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  • Toleman Motorsport Official Name
  • Witney, Oxfordshire, UK Base
  • 1981 F1 Debut
  • Ted Toleman / Alex Hawkridge Team Boss
  • Technical Chief
  • 0 World Championships

Toleman Motorsport, commonly known as Toleman, was a Formula 1 team and constructor from the United Kingdom. They competed in lower motorsport categories before advancing to F1, where they participated from 1981 to 1985. Following the conclusion of the 1985 season, Toleman was acquired by the clothing company Benetton and subsequently rebranded as Benetton Formula.

Notable Team Members and Drivers

Ayrton Senna: Arguably the most famous driver to have emerged from the Toleman team, Senna drove for them during the 1984 season. His performances in this underdog team, particularly at the 1984 Monaco Grand Prix, where he finished second in a rain-soaked race, showcased his exceptional talent early in his career.

Derek Warwick: British F1 driver, Warwick raced for Toleman from 1981 to 1983. He helped put the team on the map in Formula One circles, leading to Senna’s drive for the team.

Pat Symonds: Starting as a race engineer, Symonds was a key technical member at Toleman and later became a key figurehead in F1 for teams such as Benetton and Renault.


Toleman Motorsport originated from a company known simply as Toleman, established in 1926. This company was involved in delivering Ford vehicles from its official factory for several decades. In 1966, Ted Toleman took over the business from his late father, Albert. Shortly thereafter, Ted, alongside Alex Hawkridge, ventured into British motorsport, eventually founding Toleman Motorsport. By 1977, they had entered the British Formula Ford 2000, and by 1978, they expanded into British Formula Two. Their motorsport efforts culminated in winning the 1980 European Formula Two Championship, securing both the 1st and 2nd positions with drivers Brian Henton and Derek Warwick.

Formula 1 Seasons

Toleman Motorsport declared its entrance into Formula One in November 1980. Initially, they considered partnering with Lancia for a turbocharged engine but ultimately chose to adapt a turbocharged version of the Hart F2 engine. By this time, Formula One was increasingly dominated by turbo engines, making naturally aspirated engines less competitive.

The Toleman TG181, designed by Rory Byrne, was overweight and lacked power. Brian Henton managed to qualify for the first time at the 1981 Italian Grand Prix in Monza, and Derek Warwick qualified only once at the season-ending 1981 Caesars Palace Grand Prix in Las Vegas. In 1982, the team upgraded to the TG181C for Warwick and new driver Teo Fabi until the introduction of the carbon-composite Toleman TG183 in late August. The TG183 participated in just two Grands Prix, Italy and Las Vegas, but Warwick achieved Toleman’s first fastest lap at the 1982 Dutch Grand Prix with the TG181C, aided by a low fuel load and soft tyres.

In 1983, the updated TG183B showed improved performance. Derek Warwick stayed on while Bruno Giacomelli replaced Teo Fabi. With increased sponsorship from Candy, joined by Magirus from Iveco and BP, the team’s budget grew. Warwick secured Toleman’s first points finish at the Dutch Grand Prix and added more points in the last three races of the season, helping Toleman finish 9th in the constructors’ championship standings.

In 1984, Toleman completely revamped their driver lineup. Derek Warwick’s impressive performances led to a move to the factory Renault team, and he was replaced by the reigning British Formula 3 Champion and Formula One debutant, future triple World Champion Ayrton Senna. Venezuelan F2 driver and former dual Grand Prix Motorcycle World Champion Johnny Cecotto took over the seat from Bruno Giacomelli.

Senna’s Formula One debut came at the 1984 Brazilian Grand Prix at the Jacarepaguá Circuit in Rio de Janeiro on March 25. Driving the previous year’s car, the TG183, because the new TG184 was not yet ready, Senna qualified 17th, with Cecotto 18th. Both drivers experienced early retirements due to turbo failures, with Senna’s car being the first of the season to retire after just eight laps.

Throughout the season, Senna achieved three podium finishes, including a third place at the 1984 British Grand Prix behind Niki Lauda in a McLaren and Warwick’s Renault. He ended the season strongly with another third-place finish in Portugal, qualifying a career-best third and finishing behind the dominant McLarens of race winner Alain Prost and World Champion Niki Lauda.

Toleman Motorsport Legacy

In May 1985, Toleman secured a major sponsorship deal with Benetton, a clothing company that had previously backed Tyrrell and was the principal sponsor of the Alfa Romeo team at that time. During the 1985/86 off-season, Benetton acquired Toleman, and the team was subsequently rebranded as Benetton Formula before the start of the 1986 season. The team underwent several ownership changes, eventually becoming the Renault factory team in 2002 and again in 2016. In 2021, it was renamed the Alpine F1 Team.

Toleman continued its involvement in motorsport, primarily focusing on management roles rather than competing directly. By 2010, this included managing the Australian Mini Challenge, a one-make series, under the Toleman Motorsport banner.

Toleman Motorsport Formula One World Championship Records

First entry1981 San Marino Grand Prix
Races entered70 (57 starts)
Constructors’ Championships0 (best finish: 7th, 1984)
Drivers’ Championships0
Race victories0 (best finish: 2nd, 1984 Monaco Grand Prix)
Pole positions1
Fastest laps2
Final entry1985 Australian Grand Prix

Toleman Motorsport Constructors’ Championship Results

1981Toleman MotorsportTG181Brian Henton
Derek Warwick
1982Toleman MotorsportTG181B
Derek Warwick
Teo Fabi
1983Toleman MotorsportTG183
Derek Warwick
Bruno Giacomelli
1984Toleman MotorsportTG183B
Ayrton Senna
Stefan Johansson
Johnny Cecotto
Pierluigi Martini
1985Toleman MotorsportTG185Teo Fabi
Piercarlo Ghinzani

Source: and

Toleman Drivers

Driver Nationality Current/Last Team F1 Debut Status
British Footwork Arrows 1981 San Marino Grand Prix Retired
Brazilian Williams 1984 Brazilian Grand Prix Died, F1 Legend
Swedish Footwork Arrows 1980 Argentine Grand Prix Retired
Italian Minardi 1984 Italian Grand Prix Retired
Italian Osella 1981 Belgian Grand Prix Retired

Previous/Next Team Names

Team Nationality Debut Season Status
Benetton British, Italian 1986 Historic
Renault French 1977 Historic
Lotus F1 British 2012 Historic
Alpine French 2021 Current