F1: Long before PS5 and Verstappen, this team is close to the title … Thanks to its 200 PS2?

Game news F1: Long before PS5 and Verstappen, this team is close to the title … Thanks to its 200 PS2?

A book released last year (“Drive, the men who made Formula 1” by Kévin Eason published by Hugo Sport) reveals a funny anecdote about an F1 team that, in the 2000s, invested in 200 PS2 instead of just equipment professional … to surprise results.

Although Formula 1 is today a sport in the hands of the big brands (Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari, Renault…), it has not always been this way. In the late 1990s, some teams were still owned by their founders, passionate in love with competition and beautiful mechanics. With limited resources, these “garage owners” had to be creative to compete with the giants of the time (McLaren, Williams …).

This is particularly the case with Ken Tyrrell. Died in 2001, the owner of the legendary team of the same name remained in F1 from 1970 to 1998 with little means. Being an ultra-modern factory, Tyrell had to make do with a wooden shed installed in Ockham, in the county of Surrey, lost in the English countryside.

In 1997 Tyrrell had to decide to sell his stable to the British American Tobacco group. In 1999, on the occasion of the first Grand Prix of the season in Australia, Tyrrell officially became British American Racing (BAR). The new boss is called Craig Pollock, an ambitious businessman who recruits a cast of prestigious drivers: Jacques Villeneuve (then reigning world champion) and Ricardo Zonta.

In order to stick to the standards of its extremely wealthy competitors, Pollock in turn launched the construction of a high-tech factory. Unfortunately, despite the debauchery of resources, BAR’s performance did not take off and Pollock left in 2002.

Join the game David Richards, former rally co-driver best known for leading the Benetton team (he is also one of the owners of Aston Martin since 2007). Richards arrives on a “messy” team who claim him 27 million euros to invest in a wind tunnelthis tool aims to study the effects of the air circulating around a car in order to obtain the best possible aerodynamics.

Richards refuses to invest such a figure and opts for another much less expensive solution: computational fluid mechanics (CFD), a technique that allows you to obtain the same results as a wind tunnel, but virtually 100%. %.

200 PS2, a reasonable investment?

Richards says:

We had a nice MFN service, which had absolutely no equipment. So I asked them what they needed. They said they wanted two hundred PlayStation. I asked them what they intended to do with them, they told me they would put them in an air-conditioned room and connect to a network and that it would serve as a supercomputer for us. So that’s what we did. We started with two hundred Playstations, which cost us far less than a $ 27 million wind tunnel.

Two hundred consoles representing a “reasonable” investment of around 90,000 euros (at its launch in 2000, the PS2 cost the equivalent of 455 euros).

Chance or coincidence, in 2004 the BARs led by Jenson Button and Takuma Sato came second in the constructors’ world rankings behind the Ferraris of Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello. With cars designed in part using the computing power of the PlayStation 2s therefore.

In 2006 (the year the PS3 was released), the BAR brand disappeared in favor of Honda, the team’s official engine supplier since 2000. Honda in turn sold in 2009 to Brawn GP which would become Mercedes GP a year later.

Mercedes recently dominated F1 with 7 consecutive World Drivers’ Championship titles (Lewis Hamilton from 2014 to 2020) and 8 consecutive constructors’ world titles (from 2014 to 2021).

The book does not specify what became of the 200 PlayStation after the team’s change of ownership …

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