PEOPLE: TAD CZAPSKI
Name: Tad Czapski
Nationality: Great Britain
Czapski came to motor racing by accident. His passion was always electronic engineering and after leaving school he won a place at the University College of North Wales in Bangor to study electronics. He gained a Bachelor of Science degree and decided to stay on to research the relatively new science of digital signal processing. For his work in the field he was awarded a Master's degree. He was then hired by automotive electrics company Lucas Industries and worked in Birmingham for a couple of years on Lucas fuel injection systems. After a couple of years Czapski set up on his own, establishing an electronic design consultancy business and for the next eight years specialized in aerospace electronic control systems.
In July 1991 Tom Walkinshaw was appointed Engineering Director of Benetton. He immediately set about establishing a new purpose-built facility for the team and began hiring a new generation of engineers to meet F1's new challenges. One of these new men was Czapski, hired by Walkinshaw in the autumn of 1992 to work on Benetton's advanced electronics systems which included active suspension, automatic gearboxes, ABS and traction control. He was responsible for control systems in the Benetton-Ford B193 transmission. In October 1993, however, the FIA voted to ban all electronic systems and introduced a rule which said that the driver must drive his car "alone and unaided".
The 1994 season began with much suspicion that, despite the ban, some teams were still using electronic systems. The wrangling came to a head in August that year when the FIA announced that it had analyzed the software of Michael Schumacher's Benetton at the San Marino Grand Prix and discovered that the system included a "launch control" feature which could be activated with a laptop computer using a mysterious "option 13" on a list of 10 options. The FIA investigation concluded that there was "no direct evidence" of traction control having been used - although Benetton was fined $100,000 for failing to supply the governing body with access to its systems within the time limits dictated.
Czapski followed Michael Schumacher to Ferrari but after Schumacher won the World Championship in 2000, Czapski decided to return to Britain and took a job back at Benetton. He is now head of research and development at Renault Sport.