CONSTRUCTORS: SIMTEK GRAND PRIX
Name: Simtek Grand Prix
Simtek Research Ltd. was established in the summer of 1989 by Max Mosley and Nick Wirth. Their aim was to provide a cost-effective design, research and development service to the highest possible standards.
Simtek (Simulation Technology) invested in a windtunnel at its Banbury, Oxfordshire, base and thanks to Mosley's connections began with the design of a Formula 1 car for BMW in 1990. Although that project was aborted, Simtek went on to do other work for BMW, notably the development of the BMW 3-series touring cars which Simtek engineers ran in the German Touring Car Championship in 1991. The client list included the FIA, the French government and Ligier (for which Simtek designed and installed a windtunnel at Magny-Cours). The company was also involved in design and consultancy work in Group C, Indycars and Formula 3000. Mosley sold his share in Simtek to Wirth in 1992 after becoming FIA President.
The BMW design was updated in 1992 and sold to the ill-fated Andrea Moda Formula but the car never showed its potential. There were plans to build a car in 1993 for the Bravo F1 team, but these were shelved after the death of Jean Mosnier. Eventually Wirth decided to build his own F1 team and founded Simtek Grand Prix. The team was launched in October 1993 with David Brabham being named the number one driver. Testing began in December and just before the season began it was announced that the team had signed on Roland Ratzenberger and had landed backing from MTV.
The team made a low-key start in the opening races of 1994 but disaster struck in qualifying at Imola when Ratzenberger crashed at high-speed and was killed. Andrea Montermini was hired to replace the Austrian but he destroyed his car on his first flying lap at Barcelona, suffering a broken toe and a cracked heel.
Simtek's traumatic debut season calmed down although there was a further setback in July when Brabham rolled another car at Silverstone. Money was a problem and there were a string of pay-drivers at the end of the season. At the end of the year Brabham announced that he was leaving to race for BMW in the British Touring Car Championship. The teams signed Jos Verstappen as a replacement but continued to use pay-drivers in the second car. In the mid-season the team closed down with debts of $10m.