Schumacher’s First Win: Benetton, Spa 1992…

Posted: October 5, 2015 in F1, Fotos
Tags: , , , , , , ,

b schumi and mansell

Michael Schumacher’s Benetton Ford just in front of Nigel Mansell’s Williams Renault. He took his first GP win having made his Championship debut at Spa with Jordan 12 months before…

Schumacher’s 1991 Belgian Grand Prix debut was in a Jordan 191 Ford. His Sauber Mercedes sportscar performances didn’t make it clear that ‘The Next Superstar’ had arrived but he qualified 8th and ran 4th retiring his car with clutch dramas, his brief drive was enough to convince Flavio Briatore to sign him up on the spot.

Roberto Moreno lost his Benetton seat to the German, swapping across to Jordan, Schumacher took a 5th and two 6th placings by seasons end.

1992 would be a tough year for all but Williams.

‘Active suspension’ experiments which started at Lotus with Colin Chapman tasking his engineers to explore it as far back as 1981 with the Esprit road car and in F1 from 1987 met an ‘apex’ with the Williams FW14B/15C Renault’s in 1992/3.

noige

Nigel Mansell, Williams FW14B Renault, the dominant car of 1992, here at Spa. (unattributed)

The Patrick Head/Adrian Newey designed cars were powered by a 3.5 litre Renault V10 considered to have around 760bhp, 30bhp more than the Honda V12 by seasons end.

But the key to the cars dominance; Nigel Mansell became the first driver to achieve 9 wins, and the title that year, was the cars carbon fibre chassis which incorporated active suspension. The advance of computer technology finally allowed the exploitation of suspension actuators to deploy the system effectively.

The Williams 6 speed gearbox incorporated traction control and was of the semi-automatic type pioneered by the Ferrari 640 in 1989. The car also incorporated anti-lock braking for a time. The promise shown later in 1991 was now converted into stunning, consistent race winning pace.

Benetton B192 Ford…

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(Terry Collins)

The Benetton B192 was a conventional, well engineered, ‘chuckable’ chassis developed by Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne.

The chassis was carbon fibre, suspension by wishbones front and rear with coil spring/dampers actuated by pushrods. The gearbox was Benetton’s own transverse design 6 speed manual.

The Ford Cosworth HB 75 degree 3.5 litre V8 developed around 700bhp @ 130000rpm, well short of the Honda and Renault’s output but the car was consistently fast and ‘best of the rest’ after the dominant Williams and the McLaren with which Senna took 3 wins.

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Jean Alesi, Ferrari F92A and Schumacher collide after an attempted Schumi pass on lap 12 of the 1992 Monaco GP. Jean’s car was damaged taking him out of the race, MS 4th in the race won by Senna’s McLaren. (unattributed)

Schumacher’s 1992 Season..

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MS Benetton B192 Ford, Spa 1992. (unattributed)

Schumacher was 3rd in the drivers championship in a season of speed and consistency; he took 2nds in Spain, Canada and Australia and four 3rds, his breakthrough first win was at Spa, exactly 12 months after his GP debut.

schum la source

THE classic Spa shot, MS La Source hairpin 1992. (unattributed)

In a race of changing fortunes and variable conditions good or lucky pit work put him on dry tyres at the right time; Mansell and Patrese in the other Williams chased him down but both had cracked exhausts which took the edge of their engines performance. Schumi took the win from Mansell, Patrese, his Benetton teammate Martin Brundle, Senna’s McLaren MP4/7A Honda and Mika Hakkinen’s Lotus 107 Ford.

schum alesi hakk

Remember the skid plate sparks!? L>R; Hakkinens 6th placed Lotus 107 Ford, Schumacher and Alesi’s Ferrari F92AT, he spun on lap 7 so its early in the race. (unattributed)

The Schumacher/Benetton/Ford combination took the drivers (but not the manufacturers) title in a season of tragedy and controversy in 1994, the 1992 B192 was an important stepping stone in that evolution…

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Spa 1992 victory dais; the first of 91 GP wins. (unattributed)

Credits…Terry Collins

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