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 published last year (“Drive, the men who made Formula 1” by Kévin Eason published by Hugo Sport) reveals an amusing anecdote about an F1 team that, during the 2000s, invested in 200 PS2s and not just in professional teams… To surprise results.

Although Formula One is today a sport in the hands of the big brands (Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari, Renault…), it has not always been like this. At the end of the 90s, some teams were still owned by their founders, enthusiasts 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 for 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. As an ultra-modern factory, Tyrell had to make do with a wooden shed in Ockham, in the county of Surrey, lost in the English countryside.

In 1997, Tyrrell had to decide to sell his farm 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 current world champion) and Ricardo Zonta.

To meet the standards of his extremely wealthy competitors, Pollock, in turn, launched the construction of a high-tech factory. Unfortunately, despite the waste of resources, BAR’s performance did not take off and Pollock left in 2002.

Join the game David Richards, former rally co-driver known in particular for having managed the Benetton team (He is also one of the owners of Aston Martin since 2007). Richards arrives at a “messy” team that claims him 27 million euros to invest in a wind tunnelthis tool was intended to study the effects of air circulating around a car in order to obtain the best possible aerodynamics.

Richards refuses to invest such a sum and opts for another much less expensive solution: computational fluid mechanics (CFD), a technique that allows the same results to be obtained as a wind tunnel, but in a 100% virtual way.

200 PS2, a reasonable investment?

Richards says:

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

Two hundred consoles that do represent a “reasonable” investment of about 90,000 euros (At its launch in 2000, the PS2 cost the equivalent of 455 euros).

Chance or chance, in 2004 the BARs driven by Jenson Button and Takuma Sato finished second in the constructors’ world championship standings behind the Ferraris of Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello. With cars designed in part using the computing power of PlayStation 2s Then.

In 2006 (the year the PS3 was launched), the BAR brand disappeared in favor of Honda, the team’s official engine supplier since 2000. Honda in turn sold Brawn GP in 2009, 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 happened to the 200 PlayStations after the team’s change of ownership…

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