything I’d got in before. It was just lucky for me that it was on a circuit that I liked and knew very well. The car was bloody quick on that circuit and on that day, and Ken knew that a new set of tyres would have some speed advantage.
“If you look at my career, I won in every formula that I competed in, but I never, ever got a point in bloody grands prix. When you look at all the good guys who were racing that year, many of whom went on to become truly great, and there’s my name in front of all of them — it was, still is, a wonderful feeling. There have been worse drivers than me who got points, but that lap is in the record books and nobody can take it away.
“But it was a bit of an embarrassment for Tyrrell because they were trying to flog Albo’ to Ferrari for $3m, and didn’t want old ‘Porky’ Henton from the Midlands upsetting that plan!
“But they sorted it out for the next race, because I was back 1.5sec slower than him again.”