1994 would change the Formula One forever, especially after the dark Grand Prix weekend in Imola. First Rubinho crashed badly with his Jordan 194, however he only broke his arm. On Saturday, Roland Ratzenberger died due a horrible accident during the qualification session, 12 hours later Ayrton Senna would die when his steering wheel from the Williams broke. Only bad things happened in 1994 ? No Nigel Mansell made his comeback with Williams and won the last race of the season.
Female F1 Team
Rumours spread in the paddock of an all-Woman F1 team that would made its debut. Giovanni Amati, who drove for Brabham previously, was rumoured to be one of the drivers. While Johnson & Johnson were rumoured to be the main sponsor. It was said that Cesare Fiorio was the person behind this plan. However, when I asked Fiorio about the all-woman F1 team he told me it was not true. Neither any plans were deployed for an all-Woman F1 team. Read the full story here.
Formula Project Engineering
French F3 team FPE (Formula Project Engineering) announced their five years plan in 1994. Their goal was to debut in the Formula One around 1998 / 1999. As happened multiple times in the 1990s many F3 and F3000 teams announced their interest in the Formula One. This counts also for FPE that never made one footstep in the Formula One.
One of the best kept secrets in 1994 was the Ikuzawa HW001 designed by Tetsu Ikuzawa and supported by former Williams team manager Peter Windsor. The former Japanese driver Tetsu decided in early 1994 it was time to create his own Formula One team. The goal was to make their debut in 1998 with Kenny Bräck and Gil de Ferran behind the wheels.
Enrique Scalabroni penned a brand new, future looking, car for the Ikuzawa team. The car was based on the rules that were rumours to be adapted in later years, though had most of the features of the current standards. In early 1995 John Watson, a former F1 driver, did several seating-tests for the car. Due the mid-90s slump in the Japanese economy, the team had to abandon their plans. Later it would know that Stewart integrated most of the key-people, thanks to Windsor, in his team. The HW001 became the SF01. Read the full story here.
Larrousse Junior Team
1994 was more or less a do or die year for the Larrousse team, once a team that showed some great progression ended up bankrupt. For me personally the Larrousse Junior Team is one of the few project I really don’t know what the real truth is, even though I wrote an post about their last months as a team, I’m still not convinced of it. Main reason are the rumours in 1994, and especially about the Junior Team. I would like to put a quote of the article i posted to give you just a slightly idea of the Junior Team.
“Larrousse, unofficially, changed its name to Junior Team Larrousse. The team stated that it was to quickly build their new car probably named JTL-01. Probably the team would use the blueprints of the Larrousse UK 1995 car, designed by Tino Belli. Normally this process would take months, while the new owners promised that the new car would make its debut during the San Marino GP at Imola. It is not sure which design they would use. Other drivers were rumoured as well. Érik Comas would return to the team while Christophe Bouchut would take the second car. In the meantime, Larrousse SA, the company that used to deal with the Larrousse F1 Team, remained in France’s equivalent of Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.” Read the full story here.
Recently I found out that there were plans for the Lotus 109B, if the plans were serious enough that the Lotus 109 would be rebranded to Lotus 109B I’m not sure though. The documents I came across accidentally were from Team Lotus them self. Stating that they were working on the installation of the ZA5D, however the title stated that this was the new Lotus 109B. No more information is available at this moment.
Team Mansell / Team Lotus-Mansell
If I recall it back correctly the very first rumours of Nigel Mansell and his own F1 team appeared in late 1989. However In 1994, when Mansell left the Formula One, the rumours got spread that Mansell was looking to become an team manager from his own team in the Formula One! The rumours even became bigger when Team Lotus was near bankruptcy and in desperate need to get money. The Team Lotus-Mansell was born in the media. Though Team Lotus appeared on the 12th of September 1994 with the following press release, deny any influence from Nigel Mansell.
“Nigel Mansell and are established friends but there is no truth in the rumour that he will become involved in the running of Team Lotus. “Our enormous respect for Colin Chapman’s achievements and the Team Lotus marque is obvious, but we shall not be working together in the future.”
During an ice cold January day in 1994, the Williams Renault team showed their brand new car at Estoril. For many years the Williams cars sported a distinctive yellow, blue and while livery, which was in deference to their main sponsor. Williams changed their livery. As Rothmans were the new title sponsor for the 1994 season. Accordingly, the livery changed with it. As the Williams FW16 wasn’t ready year, Williams appeared with the FW15 from 1993 with the 1994 regulations. This meant that the Williams teams arrived with their Williams FW15D “interim car” at the Portuguese tracks. The Williams FW15D used during all the early-season test session until February 1994. The FW15D did not impress well, the car was slow due the fact it had not the electronically features it used to have during the previous season. Frank Williams would later describe the car as “mediocre”.
In 1993, the rumours appeared of an all-German F1 Team to prepare itself to enter the Formula One in 1994. The car was branded as MiG 194 and a detailed drawing was published in a German auto sport magazine. The article showed a technical vision how the all-German F1 car would look like. Powered by an Audi V10 engine while Schumacher’s name was placed on the car. Around the same time there were rumours of Audi linking towards Benetton because of Michael Schumacher. The story can be read here.