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  Beatrice-Lola THL1 Hart

  Article Image gallery (13) Chassis (1) Specifications  
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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1985
Numbers built:3
Designed by:Neil Oatley for FORCE
Successor:Beatrice-Lola THL2 Ford
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:October 23, 2009
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Click here to download printer friendly versionLegendary team owner Carl Haas had already competed successfully for nearly two decades in all major American road racing series when he entered Formula 1 towards the end of 1985. He was backed by Beatrice Foods and the Ford Motor Company and hired an all-star team of people that included former McLaren owners Teddy Mayer and Tyler Alexander as well as promising designers Neil Oatley, John Baldwin and Ross Brawn. Former World Champion Alan Jones came back from retirement to drive the new 'Beatrice-Lola.' The second part of the name was in reference to Haas being the long time Lola representative in North America. The Huntingdon manufacturer actually had nothing to do with the design, development or construction of the car.

Haas had signed an exclusive deal to use the twin-turbo Ford-Cosworth V6 engine but the all-new engine was not ready in time for the 1985 season. So for his maiden F1 season Haas had to settle for the readily available Hart straight four. The all-alloy engine featured a single turbocharger and produced around 750 bhp. It was mated to a six-speed Hewland gearbox. Oatley and his men designed a very conventional carbon fiber and aluminium honeycomb monocoque chassis that used double wishbones and push-rods on both ends. The car was built near London by a newly formed company called FORCE (Formula One Race Car Engineering ltd.). The first THL1 (Team Haas Lola) was ready for testing in the summer of 1985.

Jones first drove the Hart engined Beatrice-Lola in August and testing was concluded in time to take part in the final three Grands Prix of the season. The team used these races to learn as much as possible as they were unlikely to challenge for wins or even points with the underpowered Hart engine. For the machine's debut at Monza, the former World Champion had to start at the back of the grid. The THL1 was nearly 10 seconds off the pace. Jones' race was over after just six laps when his engine failed. The Australian suffered a similar fate at the subsequent two appearances when a radiator failure and and another blown engine caused him to retire at the 13th and 20th laps of the races respectively. It was however not all bad news as the THL1 had already picked up the pace and there was the promise of a brand new engine in 1986.

Over the winter the original Beatrice-Lola was modified to accept the new ultra-wide Ford badged Cosworth GB engine. This was a twin-turbo V6 just like the dominant TAG-Porsche, Honda and Ferrari engines. The Ford-engined Beatrice-Lola was labeled the THL2. The team also took it up a notch by fielding a second car for Patrick Tambay, who had no drive after Renault had pulled out of Formula 1 at the end of 1985. The Frenchman had previously driven for Mayer and Alexander at McLaren and more importantly had won two Can-Am titles for Carl Haas in the late 1970s. Delays with the construction of the new engine forced the team to start the 1986 season with the old cars. Tambay managed to score the team's first finish in a THL1 by crossing the line in eighth and last in the Spanish Grand Prix.

The very first THL2 was made available to Jones for the third race of the season. Remarkably he was out-qualified by his team-mate, who was still in the Hart engined car. The next race saw both drivers out in the new THL2s and there were clear signs of improvement. Jones recorded his first finish at the Canadian Grand Prix, which had seen Tambay crash heavily in practice. Now nearly competitive, the Beatrice-Lolas had the opportunity to score points on several occasions, thwarted time and again by technical problems. The pieces of the puzzle finally fitted together at the Austrian Grand Prix where Jones and Tambay finished fourth and fifth respectively. Jones followed that up by another point scoring finish at Monza but there was no such luck in the final three races of 1986.

Although the team had made a lot of progress throughout the 1986 season, a change of management at Beatrice Foods left Carl Haas without a sponsor at the end of the year. He still had the exclusive deal with Ford for the supply of the Cosworth V6 engines but every attempt to attract new backers failed. The team was forced to close the doors at the end of the year. Haas returned to the United States and embarked on a highly successful spell with his Newman-Haas Indy/CART team. Jones and Tambay did not return to the grid in 1987. The exclusive Ford deal was picked up by the Benetton team but they also struggled to turn the promising pace into good results.

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  Article Image gallery (13) Chassis (1) Specifications