Benetton B191

The Benetton Formula 1 team's B191-Ford design for 1991 was master-minded by John Barnard – regarded very much in period with the same kind of admiration more recently accorded to Adrian Newey of Williams, McLaren and Red Bull Racing fame. The Benetton Formula organization consolidated its position as Ford's works partner team during 1991, when their effectiveness suffered from the performance deficit of its contemporary Pirelli tyres. Exclusively to facilitate its installation within the B191 design, the Series V Ford HB V8 engine was fitted with specially-designed cam covers using a series of lugs on the leading edge which, in conjunction with four corresponding lugs of the cylinder block base, allowed it to be rigidly bolted to the back of the monocoque fuselage.

Chassis 'B191-06' offered here in its updated 1992 'B'-specification form, actually made its racing debut in the 1991 Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring outside Budapest on August 11 that year. Nelson Piquet drove the car, qualifying 11th out of 34 entries on the starting grid but being forced out of the race due to gearbox failure.

Nelson Piquet drove chassis '06' again in the Portuguese Grand Prix at Estoril on September 22, again having qualified 11th fastest but this time he finished fifth to score World Championship points.

The Spanish Grand Prix followed on September 29 at Barcelona, Nelson Piquet qualifying 10th but finishing 11th after another troubled race. Fortunes then improved for him in the Japanese Grand Prix at the mighty Suzuka on October 20, qualifying '06' 10th and finishing the grueling race in seventh place.

The Australian Grand Prix at Adelaide on November 3 was to witness Nelson Piquet's swansong Formula 1 appearance. The race was shortened by torrential rain, but Piquet's celebrated wet-weather driving skills surfaced as he was classified fourth after the race had been red-flagged to a halt – earning half points for its well-placed participants.

The Benetton team retained its B191 cars updated into B191B specification for the early 'fly-away' races of the following season, the Ford HB engine having been developed from 1991 Series V specification into pneumatic-valve Series VI form. On March 1, 1992, chassis 'B191B-06' offered here was entrusted to new team driver Martin Brundle for the South African GP at Kyalami. After qualifying the car eighth on the starting grid the Englishman was forced to retire on race day following clutch failure.

On March 22, 1992, chassis '06' was then allocated to the fast-developing young German star driver, Michael Schumacher...

He promptly qualified third fastest of the 30 entries and tore round to score his first-ever Formula 1 'podium' finish, with third place. The car today is liveried in the same specification to this historic race. He then followed up that performance in this now beautifully presented Benetton-Ford by qualifying fifth fastest in it for the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos, and again finishing third for the second top-three finish of his now legendary Formula 1 career. The car was then retired from active service.

This Benetton B191B is powered by the 72-degree Ford HB V8, bore and stroke dimensions 95.0mm x 61.6mm, cubic capacity 3,494cc. With a compression ratio of 12.0:1 the engine revved to an ear-splitting 13,800rpm and developed a rated 730bhp. This power unit drove through a Benetton-made six-speed gearbox. The moulded carbon-composite construction monocoque chassis weighs just 38kg – 83.7lbs – and carries pushrod-actuated all independent suspension, front and rear. Wheelbase length is 2,880mm – front track width 1818mm and rear track width 1720mm. Fuel tank capacity within the fuselage is 204 litres.

Source: Bonhams

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