It’s 20 minutes before the start of the 1995 Monaco Grand Prix when Nick Wirth wanders together with Jos Verstappen on the starting grid. Verstappen on P23 and Schiattarella on P20 it will be just one of those races that year which Jos will show the world what a marvellous beast the Simtek S951 is. As he said, if he did not hid the guardrail he would have qualified better for the race. A start, a restart later, and the dream is over for Simtek. Desperate attempts are made to get more money, to survive, though it doesn’t work. After a last attempt in Montreal, In June 1995 Simtek goes in self-liquidation. Leaving Schiattarella and Verstappen without a seat.
That last weekend in Monaco makes it even sadder if you know that Barbara Behlau went on Saturday to the supermarket to get sandwiches from her own money for the team. Barbara probably tried even harder to keep the team on the grid, to keep the memories about late Roland Ratzenberger alive. I haven’t seen more dedication and pure passion from someone before or after.
The story of Jos Formula One career is one full of opportunities. Be on the right time at the right place but failing to make the opportunities concrete. I still convinced that Jos the Boss should have signed the test contract with McLaren in 1994. To appear on the grid in 1995 with the team. Even the flirt with Footwork for 1994 was a better choice than signing for the Benetton team. Yes, he was able to race, the same time it ruined his rising star vaporising on plain sight. Another miss opportunity was with the Stewart team. I never understood the move.
Anyway, in 1994, Jos managed to score twice a podium, one with some luck, with the Benetton team as well crashing a lot and probably most of you recall the pit fire in Germany. For 1995, with the help of Flavio Briatore, Simtek hired Jos Verstappen to be their driver. The team from Nick Wirth had a terrible season in 1994 with the dead of Roland Ratzenberger at Imola and a massive shunt with Montermini at Spain. 1995 would be their year. With the technical support from Benetton and their star driver Jos Verstappen, what could go wrong? Well, everything.
While the first few races were promising with especially Jos showing some insane results during the qualifying and also during the races, the situation became alarming. What many don’t know is that Simtek was for sale at the of 1994. Talks were held with David Sears, who turned the offer down. The team soon came across the issue of proper financial backing. Nick Wirth was open about it when he spoke about it on Ascension Day. Stating that the situation for the team was dire, though with good hope.
The weekend of the Monaco Grand Prix was the last attempt by Wirth to gain money. He called out all his sponsors to describe the situation. Simtek needed 10million dollar to survive, to finish the season. Wirth told that it was of the record to have both Verstappen and Schiattarella fired to get pay-drivers. The team eventually went into self-liquidation and closed the doors of their factory in Banbury. We can agree that if Simtek had the ability to develop the car and test on a regular base, which was normal in those days, the team would have scored points. They actually would with today’s point system.
After Monaco Jos Verstappen was no long a Grand Prix driver, what were his options after Monaco?