Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The End of Another Era...

Partial image of Ford Cosworth F1 cars montage from long forgotten tapestry. (The Tomaso Collection)

This past weekend's running of the USGP at Geo. Phillips favourite Texas track COTA, i.e.; Circuit Of The Americas saw the final running of one of Formula One's most heralded engines, when the 'Cossie lumps ran in anger in North America for the final time in the foreseeable future, closing out the latest chapter in the 'legendous Cosworth V-8 saga, as its now been some six years since a milestone birthday passed for the ubiquitous DFV lump... And instead of rehashing the past, I'll defer to my previous story over viewing this historic engine in;

As its truly sad that Ford decided to turn its back upon ownership of this legendary engine manufacture upon selling it to the majority consortium of the then Champ Car owners Kevin "Smiley Face" Kalkoven and his sourpuss sidekick Gerald "WHHAAA!" Forsythe in late-2004 (along with Aston Martin, Jaguar and Land Rover) who simply bought the company not because they liked I-T so much, but because they desperately needed a (Turbo charged) engine to power their rival Open Wheel Racing series - which thankfully finally merged in 'Twenty-oh-Eight with the now defunct IRL; but I digress...

The storied Cosworth V-8's run thru history began 'Wayback in 1967 when Jimmy Clark drove one of Colin Chapman's Lotus Type-49 propelled by the three-liter normally aspirated DFV (Double Four Valves) V-8 to  the 'FoMoCo's (Ford Motor Company) debutant Formula 1 victory at the Dutch Grand Prix held at Zandvoort, as ultimately the DFV and later variants would go onto win an astounding 174 Grand Prix victories - with the final chequered flag being unfurled for V-8 glory with Michael Schumacher's Benetton B-194/Ford Zetec-R V-8 in Jerez, Spain, becoming the second most successful F1 engine behind only rival Ferrari...

Yet it's funny for Mwah since my F1 baptism-by-fire, so to speak actually began with a Ford turbocharged 1.5-liter V-6 lump being its flagship Formula 1 engine; the TEC 120-degree twin turbo V-6 then propelling the Benetton's of Thierry Boutsen and Teo Fabi since I have NO recollection of ever seeing the Haas Lola's in action in 1986 when Alan Jones and Patrick Tambay finished fourth & fifth in Austria.

With Carl Haas's withdrawal from F1 and Benetton lacking an engine, the TEC V-6, Ford's most powerful engine to date - developing some 900bhp! Was utilized to garner Midfield results with Boutsen and Fabi finishing eighth & ninth respectively in the Driver's standings while Benetton finished fifth in the Constructor's chase, as both drivers podiumed once apiece; Fabi scoring third in Austria and Boutsen third in Adelaide as the TEC V-6 simply wasn't up to the standards of the then dominant TAG-Porsche and Honda Powerplants which dominated the final four seasons of the last turbocharger era.

With Benetton being the Ford/Cosworth "Works" team, the Anglo-Italian squad became the first team to run the redesigned DFR, an enlarged 3.5-liter 90-degree V-8 variant of the DFV developed for the forthcoming naturally aspirated engine formulae making its debut in 1988 as Ford concentrated upon this avenue since normally aspirated lumps would become mandatory in 1989.

Benetton then debuted the totally new HB V-8 in mid-1989 at the French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard before taking an unexpected win during the controversial Japanese GP where Ayrton Senna was Disqualified with 'Sandro Nannini being awarded the win while the DFR became the de facto customer engine.

Nannini's debutant Ford HB 'lump victory was the first of many in this latest variant's renaissance, as surely it must have been somewhat galling to thee 'Ronster (Ron Dennis) to be forced into Customer engine status since Benetton was now the Ford "Works" team, especially with McLaren's triple world champion Ayrton Senna outscoring Michael Schumacher 5-1 in Grand Prix victories in 1993...

Fast forward to '94 when as mentioned before, Herr Sckewmacher won the final Ford V-8 engine championship and the die was cast for the Cossie lumps to never be victorious again with the exception of Johnny Herbert's unexpected win for Stewart Grand Prix and the by then de riggour three-liter V-10 at that year's European GP at the Nurburgring - with teammate 'Rubino (Rubens Barrichello) finishing third. As Cosworth had gone the V-10 route in 1995 when Sauber became its Factory team with a two year supply of the brand new power units.

Johnny Herbert's Stewart SF3-Ford at the Nurburgring. ( Image source: The Cahier Archive; grandprix.com)
 Sir Jackie Stewart's team Stewart Grand Prix, albeit effectively his son's Paul Stewart Racing having stepped up to thee pinnacle 'O motorsport, nee F1, became the de facto Works squad in the late '90's - with Herbert's lone V-10 win taking Ford and Cosworth's win tally to 175; before JYS successfully coerced Ford into buying the team and rebranding it Jaguar who continued utilizing the Cossie V-10 Powerplants until their demise, with Minardi running a rev-limited V-10 in 2006 while Team 'Willy and Sir Frank, (Williams) the quintessential Brit ran the firms new for Twenty-oh-Six CA-2006 2.4-liter normally aspirated V-8 lump before switching to Toyota the following season leaving F1 devoid of any Cosworth powered chassis for the first time since 1967!

Then the Cosworth engine was given a reprieve during the Sir maXXum (MAD Max Mosley) era when winning the tender for customer supplied engines in 2010 when Williams spearheaded Cosworth's return along with the three brand new teams of Hispania, Virgin and "Lotus-Lotus," Err, NO! Not that Lotus but the other Lotus as in Lotus2.0 not to be Cornfuzed with Lotus-Renault Grand Prix; Oh Never Mind!

As the rebranded Virgin, "like a Virgin" now known as Marussia has been the solitary F1 team soldiering on with the updated CA-2010 power unit the past two seasons - after Caterham ditched the Cossie in favour of le Reggie, (Renault) essentially an updated version of the '06 lump detuned to only 18,000RPM's will switch to Ferrari power for 2014.

 Cosworth has elected not to develop a new power unit for the V-6 turbos mandated for 2014, and hence, I'm hoping for Marussia to finish ahead of the mighty Caterham in the Constructor's standings which would seemingly be a nice way to Bookend the nearly half century affair of Cosworth in Formula 1 by not going out dead last...