The 1992 Benetton chassis B192-01 as used by Michael Schumacher in Spain to qualify an impressive 2nd, ahead of Ayrton Senna’s McLaren-Honda.
Having cut their Formula 1 teeth initially as sponsors of the Tyrrell and Alfa Romeo teams, the Benetton family forged a deal to purchase the ailing Toleman Motorsport team at the end of 1985. Retaining the services of highly rated designer Rory Byrne, the first Benetton – B186 – was powered by a four-cylinder turbocharged BMW engine and showed early promise, culminating in a landmark first win in the 1986 Mexican Grand Prix courtesy of Gerhard Berger.
A switch to Ford-Cosworth Turbo engines for 1987 and then normally aspirated Cosworth DFR power for 1988 saw continued progress, but it was the introduction of the all-new Ford HB engine in 1989 which heralded the start of the Benetton glory years. Alessandro Nannini took a further win in Japan driving the B189, whilst in 1990 new-signing Nelson Piquet enjoyed something of an Indian summer with victories in Japan and Australia. Piquet won in Belgium in 1991 although, in retrospect, perhaps more significant that weekend was the emergence of German wunderkind Michael Schumacher who outscored his thrice World Champion teammate in each of his first three races for the team.
Having started the 1992 season with a heavily revised version of the John Barnard-designed B191, the all-new B192, penned jointly by Byrne and Ross Brawn, was used from the Spanish Grand Prix onwards. With conventional ‘passive’ suspension and sequential gearbox, the B192 was technically conservative in comparison to the actively suspended, ABS-braked, semi-automatic Williams FW14B, but nevertheless it propelled Schumacher to five podium placings and a maiden win in Belgium. Furthermore, it secured Schumacher 3rd place in the World Drivers’ Championship of that year, as well as 3rd place for the team in the Constructors’ Championship.
This particular chassis – B192-01 – was used by Schumacher in Spain to qualify an impressive 2nd, ahead of Ayrton Senna’s McLaren-Honda, albeit more than a second adrift of Mansell in the all-conquering Williams. In the race, Mansell won comfortably, but Schumacher took his maiden runner-up spot in Formula 1, with a fine drive in difficult conditions. Thereafter, the car was relegated to spare car duties in both San Marino and Monaco, ensuring that the car never sustained damage.
Immaculately presented in its original eye-catching Camel cigarette livery, B192-01 retains its correct Ford HB engine, which is understood to have covered approximately 1,000 kilometres since its last rebuild by Langford Performance Engineering. The car has recently been refreshed by CGA Engineering. As the first Formula 1 chassis on which Schumacher, Byrne and Brawn worked together – en route, ultimately, to a remarkable seven Drivers’ and six Constructors’ titles – the car’s historic significance cannot be overstated. Furthermore, it provides a relatively affordable introduction to the awe-inspiring performance of modern generation Grand Prix cars and would be a stunning addition to any serious single-seater or competition car collection.
This Benetton sold for €815.000 by RM | Sotheby's at Monaco on 12 May 2018
COURTESY OF RM | Sotheby's