Peter Connew, a former Surtees team draughtsman, decided to build his own Formula 1 car for the 1972 season. He invited a couple of his friends and created a straightforward but well-designed car featuring open ‘bathtub’ monocoque with inboard suspension actuated by fabricated rocker arms at the front and a variable rate lever system at the back. With no sponsors Connew managed to design and build the car with absolutely minimal resources. According to Connew, the estimates of expenses to get the car to the grid is just £8,000. Francois Migault has joined the project as a driver and brought £3,000 sponsorship which allowed the team to put down a deposit on a Cosworth DFV engine and to buy a Hewland DG300 gearbox. The team planned to make their racing debut at the Monaco Grand Prix, but a sudden rule change required the construction of another chassis in a different type of aluminium. The car was ready for the British Grand Prix and took part in practice but was withdrawn before the race. Then the small team appeared in the German Grand Prix, but without having made a proper prior entry, participation was denied by the race organizers. Finally the car was entered in the 1972 Austrian Grand Prix. Migault, who qualified at the end of the field, has passed 4 competitors in first 22 laps, but was forced to retire due to rear suspension failure. At the end of the season Connew reappeared at the World Championship Victory Race at Brands Hatch with David Purley behind the wheel. Purley put some money from his LEC Refrigeration company, and LEC-repainted PC1 qualified in 31st position out of 38 entrants, 10 seconds behind the pole-sitter time, but did not start. Purley had asked for an electrical “kill” switch to be fitted to the steering wheel, but this malfunctioned on the warm up lap, the engine stopped, and the car was retired. In 1973 the car was modified to meet Formula 5000 regulations and appeared in the European Formula 5000 Championship in 1973, fitted with a Chevrolet V8 engine, but without any finish in 3 attempts to start. Despite its very short life, Connew F1 project was an extraordinary example of enthusiastic passion, and one of the last true ‘garagiste’ Formula 1 constructor.
|1972||F1||World Championship Victory Race|
|David Purley||22||LEC Refrigeration Racing|