Brian Hart 1936-2014

Former F1 engine supplier Brian Hart died on Sunday at the age of 77 after a long illness.

A brilliant engineer who worked miracles with limited funding, he was also a great character who was never afraid to speak his mind.

Trained as an aeronuatical engineer, Hart was a successful driver himself in Formula Junior, F3 and latterly F2, where he was a regular for many years. He won at Enna in 1964, and finished 9th in the first European Championship in 1967 and 12th in 1968. He scored a famous non-championship win at Hockenheim in 1969.

He also made one Grand Prix start at the Nurburgring in 1967, with an F2 Protos. He finished 12th overall and fourth in the F2 class.

After making his last F2 start in 1971 Hart retired from racing to concentrate on his engine business, which he had started in 1969. He initially developed Ford and Cosworth engines, finding huge success in F2, before his own 420R unit became a mainstay of the category. In 1980 it powered Brian Henton to the European title with Toleman.

In 1981 Hart moved into F1 with Toleman and a 4-cylinder turbo engine. Taking on the likes of Renault, BMW and Ferrari on a shoestring budget was never going to be easy, but after a difficult start the partnership made progress, and in 1984 rookie Ayrton Senna scored his first podium finishes with the team. In 1985 Teo Fabi earned the Hart name its first pole at the Nurburgring, before the team switched to BMW the following year. Hart also supplied the Beatrice/Haas team in 1985 and early 1986, before the works Ford was ready, as well as RAM and Spirit.

After the turbo era ended Hart developed a normally aspirated V10, while servicing Cosworths for a variety of teams. He returned to F1 in his own right with Jordan in 1993, and the following season Rubens Barrichello earned pole at Spa. Later he supplied a V8 to Arrows and Minardi before his company was absorbed by Tom Walkinshaw Racing in 1997, and the Hart name disappeared.

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