“Perhaps – I want the old days back again and they’ll never come back, and I am haunted by the memory of them and of the world falling about my ears. ”
~Margaret Mitchell – Gone with the Wind~
1998 would be Tyrrell’s last year in Formula One. Even before the first race Ken Tyrrell had sold the team to British American Tobacco. New team manager, Craig Pollock, chose Brazilian driver Ricardo Rosset to be Tora Takagi’s teammate. Tyrrell had wanted to hire Jos Verstappen instead and he quit the team when Rosset was hired.
Ricardo Rosset was a Brazilian driver who was heir to a successful female underwear and bikini business which gave him plenty of money to fund his Formula 1 undertaking. However, he’d had significant success prior to F1 in International Formula 3000 qualifying on pole and winning his first race…becoming the first ever to win on his F3000 debut…and eventually finishing second in the championship.
Even though he gave the appearance of real talent it was his money that was his major attraction in Formula One. In his first season in 1996, driving for Arrows, he was consistently out-paced by his teammate Jos Verstappen. The cash-strapped team did very little testing and put no further money or development into the car.
In 1997 Rosset got a drive for Lola who was woefully under-prepared for the season. Their cars had never even seen a wind-tunnel and they only competed at the first race in Melbourne (where they were 12 seconds behind pole and failed to qualify under the 107% rule) before quitting for the rest of the season.
He managed to get back into Formula 1 in 1998 driving for Tyrrell (although the team had already been sold and would become BAR the following year) as his significant sponsorship backing was essential in balancing the team’s precarious budget. They scored no points over the 1998 season and their best finish was a 8th by Rosset in Canada. This was Rosset’s last season in Formula One. He failed to qualify under the 107% rule five times that season, the only driver to do so.
Prior to Tarso Marque’s DNQ at the British GP in 2001 he was the last driver to DNQ because of the 107% qualifying rule.
Murray Walker and Martin Brundle, on discussing Rosset’s place in F1:
Murray – “A lot of people here are really debating whether Ricardo Rosset is Formula One material.”
Brundle – “Well, it’s a fairly short debate, Murray.”
After Formula One Rosset returned to racing in the 2009 Brazilian GT3 Championship, partnering Brazilian Walter Salles. At the end of the season they had won four times and were second in the overall standings.
BAR team manager Craig Pollock worked as a teacher and was director of sport at the College Beausoleil in Switzerland where he became friends with a young Jacque Villeneuve who had been sent to the school following the death of his father. In 1993 Villeneuve asked Pollock to become his manager. Villeneuve got a F1 drive with Williams in 1996 and took the championship crown the following year.
In 1998 Craig Pollock persuaded British American Tobacco boss Tom Moser to bankroll a F1 team and he bought Tyrrell Racing for 26 million dollars. In 1999 Tyrrell became BAR and they signed up Villeneuve for their debut season. Their world champion driver only managed to finish four races for the season with a best place finish of 8th – only marginally better than Rosset had managed the season before…maybe it was the car that was the problem and not the driver…