Tag Archives: Piquet

No Angel – Tom Bower

A couple of weeks ago a friend gave me a copy of No Angel, a biography billed as “The Secret Life of Bernie Ecclestone” by Tom Bower.

No Angel Tom Bower

As a fan of Formula One who has grown up as Bernie Ecclestone evolved from emerging team owner of the Brabham team into Formula One’s self styled de facto benevolent dictator I found this an extremely engaging book.

The book covers Bernie’s humble beginnings in Suffolk, his days trading toys in the school playground in Dartford to becoming a prominent member of the not so well heeled post war London motor trade.

The Ecclestones were not ones for celebrating anything and Bernie’s sharp mind soon focused on little else except making money through motorbikes, cars, property development and private aircraft.

His unique selling point appears to be ability to sum up the value of anything and everything in an instant and make an offer that was always advantageous to himself.

He became involved in motor racing at Brands Hatch racing Formula 500’s with some success before retiring from the sport after a couple of accidents.

Bernie returned to the sport to manage the career of Stuart Lewis Evans but left the sport after Stuart died from burns sustained from an accident in the 1958 Moroccan Grand Prix.

Through his friendship with Roy Slvadori Bernie became acquainted with a young firebrand named Jochen Rindt and their love of gambling and deal making led Bernie to manage Jochen’s career right up until his death at Monza in 1970.

In 1972 Ron Tauranac accepted Bernie’s offer of £100,000 for the Brabham Formula One team and in 1974 the team started winning Formula One races again and by 1988 when Bernie sold the team for $5 million the team had supplied Nelson Piquet with championship winning cars in 1981 and 1983.

From 1972 on, with the agreement of his fellow competitors Bernie also took on an ever greater part of the deal making that went on to secure start money and prize money for the British Formula One teams.

Soon Bernie was determining which races would be part of the World Drivers and Constructors Championships while securing the increasingly valuable TV rights and profits.

All this extra activity led to many arguments with fellow team owners, race organisers and of course the authorities posing in blazers who liked to think they were in charge.

Tom Bowers book tells of several offers Bernie made to both the Formula One teams and even the sports governing body to invest in their own future which were repeatedly turned down which Bernie took as a signal to take an ever deeper cut of the profits particularly from the TV rights and fees race promoters pay to secure an event on the championship calendar.

Bernie certainly does not come across as an angel backing all comers until it is time to see the green backs, dumping anyone who does not meet his exacting demands like a lead balloon, but through it all he does come across as extremely passionate about the sport even though by the time any one race has ended he is already on his way to the next.

I spent a couple of weeks over the Christmas break reading the book and I’d recommend No Angel to anyone who has an interest in motor sport or making money, unfortunately my interest has only ever been in the former.

Thanks for joining me on this “No Angel” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at a car called “Elvis”. Don’t forget to come back now.


Fragrant Debut Pole – McLaren Cosworth M23 #M23/1

At the 1973 South African Grand Prix 1967 World Champion New Zealander Denny Hulme qualified on pole for the first and only time in his entire formula one career which lasted from 1965 until 1974. Remarkably he was driving a brand new Ford Cosworth powered McLaren M23, #M23/1 featured today, that was designed by Gordon Coppuck and which was to replace the Ralph Bellamy designed McLaren M19C.

McLaren Cosworth M23, Goodwood Festival Of Speed

The design of the M23 was broadly similar to the design of the 1972 turbo Offy powered McLaren M16 which Mark Donohue drive to victory in the 1972 Indy 500, except in the DFV motor of the M23 was bolted into the chassis rather to a sub frame and the side radiators of the M23 were surrounded by a deformable structure to protect the fuel tanks in the side of the chassis.

Denny Hulme came fifth in the 1973 South African Grand Prix which was won by Jackie Stewart driving a Tyrrell 006. At the 1973 Swedish Grand Prix Denny Hulme took the first of the M23’s 16 World Championship race victories, two races later Peter Revson scored the models 2nd victory at the British Grand Prix a feat Peter would repeat at the Canadian Grand Prix towards the end of the season. Despite scoring two more wins than in the previous season McLaren again finished third in the 1973 World Constructors championship as they had in 1972.

McLaren Cosworth M23, Goodwood Festival Of Speed

For 1974 McLaren again attracted BRM’s sponsor Philip Morris and the Marlboro brand, Yardley having sponsored BRM in 1970 and 1971 prior to joining McLaren for 1972. Peter Revson moved to join the UOP Shadow outfit and was replaced at McLaren by 1972 World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi from Lotus.

Emerson won three world championship races in 1974 on his way to his second World Drivers Championship and McLaren’s first World Constructors Championship, backed up by Denny Hulme who won the first race of the 1974 World Championship season in Aregetina which would be his last prior to retiring from the sport at the end of the season. Chassis #M23/1 was used in the early 1974 season by a third Yardley backed factory entry for Mike Hailwood who joined McLaren from Surtees. Mike ‘the Bikes’ best result was third in the South African Grand Prix which would become his career high world championship result. An accident in Germany at the wheel of another M23 prematurely terminated Mikes driving career, though he would return to motor cycling at which he was a seven time world champion and add two Isle of Man TT trophies in 1978 and 1979 to bring his total to fourteen.

In 1975 Emerson claimed two more championship victories on his way to second in the title behind Niki Lauda in the superior Ferrari 312T which had a more powerful motor and superior handling thanks to a transversely mounted gearbox and the testing skills of it’s driver. Another Surtees refugee Jochen Mass who had teken over Mike Hailwoods Yardley McLaren drive in 1974 replaced Denny Hulme and scored his only Grand Prix victory at the ill feted 1975 Spanish Grand Prix.

James Hunt replaced Emerson Fittipaldi for 1976 and McLaren ended up using the M23 for a forth straight season as they were locked in an epic battle with Niki Lauda for the 1976 title that has been immortalised by Ron Howard in the film “Rush” released earlier this year. On his way to the 1976 World Drivers Championship James won 6 races to become the M23 model’s most successful driver.

By 1977 the M23 was pressed into a fifth season of competition as a works racer before a much modified McLaren M26 was finally brought up to speed mid way through the season, non works McLaren’s were used sporadically in World Championship events until 1978 when rising star Nelson Piquet recorded a 9th place finish in the Canadian Grand Prix on what was to be the M23’s final World Championship appearance.

Tony Trimmer won the British Formula One Championship driving a Melchester Racing McLaren M23 in 1978.

Thanks for joining me on this “Fragrant Debut Pole” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Satoru’s Fastest Lap – Lotus Judd 101

1989 saw the phenomenally expensive 1200 – 1500 hp 1.5 litres / 91.5 cui turbo charged engines that had first been seen in Formula One racing in 1977 and that had come to dominate the sport by 1983 finally outlawed in 1989. New regulations mandating 3.5 litre / 213 cui motors were introduced for the 1989 season but Honda who had come to dominate the last years of the turbo era were about to dominate the opening years of the new normally aspirated era with a V10 motor that was simply more reliable and more powerful than the opposition.

Lotus Judd 101, Classics at the Castle, Sherborne

Team Lotus were on the upper slopes of steep decline in 1989 neither Nelson Piquet or Satoru Nakajima had offered the dominant McLaren’s with whom they shared an engine supplier in 1988 much by way of competition, and Lotus finished a poor 4th behind Ferrari and Benetton when their motors should have been good enough to finish second behind McLaren.

Lotus Judd 101, Race Retro, Stonleigh

For 1989 Lotus lost their Honda deal and ended up with Judd V8 CV spec motors while Judd’s preferred customer March was on EV spec motors.

Lotus Judd 101, Bristol Classic Car Show, Shepton Mallet

The 1989 Lotus 101 cars were designed by Frank Dernie a former Williams aerodynamicist Frank Dernie whom Nelson Piquet had persuaded to defect, though by the time Frank arrived much of the design had been completed by future short lived MWR, Micheal Waltrip Racing, design consultant Mike Coughlan.

Lotus Judd 101, Classics at the Castle, Sherborne

In order to save weight and seek aerodynamic advantage on their competitors the Lotus 101 cockpit was so narrow that Momo were commissioned to build ultra narrow steering wheels so that Nelson and Satoru did not scrape their knuckles on the cockpit sides.

Lotus Judd 101, Race Retro, Stonleigh

Lotus entered an agreement with Tickford to develop 5 valve per cylinder heads for their 2nd string Judd V8’s to make up some of the 125 hp the CV motors had on the most powerful Honda V10’s but the idea was eventually scrapped mid season.

Lotus Judd 101, Classics at the Castle, Sherborne

Team Lotus scored four seasons high 4th places 3 for Nelson and one for Satoru enough with two more points finishes for Nelson to secure 6th place for Team Lotus in the 1989 Championship.

Lotus Judd 101, Bristol Classic Car Show, Shepton Mallet

Possibly the most remarkable result for the team came at the season ends Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide where the race was run in monsoon conditions, only 8 of the 26 qualifiers were running at the races end and of them Satoru Nakajima came through from 23rd of the grid to finish 4th and final runner on the lead lap. In the process Satoru recorded the races fastest lap a feat he would never repeat.

Lotus Judd 101, Bristol Classic Car Show, Shepton Mallet

Although Lotus were running second string Judd CV engines they finished ahead, in championship points, of the other Judd users Brabham; March, and Euro Brun the latter who like Yamaha powered Zakspeed failed to even pre qualify for a single on of the seasons 16 races.

Thanks for joining me on this “Saturo’s Fastest Lap” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !