Benetton was set up in 1986 after Luciano Benetton bought the Toleman team which he saw as a way of promoting his chain of clothing shops. With turbocharged BMW engines, they were tremendously powerful and Gerhard Berger took their first victory in Mexico of that year.
Country of Origin: England/Italy
Year of Foundation: 1986
Active Years in F1: 1986-
Drivers Championships: 2
Constructor's Cups: 1 (1995)
Current Drivers: Alex Wurz,
Current Model: B200
Car Numbers: 9, 10
Primary Sponsor: Mild Seven
A name to be reckoned with
After a couple of years on the learning curve, Benetton became a force to be reckoned with. In 1989 they had Italian Alessandro Nannini alongside Johnny Herbert who was given a chance by boss, Peter Collins, but when Flavio Briatore took over, Herbert was ousted in favour of Emanuele Pirro. Despite this, Nannini finished the year with a win in Japan.
The team signed three times champion Nelspn Piquet for 1990 and, as before, Benetton were victorious in Japan.
The arrival of Schumacher
As the reigning German F3 Champion and Mercedes Sports Car Junior Champion, Michael made his debut in a Jordan at Spa. He stunned the regulars by qualifying 7th. Benetton had seen enough. After some ugly scenes at Monza the team managed to prise Schumacher away from Jordan and sign him to a long term contract.
The German shone from the start and realising they had a champion on their hands Briatore instigated a build program or a new techinal facility in the Cotswalds (England). IN 1992 Schumacher was unable to go for the championship because Williams had mastered active suspension first although he was victorious at Spa.
Benetton's High Point
1993 was another season when techincal advances were slow, meaning that Benetton did not have traction control unitl mid-season, again gifting the championship to a Williams driver. However, 1994 was the year. The Beneton B194 was the top chassis, aerodynamically and Ford had a good engine in the Zetec-R V8. Schumacher won the first two races and, when Senna was killed at Imola he was left as F1's top-gun.
After suffering a two race ban for ignoring a Black Flag at Silverstone, and a disqualification on a technicality at Spa, Schumacher went to Adelaide only one point ahead of Damon Hill. The title was decided on less than satisfactory grounds when the pair crashed after Schuamcher hit a wall, terminally damaging his car.
Schumacher and Benetton topped this in 1995 winning nine Grand prix, and both championships, despite him and Hill crashing into each other twice more.
Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger failed to win a race in 1996 after the departure of Schuamcher and Herbert, and Briatore was furious with Alesi for crashing at the final race to lose second place in the Constructor's Cup to Ferrari.
Berger took a single win in Germany in 1997 but the old guard were replaced in 1998 by Giancarlo Fisichella and Alexander Wurz with former rally team boss David Richards at the helm.
In 1999 the same two drivers struggled with a poor handling car all season and were only competing at the level of Sauber instead of the top four as they used to be. They finished a dissapointing sixth in the Constrctor's Championship. The team hope for better results in 2000 with a brand new chassis but the same two drivers.