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F1 CAR IN A SHED


Williams BMW engine cover and sidepods were cut up to make the sidepods


Where some have gnomes at the bottom of their garden, Thomas has an F1 chassis floor, or two…


Thomas has amassed a number of suspension components, and plans to use a set of wishbones from a Honda RA107, along with a Hewland FTR gearbox


in, get the fuel cell installed and have the wiring loom made up.’ Sourcing, or fabricating,


the bodywork and ancillaries is one thing, the mechanical components are quite a different challenge altogether but, like the rest of the car, have been sourced from far and wide. A 2002 BAR steering column, for example, might end up being mated to a 1998 Benetton steering rack, but the really big money will need


work around it and adapt those. It means I won’t get to use the correct rear suspension, but that’s all part of the beauty of it – I don’t how it’s going to work but I’m going to be able to make it work somehow. I don’t have £10m to fabricate proper BAR- Honda rear suspension, but I have a set of wishbones from a Honda RA107. Using those, I will be able to adapt something though.’ The eventual result will not


“I don’t how it’s going to work but I’m going to be able to make it work somehow”


to be spent on the powertrain. ‘I can’t afford to buy or run a proper V10, so I’ll probably go for a Formula Renault 3.5-litre engine. That will be plenty fast enough to scare the living daylights out of me,’ he enthuses. ‘With the gearbox casings I have, even if I found the right gears and shafts, I couldn’t maintain that transmission or the hydraulics it needs. So for this car I’ll probably use a bog standard Hewland FTR, or similar, but as that impacts the rear suspension and wing mounting, I’ll probably have to


be for historic racing or any serious competition, just for the thrill of driving an F1 car he has built himself. He has only done a few laps in a 2.0-litre Formula Renault at a Thruxton track day in the past and is fully aware that his skill level will be below what the car is cabable of, so the car is being built with that in mind. For example, despite having a full carbon / carbon brake set up he will use more conventional steel brakes instead. ‘I’m going to use quite a lot of parts from the less technologically advanced cars so


26 www.racecar-engineering.com • July 2012


they’re not so difficult to install, and make it literally arrive and drive. It will look like an F1 car because it is an F1 car, it’s just that it will be made up of three or more different types of F1 car. It won’t be within the performance bracket it was built and designed for originally, but it was designed to be driven by expert drivers, and none of us can drive like that, myself included. But even then, it should still wipe the floor with most other cars on the circuit, but still only be 70 per cent of what it could be. The beauty of having your own Formula 1 car is that you can just build up at your own pace, go to tracks you want to go to, and do your own thing.’ Ultimately, the build is going


to be a long and complex process, so you might wonder why he did not just save up the £650,000 needed to buy a Lotus T125 – purpose designed for people just like him. Or even choose the more cost-effective route and buy an old F1 car in running condition for around £100,000? His supportive wife explains:


‘He could just go online and do that, but that’s not what he wants to do. He wants to build it himself… Not a lot of people I know genuinely have real interests or hobbies. Most people’s hobby is to go out and socialise, whereas my husband doesn’t do things like that so much, instead he has a real hobby. I’ve managed to contain it in that it’s in his office upstairs and it’s in the garden.’


Though a full set of carbon /carbon brakes have been sourced, driver ability dictates the use of steel


Clearly, it’s not just his wife who has been supportive. Members of the F1Technical.net forum he participates in help him in any way they can, and even established F1 people have taken time to pass on advice. ‘I have been speaking to people who worked on the car in its era, like Andrew Green from Force India. I have spoken at length about the project and he has helped a lot.


I


tried a few times to contact the Mercedes team, but they didn’t even reply to my emails.’ Thomas hopes to have the car


complete in around three years time, but admits he has already started thinking about the next project, so if he gives you a call looking for some advice, do try to help him out!


BUDGET SO FAR...


Tub - £3200 Wheels and tyres - £700 Engine cover - £300 Floor - £300 Rear wing - £300 Barge boards - £60 Fuel cell - £30 Sidepods, after butchering - £300 Axles and hubs - £400 Shed - £1500


Total so far (including many small ancillary components, such as wheel nuts and uprights) - approx £8000


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