Unconventional, flamboyant, ground-breaking, colourful, controversial — the Benetton Formula 1 team was all of those things. Defying perceptions as the rebels of Formula 1, Benetton achieved great success, particularly in the two glorious seasons of 1994 and 1995 when the team swept aside the big names — Williams, McLaren and Ferrari — to claim back-to-back World Championship titles for up-and-coming Michael Schumacher.
This book tells the entire 1986–2001 history of the Benetton team for the first time with insightful contributions from many of the key participants, including Flavio Briatore, Alessandro Benetton, Pat Symonds and Rory Byrne. With a lavish array of images accompanying the authoritative text, this is a book that will delight all Formula 1 enthusiasts.
Beginnings: after three seasons in F1 as a sponsor, Benetton purchases ailing Toleman and creates its own BMW-powered team for 1986, taking a first win that year with Gerhard Berger.
Growing in stature: with Flavio Briatore arriving to run the team and using Ford engines, Benetton edges towards consistently strong performances, including two consecutive wins for Nelson Piquet at the end of 1990.
The key driver: the inspired signing of Michael Schumacher takes Benetton closer to glory during a 1992–93 high-tech period that sees the Williams team reign supreme.
The breakthrough year: Following tragedy, black flags, disqualifications, a pitlane inferno and political manoeuvring, the tumultuous 1994 season ends with Schumacher sealing the World Championship title for Benetton after a controversial clash with rival Damon Hill.
The best year: Transferring to Renault engines, Benetton dominates in 1995, Schumacher taking a second consecutive crown thanks to nine wins and Johnny Herbert supporting to help deliver the constructors’ title too.The hangover: After Schumacher’s departure to Ferrari and the loss of factory Renault engines, Benetton struggles to maintain its status in 1996–97 with Gerhard Berger and Jean Alesi, achieving just one win in those two seasons.
Farewell: A prolonged period of decline concludes with Renault’s purchase of the team at the end of 2001.
Author: Damien Smith has been a motorsport journalist for nearly 30 years. An award-winning former editor of Motor Sport and editor-in-chief of Autosport, F1 Racing and Motorsport News, he has trawled paddocks from Monaco to Pembrey, Indianapolis to Lydden Hill — and just about everywhere else in between. Today, he works as a freelance contributor to Motor Sport, Autosportand more, and also writes a weekly column as motor sport editor of Autocar. Damien has four children and lives in Wallasey, Merseyside.
Damien Smith will be taking part in the inaugural Porter Press Motoring Literary & Art Festival at Silverstone in The Wing over the weekend of 2–3 December 2023. Sunday 3 December, at 15.30 in Theatre 2, Damien Smith will talk about his newly published Benetton: Rebels of Formula 1. With a packed programme and a host of interesting speakers, the Motoring Literary & Art Festival is an intriguing new event for the motoring enthusiasts’ diary.
For more event details, go to www.motorlitartfest.co.uk