The ex-Michael Schumacher, 1994 FIA Formula 1 World Championship-Winning Benetton-Cosworth Ford B194 Formula 1 Racing Single-Seater Chassis no. B194-05
Only very occasionally during its entire history has the Bonhams motoring department undeniably the world's most widely experienced classic and Historic racing car auction house had the opportunity to offer a 'modern-era' World Championship-winning Formula 1 car of the stature embodied within the remarkable and fully operable machine we now present here.
This exquisitely well-presented 1994 Benetton-Cosworth Ford B194 is the very car in which living legend Michael Schumacher seven-times Formula 1 World Champion Driver amassed the highest points score of any of the individual works team chassis in which he competed during that so-momentous racing season. Importantly, this was the first and therefore his most significant World Championship.
Chassis 'B194-05' offered here was used by the great German superstar driver to score four World Championship-qualifying Grand Prix race wins and to add two further second-place finishes.
This car as prepared and rebuilt from race to race employs the actual monocoque fuselage in which Michael Schumacher won the 1994 Grand Prix of San Marino at Imola, plus the Canadian Grand Prix on the Ile Notre Dame circuit at Montreal, the Monaco Grand Prix around the streets and quaysides of Monte Carlo, and in the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours.
At Imola Michael Schumacher as the new upstart talent within Formula 1- qualified this car second-fastest on the front row of the starting grid alongside triple-World Champion Ayrton Senna's Williams-Renault. As motor racing history tragically records, the race was stopped and restarted after the fatal accident which took Ayrton Senna's life, and which occurred mere yards ahead of this Benetton B194's shapely nose cone as Senna and Schumacher had committed their cars at 180mph-plus into the Tamburello Curve. After the restart Michael Schumacher took the lead from Gerhard Berger's factory Ferrari on the sixth lap. For a brief period when Schumacher made his pit stop Ferrari's second-string driver Nicola Larini inherited the lead but the young German quickly reasserted his superiority and went on to dominate the remainder of the Grand Prix. In fact this Benetton B194 won by over 50secs from the second-placed Ferrari, providing its youthful driver with the first of his eight World Championship round victories that season, albeit in the most tragic circumstances most enthusiasts could imagine.
In qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix Michael Schumacher and McLaren's Mika Hakkinen fought for pole position, with this Benetton B194 winning the duel. The German star made his customary good start, pulling clear of any threat from Hakkinen who soon tangled with Damon Hill's Williams. This left Michael Schumacher well clear of all pursuers and he would not be headed for the rest of the afternoon...
In mid-race oil was spilled at Ste Devote corner. Schumacher in B194-05 offered here slid and nearly hit the barrier, but without further alarms he tore on around the Principality to win from Martin Brundle's McLaren-Peugeot by some 37 seconds...
For the Canadian Grand Prix further rule changes were applied as a result of the Imola accidents, the most significant being the decision that teams must use pump fuel. Until then they had used specially formulated 'rocket fuel' which bore no relation to ordinary gasoline available at the roadside service station.
This change seemed to have a dramatic effect on the relative performance of various leading team cars and Michael Schumacher in 'B194-05' only just bettered the times set by Ferrari drivers Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger to take yet another pole position.
At race start the top three maintained grid order and Michael Schumacher maintained firm control while behind him Alesi began to edge away from his team-mate Berger, the Austrian having to work hard to keep Coulthard and Hill behind him.
Rain began falling at mid-race but Schumacher and his carefully prepared Benetton B194 displayed remarkable pace regardless of track condition and duly won from Damon Hill, Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger the Benetton-Cosworth Ford in the German star's hands having asserted complete dominance over the best that Williams-Renault and Ferrari could provide.
Three weeks later, qualifying for the French GP at Magny-Cours saw a pulsating deciding session in which Damon Hill beat his team leader Nigel Mansell's Williams-Renault time to take a dramatic pole position, while Michael Schumacher in 'B194-05' was third fastest on the inside of row two.
But as the lights signaled the start it was Schumacher in this green, blue and white -liveried Benetton B194 who made a simply amazing getaway, slotting its sleek nose between the two Williams-Renault FW16s to take an immediate lead with the younger Briton in hot pursuit as Mansell fell back, third. This order up front remained stable until Mansell went into the pits for new tyres on lap 18. With some drivers planning three stops and others going for two the order ebbed and flowed. On lap 37 Schumacher swept into the pitlane for his second stop leaving Hill in the lead. But after rejoining, within five laps, Schumacher was on Hill's tail again.
Damon Hill then made his second pit stop and rejoined 20secs behind Schumacher's Benetton, 'B194-05' purring home thereafter to record its fourth victory of the season, by 13secs from the Williams-Renault. This Formula 1 car was also driven by Michael Schumacher that season to finish second in both the Spanish and British GPs, being headed both at Barcelona and at Silverstone by Damon Hill's Williams-Renault FW16.
The car's 1994 season World Championship points score, therefore, totaled no fewer than 46 out of the 92 that Michael Schumacher accumulated during his entire title-winning campaign that year. It has been pointed out that the only car which could rival 'B194-05' here in terms of importance in Michael Schumacher's career is the 2004 Ferrari chassis '234' with which he won the opening five Grand Prix races of his seventh and final World Championship-winning racing season.
After the conclusion of the 1994 season, 'B194-05' was retained at Benetton's base at Enstone, Oxfordshire where it was kept in secure dehumidified storage apart from a few static displays. In 2000, the Benetton team was sold to Renault, and two years later was officially re-branded as the 'Renault F1 Team'. This car, together with a number of others, was sold in 2000 to Matthew Mortlock, from whom it was purchased by the current owner in January 2008. In July of that year 'B194-05' was statically exhibited at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
At the end of 2008 its rebuild commenced with a strip down and inspection followed by crack testing of all suspension parts, rims and wings. All suspension uprights, drive shafts, master cylinders, gearbox and dampers were fully rebuilt. In 2009 Langford Performance Engineering completely rebuilt the engine with new pistons, valves, valve springs and bearings, after which it was dynamometer tested. Meanwhile, historic Formula 1 car specialists Team Ascari of Banbury fitted new front brake calipers; a new fuel tank; new engine starter, battery trolley and water heater; new carbon clutch (Tilton); updated electronics including ECU and harness, chassis loom, engine loom (Pectel and Viper electronics) and dashboard (GEMS); and a new paddle shift system (Equipmake), a process that consumed approximately 800 hours of engineering work.
Fred Goddard Racing Ltd undertook final assembly and testing, and at the end of 2010 the Benetton was shipped to the Ascari Race Resort in Ronda, Spain. In 2011 the car completed a few laps of testing for final engine mapping and setting up the electronics, with a further ten laps of testing in 2012. A video and photo-shoot run for Bonhams was completed earlier this year (www.bonhams.com/benetton).
Presented in its original 1994 Mild Seven livery, this Benetton-Cosworth Ford B194 is offered here in complete running condition following more than two years of painstaking restoration, and is described by its vendor as race-prepared. The car is offered here with a completely rebuilt Cosworth-Ford Zetec engine, a fresh gearbox and a modernised high-speed paddle-shift gear change system.
The package proposed for sale includes a race-ready car with spares and complete pit equipment. It is offered with a post-sale testing opportunity at its current home base, the Ascari Race Resort in Ronda, Spain, and in recent running there for Bonhams' camera team the car performed in every respect as its illustrious as-new history would suggest to perfection.
This is in every respect one of the most significant Grand Prix racing cars of recent history. Its record confirms its supreme historical importance, and for any collector/enthusiast who grew up during the long, long frontline racing career of world record-breaking, seven-time Formula 1 World Champion Driver Michael Schumacher, this is the perfect iconic centerpiece, his first World Championship winning car. We recommend the closest inspection and consideration.
Please note that this vehicle is subject to VAT on the purchase price.