Thursday, 12 April 2018

Take a Time Warp Back to the Mid-1990s, by Ibrar Malik

This is the first of what will be several guest blog posts on Talking about F1 by Ibrar Malik, about his forthcoming book 1994 – The Untold Story of a Tragic and Controversial F1 Season. This book will aim to offer much additional insight into this turbulent season and much else besides. You can find much more detail on this on his website at: www.1994f1.com

Want to know what the internet looked like back then? There is one website that hasn't been modified since 1 October 1995…that of the Pacific Grand Prix team.













They weren't the greatest F1 team but Pacific's website certainly is memorable.

1994 was the Pacific and Simtek teams' debut F1 season. It proved a baptism of fire because it was one of the sport’s most turbulent years - as the upcoming book explains. After the Imola tragedies extensive, and some might say rushed, car modifications were imposed upon teams in the name of safety. Keith Wiggins, the Pacific team boss, summed up his thoughts at the time; "If my engines don’t bankrupt me, this stands a pretty good chance." Pedro Lamy suffered a massive testing accident which many claimed was a direct result of the FIA’s safety initiative. "That is self-evidently nonsense," retorted FIA president Max Mosley, meanwhile the Portuguese driver was lucky to have survive the crash, albeit with extensive injuries.

Less well known however is during the Spanish Grand Prix weekend Lotus needed to re-engineer their rear wings even further following Lamy's crash, whilst Gachot's Pacific was another car to suffer a high speed failure during the race. Moreover, teams were in uproar with the FIA for imposing such drastic changes at short notice and sponsors were being turned off F1 following the various accidents (all explained in the book). Nevertheless Pacific was a good old-fashioned operation who just got on with things. Despite their shoestring budget, they had big ambitions and their website certainly reflected that. Which makes it fascinating browsing through it today because they managed to spin positivity no matter how bad things got. And things did get bad! Even politicians could learn a thing or two from how Pacific managed to spin things.

Success did not come Pacific’s way throughout their brief F1
history, indeed they failed to even finish a race in 1994 By
Martin Lee from London, UK - Paul Belmondo - Pacific PR01
at the 1994 British Grand Prix, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://
commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=61204851
For instance, the website gives the following profile of their star driver Bertrand Gachot; "in 1994 he drove the team's Pacific-Ilmor PR01 at the 16 Grands Prix which comprised the World Championship. Despite the car's lack of competitiveness, Bertrand remained fully motivated throughout the season and worked tirelessly on the technical and commercial sides of the team". Sounds good on paper however, the reality is somewhat different. The PR01 was unloved, failing to even qualify for a race after round six of sixteen in 1994. Gachot summed up his feelings after stepping out of the car for the final time; "Today is a great day because I will never have to drive the PR01 again.

"The website also states "Bertrand Gachot is one of the fastest and most experienced drivers in the world"…which may be true if he’s going backwards into a fence. The next blog will discuss why the PR01 was so bad, and it’s little known ancestral links to the most successful car of 1994; the Benetton B194. Meanwhile let’s enjoy this little step back in time when websites were crude and F1 still had true minnow teams who provided great entertainment to hardcore F1 fans. Pacific's website address is; web.archive.org/web/20090227080827/http://www.pacificgrandprix.com:80/index.html but before you ask the website doesn’t provide an explanation of "what is Delatraz doing" after this:





1994 – The Untold Story of a Tragic and Controversial F1 Season is a new book which gives more insight into why that season was especially turbulent, as well as investigating the politics surrounding Benetton and the various cheating allegations. Keep checking www.1994f1.com for more F1 blogs and the release date for the book. Alternatively sign up here: http://www.1994f1.com/contact/ to receive the book’s release date & new blogs automatically.

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