Alan Jones in his Lola THL1 Hart at Monaco during practice on May 10 1986…
Just looking these pictures, note the Ford logo on the side of the cockpit, reminded me of the vexed, too soon launched Ford Cosworth GBA 1.5 V6 twin-turbo.
Jones and Tambay didn’t race the Ford engine in ’86, they contested the title with Brian Hart’s Hart 415T, 4 cylinder engine whilst GBA development continued at Cosworths. Best results for the year were a 4th and 5th in Austria in a sea of DNF’s. The Haas team then withdrew from F1, the GBA program torch carried forward by Benetton but not for too long…
That Brian Hart built an F1 engine is an accident of history. It was an evolution of the relationship he had with the Toleman Team who won the European F2 Championship in 1980 (Brian Henton won the drivers title) with his superb 2 litre 420R 4 cylinder engine (below) in the back of Rory Byrne’s TG280 ground effects chassis.
The 420R engine has a bore/stroke of 93.5 mm x 72.6 mm, a capacity of 1994 cc and was the result of a long development path starting with Hart’s race preparation of FVA’s in 1969. Designed in house, blocks and heads came from Stirling Metals with the machining done at Harts. Gordon Allen produced the cranks, Hart did his own cams and developed the pistons with Mahle in Germany. Lucas provided the fuel injection. The engine developed 305 bhp @ 9,500 rpm with safe bursts to just over 10,000 rpm.
Ted Toleman’s wealth derived from building up the UK’s largest car transport business, his ambition extended to graduation from F2 to F1. Rory Byrne designed what became the TG181 chassis which team manager Alex Hawkridge told Brian would either carry a turbo-charged version of the 420R or Lancia’s turbo 1.4 which was doing service in their sports-racer at the time. So Brian set to with the challenge!
‘I had never even seen a turbocharger,’ Hart claims, ‘and I didn’t understand intercooling’. His engine was the first British turbo Fl engine and the TG181 was as ‘big and butch’ as the TG280 was ‘nimble and slinky’. Packaging of these early turbo-cars was a big challenge even with the resources of Ferrari whose 1981 126CK was no picture of elegance either.
The first beautifully integrated turbo was John Barnard’s 1984 McLaren MP4/2 TAG Porsche largely because he prescribed very thoroughly the packaging of his engine spec to Porsche to ensure the needs of his chassis, particularly its aerodynamic effectiveness were not compromised by the engine and its ancillaries inclusive of radiators and intercoolers.
The first iteration of the 415T had a bore and stroke of 89.2mm X 60mm and a capacity of 1499cc. With a compression ratio of 6.7:1 and single KKK turbo-charger the engine developed circa 557bhp at 9500rpm compared to its competitors; normally aspirated Cosworth DFV circa 500bhp and Matra V12 510. The turbos were the Renault V6 540, Ferrari V6 560 and BMW in-line 4 557bhp.
The 415T engine was down on power and prone to head-gasket failure, drivers Brian Henton and Derek Warwick who had enjoyed so much Hart F2 success in 1980 repeatedly failed to qualify.
Hart was under lots of pressure and there was heavy tension between him and Byrne noting the shortcomings of the latters chassis. Derek Warwick later observed that Brian was a great engineer, a great person and always under-financed. And a pretty handy driver in his day…
Brian Hart raced with success, he dominated the 1172cc Clubmans formula and later raced in FJ, its successor F3 and in F2 during its most competitive period with grids full of ‘graded’, moonlighting GP drivers.
He raced the brilliant Mike Costin designed Protos 16 powered by a Hart prepped Cosworth FVA, a highlight setting fastest lap and finishing second to Frank Gardner’s works Brabham BT23 FVA in the slip-streaming blast title qualifier at Hockenheim in 1967. He was 11th in the Euro F2 Championship that year and 14th in 1968 driving a Merlyn Mk12 and Brabham BT23C both FVA powered .
He gradually phased from driving into building and developing race engines forming Brian Hart Engines in Harlow, Essex in 1969 gaining much success preparing and tuning FVA’s for racing and BDA’s for rallying. Ronnie Peterson won the Euro F2 championship in 1971 with a Hart prepared FVA (March 711M) and Mike Hailwood in 1972 with an 1850cc BDA. (Surtees TS10)
Brian originally trained at De Havilland Aircraft, then worked for Cosworths when they were building/developing the 1600cc Ford FVA F2 engine, the precursor to the great DFV in the initial 1966/7 partnership between Cosworth and Ford.
A turning point with the 415T was when Hart decided to build the engine as a monobloc, that is no separate head joint to be sealed against coolant, boost pressure and combustion leaks; ‘I decided to cast the head and block as one and in about a fortnight we gained 130bhp. Hart also used British Holset turbo-chargers and benefitted from their flexibility and willingness to develop their products to suit the engine. ‘And the new car (1982 TG183) was 90 per cent better’ Hart quipped.
The much improved TG183B scored 10 championship points in ’83. In ’84 F1 novice Ayrton Senna almost won at Monaco in the quicker TG184. Hart recalled working with the young champion ‘He was astonishing. No man until Schumacher could motivate a team like Ayrton. I asked him to remember the boost reading on one corner per lap, and he came back after a single lap with all the readings for every corner in his head. It was a new level of participation.’
In 1985 development was hamstrung early in the year when the team could not test as they had no tyre contract, this problem was solved when they bought the Spirit teams contract when they withdrew from F1. By this stage with Holset turbo, Hart/ERA digital engine management and Marelli fuel injection at 2.5 atmospheres of boost the engine developed about 740bhp at 10,500rpm.
A fantastic moment was when the car qualified on pole in the German GP after second session times were impacted by rain. The engine was estimated to be giving about 825bhp in qualifying spec with about 730 in race spec but reliability to a large extent had been lost.
The Toleman team was acquired by Benetton later in 1985, who used BMW engines. It was a relief for Hart who struggled with small budgets and too many customers (Spirit, RAM and Beatrice-Lola) ‘I had my arm twisted to do other teams. Toleman simply couldn’t fund the development. I once told Paul Rosche (BMW’s engine guru) what we had to spend, and he said they spent that on blocks alone’ Hart recalled in a MotorSport interview.
Hart 415T; aluminium 4 cylinder monobloc weighing about 140Kg. Belt driven DOHC, 4 valve, fuel injected, intercooled and single Holset turbocharger 1459cc (bore/stroke 88X61.55mm). Between 650-825bhp at 10500 rpm depending upon spec and year.
Going back to the Ford GBA engine early in the article, Benetton raced the ‘works’ Ford GBA’s with a modicum more success in 1987, 5th in the constructors championship won by Williams Honda the best result that year a 3rd in Adelaide for Thierry Boutsen at the seasons end.
Into 1988 and rule changes tipped the balance a little more in favour of normally aspirated engines so Benetton raced the B188 powered by the 3.5 litre V8 Ford Cosworth DFR finishing 3rd in the manufacturers championship behind McLaren and Ferrari; Ford competitiveness was returning and the GBA was placed on the shelf a victim of rule changes and being a little too late to the turbo-party…
MotorSport, Doug Nye ‘History of The Grand Prix Car’, Maurice Hamilton, Anthony Fosh, Rainer Schlegelmilch, Pascal Rondeau, John Way, 8W Forix, Alenso, Roger Viollet
Tailpiece: Brian Hart with his 830 V8 engine, it was fitted to the Footwork chassis’, 1996 Spanish Grand Prix…
After working on the development of the Ford Cosworth DFR in the early 1990’s Hart built the 72 degree 3.5 litre V10 ‘1035’ which was used by Jordan with successful results in 1993. For the 3 litre formula in 1995 he ‘chopped a couple of cylinders off’, maintaining the 72 degree Vee angle to create the ultra compact ‘830’ V8.
Known fondly as ‘Jam Tart’, this immensely popular member of the F1 paddock died too young at 77 in 2014.