|Full name||Benetton Formula Ltd.|
|Base||Witney, United Kingdom
Enstone, United Kingdom
|Noted staff||Flavio Briatore
|Noted drivers|| Michael Schumacher
|Previous name||Toleman Motorsport|
|Subsequent name||Renault F1 Team|
|Formula One World Championship career|
|Debut||1986 Brazilian Grand Prix|
|2 (1994, 1995)|
|Final race||2001 Japanese Grand Prix|
Benetton Formula Ltd., commonly referred to simply as Benetton, was a Formula One constructor that participated from 1986 to 2001. The team was owned by the Benetton family who run a worldwide chain of clothing stores of the same name. In 2000 the team was purchased by Renault, but competed as Benetton for the 2001 season. In 2002 the team became Renault F1.
The Benetton Group entered Formula One as a sponsor company for Tyrrell in 1983, then Alfa Romeo in 1984 and 1985 and finally Toleman in 1985. Benetton Formula Ltd. was formed at the end of 1985 when the Toleman team was sold to the Benetton family. The team began with BMW engines and then later switched to Ford then Renault and finally Playlife.
The team was managed by Flavio Briatore from 1990 until 1997. In about 1991, TWR acquired a one-third stake in the team, bringing in Tom Walkinshaw and Ross Brawn to run the engineering operations. Rocco Benetton, the youngest son of Luciano Benetton joined the team as Chief Executive in 1998 and fired Briatore. He replaced him with Prodrive boss David Richards, who lasted only for a year when he too was fired, due to a disagreement with the Benetton family about future strategy. Following Richards' departure, Rocco Benetton managed the team for three years until its sale to Renault.
The Benetton team is best known for its success with Michael Schumacher, who accounts for 19 of the team's 27 career victories and their 2 drivers' championships. After switching to Renault engines, they also won the constructor's championship in 1995 with Schumacher and Johnny Herbert. After 1995, Schumacher moved to Ferrari along with Ross Brawn, Rory Byrne and 11 other key figures from his two championship winning seasons with Benetton.
On March 16, 2000, the team was sold to Renault for $120 million US. As part of their restructuring, Renault brought back Flavio Briatore as team manager. The team still used the Playlife engines (although descended from Renault motors) they had been using for the last two years. The drivers were Giancarlo Fisichella and Alexander Wurz. The team scored 20 points, as well as 3 podium finishes in 2000 at Brazil, Monaco and Canada.
During their final season in 2001 the drivers, Jenson Button and Giancarlo Fisichella, were often on the back two rows of the grid. This was in part attributed to the new 111-degree wide angle engine. But continued development allowed Benetton to leave Formula 1 on something of a high, and the cars' performance lifted. Button and Fisichella scored 10 points for the team, including a podium finish for Fisichella in Belgium.
During the 1994 season, some rival teams claimed Benetton had found a way to violate the FIA-imposed ban on electronic aids, including Traction Control and Launch Control. On investigation, the FIA discovered "start sequence" (launch control) software in the Benetton B194 cars, and a variety of illegal software in rival teams' cars as well. FIA had no evidence the software was ever used, so teams found with the software received little to no punishment. No traction control software was found to be in the Benetton cars, however. Flavio Briatore, Benetton's chief in 1994, said in 2001 that "Our only mistake was that at the time we were too young and people were suspicious".
During the 1994 season Benetton removed a fuel filter from the refueling rig used during pit stops. This may have resulted in a fire that took place during Jos Verstappen's first pitstop at Hockenheim. This resulted in further inquiries by the FIA, during which, the refuelling rig manufacturer made clear that in their opinion the modification would have resulted in 10% higher flow rates than the rules allowed. Again the team went without substantial punishment.
Benetton Team had a British licence from 1986 to 1995 and an Italian licence from 1996 to 2001, thus becoming only the second constructor (after Shadow in 1976) to officially change its nationality. The Benetton family wanted this change of nationality in order to have an F1 team of their own country. Benetton remains the only constructor to have achieved victory while racing under two different nationalities. The team was based in the UK throughout.
Benetton drivers include:
- Gerhard Berger - scored the team's first and last wins, at the 1986 Mexican Grand Prix and 1997 German Grand Prix. He also scored the team's first podium finish at the 1986 San Marino Grand Prix. Berger also ended his Formula One career with Benetton in 1997.
- Teo Fabi - scored the team's first pole position at the 1986 Austrian Grand Prix. He scored the team's first back to back pole positions when he scored pole at the very next race at Monza. Fabi ended his Formula One career with Benetton in 1987.
- Thierry Boutsen - drove for the team in 1987 and 1988. He finished 4th in the Drivers' Championship in 1988 with five 3rd place finishes. He was also the highest placed "atmo" driver at the end of the season.
- Alessandro Nannini - scored his only F1 race win at the 1989 Japanese Grand Prix after Ayrton Senna's McLaren was disqualified. It was the team's second ever win and the first since 1986. Nannini unfortunately ended his Formula One career with Benetton in 1990 after he lost his right forearm in a helicopter accident one week after the 1990 Spanish Grand Prix where he finished third.
- Nelson Piquet - first (ex-)Formula One World Champion to drive for the team and scored the team's first 1–2 finish at the 1990 Japanese Grand Prix with Roberto Moreno (who replaced Nannini on Piquet's recommendation). Followed up to win the next race in Australia which was also the 500th World Championship Grand Prix held since 1950. Had his last F1 race win while driving for Benetton in the 1991 Canadian Grand Prix. Piquet ended his Formula One career with Benetton in 1991
- Michael Schumacher - started with Benetton at the 1991 Italian Grand Prix and would win Drivers' World Championship titles in the 1994 and 1995 seasons for the team as well as helping the team win its first Constructors Championship in 1995 before moving to Ferrari in 1996.
- Johnny Herbert - scored two of his three Formula One victories with Benetton at the 1995 British Grand Prix and the 1995 Italian Grand Prix.
- Jos Verstappen - perhaps most famous after his Benetton burst into flames during a pit stop at the 1994 German Grand Prix. The resulting fire (causing minor burns to Verstappen's face) led to advances in pit stop safety.
- Jean Alesi - finished 4th in the Drivers' Championship in both 1996 and 1997, scoring 14 podiums in 33 races for the team.
- Giancarlo Fisichella - scored the team's last pole position at the 1998 Austrian Grand Prix and last podium finish at the 2001 Belgian Grand Prix.
Complete Formula One results
(key) (results in bold indicate pole position; results in italics indicate fastest lap)
|1986||Benetton B186||BMW M12/13
|1987||Benetton B187||Ford GBA
|1988||Benetton B188||Ford DFR
|1989||Benetton B188||Ford DFR
|Benetton B189||Ford HB
|1994||Benetton B194||Ford EC
|1995||Benetton B195||Renault RS7
|1996||Benetton B196||Renault RS8
|1997||Benetton B197||Renault RS9
|1998||Benetton B198||Playlife GC37-01
|1999||Benetton B199||Playlife FB01
|2000||Benetton B200||Playlife FB02
|2001||Benetton B201||Renault RS21
- Benetton family
- Benetton Group
- Benetton Rugby
- List of Italian companies
- Benetton Basket
- List of Formula One constructors
- Reuters (2001-02-04). "Seven-year ban on traction control likely over". www.ESPN.com. Retrieved 2006-10-24.
- "New Benetton launched today". GrandPrix.com. February 5, 1996. Retrieved September 13, 2006.
- "Will Benetton's nationalism cause problems?". GrandPrix.com. January 1, 1996. Retrieved September 13, 2006.
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|Formula One Constructors' Champion