F1: Take a Time Warp Back to the Mid-1990s

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Source: Martin Lee via Wikimedia

Want to know what the internet looked like back then? There is one website that hasn’t been modified since 1 October 1995…that of the Pacific Grand Prix team.

They weren’t the greatest F1 team but Pacific’s website certainly is memorable.

1994 was the Pacific and Simtek teams’ debut F1 season. It proved a baptism of fire because it was one of the sport’s most turbulent years – as the upcoming book explains. After the Imola tragedies, extensive, and some might say rushed, car modifications were imposed upon teams in the name of safety.

Keith Wiggens, the Pacific team boss, summed up his thoughts at the time; “If my engines don’t bankrupt me, this stands a pretty good chance.” Pedro Lamy suffered a massive testing accident which many claim was a direct result of the FIA’s Monaco safety initiative. “That is self-evidently nonsense” claimed FIA president Max Mosley, this despite the Portuguese driver being lucky to survive the crash, albeit with extensive injuries.

What however is less well known is during the Spanish Grand Prix weekend Lotus needed to re-engineer their rear wings yet further, whilst Bertrand Gachot’s Pacific suffered a failure during the race. Moreover, sponsors were being turned off F1 following the various accidents and in the next blog discusses how Pacific was affected by this.

Nevertheless, Pacific was a good old-fashioned operation who just got on with things. Despite their shoestring budget, they had big ambitions and their website certainly reflected that. This makes it fascinating browsing through it today because they managed to spin positivity no matter how bad things got. And things did get bad! Even politicians could learn a thing or two from how Pacific managed to spin positivity from the most unlikely of places.

For instance, the website gives the following profile of their star driver Gachot; “in 1994 he drove the team’s Pacific-Ilmor PR01 at the 16 Grands Prix which comprised the World Championship. Despite the car’s lack of competitiveness, Bertrand remained fully motivated throughout the season and worked tirelessly on the technical and commercial sides of the team”.

This sounds good on paper; however the reality is somewhat different. The PR01 was unloved, failing to even qualify for a race after Round six of sixteen in 1994. Gachot summed up his feelings after stepping out of the car for the final time; “Today is a great day because I will never have to drive the PR01 again.”

Success did not come Pacific’s way throughout their brief F1 history, indeed they failed to even finish a race in 1994.

The website also states “Bertrand Gachot is one of the fastest and most experienced drivers in the world” …which may be true if he’s going backwards into a fence.

The next blog will discuss why the PR01 was so bad, and its little known ancestral links to the most successful car of 1994; the Benetton B194. Meanwhile let’s enjoy this little step back in time when websites were crude and F1 still had true minnow teams who provided great entertainment to hardcore F1 fans.

Here is a link to the website in question for anyone who wants to travel back to 1 October 1995; http://web.archive.org/web/20090227080827/http://www.pacificgrandprix.com:80/index.html

1994 – The Untold Story of a Tragic and Controversial F1 Season is a new book which gives much more insight into why that season was particularly hard on new teams like Pacific, as well as investigating so much more. Keep checking www.1994f1.com for more F1 blogs and the release date for the book.

Sign up here; http://www.1994f1.com/contact/ to receive the book’s release date automatically.

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