Published On: Thu, Apr 11th, 2024

Ted Toleman dead: Ex-F1 boss who gave Ayrton Senna his debut dies aged 86 | F1 | Sport

Former F1 team owner Ted Toleman has passed away at the age of 86. The legendary former boss, who ran the Toleman F1 team between 1981 and 1985, was responsible for giving three-time world champion Ayrton Senna his debut at the 1984 Brazilian Grand Prix.

Announcing his death on Thursday, Toleman’s family released a statement reading: “Toleman Motorsport was the little team that could. It gave birth to the careers of some of the great innovators in Formula One, men who still have a strong presence in the sport today, including Rory Byrne, Alex Hawkridge, Pat Symonds, Ann Bradshaw, David Clare and the late Brian Hart.

“Toleman’s driving talent possessed some of the greats of Formula One in the ’80s, including Senna, Derek Warwick, Piercarlo Ghinzani, Pierluigi Martini, Teo Fabi, Stefan Johansson, Bruno Giacomelli, Johnny Cecotto and Brian Henton. Ted sold out of Formula One to Benetton in 1985 after the disappointment of Monaco in 1984.

“Aside from Formula One, Ted was an avid adventurer, winning a number of championships as an offshore powerboat racer of note. He was named as the greatest British offshore powerboat Class One driver of all time and held two world records. 

“He undertook a cross-Atlantic sail with Virgin founder Richard Branson in an attempt to break the world record, entered the Le Mans 24 Hour with Tom Walkinshaw and did three Dakar Rallies.

“After selling the F1 team and his transport business in the UK, Toleman spent his time in multiple locations around the world, ultimately ending up between the Gold Coast in Australia and Manila in the Philippines with his wife, Maiti. Toleman has been suffering from a long-term illness and ultimately succumbed to complications from cardiorenal syndrome.”

Toleman launched his F1 project in 1981, using a turbocharged Hart F2 engine, and after two difficult campaigns during which the team failed to qualify for the majority of races, they scored their first F1 points through Derek Warwick at the 1983 Dutch Grand Prix, securing a ninth-place Constructors’ Championship finish for the team. 

After a strong end to the 1983 campaign, Warwick and team-mate Bruno Giacomelli both departed, leading the team to hand an F1 debut to Senna. The future legend scored three podium finishes and helped the team to their best-ever finish of seventh in the Constructors’ Championship, before departing for Lotus the following year. 

Off the back of the 1985 season, Toleman’s team was taken over by the Benetton clothing company, who promptly renamed it. It was under this guise that Michael Schumacher went on to win his first two Drivers’ Championship crowns, and the team is still active today under the Alpine moniker. 

Outside of F1, Toleman competed in other iconic motorsport events, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Dakar Rally, as well as pursuing his career as an offshore powerboat racer. After selling the team in 1985, he also made an impact on the sport through a management lens. 

F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali paid tribute after his death on Thursday. “I am saddened to hear that Ted Toleman has passed away,” he said. “He gave so much to Formula One and his achievements and legacy will always be part of our history. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time.”

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