The Benetton B194 was designed by Rory Byrne for the 1994 Formula One season. The car was closely based on the previous Benetton B192/3 and powered by a Ford Zetec-R V8 engine (produced by Cosworth but funded by and badged as a Ford). It featured Mild Seven sponsorship for the first time, which was then carried on until the end of tobacco sponsorship in F1, replacing Camel as their main sponsor. The electronic driver aids that had had such an effect on F1 over the previous seasons were banned, so the car had to be redesigned with the new rules in mind. The B194 was a light and nimble car that handled well and was most competitive in the hands of Schumacher on twisty tracks, unlike the early Williams FW16 which proved difficult to drive thanks to Williams's dependence on electronic driving aids in the previous season. Michael Schumacher's B194 remained the most competitive driver/car combination until Williams introduced a B-spec car at the German Grand Prix.
|Chassis||Carbon fibre monocoque|
|Suspension (front)||Double wishbones, pushrod|
|Suspension (rear)||Double wishbones, pushrod|
|Axle track||Front: 1,690 mm (67 in)|
Rear: 1,618 mm (63.7 in)
|Wheelbase||2,880 mm (113 in)|
|Engine||Ford EC Zetec-R, 3,498 cc (213.5 cu in), 75° V8, NA, mid-engine, longitudinally mounted|
|Transmission||Benetton transverse 6-speed semi-automatic|
|Weight||515 kg (1,135 lb)|
|Notable entrants||Mild Seven Benetton Ford|
|Notable drivers|| Michael Schumacher|
|Debut||1994 Brazilian Grand Prix|
|Drivers' Championships||1 (1994, Michael Schumacher)|
The car was very competitive in the hands of Michael Schumacher. Schumacher won six of the first seven races of the season after his main rival, Ayrton Senna was killed at the San Marino Grand Prix. Other teams suspected the B194 was not legal, due to the high competitiveness of such a comparatively underpowered car. The FIA launched an investigation and a start sequence (launch control) system was discovered in the cars' onboard computer systems but no traction control. In the end, the governing body could not prove the systems had been used so the complaints were dropped. Schumacher himself was subject to controversy, after being disqualified from the British Grand Prix and then the Belgian Grand Prix which allowed Damon Hill to cut into the German's points lead and as they came to the final race in Australia, Hill and Schumacher were separated by one point. Schumacher commented years later that the B194 was actually quite a handful to drive, being twitchy at the rear end.
Schumacher had three team-mates—JJ Lehto, Jos Verstappen and Johnny Herbert—during the course of the season. All found the B194 difficult to drive; Verstappen said in 1996 that "I must have a little the same driving style as Johnny because he said basically the same things about that car that I did and seems to have had the same feelings. It was a very difficult car. You could not feel the limit and so you were pushing and pushing and then suddenly it would have oversteer. Normally when you get oversteer you can control it but the Benetton would go very suddenly and so you ended up having a spin. I had big problems with that car."
Starting with the 1994 Pacific Grand Prix, Schumacher's car was adorned with small red accents, presumably to help spectators and television commentators distinguish his car from that of his teammates. During the preceding race, announcers from ESPN twice mistook the no. 6 Benetton as the no. 5 car. The car also gained an anhedral lower rear wing element, similar to the one on the FW16, starting at the Canadian Grand Prix.
A contentious collision between Hill and Schumacher ended the 1994 drivers' title in Schumacher's favour, and the B194 was retired at the end of the season with eight wins and second place in the Constructors' Championship. The car was replaced by the Benetton B195 for 1995.
Complete Formula One resultsEdit
(key) (results in bold indicate pole position; results in italics indicate fastest lap)
|1994||Mild Seven Benetton||Ford EC Zetec-R