Commonly known as Benetton, this team was owned by the Benetton family who also owned a worldwide chain of clothing stores in the same name.
Benetton Formula Ltd was formed by the end of 1985 when the Toleman team was sold to the family. However the Benetton group made its entry into Formula One much earlier in 1983 when they sponsored Tyrrell and Alfa Romeo in 1984.
They also sponsored Toleman in 1985, after which they raced the Ford and Renault engines in the Benetton Formula Ltd team.
Flavio Briatore and David Richards are few names to have been attached to Benatton’s history. They managed the team before they were fired by Rocco Benetton who was the aerodynamics engineer of the team and by the family alike.
The early 90’s was the best time on track for the Benettons and they owe much of it to Michael Schumacher who accounts for 19 victories of the 27 times when Benetton cars were victorious machines on the Parc Ferme. Schumi’s double Drivers’ Championship title, in the car was just an added bonus.
In 1995, Benetton won the Constructors’ Championship, the first for the team with 137 points. In the previous season they were already a threat and bagged a second place in the Constructors’ run. Overall, they featured in the top three teams in the Constructors’ list eight times out of 16 seasons that they competed in.
After their most successful period, Schumacher left the team with 14 key figures including Ross Brawn, Nigel Stepney and Rory Byrne. Benetton never really saw the times it once had and on March 16, 2000 it was sold to Renault for a whopping $120 million US. Their farewell season in 2001 was not as rosy as it had previously been and Jenson Button with Giancarlo Fisichella, were often at the back of the grid.
With Fisichella and Fernando Alonso later performing on a much evolved Renault team and Alonso also winning the 2005 and the 2006 championship in it, Benetton had surely left the ground work done and will always be up there in the Formula One history.