The #F1 Bar Exam: 14 August 2014

Welcome to another week of TheJudge13 F1 Bar Exam.

Last week’s question(s): Can you name the driver, team, race and track where the photo was taken. Can you also name the car (type) and where the driver finished in the race?



John Watson driving the Eifelland at its last race

The answer(s) I was looking for were: The driver was German Rolf-Johann Stommelen piloting his Eifelland Type 21 powered by a Ford-Cosworth DFV engine for the all-German Eifelland team at the 1972 French Grand Prix at the Charade Circuit. Stommelen qualified 15th and finished 16th in the race, one lap down from the leaders.

Adrian Newey can only fantasise about the freedom accorded to Formula One designers in the 1970’s. With minimal regulations and aerodynamics still in its infancy, every designer aspired to developing an innovative concept that could give him a head start on the opposition. Tyrrell boosted mechanical grip with his six wheel car, while other teams focused on the effects fans (Brabham BT46) or skirts (Lotus 88) could have to augment downforce, but the most imaginative designer ever to have a car grace the Formula One paddock must be Luigi Colani.

Colani did have a background in aerodynamics, studying it in Paris in the early 1950’s and considered himself an expert. He had already designed the Colani Alfa sports car for Alfa Romeo which was the first sports car to break 10 minutes at the old Nurbugring in 1957 and decided he could teach the other F1 designers a thing or two.

Colani was imagining the future when time travel and life on Mars was a reality when he had the vision of his Formula One car though after looking at some of his other designs, his F1 attempt actually looks eminently sensible in comparison.

Guenther Hennerici was a German caravan company owner who was mad on motor sport. He had an advertising budget of 2 million Deutsche Marks that he was spending funding F2 and F3 teams and drivers as well as sponsoring Rolf Stommelen in F1. Ralf hadn’t been happy with his Surtees car in 1971 and Hennerici decided that maybe his advertising money would be better spent running his own team where he would have the luxury of being able to choose his own equipment. It would be the first German F1 effort since Porsche withdrew from racing in 1962.

Time was running out to build their own car, so he did what was once a popular option – bought a March and Team Eifelland was born. Colani offered his services to design them some new bodywork and 100 hours later his space age design was a reality (everyone else took weeks to design and test their bodywork!)

Their innovative external shell was smooth, sleek and curved. It had a swooping, one piece rear wing and a one piece front wing and a cockpit that was curved to funnel air around to the engine. Colani obviously was obsessed with symmetry – having a mirror on either side of the car would be contrary to his whole design – instead he chose to put a single rear view mirror, elevated on a stalk, directly in front of the driver. Not surprisingly driver Rolf Stommelen described the mirror as “taking a bit of getting used to.

Works March driver Ronnie Peterson called them “Team Dream” a thinly veiled attempt at sarcasm because it looked like someone had been dreaming when they designed the car. Unfortunately, the car struggled with overheating during their initial testing, even in the icy conditions of a German winter, which caused them piece by piece, to replace Colani’s outer shell with the original March bodywork. By the time they arrived at the second race of the season in Spain almost all of Colani’s innovative ideas were gone, except for the bizarre rear-view mirror, making the car look as it were a submarine, rather than a terrestrial machine.

The team surprisingly performed reasonably well, considering their speedy and creative beginning and the woeful chassis beneath it. Niki Lauda said that the March 721 was the worst car he ever drove. Eifelland was also reasonably reliable, having only two mechanical failures in its eight race career and finishing 10th twice.

Compared to some of the other privateer attempts they look like they could have been successful, especially as there were races when they even managed to beat Lauda and Peterson who were driving for the March “works” team.

Hennerici was running into financial difficulties even before the first race of the season when three of his factories were destroyed in a fire. Before the Austrian Grand Prix he had sold his caravan company and with the new owner having no interest in motor racing, he gave the car to Stommelen in lieu of his pay

The car finished its life in the hands of John Watson who drove it at his first Formula One race at Phoenix Park in Dublin, where he set the joint fastest lap and a new lap record. Watson said, “Colani suffered a lot of derision from within F1, but I wouldn’t knock him, however. He’s an individualist, a lateral thinker, a risk taker – something that F1 lacks today and is all the poorer for it. The current regulations read like a form from the Inland Revenue.

Well done Oliver, Andrew, Vik, Graham, Jason, Johnny, Tom, Ken, Cassius42, Tony, Milestone11 and Taflach!

This week’s question(s): Can you name the driver, team, race and track where the photo was taken. Can you also name the car (type) and where the driver finished in the race?



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