1992 Williams-Renault FW14B Formula 1 Single-Seater
Refer to department for estimate
'RED 5' – The Ex-works, Nigel Mansell, Riccardo Patrese South African, Mexican, Brazilian, Spanish and San Marino Grand Prix-winning, 1992 Williams-Renault FW14B Formula 1 Racing Single-Seater
Chassis no. FW14-08
Engine no. 240
*Acclaimed as the finest-ever F1 Williams
*Adrian Newey's first World Champion masterpiece
*A record-breaking utterly dominant design
*The most sophisticated and complex F1 car of the early 1990s
*The 'Best of British' focus of 'Mansell Mania' '92
Collectibility covers an enormous range of artefacts. Most are inanimate, contemplative objects of intellectual appreciation. Many drip with cultural significance. Some celebrate the rise of human ingenuity.
Perhaps that inspiringly creative aspect is best demonstrated by mechanical artefacts. Breakthrough technologies highlight man's progress. Historic landmarks earn special regard. And then we can add the animate technologies – landmark artefacts which a mere button-touch can bring to vibrant life...
These can be artefacts into which the collector owner can slip, like easing-on a familiar pair of hand-made shoes. Artefacts which will respond, vibrate and resonate to the owner's command. Flick a switch here, a button there and – say – a toweringly historic landmark-technology Grand Prix car will do for you what it once did in carrying a World-class competitive athlete to his ultimate goal – a record-shattering Formula 1 World Championship title.
The collectible artefact on offer will start up, and run. It will literally come to life...
This is most certainly the case with 'Red 5' – which Bonhams are now so privileged to offer here for sale by public auction. This is the stupendously sophisticated Formula 1 Williams-Renault in which British racing driver Nigel Mansell made his shatteringly successful start to the 1992 World Championship racing season.
Insinuate yourself into its snug-fitting, tailormade, carbon composite cockpit and you will find yourself lying there as if propped-up by pillows, head just high enough to see forward over the car's lean Roman nose. Control push-buttons stud the tiny steering wheel centre. Finger paddles tucked just behind it control the forward gears. Behind one's carbon-cradled shoulders is slung the complex, frontier-technology Renault RS03 racing engine.
This is a 67-degree V10-cylinder power unit, for which during 1992 Renault quoted its V10s as producing from 700bhp at 12,500rpm, to 760bhp at 14,500rpm. The unit's peak revs were cited as 14,400rpm, and it drove through a transverse-shaft Williams 6-speed semi-automatic gearbox. The particular power unit installed in 'FW14-08' as offered here is serial number 240, and the accompanying Renault Sport engine-history document (itself vanishingly rare 'out of captivity') confirms it is the actual engine used by Nigel Mansell in winning that season-opening South African Grand Prix back in 1992.
And there is more. This Williams-Renault did not merely have a traditional suspension system attaching its four fat wheels and tyres to the centreline fuselage. Oh no. This Williams-Renault featured a computer-controlled 'active suspension' system in which its springing medium did not merely react to impacts from rippled track surfaces, bumps and kerbs. Instead, when planet Earth's irregular surfaces deflected this Williams car's suspension, it actively pushed back to compensate.
All motor cars fly through fluid air. Ingenious aerodynamicists harness that fluid's flow around, over and under the modern-era Formula 1 car to force it down against the track, to enhance the otherwise tenuous grip its tyres have upon our planet. Enhanced grip improves acceleration, cuts time spent braking, slashes time lost in cornering. Every split-second saved improves lap time around each target race track. And taking least time wins races. To provide maximum aerodynamic advantage the car's shape must be presented consistently to the fluid airstream rampaging around it. Active suspension achieved exactly that.
Now think back into that figure-hugging cockpit. Just there on the interior left-side panel – hard by the driver's left hip – is an aluminium identity plate. It identifies this individual car as Williams 'FW14/08' – the British-built eighth chassis of its type. And upon that same left-side panel are five faded stickers – applied there in period, 1992 - bearing five red stars, and five gold.
They commemorate '08's staggering achievements through the opening phase of that memorable year's 16-round World Championship race series. Within this historic Grand Prix car's cockpit the rugged, moustachioed, relentlessly brave British star driver, Nigel Mansell, qualified fastest – on pole position – for the five consecutive opening races of that record-breaking season.
Those five pole positions are signified by the red stars there within the car's cockpit today. He then won each of those great Grand Prix races, in succession - in South Africa, Mexico, Brazil, Spain and in the 'San Marino' Grand Prix, run at Imola in Italy. So five gold stars accompany the red...
Overall, chassis '08' offered here at Goodwood, contested no fewer than 13 of the 1992 Formula 1 World Championship season's 16 qualifying Grand Prix races.
This legendary car finished second twice, and added 3rd, 5th and 8th place results, while failing to finish three times - only once due to mechanical failure, the other two being driver errors.
After being driven by World Champion Nigel Mansell in seven of these races, it was entrusted to his Italian team-mate Riccardo Patrese from the mid-season British Grand Prix forward. Riccardo Patrese then contested a further six Grand Prix races in this well-used car, scoring World Championship points in three of them before ending the season runner-up to Mansell in the Drivers' competition.
The car's frontline competition career ended, in fact, in the spectacular near-somersault incident on the pits straight at Estoril during the 1992 Portuguese Grand Prix, when Riccardo Patrese pulled out to pass Gerhard Berger's rival Ferrari at around 160mph and the Austrian backed-off unexpectedly to turn into the pit lane. Williams-Renault FW14-08's right-front wheel struck the Ferrari's left-rear and the British car planed high into the air before touching down initially on its left-rear wheel and clattering to rest along the pit barrier, Riccardo Patrese unhurt. Despite such a spectacular looking incident the car sustained merely peripheral damage and it was speedily repaired back at home base in Didcot.
And there is still more to this remarkable machine's competitive record - chassis '08' also qualified on pole position no fewer than seven times for its 13 Grand Prix races, driven by Mansell on six of those occasions, by Patrese once. And it also qualified second fastest for two Grands Prix, once third and twice fourth.
In sister Williams-Renault FW14B team cars, Nigel Mansell also won four more of that season's Grand Prix events, thereby becoming the first driver in Formula 1 racing history to win nine World Championship-qualifying races within a single season.
And in parallel, of course, Williams-Renault won the 1992 Formula 1 Constructors' World Championship. Here we have a record of Mercedes-Benz proportions through their epic 'Silver Arrow' seasons of the 1930s and 1950s. That is the historic stature of this Williams-Renault.
In fact the Williams-Renault FW14B design proved itself to be one off the most outstandingly dominant Grand Prix racing cars of all time. It was also one of the most sophisticated and most exquisitely complex ever built and raced with such consummate success. And it is now available to you, right here, in beautifully preserved running order... "on the button".
This magnificent mechanical artefact was designed by Adrian Newey - one of the most successful Formula 1 designers of all time. Looking back upon the Williams-Renault FW14B, he recalls: "...the car was made for Nigel. He had tremendous confidence in his car control and could cope with the fact he just had to ignore what he called the (active suspension's)'funny sensations' ... and trust that the more speed he carried into the corner the more downforce and thus more grip he'd have. For a driver it's all about confidence. Nigel just knew that if the car did something unexpected he'd sort it out...and he did".
Adrian Newey continues: "The FW14B is my first World Championship-winning car, so obviously it holds very fond memories for me. The level of domination it achieved makes it very special".
But through the car's design period in the winter of 1991-92 it was a case more of hope than certainty: "We just worked to improve upon the preceding FW14A. The big innovation was active suspension, simply to present the most stable aerodynamic platform to the airstream. One unsung hero was our head of electronics, Steve Wise. Active would never have worked without an adequate onboard electronic control unit - but there wasn't one on the market. Over a two-year period, Steve just made one for us, in-house..."
The outstanding race of that extraordinary year? "The opening South African GP at Kyalami. We went there knowing we had good pace, but you never know how much your rivals have also found. In fact, from the start of practice the FW14B just dominated.
"So we had the speed, but we weren't confident of reliability. We'd had a couple of issues in testing, one of which had really spooked Nigel. But the more he drove with the active suspension, the more his confidence grew. It plainly felt odd from the driver's perspective, a lag between steering input, and reaction, but he would just pitch it into a corner, with the confidence he could sort it out from there. Team-mate Riccardo never matched Nigel's sheer bravado.
"By mid-season it was obvious we were heading for a World Championship win, and then Nigel realised his only serous rival for the title was his team-mate, driving the sister car. So then began all kinds of games to unsettle Riccardo - like misleading him on suspension settings...
"The worst race for us was the Canadian GP at Montreal - that's still painful, losing another race we should have won. Nigel just ran the car far too low. But once we realised we had that dominant advantage we just concentrated absolutely on making the cars reliable - not making too many changes, painstakingly inspecting everything, ensuring absolute hydraulic cleanliness - being meticulous, really. That part at least isn't rocket science..."
While muscular, bullish Nigel Mansell went to town in the FW14Bs, his team-mate Riccardo Patrese did well with them but never quite 'clicked' to the same degree. Eric Faron, his Renault Sport race engineer explained how "Riccardo finds driving the car on the limit less easy than Nigel. That is quite simply because Riccardo drives a great deal with his body. Unfortunately for him, the reactive suspension filters out many of the physical sensations which are traditionally transmitted to a driver. The FW14B demanded a different driving technique from a more classical car, and that doesn't really suit Riccardo's style..."
The Williams-Renault's characteristic of fleetingly losing losing rear-end grip as airflow to the rear diffuser would be disturbed momentarily on the turn-in to a high-speed corner would see Patrese instinctively backing-off the throttle while in contrast – according to the telemetry record – Nigel Mansell, 'Il Leone' as the Ferrari fans would christen him ('The Lion') would just "...keep the throttle firmly floored".
So here is an historic mechanical artefact of towering quality – and of stupendous achievement – absolutely exemplifying the extreme interface between high-technology and the human animal - wielded in its pomp by a true World Champion, whose fearlessly, visibly, total driving commitment communicated itself to battalions of adoring fans, absolutely worldwide.
Please refer to Bonhams Motor Car Department for further information.