Notes on the cars

Lotus-Honda V6 t/c

Lotus used the same three cars that were used in Brazil, all 100T models running on normal steel coil-springs and Bilstein dampers, in place of the “active-ride” suspension experimented with all last season. It was unfortunate that designer Gerard Ducarouge described the 100T as a “very classic car” because in our language “classic” means obsolete.

The team said it had paid special attention to mechanical and aerodynamic efficiency, but three seconds a lap off the pace of the McLarens using the same engines was difficult to explain. Ducarouge found this big difference almost unbelievable. If the Lotus engineers know why they would soon do something about it; if the McLaren engineers know why they are not going to tell anybody.

All the Honda engines supplied to the team are 1988-specification units, specifically designed to the 2.5-bar boost limit and making use of a higher rpm peak. For this race all the Honda engines were fitted with a new throttle system aimed at minimising the abrupt opening of the FIA valve when the boost-limit is reached. This suggests another step forward in the engine-management system in the progress towards removing engine control from the driver’s right foot!

Piquet used 100T/2, Nakajima 100T/1 and the T car was 100T/3.

Tyrrell-Cosworth V8 – DFZ

The performance of the Tyrell 017 in Brazil was not very impressive; chassis and suspension problems in the design seemed to be at fault, rather than any lack of power from the Brian Hart-prepared Cosworth engines.

In an attempt to improve handling the wheelbase was lengthened by 8in and as this was done with a spacer between the engine and gearbox it also changed the weight-distribution and centre of gravity, together with a lot of other small but important geometrical figures. Both cars were altered.

Palmer used 017/01, Bailey 017/02.

Williams-Judd V8

Patrick Head and his designers have produced one of the neatest and most efficient-looking packages to the new 3 ½ litre rules. Their six-speed gearbox is ahead of the rear axle line, between the back of the Judd V8 engine and the final-drive unit, and is very neat and compact. The whole car is small and slim and the suspension is a development of the hydro-electric system used last year.

In deference to muttering from Lotus the Williams system is now called Williams Reactive. The cars sit very low, and when the engine is not running it looks as though they are sitting on their “flat bottoms”. When the engine is started and the system is energised the whole car rises to the required minimum clearance, lifted by individual hydraulic units on each suspension. As the car passes over bumps and undulations the reactive system maintains the required clearance, acting on information supplied by the wheel sensors. As yet it cannot look ahead and anticipate what is coming, so is still a “rapid response” system.

The Judd V8 engines sound typically Honda, with a very “hard” exhaust note, but there are still teething troubles with internal cooling, the oil and water systems. Derived from the F3000 Honda engine by John Judd and his team at Rugby, Formula One has introduced to it some new parameters in cornering forces and power requirements and usage. It is nothing new in the world of engine design for unit to be perfectly satisfactory in the hands of an average driver, but when really used by a top-flight Formula One Driver weaknesses appear.

Mansell used FW12/1, Patrese FW12/2 and the T-car was TW12/3.

Zakspeed 4-cyl t/c

This small team of Erich Zakowski, a German BMW and Ford dealer and tuner of longstanding, had little option but to sit out the final year of turbocharged engines, having committed itself to be self-contained with its own four-cylinder engine.

The cars were never really on the pace last year and the new rules on boost-limit and fuel-consumption have more-or-less rules the team out technically. It can only hope to continue at the back, embarrassed by the better non-turbocharged 3½-litre cars, and plan for 1989. Zakowski has already placed an order for Cosworth engines for 1989.

Piercarlo Ghinzani would seem to be the team’s only hope of qualifying in the top twenty who collect starting-money, while new-boy Bernd Schneider does not look like getting in may racing miles this season.

Ghinzani used ZK881/03, Schneider ZK881/01, T-car ZK881/02.

McLaren-Honda V6 t/c

There was some confusion after the Brazilian GP over the identity of the McLaren cars as many reporters forgot to record that Prost changed cars during practice and Senna changed cars at the start of the race – printed statistics referring the situation before the meeting began.

In testing at Monza before the San Marino GP, Senna had an almighty accident and destroyed MP4/4-3, which had been brand new and untested for Brazil, had become the T-car during practice and had been used by Senna for the race after his own car had gear-lever trouble on the grid. The carbon-fibre-composite monocoque was severely damaged, and you do not repair CFC with bandage and a pot of glue.

A brand new car was completed for Imola and Prost used this one, while Senna used the first car built and the second one was the T-car. A fifth car should have been completed by the end of May and one of the Imola cars will be pensioned off to become the test car.

Honda states categorically that all the V6 turbo engines are identical and are handed out to McLaren and Lotus in no special order. It is up to the teams to make the best possible use of the power unit. Somehow everything on the red-and-white cars seems to fit that little bit better than on the yellow ones, and the overall package has the appearance of being more homogenous.

Prost used MP4/4-4, Senna used MP4/4-1, and the T-car was MP4/4-2.

AGS-Cosworth DFZ

This little French team has suddenly come alive this year. In 1987 it was something of an embarrassment with an unwieldy car and an inexperienced driver. The new car JH23/01 owes a certain amount of chassis knowledge to March, and Philippe Streiff finds it nicer to drive than last year’s Tyrell. This has given him confidence to try that much harder.

Henri Julien, the owner o the team, has an on-going arrangement with French engine designer Guy Negre to test his new 12-cylinder engine during this season. This ambitious project has the cylinders arranged in three banks of four, in inverted broad-arrow layout, which is described as a W.

Streiff used JH23/01.

March-Judd V8

These bright turquoise-coloured cars are effectively works March cars, operated by March Racing for the Japanese Leyton House Group from a factory near the parent March headquarters in Bicester.

The 881 is designed by Adrian Newey, with Robin Herd overseeing the whole project. They have the full backing of John Judd’s engine firm and now run a two-car team.

Arrow-BMW 4-cyl t/c

Finance from the American firms USF&G and Megatron is keeping this team afloat and paying for limited development work to be done on the obsolete “upright” BMW 4-cylinder turbocharged engine.

For one final season in the turbocharged category it would hardly do anything else than review the 1987 A20 cars into 1988 A10B versions.

Cheever used A10B/1, Warwick used A10B/2, and both used T-car A10B/5.

Benetton-Cosworth DFR

The Benetton B188 has an exclusive use of the DFR version of the Cosworth V8, which is a total redesign backed by Ford and supported by Ford’s electronics and engine-management departments. The reviewed Cosworth factory engines appear to have the measure of the new Judd engines, and although the Benetton chassis design may not be as sophisticated as Williams chassis design it appears to be just as effective.

Boutsen used B188/04 a new car, Nannini used B188/03, T-car B188/02.

Osella-Alfa Romeo V8 t/c

The Italian engine specialist Enzo Osella was forced to withdraw his one-car team from the San Marino GP as the newly-built car did not comply with certain technical regulations regarding the position of the pedals. FISA scrutineers also turned down the front engine-mountings as being insecure. Designated FAIL/1, it should have been driven by Nicola Larini, a relative newcomer to F1.

Rial-Cosworth DFZ

Rial is the group name of Gunther Schmidt’s small racing team that used to run under the name of ATS, his German road-wheel company. The Rial-ARC1 is a small and neat car, designed by Gustave Brunner after he left the Ferrari team, and is powered by a Cosworth DFZ engine. With Andrea de Cesaris as the driver it would seem that a bigger safety factor should have been used in the stress calculations. A crash on Friday morning eliminated ARC1/01 and the second car, ARC1/02, was far from complete.

Most of the two days of practice and qualifying were spent completing this new car to take the place of the written-off car.

De Cesaris crashed ARC1/01 on Friday, ARC1/02 qualified and did once race lap.

Minardi-Cosworth DFZ

A rejuvenated team this year. After struggling with the Carlo Chiti-designed Motori-Moderni turbocharged V6 engine in the past, without any success, the Minardi team cut its losses and turned to Cosworth power. Giacomo Caliri’s design is straight-forward and uncomplicated, though it does have an unusual layout for its inboard-mounted front springs.

Campos used M188/1, Perez-Sala used M188, T-car was M188/2.

Ligier-Judd V8

Patrese and Mansell demonstrated that while the Judd engine was working properly it was competitive, but the talents of René Arnoux and Stefan Johansson failed to qualify either of the Ligier JS31 cars, I looked at the car in company with a well-known designer, and he expressed the opinion that it would be difficult to know where to start on a re-design, there were so many things which appeared to be wrong. His suggestion that “they could start by changing the colour from blue to red” I didn’t take too seriously.

The JS31 is heavy, does not respond to fine-tuning of the suspension, does not accelerate very well, lacks top speed, and corners unpredictably. Because of all these problems, the drivers are unable to get the most out of their Judd engines, so have not been bothered with overheating.

When Arnoux ran into Prost’s McLaren on Saturday afternoon, Prost did not get upset, but expressed the opinion that Arnoux was not even going fast when it happened. Perhaps Arnoux was going as fast as the Ligier would go.

Arnoux used JS31/02, Johansson used JS31/03, T-car was JS31/01.

Ferrari V6 t/c

With work progressing apace on the new 3 ½ litre V12 engined car designed by John Barnard at his English base, there was little incentive to do much on the turbo-charged front for this final season, other than to uprate the successful 1987 cars. Thus the three cars in use this year, numbers 102, 103 and 104, are designated F1/87-88C.

The 90⁰ V6 engines were developed to deal with the lower boost pressure and engine management systems looked after fuel consumption limits, but on the face of his the Ferrari engineers have not done such a good job as the Honda engineers. The red cars to not appear to come out of the slow corners like the Honda-powered cars and this is put down to lack of horsepower by the drivers, but it is probably more likely a question of “grunt” or torque, coupled with throttle response and engine management.

Alboreto F1/87-88C-103, Berger F1/87-88C-104, T-car F1/87/88C-102.

Lola-Cosworth DFZ

The Lola firm is in business to make money, and Eric Broadley views the production of Indycar chassis as being the firm’s money spinner. The Formula One programme did not advance as quickly as designer Ralph Bellamy would have liked, so there was a parting of the ways and Gerard Larrousse has to run the team, for his partner Didier Calmels, without the benefit of the original designer.

Alliot used LC88/01, Dalmas LC88/02, T-car LC88/03.

Coloni-Cosworth DFZ

This Italian-Built car with British Cosworth engine is a “kit-car” style to fairly dated design parameters, but being uncomplicated it works well, and while others are floundering Gabriele Tarquini gives a good account. It is painted a rather dull and insipid yellow, made all the more dully by the scintillating yellow of the Camel-sponsored Lotus cars.

Tarquini used CF188/002.

EuroBrun-Cosworth DFZ

New to Formula One, the EuroBrun is financed by Walter Brun who has spent a lot of money in long-distance sports-car racing over the past few years. The cars are built in Italy, using Cosworth DFZ engines prepared by the Swiss engine man Heini Mader.

Last year’s blue-eyed newcomer Stefano Modena had a brand new car for this race, and his Argentinian team-mate Oscar Larrauri just failed to qualify.

Modena used ER188/03, Larrauri used ER199/02.

BMS Dallara-Cosworth DFZ

Financed by the Brixia Motorsports Team of Guiseppe Luccini and entered under Scuderia Italia, this British-inspired Cosworth-powered car is painted red in true nationalistic fashion. It is a completely new project, this being its first race with its new car, with a spare car in reserve.

If the car has any real potential the driver Alessandro Caffe will certainly demonstrate it, for he has been on of the better Italian hopes for quite a while. The car is very low and has good flowing lines, but as with all the “kit cars” the performance of its production Cosworth DFZ will probably be the limiting factor.

Caffi used BMS F188/001, T-car BMS F188/002.