The #F1 Bar Exam: 27 February 2014

Welcome to the last TheJudge13 #F1 Bar Exam of February. It appears that last week had a bit of a trick element to the questions… the Mosley “dis-connect” seem to have thrown most of you.

Last week’s question(s): Can you name driver, year and team in the photo? Can you also name the year and the the founder(s) of the team, and what connection they may have (had) with a current team on the 2014 grid?

The answer(s) I was looking for were: The driver in the photo is David Brabham, the youngest son of three-time Formula One world champion Sir Jack Brabham. In 1994 David raced for the MTV SIMTEK Ford Formula 1 team owned by Nick Wirth.

Simtek (Simulation Technology) was an engineering consultancy firm and Formula One racing team. The F1 engineering consultancy arm, Simtek Research, was founded in 1989 by Max Mosley and Nick Wirth. Although the was originally involved in various areas of Formula 1, Wirth decided to enter his own team after Mosley became FIA president in 1992 and subsequently sold his share of the consultancy firm to Wirth. His decision to enter would come in August 1993 after another F1 project for a new team called Bravo Grand Prix came to nothing when team backer, Jean François Mosnier, suddenly passed away.

Triple world champion Jack Brabham became a shareholder in Simtek Grand Prix, and his son David Brabham was signed as a driver before the end of 1993. After various other canidates could not be signed to partner Brabham the 31-year-old F1 rookie Roland Ratzenberger took the place. Charlie Moody, a former Leyton House manager, was appointed Simtek’s team manager.

The company secured customer Ford HB V8 engines from Cosworth, and prior to the season starting, MTV Europe stepped in as title sponsors. Wirth’s initial design for the 1994 race car included active suspension, a technology used by Williams to win both the drivers and constructors championships in 1992 and 1993.

However, as active suspension was banned prior to the start of the 1994 season, Simtek was forced to revert to a more conservative design, named the S941. This design was heavy, initially included a fully manual gearbox compared to the semi-automatics being used by the front-running teams and the Ford HB engine was less powerful than the engines being used by the frontrunners.

These deficits showed at the first race of the 1994 season. Brabham qualified in 26th and last place while Ratzenberger failed to qualify. Brabham finished the race 12th, but all cars behind him retired. The next race saw both Simteks qualifying but again occupying the back of the grid. Brabham retired early with an electrical failure, and Ratzenberger finished 11th, last of the cars still running.

The next race was San Marino where we lost both Ratzenberger and Senna. For the remainder of the season the team raced with the words “For Roland” painted on the airbox of the car to show their reason for continuing.

Brabham was not retained for the 1995 season and was replaced by Domenico Schiattarella and Jos Verstappen but towards the middle of the season the team were in deep financial trouble. In the 18 months the team had been in existence, they had amassed an estimated £6 million worth of debt. At Monaco, neither driver completed a lap of the race due to a gearbox failure on Verstappen’s car, and the marshals failing to recover Schiattarella’s car after the first aborted race start. Following the race Wirth wrote, in one of his regular Usenet newsgroup postings, that “a major new backer of the team, with whom I had signed a contract before the season, has finally pulled out and left a large hole in our finances”.

The team was forced into voluntary liquidation. The collapse of the Formula One team also forced Simtek Research to declare itself bankrupt.

This was not the last time Wirth was involved in Formula 1 though. From 1996 until 1999 Wirth was chief designer and later a board member of the Benetton Formula One team. Then in 2003 he founded Wirth Research and in 2006 Wirth Research began working for the FIA in the Casumaro windtunnel in Italy on the split rear wing (CDG) design that the FIA proposed for the 2008 F1 season.

In 2009 Wirth Design teamed up with John Booth of Manor Motorsport to create a car for the 2010 Formula One season. Wirth was appointed the technical director of the team.Richard Branson’s company Virgin became a title sponsor and the team was renamed Virgin Racing.

At the end of the season, Marussia Motors brought a stake in the team and became the title sponsor, with the team known as Marussia Virgin Racing and racing under a Russian licence for 2011. The partnership with Wirth ended midway though 2011, and a new technical structure bringing car development in-house was set up for 2012.

After two dismal seasons Virgin withdrew their sponsorship and Virgin Racing was renamed to Marussia F1 Team from the 2012 season onward.

Well done to Milestone11, Emil, Curmudgeon, Simon, Ignacio, Stephen, Philip, Sid, Johnny, Cassius42, The13thDuke, Dave, Paul, Thomas888, Frans, Devon, AJ, Taflach, Andy, Reinis, Vik, Tony and Tim.

This week’s question(s): Can you name the driver, car and race at which the photo was taken.

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Please provide your answers in the field below:

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