Japan 1993: the four wheel steering of BenettonWritten by Ζήσης Βουργάνας
Translated by Giannis Binas
Four wheel steering is something unfamiliar to Formula 1 or...nearly unfamiliar.
Date of 1st publication: 03/01/13
The Benetton Team designed a four wheel steering system in 1993, which was tested at the B193 of Michael Schumacher and Ricardo Patrese in testing sessions at Estoril, and, right after that, at the Japanese GP, which was the penultimate race of the championship.
Way too early that is, since every electronic system was to be banned next year.
At that time, the teams were searching for the answer to the active suspensions used by Williams; in 1992, Benetton came up with the idea of constructing lighter rims that would be worn by the single-seaters only during qualifying, as they wouldn’t withstand the stress of a whole race.
The idea came to nothing though and, in 1993, the team’s next step was the four wheel steering system.
The rear wheels of the single-seater were turning by two degrees in each direction with the aid of a hydraulic steering rack, this way aiding the car to turn better, theoretically.
For the case of a malfunction, Benetton’s engineers had designed a safety system, which returned the wheels to their original position (straight).
Moreover, the driver had the ability to deactivate it anytime he wanted.
Benetton remained in Portugal after the race that was won by Michael Schumacher, in order to test a new version of Ford’s engine and simultaneously tested the four wheel steering system too.
The two drivers didn’t mark any difference in times, with Patrese stating that the system had a weird sense of handling without offering anything in return.
Schumacher used it on Friday morning at the qualifying session of Suzuka and then deactivated it.
He later stated that he didn’t change his lines with that system, while it didn’t function too well in slow corners.
That meant they wouldn’t use it at the last race of the season, in Adelaide, either.
On the other hand, FIA, from Japan already, added the four wheel drive system to the bans of next year.
That way, the four wheel steering system was abolished before it was developed and we never saw its true potential.
Schumacher and Patrese might have not used it in the race of Japan, but, still, that didn’t bring them any luck, as they both retired.
Michael Schumacher's retirement:
Riccardo Patrese's retirement: