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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1988
Numbers built:9
Designed by:Rory Byrne for Benetton
Predecessor:Benetton B187 Cosworth
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:June 28, 2011
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Click here to download printer friendly versionIn 1987 Benetton had become the 'de facto' Ford works team in Formula 1 as it was granted the exclusive use of the Cosworth developed V6 turbo engine. Even though the results were encouraging, highlighted by a podium in the final race, Benetton and Ford decided to take a different route for 1988. This was going to be the last season for the forced induction engines but the two organisations already opted to run a naturally aspirated car.

At first glance this may not have been the most obvious choice but Benetton and Ford certainly had good reasons. In anticipation of the complete ban of forced induction engines, the FIA had pegged back their performance considerably by both limiting the turbo boost and available fuel. This was done to the extent that naturally aspirated engines could be competitive again. It was unlikely that the Ford Cosworth V6 would ever match the performance of the similar Honda and Ferrari engines, making that naturally aspirated route almost the obvious choice for 1988.

What also helped was that the last 'atmospheric' Formula 1 victory was scored with a Ford Cosworth DFY engine. This unit, itself based on the legendary DFV V8, would form the basis for the new engine, labelled the DFR. In the end very little of the original design was retained despite the similar appearance. Displacing just under 3.5 litre, the DFR produced around 595 bhp at the first tests. This was gradually increased to 620 bhp at around 12,000 rpm. The turbocharged engines still had much higher output but fuel restrictions limited their performance during the race.

Talented South African engineer Rory Byrne was responsible for the design of the new Benetton chassis, which was suitably dubbed the B188. He designed a conventional carbon-fibre monocoque chassis with an emphasis on efficient aerodynamics to compensate for the power deficit. The car featured dual intakes; one feeding the engine intakes and the other directed at the radiators. Suspension was by double wishbones and push-rods all around. The B188's most unusual feature was the 'reversed' gearbox. In this configuration the gears were fitted between the engine and final drive, resulting in a better weight balance.

For 1988 Benetton had retained the services of Belgium's Thierry Boutsen but Italian Teo Fabi was replaced by his highly talented compatriot Allessandro Nanini. Despite the best efforts of all involved, Benetton's 1988 campaign was thwarted from the start. This was to no real fault of their own but due to the all-conquering McLaren team, which had combined the driving talents of Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna with the Honda-engined MP4/4. They won all but one race that year, leaving the rest of the teams to fight for the scraps.

Taking McLaren out of the equation, Benetton had a very impressive season. They formed the main rival for the Ferrari team, which still used a turbocharged engine. After a difficult start of the year, Boutsen and Nanini managed to claim seven podium finishes between them. At the end of the year Benetton placed third in the constructor's table behind McLaren and Ferrari, beating the likes of Williams. The B188 continued to serve for the opening races of 1989, until the new Cosworth HB engined B189 was rolled out. Nanini managed to add another podium finish to its tally.

Nanini scored the team's first victory later that year in the B189. Ford and Benetton continued their partnership and gradually the results improved, eventually culminating in the 1994 driver's world championship with Michael Schumacher; he used a Rory Byrne designed Benetton powered by the latest Ford Cosworth V8 engine.

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  Article Image gallery (15) B188-01 Specifications User Comments (1)