The history of Ayrton and Toleman began in 1983 at a humid circuit in England. At the Silverstone Circuit, Ayrton drove the Toleman Hart for the first time. In part 11 - Ayrton as test driver - A choice of different teams (1983), we paid extensive attention to this.
Toleman was a small British team that made its entrance in Formula 1 in 1980. The team moved across as Formula 2 champions to the highest class of motorsport. The team, founded by Norman Edward "Ted" Toleman, started racing in 1977. At the time Toleman was registered in the British Formula Ford 2000 championship. In 1978 the team made the switch to Formula 2 with a March chassis. During the first race of the 1978 Formula 2 championship, the team scored a podium finish at Thruxton with Rad Dougall.
The following year Brian Henton scored a second place in the final race, with Rad Dougall fifth. During the 1979 season, the team scored three victories. In 1980 they became champion with Brian Henton, while Derek Warwick was second. Both drivers drove for Toleman in Formula 1 in 1981. The TG181 was far from competitive, as at only two events could a Toleman qualify for a Formula 1 Grand Prix.
Warwick stayed with Toleman for three years. He developed the team and won nine points in the 1983 championship with the TG183B. On the day Senna tested the Toleman at the end of his Formula 3 campaign, he would admit that the car was very easy to drive. Ayrton's choice to go to Toleman was made possible in part by the positive influence Brian Hart engine builders had on him.
Ayrton also had the opportunity to develop at Toleman. It was a small team, but had access to sufficient financial resources. The ninth place in the 1983 constructors championship ensured that the travel and transport costs for the next season were refunded. With Segafredo, Toleman had a nice sponsor in house. Massimo Zanetti van Segafredo was a sports fan and saw the arrival of Senna as a gift. The Italian would remain one of Ayrton's personal sponsors.
The team operated from Witney, Oxfordshire. Previously Toleman was founded in 1926 as a company that delivered Ford models to garages. With Rory Byrne, the team had an emerging talent in the design sector in the 1980s. The South African developed the Toleman TG181 in 1981. In the course of his Formula 1 career, Byrne gained increasing prestige in the paddock. The TG183B, the car with which Ayrton Senna began his Formula 1 career, was a car designed by Rory Byrne.
The car was introduced in 1983 and consisted of a carbon fibre monocoque. The engine was the Hart 415T had 1.459cc at 89.0 cu in. Hart built a Straight 4, turbo while the gearbox came from Hewland and had 5 gears. The TG183B was mainly the car with the large 'double rear wing'. This car also had radiators which were mounted on the front wing. Unfortunately, the configuration of the front wing made the front of the car almost uncontrollable. This configuration would be replaced in the course of the season by a more conventional front wing.
Toleman was a team where the Brazilian would feel at home. Ayrton became a first driver for the 1984 season and in Johnny Cecotto, got a former 350cc world champion in the bikes as a teammate. Cecotto had already gained experience in Formula 1. He scored one point in his second Grand Prix during his unfortunate year at Theodore. The Venezuelan came second in 1982 in the European Formula 2 championship.
Ayrton made his Formula 1 debut during the Brazilian Grand Prix in 1984 at the circuit of Jacarepaguá in Rio de Janeiro. Ayrton qualified 17th, one spot ahead of teammate Cecotto. The difference between the two Toleman drivers was considerable, no less than 1.775 seconds. Ayrton would not finish his first Formula 1 race on 25 March 1983. He dropped out on the eight laps with a broken turbo. The same happened to Cecotto, ten laps later.
During the second and third round of the championship the Brazilian showed that there was some pace in the Toleman. On the Kyalami circuit in South Africa (practically a home race for Ted Toleman and Rory Byrne) the Brazilian drove from 13th place on the grid towards the points. Ayrton finished in his second Grand Prix in the points and scored a sixth place. This result was repeated during the Belgian Grand Prix of 1984 at Spa-Francorchamps. Although he was slower in qualifying than Cecotto, (more than half a second), the Brazilian took the last point. Ayrton stayed ahead of Renault factory driver Rene Arnoux in his hunt for this last point.
Due to a problem with tyre supplier Pirelli, Ayrton was unable to qualify for the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola. It was the first and only time that the Brazilian did not qualify for a Formula 1 race. During the following French Grand Prix at the circuit of Dyon, Ayrton qualified as 13th. Unfortunately, he had his second retirement of the season on Sunday, again due to a broken turbo. After five Grands Prix, the Brazilian scored two points. It was an excellent start for the small Toleman team. Teammate Cecotto did not make it to the finish in any Grand Prix.
Ayrton Senna Special: Part 1 - Ayrton and karting - The early years
Ayrton Senna Special: Part 2 - Ayrton and karting - International
Ayrton Senna Special: Part 3 - Ayrton and karting - The tough trip in Buenos Aires
Ayrton Senna Special: Part 4 - Ayrton and karting - The last race
Ayrton Senna Special: Part 5 - Ayrton in Europe - Formula Ford 1600 and the battle with Rick Morris
Ayrton Senna Special: Part 6 - Ayrton in Europe - A glorious year in Formula Ford 200
Ayrton Senna Special: Part 7 - Ayrton in British Formula 3 - Senna in a class of his own
Ayrton Senna Special: Part 8 - Ayrton in British Formula 3 - First signs of pressure and dirt game
Ayrton Senna Special: Part 9 - Ayrton in British Formula 3 - Shame at Oulton Park and another title
Ayrton Senna Special Exclusive Interview: Allen Berg: Ayrton drove against the British system
Ayrton Senna Special: Part 10 - Ayrton as a test driver - The first experience in a Formula 1 car
Ayrton Senna Special: Part 11 - Ayrton as a test driver - A selection of different teams
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