Look, an F1 car from the time when F1 was still F1. Buy it and feel Jos Verstappen.
We just published another article about the future of F1 in 2025. Oh, how bittersweet it is to look at this 1995 Simtek S951. Back when the cars were beautiful, sounded great and stopped almost every race. How beautiful that time was. It were also the glory days of Jos Verstappen and a plethora of small teams that have since disappeared. One of those teams was called Simtek.
Simtek was founded in 1989 by Max Mosely and Nick Wirth. Mosely already knew the tricks of the trade at the time, because he already had the necessary experience with racing teams as the founder of March Engineering. The official account of how Mosely and Wirth’s partnership came about is that Wirth was touted at Mosely by co-March founder Robin Herd. His son went to college with Wirth.
Simtek was a hip late 80s acronym for Simulation Technologies. The approach was to develop fast racing cars in a cheap way with the help of new technologies. Initially it was even the intention to do that for BMW in F1. The Bavarian engine builder had left the sport in 1986 out of frustration that their performance depended so much on the chassis builder they worked with. That would become a recurring theme for the Munich residents.
It eventually led to the founding of BMW Sauber much later, but it was close to whether BMW had had a factory team much earlier. Karl-Heinz Kalbfell, boss at BMW Motorsport from 1988, was a strong supporter of this. Reportedly, the project was already underway with the help of Simtek with the aim of being on the grid in 1991, when the management dropped the plan.
For example, the F1 plan was canceled, after which Simtek was unlucky for 1992 to work with Italian shoe seller Andrea Moda. His F1 team was arguably the poorest of all the poorly underfunded F1 teams. In the end, the team was even taken out of the championship by the FIA because they would discredit the sport with their amateur stuff. Ouch.
For 1993 Simtek would develop a car again, this time for the new Bravo Grand Prix team. But when the lender for that team died unexpectedly, that too fell through. Tragedy. So Wirth decided to just register himself for the championship. In 1994 Simtek Racing officially started with drivers David Brabham and Roland Ratzenberger. We don’t have to tell you anymore how that turned out …
And yet, after all the misery, the team was back at the start in 1995 with fresh courage. With the MTV, Korean Air and Russell Athletic logos on the beautiful car, it didn’t look bad. Especially since Simtek got some goodies as part of a collaboration with Benetton. There were the new Ford Cosworth 3.0 EDB V8, Benetton’s gearbox and Benetton’s new ‘third driver’. The latter was of course none other than our Jos Verstappen. After a tumultuous debut year, Benetton stole us Jos at Simtek to gain more experience.
Jos took place in the car next to Domenico Schiattarella. The season started with a double failure in Brazil, but in Argentina Jos qualified fourteenth and was sixth when the gearbox broke. His teammate finished the race ninth, equaling Simtek’s best result to date. So there was some promise to be admitted.
Unfortunately, five races later it was all over. The gearbox, which seemed to be an advantage, turned out to be continuously broken in the Simtek in reality. In addition, there was that other big problem in F1: the money was (more than) gone. A major sponsor had dropped out and a substitute was not found. After the Monaco Grand Prix, the team did not travel to Canada. That was still overlooked by F1. It was hoped that the team in France could be there again with new money.
But that did not happen. Schiattarella went on to race in other classes, including several times in the CART Series. Verstappen continued on his F1 path as a test driver of good teams and race driver of keen teams. Wirth went on to make toys and later reappeared in F1 with the Virgin Racing team.
Fortunately we still have the cars. Schiattarella’s S951, with chassis number S951 / 001, can now be bought with engine and al. Okay, so it is not Verstappen’s unit, but mop ear that pays attention to that. Buy it now and feel like Jos when you fly off the track during a track day at Zandvoort and plow through the gravel.
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