|Full name||Toleman Motorsport|
|Base||Witney, Oxfordshire, UK|
|Noted staff||Roger Silman
|Noted drivers|| Derek Warwick
|Subsequent name||Benetton Formula|
|Formula One World Championship career|
|Debut||1981 San Marino Grand Prix|
|Races competed||70 (57 starts)|
|Final race||1985 Australian Grand Prix|
The Toleman company was formed in 1926 by Edward Toleman for the purpose of delivering from a factory in Old Trafford, Manchester. Within two years, the company moved to Dagenham, London along with the Ford factory before settling in Brentwood. In the 1950s, Edward's son Albert took over the reign of the company. In 1966, Edward died leaving his elder son Ted as the chairman with the younger son Bob becoming joint managing director.
In the 1970s, Ted and Alex began their involvement in various car racing formulae in the UK. Ted was also noted for his involvement in off-shore powerboat racing. In 1977, Toleman Motorsport entered an eponymous team in British Formula Ford 2000. By 1978, they were running a March chassis for Rad Dougall in British Formula Two. During that year, Toleman MD Alex Hawkridge hired former Royale designer Rory Byrne but continued to use customer chassis in 1979, purchasing a pair of Ralts (RT2s) and engines from Brian Hart. Rad Dougall was joined by Brian Henton in the expanded team. Henton finished 2nd in that year's championship standings. The following year the team built their own chassis designed by Rory Byrne and John Gentry based on the Ralt. Powered again by Hart engines, running on Pirelli tyres, supported by BP and driven by Henton and Derek Warwick, the team finished 1st and 2nd in the European Formula 2 Championship.
Toleman's entry to Formula One was announced in November 1980. Discussions took place with Lancia over the supply of a turbocharged engine, but the team decided to use a turbocharged version of the Hart F2 engine. By that time, Formula One was beginning to be dominated by turbo-powered cars, leaving the naturally aspirated engines lagging behind.
The Rory Byrne-designed Toleman TG181 was an overweight and underpowered car. Brian Henton and Derek Warwick failed to qualify until Henton made the cut for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza in September. Warwick also qualified only once; at the season-closing Caesars Palace Grand Prix in Las Vegas. In 1982, upgraded TG181Cs were used by Warwick and newcomer Teo Fabi until the carbon-composite Toleman TG183 was ready in late August. The TG183 was used in only two Grands Prix (Italy and Las Vegas) but Warwick did record the first of Toleman's fastest laps in the Dutch GP in a TG181C running on low fuel and soft tyres.
In 1983, the TG183B showed improved form thanks to a major update. Derek Warwick was retained, while Teo Fabi was replaced by Bruno Giacomelli. The budget increased as Toleman's current sponsor – Italian white goods manufacturer Candy – was joined by Iveco brand Magirus and BP. Warwick achieved Toleman's first points finish in the Dutch Grand Prix and scored again in the remaining three Grands Prix. These results placed Toleman 9th in the constructors' championship standings.
Ayrton Senna's debut
The driver line-up changed completely in 1984. Warwick's performances were rewarded with a Renault contract and his place was taken by the reigning British Formula 3 Champion and Formula One rookie (and future triple World Champion) Ayrton Senna, while Giacomelli's drive was taken by Venezuelan F2 driver Johnny Cecotto.
Senna quickly made an impression in Formula One and achieved Toleman's greatest result. In a rain-soaked Monaco GP, he finished in a close 2nd place behind Alain Prost, who's McLaren was suffering from a brake balance problem that Prost reported was getting worse with each lap. The torrential conditions forced the clerk of the course (Jacky Ickx) to stop the race after 31 of the scheduled 78 laps. It was a controversial decision as Ickx had not consulted the race stewards before holding out the red flag, and one that stirred up a conspiracy theory. Prost's McLaren was powered by the Porsche designed TAG engine and Ickx was the lead driver for the factory backed Rothmans Porsche Group C Sports car team and it was rumored that the Belgian had stopped the race to ensure the Porsche engined car won. The early stopping of the race resulted in much debate about whether Senna would have won. Certainly, he had the pace to do so – he was quickly catching Prost, having reduced the gap from 35 seconds on lap 21 to be within seven seconds of the World Championship leader when the red flag was waved. It was also reported by Toleman that Senna's suspension was on the point of collapse after an earlier incident, with the team believing that the damage was sufficient to cause his retirement within 2-3 laps of when competition was halted. Senna set the fastest lap of the race, his first in Formula One, but wasn't the quickest on the circuit at the time of the red flag. Catching both Prost and Senna was the Cosworth powered Tyrrell of Stefan Bellof who, while finishing 3rd on the road, was later disqualified when the entire Tyrrell team was disqualified from the 1984 season due to technical infringements.
During practice for the British Grand Prix at Brands Hatch, Cecotto crashed heavily and broke both legs, ending his F1 career, though he would go on to have a successful touring car career. Toleman opted to run only one entry - Senna - in Germany at Hockenheim, the Austrian Grand Prix at the Österreichring and Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort.
However, before the Dutch Grand Prix, it emerged that Senna had signed a contract with Lotus despite having two years to run on his current deal. Although he had included a line in his Toleman contract allowing him to legally sever ties with the team should another offer come along, Senna had failed to invoke this clause because he hadn't informed team principal Alex Hawkridge of the Lotus deal. He was subsequently suspended for the following race in Italy.
Toleman had both cars back on the grid for the race in Monza, well almost. Local driver Pierluigi Martini filled in for the injured Cecetto but didn't qualify for the race in front of his home crowd. In Senna's car was Stefan Johansson who qualified 17th fastest and finished in 4th place. When Senna returned after his "penalty", he and Johansson finished the season together.
Senna ended the year with three podiums during the season, finishing third at the British Grand Prix behind Niki Lauda's McLaren and Warwick's Renault, while he finished off the season with a third (after qualifying a then career best 3rd) in the final round in Portugal behind the dominant McLaren's of race winner Prost and World Champion Lauda.
Tyre supply problems
During the off-season, Toleman ran into difficulties over tyre supply and was only able to compete in 1985 after Spirit folded, allowing Toleman to take over its Pirelli tyre supply. The roots of this situation lay in Toleman's decision to abandon Pirelli after the 1984 San Marino Grand Prix in response to Michelin and Goodyear's performance advantage. Due to the dispute, Toleman had opted to sit out the first day of qualifying at Imola and this, along with a fuel pressure problem on his Hart powered TG184 in the final session resulted in Ayrton Senna not qualifying for a Grand Prix for the only time in his career. Toleman had already aggravated Goodyear with the same behaviour (that time in favour of Pirelli) in Formula Two, so Michelin was the only alternative. When Michelin subsequently announced its withdrawal from F1 effective at the end of 1984, it left Toleman with bridges to mend.
The bridge with Pirelli wasn't mended in the off-season and as a result, it missed the first three Grands Prix. It was only after the team's new sponsor Benetton purchased Spirit Racing and transferred its Pirelli contract to Toleman did the team return, initially with only one entry. Johansson was to be retained with John Watson driving the second car, but the tyre supply issues prompted Johansson to drive for Tyrrell before replacing René Arnoux at Ferrari. The sole remaining entry was taken by returnee Teo Fabi until an increased budget allowed a second car at the Österreichring for former Osella driver Piercarlo Ghinzani, who got the drive as Watson reportedly wanted payment for the full season, even though he would have only driven for less than half of that.
Change of ownership
In May 1985, Toleman acquired major sponsorship from the Benetton clothing company, which had previously sponsored Tyrrell and Alfa Romeo. During the 1985/86 off-season, the knitwear firm purchased the team and it was renamed Benetton Formula prior to the 1986 season. The team, through numerous sales, and after having spent 10 seasons as Renault's factory team is now the Lotus F1 team.
Toleman continued to be involved in motor racing, increasingly with management rather than as competitors. As of 2010 this includes management of the Australian Mini Challenge one make series by Toleman Motorsport.
Complete Formula One results
(key) (results in bold indicate pole position; results in italics indicate fastest lap)
All chassis powered by versions of the Hart '415T' 1.5Ltr turbocharged 4-cylinder.
- Hilton p.8
- "8W - When? - 1983 Race of Champions". Forix.com. 1983-04-10. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
- "Toleman Motorsport Profile - Teams - GP Encyclopedia - F1 History on". Grandprix.com. 2007-03-10. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
- "MCZ F1 Teams: Toleman Info Page". Mcz.com. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
- AUSmotive.com Australian Mini Challenge under new management
- Christopher Hilton: The Toleman Story: The Last Romantics in Formula 1 (2010) ISBN 978-1-845842-17-8