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Engine builder Hart passes away

06 Jan 2014

Brian Hart, the engineer whose eponymous company built Formula One engines for the likes of Toleman, Jordan and Minardi amongst others, has died at the age of 77 following an illness.

Having enjoyed a relatively successful career as a driver, Hart moved into engine building in the late Sixties, initially preparing Ford engines for Formula Two cars. When Ford withdrew from F2, Hart began developing his own engines and eventually teamed up with the Toleman team. The collaboration was a great success and after Toleman scored a one-two in the 1980 European Formula Two Championship, team and engine provider graduated as one into F1 competition in 1981.

After a tough couple of seasons competing against better funded outfits, Toleman enjoyed a breakthrough in 1983 with Hart’s 415T turbo engine powering them to several points finishes. The following season - with Hart now also providing power units to RAM and Spirit - Ayrton Senna famously scored both his and Hart’s first podium finish with a memorable wet-weather drive to second place in Monaco. The Brilliant Brazilian followed that up with third-place finishes in the British and Portuguese Grands Prix.

In 1985, Hart earned their first pole position with Toleman’s Teo Fabi and also added Beatrice Haas to its growing list of customers. But with the likes of Renault, Honda and BMW using their more lavish budgets to develop their turbo engines, Hart scaled back his company’s F1 involvement with the last Hart turbo running in early 1986.

It wasn’t until 1993 that Hart power would return to the F1 grid, with Jordan running the 3.5-litre 1035 V10. The following year the partnership produced a podium finish (with Barrichello at the Pacific Grand Prix) and a pole position (again with Barrichello, in Belgium). With Jordan adopting Peugeot power in 1995, Hart did a deal to provide units for Footwork and scored what turned out to be their final podium with Gianni Morbidelli in the season-ending race of ’95 in Australia.

One more season with Footwork in 1996 was followed by a final, unsuccessful campaign with perennial minnows Minardi in 1997 before the company was absorbed by Tom Walkinshaw Racing and the Hart name disappeared from F1 racing for good.