Racer and engine builder Brian Hart died in January, aged 77. Best known for the turbocharged four-cylinder engine that took Toleman into Formula 1 and earned Ayrton Senna three podium finishes, Hart’s company was a saviour for F1 teams who could not land a major engine supplier, although in terms of victories rallying and F2 were more fertile.
Starting as a driver in 1958, Hart raced Len Terry’s 1172 Formula designs and won the Chapman Trophy. He then entered FJ and F3, winning a Grovewood Award in 1963. The following year he joined the Lotus F2 team, competing in the category until the end of the decade. This included his only Grand Prix start, in the Protos F2 car (Germany 1967).
Though trained as an aviation engineer, Hart joined Cosworth soon after its inception in 1958 and remained there until he founded his own engine firm in 1969. Hart-developed Cosworth FVA and BDA engines scored success in Formula 2, taking the European title in 1971 and ’72 along with multiple rally victories, while Hart’s own F2 engine, the 420R, proved a winner in 1977 and ’78. By 1980 Toleman dominated F2 with Hart power, Brian Henton and Derek Warwick finishing 1-2 in the Euro series.
Toleman entered Formula 1 in 1981, funding Hart’s turbo engine. Reliability problems were eventually overcome, allowing Senna those early signs of greatness, notably his outstanding second place at Monaco in 1984. Hart also supplied engines to several other Grand Prix teams, but after turbos were banned fell back on developing the DFZ and DFR Cosworth variants.
Through 1993-4 Hart built its own V10 for Jordan, bringing Rubens Barrichello to the fore, and later supplied engines to several teams including Footwork, Minardi and Arrows. Tom Walkinshaw bought him out in 1999 and Hart subsequently retired to a house in southern France.