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World Championship Career
Year Engine Driver Race Start Won Pod Class Best 1+2 Pole Front Best Lap Pts Pos
1994 Ford D Brabham, JM Gounon, T Inoue, A Montermini, R Ratzenberger, M Schiattarella 16 27 0 0 12 9 0 0 0 21 0 0 -
1995 Ford M Schiattarella, J Verstappen 5 8 0 0 3 9 0 0 0 14 0 0 -
Total 21 35 0 0 15 9 0 0 0 14 0
Race Circuit Date
First race Brazilian Grand Prix Interlagos March 27, 1994 Race results
Last race Monaco Grand Prix Monaco May 28, 1995 Race results
Profile

Simtek Grand Prix was one of two teams new to the grand prix scene in 1994. Team boss Nick Wirth, at 28, was the youngest team owner in Formula One and very much the design and engineering force behind Simtek.

The name is short for "simulated technology", which reflects work carried out by Wirth's already established sister company. Clients included some of the motor industry's major manufacturers and, before Wirth's direct involvement as a team owner, the FIA itself.

Teams can no longer compete in grand prix racing with an off-the-shelf customer chassis, engine and gearbox. They have to build their own cars, even if the work is contracted out. And, in the 1990s, so sophisticated and expensive were the materials used that it was not so much a case of entering a sport as beginning a manufacturing industry.

Whereas a budget for a leading grand prix team was more than £20 million, not including free works engines, Simtek was having to operate on something closer to £5 million. There was no specialized test team, no 200-plus employees, no fancy hotels.

Wirth went into the challenge in 1994 with his eyes open and recruited David Brabham, the youngest son of triple World Champion Sir Jack, to drive. Brabham Sr had shares in Simtek and, although 30 years had gone by since he was a leading constructor/driver, he brought valuable experience to the outfit.

Sadly, the fledgling team suffered grand prix racing's first fatality at an event for 12 years when Roland Ratzenberger crashed on the flat-out approach to Imola's Tosa corner. The likeable Austrian had done a deal for five races with Simtek, achieving his lifetime ambition of making it to Formula One.

The team's telemetry showed that Ratzenberger had left the circuit on the lap before his fatal crash, probably weakening the front wing assembly in the process. The nose section flew off the car as it reached maximum speed and thus maximum download on the straight, causing the Simtek to spear straight on into the barriers.

In the past it was customary for a team to withdraw its other entry in the event of a fatality to one of its drivers, but Brabham, looking around and seeing the desperation, particularly among the older members of the team, decided that in order to lift spirits and keep the team together, he should carry on.

Italian Andrea Montermini drove for Simtek at the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona and was also involved in a sickening crash in practice. Happily, he escaped with a slight ankle injury, but, with another damaged monocoque, the team was under enormous pressure.

Frenchman Jean-Marc Gounon was then signed as partner to Brabham and actually achieved the S941's best finish of the season when he was ninth in his home grand prix at Magny-Cours. Brabham, meanwhile, was tenth in Barcelona and brought the car to the end of the race six times. He was also involved in a couple of controversial incidents with Jean Alesi's Ferrari when the Frenchman was lapping him.

Gounon's Simtek deal took him as far as Portugal and then the team ran Italian Domenico Schiattarella at Jerez and Adelaide, with Japanese driver Taki Inoue at Suzuka. With the 1995 season fast approaching, the team suffered a blow when Brabham decided to accept a BMW ride in the British Touring Car Championship.

Simtek started 1995 with a bang, though, the S951 flying in the hands of Jos Verstappen; he qualified it 14th in Argentina. Refinements, however, were too frequent, and the team folded at Monaco when a sponsorship deal collapsed and the money ran out. Wirth then packed his bags and moved on to work at Benetton.

Reproduced from The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Formula One published by Carlton Books

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Nov 13, 1994

Simtek driver David Brabham at the 1994 Australian Grand Prix

Apr 17, 1994

Roland Ratzenberger before his one and only grand prix finish

Mar 17, 1994

David Brabham (L) and Simtek team-mate Roland Ratzenberger

Mar 17, 1994

Simtek's David Brabham (L) and Roland Ratzenberger

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