(c) 'Who is Who' by Steve Small, 2000 Родился: 25.06.1964 Ромфорд, Эссекс, Великобритания Сезонов в Ф1: Лет в Ф1: 12 Гран При: Старты: 160* *не стартовал: 5 Победы: подряд: Подиумы: подряд: Поул-позиции: подряд: Первый ряд: подряд:
Ромфорд, Эссекс, Великобритания
Сезонов в Ф1:
Лет в Ф1:
12 Гран При: Старты: 160* *не стартовал: 5 Победы: подряд: Подиумы: подряд: Поул-позиции: подряд: Первый ряд: подряд:
160* *не стартовал: 5 Победы: подряд: Подиумы: подряд: Поул-позиции: подряд: Первый ряд: подряд:
5 Победы: подряд: Подиумы: подряд: Поул-позиции: подряд: Первый ряд: подряд:
Perhaps Britain's most talented young prospect of the eighties, Johnny Herbert has built a successful career for himself in the world of Grand Prix racing - indeed 1999 has just seen him take an unlikely but well-deserved win in the European Grand Prix to add to his emotional and hugely popular victories at Silverstone and Monza in 1995 - yet one wonders if the horrific crash at Brands Hatch in 1988 which interrupted his meteoric rise somehow robbed his career of an impetus which might have seen him be a true contender for the World Championship itself.
Racing in karts from the age of ten, Herbert worked his way through the classes, taking numerous championships on the way, before graduating to FF1600 and winning the prestigious Brands Hatch Formula Ford Festival in 1985. Johnny's path then crossed that of Eddie Jordan, who took him into Formula 3 in 1987. Herbert won the title and a Benetton test, which led to an option to drive for the team in 1989, so it was a season of F3000 next, which started brilliantly with a win at Jerez, followed by a number of highly competitive drives before that fateful Brands accident.
Johnny had the goal of reaching the grid in Brazil to make his debut for Benetton, and after months of painful rehabilitation he not only drove in Rio, but brought the car into fourth place. But as the year progressed it became clear that he was still handicapped by his injuries, and he was summarily replaced by the less talented Pirro. Now came a period when Johnny had to step down into Japanese F3000, take the occasional F1 ride and wait for another chance (an unexpected victory at Le Mans with Mazda in 1991 providing a highlight).
Luckily his old mentor at Benetton, Peter Collins, was now busy reviving the fortunes of Lotus, and Herbert was very much the man he wanted for the job. Brought back into the team full-time early in 1991, Herbert repeatedly showed he had the talent to win but, unfortunately, not the car. Locked into a contract at Lotus, Herbert was left trapped and frustrated as the team struggled on against overwhelming odds during the 1994 season. Johnny lost heart and, despite a morale-boosting fourth place on the grid at Monza, his relationship with team boss and father figure Peter Collins soured to the point that a split was inevitable.
Both parties must have been relieved when Flavio Briatore bought out his contract in September that year, for not only did Collins have some much-needed finance to stagger on at Lotus, but Johnny had a contract which saw him through to the end of 1995. Initially he was placed at Ligier, but after a fine performance at Jerez he was whisked into the Benetton team in the hope that he might assist Schumacher's title bid.
As mentioned before, 1995 was the year that Johnny found tangible success; indeed, apart from his two wins, his consistency brought him within a whisker of taking third place in the World Championship. Unfortunately his status at Benetton was very much that of the number two to Schumacher, and his gripes to the press after a disappointing showing in the Belgian GP could not have helped his cause.
Not retained at season's end, Herbert found a ride at Sauber and, after a somewhat frosty start when his experience was underutilised in testing, he gradually won the team's confidence, especially after team-mate Frentzen seemed to lose his motivation. Third place at Monaco was the best result in a year littered with retirements, but despite the loss of the Ford engine deal to Stewart Herbert had done enough to earn a new two-year contract with the Swiss constructor. Johnny was now the team's mainstay and was charged with the task of developing the new Sauber C16 with its Petronas (nee Ferrari) engine largely on his own.
The car was a capable points scorer but never a likely winner, and the ever-jovial Herbert made the best of his situation. Things changed for the worse in 1998 with the arrival of Jean Alesi. Simply, the two drivers failed to gel and Herbert appeared to be worn down as much by the Frenchman's histrionics as by his undeniable edge in speed on the track.
He was considered a touch fortunate to secure a two-year deal with Stewart Grand Prix beginning in 1999, but after a quiet first half to the season Johnny picked up the pace and duly supplied the team's aforementioned maiden Grand Prix win. Another superb drive in Malaysia gave Herbert a further boost to his confidence as he prepared to welcome Eddie Irvine on board as his new team-mate in the restructured Jaguar team for 2000.
(c) 'Who is Who' by Steve Small, 2000
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