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  Benetton B186 BMW
 

  Article Image gallery (14) B186-01 Specifications User Comments (2)  
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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1986
Numbers built:7
Designed by:Rory Byrne for Benetton
Successor:Benetton B187 Cosworth
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:January 18, 2016
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Click here to download printer friendly versionAlready a major sponsor from halfway through the 1985 season, the Italian Benetton clothing company acquired a controlling stake in the Toleman Grand Prix team ahead of the new year. The small British team had shown impressive form, particularly in 1984 with Ayrton Senna as lead driver, and Benetton believed an injection of capital could unlock much more of that potential.

The first tangible effect of the Benetton take-over was a switch of engine supplier from Hart to BMW. Although based on a production block, the BMW straight-four was one of the most powerful F1 engines of the day. In qualifying trim, it could produce as much as 1,500 bhp; a startling 1,000 bhp per litre. For mileage and reliability reasons, it was dialled back considerably during the races but still pumped out 900 bhp.

Benetton's take over came relatively late in the off-season, which meant that designer Rory Byrne and his team of talented engineers had to play catch up for most of the year. The new Benetton B186's carbon-fibre monocoque was loosely based on the outgoing Toleman TG185. Much stronger than the Hart engine, the BMW 'four' could be used as a semi-stressed unit. Suspension was by double wishbones on all four corners, with pull-rods actuating the in-board springs at the front and push-rods at the rear.

Italian driver Teo Fabi was retained, while young Austrian Gerhard Berger was signed as the 'new' team's number one driver. Berger immediately scored a point at the season opening Brazilian Grand Prix and both drivers placed in the top six at the next round. The stellar debut for Benetton was rounded off with a third place finish for Berger in the third race of the F1 World Championship, the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola.

After the great early form, both drivers failed to score points for most of the year. During this period, Byrne avidly worked to refine the aerodynamics. The development work paid off with a fifth place finish at Monza for Berger. He did even better at Mexico, the penultimate race of the year, where Berger scored his very first F1 victory. At the end of Benetton's inaugural season, the team scored 19 points and placed 6th in the championship.

For the 1987 season Benetton joined forces with Ford as a works supported team. Although the team finished fifth, they failed to score a victory in their second season. Berger's 1986 efforts earned him a seat at Ferrari for 1987. One of the BMW-engined Benettons famously starred in the March, 1987 Road & Track article, in which it was tested by former F1 driver Innes Ireland.

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  Article Image gallery (14) B186-01 Specifications User Comments (2)